Spiritual Matters, Blog Post

How could God exist and let such terrible things happen?

“Worship none other than God, for I fear for you the punishment of a momentous day.” – Quran 46:21

I wonder how people can deny the existence of God when there is less evidence to prove that, than the latter.

The physical absence of something does not mean it does not exist. The most meaningful themes in our lives are not physical- in fact- they are the most physically absent. Such as love and happiness and joy and growth. Their physical absence doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Furthermore, it irks me when people claim that “how could a god exist and let such terrible things happen on this earth?”

Which I understand where that argument stems from. There is a lot of pain and suffering on this earth, and there are a lot of unfair things. There are plenty of really messed up twisted unfair things that make you want to scream yourself to death, because it’s just not fair and it’s infuriating that you can’t do anything to change it. I get that, I really do. But at the same time, I don’t think it’s a logical argument to then believe that:

1. God doesn’t exist because terrible things on earth are happening

2. Terrible things continue to happen on earth even though “God” doesn’t exist

If God is out of the picture, and terrible things are still happening— who is to blame then? Who is making these problems? God doesn’t exist. You can’t put the blame on God. You don’t believe he exists. So why are there still problems?

Could it be that maybe there is enough abundance of food and goods for everyone- but that maybe people aren’t distributing it right because of our greed? Could it be that the bloodshed and genocides are fueled and caused and fought by people. Who created the concept of money? Wasn’t it people- who worships money? Isn’t it people? Who kills and steals and lies and belittles and humiliates for money? Isn’t people? People like you and me?

What about hurricanes, natural disasters? As if we don’t have the knowledge and the tools to know what’s coming at us and why. Look at the way we’re dealing with things like global warming. Have you seen those pictures of animals whose throats are wrapped with plastic bags and plastic bottle holders? Who made these? And who ignorantly tossed them into the sea to cause this? Wasn’t it humans? People like you and me. Who do certain behaviors without giving them another thought, without thinking what consequence our actions inch us towards on a personal and global level? Isn’t it people like you and me. Tell me. Am I wrong? Is it something else? Is the world just wrong because this “creator being” designed it to be painful and wrong and messed up? Do you not have a choice? Do you not have power over your actions? Or do you want to blame everyone but yourself?

And let’s go back to that. Let’s go back to the blaming part.

So you’re telling me, you don’t believe that God exists- but you’re going to go ahead and blame everything wrong in the world on God anyway. That’s like blaming your problems on an imaginary friend who you don’t even think exists. How in the world does that even make any logical sense.

You don’t want to believe in God, fine. That’s your call.

But please support it with a better argument than blame.

  • Authors note: This is my personal opinion. Please don’t go off assuming all sorts of things from this one post. I’m simply stating my problem with the logic of this one argument. I don’t believe that blame is a legitimate claim for the disbelief in God that some people have. I don’t have any issues or problems with peoples differing opinions and views on the matter. I wrote it simply for the purposes of having a dialogue on the topic, and not to point any fingers, or judge anyone.

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    Blog Post

    Intimacy in Movies? Do you watch it or skip?

    Salam!
    This topic has been on my mind lately, since I’ve been obsessed with this show called You on Netflix (which btw I just finished binge watching, thanks a lot self control!)

    The problem is, just like many other adult shows now a days, there are some themes we can’t get away from, and a lot of intimacy on all levels throughout the show.

    So I wonder, what’s okay and what’s not okay when watching these shows from a religious perspective? A purely religious perspective.

    I surely don’t have any answers, and I haven’t done any research on the matter either. But I did want to have a dialogue about it, and just sort of ask and see what your personal opinion is.

    Personally, I don’t feel comfortable with it, like it’s fine if there are a lot of make out/sex scenes, for the most part it won’t stop me from watching a show as long as there’s a captivating plot.

    I do however, generally skip or turn a blind eye to these scenes because on some level I feel like it’s not okay to watch. Which I know some people might find a little extra considering that I’m a grown woman, but it’s the truth, I just don’t feel comfortable with it.

    The first reason being that it’s almost like watching people’s PDA, but like on an extra level. Like it’s TMI most of the time, it’s unrealistic, it’s a show- it’s not even real. And beyond the screen, at the end of the day, it’s just two people in front of the camera on a set, where there is an entire crew crowded around them and focused on them for that moment while they make out or have pretend sex or maybe even real sex. Like that just makes it kind of painful for me to watch to be honest. Knowing that it’s so manufactured and like, awkward.

    And then, the expectations it sets you up for, again, it’s not real. Kisses don’t look like that in real life, the same way relationships don’t work the same way that they do on screen than they do offscreen. Not just the actors relationships, I’m talking about real life. I don’t want to create false expectations for myself, and I really do believe that the content we feed our mind, makes us, the same way we are what we eat; we are also the content we consume.

    And my final reason, is that I find this whole thing unnatural. If you rewind time back to before Netflix existed and cellphones and video cameras- the only time you would see these extremely dramatized forms of affection in every way on every level, was never. It simply didn’t exist.

    If you wanted to see people making out, or even kissing, it would generally be on the street, or maybe your parents, or friends or some or other form of that. You did not have access to a zoomed in, nicely formatted display of the experience. There were no front seats to watch this stuff from, you couldn’t replay and gape at what’s going on like you can at your phone or laptop screen. It was like, either you’re experiencing it, or you don’t really get to see it in that much detail. How many of you stop to stare with full intensity at people who are making out?

    And then the sex scenes? You would really have to go out of your way to see people doing it before all this digital stuff came to be. I mean, can you imagine just sitting there staring with full intensity in someones room? Like why. For the purposes of watching my shows, all I need to know is that something happened between the characters, I don’t need that much detail. I really don’t.

    I understand that maybe a group of younger teenagers who are curious, might be interested in seeing every detail of any and all intimate scenes in a movie or show. But to me, it gets to a point where- there’s no point in watching these scenes in every other show I come across. If I know what’s going down, I really don’t need to explicitly see every detail. Or at least, that’s how I feel about it and that’s my personal take on this.

    What do you personally think?

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    Blog Post, Questions, Spiritual Matters

    Your Cultural Practices aren’t Islam

    Somewhere in my spiritual journey a few years ago, I began questioning so many of the things I, and the other muslims around me did. Mistreatment of gays/lesbians, calling certain races superior or inferior to others, not mixing with people of different muslim sects, etc.

    Why, I wondered, did we do all this? Especially when in certain cases, I knew that what was happening wasn’t right at all. To do something that is inherently wrong because my religion “commanded me” to felt confusing, and it tugged and pulled on my conscience  as I tried to reconcile with this idea. 

    How could I lockdown at and mistreat the gay boy in my class who’s so understanding and accepting of me, why do some of my muslims friends say that I’m not supposed to talk with non-muslims, do the girls in my class really need to be lashed several times because of what they did over this weekend? 

    How could Allah (swt) want me to do something so inherently wrong in so many of these cases? I mean really, not to talk to non-muslims in a place that is 99% non muslim? Why would such a thing be not permissible??

    And I guess as my mind raced with questions, I began to research more into the religion I was born to, but never truly met or got to know on a personal level. The deeper I dove, the more I realized something my naive self hadn’t seen before; many muslims aren’t actually muslim. The things they told me about Islam weren’t actually muslim things. My religion didn’t require me to do as other muslims did; it required me to read, to know, to think on my own, with the help of others, what the right thing to do is. 

    The fusion of culture and tradition with Islam makes it so hard to discern between the two, yet once I finally realized this, once I was finally able to remove the fog of culture and tradition blurring the view, it not only gave me much more peace with my religion, but it also formed a new appreciation for it that hadn’t been there before. 

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    Blog Post, Other

    Protected: Absolutely Hateful Letter Targeted at Muslims | When will Islamophobia stop?

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    Spiritual Matters

    STOP Telling me Jinns are EVERYWHERE.

    بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

    As a religious person, I am often perceived as brainwashed, illogical, and a second-class thinker; mostly because of the superstitions and old age cultural beliefs that are often integrated into religious culture. And partly, because most people can’t distinguish between religious culture and actual religious beliefs.

    Non-religious people will often group me with the same people who will swear to you that there are ghosts, that they totally saw a jinn, have a friend possessed by a demon, and swear on everything that they value that somebody did some black magic juju to ruin their life last week.

    In case you haven’t guessed it already- I’m not a fan of this stuff. In fact, when I hear other muslims talking about this stuff, I feel them lacking in their religious conviction rather than finding it a support for it. Human beings can convince themselves of anything if they think about it too much, and I believe that’s what happens in these cases.

    Not convinced? I’m going to use a simple, everyday example that I’m sure many of you have experienced to illustrate this point.

    Let’s imagine Fatima is on her phone texting a friend when her mother walks into the living room where she is sat, fully-engrossed in her conversation, and asks her to go get the salt from the cupboard. Her mom is preparing dinner for guests and due to their health restrictions, she decided to make all the food without salt so that all the guests can enjoy her dishes with the amount that they desire. She’d forgotten to set the salt on the table before heading out of the kitchen, and would really appreciate it if Fatima would get up and at least help her with that.

    Fatima is annoyed, not because her mom asked her to do something, but because her mom asked her to do something while she was in the middle of a serious argument with one of her friends. She’d rather stay on her phone.

    Regardless, she walks over to the kitchen still typing away, once she reaches the cupboard she scans the contents, not finding the salt, she closes the doors and opens the next set of cupboards. Maybe her mom placed is somewhere else in her rush to get everything done?

    She’s impatient with the annoying salt by now, when again, the second cupboard doesn’t hold any salt. Her phone rings with another text alert as she furiously opens the next cupboard, then the next, then she even starts opening the cupboards on the bottom, and then checks the fridge just in case her mother had absentmindedly put it there for some reason. Maybe she already placed it on the table?

    She enters the dining room, where the table is filled with steaming dishes that her mother had just set. In that moment, her mom comes back, dressed to greet the guests which should be arriving soon.

    “Fatima did you get the salt?”

    “It’s not there ma.”

    They both walk to the kitchen together where Fatima’s mom opens the very first cupboard Fatima had opened just moments ago; the jar of salt sitting clear as the sun in its midst.

    “Not there huh?” Fatima’s mom jokes, as they both laugh it off and head out of the kitchen.

    So, could it possibly be that Fatima hadn’t seen the salt because she simply didn’t want to? That what she convinces her mind to do, her mind in return mirrors back to her. That maybe she didn’t want to do something (getting the salt) so much that it became a subconscious thing, so that even when she unwillingly went to do it, her mind still refused to do it.

    I think that many things in life work that same way. And this isn’t some all-enveloping story which you should take to heart, but it is food for thought. And it’s not the first thing to suggest to you that what you let yourself believe mentally, can materialize into reality.

    Think about all the buildings you drive by, they were all in somebody’s head before they came to be, the same with your clothes, your phone, the screen you’re reading this on, paintings, political agendas, people who have achieved their dreams; all thought, then turned real.

    On a more spiritual note, doesn’t the Holy Quran remind us of the wisdom Allah swt has blessed us with in the following quote:

    Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves..jpg

    And this goes for the bad as well as for the good, and yes, I understand that this quote is more commonly used for people who want to change their situation, and not necessarily their belief, but it’s just a reminder for those living in poor and struggling communities where they let these ideas take a hold of them. Who am I to say what’s going to happen in the future and what’s not, but isn’t likely that if they busy themselves with magic spells, and who put a spell on who, and how the challenges in their life are so-and-so’s doing, that nothing much is going to change? This magic juju nonsense is used to escape, a scapegoat, from dealing with our realities.

    Maybe you didn’t get divorced because some woman put a spell on your husband, maybe your “jealous” neighbor didn’t visit someone to make sure they ruin your son’s college acceptance and get their son in, maybe these things happen after a series of little things finally snowball them into effect.

    And maybe your kitchen isn’t always messy because some crazy jinn likes to party there all the time, or maybe that item which you could’ve sworn you put on the table, didn’t get moved by a jinn playing jokes on you and placing it somewhere else. Maybe it was due to your own absentminded doing.

    Do I believe that Jinn’s are real? Absolutely. The same way I believe that the Quran is real but it will not take a hold of me and control me.

    “… Verily he [Shaytaan] and his qabeeluhu [his soldiers from the jinn or his tribe] see you from where you cannot see them…” [al-A’raaf 7:27]  Source.

    The world of the jinn is an independent and separate world, with its own distinct nature and features that are hidden from the world of humans. Jinns and humans have some things in common, such as the possession of understanding and the choice between the way of good and the way of evil. The word jinn comes from an Arabic root meaning “hidden from sight”.

    The only place Jinn is real in your life is in your head, where you can let it take place and fester and control your life. Please stop obsessing over it. Stop wasting your life on nonsense, and stop blaming, yes blaming things in your life on Jinns, and ghosts and the devil when Allah swt has given you the ability to choose otherwise. Lead your life.

     

     

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    Blog Post, Spiritual Matters

    How I started Praying Everyday.

     

    بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

    How I started Praying Everyday and how you can too.

    I’m putting this story out there knowing fully well what people’s opinions are like when their identity is concealed and their judgements are wild and free. I’m not going to sit here and pretend a mean comment isn’t going to hurt my feelings, or that they’re all hypocrites, because neither is true. But what I do know to be true, and what I’m more concerned with- is that one person who will connect with this story and change because of it- even if just a little.

    It all started on some random afternoon in January of 2009, I’m not exactly sure what I’d done differently on that day, but what I do remember is that I was 14. I’d known how to pray since I was five, possibly six, but I never learned how to maintain it on a daily basis, and here I was at 14, fully able to pray but not doing so.

    In fact, I clearly remember that at some point when I was nine, I used to always be the first one to pray and did so for a while until one day, out of the blue, my mom went on vacation and somehow that translated into my nine year old brain as “no need to pray anymore” and since then it’s been an on and off thing. Most days, it would go down like this;

    My sister and I doing something together in the basement.

    Parent from the upper floor yells: “Have you guys prayed yet??”

    In which we would have only the two following options:

    A) pretend like we didn’t hear and stay silent 

    B) the sibling that did pray, would reply saying “yes” and we’d get on with life- until we’re caught for it later

    And when we were caught, we’d be told to go pray and we’d go pray, getting up sluggishly, lazily, complaining as if our parents were telling us to do a most horrid thing imaginable to a child.

    As children, we knew that prayer-salat- was right, and good and we should do it. Yet, for some reason, my attempts at doing it daily never held up. I would stick with it for a week or two, and then there would be slip ups, and sometimes the slip ups would last for days, maybe even a week.

    For some reason, I couldn’t take my prayers seriously. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. That was always my excuse, and somewhere in my mind I’d buried the fact that I should be praying regularly by now at age 14 and that tomorrow was actually yesterday for me and that there is no time, was no time left to leave anything for tomorrow.

    And yet, there was still this sluggishness, the 100 pound boulder that would seem to sit ontop of me whenever I remember that it was time to pray, and on that afternoon in January, my sister and I started a seemingly innocent chat about how we should commit more to our prayers, and then somehow that turned into a battle between the two of us and who would be able to do it longer.

    In that moment, against the snow-glow against our window, we sketched boxes on a blank sheet of paper; the lines were crooked and uneven and we only made enough for a couple of weeks. We didn’t even think to think that we could pray daily for longer than a couple of weeks.

    It was supposed to be a finite- a limited– number of days that we would keep our commitment to this strange-daily-praying-thing. We didn’t even have that intention or thought- it was too ambitious of a goal for us to even consider. Praying every day? How preposterous! 21 days is more than enough!

    So 21 boxes we made.

    And that’s how it started- somehow between that first day of crossing off the first box I haven’t stopped crossing off boxes.

    By the time my sister and I had reached the end of the uneven chart we’d made at the end of that January, we realized that this “praying thing wasn’t so hard” after all. It suddenly wove itself into our daily lives and it became something that we just did, regardless of what went on in our lives. It became effortless and there were no boulders sitting atop my shoulders. Obviously I still get lazy about praying sometimes, but it’s a different kind of laziness. It used to be I was too lazy to pray, now it’s more like I’m too lazy to pray now, but I know with a deep conviction that I won’t be going to bed until I do.

    And that’s how it happened. It started with crossing a box each day. It was unintentional. It was part conversation, part argument, and part bet with my eleven year old sister.

    That’s how I pray everyday. I just do.

    I don’t think about tomorrow. I don’t think about yesterday. I just think there is a prayer that I need to do today, when can I fit it in, and then I just do. It takes a couple of minutes and when I’m done I have lost so much. I lose so much of my self-centeredness, I lose my ego, my selfishness, my greed, my jealousy. I lose all the junk in my head. I feel like I’ve just taken a shower. And if that’s not what you’re getting from salah then that’s even more reason to keep going at it, even when you feel like nothing is happening.

    There’s a great quote by Zig Ziglar as to why that is;

    “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing- that’s why we recommend it daily.”

    And that goes for spirituality too. Now that I’ve rambled enough, I want to give you this free 30 Day Prayer Challenge!

    It’s a pdf to keep track of your prayers. Stick it in your planner, in your binder, put it on your fridge, on your desk, on your wall, under your pillow- I really don’t care. Just have some way to get started and hold yourself accountable for your prayers. Salat is a great way to feel centered and content with life, and coming from a female I will tell you this-

    When I get my period and I don’t have to pray, as relieved as I am that I don’t have to stop wherever I am and pray, after two, three days I feel… mucky. I don’t even know how to describe it…restless? I think restless is a better word. I just feel like I don’t know what I’m doing anymore. I don’t feel centered. I don’t even know how to describe the feeling, but that’s my experience with prayer. That’s my story and all that I can share. I hope this benefited you. I hope this helped shed some new light for you.

    ~Have a great rest of your day guys, and happy anniversary to MuslimGurl, I think it’s either my second or third year of blogging now. It’s kind of sad that I don’t know xD

    Also, just so you all know- the prayer pdf costs $1.29 on my Etsy store, so take advantage of it being free on here and if you have a cousin or friend who’s going to buy it don’t tell them it’s free on here and just shhhh- just kidding. Feel free to share, and I’d love to hear your stories about how you began to pray/ where you’re at in your prayer journey at this moment.

    Salams,

    ~MuslimGurl

     

     

     

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    Blog Post, Hijab Life

    CAN MUSLIMS RAP? MONA HAYDAR CONTROVERSY

    The fact that this is even considered news is crazy, but the reality is, I didn’t know how to feel about it when I saw it either. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then boy are you missing out!

    A Syrian immigrant from Detroit posted a music video in her hijab and the world went crazy about it.

    When I first came across this video, I didn’t know how to feel about it. It was a mixture of   it’s great that there are some hijabis breaking stereotypes, but also, the message sounded a bit too extreme in my opinion. It sounded a little like a man-hating chant to be honest, but the beat was pretty sick, and those dance moves were pretty cool too. The pregnancy part kind of weirded me out a little, actually a lot, but music videos are always a sight.

    Despite that, I still enjoyed the song, and it was whatever- but apparently nothing is whatever when a muslim does it now a days.

    The reaction in the comments section was like a battlefield- as per usual. Another digital crusade- you had muslim haters there, the haram police, people who were confused and people who were just straight up trash talking her for no reason and calling her out on being such a sinner.

    I was genuinely scared for the hate and backlash this girl was getting, and I legit thought she would probably get overwhelmed and just stop. Then today, she posted this on her channel:

     

    The real question on my mind is; would this have been as controversial if she wasn’t wearing a hijab? Imagine if she’d posted these videos with her hair done and dressed scantily with an “Allah (swt)” tattoo on her shoulder, would it have been just as controversial then?

    Most likely not. Muslims judge muslim women without hijabs in a more lenient manner. She would have been labeled as a “bad muslim” and her video would’ve just become one of the many music videos on youtube today. I think the real reason Mona Haydar’s music videos became controversial is the fact that she is dressed like most modest orthodox muslims now a days, and the message she’s trying to send isn’t that “she’s going to do what she wants and not care about anything” the message she’s trying to send is that ” I’m doing whatever I want without trespassing the boundaries of Allah so none of you can say anything to me” in other words, she’s trying to say that I make music, I wear a hijab, I’m an exemplary muslim, and this is allowed by my religion and you have to accept it at a time when in some muslim cultures, hearing a woman’s voice alone is considered haram. At a time when even a woman showing her face, her identity, is seen as haram and twisted into the religion by the same sheikh’s who are sending Mona DM’s on her Insta.

    It sounds like a joke, it should be a joke, but is unfortunately, a reality in many muslim communities today.

    To conclude this opinionated rant:

    The only real problem I have with Mona Haydar’s second song, is that I wouldn’t feel comfortable having it blare out of my car whilst driving because I know that others will only hear the “he’s a dog, he’s a dog”  which is kind of offensive. And I know that artistically speaking, the video was talking about rapists and sexual offenders and such, but at the same time it still sounds somewhat vulgar to me for some reason.

    And while I totally dig the beat and the fact that Mona Haydar is still going at it strong, I can’t say that I will be rapping with my hijab anytime soon, but I’m definitely glad some other hijabi is doing it out there so that I don’t get as much heat if I ever wanted to do it.

    Bottom line, whether you hate or love Mona Haydar- the girl is creating culture and a reality of culture is that the more you see something, the more it becomes normal- the more it becomes culture. And for western muslims, we have no culture, and we need more things like this, instead of forcing muslim artists able to only convey their art Hollywood style, we should let them express themselves the way they want without de-islamifying them for it. We can’t have a strong community without a solid culture to bond us, and that’s what artists like Mona Haydar do.

    Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 2.05.58 AM

    Also, your girl Dina Tokio seems to approve! I find it really cool when I see muslims supporting other muslims like this.


    Quick Bio of Mona Haydar: Mona Haydar is a poet, activist practitioner of Permaculture, meditator, composting devotee, mountain girl, solar power lover and a tireless God-enthusiast. She practices a life of sacred activism, poetry, contemplation and advocacy for living gently upon the Earth. She teaches classes and retreats on mindfulness and Islamic spirituality, leads workshops on creative writing and performs her poetry. Her words have found homes in the hearts of seekers, wanderers, poets, artists, lovers and stewards of the Earth. She grew up in Flint, Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan and has since lived in Damascus where she studied Arabic and Islamic spirituality then went on to live in the mountains of Northern New Mexico at Lama Foundation and in the Redwood forest of Northern California with her husband and son. Mona and her husband, Sebastian set up a stand in Cambridge, Massachusetts with signs that read ‘Talk to a Muslim’ ‘free coffee and donuts’ ‘free conversation’ and ‘Ask a Muslim’ encouraging open and loving dialogue which garnered the attention of NPR, Al Jazeera, The Boston Globe among other media outlets. Currently she is working on her second collection of poems and her first work of nonfiction on Islamic Spirituality through the lens of other spiritual traditions. She is working towards her Masters in Divinity. Mona helps to grow a more universal love with her activism, writing, performing and teaching. http://www.monahaydar.com. More about Mona.

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