Blog Post

Islam Simplified | A Guide to Better Understanding Islam

So you’ve heard these terms so many times, whether on CNN, the latest bill being passed or on the train station- Mozlems this, Muslims that, Islam this, Radical Islamists that. 

Some Muslims don’t drink, others own the bar down the street, some muslim women wear a hijab, some are covered from face, to head to toe, others are tanning in a bikini at the beach. So what’s the deal with these Muslims you might wonder? Who are they and what do they believe? 

This will be the first post of a series of “Islam 101″ blogposts to better explain what Islam is to those who think all we do is set off bombs and yell “Allah Akbar” *eye roll*

In this post specifically I’ll be covering some main ideas that will (hopefully) make the foreign map of Muslim beliefs be more navigable. 

The One Thing–  There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world and counting. Across the board, from east to west the one absolute thing that all Muslims have in common is their belief in the oneness of God.

Muslims believe that there is only one God. God has no father or mother, no son or daughter, no one shares His throne. None is equal to Him. He is the ultimate Creator, He is the only worthy of worship and surrendering to. 

This is a major point in Islam, Muslims do not worship idols, or their prophet Muhammad (swt) or any of the preceding prophets that they believe in. It’s just God, and God alone who is worth worship to Muslims.

Below are some verses from the Quran that I chose to illustrate this point, this is just one example (you can feel free to skip the quote since it’s kind of long):

“He is God: there is no god other than Him. It is He who knows what is hidden as well as what is in the open, He is the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. He is God: there is no god other than Him, the Controller, the Holy One, Source of Peace, Granter of Security, Guardian over all, the Almighty, the Compeller, the Truly Great; God is far above anything they consider to be His partner. He is God: the Creator, the Originator, the Shaper. The best names belong to Him. Everything in the heavens and earth glorifies Him: He is the Almighty, the Wise.” [Quran, 59:22-24]

Everything in Islam functions around this basic block of monotheism and God being at the ultimate top of the hierarchy that the religion branches out from.

This brings us to the second most important part of the religion that you need to know in order to understand what Muslims believe and how they function.

The Second Thing- The Holy Quran (Quran/Koran/Coran) is the book of the Muslims.

Muslims believe that the Quran is the word of God as communicated to the prophet Mohammad (swt) by God through the archangel Gabriel. Or Jibreeel if you want to say it the arabic way.

Some things you should know about the Quran, is that it contains the same stories from the Torah and Bible with some changes and additions. Muslims believe that God’s message was altered as time went by in these previous scriptures, and the Quran is the final “revelation”.

In Islam, the Quran is seen as the true word of God, since the Quran has been unchanged since its revelation to the prophet over 1400 years ago. The very first copy of the Quran compared to a Quran printed last week, are identical in text.

So now that we’ve established the second most important aspect of Islam that dictates the actions and belief system of Muslims, let’s put the two together.

Muslims worship God and God alone, Muslims believe that the Quran is the unchanged and unchanging word of God that they follow.

This brings us back to our initial question, if that’s the case, then how come the end result is so different between Muslims and what they believe and what they practice and preach?? What causes these drastic variations between Muslims; like Muslim women who think it’s their mandated religious duty to cover up a certain way, and have a specific ceremony for marriage etc.

There are certain aspects of the religion that for the most part, the majority of Islamic scholars and clerics agree on, and have agreed on for centuries that are integral in the religion and cemented. Such things are the five pillars which are: praying five times a day, fasting the month of Ramadan, giving charity, performing the Hajj pilgrimage (which is basically a visit to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to visit the house of God), and to believe in God and his message as relayed by the prophet Mohammed (swt).

Muslims know they have to do these things, amongst others, the issue arises when it comes down to how they have to these things. How to perform Hajj? How to perform daily prayers? How much charity to give and to whom?

Ultimately it comes down to this; as Muslims we have to follow the words of God as they are presented in the Quran. The problem is, the Quran isn’t very specific. So, for example, when it asks Muslims to meditate/pray five times a day, it mandates that we do so, but it doesn’t explain how we are supposed to do it. And that’s because the prophet Mohammed (swt) explained and taught and showed these things, and we are to do them as he did.

The problem now, and this is where things get messy and funky and all confusing, is that video recording did not exist at the time (obviously), and the actions and sayings of the prophet Mohammad (swt) were relayed from one person to another.

Another example is the modesty part. The Quran commands women and men to dress modestly and guard their private parts. But the definition of dressing modestly varies from person to person and it comes down to the research you do, and the sources you believe in.

Now, if you’ve played a game of telephone, you know how messy this can get real quick. And despite the scrutiny with which certain scholars at the time attempted to collect and filter through the recounted stories of the prophet’s sayings and teachings, there are many Hadith* collections out there and it’s up to the individual to research and decide which is the most authentic for them to follow.

And let’s not even discuss the role that culture plays in this, because that is a whole other non-ending discussion for another time.

I will post the remaining explanations for this “Islam 101” segment sometime next week. Hope to see you then, in the meantime, my friends, hope you learned something from this super-condensed hasty and brief overview of why we crazy mozlems are all so different yet the same 😉


DISCLAIMER: I am not a scholar in Islam, I am writing this as a practicing Muslim person who is fairly knowledgable (or at least believes herself to be fairly knowledgable) about her religion. So, with that in mind if you are reading and see something wrong then: LET ME KNOW! Even if there’s anything I said that might’ve implied something that is wrong. Let me knowww.


Some great resources (that I approve of) to continue your research: To learn more about the oneness of God in Islam click HERE

*Hadith- a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad which, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Koran.


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Blog Post

About Your Faith

About Faith

-from an excerpt in Nahjol Balagha

(1) It is a road that is crystal-clear, inundated with light.

(2) Faith leads you to good deeds, and good deeds lead to faith. [rest of excerpt continues at end of post]

Notes on faith. Don’t let it wither, don’t let it dry out. I know how busy everyday life can get, I truly do, but you need to stop for a minute and take a breather. Continue reading

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Blog Post, Spiritual Matters

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, Other

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

    I’m simply appalled at the fact that someone has so much hate in their heart towards people they don’t even know. Furthermore, what pisses me off about this situation, is the fact that the media didn’t cover it with the same magnitude it rushes to cover anything that’s related to a “muslim” doing something bad.

    In case you’re wondering what I’m blabbing about, read this letter that was sent to muslims in the U.K:

    Punish a Muslim Day Letter

    “Punish A Muslim Day” letters are being sent to families in East London. The letter details a point system for each action & reward. For example pulling a Muslim woman’s hijab is 25 points, throwing acid is 50 points and burning or bombing a mosque is a whole 1,000 points.

    What bothers me even more, is the fact that nobody’s been able to track where this bloody letter came from? Is it really that hard to track where the letter was sent and where it was received? Is it really that hard, or is it just because the matter “isn’t that big of a deal?”

    I’m so tired of these idiots going back and forth between themselves, whether ISIS, or KKK or islamophobes or Nazis or whatever else have you; these mentally disturbed bigots going around freely causing all kinds of chaos for no particular reason. I’d really like to collect the bunch of them and dump them into the amazon and hope they learn that the only way to survive is if they stopped trying to kill everybody that didn’t look and act like them.

    This letter bothers me so much. I don’t understand people like that, I really don’t. Is hating Muslims a hobby now? Why don’t you throw acid at each others face to practice a little before you throw it on Muslims? Really, you don’t wanna come unprepared to your cult’s annual event. I swear, this is absolutely embarrassing to the human race, street animals behave better than this. This is absolutely shameful.

    I know that some people wrote the letter below in response to the hateful one. And I definitely want to say, I appreciate it, and I know that not everybody is hateful etc.

    Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 5.13.20 PM.png

     

     


    Photo credit: tellmamauk.org
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    Blog Post, Hijab Life, Uncategorized

    Top 6 Reasons Muslim Girls Need to Visit Oman!

    muslimgurl-com-1

    One of the main reasons I haven’t been active on Muslimgurl.com is because 4 months ago I came to live in Oman. 

    A quick recap of Oman; it’s a predominantly muslim country, one of the most peaceful and safest places in the world, and most importantly, a muslim country where even religious sects pray side by side in harmony. I’m talking like Shia and Sunni’s praying side by side without being at each others throats, like if that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

    And it sounds nice doesn’t it? Well, it gets even better 🙂

    Andy in Oman.jpg

    Picture I stole from the blog Andy in Oman. It’s a photo of the food court in Muscat City Centre I believe.

    1. EVERYTHIG IS HALAL

    This one might be obvious, as a muslim country it’s readily assumed that everything there will be halal. However, in Oman it’s even better because they include all the major diners and restaurants you might’ve had back home, except now you can eat whatever you want in them at any location. Nandos, Subway, Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonald’s, Chilies, Tim Horton’s… they’re all here and they’re all halal! No need to search online for halal
    restaurants before I leave the house anymore :p

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    Sunset at Yeti when we visited during Eid!

    2. BEACH, GYM, POOL…BEACH!!

    You know those stares that you get when you’re at the beach fully dressed while everyone else isn’t? You don’t get that here. You can swim dressed in anything you like at the beach. And there’s plenty of women’s only gyms and pools that you can go to without having to feel like you’re doing something horrifically wrong simply because of the way you’re dressed. And actually, you can wear whatever you want, put on an abaya, then take off the abaya in the locker room and voila. Zero awkwardness. Zero uncomfortableness. 

     

    Oman Avenues Mall.jpg

    A picture of Oman Avenues Mall from the outside that I stole from the internet!

    3. SHOPPING 

    The target consumer is you! Toothpaste ads emphasize things like “minimal breath” during ramadan and those delicious food commercials apply to you as well! Furthermore like with restaurants, all the major brands you’d want like Zara, Mango, H&M, Victoria’s Secret and a hundred others are all here. How sweet is that. 

    British Council .jpg

    See that hat the guy is wearing? That’s a distinctly Omani hat to wear for men. Also, image credit goes to the British Council.

    4. DIVERSITY

    Many Middle Eastern countries now a days, lack diversity due to the safety issues prevalent in the area, however, in Oman, you will find a large population of Indian, Philippino, British, Bangladeshi, basically many ethnicities so you don’t feel ethnically bound to only one group, one culture and one way of thinking. 

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    Sultan Qaboos Mosque (the 3rd largest mosque in the world) here in Muscat, Oman. Picture taken a few days ago, if you come early in the morning, you can head to the office and volunteer to help out for the day!

    5. FITTING IN 

    When I first stepped foot in Oman, there was a strange feeling of relief: not because we’d landed safely, but because I no longer had to prove that I’m a normal human being who doesn’t carry out terroristic acts for my religion to every single person I passed by.

    I know it might sound a bit extreme, but the brutal reality is that unfortunately, some people really do believe that I, as a hijabi woman, would try to hurt them as part of my “religious beliefs.”

    And the worst part is, there is no way to distinguish between someone who dislikes me for my personality and those who dislike me for my religion. The relationship is so gray that I’m constantly torn between, should I try harder to make a good impression to represent my reigion better, or do I change something about myself because it’s setting people off. Is it me they hate, or is it what I represent?


    It’s a very confusing battleground, and the worst part is I can’t imagine the middle schoolers and high schoolers having to deal with this in addition to their life overload at this stage in their lives.

    And that’s where the relief comes now that I’m in Oman: nothing is gray. The majority are muslim and the expats are here willingly, furthermore there is no sectarianism here. Meaning unlike other muslim countries, they don’t care about the political sunni-shia issues, the mosques here are beautiully packed with worshippers praying with their hands at their sides or across their chest, each to their own.

    oman-MMAP-md.png

    6. ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH!

    Though it is an arabic country, the majority of transactions and interactions are done in English. Signs, prints, ads, everything is in big, bold beautiful English! To me this is a major plus since even day to day interactions such as at the cashier and restaurants are carried out in English, making my life so much easier since I no longer have to explain why yes, I’m arab, and yes I can speak arabic, but no, I have no idea how to communicate with you when I’m trying to order food or trying to open a bank account. 


    And though Oman is a quiet and traditional country, it is organized and well-maintained, obviously there are downsides, but overall, it’s a not too shabby place to be in, and I will most definitely miss it when I leave next week. If you have the chance, give this charming quiet little country a visit.

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    Blog Post, Girl Stuff, Hijab Fashion

    3 DON’TS OF HIJAB FASHION!

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    بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

    Ok so I have a confession, I’ve fallen into many “HIJAB DON’TS” over the many years I’ve worn hijab. Honestly, sometimes looking at my old photos makes me cry a little on the inside because I can’t believe the horrendous outfits I’ve worn, in public! But just because I fell into horrible hijab mishaps, you shouldn’t have to! I’m going to share three HIJAB FASHION DON’TS for those who want to save themselves before it’s too late 😛  Continue reading

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