“Keep God in mind and you will find Him in front of you…”

“Keep God in mind and you will find Him in front of you. Get acquainted with God in times of ease and He will know you in days of distress. Know that what missed you could not have hit you, and what hit you could not have missed you. Know that victory comes with patience, relief follows distress, ease follows hardship.”


Anxiety and worry are two constants in my life. I’ve always found myself worrying about one thing or another. Whether it’s cosmological destruction or the very minute and personal fear of losing the people closest to you, it’s something that has always followed me. As I grew up I had outlets to manage my anxiety, like writing and video games. Escaping into a fictional world—or coming up with my own—even for just an hour or so was enough to pull my mind away from my anxious thoughts. Continue reading ““Keep God in mind and you will find Him in front of you…””

27. “Pilgrims” (The Hajj Journal)

A wide view of the tent city of Mina, with rows of white tents in between streets.
Source: Wikipedia

September 22, 2015

We’re pilgrims now.

We’re all staying in Mina now, a city of tents that stretch as far as you can see. I continue to be impressed at how the Saudi Government has been able to handle the logistics of moving 2 million worshippers and ensuring the facilities are organized accordingly…

[H]ere at Mina, the camp is sectioned off by continent, and then broken down into streets and sections… Our tent has about 30 people in it, and is air conditioned. Today is mostly about resting up for tomorrow. We’re close to the washroom stalls—most are squat toilets, which are actually not that bad, and preferable in my ihram. The cushions are ironically more comfortable to sleep on than the beds in the Aziziya dorm. They’re pretty tightly packed though. Continue reading “27. “Pilgrims” (The Hajj Journal)”

Hajj: One Year Later

Kaba at day

Hajj is often touted as a life changing journey. It marks the final act a Muslim must fulfil that is owed to God. Completing it by no means makes you a complete Muslim. But it does complete the 5 pillars you owe to God as a person who submits to Him.

A year ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to go for Hajj. During my time, I documented my experiences in my Hajj Journal; I’ve also spoken about it on the radio. Hajj was a journey that is impossible to fully describe. It’s an all-encompassing spiritual and physical and mental journey where each event that occurs is tailored to you, personally, by God.

What terrified me most about Hajj was the notion that it was going to change me into a different person. Change, in general, is frightening. Spiritual change is terrifying. My fear was that I would become a super-strict, ultra-hardline, everything-is-haram Muslim. I remember standing on the roof of our hotel on the eve of Hajj with both fear and excitement, wondering who I would be at the end of Hajj.

Well, it’s been a year now. And here is who I am. Continue reading “Hajj: One Year Later”

26. “Rooftop” (The Hajj Journal)

September 21, 2015

I’m here on the rooftop of our hotel, between the shadow of a mountain and the lights of Mecca. In just a few hours, I’ll put on my ihram and, God willing, start my Hajj. The evening breeze is warm and agreeable. Lights of different colours illuminate the rooftops yellow, blue, purple. Strings of lights hang from the roof of a nearby hotel. Around me, Mecca hums with the sounds of evening life. Mecca. The Holy City. The Mother of All Cities, as it’s mentioned in the Qur’an. The city where, for 1400 years, Muslims have journeyed to in order to answer the call made by Abraham millennia ago. Tonight is the last night of the old me. Whoever I’ll be after the journey is done is, right now, known only by God. But I pray that I’ll be the best version of myself when I return home.

Continue reading “26. “Rooftop” (The Hajj Journal)”

The Canadian Prayer Rug

What does a Canadian prayer rug look like? For this story, I interviewed the folks behind this unique project, who took it upon themselves to weave a prayer rug that was distinctly Canadian. I was impressed at how much thought went into the project, from the designs chosen to the materials used and even the techniques used to create the rug.

Read the story: A Canadian Prayer Rug Weaves Together the Stories of First Nation’s People, Muslim Immigrants, and Alberta’s Landscape


Why I’m Not Playing Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go logo
The Inquirer

As a kid, I wanted to be the very best — like no one ever was. Catching them was my real test. Training them was my cause. However, I could not travel across the land, searching far and wide, because my Pokemon adventures were confined to the old cabbage-green screen of the Gameboy.

When I wasn’t engaged in my digital adventure to be the greatest Pokemon master, I was absorbed in the toys, cards, cartoon, movies and writing terrible fan fiction. (“They sneeked sighlently passed scientists” is still the greatest worst sentence I’ve ever written). Pokemon was the defining craze of my generation and I soaked it up. I caught all 151 original Pokemon, got opening-night tickets to the movies (which I and my friends saw multiple times to get the promo trading cards), surfed the internet as it speculated new Pokemon (remember Pikablu?), built decks and battled with the trading card game, read the manga, bought the toys, and oh the stories of heartbreak and triumph I could tell in my quest as a Pokemon trainer, collector and fan. Maybe I’ll share some another time.

Now this Pokemon trainer is all grown up (physically, anyway) and now his dream of seeing Pokemon in real life has now come true. Sort of.

Pokemon Go, at this point, probably doesn’t need an introduction. It’s a mobile augmented reality game where players go out into the real world to track, catch and train Pokemon. It’s practically tailored to my generation.

That’s probably why it’s so surprising that I’m not playing it. Continue reading “Why I’m Not Playing Pokemon Go”

Biking Without Pedals: Memories of John and ALS

A man sitting on the beach with a large, black and brown dog.
(CBC, Facebook)

It’s ironic to consider that I work for the provincial government—an organization well known for its love of acronyms—and yet the one acronym that impacted my life the most was one that I was uninformed of: ALS.

When I started working for the government, my co-worker, John, was working with me. When he spoke, it was very slow with a low, almost monotone sound. My first impression was that he must have had a stroke at some point, which can affect one’s speech patterns. It turns out it was a different beast altogether: ALS. Continue reading “Biking Without Pedals: Memories of John and ALS”

25. “The ‘Why’ of Hajj” – (The Hajj Journal) (Long Post)

Kaba at day

September 20, 2015

I think a reoccurring lesson of this journey has been learning and understanding what it means for something to be sacred. What it means for something to be favored or blessed by God. To believe and seek what is beyond our explanation, to understand the sanctity of the deeper meaning of things, and to come closer to the Divine and answer the call in our hearts. It’s so far been a journey of self discovery, and Hajj hasn’t even started yet.

Part of the journey has been understanding the things my faith holds sacred. One of the things that stuck in my mind and troubled me was the fact that my first moments with the Ka’ba weren’t the unforgettable spiritual event I thought it would be. I had hyped the moment up so much in my mind, replaying how it would be and how I should feel, that when reality struck I felt guilty because I wasn’t living out the thoughts and feelings I told myself I should have. A thought kept coming to my head, which I had to fight off: it’s just a building… But I knew that it reflected a lack of knowledge on my part: a lack of knowledge of the history, purpose and sanctity of the Ka’ba. And by extension, the other rituals of Hajj as well. Continue reading “25. “The ‘Why’ of Hajj” – (The Hajj Journal) (Long Post)”

Half of Your Faith: 10 Tips from a Guy who Just Got Married



So I just got married.

And let me say this: it’s great. You should try it sometime. Or if you’ve been previously married (like myself), try it again. In any case, marriage is a key moment in your life. But I gotta say: it can be tough sometimes. The life you live—religious or not—before you’re married and after you’re married are very different.  Continue reading “Half of Your Faith: 10 Tips from a Guy who Just Got Married”

Making Meatballs with Omar Khadr

Image via CBC


There are few Canadian figures as polarizing as Omar Khadr. If you don’t know his story, the short version is that in 2002 he was enlisted by Al-Qaeda as a child soldier. Following the bombing of the hideout he was staying in, a firefight ensued with the US military forces, during which Omar was shot and accused of killing Sgt. Christopher Speer with a grenade. Despite being 15 years old at the time, he was held in Guantanamo Bay for 10 years—the only Canadian citizen detained there and the only child convicted of a war crime since World War II. After a lengthy court process, he was extradited to Canada and eventually released back into the Edmonton community with strict guidelines.

He also likes cats, cartoons and Sega Genesis. Continue reading “Making Meatballs with Omar Khadr”