Ramadan reflections

Ramadan-Moon

The first time I fasted I was 18. I remember the splitting headache more than anything—always the headaches. Hunger I can manage, but the headaches are the ones that knock me down. I remember rushing home and preparing a massive dinner of Kraft Dinner, sandwiches, and a bevy of other dishes. And then, much to my surprise, I was barely able to stomach it. I was shocked to find that my stomach had shrunk its capacity during my fast.

From then on I was a bit more conservative with my iftar dinner. Continue reading “Ramadan reflections”

Re-watching ‘An American Tail’ in the Trump Age

Poster from IMDB

One of my favourite movies as a child was An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.  I watched it a lot, but didn’t often watch its predecessor, Don Bluth’s original 1986 animated movie, An American Tail. I recently re-watched the story of Fievel Mouskewitz and his family’s journey to the “Land of the Free”. Much to my surprise, the film’s story of hopeful immigrants traveling to America is relevant today, but in a different way than what it originally intended. Continue reading “Re-watching ‘An American Tail’ in the Trump Age”

The Muslim Musical Metronome: My Journey Through Music in Islam

musical-notes

A few weeks ago, the internet experienced a minor rumble about a story regarding a supposed fatwa issued by 42 clerics against Indian singer Nahid Afrin. International media caught wind and it became a story about religious clergy banning someone’s freedom of expression. As is the case with such a story, the world got riled up.

Of course, now there’s some speculation if the “fatwa” was even a fatwa at all, or rather just an appeal made by citizens concerned with hosting a concert at a college.

Now, I’m not here to comment on the story or vilify or condemn one party over the other. Instead, I’m using this story as a launching point for my own personal story about my relationship with music. Continue reading “The Muslim Musical Metronome: My Journey Through Music in Islam”

Epilogue: “hajj” (The Hajj Journal)

October 1, 2015

I’m sitting on the porch in my parents’ back yard, and I’m reminded just how many signs of life there are here. The green grass; the yellowing autumn leaves; the occasional ‘plick’ of water from the garden faucet; insects—butterflies, ladybugs, spiders, and more—going about their business; birds getting ready for the coming winter; the wind chime gently ringing soft notes in the breeze. I feel, for the moment, tranquil. I feel like a new phase of my life is about to start. I remember [being asked] once: “What stage of your life do you think you are in?” And the question didn’t seem weird or strange to me. It made perfect sense. Looking back on my life, I can almost section it out into chapters. Definitely for the past 8 years that I’ve been a Muslim. Reversion. Marriage. Divorce. Work. School. Graduation. Career. Engagement. Hajj. At certain points I feel that a phase of my life is ending just as another is beginning. Now there’s my life post-Hajj. Continue reading “Epilogue: “hajj” (The Hajj Journal)”

Vimy Ridge, Syria and War (short post)

It’s been 100 years since the great Canadian conquest of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Today it’s still a piece of national history and Canadian pride. Four Canadian divisions faced an uphill battle against German troops at Vimy. The goal was to push the German army back from a strategic position along the ridge. A four day offensive led to 3,598 dead, but a major strategic victory for the Allies. It also cemented Canada as a country of its own, rather than just another British colony.

A long time has passed since World War I. And yet, despite being called “The War to End All Wars”, nothing ended. If anything, it began a period human history where war became an ongoing machine, where the our goal was to develop more elaborate methods of killing each other.

As long as people will be around, there will be war. It’s a bitter and inevitable truth. The turn of the 21st century has seen a world wrapped in the shrouds of war and bloodshed. Humanity keeps getting caught in the crossfires. Last week saw a horrific gas attack on civilians in Syria. The world watched, and sighed, and went on with its business. Politicians tsk­-ed and waved their fingers and sent their condolence letters (usually consisting of those platitudes like “solidarity” and “sympathies”) without any notion of action. The UN bickered about what to do—ironic considering they were formed in the wake of World War I as a means of preventing horrors like the Syrian chemical attacks, and bringing to justice whoever perpetrated them. And yet, countries like Russia care more about their alliances than the human suffering that dictators like Asad bring on.

Trump used this attack as political leverage to deliver a dig at his predecessor, Barack Obama, before sending a barrage of missiles to the airbase that was home to the planes that commenced the chemical attack. Yet if anyone from Syria tries to seek asylum in the States, they’ll be rejected because of Trump’s orders.

Death and destruction seem to be the order of the day now. The number of casualties and human suffering inflames our rage for only mere moments until disappearing into the ether, like a 5-day old Tweet.

In 100 years from now, who will remember Vimy Ridge? I hope everyone will. I hope people will remember a day that is forever ingrained in our history. I hope people will remember the horrors of The War to End All Wars. I hope that people will remember the hope that followed from that war, hope for a better tomorrow and a better human race.

And I hope that, 100 years from now, we will be able to say we achieved that goal.

38. “Home” (The Hajj Journal)

September 29, 2015

It’s been a long, grueling day of travel.

It started with a hectic rush to the airport in Jeddah at 1 AM—I’d only gotten an hour of sleep after tawaf. People were just clamored together. There were 7 of us on the flight back to Edmonton: myself, Ahmed, Lubna, Husnain, Abdulrashid, Loreen and Fatima.

I got a seat near the back [of the plane], and didn’t have to share it with anyone. Score! That meant I could lift up the arm rests and sprawl across the three seats to sleep! Except the arm rests in this particular row of chairs were locked. And try as I might, I couldn’t lift them. I spent at least an hour or two (at intervals) trying fruitlessly to maneuver myself into a comfortable sleeping position.

But I just couldn’t do it. Continue reading “38. “Home” (The Hajj Journal)”

37. “Farewell” (The Hajj Journal)

The Ka'bah

September 27, 2015

My Hajj has officially ended.

The final rite of Hajj is to do one final Tawaf before leaving Mecca. It’s a way of bidding farewell to the House of God; after doing it, a pilgrim isn’t allowed to engage in commerce until they leave Mecca.

It was a bit stressful. We (Abdulrashid and I) were on the second level [of the Haram] when suddenly, out of nowhere, there was a stampede. We never found out what caused it. But one minute we were walking and the next there was a mob of people running toward us. It only lasted about 5-10 seconds, but it was terrifying. I saw Abdulrashid in front of me, and he stopped for a second, then turned and ran as the crowd came closer. I immediately ran to the edge of one of the indoor balconies and pressed myself against the balcony, gripping the stone ledge for my life. Some brave security guards jumped in and stood with their hands in the air, shouting at the crowd to be calm. Thank God nothing bad happened and no one got hurt. Continue reading “37. “Farewell” (The Hajj Journal)”

36. “Rooftop” (The Hajj Journal)

September 27, 2015

Back on the rooftop of Aziziya. Tomorrow we will got to Mecca after maghrib [prayer], do our farewell tawaf, then head to the airport for the long flight home. Though I’m ready to go home, I’m still sad to leave. Sad that it’s over. Amazed that it’s over. I don’t know how I’m going to explain it to people when I get home. When I walk into the office and [my co-workers ask], “So how was it?”, how will I respond? How do I sum up a life changing spiritual pilgrimage in only a few minutes? Continue reading “36. “Rooftop” (The Hajj Journal)”

35. “Last days in Mina” (The Hajj Journal)

Rows of large white tents near the base of a small mountain.

September 26, 2015

It’s currently the second last day of our stay in Mina. Most of Mina is leaving; God says in the Quran that pilgrims can leave after 2 or 3 days, so most of Mina is filing into busses or going to stone the Jamarat then going back to the hotel. We’re close to the road, so the dull hum of busses remains almost steady, as well as the mix of voices outside. An announcement continues to play in a loop, advising us not to go to the Jamarat between 10 AM and 2 PM for safety. People keep trying to come into our tent through our back door. It’s locked, but I pushed one of our big water coolers against it for extra protection, after an overly eager person almost shoved the door right off. I can only hope this is the closest I get to being in a refugee camp. Continue reading “35. “Last days in Mina” (The Hajj Journal)”

Love Notes P2: Lessons about Love from the Sunnah

hearts2

I hate to break it to you, but Jerry Maguire’s famous, “You complete me” line is pure pop culture crack.

Why do I say this? Well, it’s because many people have this conception that they’re waiting for their “soul mate”, their knight or princess that will somehow fix their broken heart and complete them.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) famously said, “Marriage is half your deen.” Here’s what this doesn’t mean:

  • your deen is only half complete before you are married
  • you are only half a person and need someone else to “complete” you

You need to be a complete person in and of yourself before you get married. You can’t expect someone to come into your life and fill in the missing gaps of your character and religion. Continue reading “Love Notes P2: Lessons about Love from the Sunnah”