29. “Arafat” (The Hajj Journal)

Arafat

September 24, 2015

We spent the day yesterday in Arafat.

Whenever I heard of Arafat, I imagined crowds of white-garbed pilgrims standing on a red hillside, their hands raised and their eyes closed as they conferred with God. I imagined a few pop-up tents in the hilly valley with food and drink inside. But a big part of this trip has been managing expectations versus reality. Or, more accurately, imagination versus reality. Continue reading “29. “Arafat” (The Hajj Journal)”

“What’s Mina like?” (The Hajj Journal)

A row of large white tents in Mina.
Courtesy wikimedia.org

Mina is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Imagine a valley between copper-brown mountains, filled with identical white tents, stretching far past the hazy horizon, and behind the slope of an eastern mountain. The tents were all large, like the kind you’d see at an outdoor event. Continue reading ““What’s Mina like?” (The Hajj Journal)”

“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

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”