Love Notes P1: Lessons about Love from the Qur’an

A cluster of hand-drawn red hearts

February is marked as the month of love, with Valentine’s Day falling right in the middle of it. It’s also the month of confusion, as it’s the only month in the Gregorian calendar that has 28 days with a leap year every 4 years. Fittingly, both traits complement each other nicely. Continue reading “Love Notes P1: Lessons about Love from the Qur’an”

34. “What better place to die…” (The Hajj Journal)

A field of burial mounds, with a small pathway to the left and the Prophet's Mosque in the distance.

September 26, 2015

I’ve been thinking about death quite a bit while I’ve been here. More specifically, I’ve been afraid of death. It’s easy to say you’ll have the attitude of, “what a better place to die than in Hajj”—I know I used to think that way. But almost every day has been a reminder of death. There was the crane accident that happened in Mecca when we first arrived, killing about 80 people, and just 2 days ago there was a major accident at the Jamarat—the cause of which is only hearsay at this point—which ended up with reportedly 700 people dead. Then after nearly every prayer in Mecca and Medina, there has been a janaza (funeral) prayer for someone who has died. Continue reading “34. “What better place to die…” (The Hajj Journal)”

7 Female Role Models in the Quran and Sunnah

A stained glass window with 7 flower-like arabesque patterns.

A Queen. A powerful business woman. A scholar.

These titles aren’t what you would expect to hear when you hear the phrase “Muslim woman”. However, the Islamic faith is rife with examples of women who defied the conventions of their time, and were praised for it. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us about 4 women in history who had perfected their faith, and were guaranteed Paradise, and among them were:

  • a single mother
  • a woman who defied her husband
  • a businesswoman
  • a daughter who was forced to grow up too soon

If you’re a Muslim, you’ve probably heard names like Mariam, Asiyah, Khadijah, Fatima, Aishah, Bilqist. But sometimes we get wrapped up in the history of these great figures and forget to see the very human side of these great women. Continue reading “7 Female Role Models in the Quran and Sunnah”

33. “Unity” (The Hajj Journal)

September 26, 2015

[When] we were going to stone the jamarat, on the Day of Eid, I noticed something incredible. Many groups were carrying a flag as a way to keep [everyone] together, and to find them if someone got lost. Some groups used their country flag. Since we were still in a state of ihram, it was recommended to repeat the Talbiyah (“Labayk Allah huma labayk…”). So as we were going through the tunnels, I saw a mass of people, with the flags of their countries raised, all chanting the same praise to the same God, a praise that echoed through the tunnels and increased in volume. It was this moment where the unity of Islam really sunk into me. I can’t remember who said it, but I once heard that religion is the only thing that can unite mankind. Things like nationality, language, ideals, even the UN (for all its efforts) are all subject to our own biases and prejudices. But religion is the one thing that transcends all of those things. It is submission of our own wills, laws and desires to a higher power. Continue reading “33. “Unity” (The Hajj Journal)”

32. “Eid” – P3 (The Hajj Journal)

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We saw Abu Bakr walking right beside us, and so we caught up with him. After exchanging laughs, Abu Bakr said to follow him to one of the hotels, where a guide from the falcon Travel group was waiting for the bus to show up. After losing us at the washrooms, Abu Bakr was just one step behind us the whole way. He even went back to Aziziya shortly after we were there. Then he came across the Falcon Travel group and hitched a ride on their bus back to the Haram. Now we were just waiting for the bus to return. I had been praying that we find a safe way back to Mina, and SubhanAllah, here it was. Se we waited. Continue reading “32. “Eid” – P3 (The Hajj Journal)”

32. “Eid” – P2 (The Hajj Journal)

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I wish I could tell you how long we were walking for. It felt like 2 hours.

I checked my phone occasionally, but only to see if Sheikh Tamir texted me Abu Bakr’s number. The time didn’t seem to matter much. We weaved through crowds and traffic and narrow alleys until we made it back to our hotel. My feet were sore and everything around me was hot. Continue reading “32. “Eid” – P2 (The Hajj Journal)”

32. “Eid – P1” (The Hajj Journal)

September 25, 2015

Yesterday was the longest day of my life. It began after Fajr in Muzdalifah (about 4:00 AM), [and after that] I was crammed into a bus to get back to our camp in Mina. We had the option of walking, but it’s a good thing we didn’t walk—we had a whole day of walking ahead of us. We got back to the camp around 6:30. It was the Day of Eid which, everywhere else in the world, meant a day of celebration. For us, it [was the beginning of the Days of Tashreeq, which means] it was a day of sacrifice and hard work. Sheikh Munir said that there’s no Eid prayer for pilgrims, because the world is praying Eid prayer for you. On this day, pilgrims do 4 things:

1.      Sacrifice a sheep, to feed the poor (this was done on our behalf, so we didn’t have to do it [ourselves])

2.      Stone the largest Jamarat pillar

3.      Shave the head to leave the state of ihram

4.      Perform Tawaf and Sa’i

Continue reading “32. “Eid – P1” (The Hajj Journal)”

31. “Imam” (The Hajj Journal)

September 24, 2015

One amazing thing happened in Muzdalifah. At one point, I was washing my hands, and heard one of the groups behind me praying. The imam had a very, very familiar recitation.

“No way,” I said out loud.

I turned around and, surely enough, leading the prayer was Imam Mohammed Raqih, the imam of the Wetaskiwin mosque. SubhanAllah, at the exact same place and time, across the world, we were there. Continue reading “31. “Imam” (The Hajj Journal)”

30. “Muzdalifah” (The Hajj Journal)

Groups of pilgrims in white cloth sitting on rocky ground under a light in the middle of the night.
Muzdalifah (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

September 24, 2015

After Arafat, pilgrims spend the night in a place called Muzdalifah, which is just south of Arafat. We spend the night on bare ground, without a tent, under the open sky. It’s kind of funny when I look at it this way. We started our journey in 2 high-end hotels. Then we went to the dorms in Aziziya, which made me miss the hotel. Then the tent camp in Mina, which made me miss Aziziya. Then the bare ground of Muzdalifah, which made me miss Mina.

If I could summarize Muzdalifah in one word: raw. Continue reading “30. “Muzdalifah” (The Hajj Journal)”

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)”