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)”

23. “The best actions…” (The Hajj Journal)

September 19, 2015

The best actions are those that benefit others. The Prophet (p) [emphasized] many acts of selflessness, like feeding others, bringing a smile to someone, going out of your way to help someone with their challenges… Many acts of worship that benefit others have more weight than acts that are solitary. A good deed ripples around you, and you may not know where it ends. Continue reading “23. “The best actions…” (The Hajj Journal)”

Post-Traumatic Sheikh Disorder | Part 1: Causes and Symptoms

Broken glass pane

The image of the sheikh standing up on stage, practically shouting to everyone “You better not have non-Muslim friends! You better not have non-Muslim friends!” became a screw my mind, twisting deeper every time I thought of it. Every time he stamped his foot, it drove a nail further into my heart.

That was the moment my long bout with Post-Traumatic Sheikh Disorder started.

Continue reading “Post-Traumatic Sheikh Disorder | Part 1: Causes and Symptoms”

14. “Josh” (The Hajj Journal)

September 13, 2015

On my first day here I spotted another convert. He was pretty easy to spot, since his shorts and t-shirt and stubbly facial hair and white complexion were about similar to my own. Also, his backpack had the name “Joshua” written on it. And based on that alone, I assumed he was a new Muslim, perhaps sponsored to go for Hajj like some new Muslims are. Last night I actually got to talk with him. And for once I, in my khurta, felt like I as the one who became Arabized. He’s a really cool guy. He’s been Muslim almost as long as I—7 years—and is here with his wife and father-in-law. He’s planning on doing Umrah for himself first, then on behalf of his mother-in-law. His sister converted before him, and she lived in Edmonton (and I may actually have met her.) He was actually the mahram (male representative) for her wedding, and even though her parents were against [her] marriage, Josh did something amazing: he interviewed her suitor, spoke with his boss, co-workers, friends and others to get a feel for who he was. Then he took all this information and spread it out in front of his Dad. His Dad looked it over and said, “This is exactly what a father-in-law would want.” So he successfully convinced his Dad of the Islamic marriage process by actually doing the Islamic marriage process. [Josh] came to Islam by studying different religions, studying the Qur’an, and writing down questions. He took his questions to an Islamic conference and [spoke with] Zakir Naik. Josh said he spent months coming up with these questions, and Zakir Naik’s responses were just bullet-quick, in his usual style… [A] few months later, [Josh] accepted [Islam]. Pretty much everything I mentioned above has humbled me.

Continue reading “14. “Josh” (The Hajj Journal)”

A Heavy Light | Part 1

How I felt when I became a Muslim.

A thick candle.

People sometimes ask me, “What was it like when you converted?” and they must be expecting some kind of rapturous event where I saw the light and felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders and my heart set free. But my conversion to Islam wasn’t so much about seeing the light, but rather realizing that the light was always there. I just didn’t realize it.

And let’s be straight: that light was heavy. Continue reading “A Heavy Light | Part 1”

We Are Home

Home

Today, the mosque in the town of Cold Lake, Alberta was vandalized. Windows were smashed, and the vandals spray painted the walls. “Go home” was scrawled in crimson red. And if you were to ask the vandal what they meant by “home”, they would probably be as specific as “Saudi Arabia” or as vague as “the Middle East”. Never mind that the highest concentration of Muslims is in Indonesia, the implication is that somehow by virtue of being Muslim, our home is across the ocean, in a land many of us have never visited with people we have never met. That we are strangers due to our race and creed, foreigners in our own land.

Continue reading “We Are Home”