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”

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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)”

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)”

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”

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

 

Marriage

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

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”

16. “Ihram” (The Hajj Journal)

Aaron wearing ihramSeptember 13, 2016

Today we also put on our ihrams and are on our way to Mecca. Ihram is a dress specifically for Umra and Hajj. It consists of a single, white sheet wrapped around the waist, and another wrapped around the body. Something one of our group guides said stuck with me: “this is your shroud.” That keeps repeating in my mind. I’m wearing my shroud. A Muslim is buried in white sheets. However, the end result of Hajj is, as the Prophet (p) said, is that we come out as the day we were born: free of sin. A rebirth. A new beginning. The ihram is a double reminder of both death and rebirth. We are all born, all die, and are all resurrected in the next life. The deciding factor is complying with God’s commandment. And as with every reflection about death, it’s not about getting mopey and upset; instead it is about life. How to life your life, according to God’s will.

Continue reading “16. “Ihram” (The Hajj Journal)”

Much Ado About Death

Dead roses in a vase

 

I remember the first time death touched my life.

It was my seventh or eighth birthday when Stevie, the family cat, died. Prior to that, death was just a minor inconvenience in a video game, or something that happened in movies. I knew what death was, but I didn’t fully grasp what it meant until that day. I lay in bed crying because I had finally realized the finality of death: Stevie was gone, and he wasn’t coming back.

Death came into my life many times after that.

Continue reading “Much Ado About Death”