So I’m Writing a Book…

If you’ve followed my blog in any capacity, you may have noticed I’ve been gone for the past 8 months. Well, I assure you it’s not because I’ve been twiddling my thumbs, staring at a blank screen. I’ve been focusing all my writing efforts into writing a book. More accurately, I’m expanding a serialized short story I wrote a long time ago into a full novel.

The story right now it tentatively called “The Long Walk”. It’s about a Muslim walking across a post-apocalyptic Canada on his journey toward Mecca for Hajj. Along the way his faith is tested and he must survive horrific creatures and, worse still, other people. He is joined by a young girl who, over time, becomes his protege, and the story becomes her journey as much as Hanif’s. A major theme in the book is the purpose of religion and belief in human society, even after society has collapsed. My goal is to write a I’ve uploaded all 3 parts of the original short story here onto my blog for you to enjoy (and critique! I appreciate the feedback). Continue reading “So I’m Writing a Book…”

The Problem of Evil – P1: Responsibility

A black and white photo of a man sitting on a ruined windowsill, looking deep in thought.

It’s a question everyone asks at some point: if there is a God, why do bad things happen? It can also be phrased in other ways, like “Why does God allow evil?” or “Why is there evil if God is merciful?”. It’s something that philosophers and thinkers have grappled with for centuries. Continue reading “The Problem of Evil – P1: Responsibility”

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)”

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)”

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)”

25. “The ‘Why’ of Hajj” – (The Hajj Journal) (Long Post)

Kaba at day

September 20, 2015

I think a reoccurring lesson of this journey has been learning and understanding what it means for something to be sacred. What it means for something to be favored or blessed by God. To believe and seek what is beyond our explanation, to understand the sanctity of the deeper meaning of things, and to come closer to the Divine and answer the call in our hearts. It’s so far been a journey of self discovery, and Hajj hasn’t even started yet.

Part of the journey has been understanding the things my faith holds sacred. One of the things that stuck in my mind and troubled me was the fact that my first moments with the Ka’ba weren’t the unforgettable spiritual event I thought it would be. I had hyped the moment up so much in my mind, replaying how it would be and how I should feel, that when reality struck I felt guilty because I wasn’t living out the thoughts and feelings I told myself I should have. A thought kept coming to my head, which I had to fight off: it’s just a building… But I knew that it reflected a lack of knowledge on my part: a lack of knowledge of the history, purpose and sanctity of the Ka’ba. And by extension, the other rituals of Hajj as well. Continue reading “25. “The ‘Why’ of Hajj” – (The Hajj Journal) (Long Post)”

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”

24. “Homesickness” (The Hajj Journal)

A man sitting in a chair, writing in a journal.September 19, 2015

Dealing with a small bout of homesickness. Not surprising; ever since going to Camp Maskepetoon when I was 11, I’ve had to deal with varying degrees of homesickness when I’m away from home and everything that’s comfortable. But this isn’t Camp Maskepetoon. This is Saudi Arabia. I had to help one of the brothers in our group recharge his pre-paid phone, and I found myself just listening to the automated voice explain menu options in English. The pre-recorded lines were comforting… On top of that we’re leaving our hotel and going to some place called Aziziyah which is like an apartment and then Hajj starts in just a few days so now things around me are changing… Continue reading “24. “Homesickness” (The Hajj Journal)”

Check-ins with God | Part 3

People sitting in a prayer hall for Friday Prayer.

Author Willow G. Wilson said it best in her memoir, The Butterfly Mosque: “The line levels everyone. No Muslim is exempt from it; a saint must stand shoulder to shoulder with a murderer if a murderer is who he finds to his right.”

Every Friday, Muslims gather in mosques and musallahs for congregational prayer (jum’ah). Following a brief spiritual reminder, they all condense into lines, shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot, and pray together in unison. Everyone is on equal ground before God. Continue reading “Check-ins with God | Part 3”