Jinns that go Bump in the Night

Pictured: not a jinn

My fascination with the macabre and paranormal began when I was around 5 years old. I was laying in bed, looking out the open door  into the living room, when a shadow in the shape of a hunched over man passed down the hallway and in front of my door. It seemed to pass in front of the opening to the living room, meaning it was not flat against the wall like a normal shadow. It was like a shadow had peeled itself off the wall and was walking around. At the time I didn’t know what to think of it. I could see my parents in the living room and they didn’t seem to notice, so I thought nothing of it.

Years later, in my teens, I was watching a show about ghosts and it said that ghosts can appear as shadowy figures. Right then I remembered back to my incident, even though I hadn’t thought of it for years, and realized I had a brush with the paranormal.

For most of my life, the idea of ghosts and cryptids fascinated me. Of course, sometimes that fascination got the better of me, leaving me afraid of the dark for a while. But what I realize, looking back, is that it never seemed outside the realm of possibility to me. Sometimes it seemed far-fetched (like one story I heard about a hiker in Drumheller who heard sounds coming from the ghosts of dinosaurs), but I never really outright dismissed it. Not everything in the world, after all, has a perfectly rational explanation.

Theories about ghosts and the like are abundant. Many cultures have the notion of “lost spirits”, or restless souls that haven’t found peace in death, or outright evil entities. One theory I found interesting is that ghosts are echoes in the flow of time that somehow are crossing the streams from their time into our current one. Scientifically there’s no way to prove empirically whether or not ghosts are real, and so such things are written off as hallucinations, hoaxes or hysteria.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that Islam has a very practical and rational explanation for the existence of ghosts:

Jinn. Continue reading “Jinns that go Bump in the Night”

Lessons from Link

Several depictions of Link in various Zelda games

A while back I did an article called “Lessons from Luigi” where I examined some of the traits of my favourite Mario-universe character, the green-capped scaredy-cat Luigi. This time around, I’m shifting to Nintendo’s second most popular franchise, the Legend of Zelda.

Despite a shared love for the colour green, Link is almost the polar opposite of Luigi. He’s a hero who is often thrust into adventures without a second thought (not that he would complain much about it anyway, given his vocabulary consists of shouts and grunts). And just like Luigi, there’s a lot we can learn from this fictional hero that we can implement in our own lives. Continue reading “Lessons from Link”

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”

Love Notes P2: Lessons about Love from the Sunnah

hearts2

I hate to break it to you, but Jerry Maguire’s famous, “You complete me” line is pure pop culture crack.

Why do I say this? Well, it’s because many people have this conception that they’re waiting for their “soul mate”, their knight or princess that will somehow fix their broken heart and complete them.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) famously said, “Marriage is half your deen.” Here’s what this doesn’t mean:

  • your deen is only half complete before you are married
  • you are only half a person and need someone else to “complete” you

You need to be a complete person in and of yourself before you get married. You can’t expect someone to come into your life and fill in the missing gaps of your character and religion. Continue reading “Love Notes P2: Lessons about Love from the Sunnah”

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”

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 – 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)”

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)”