Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fajr Prayer and a good night's sleep!

Note: This entry is more pointless than pretty much all of my Islam-related entries! And it's probably equal to my off topic fashion type entries, but it feels weird for an Islam-related one to be so pointless. I will publish it nonetheless!

Fajr prayer is EARLY! It seems like a difficult prayer to pray, but it also seems like the most important one, setting the tone for your day. With it being so early, it seems like the most Islamic thing to do is to wake up for Fajr and go to bed with the sunset... I don't feel like most people who pray fajr do it this way. At least not in Egypt, where what I have seen is that they wake up for fajr and then taking a long nap in mid afternoon, only to stay up most of the night (basically sleeping two almost equal periods, but at different times in the day).

But is it my common sense or my upbringing that has lead me to believe that one sleep period of approximately 8 hours (more for some, less for others) is what is ideal for an adult human being?

I feel like sleeping twice in a day is not a good system! I don't mind naps, I take one or two naps of about an hour each week myself... A person needs a boost sometimes! But when a person is sleeping two stretches of 4 hours, for example, it's not a nap, but it's not a night's sleep either. It' something weirdly in the middle.

I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's unislamic to sleep with this pattern, far from that, it's perfectly fine if you function well that way... But is it ideal? I don't feel like it is... I feel like sleeping one long period is ideal. And Islam has an obligatory prayer very early in the morning... So ideally, a person would have slept their average of 8 hours before that early morning prayer... So they should probably go to bed on average at around 8pm! Ideally!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Created in the image of God


I would consider myself someone who believes in God. A monotheist. But my idea of God is sometimes so different than what I feel other monotheists believe. I don't know how to imagine God, but I see "It" as a sort of energy. I know the characteristics that God/Allah is supposed to have (generally) in Islam and I'm trying to figure out where I stand on that. I don't have any strong feelings about God. I don't have any strong feelings that there is only one God just because I am so completely unable to even imagine God. I guess that is the beauty of it. It is impossible to fully understand, comprehend or imagine. We have clues, but putting them together... it's still not something we can fully imagine. There's so much unknown, it leaves a lot to faith. I'm not that strong with faith. I'm glad to be this way though. There are some things I feel I know, and I just want to build on that. I fear blind faith too much.

Back to the idea of God: A lot of people imagine a throne and some sort of masculine "form". I don't. I definitely don't believe God has a physical throne and I feel weird about that idea, but I guess a throne is a nice symbol of majesty. And I see God as asexual. There's this idea in Christianity that we are created in God's image. I only "buy it" in the sense that God has unmeasurable "intelligence". And I think that our minds are the thing that we are given that make us in that tiny way, like God, but again, I don't like the idea of being in God's image that much and I think it misleads people.

I remember in Catholic classes in elementary school, we were made to draw Jesus and God, and we would draw him as an older version of what we pictured Jesus looking like. Some old man sitting on a throne with a beard wearing a robe. And that was OK!! It was OK to make God seem like one of us. Just a somehow "magical" human. Almost like Santa, really! Insane, when I think about it! I know the way more educated Christians think of God and about us being made in God's image is not like what I just described, but it's probably not so unlike it either. I don't fully know where Islam stands on this, but I *know* it's way clearer that God is nothing like human. We are not to try to draw/paint God and I think that prohibition is necessary. God is not human and is not depictable, no matter how we try. Not being allowed to draw prophets though, in particular Muhammad for Muslims, is a prohibition I can understand just as a way to avoid worshipping these images, but I fear that this prohibition is bordering on worship in and of itself. God is undrawable. Muhammad is not (even though we don't know what he looks like, not having seen him, there are descriptions, etc). Having the same prohibition for both makes them too alike and I find this wrong in some ways.

Anyone have something I could read about Islam's position on being created in the image of God? And the Christian position? I should mention that I am not very interested in reading about depicting the prophet and all that so don't send me to an article about it please!

Funny end note: This post was originally supposed to be me throwing ideas around about atheism, monotheism and polytheism, and how unclear I feel sometimes about which category I fall under, despite how clear and simple their definitions are. And it has NOTHING to do with this in the end! Maybe for a future post I will get it together!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marrying cousins

I know that in Islam, it's perfectly acceptable to marry cousins and it's a freedom I can live with -- but I won't take advantage of. I feel weird about the idea. My cousins are more like semi-brothers and sisters to me. That's how I see them. I have some pretty attractive cousins around my age and I feel about them like I feel about my brother, who is also handsome! A bit more awkward since we don't have regular contact, but in terms of attraction, there is *nothing*. I cannot imagine marrying any of them!

My husband feels differently. He was "secretly engaged" to his first cousin sometime before meeting me. She's younger than him. And me. She's She was about 15 years old at the time, with him being like 22! I find that really EWWWY! The age, the blood relation; it's creepy! I generally dislike her for always flirting with him when we hung out in Egypt, by touching his arm, acting all sad for comfort, wearing his perfume out...

Anyway, he is totally fine with the idea of marrying first cousins. His whole family is. This particular cousin's little 8 year old sister didn't like me when she met me because she was hoping to be the one to marry him. An aunt of his kept joking with me about how he should have married her daughter (this is from the other side of the family). Weird. And just rude.

I'm guessing most converts accept that it is permissible to marry first cousins, and that it is necessary to cover in front of them. But how many are actually fully comfortable with the idea?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"struggling" - Being Muslim

'struggling', from blog "life struggles" inspired the topic for this entry. (struggling, if you mind me linking back or mentionning you, let me know and I'll remove it!)

It made me think about how similar I feel. I'm not Muslim, but the biggest thing keeping me away from Islam are Muslims! I don't especially want the label of "Muslim" on me, even though to me, a Muslim is one who follows Islam, one who submits to the will of God. But I know that this is not what the label means to people and that's why I don't want it. By my definition, many labeled Muslims would not be Muslim, and many that do not consider themselves and are not considered my others as Muslim would be Muslims to me.

Anyway, I try hard to figure out my pure beliefs, but the influence of people is always there. And will always be there, considering I'm not a prophet, receiving messages and revelations from God. I do believe that the strongest thing I have is my God-given sense of good and evil, and that is the purest thing I have, and what I try to follow. But if I were to figure out that the Qur'an is from God (something I don't feel sure of right now), I know I would have the same difficulties as 'struggling', not necessarily wanting to be Muslim but wanting to serve God.

I think that Islam is a life system... a way of life. And I think that it would be helpful to be a community of Muslims, but that a person can have a a perfectly meaningful and healthy relationship with God, and follow God's system by keeping it private and just acting right. Courage to you, 'struggling'! (Sorry to use your name between quotes, I just don't want it to be confused with a word.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Marriage and birth control


I am of the same view as Islam about marriage being recommended for any adult. I really don't understand the view of Christianity that the first and best thing is celibacy... I don't support it. I always see it this way for any religious situation: If everyone was perfectly obeying God, the world would be at its ideal. Would the world be ideal if everyone was practicing celibacy? I think not, there would be no next generation and we would be extinct!
For birth control, I am similarily not so much in accord with the Christian view that generally does not accept it to be used, while Islam generally permits it under certain circumstances. I think it is necessary sometimes and for certain people, for the better of their lives and their other children's lives or their future children's lives. It's a tough call to make sometimes though.
I think of my situation. I cannot imagine myself with another child, really. There's the aspect of it that we're not in a place in our relationship where I'd want to add to it, but also financially, it would be too difficult for me to stop working. Also, I find my life just right with my daughter and I wouldn't want to add another child to it. I'm actually thinking that I might be a one child type of person.
On with birth control. I am obviously on it now, not wanting to get pregnant, but these thoughts of mine of not wanting another child ever... I'm wondering how that would fit into Islam. I feel 100% comfortable with my reasons for being on birth control NOW, but I wonder about later on, when possibly things will have settled down. And only my feeling of not wanting another is left as a reason for me to be on birth control! Will I choose to let things happen as God wishes and not use birth control, or will I continue to use it?
I will see when the time comes. Thanks for reading my current thoughts!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Local Imam

I was just watching Little Mosque on the Prairie on Anisah's blog and it made me think about imams and their duties. One of them is to be there to advise people of the community; to offer spiritual guidance. And I was thinking about if I was Muslim... I would probably want to use this "service". The internet is good and everything, but it's not the same as a real person in front of you and it's not the same as a real conversation. Doesn't have the same impact, you know?

There is no local imam right now as far as I know. It's just some men in the community being there to keep the doors open and using a khutbah from another mosque and leading prayer. But they used to have one who was here for about a year. I liked him, he had an inviting smile and seemed really nice. When I crossed him on the street, we'd try to talk but he hardly knew any French, and I hardly know any Arabic so not much was said. Just how are you and that basic stuff.

If I were Muslim, I really think I'd feel the need to see the imam just for advice on how to deal with my husband, and hope my husband could do the same, in an effort to make things better between us. But... the language barrier! He spoke only Arabic! It really leaves out a lot of people. I went to a meeting at the mosque once, and a fundraiser for the mosque and a couple of aqiqahs and there are some converts among the Muslims here for sure. People who don't speak Arabic. Not only can they not understand the khutbah, they cannot easily get advice from their spiritual leader.

I understand budget restrictions and all that, and I'm sure if they could more easily get a bilingual imam, they would. If they could get an imam at all, I'm sure they would. But I was just thinking about how slightly disappointing it is for the people of the community.

Who is in this situation? How often do you speak to your imam? Do you see your local imam as the spiritual leader of your community?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Let's all struggle together

I kind of want this to be a tag. For everyone who might have a moment and a blog.

What is your biggest struggle in Islam?
And for non-Muslims, your biggest struggle in morality in general?

I will start: My biggest struggles are marriage-related. To be more specific and to single one thing out, it's my anger. I sometimes do not act like I know I should with my husband and so I try to work on that. I want to be a better wife, and it's really really difficult for me.

Who can relate? And who will accept this "tag"?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Inspirational Phrases or Qur'an Verses

I'd love for you guys to suggest some inspirational phrases or Qur'an verses I could print out and post around my house (doors of closets, the fridge). Something that could inspire me, but also my husband. To inspire him to do something in real life, it would take him coming back to Islam... I know that this is something that can change him. He has no problem getting motivated to "achieve" in his game(s), but I really want him to realize that it is more important to achieve in real life. He needs to feel not only that it's worth it, but that it's necessary to do certain things. And I'm sure he would do it for no other than God, so he needs to find that connexion...

I think Al-Fatiha is a good one to put up. It is so important in Islam, and it is the surah that he knows should have so much more importance in his daily life than it does. And for me as new to it, is is only good for me to know it better than I do now. I would quickly learn how to spell the whole thing perfectly! And pronounce it better.

Please suggest ahead! Something short like one sentence or as long as Al-Fatiha but not much more. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Afraid of saying

I sometimes feel like I can't be fully honest on this blog. I guess that's because of the "audience" I have. I am trying to find myself and learn about Islam and find out if Islam is the truth, but I do feel like I have a different view of things on many levels than do most of the readers of my blog. Probably the major thing is my distrust in the Hadiths. I don't even want to talk about it because of how sensitive an issue it is. I found that out when just trying to have a light conversation with my husband a long time ago. I think most people would be more understanding than him... he simply thought this was me "hating on" Muhammad, when I think it's obvious it has nothing to do with Muhammad himself, who I believe is the best example of a Muslim, but about things getting lost, distorted, corrupted, with time. I feel that the Qur'an quite possibly was kept free from corruption by God, but that the hadiths were not.

This fear of mine has not made me be dishonest in any way, it has simply kept me away from certain topics I might have wanted to discuss... I gave my blog link to someone yesterday, my first real life friend to actually visit the blog, and mentionned that there were some things that I didn't really discuss on here, or want to discuss, or that I stayed away from, and she kinda made me think: WHY? This is my blog! It is just me being me to be careful about the way I put things out there, but I shouldn't make myself stay away from something just because some people disagree...

I don't really have anything to say about the whole topic now, but if ever I do, I will try to just publish my full thoughts. Not censor myself. I, like some other bloggers, have recently decided that this is MY BLOG :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Being better update

So... I have been making efforts to be better... The major one was my anger, as I mentionned last week. I think I have been doing a decent job. At least the important part is that I am making a lot of efforts. And it is encouraging my husband to make efforts on his side. So it works... Me making efforts to be better has benefitted him as well as me! I feel good about that.

I will continue this way. I may start praying again... I remember things going better in the home when I was. I think my husband responds well to this, and I do too.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Youtube "Vlogging" and other randomness

(My youtube channel page. That's my daughter and sorry for blotting out my username, I just don't want it *that* public even though I wouldn't mind for any of the regular readers of my blog to see it)

Does anyone have a vlog? I keep thinking of starting one. Or I did when I had more to say on this blog. I figured I'd deal with the same ideas as on this written blog, but expanding on them orally (and visually with my regular old face).

I actually would love to learn more about how to edit videos and all that stuff, but man am I lazy. When I am done working, cooking, taking care of my daughter and cleaning up, I just wanna sit and do nothing too consuming. I'd love to learn more about photography and editing with photoshop too. I'd love to exercise more regularly... I used to be really in shape before... I don't look much different now in my shape when I'm wearing regular clothes, but I feel the difference. Things have changed and I really feel the need to find something to do just for myself, but there are so many things I want to do with so little time, and so little energy as well. I am DRAINED right now. It's like 9:30pm! And I was having trouble keeping my eyes open like 3 or 4 hours ago too. I don't think the exercise option is the best one for me right now. I need something slightly lower energy. My high-energy baby is all I need currently. She is just a lot to handle just by the way she is... She is going to be one special lady when she grows up. (in a totally good way! :D)

Back to the vlogging topic. I would love to have links to people's vlogs. Or if you don't have one, but you follow some, let me know who like. I follow a few people, but I have some favourites I will mention and link to here.

There's thevintagegoth. I would have to say she's the one who I follow most, probably because she is such a prolific vlogger! She has a couple "series" on her vlog. She has videos on niqab styles which are kind of interesting. She has a series called "History Forgets" that are not related to Islam, but that are interesting. Just like short essays with video background or addition on a person or event in history. And she has a bunch of more random videos about her life, her thoughts about things, Islam, etc. She is a new Muslimah from between 6mo and 1yr, I believe, and she is trying to wear niqab full-time. Her videos are sometimes with hijab and sometimes niqab.

There's Aya12790. She is just such a nice, sweet person. She's just likable. Her blog is about Islam, mostly. She brings in some parts of her life.

There's KimDonesia. She is pretty well-known and likable. I like her goal of just showing that Muslims are normal and lead normal lives and are just like anyone else! She's a quirky Australian teenager out to make people know Muslims are people like anyone else!

Two others I want to mention are Baba Ali from UmmahFilms and MMrLucky. Baba Ali puts a funny spin on all sorts of Muslim issues and MMrLucky also talks about all sorts of Islamic issues, just wanting everyone to be educated and inspired to be better Muslims.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not much to say lately!

(sunlight...! coming to my life?)
I have not been able to think of much to put on the blog lately. I don't know if I should really keep up with the blog, actually. I wouldn't delete it, but I am not sure of the blogging world. I'm not even finding it very interesting to even read others' blogs for the most part. So I guess, really, it's not fully about me not having anything to say, it's about... Well, I don't know what it's about, but I will try to figure it out as I write this.

I do not have the "passion" for Islam and learning about Islam that I have had in the past and had until just very recently. I feel like I still don't know for sure if the Qur'an is the truth from God, and that it's something I need to figure out as soon as possible, but I don't feel the urgency much. I feel that the best thing I can do for myself and my family is focus on being a good person overall. Focus on controlling everything that is negative in my character and improving it. I need to focus on being better in my relationships and interactions with others. I don't feel I'm doing too bad in these aspects, but it's so important to just strive to be better and that my energy would be better spent on this.

Islam might be the truth. I might figure that later, but I don't think I will have regretted focusing on being better rather than focusing on Islam as a religion. I get caught up in the "religion" part of it, which can be so man-made. It's people trying to figure out how to best interpret what they feel God has given them (Qur'an, Hadith, tradition). There is an ultimate truth out there somewhere, but it's not accessible to us, I believe. If the Qur'an is the perfectly preserved and unchanged word of God (which I believe is a possibility), it's still words that people try their best to interpret, but words are words and there's no fully unanimous meaning figured out for the whole of the Qur'an. And if it's the word of God, I'm sure it's deep and meaningful enough that no human will ever fully understand and comprehend. We just get the most out of it as is possible, and it will NEVER be ALL.

So what I am saying that for me, my time will, for now, be better spent focusing on finding the truth inside me first (all of it being given by God, let's agree) than finding the truth of the Qur'an. I don't really want to go to hadiths just because of how obviously not perfectly preserved and unchanged those are. For me, hadiths are interesting and useful history. I'm not yet sure to what extent, but obviously I'm not at a place to try to figure that out and I don't even want to go there. I do not want any comments on them either, if at all possible.

Possibly, this "let go" of "Islam" (in quotation marks just because my focus was not on Islam itself in its purest) was given to me as a gift to be better. Might seem ironic for Muslims who read my blog, but that' s what it seems to be!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Being better

I want to make efforts to be better. It's so hard though... It's easy (or not the biggest effort) in certain areas; it's just to remember to act better and be better. But in other areas, it's such a struggle. One of those is my temper. I feel pretty stressed out about certain things and I just have some crazy anger inside me. It just comes out in tiny bursts. Sometimes medium bursts ; ) Thinking logically, it would be a good idea to find a way to either get it out in a complete way that is not harmful to anyone, not to let it accumulate, or just somehow eliminating the anger. I need to deal with the source of it, either directly when possible, or indirectly by dealing with it in my mind. I do try my best to do so, but it's not fully working.

I met someone just recently who is motivating/encouraging me to be better in an area of my life. Part of me feels I have to, part of me feels I shouldn't even need to. But I definitely have to find some sort of solution. And being better can only be good for everyone, can't it? :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

What is a Muslim name/ Islamic name?

I was kinda going towards this in my previous post... That people take an Arabic name and it's their "Muslim name". But seriously, it has to be more than that. You are doing it for Islam... What is Islamic about having an Arabic name, anyway? Yes, the Qur'an is in Arabic, but still... It is a religion for all people speaking all languages, not just Arabs. So no need to try to become an Arab, you just want to be a Muslim!

I was thinking about it more today. Obviously, I think that it is Islamic to change a name that has a bad meaning. If your's does not have a bad meaning but you want to change it for Islamic reasons, then I really believe it should be a name that represents you in your new identity as a Muslim, whether it's a name that has a meaning that is important to you, or the name of a person in Islamic history that has affected you or that you aspire to be like.

But when it comes to just an "Islamic/Muslim Name", I think it can only be described as a "good name". A name in ANY language that has a good meaning.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Islamic names"

People often talk about changing their name to a "Muslim name" when they start following Islam. I read early on that it was necessary to change your name if the meaning of your name is against Islam, which makes total sense, logically. No one wants the meaning of what is used to identify them all-the-time to be something against what they believe in!

So someone with a name like Christian would want to change it, definitely, and any "Christ" name. And names that worship other than God like Abd-el-Messiah. Some people with names of Greek or Roman gods might want to change it because of the association to other gods, even though many of these names don't mean anything against God in and of themselves. But it could be "safe" to change it. People might want to change a name that is a quality of God. One example is Alvis, which means "all wise" in Norse. He might want to change it if he became Muslim. Don't know about Elvis, which *possibly* comes from this name. Might want to change it to be on the safe side. Anyway, all to say that there are plenty of names I can imagine people changing because they are against Islam, or are borderline against Islam.

But what about a person with a regular, nice, English name? Think: Faith. I can see some reasons to add to a perfectly good name... For Hajj purposes in the future maybe. To be outwardly seen as a Muslim, but Muslim women do not have that reason, unless they do not wear hijab or want to erase their non-Muslim identity. But personally, I can't fully understand these reasons because I'm so proud of who I am, where I came from (from this country, this province, from my family, etc.). And about Faith up there, she'd need to find a really amazing Arabic name to make it a better Muslim name than that.

I seriously do not think that an Arabic name that is mostly used by Muslims is any better than an English name with a great meaning. In fact, it's less good, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't have anything against a person adopting a Muslim name (I'd like to just call it an Arabic name used mostly by Muslims), especially not if they just added it to their existing name (if their existing name was a fine name, I mean), but there's still something I don't understand about those who fully change their perfectly OK name to an Arabic one. Like... Why? Why do you want to erase your previous self?

This wasn't even the point of the post... Don't know what it was anymore. My ideas are all over the map and I wish I could re-write it like I normally would, but I refuse to write it up again just for coherance reasons. That's me today. Sorry about that.

Thoughts welcome, as usual. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"How would Muslims know how to pray if not for the Hadith?"


I read on some "Qur'an Only" forums sometimes and Sunnis come on there, asking how a person who follows the Qur'an alone would know how to pray. They usually answer that the Qur'an clearly mentions that it is complete and a verse that goes something like, "Which other hadith (than the Qur'an) would you follow?" (sorry for paraphrasing something that is already a translation and that I don't have a reference to, but it's not the most relevant part of what I have to say so I'll try to find that verse, but it shouldn't be the end of the world). So basically they don't really wanna "go there" to answer how they actually know how to pray, because there *is* a lot of disagreement between them and lots of variation. I'm all fine with variation, I believe there could be many ways to pray "right" but that a unified way is much better (think congregational prayer and unity in Islam).

But my question is: How do people pray USING the Hadith?

As far as I know, there is no large hadith that describes praying in the fully detailed way it's done today. And there are hadiths mentioning rakahs in certain prayers and mentionning the positions of prayers and mentionning sunnah prayers, but is there a way to know how to pray just using hadiths?? If anyone has a list of hadiths that describe prayer, I'd like to see it... I haven't been able to find anything with my regular googling.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Support...

I'm really glad to have this blog and to have this network of support from fellow bloggers and non-bloggers. I've appreciated the links that were given to me to help me out in my learning process and I've loved the feedback I've gotten on various topics I've posted about, as well as some support on a more personal level at times.

Islam really occupies my mind a lot. I wonder if it's the truth. I still wonder about that, and I feel like I'm not getting much closer to finding out my answer even if I keep thinking about it and learning about it. It has almost gotten to be more of a "hobby" in some ways, which is not at all what I want Islam to be for me!!

I've been feeling the need for support at home. My husband has let me figure things out for myself a lot, not really getting envolved in it. In a way, that's a good strategy, assuring that I'm not pressured to convert and that I don't do it for the wrong reasons, but for a while, I've been asking him to help me, asking him to read Qur'an with me, even suggesting we pray together. I've been referring to Islam in our relationship, trying to make it Islamic. He has not responded to any of that. I guess it leaves me feeling far from Islam because even if I converted, I feel like I'd get no support. It just seems so important to have that person with you through these times, but he's not. There's a fine line between letting someone do it themselves and not supporting them at all!

I think part of it is that he is not personally ready to follow Islam himself. He believes in it, he just doesn't want to *do it* just yet. I don't fully understand what is going on with him, but he does not want to do anything but for himself. It must be some sort of coping mechanism... he's absolutely helpless. I don't know if it has to do with being away from his home. It could partly be that... Anyway, back to Islam... I would need him to be there for me and I would need to actually show me the beauty of Islam. I can read about an Islamic marriage and how beautiful it is, ideally, but the situation I'm in now with a Muslim is just the opposite; it's ugly. And my parents' marriage, as well as many others I know, is beautiful and balanced. That's what I want in my life.

I'm really at a low point with this. It is 100% keeping me away from Islam. I will never be able to really see Islam as a religion of peace until I can see it firsthand, I think. So that's where I'm at right now. Not posting much because I have nothing to say. Not much about Islam and not much in my day to day life because of this huge weight I have. And even if I can go out and have fun for an hour, I just go back to this feeling a second after it's over.

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