Thursday, February 25, 2010

I need more

It's hard to find the motivation and strength to be a better and more practicing Muslim, but I feel I need more in my life. I am comfortable in my current routine of just being with my daughter and going to work... It's life and it's what I do. But I am longing for more spirituality. I can give myself so many tips to make it work but I need to *implement them*!

My husband supports me, but not to the point of making initiatives to help me change. He's not ready to change himself so that has to come from him first, and I guess it is impossible for someone who is not willing to change to help change another person. He needs to start with himself. It's hard for me though because I need the support. In starting to work on myself, I could be motivating him and we could motivate each other if he was on board, but we are not at the same place.

I really will try to put the effort in all by myself to have a better relationship with God and to be a better Muslim. I'll document my efforts on here. I have no concrete plan so any tips are welcome. And if I don't seem to post anything, give me a nice nudge in the behind to actually DO SOMETHING. :P

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hijab looks weird on me!


Ever since I wore hijab the other week, I've been wanting more and more to wear hijab. I haven't since (just no real opportunity...) but I've been shopping for some hijabs and accessories. I need some underscarves and I like the simplicity of the al-amiras so I was looking to buy some of those - the two piece ones so that I kill two birds with one stone (have underscarves to wear with other scarves as well as being able to wear it with the al-amira it goes with, or others by mix and matching).

As much as I've gotten used to seeing myself in hijab from wearing it mostly for prayer, I generally don't like the way I look with it still... It's like I'm not 100% comfortable with the way it makes me look. I was more comfortable with it before. Maybe it's because my hair was always tied before and I've since cut it short and it's always down (simply not long enough to be tied).

Also I have a long oval face and wear glasses and it just seems to look weird sometimes. The material can't fall in a nice shape around my face because of the glasses, and the shape it gives because of my face is just long-looking. Ugh! And I have a very average-looking face. No feature to really play off and no feature that needs hiding either. All I can do is *be*. lol.
What would you guys suggest for a long face with glasses?
How did you overcome feeling like you just didn't look good with hijab?

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Prophet's Birthday

OK, so I guess I'm really out of the loop on this one. It took a lot of "clues" for me to get that it was Muhammad's birthday coming up soon. I'd been looking for things to read to get me closer to him and to understand him more a few weeks ago, so I found it fitting to what I was looking for to have the www.celebratemercy.com event coming up. I took it for an occaision to learn about Muhammad, which is exactly what I'd been wanting to do!

Sometime last week, my husband asked when Muhammad's birthday was. Of course I didn't know. It was just funny that he even asked and thought I knew!

And in the past few days, blog posts have been popping up about whether or not it's an innovation to celebrate the prophet's birthday. It took 2 or 3 for me to think: Is the prophet's birthday coming up or something?!

It seems that yes, it's coming up this Friday. I personally DO think it's an innovation (bidah) and would not wish to participate in such a celebration. But I'm already registered for Celebrate Mercy so I will definitely listen and take it not as a celebration of his birthday, but an occaision to learn about him. Just like I thought it was when I registered!

So: To celebrate or not?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Went to see John Mayer

Wednesday was my John Mayer concert. I bought my tickets sometime before Christmas on the first day they were out for sale! I really enjoy his music and have been a big fan since he first came out with his single, "No Such Thing". His albums, as they came out, were always in my discman/iPod and so his songs became theme songs for what was happening in my life at these times. This first album reminds me of my first highschool, his next one of my third highschool (stayed at the second one a short time and it's other music that brings me back to that place!), and his third album reminds me of college. The John Mayer Trio album came out as I was going to Egypt the first time and so it's the soundtrack for my first weeks with my husband in this foreign country.

Anyway, I was really excited to go out and see him, even if I hadn't heard most songs from his new album and hadn't been listening to him (or much music at all) for some time.

I enjoyed the show. John Mayer is great live and his songs are really good.

But I am not the music lover I once was and going to a concert didn't have the effect it used to have on me. I have separated myself from music and now, it's just not important to me. I will dance to things and occaisionally have a song that I love to listen to, but this is *nothing* like the music-obsessed girl I was. I loved how music could make me feel, but I am so much more focused on reality now and I really appreciate this in my life. I wouldn't change it now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When is a person Muslim?

When is a person Muslim? Is it:

- When they believe in the shahada only (might not be very knowledgable, but know what the shahada means and basic Muslim beliefs)
- When they accept all the "traditional" Islamic beliefs (this option would exclude all sorts of "moderate", "progressive", Qur'an only, and could go as far as excluding anyone who is not from your denomination/sect)
- When they try their best to submit to God alone (these people could be unitarian Christians, Buddhists who believe in a God, and others who don't actually consider themselves Muslim)
- When they are very knowledgable in Islam and accept all of its tenets and are also ready to openly be Muslim to the world (meaning that a Muslim in secret doesn't count)

It's such a complicated thing! I am of the opinion that a person is Muslim when they consider themselves Muslim. I mean, I could consider someone "Muslim" (a submitter) just because of what I know about the person, even if they don't consider themselves Muslim, but it wouldn't be any of my business to tell them they are. And I could consider someone not Muslim (like cultural Muslims who do all sorts of crap), but if they call themselves Muslim, it's really none of my business to tell them that they are not (although if I get the chance, I'd politely and privately address some issues in their behaviours).

I think we can all agree that only Allah knows the truth about who is really a Muslim. He will judge.

But in our human ways, we probably all have our own ways of thinking on who *we* consider a Muslim. Some try to judge for God and stop people they don't consider Muslim from using this term, while others will let the people make their own call on using the term and let Allah decide in the end. And I think there's probably a middle way (like not wanting someone who doesn't believe in God to call himself Muslim -- but seriously, why would he?).

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Comment Moderation

Just to let you know that I have turned on comment moderation. You will not see your comments posted automatically like you used to but they will be posted as soon as I get a chance to approve them! I've had to turn it on because of unwanted anonymous comments, but I'm hoping not to have to leave moderation on forever... It's annoying and I just don't want to deal with it.

I go on pretty often from work and I have a phone that I use from home so it should not take so long to get your comments approved. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Olympics opening ceremonies


I'm a Canadian so it's very exciting for me to have the Olympics in my own country this year! I'm following the competitions pretty closely! We aren't doing that amazingly right now, but I'm still proud of our athletes! Americans are racking in the medals though, congrats to them so far! :)

So Friday was the opening ceremony and it was so exciting for me. We present our country to the rest of the world with this show so I was really looking forward to seeing what we were going to come up with. It was obvious that we were going to have something about the Natives and I wasn't disappointed with what they showed. I'm not Native, but I was still happy that they were represented because they are the original Canadians.

I was a bit disappointed about the lack of representation of Quebec and its place in Canada. They had Garou sing in French, but that was it. But the show was so good that I honestly didn't give that aspect a thought until well after the show was over.

It was beautiful and moving! I honestly loved the show and felt proud to be Canadian (as I always do). The scenes with the Natives, the ice moving, the whales, the dancing around the trees, the prairies, the fiddlers and tap dancers, the poet.

I'm wondering what others' thoughts were about the show. It's interesting to see what kind of impression we actually made to someone who is not Canadian.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My hijab outing

I've been wanting to wear hijab more lately, but I am not openly Muslim yet so no one knows except my husband and a couple people who do not have contact with my friends and family... So I haven't been wearing it... It's not a very big city I live in so I can run into people pretty easily.

On Saturday I went out with my husband for supper and decided to try an outing in hijab. I figured that yes, there was a possibility of running into someone I know who could report back to my parents causing a situation I'm not ready to face, but that it really didn't happen often that I ran into people I know when I was out afterall. So I went in hijab.

OF COURSE, I ran into someone I know. Not only do I know him, it was my BROTHER (who lives with my parents)! He made no comment about the hijab but obviously noticed since he was avoiding me (and is not blind). He actually called us before coming to see us because I think my mom told him we were considering this particular resto. He hadn't seen us then so I could have just taken off the hijab and met him as my normal self, but that is not hijab and I don't want to confuse people about hijab and Islam by having it and taking it off right there! My husband suggested it, knowing I am just not ready to deal with the question: "Are you Muslim?" (nor do I want to lie). But he's a man... Can't understand hijab like a woman can, yknow?

But seriously, what a freakin' coincidence! I have hijab fear now...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Islamic Phrases

What is your favourite Islamic phrase? Which one are you most able to feel the full meaning of?

Examples: bismillah (ir-rahman ir-rahim), assalamu alaikum (wa rahmatallahu wa barakatu), astaghfurallah, alhamdulilah, subhanallah, masha'allah, etc.

I have to say I just love bismillah... It just means so much contained in just this small phrase. So it's my favourite.

Islamic state

Probably everyone can agree that there is no Islamic state in existance. There are Muslim majorities (for example Egypt, Turkey, Morocco) and there are states claiming to be Islamic (for example Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan), but a Muslim majority doesn't mean all the laws are Islamic and saying you're Islamic doesn't mean you're really following Islam.

It makes me wonder: What would an Islamic state really be like?

Some things that come to mind:

-freedom of religion, and I believe this goes beyond only accepting "people of the book" (Christians and Jews) and it means also allowing all other religions to co-exist in this Islamic state. They would have the tax emposed on them, but I see this as them paying zakah, without it actually being zakah since they are not Muslim.

- certain things illegal - alcohol and drugs, extra-marital sex (would need 4 witnesses, meaning that actually it's sex in public that is punishable)

In trying to continue this list, I fall to a bit of a blank, really. I mean, there are so many things in Islam that are important like modesty and salat... so many others! But as much as these things are important, I don't think they are to be enforced. I think a person's religion is something private that needs to be developped at a person's pace, so this "Islamic state" cannot use force, but needs to simply encourage all these things. So:

- the Islamic state would have lots of mosques with easy access for women and children as much as men.

- it would have Islamic concepts and basics taught in schools from a young age.

- the general culture would be favorable to modesty (hijab, yes, of course, but also just being covered with loose clothing, and very importantly, modesty in BEHAVIOUR!)

With all these things, it seems to me that the Islamic state is nothing more than a state that favours and encourages Islam, submission to one God alone, without necessarily imposing an interpretation of Islam. It's obvious that it will encourage a certain view of Islam, but it's in staying open-minded that it will avoid falling into the unislamic (the oppression of minorities, oppression of women).

A person's relationship with God is very personal, so I think that no state can force that on you. The laws just need to reflect what Islam is. The compassion for others, punishment that does not exceed the crime, allowing freedom to the people, etc. Whatever mistake is made will be dealt with in the end and we can only do our own best.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

10 things every Muslim should do

I got these from this webpage so please click for the article, but I will just re-post the 10 things listed in my own words (and my thoughts in italics, which really echo what the person is saying) to keep it shorter and easy to read. Because it's really worth reading! What great ways to just add that much more Islam to your life.

1) sponsor an orphan - a thing that is so encouraged in Islam in both the Qur'an and hadith.

2) subscribe to 3 Muslim magazines - not something we'd all think of, but it really encourages media by fellow Muslims, and the content can only be beneficial. Anyone have any ideas for Muslim magazines? Although honestly, I'd go with 1 mag... Not a mag girl, yknow? Anyone who likes magazines should really try to have as many Muslim ones as non-Muslim, I think.

3) go to the masjid at least once a week with the family - be part of the local Muslim community and teach your children the beauty of these places of worship! The mosque should be an important place for a Muslim.

4) if your child is not in an Islamic school, enroll them in Saturday/Sunday Islamic school - just :) .

5) buy 1 book, audio, or video produced by a Muslim every month - similar to the Muslim magazines, encourage Muslim media, and get something Islamic out of it too.

6) "adopt" converts into your family - help converts become better Muslims. Help them avoid the loneliness that a new convert often has to go through.

7) keep 3 extra Qur'ans/translations in your home - if you meet someone interested in Islam, you can literally get them on the path by giving them a Qur'an on the spot! And encourage yourself and your family to be able to easily pick one up.

8) go to a convention once a year - help your children feel they are part of a greater community of believers. The writer says "even if you have given up on them" and I'm not sure what he/she means.. Probably because I've never been or something... Anyone have any ideas?

And about conventions... I don't know where I'd go! I wanted to go, and plan on doing my best to attend the Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention in Toronto next year. But I wonder if there are any others closer to here... Anyway...

9) eat only halal or kosher - for all sorts of reasons... I need to make the switch. Or go vege until I find a way to get the halal or kosher food.

10) add culturally Islamic decorations in your home - not because it's obligatory to have Islamic posters, stickers, screensavers... but to make your home an Islamic home with an Islamic feel, a place that is not like outside might be. An environment favorable to Islam will make it easier on you.

Goal of all this: Live an Islamic life with an Islamic lifestyle. Be proud of your Muslim identity and make sure your children will be too.

Who will encorporate all of these, or some of these?? Who already has?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Underscarves problem!

Aren't they annoying? I love the look of them and the security that the scarf will stay in place, but the one I have is a pretty large triangle that I tie at the back of my neck when I wear it... It goes over the ears or else it just doesn't make a nice-looking line on the forehead. It is too heavy or something and makes it hard to hear... And the material makes sounds when I move my head. Really not cool! Is it only the material that is just not suitable?


I like the idea of the tube underscarves that come with the al-amira style scarf. Normally I see them worn over the ears of the mannequins on the websites that sell this style... Are they much better than what I described from my underscarf?

What are the best styles and materials? How do you wear it?

Have some respect!!!

I really wanted to yell this at lunch today with some co-workers. One co-worker in particular is very anti-religion and was going on about how useless marriage is, how stupid (literally used that word) people are who go and get married in church if they don't attend it regularly. We are Catholic here, but there are few people who practice. It's more cultural here but that's the way it is and somewhere, I know it's still meaningful to them... Her daughter's father is pushing for the daughter to do her sacraments lately. It used to be taken care of in public school but isn't anymore so parents who want their children to do these sacraments have to enroll them in courses outside of school. I think that's perfectly fine. She was complaining about this of course. I guess I understand that if it's meaningless for her, she feels as though it's meaningless for her daughter too. A total waste of time. But it was the attitue that came with it, you know? Her daughter is 12 and obviously agreed to do these courses when her dad asked her. She's a pretty independant young girl. It seems like if she agrees and *might* get something out of it, and the dad is paying, then what is the problem?

But the thing that almost made me yell that at her was when she talked about a friend of her's who once told her he had been sick and "put it in God's hands" and that's when he began to feel better. He was telling her it was because of God that he had gotten over his illness. She tells us, "I told him: Which side do you want me to slap you on?!" and went on about how she ridiculed him.

Sounds like he was on his way to realizing how much God gives us and he had to get ridiculed... I hate these conversations.

Almost went to mosque

That title sounds really stupid...

I had a tough weekend. I just didn't feel well and was moody as heck. Poor husband, having to deal with all that! I got really angry at one point Saturday night and just stormed off for a drive, not knowing where I was going at all. I wandered around for about 20 minutes and wound up in front of the local mosque. I wanted nothing more than to just go inside and pray.

But I didn't go in. There were lights, but at that hour, it was quite some time after isha so whoever was in there was probably someone who had the keys and came for some extra spiritual time. I didn't want to go in unnoticed and have the person try to leave while I was there (since the women's section is totally cut off from the men's). And I wasn't properly dressed anyway. I know they normally have a hijab and a jilbab/galabeya or something available though and that there are some women who go into the mosque a bit underdressed and use those once they get inside though... But still. When I go, I like to be appropriately dressed without the mosque's help.

I should have just gone home and prayed there, but I got home and just slept. I don't feel I have any decent space to worship there. This is something I plan on changing soon. I will rearrange the apartment a little to get this space for myself.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Funerals...

I was thinking about if I died... I'm sure my husband would use this blog to prove to my parents that a Muslim funeral would be my wish. They would go about it the regular way people do around here, but of course, that envolves embalming, and most likely cremation, so my husband would be totally against it. Even if I hadn't converted, I'm sure he would have done all he could to avoid these two things after I died.

To me, my body is something temporary and once I'm dead, it isn't *me* anymore. Yes, it's something that represents me because that's how everyone knew me. As who I am in this body of mine. But personally, I would be OK with being cremated. I think it's useless to embalm me. Seriously, just bury me already! Embalming is just creepy. But if it had to be done (when it's cold, the ground can't be easily dug out), then it would just be done and whatever, it's fine.

That being said, I'd rather do it the Islamic way of taking care of the body. Cleaning it, burying it quickly, and not cremating it. I like the simplicity. And I'd rather have Qur'an read at my funeral than the Bible that would likely be read at a funeral arranged by my parents. Religion isn't a big part of funerals anymore for us, but there is pretty much always a bit of Bible thrown in there.

And I really want it out there that if I die, I don't want people spending hundreds of dollars on flowers. I would like all money to be donated to a charity. If there's enough to sponsor a child for a year, then I'd appreciate that to be done for me. Maybe it would encourage someone to take over the sponsorship after the money from the funeral has been used. They could keep it up in my memory. I feel good imagining that could happen.

Justice

How comforting is it as Muslims to believe/feel like we know that everyone will get what he deserves in the end? That there is an ultimate justice in this world that is apart from the justice we can only try to impose.

I wouldn't want to accept, if I were an atheist or from another religion that either doesn't believe in the afterlife or in hell, that someone who murders his wife and kids, and then kills himself has gone into nothingness. That's so much more than he deserves, and it wouldn't be just.

It's hard to keep this in mind though sometimes... But it helps to do so. It's with Allah that all justice lies, and we don't have to worry about that.

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