Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nothing should stand between yourself and God. Not imams, priests, rabbis, or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters, not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good.
Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.

Shams Tabrizi

Thursday, July 26, 2012

If I hadn't clicked on "Skype me"

Do any of you think of the moment that changed the course of your life in the most dramatic way? Mine is as tiny as the moment I decided to "skype" some random guy in May 2005.

Had I simply not contacted my now-husband at that very moment, there's virtually no way I would have ever met up with him later. Which means (might mean, because God could have found a way to change anything in my life), no going to Egypt and having the amazing life experience I had there, no getting pregnant and having a baby so early in my life, no postponing further education for children and work. I'd likely have continued and completed at least my bachelor's if I hadn't met my husband. I would likely not have any kids by now. I don't know if I'd be Muslim but it was in my heart before I met my husband so I'm thinking yes.

Anyway, it's still a very very different life that I'd have at this point if I hadn't clicked on "Skype me".

I believe though that Candice at 40 or 50 or 60 years old would have been very similar, whatever it is that I did at 18. I do think I have somewhere I have to get and that I'll get there no matter what. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What stands out about surah al-baqarah?

It's amazing the emphasis put on charity in this surah. Yes, it also talks about a lot of other topics and even has some of the out-of-context verses that are used to portray Islam in a negative light. But if you read it all in one shot (or in a couple days), you cannot come out of it except with the feeling that this chapter's main topic and this chapter's emphasis is by far CHARITY. 

Give as much as you can spare, this is the best thing for you.

Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, (2:3)
This is what it takes to be righteous:
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous. (2:177)
 And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. (2:195)
This passage helps us visualize how important charity is:
The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. (2:261)
 Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reminders [of it] or [other] injury will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. (2:262)
But, God is reasonable in his demands:
 Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing. (2:263)
Any charity is good but the best charity is hidden from others:
 If you disclose your charitable expenditures, they are good; but if you conceal them and give them to the poor, it is better for you, and He will remove from you some of your misdeeds [thereby]. And Allah , with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted. (2:271)
 Those who spend their wealth [in Allah 's way] by night and by day, secretly and publicly - they will have their reward with their Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve. (2:274)

There is much much more on this topic! MUCH more, subhanALLAH :)

Does anyone know the verse that says to give only things you yourself would want to get or something to that effect?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan Karim to everyone!

Just a question I've thought about but never thought of asking. Does Ramadan karim wish people to have a month that is generous to them (the month is generous) or does it wish people to be generous during the month (the person is generous)? Or is it not about "wishing" anything but flat-out saying that the month is generous as an exclamation more than a phrase really directed at a person?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Becoming less modest

A bit over a year ago, I was wearing only long sleeved pants or long skirts, absolutely nothing that showed leg skin and rarely anything shorter than my elbow and I hardly showed any neck, often had a scarf covering the whole neck. I had a few tops and pants that were slim fit that I was phasing out. 

Then I got pregnant. I didn't have the money or motivation to get a new wardrobe for pregnancy so I went with things that were comfy and cheap like Old Navy clothing that was on clearance or sale or things given to me that I just worked with even if it wasn't ideal. I also became hot so easily while pregnant so I got myself a knee covering length jersey skirt to try that I ended up loving. I got 2 more colours. I started wearing other things in that length. This combined with tops my cousin gave me that had a lower neck that I was used to change my level of modesty of dress.  

A typical outfit was a skirt just below the knee with a large minidress that worked as a shirt covering my bump. Then the birth and winter came along and I wasn't quite able to wear most of my old clothes yet so I wore the maternity shirts which were quite loose on me, making me show more skin than normal.

And now, I decided to continue wearing knee-length skirts and recently went to a lake not with my regular semi-islamic bathing suit but with just above the knee pants and a regular 1-piece bathing suit underneath (basically showing more skin than  regular tank top). And I was perfectly comfortable! It wasn't a packed beach but there was another couple families there and meh - it was just fine.

I guess I've gotten less strict with my own way of dressing over the past year, little by little. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Belief in God vs Non-Belief in God

As a former atheist, I don't see a big difference between people who believe in God and people who believe there is no God. As far as I'm concerned, they both have good reasons to believe in what they do and neither can be proven right or wrong. People from both groups can behave in very similar ways and believe in very similar ways! When the belief is mild and not very thought out, an atheist and a theist believe in practically the same things and usually get along well together. When the belief is solid and very thought out, the same thing happens to both groups in that they both feel superior to the others and have no respect for what the others believe. There are crazies in both groups who make close to no sense except in their own minds and the minds of others like them who just look idiotic to the regular onlooker. Blind and deluded is what they are in both groups.

So really, in the same way that I wish Muslims could unite (Shias, Sunnis, Sufis, etc) and put aside differences to focus on the similarities. In the same way that I wish we could find unity with Christians and Jews. In the same way that I wish we could find unity with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahais, those following native American traditions, etc, I wish we could find unity with atheists.

I separate myself from religious extremists (hate the term, but I feel the need to use it) and I separate myself from atheist extremists. I don't want to have too much to do with people who are not able to have a bit of understanding and respect for others but it has nothing to do with the actual religion or belief. I love atheists! So many of them believe in the same things I do. Generosity, hospitality, kindness, compassion, love. Are against greed, corruption, hatred, inequality. Anyone who believes in those things has my respect.

Is anyone with me?

Respect based on values we believe in and actions, not on labels we put on each other?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Come see what's in my first Glossybox!

I just received my first Glossybox today. Actually, my first "beauty box" ever! This is a subscription (which can be cancelled at any time) where you receive a box every month containing samples and full sized products.

Come see what's in it at my other blog, Mirror Image: A Beauty-Full Blog ;)  Or just come visit my other blog for all sorts of other posts going on over there with reviews of products and some fashion stuff, etc. THANKS!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

30 Things Day 22 - Where do I see myself in...

22. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

In 5 years, I see myself finishing up (or maybe being halfway through) my bachelors of education and teaching certificate which I hope to start in the next couple or few years. I can't even imagine where we'll be living during this time since there is no university in my city... The family might be planning on moving to Egypt temporarily at this time if the situation becomes stable and at least a little hopeful for us job-wise. Of course, we can't know, but insha'Allah this will happen for them and moving there can happen for us. 

In 10 years, I see myself working full time as a teacher at my old elementary school (which Nora is starting in September and Adam would be attending in 10 years). I hope that by then we would have our own house. 

In 15 years, I imagine me and my husband definitely having our own house which we intend to live in for a long time. We would have hopefully sent Nora to university by then and Adam would be finishing up high school. Our couple's life would have a new beginning in about 15 years. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Prepare for your death"

I find it weird when people say that we should prepare for our deaths or prepare for the next life. I don't see it like that at all. I mostly think of it as wanting to follow what is right because it is what is best for us. Not only best for our next life, but best for us now too.

I admit that I'm not coming from the point of view of someone who has gone through incredibly difficult life moments and where doing what I believed is best ripped me apart and caused me suffering. Quite the opposite. My choices have brought me peace and satisfaction for the most part. 

Often I see people, mostly women, doing things that they believe is right and good, thinking of the afterlife as a motivation to keep going and going while they suffer... and I just feel that it's all so *wrong*. That if they were actually doing what they should be doing that they'd have more satisfaction in life than this and that their suffering would lessen. Normally it's something to do with their relationship with their husband like an abusive man or a man who has more than just them as wives, just to let you know the type of situation I have in mind when I say what I'm saying. 

It just seems to me like if a person has to think of this life as a test of suffering, they are missing out on what God wants for them and has allowed for them. 

There *are* difficult moments, I believe, even for a person who is doing all the right things. It's ups and downs for everyone and some have more downs than others, but to the point of needing to keep the afterlife a motivation to do good day in, day out... I feel like it's the wrong motivation and we shouldn't have to keep that in mind to make the right decisions.

Anyone have thoughts on this?

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