Friday, July 31, 2009

History of Salah 2

In a previous post, History of Salah 1, I talked about two stages of salah during the history of Islam (after the beginning of the Message.) The first stage was the morning and afternoon prayers, and the second stages was of the night prayer. There are two more stages.

The second stage is marked by a significant event--the Israa' and Mi'raaj, which took place roughly 3 years before hijrah. It was after the Muslims had suffered under sanctions, and after the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had lost his beloved wife Khadeejah, who had supported him emotionally and financially, and after he lost his uncle Abu Talib who had protected him against his enemies, that he was taken on the Israa' and Mi'raaj. So after one of the lowest points in his life, the Prophet (ﷺ) is taken through the heavens and he receives the tremendous gift of the five salawat.

But first, Allah enjoined fifty prayers, every day and night, and it was when the Prophet (ﷺ) reached Musa on his way down that Musa instructed him to ask Allah for a reduction of that burden because it would be too much for his Ummah. So Muhammad (ﷺ) returned to Allah and asked that they be reduced, and Allah reduced it by five. Again, Muhammad (ﷺ) encountered Musa who told him to request another reduction. Allah granted the request and this continued until there were only 5 prayers remaining, at which point He told Muhammad (ﷺ) that these are five prayers every day and night, and for every prayer there is the reward of ten, so they are like fifty prayers. And Muhammad (ﷺ) did not want to ask for any less than that.

So that is how we get five daily prayers--it is a gift from Allah (SWT), and we can also understand the value of the salah, knowing that Allah (SWT) gave the Prophet (ﷺ) this obligation directly, and that it was prescribed in the heavens.

Another part of this stage is that along with the five daily prayers came the times of those prayers and the manner in which they are performed. The Angel Jibreel led the Prophet (ﷺ) in prayer to teach him the prayer times. On the first day he prayed all the prayers at the beginning of their times, and on the second day he delayed them until the end of their times, except the maghrib prayer which he prayed at the same time on both days, and then said that the time of each salah is between those two times.

Some other interesting things about this stage of salah is that the Qiblah was still towards Jerusalem, and that the prayers included 2 raka'ahs only (regardless of whether a person was traveling.) Also, it was allowed to talk during the salah. For example, if you came to the salah late, you might ask the person standing next to you, "Which raka'ah are we in?" and he might say "We're in the 2nd raka'ah." and it would be okay.

The fourth stage began the 2nd year after hijrah, and there were basically three changes to the salah. The first was changing the Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah. Additionally, the number of raka'ah was increased. We have this on a hadith from 'A'isha recorded yb Abu Dawud, that the prayer of the traveler was left as was originally prescribed, and the prayer of the resident was enhanced.

Lastly, talking during the salah was prohibited. Zayd ibn Arqaam narrated, "We used to talk while engaged in salah during the lifetime of Allah's Messenger, and one would talk with his companion regarding his needs in salah until this verse was revealed, 'Guard strictly the salah, especially the middle salah and stand before Allah qaaniteen (silently with obedience.)' We also have a hadith recorded by Muslim and narrated by Mu'awiyah ibn ul-Hakam, that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, "Talking is not befitting during the salah, for it consists only of glorifying Allah, declaring His Greatness, and the recitation of the Qur'an."

More News on Local Arrests

Since I was trying to get news on the IAR Open House (which was last Saturday), I had set some Google Alerts, because of which I heard very early about the arrests of 7 local Muslims who were indicted on some vague charges on suspicion of terrorist plotting.

And my inbox has just been overflowing with that kind of news. I wanted initially to start posting that news, so I've been reading it myself, and then I got lazy about posting it, and now I'm really just sick of reading it.

The media seems to be trying very hard to get "Muslim perspectives" on the incident so it can talk about how "shocked" we all are. The main suspect, Daniel Boyd, has really been flayed the most by the media overall, and I've seen some members of the community making statements.

However, the local mosque offered an official statement indicating that they cannot comment on an ongoing criminal investigation. And I think that was a wise move on their part, and the more "news" I see on the issue just shows the suspects being quite literally tried by the media and most often being found guilty. It's just so sensational to get to talk about "terrorists" who were "home-grown" and plotting "violent jihad," even though these charges have not been substantiated.

So I'm going to remove my post with the news listings on it, along with my commentary, less anyone misconstrue my remarks in the future.

I might post particular relevant updates later on, but for now I think it's better for me to just stay out of it. I have heard that the court date for the suspects has been set to Tuesday morning (8/04) at 9:30am at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Raleigh, if anyone would like to attend. It's recommended to arrive early (around 8am), and remember that cell phones aren't allowed in so just leave it in the car. Personally I'd love to go but unfortunately I'll be sitting a final exam for my summer class from 9-11am.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ax the AXE

Is anyone annoyed with male body spray commercials suggesting that women, upon smelling a sweaty guy covered in their product, will instantly swoon and quite literally fall all over him?

Personally I thought they were just silly until the girls in my Sunday school class mentioned to me that the boys they went to school with would use the body spray without even showering--which, needless to say, didn't combine into a terribly pleasant odor. Apparently the little boys are under the impression that women like the smell of this stuff when in reality it's just a new level of gross.

I do wonder why men are encouraged to wear fragrances to the mosque, though, and women really aren't supposed to.

Absurdities Abound Regarding Terrorism

I came across this article today, and as I began to read it became astonishingly confused. At first I was taking it seriously, not sure what it was exactly but giving it the benefit of the doubt, but then I went and read the letter it cited up front, and realized that this "Investigative Project on Terrorism" is just a Muslim-bashing front.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism ( has obtained a letter ( sent by seven House Democrats to Attorney General Eric Holder invoking a list of complaints from radical Islamist groups and asking that Holder meet with representatives from those militant groups, most of which have defended violent jihad.
Please read the letter, and look at the complaints. I think they're perfectly reasonable. It looks like Muslims consulted their elected officials and explained some concerns they had about the way the Dept. of Justice has been operating. The letter asks the Attorney General to meet with leaders of some organizations mentioned to help allay the fears of Muslims.

But if you read the paragraph above, you might think the Congressmen were asking the AG to meet with Al-Qa'ida! First it refers to the organizations as being "radical Islamist groups" and then it calls them "militant!" Do you know what it's talking about? CAIR, ICNA, ISNA, MANA, MAS-FF, AMA, MPAC, MSA, and MUNA! These organizations aren't radical, "Islamist," or militant.

The article goes on in attempts to paint these organizations as evil terror-mongering types, trying to show ties to overseas groups associated with terrorism. Muslims were just asking for justice, as America is supposed to be a nation of justice, and they're accused of terrorism. Now that is scary.
Ironically, the letter was received by Mr. Holder's office on the very same day that 8 radical Islamists from Raleigh, North Carolina were indicted on terrorism charges in a plot to carry out "violent jihad" and Islamic martyrdom (suicide) operations.
This point I thought was totally irrelevant, since the public is not aware of any evidence in this case, the men were just indicted on Monday, and the case isn't even mentioned in the letter. Clearly the writing of the letter took place before any news broke about the indictments. So there's no irony at all.

The last line of this quote also makes me wonder, does the author (of that article) really think that a Muslim has to commit suicide to be a martyr? When did that happen? A person committing suicide basically nullifies his martyrdom.

Monday, July 27, 2009

History of Salah 1

I have recently shared some information (1, 2) about the universality of the postures in salah, and their existence before Islam, which I learned about in an AlMaghrib seminar. But what was even more interesting to me was the development of salah during Islam--during the lifetime of the Prophet (saws). That development can be broken into four basic stages.

The first stage begins in the 2nd or 3rd year of the Message (i.e., 2 or 3 years after Angel Jibreel visited the Prophet Muhammad saws.) At this stage, there were two daily prayers, but we don't know the specifics about them. When the Prophet (saws) received revelation he was ordered to make two daily prayers: one in the morning, and one in the evening.
So be patient (O Muhammad SAW). Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, and ask forgiveness for your fault, and glorify the praises of your Lord in the Ashi (i.e. the time period after the midnoon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before midnoon.) 40:55
We can understand these prayers to be general forms of ibadah, including bowing and prostrating, but not necessarily the specific form of salah we have today. We can also understand the qiblah to be towards Jerusalem.

The second stage is of the night prayer, and this has basically two parts. The first part was when the night prayer was obligatory, as prescribed in Surat al-Muzzammil:

O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammad SAW)!
Stand (to pray) all night, except a little.
Half of it, or a little less than that,
Or a little more; and recite the Quran (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style. (73:1-4)
The Prophet (saws) and the sahabah prayed this every single night, as an obligation, for an entire year. That is based on a hadith from 'Aisha recorded by Imam Ahmad and Imam Muslim. Just now I was reading through the surah and came across this ayah, after the above passage:

Verily, the rising by night (for Tahajjud prayer) is very hard and most potent and good for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (understanding) the Word (of Allah). (73:6)

We learned in the class that this obligatory night prayer was for the sahabah and the Prophet (saws) an institution, a means of learning and also a means of establishing strength and discipline for them. Perhaps many of us might use the excuse that we will start praying tahajjud when we have more discipline. And that is the wrong approach. Instead, we should be praying tahajjud in order to achieve discipline, in order to strengthen our iman--and not because of high iman.

But after a year the tahajjud prayer was no longer obligatory--at the end of this same surah, the burden is eased.
Verily, your Lord knows that you do stand (to pray at night) a little less than two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so do a party of those with you, And Allah measures the night and the day. He knows that you are unable to pray the whole night, so He has turned to you (in mercy). So, recite you of the Quran as much as may be easy for you. He knows that there will be some among you sick, others travelling through the land, seeking of Allah's Bounty; yet others fighting in Allah's Cause. So recite as much of the Quran as may be easy (for you), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat, and lend to Allah a goodly loan, and whatever good you send before you for yourselves, (i.e. Nawafil non-obligatory acts of worship: prayers, charity, fasting, Hajj and 'Umrah, etc.), you will certainly find it with Allah, better and greater in reward. And seek Forgiveness of Allah. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful. (73:20

So perhaps now we can remember that Allah has made our obligations easy--we don't have the obligation to rise and pray every night, the whole night. He knows our weaknesses. And I love the end of the ayah (the part in bold), which can serve to remind the people, once the obligation of nightly tahajjud has been lifted, the immense reward of continuing in voluntary worship. This ayah is a relief for the Muslims, and a reminder that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. But did the Sahabah stop praying tahajjud? No! They were already trained, so they continued that legacy.

The Prophet (saws) used to stand in night prayer until his feet would swell and still said, "Shouldn't I be a grateful slave?" Shouldn't we be grateful, and show our gratitude by voluntary worship? By praying tahajjud?

to be continued...

Coming up: the last two stages of salah in Islam.

The Look and Feel of Cotton

As far as fashion goes, I prefer wide wrap-around hijabs, and large square hijabs, and not the one-piece or two-piece amiras. For modesty, I prefer hijabs large enough to cover my chest. And for comfort, I dislike polyester and prefer lightweight, breathable fabrics.

But when I go to the gym, fashion gives way to practicality and comfort, and I found a winner! Just recently I bought a one-piece cotton hijab from a vendor at the mosque. It cost me about $10, but I have worn it almost every single time I've worked out since I bought it. (Yes, I wash it.) And I'm going to need to buy another one, I think. (looks like this.)

It's so easy to wear, light, doesn't slide around, no pins, no bunched up fabric around my neck. It's not going to be easy working out in July heat (even indoors) in full covering, but I've gotta say that these kinds of hijabs do make it easier.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hijab Oddities

Gaza female lawyers ordered to wear religious headscarves in court

I found this article kind of interesting. I imagine many people will think that it interferes somehow with rights of women. But I think many of those same people will still find it acceptable for Muslim women to be denied the right to wear "religious headscarves" in court, as judges, lawyers, or even witnesses. I can't prove that of course, or provide evidence for my assertion here, it's just something that seems to be the case. And I wonder why one would be okay and the other not?

Forcing a woman to wear a "religious headscarf" (as a opposed to a non-religious headscarf? whatever that means) violates her rights, but preventing her from wearing one does not? Do women have a right to uncover, but not a right to cover?

I just wonder, you know?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How We Pray 2

In my recent post, How We Pray 1, I talked about how the concept of salah, and some of the postures, existed before Islam. We can understand that salah, when used in the Qur'an referring to human beings (please see Definition of Salah) generally means worship. Looking at Biblical descriptions of the worship of prophets, we see them falling on their faces. But there is even more evidence in the Qur'an as to what salah looked like, or included as far as postures, in the Qur'an.

That's why this is a part 2 post, it's just further elaborating on some points I already discussed.

One thing that the Qur'an describes is praying in the House of Allah, which is the Ka'ba. This is something we can read in Surat al-Baqarah (2:125.) Surah Ale Imran describes Zakariyyah praying in a mihrab, a chamber or private room (3:39.) And Surah Sad mentions a mihrab of Dawud (38:21.) Surah Yunus describes taking houses as places of prayer for Musa and Harun in Egypt (10:87.) Surah Ale Imran includes instructions to Mary about prostrating and bowing, and it tells her to bow along with those who bow, indicating congregatoinal prayer (3:43.) Surat al-Hajj mentions standing, bowing, prostration, and circumambulation (22:26.) Also mentioned is that salah is for dhikr, rememberance of Allah, as in Surah Taha (20:14.)

I mention these references just to point out that some postures and particulars of prayer, in addition to being universal demonstrations of humility and devotion, are also part of the salah in times before Islam, one more thing which gives our daily salah special significance.

Open House Media Coverage

WRAL Web: Islamic Center of Raleigh holds open house

WRAL Video: Islamic Center holds open house in Raleigh

USA Today

News 14 Carolina (note that the text misquotes the speaker on the matter of hijab, the sister actually said hijab means covering everything except face, hands...)

(InshaaAllaah I'll update any further coverage.)

Dressing for the Mosque

Today was the Open House at my masjid, and alhamdulillah it was a beautiful success. Youth volunteers conducted tours, trained da'wah volunteers hosted booths to answer questions about Islam, and an amazing exhibit was available describing the roots of Islam in America. There was also a main presentation that I did not attend (as I was manning a booth) but which attendees seemed to appreciate.

One interesting observation I made was that there was not, as one might expect on a hot summer day, very many guests wearing wildly inappropriate clothing. A while ago I wrote a brief article with some FAQs about visiting a mosque--one guest even recognized my name from the article (which has been posted on the Islamic Center's website.) Many ladies even brought a scarf though that certainly wasn't necessary, and while a few people did dress very casually, I was impressed to see so many people who took seriously the fact that the mosque is a place of worship, and who dressed accordingly (despite the heat!)

Definition of Salah

In my notes on the "linguistic" definition of salah, I have a few different points. Even though Shaykh Yaser Birjas in Fiqh of Salah discussed the linguistic root of the word salah, and so did Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda in Vocabulary of Salah, the only summary I can give on the subject is that it's not immediately obvious what the root is, or if the word came from another language.

However, there are still some linguistic understandings inherent in the usage of the word, and that is what I will share inshaaAllaah.

So the first linguistic understanding of the word is that it means du'a and istighfar, which in English means supplication and seeking forgiveness. Du'a, or invoking Allah, is the essence of prayer and worship. In English we use the word "prayer" to mean both du'a and istighfar (and even dhikr) but these words in Arabic have special connotations. We can understand however that salah means invoking Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

The second linguistic understanding of the word is that it means forgiveness and mercy. We get this interpretation, which applies to the salat of Allah, from the following ayah:

Allah sends His Salat (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy, etc.) on the Prophet (Muhammad SAW) and also His angels too (ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salat on (ask Allah to bless) him (Muhammad SAW), and (you should) greet (salute) him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation i.e. AsSalamu 'Alaikum). 33:56

In this translation (Muhsin Khan), the word Salat is taken to mean "Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy, etc." when referring to the Salat of Allah. And then the Salat of the angels is asking for Allah to bless and forgive [Muhammad, saws.] And our salat in this case means asking Allah to bless him.

The way Sh. AbdulNasir explained it was to say that if Allah is the "doer" then the salat means to have mercy on, and to grant blessings. And if the "doers" are the angels then it means that they seek forgiveness. And if the "doer" is a human being, then it simply means to worship.

One other meaning of the word salah, is that the plural form (salawat) can mean masajid, or places of prayer, as in ayah 22:40.

The technical definition of salah, however, is how we understand the term today. That is, worshiping Allah by means of particular prescribed sayings and actions in a particular order at particular prescribed times, beginning with takbir (Allaahu Akbar) and ending with tasleem (As-salaamu alaykum).

Learning to Pray

Mu`adh (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sent me as a governor to Yemen and he instructed me thus: "You will go to people of the Scripture (i.e., the Jews and the Christians). First of all invite them to testify that La ilaha ill Allah (There is no true god except Allah) and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His slave and Messenger; and if they accept this, then tell them that Allah has enjoined upon them five Salat (prayers) during the day and night; and if they accept it, then tell them that Allah has made the payment of Zakat obligatory upon them. It should be collected from their rich and distributed among their poor; and if they agree to it, don't take (as a share of Zakat) the best of their properties. Beware of the supplications of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah.'' [Bukhari & Muslim]

This hadith is one of my favorite, as it illustrates a level of priority to the salah for those people who embrace Islam. The very first thing taught to the new Muslim after shahadah should be salah, as the Prophet (saws) commanded that salah be taught.

As a new Muslim, learning to pray was for me one of the greatest hurdles. And I think that as a Muslim community, we do not adhere to the teachings of our Prophet (saws) when we abandon our new brothers and sisters after their shahadahs, instead of teaching them to pray.

I was listening a few weeks back to a khutbah by Muhammad Alshareef as he discussed the plight of a new Muslim. The brother was told again and again the importance of eating halal meat. And then one brother actually gave him some halal meat or took him to the halal meat shop--and we listeners are supposed to learn the importance of putting words into actions. But I can't help asking... halal meat!?

The person just accepted Islam as his deen and the most important thing to tell him is about halal meat? No!

Teach him to pray. Teach new Muslims to pray. This is a new objective for me--I am greatly disappointed that any convert to Islam can leave the masjid without learning how to pray, and I will consider it to be a personal failure if I am present and the person misses the opportunity to learn this precious and supremely important act of worship.

For someone who learned how to pray by watching his or her parents, growing up, it might not seem a strange and foreign procedure. But for a new Muslim it can be wholly intimidating. And I know there are tons of videos, books, pamphlets, and other source material to learn, but they all pale in comparison to being taught in person.

Don't assume someone else is taking the responsibility--that is perhaps our biggest mistake. I don't think Muslims intend to abandon a new Muslim, or intend to neglect his education about the deen, I truly don't. But I think we might have the impression that someone else will teach them, maybe the imam or the da'wah committee, or the uncle who is always in the first row. But we should take that responsibility--and unless the convert already knows how to pray, or has someone else already to teach him (and he specifically declines your offer), do not leave until you've shown him.

And if your excuse is that you don't know how to teach someone to pray, then my answer is that if you know how to pray, then you can teach someone. But if you don't know yourself, then you should learn, and then you can teach. (Try AlMaghrib's Divine Link, for instance!)

If there are any sisters in the Raleigh area, even anywhere in the Triangle, and you don't know how to pray, or you haven't found someone to teach you, please contact me right away, and I will teach you inshaaAllaah. If you know someone who needs to learn how to pray, please direct them to me. For any brothers in the area, inshaaAllah I will find a brother to teach you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How We Pray 1

Click for CreditIf you are not a Muslim, have you ever wondered why Muslims pray the way they do? If you are a Muslim, have you ever been asked the question?

Have you ever thought to answer by asking: Why doesn't everyone pray this way?

One thing we learned in Fiqh of Salah was the History of Salah, and it doesn't start with Islam. Anyone who has read the Bible might recognize the postures of salah being performed by Prophets and Messengers as far back as the time of Ibraheem! (as)

Muslims probably already know that Ibraheem, called Abraham in English, recognized salah, because it is mentioned in the Qur'an (14:37.) But did you know that even the Bible describes sajdah, prostration? In Genesis 17 (v. 3 and 17) it says that Abraham fell on his face. The son of Ibraheem, Isma'il (as) , also used to pray salah and enjoin it on his family. (19:54-55.)

The Qur'an also describes salah in the time of Musa and Harun (as) in Surah Yunus (10:87.) But the Bible describes some of their positions in salah as well. Exodus 34:8 describes Moses bowing his head in prayer, while Numbers 20:6 describes both Moses and Aaron falling on their faces.

From Surah al-Ma'idah (5:12) Muslims know that the Children of Israel were instructed to perform salah. But it is also mentioned in the Bible, that the people would lift their hands, bow their heads, and worship with their faces to the ground (Nehemiah 8:6); that Joshua fell on his face to worship (Joshua 5:14); that Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all of Jerusalem fell before the Lord to worship (2 Chronicles 20:18).

And what about during the time of Jesus? The Qur'an tells us that Mary was instructed to prostrate and bow (3:43), and that salah was also enjoined on her son (19:31). And what does the Bible say? First that Jesus fell on his face to pray (Matthew 26:39) but also it says that even his disciples fell on their faces out of fear of God (Matthew 17:6).

So clearly there is nothing bizarre or unfounded about the way Muslims pray today--the postures they exhibit in worship have been mentioned in previous scriptures and the Qur'an, long before the time of Muhammad (saws). The postures of the prayer universally represent humility and devotion, and are not exclusive even to Islam. So why not pray the way that Muslims pray? Although the exact manner of prayer today might be different than during the time of the Prophets, as Muslims we partake of their legacy every time we pray. It might be that we are the only nation in all of humanity to keep these rituals alive.

Ad Infinitum 2

I know I just recently wrote a post (Ad Infinitum) detailing my irritation with "ad infinitum" style classes on Islam--the kind which go on indefinitely without accomplishing any particular objectives, and without students being able to claim improvement on the subject. It was my opinion that certain classes, like tajweed for instance, do not lend themselves to an ad infinitum style format.

But in my post I pretty much just ragged on the format altogether, but after giving the subject a little more thought, I'd like to post some more reflections on the subject. While I still think some subjects are not well rendered in ad infinitum style classes, there are other subjects which actually are beneficial with this format.

Now, the classes I think which are not justly presented as ad infinitum are those which require the student to progress through various levels, and each level has some prerequisite knowledge. Take for example a class in Arabic: is it possible to teach students grammatical constructs if they cannot read Arabic? Is it possible to have students analyzing sentences if they cannot recognize grammatical constructs? I don't think it is. Having two levels, e.g., beginning and intermediate, is not useful unless at some point the students at the beginning level can progress to an intermediate level, and the intermediate students can progress to an advanced level.

Knowledge is not a game, where you can bring what you have to the table and just play with it, without acquiring any more. I, for one, think there should be progress, which requires a definite time-frame.

However, there are other classes which actually lend themselves quite well to an ad infinitum format, where each class has independent benefit, and the long term, if students are able to commit, allows subjects to be covered in extensive breadth. An example of such a class might be one teaching ahadith, wherein each week a new hadith or small collection of similar ahadith are read and discussed with commentary from a shaykh. If you take a book of ahadith like Riyadh us-Saliheen and cover a chapter each week, it will take a while to complete the book. Students will not progress to another "level" in their understanding of hadith, but will get a more rounded and complete view of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saws). Because the material is convered slowly, and each hadith is given its due, students are likely to retain the information well.

Another class which might also work in an ad infinitum format is an ongoing Qur'an class, specifically on tafsir or analysis. The depths of the Qur'an are not graded in fathoms, so a class reviewing just a few ayaat a week, to understand them deeply, can benefit students on an on-going basis. The pace of the material will also allow them, perhaps, to digest and absorb the material.

I also think that covering these kinds of material slowly will help raise the general knowledge level of the community, if they are actively participating. There doesn't need to be a start and end date, and the "curriculum" is more or less specified, and the class is aimed at the general public instead of any particular students.

On the other hand, when students are commiting their time and even their resources to a class, an ad infinitum format will likely deprive them of the benefit they are seeking, which is knowledge to progress to a higher level or understanding in a particular subject, or to acquire a particular skill.

So I'm not really taking back what I said before, but refining it somewhat. Hope it makes sense.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Improving Your Prayer

Alhamdulillah, I've recently had the opportunity to attend two excellent classes on salah--the first was AlMaghrib's Divine Link: Fiqh of Salah, and the second was Bayyinah's Meaningful Prayer: Vocabulary of Salah. So I've had the opportunity to go over salah from both fiqh and linguistic perspectives, something that has impacted my own prayer in a way that I cannot describe.

I want to keep the information fresh, which means I'll need to go over it a few more times, so inshaaAllaah I might be using my blog as a platform to do that.

The first and most powerful thing that I learned was the importance of qiyyam ul-layl prayers. Praying at night isn't something that I ever really did outside of Ramadan, except for an occasional witr. My excuse was always that I didn't know enough Qur'an, and that as I learned Qur'an I would start. Kind of a lame excuse, I guess. Shaykh Yaser Birjas recommended praying Qiyyam even if you only know Surah Ikhlaas, just repeat it over and over to make a long standing segment. Recite it beautifully, reflect upon it. So not knowing Qur'an shouldn't be a reason to abstain from Qiyyam.

We learned in the class that the Companions had to pray Qiyyam every night for a year, as an obligation--and for most of us I think it's a rare occurance, and we tire quickly. I remember my first Ramadan, praying taraweeh wore me out awfully--going just a few times a week seemed a burden, I couldn't concentrate, and I just wanted to sit down. My third Ramadan it actually surprised me how short each rak'ah was, since I expected it to be so long as to make me tired. It wasn't any shorter, I was just getting used to it. Alhamdulillah.

But praying Qiyyam--and I don't mean taraweeh exactly, but actually praying by yourself at night, in your home, in the quiet of the night--has benefits for the believer. It's like an institution, strengthening your iman. You should spend the time reciting the Qur'an and reflecting on it.

Shaykh Yaser even said that this is his advice for people with low iman. They complain that they can't wake up to pray, and so he tells them that this is the solution--praying Qiyyam. Especially waking up to pray it (tahajjud). And from my own experience, it can encourage you to learn even more Qur'an, so you have even more you can recite in Qiyyam (without repeating it.)

Now here's a bit of trivia: What's the difference between tahajjud and qiyyam ul-layl? Qiyyam ul-Layl is any prayer prayed at night after 'isha before fajr time, ideally with long standing (which is what qiyyam means.) Tahajjud is a kind of qiyyam ul-layl, which you pray after going to sleep, so you had to wake up to pray it. And this is best especially in the last third of the night. Taraweeh is also a kind of Qiyyam ul-Layl, which is prayed in Ramadan, with resting between the sets of four raka'at (the root word implies rest.)

Soap and Water

My grandmother used to tell this joke, it seems like everytime we went to visit her.

There was an elderly lady living outside town who had a reputation of not being very clean. Now, the town had just gotten a new preacher, and since the lady didn't have many friends, he went to go and visit her one night.

She cooked him a very nice meal and as they sat down to eat, he noticed that her dishes seemed a little bit dirty, so he asked politely about whether she was sure they had been washed. She replied that she washed her dishes every night with Soap and Water. So the man went ahead and ate the meal, commenting afterwards about how delicious the food was.

Then, as she started to clean the table, the lady took the dishes and called out the door, "Here Soap, here Water!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Between Shyness and Arrogance

A few weeks ago, my imam said something that I found interesting. He said that knowledge is lost between shyness and arrogance. Though perhaps it makes more sense, based on what he was trying to say, to state that knowledge is gained between them, as if they are two ends of a spectrum, and being at either end is where you lose the knowledge. He couldn't off-hand remember the source, and it was a rough translation, and I myself haven't found the source, but still it seems poignant enough to address, even just as a nice quote (since I can't validate its origins.)

Basically what it's saying is that a person does not gain knowledge when affected by either extreme shyness or arrogance. The shy person is afraid to ask question, afraid even to go to classes. Think of some Muslims who were too shy to ask their questions to an imam--I think this is especially true for sisters. Or sisters who are too shy to attend a class on Islam, and so they don't learn, because their shyness hinders them. It doesn't mean that shyness is bad, because of course women are encouraged to be modest, especially around men. Just remember the statement of Aisha, "How good are the women of Ansar that their shyness does not prevent them from learning religion." (link)

And as for arrogance, the person who thinks that he already knows a thing cannot be taught it. Instead it takes humility before the teacher. Arrogant students will either get bored or even try to contradict the teacher. I had such disdain for my high school band teacher that I couldn't have learned anything from him, even though he was the one who had the college degree in music. I was arrogant about my own knowledge (I had been taking private lessons for years before I met him and certainly wasn't ignorant) and consequently was unable to benefit from any of his.

So when it comes to learning about Islam in particular, we should be between these two extremes. Not arrogant about what we already know so that we refuse to learn anything from the teacher, nor too shy to inquire and seek the knowledge.

I'd like to add that when attending the AlMaghrib seminars I have, that I found the students to be in such a state--humble enough to receive knowledge from the shaykh, and yet bold enough to ask their questions. And this was the case equally (or so it seemed) among brothers and sisters. There was equal time devoted to answering questions of brothers and sisters. This only makes me love that environment anymore--the students who are dedicated to seeking knowledge.

Bad Dog

Someone recently suggested to me that I blog about my dog some. (Okay, it was my fiance asking.) So I think that's what I might do. He's kind of cute--a chihuahua named PJ. We got him way before I became Muslim, so I guess my parents have had him a little while now. My mom had a chihuahua growing up, and after our last dog died (a labrador/cocker-spaniel mix), she wanted to get a little chihuahua to sit in her lap. Since her dog as a kid was named Pete, this new puppy was called PJ, maybe short for "Pete Jr."

Now, before someone starts on about the having dogs in the house issue--no, I really don't think it's okay, based on some authentic hadith. This dog belongs to my parents, and since right now I am living with my parents, the dog comes with the territory. There are a few particular concerns I need to make sure of, Islamically, namely for prayer, and that alone is an inconvenience enough to maybe discourage folks from keeping dogs, especially in their houses. But if it's not, there are authentic hadith to the effect that a person's reward drops every day just for keeping a dog in the house. I do know this, and yet it's not going to bring me to my parents telling them that if I live here the dog has to go--that's not gonna happen. Right now there are several benefits to living with my parents, which I am taking advantage of. That they keep a dog is just one of the costs. So before anyone decides to attack me for the impermissibility of keeping dogs--just know that I already know, and he's my parent's dog, and still living here is my best option for many personal and private reasons.

Now, domesticated dogs are generally sweet and loving creatures, who are very excited when their owners come home. PJ is no different--he usually perks up when I come home, or rushes to greet me. Today, however, when I came in the door after a grocery trip, he was nowhere in sight. That's strange, since usually he sleeps right by the door so as to know if anyone comes home. But sometimes he sleeps in a back room and it takes him a minute (he has to do the yoga stretching) to come out once he hears someone come in. But I waited and came in and put all my stuff down, and no sign of him. So I went looking.

And I found him hiding in the doorway to my parents' bedroom, ears back, tail between his legs. Generally this posture is indicative of bad behavior. In his case, it's usually peeing or pooping in the hallway outside my bathroom. So I go look down that way, and sure enough, he's peed. So he goes about looking as pitiful as possible, climbing onto the sofa to sort of hide himself among the blankets.

I'm never sure what to do. My dad will sometimes get very mad at him, and proceed to "punish" him. I don't think that's worth very much--he's just a dog after all. And I do know that Islamically it's not correct to disgrace the face of even an animal, so I won't hit his face or spray his face with water--something my dad and brother-in-law do to their bad dogs. But I've gotta say, it's pretty frustrating when he keeps doing it. (Peeing on the carpet, I mean.)

What I think is kind of interesting is his overall behavior, when he's ashamed. I mean, he was ashamed before I even knew he did anything. He gets as low to the ground as possible (or he jumps on the sofa and crouches down there), and won't make eye contact with me.

It's kind of how humans act, isn't it, when they're really ashamed of something?

Have you ever felt like that in prayer? Oh Allah, I know I messed up when I could have done better, so please forgive me, pardon me and have mercy on me. Just a thought.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ad Infinitum

What do you think of classes that just go on forever, with no end? What's the point? Perhaps I am biased in this way towards Western Education--that a class should have a curriculum, it should have a beginning and an end, and a schedule. It shouldn't just meet without purpose, without objectives for the meetings or overall.

And I really, truly hate to see classes that just continue forever without the students being able to reach any level in knowledge. As an example, unfortunately, I'm looking at my tajweed class. I was asked to help start it, so I did, with the intention that it would last a few months (i.e., until Ramadan) and in that time period a certain amount of material (specifically tajweed rules) would be covered so the students could come for this time and actually learn something, and feel by the end that they had learned something they could put into practice.

Instead, it's turning out to be another ad infinitum class with no specific material being covered, no timeline, and what seems to be very little benefit. The class has met 5 times only, and I know I'm not the only student who is more than a little bored--you can tell when people stop coming. Having sat in on a few other classes that progress ad infinitum, instead of with any clear objectives up front, especially in the matter of tajweed, I can see that the students are not benefiting from it--at least, any benefit is not reflected in their recitation of the Qur'an.

Now, maybe this is the problem with an open class, with students at various levels. But there are other problems. For example, if the instructor decides to stop teaching new rules because a few students are missing. This robs students who do attend regularly of the opportunity to learn any new rules, in a way, wasting their time. And then, when students return who have missed a class or two, instead of progressing to new rules for the rest of the class, the instructor repeats previous material.

I get the impression from this behavior that the class is never going to end--thus: ad infinitum!

Now, this might work if a student is going to commit to attending the class weekly for years and years--in the meantime reciting with flawed tajweed that will need to be corrected down the road, if by then it hasn't become an ingrained habit. But for most students, I think it's actually not going to work. Especially a student who already knows the basic rules--after being corrected for missing an obscure and advanced rule, being told that this will come "much later" is not encouraging. It means the student will have to sit in a class without advancing for a long time just to learn a few advanced rules, while the instructor caters to the absent and the tardy.

I really think so much time is wasted in this sort of class--I've seen students who have been sitting in such classes after attending weekly for years, and they recite like beginners, making mistakes you would expect from someone who had not taken a tajweed class ever before.

It makes so much more sense to me that a class should have a set of objectives up front, that students are expected to learn. It should also have a timeline, so students can commit and understand that missing a class means missing the material, so the instructor does not feel obligated to repeat the same lecture again and again for any student who might have missed it, or delay new material for absent students.

Am I so wrong?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Open House at Raleigh Mosque

As-salaamu alaykum!

If you know anyone in Raleigh who might be interested in learning more about Islam, please invite them to the Islamic Center of Raleigh for its Open House, July 25th (inshaaAllaah--God willing). Above is the flyer for the event being distributed.

There will be tours of the facility (which is home to more than just daily prayers, including two prayer halls, three schools, a school library, an Islamic library, and additional offices and classrooms), an official presentation for visitors, films, food, and booths on various topics related to Islam.

Spread the word!

Religious Clothes in Oregon Schools

I'm really surprised that it took me so long to hear about this. And even now, all I can find is how Sikhs are protesting this law, but now how Muslims are--except that I am hearing about it through Muslims which means Muslims are doing something. Someone forwarded me the CAIR note about this, plus I also saw it today over at Muslimah Media watch on their Friday News Links today.

But anyway, what's past is past. Let me explain what's going on (for those of you just hearing.) The Oregon senate has passed a bill which prohibits teachers in public schools from wearing religious clothing. That can mean a Sikh's turban (which is why they are upset, naturally), but could also mean a hijab, and probably many other things. Here's the text of the bill (see Section 4):
No teacher in any public school shall wear any religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher. A school district, education service district or public charter school does not commit an unlawful employment practice under ORS chapter 659A by reason of prohibiting a teacher from wearing religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.
Now, before we go up in arms, make sure you read the rest of it. The bill actually includes several provisions for religious observation, including attire, and taking time off for holidays, even time for daily prayers. So the bill is supposed to protect religious freedoms of employees. That's good. But why not teachers? That's the problem with the bill, that the religious freedoms of public school teachers are being denied here, and specifically the freedom of dress.

In a way, this is even keeping certain people out of a particular job, based on their religion. Muslims, Sikhs, even some Jews, would not be able to take jobs as public school teachers in Oregon at all because of this, which opens up another problem.

The bill now needs to be signed or vetoed by Oregon's governor. If you want to send him a letter voicing your concern over the bill, (especially if you actually live in Oregon, or nearby), you can send one via CAIR.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

French Burqas

What is it with the French and not wanting to wear clothes? (Burqa ban.)

Reason vs. Obedience

I like how Muslims strongly promote the fact that Islam is a logical faith, and how they will point to the signs in the creation as evidence of a higher power. I've even heard some converts to Islam discuss one thing they loved about the faith: that they didn't have to "just believe" in it. That's from some people who, when asking in particular about the Trinity, received run-around answers eventually telling them they just had to believe it, even though it didn't make sense.

But some Christians caught on to this, and starting accusing Muslims of holding illogical beliefs. For example, the story of the Israa' and Mi'raaj. But a person doesn't start believing Islam because of Israa' and Mi'raaj, whereas the Trinity is a fundamental tenet of Christianity. So while the Israa' and Mi'raaj isn't the sort of thing which makes logical sense, Muslims believe it because they believe in the Prophet Muhammad (saws) and they believe in the Qur'an. The enemies of Islam, when they started hearing this story, began to mock the Prophet (saws) and when someone asked Abu Bakr, challenging his faith, he declared that if the Prophet (saws) said it, then he, Abu Bakr, believed it. What faith! It was proof enough for him that the Prophet (saws) said so.

But still, what brings people to Islam is not this story at all--what brings people to Islam by and large is belief in God in the first place. That's what Islam is about, and that's what is so reasonable and logical about Islam. One God--it makes plenty of sense.

That doesn't mean that we as Muslims understand absolutely everything. It doesn't mean we understand the wisdom behind everything that we do. Some actions might seem extremely illogical--but it's clear that they are part of Islam. We believe that there is wisdom behind it, and we do it to demonstrate our obedience to God.

For example, Muslims are supposed to wash their feet as part of ritual purification before prayer. However, if one is wearing socks (given some prerequisites I won't elaborate on here), then he may simply wipe over the socks instead of washing his feet. But what would seem logical would be to wipe the bottom of the sock, right? But actually, Muslims wipe the top of the foot when they do this, as according to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saws). What sense does it make? The point here is that Muslims do it out of obedience.

A person is not going to come to the conclusion one day, on his own, that after he goes to the bathroom he should wipe the top of his shoes or socks. But Muslims do it--why? Obedience. They have been taught this, and so when they hear a command they reply, "We hear, and we obey."

I don't think that's at all like a belief in the Trinity, which is essential and underlying in Christianity.

The logical part about Islam--the part that makes sense anyway you slice it, the part that doesn't require you to "just believe," is tawheed. Maybe faith on its own is mysterious or cryptic, but belief in One God is the most sensible and reaosnable thing to believe, which I attribute to the fitrah--that we are inclined to believe it anyway, something He has put in us. But just because we can't understand every little detail about a ruling in Islam is not a shortcoming--we should trust in Allah's wisdom and understand that we are to be obedient.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thoughts on atheism

This morning, while listening to the Diane Rehm show on NPR, I got to hear her guest, Robert Wright, try to explain his vague and bizarre belief system in such a way that the public wouldn't just slaughter him left and right. Here was the segment's brief description listed on the main show site:
Diane and her guest discuss the evolution of how humans have thought about God - from the Stone Age to the Information Age. A look at the forces changing Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and how science and religion might be reconciled.
A person who doesn't believe in God must be under the impression that the rest of humanity who does believe in God (as according to their fitrah) is under some mass delusion. And Mr. Wright said as much on the show, that believers are essentially deluded. He also said that atheism is the world's largest growing belief system. How can atheism qualify as a belief system? A person doesn't really need to have a system of beliefs to be an atheist, right?

In my opinion at least, an atheist is someone who has deluded himself into thinking that there's no God, (and thus, no accountability.) That can make a person more adherent to socially moral law, as some claim, by thinking that there is no life after this life, so as we're all equal we should make this life the best for everyone. But that belief stems from a religious belief in the first place--that human beings are equal. But atheism can also make a person less adherent to socially moral law--in it only for himself, in this life.

Nowadays, people will say that reason and science trump faith--in fact their argument with faith and religion in the first place is they find it contradictory to reason (and/or science.) This is one thing that Mr. Wright mentioned on the show also--that in order for him to accept a belief system, it would have to be compatible with reason and science.

All that says to me is that he considers himself more important than God. His mind, his logic, his understanding is superior, at least according to him, than that of any religion, and consequently of God. Because for him to believe in God, God would need to essentially play by his rules.

Silly, isn't it? (BTW, he has a website, but I'm not linking to it.)

I want to write another post inshaaAllaah on Islam and reason vs. obedience.

Friday, July 10, 2009

How to Win an Argument

Just kidding!

The other day I was reading Harms of Argumentation and Disputation over at MuslimMatters, and it reminded me of a chapter in Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win Friends & Influence People. Even though the first article is talking about debating people in matters of deen, and the book is talking about business, there are important concepts present for any da'ee.

Part of da'wah is trying to expose other people to the truth of Islam, hoping that with guidance from Allah they will recognize it as the truth and accept it. We have the examples of Prophets in the Qur'an, and we have the example of our own Prophet Muhammad (saws) in giving da'wah through different methods. But still many people take the approach of argumentation. And that's why it's important to read things like "You can't win an argument," which is the title of this particular chapter in the Carnegie book.

Even the placement of the chapter in the book is significant--it is the first chapter in Part 3, which is titled How to Win People to Your Way of Thinking. After learning how to handle people, and then getting them to like you, the next step is influencing them. And the first thing non-suave people try when they want to change someone's mind about something is to argue the point. So the author tries to break the mentality of argumentation.

He writes, "there is only one way under high heaven to get the best of an argument--and that is to avoid it. Avoid it as you would avoid rattlesnakes and earthquakes."

Are you thinking, "But what if you're right?" It doesn't matter. Or "What if you have superior argumentation skills?" Still doesn't matter. If you lose an argument, you lose it. If you think you've won an argument, by tearing down the other man's belief system, you've probably just made him really hate you. And if he hates you, he's not very likely to take your point of view, is he? A little limerick:

A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.

The trick with influencing people is getting them to see your side of things, and argumentation does not lead in that direction. Instead, it creates resentment and firmly entrenches people in their original point of view. I've seen before some non-Muslims who argued with Muslims, and the Muslims very skillfully utterly destroyed their opponent's argument. But the non-Muslim is then hurt, hates Islam more than ever, and comes back soon thereafter pushing some tremendously weak and foolish argument against Islam, which they believe. That is, the non-Muslim is then even more likely to believe outlandish claims against Islam since they are looking so hard for evidence to support their conclusion. In short, the arguing just led them further away from Islam.

Carnegie's book then offers tips to help prevent what is a simple disagreement from becoming an outright argument.

1. Welcome the disagreement. We can't all be clones of each other--variety of opinion is natural and beneficial. Others might see things that we do not, have experience or knowledge that we do not, and disagreement is a great starting place for learning.

2. Distrust your defensive instinct. A lot of times when facing a disagreement we tend to feel defensive about our position, which is not a great way to proceed. Instead, we should be open and calm. Feeling defensive might bring out our worst behavior.

3. Control your temper. Getting angry will only acerbate a tight situation. Stay calm.

4. Listen first. Remember that the other person has something to say that is as important to him as what you have to say is important to you. Respect that. If you don't let him get his point across, he'll never be able to listen to you. If you interrupt and try to argue by defending your position while he's talking, or debating, then you're effectively setting up barriers to resolution. It makes things harder, not easier, when you interrupt that way. Better to let them get their word out. (And it should go without saying, try to understand what they're saying, and sympathize with their point of view. Don't just ignore it when you do get to talk later on.)

5. Look for agreement. That's why you need to be listening--to find points on which you can agree. After he's heard out, it's a good place to start where he doesn't need to be defensive, so start with areas of agreement.

6. Be honest. Try to find anywhere that you might have made an error, and admit it--this keeps him from feeling defensive also. Apologize for any mistakes you might have made.

7. Promise to think over and study his ideas. And mean it. You know, he might actually be right about something, in which case it's worthwhile to look at his point of view. Suppose you're planning a trip with someone, and you both want to take different routes. You pick the shorter one, and he picks a different one that avoids road construction. Could be that your route is shorter but won't work because a road would be closed and you'd need a detour. Wouldn't it have been worth listening to him if he tried telling you that the road had construction and might be closed?

8. Thank your opponent. He's probably interested in the same things you are, if he took the time to disagree with you, and it's likely that you'll both learn from the experience (provided you're not engaged in detrimental argumentation.)

9. Postpone action so both sides than think through the problem. I think that opinions (especially about something so deep as religious beliefs) cannot change overnight, just like habits cannot, or body composition. It takes a little bit of time. The very least that can come of this is that you better understand your opponent's position, and you'll be in a better position to provide him with information that will benefit him.

So, in short, how to win an argument? Stay away from it. Far, far away.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Meaningful Prayer

For the students of Qabeelat Nurayn, the recent Al-Maghrib seminar on Fiqh of Salah (Divine Link) followed another Bayyinah seminar called Meaningful Prayer, Vocabulary of Salah. So before learning all the fiqh (legal rulings) pertaining to the performance of the salah, the students had the chance to enrich their salah by improving their understanding of the Arabic phrases used in the prayer.

I was afraid I wouldn't have the opportunity to benefit from this most recent Bayyinah seminar since it wasn't coming to Raleigh, even though I was planning to attend Divine Link in DC. But alhamdulillah, now that I've taken Divine Link, I have the opportunity to take Meaningful Prayer as well, since it was announced about a month ago that the class would come to Raleigh, inshaaAllaah. Alhamdulillah. And the class is scheduled for this weekend.

So now that I know I'm performing my prayer properly, at least from a fiqh perspective, I can explore in depth the meaning of what I'm saying to enhance the sweetness of the act, inshaaAllaah.

Course Trailer. Message to Raleigh students from Instructor, Shaykh Abdul Nasir.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What I did at the gym

I woke up from my afternoon nap with a soreness in my backside. I can't figure out which exercise I did caused it, exactly, since I didn't feel like my butt was targeted at all during my lower-body exercise training this morning. If anyone is looking for exercises that target your butt, though, these might be a good place to start.

Of course, you can always start with lunges and squats, which are kind of typical lower-body training exercises. You can also do them while holding weights. But that's not what I did this morning. I started with something I've never done before--don't even know it's name. But let's call it a one-leg toe-tap.

One-Leg Toe-Tap
Standing on one foot, and holding a small lightweight ball (~5in diameter) in the opposite hand, raise the ball while standing upright, and then bend over tapping the ball to the toe. Do this 15 times, and then switch to the other foot and do 15 reps.

Cable Kickback
The next exercise I did was a kind of kickback. An ankle is attached to a cable with weights, and pulling the ankle upwards towards the butt (that is, instead of swinging the leg at the hip, just bend at the knee) lifts the weights. I did 12-15 reps, then switched legs.

Then I went back to the One-Leg Toe-Tap, and repeated the Cable Kickback. Then I stepped onto a weight bench for 1 minute. That was not fun.

Okay, I guess I did do lunges, but with a twist. The cable was attached again to my ankle, and then I pulled the leg with the cable back into a lunge. I did 10-12 of these on each leg.

Calf Raises
A calf raise is standing on a low bench with the heels hanging over the edge, and basically raising up (by "crunching" the calves). I did 25 of these.

Then I repeated these three again--1 minute of stepping onto the weight bench, the lunges, and the calf raises. I also sat down for a minute or two in there, because the stepping onto the bench part just winded me something crazy.

I'm thinking it was probably the toe-tap that did it, but I guess it's hard to be sure.

What else did I do at the gym today? I did a warm-up on the treadmill for 10 minutes or so before the weight training, and then I did about 25 minutes of cardio also on the treadmill.

Our German Shaheedah

Three months pregnant. Killed in front of 3-yr old child and husband. Brutally stabbed to death--18 times. Attacker called her "islamist," "terrorist," and another insult related to the headscarf. She had been harassed by the attacker, who even tried to forcibly remove her hijab.

Link 1. Link 2. Link 3.

I don't really know what to blog on the subject. I can't help but cry when I read the articles, when I hear about the suffering of Muslims overseas, the hatred and the xenophobia they have to live with. It seems so much worse than what we deal with here in the States.

I'll repeat the du'a of a sister living in Germany: may Allah give her and her unborn child the place of a martyr in paradise and most of all may He protect her little son.


I am merely weeks away (inshaaAllaah) from obtaining a degree in electrical engineering. So close to calling myself an electrical engineer.

Is it kind of funny then, that the first thing I try when my electronics malfunction, is throwing, dropping, or smacking them against hard objects? Maybe. But so far this has been a cost-effective, simple, and quick way of solving minor electrical glitches.

For example, a week or so ago, my iPhone displayed a "No SIM card installed" error. The error was... wrong, in short. Because there had been a SIM card installed moments before. That is, moments before I dropped it (accidentally.) So how could it be that the SIM card just vanished, or uninstalled itself? I figured that some components had been slightly dislodged (not something that I could really "fix" by myself.) So I needed to apply a force on whatever components to shift them slightly back into their correct position. I threw the iPhone around for a while and rebooted it, to no avail. So I gave up on my smack it around method, and set off to the AT&T store hoping they could fix it. On my way to the store I continued the attempts to beat my iPhone into submission. It finally worked--one hard whack against the gear shifter and a reboot, then voila, everything back to normal.

Another example, last night my laptop (while in its case) slipped out of my grip and onto the floor as I was leaving a meeting. When I returned home and booted up, I discovered the fan was no longer spinning smoothly--it apparently was smacking something on every cycle making a very loud, fast, annoying ticking sound. The noise was just too much to handle, and persisted whenever the fan was on (i.e., whenever the processor would get a little too warm.)

So again I tried with the dropping, hitting, shaking, etc., and of course with no success. So this morning I went by a computer store to have them take a look at it, hoping they could open it up, adjust the fan, and close it up just as general courtesy. But instead they insisted on charging me $100 to open up the laptop and then the cost of the part (I guess they figured it was broken?) which they didn't even have.

But there was no need for them to do that, since the laptop is under warranty after all and I can just send it back to the manufacturer if it needs to be fixed. Only, this weekend a Bayyinah class is coming to town, and I'd be lost without my laptop to take notes. Though that noise would drive everyone nuts, probably. So when I came home I just resumed the dropping and such until... alhamdulillah, no more noise, and yep, the fan is working.

So now I'm going to have to be really careful with my computer so it doesn't mess up again. I know it's not good to just keep hitting things. I could break something else at the same time. But if it works...? Alhamdulillah... that's not happened.