Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Analogy Technique

When my dad asks me question that starts with "What do you think about..." I should be on my guard. I would normally interpret such a question to mean that the questioner is seeking to learn my thoughts on a particular matter. But when it comes to my dad, apparently not. Rather, it means, "let me see if you have any good reason for not believing the same thing I do." Or something to that effect.

Since my dad met my fiance (whom he loved,) he's been a little more open to talking about Islam with me. That's great, really, since I kind of botched my best chances to give da'wah to my parents. But yet my dad, as with most of my family, is swimming so deep in propaganda he can't see which way is up. After hearing him describe how my fiance would discuss Islam, I decided to try a change in tactics when the "What do you think about..." questions come up.

And I got that chance yesterday while driving to a nearby town (about an hour away) to visit my brother and sister et al. The question was, "What do you think about people who say Muslims are trying to take over the country?"

Now, what I think is that it's a lot of inane propaganda, vitriol from neocons and zionists, largely unfounded attempts to poison the American psyche against Muslims by perpetuating a state of fear which weakens the public defense of liberty in favor of "security." But I didn't say anything like that.

What I said was that America goes through cycles of having a targeted bias against a particular group of people, and I pointed out that some years ago there was widespread fear of and hatred towards Polish, Irish, and Italian immigrants, and there was even religious tension. Many Americans feared that if Kennedy were to win the White House in the 1960 presidential election, that the Pope would have a say in the running of the American government. People were afraid that Catholics would be taking over the then-mostly Protestant nation.

In retrospect, that fear seems wholly ridiculous, and except in very tight circles, Protestants and Catholics are more or less considered to be equally Christian. Especially, that is, in light of other non-Christian faiths, like Judaism or Islam. And in fact, Jews were for a long time a very unpopular minority in America. Although I didn't mention that.

But by mentioning Kennedy and Catholics, my dad could recall from his own experience how his family was reacting to the idea of a Catholic man running for the highest office. And I think he really started to see my viewpoint, acknowledging the possibility at least that the right-wing media's targeting of Muslims might be in the same vein as similar propaganda campaigns throughout American history. Instead of seeing Muslims as a true and legitimate threat, he explored the notion that Muslims are just the modern-day victims of a smear campaign. I'm not sure he was convinced of that, but at least he seemed open to the idea. While in fact I said very little to illustrate my point, more than making a simple analogy.

My dad then compared my technique to that of my fiance, which I will take as a compliment.

Regular Prayer

My Lord! Make me one who establishes regular prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring, O Our Lord! And accept my prayer.
O Our Lord! Cover (Us) with Your forgiveness: me, my parents, and (all) believers, on the day that the reckoning will be established! (14:40-41)

One of the first du'aat I learned to make in my salah was one from the Qur'an, a du'a of Ibraheem. In it, Ibraheem asks Allah to make him someone who establishes prayer--although the translation I learned inserted the word "regular," i.e., "establishes regular prayer." This du'a reminds me, at the end of every salah, the important of salah, of establishing it and praying it regularly.

On just about every prayer timetable I've seen, part of an ayah is listed somewhere on the page. One translation of the part of the ayah, 4:103, is "Verily, the prayer is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours." The idea is to remind whoever reads that prayer table about the importance of praying regularly at the appropriate times.

Now a person can view the idea of regular prayer as either a burden, or a blessing. I have a hunch most non-Muslims, and plenty of Muslims, probably see it as a burden. And undoubtedly Shaytan would rather us see it as a burden, so he can easily distract us from it, urge us to procrastinate it, and eventually even convince us to abandon it altogether. May Allah protect the believers from his whispers.

There are benefits in having the prayers spread throughout the day. It gives you a spiritual retreat at key points during the day, to help you break up the day and refresh you. And the times of the salah are intricately connected with ideal daily behavior.

We learn the prayer times from the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who learned them from the Angel Jibreel over two days. According to Ibn Abbas, the Angel Jibreel visited the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ at the beginning of the each of the prayer times on the first day to lead him in prayer, and on the second day led him in prayer at the end of the prayer times, except for maghrib prayer. The times have been further specified by Abdullah bin 'Amr bin al-'As, based on the sun and sky, and scholars have differed slightly in their opinions as to the exact timing.

What's clear however is that the prayers are based on the timing of the sun, indicating that our days should follow a similar schedule. It also keeps us Muslims aware of the motion of the sun throughout the day, as it crosses the sky, and throughout the year as the time it takes to traverse the sky changes. In this way the timings of prayers keeps you alert, and it keeps you from forming a lazy habit or tradition when it comes to the prayer--your schedule will have to be flexible somewhat throughout the year. The beginning and end times for each prayer vary between some schools of thought, though not drastically so and not without evidence.

The first prayer of a waking day is fajr, and there is unanimous agreement regarding its start and end times. It begins at the time of the "second dawn" or "true dawn." While the sun is at one particular angle below the horizon, there will appear the "first dawn" known as the "false dawn," when the light spreads vertically. That is not the start of fajr time, which actually comes later, when the sun is high enough for the dawn light to spread laterally across the horizon. It ends when the sun rises. This means that our day should begin before the sun comes up. There's also a special blessing in the fajr time before the sun rises. While our minds and bodies are refreshed, it can be a very productive time of day before the worries and business of the day start to clog our minds.

The start time of dhuhr is also unanimously agreed upon--that it is when the sun declines from its zenith. Geographically, unless a person is at the equator he will have a small amount of shadow, even when the sun is at its zenith, but the zenith is when the shadow has reached its minimum size. There are two opinions about the end time of dhuhr, though they all agree that dhuhr ends at the time when asr begins. The first opinion, the Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali opinion, is that dhuhr ends when the length of an object's shadow is equal to its height (plus the "extra shadow" just mentioned.) The second opinion, the Hanafi opinion, is that dhuhr ends when the length of an object's shadow is twice its height (plus the "extra shadow.") This is based on a hadith that dhuhr is to be delayed on hot days until the day begins to cool off.

The start time of asr is agreed by all to be the end time of dhuhr, and the same differences just mentioned apply. There is also agreement as to the end time of asr, that it be when the sun has completely set. Scholars also agree that it is better to pray asr earlier (than later) as long as its in the specified time. Hanafi scholars prefer it to be delayed as long as the sun hasn't started to change color.

By unanimous agreement, maghrib time begins when the sun has set, though there are basically three opinions regarding its end time. The first is the Maliki and new Shafi'i opinion, that basically the time for maghrib ends once enough time has passed to actually make wudhu, adhan, iqama, and pray five raka'at (3 for fard, 2 for sunnah.) In other words, maghrib needs to be prayed right away with no "extended time." The Hanbali and old Shafi'i opinion is that maghrib needs to be prayed by the time the red twilight has faded, while the Hanafi opinion is that it may be prayed until the white twilight has faded. But they all pretty much agree that it's best to pray maghrib at the beginning of its time.

When it comes to isha, there is unanimous agreement that it begins when the twilight has faded, but there are the same differing opinions about which twilight that means. The Maliki and Shafi'i opinions, for which there is no extended time, also say isha starts after the twilight has faded. When the sun sets, the first twilight is the red twilight, followed by the white twilight, followed by the blue twilight, just as a point of reference. There are two opinions about the end time of isha. The first is the Hanafi opinion, which allows for isha to be prayed up until the time for fajr arrives. The Maliki, Shafi'i, and Hanbali opinions are that isha may be prayed until the end of the first half, or first third of the night. This is calculated as the time between the beginning of isha and the beginning of fajr, then split into thirds or halves and added to the time isha begins.

The salah itself is an organizational tool, to help you structure your life. Sometimes people (you know who you are) will say that time is money. But no, time is life. Whenever a day passes, part of you goes with it. Following the salah forces you to begin your working day with fajr time--you shouldn't go to bed after salat al-fajr. You also see that there is time to take a break, for dhuhr, a good time to eat lunch, and maybe take a nap. Asr time, when the day starts to draw to a close, is the time to stop working and see to your family. Eat dinner and prepare for bed, these are things to do in the evenings.

Even the prohibited times of prayer reminds us of the appropriate structure for the day, so we don't turn into monks and try to pray the entire day--there are times that we should spend doing other things as well. But the larger point of regular prayer is to prevent other things, our life in this dunya, from stunting our relationship with Allah.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Scary Scarves

What's wrong with hijab? Why is it so terrifying? In schools, courts, we see the hijab being banned, or being mocked. Hatred of it runs so deep among non-Muslims that even Muslims start to have a hard time accepting hijab.

Of course, hard feelings aren't universal. But what I want to know is why the hijab specifically seems to be such a polarizing issue--between different faiths and even between Muslims.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Amy vs. the Bush

Since I am now graduated and currently unemployed, I have the matter of filling my days with something productive to contend with. Now, I could spend the entire day watching Stargate SG-1 (and I'm still scratching my head as to how nobody ever told me how awesome that show was), but seriously, that's wholly unproductive.

On the other hand, I can earn good deeds by helping my parents out around the house. So last night I asked my mom what things I could do, after I caught her trying to haul some old bags of mulch. Bags which have been laying in the front garden for at least a year or more. My dad hasn't been able to unload them and I wasn't sure what to do with them up until now. So I got my mom to stop and promised her that this week I'd take care of the mulch--which is now mostly just dirt.

Now I have a short list of things I can do around the house this week. Before I could dump those bags of dirt, and distribute the dirt evenly in the garden, I had to battle a large bush that my mom has been referring to as a "monstrosity." It's a bush in front of our porch that in height surpassed the roof of the house. It had outgrown the garden, transgressed onto the porch. And my mom wanted it cut back far enough that it wasn't any higher than the porch railing.

So today, armed with a pruner and hedge trimmer I began my assault. I had to pull out a ladder because the top parts were way too high for me to reach, not to mention that there were several feet of bush in front of me also making it difficult. A couple times I just leaned the ladder against the bush to climb up. At one point I was on top of the porch railing, holding on to a column with one hand, the other hand reaching out over the bush with the hedge trimmer. Yes, really.

Now the top of the bush is still a little (but just a little) higher than the top of the porch railing, and I think I dragged more of that bush out to the curb than I left in the garden. I've still got a few more branches I'll need to move out--eventually I quit working since I needed to pray and couldn't do so without showering and changing clothes--but I'll get back to that tomorrow inshaaAllaah.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just a Muslim

When I first started learning about Islam, the concept of Shi'a Islam vs. Sunni Islam was just overwhelming. I was coming to Islam from a completely different religion--Christianity--and already had a lot of different things to learn, but trying to decipher the Sunni-Shi'a split was beyond me.

I knew I wasn't Shi'a, but I didn't really know what Sunni was so I was "just a Muslim." And after spending this Eid with some recently converted Muslims, the idea of being "just a Muslim" was brought again to my mind.

For some time I have considered myself to be "Sunni," but only upon discovering what the term actually meant. Personally, my exposure to Islam (before converting) was pretty much exclusively to Sunni Islam, which is for all intents and purposes "Orthodox" Islam. That's not everyone's experience--some people come to Islam through Shi'a Muslims, and might get very confused by the different experiences between Sunni and Shi'a. Something such as the prayer, which can be confusing even if a person is only seeing one viewpoint, can be drastically complicated with exposure to Shi'a customs as well.

I don't think there's any problem with Muslims converted to Islam and saying "I'm just a Muslim" to avoid Shi'a/Sunni confusion. But I do hope that they learn that Sunni Muslims are "just Muslim" too. It might even be simpler to just say that they are only "Sunni" to clarify that they are not Shi'a, without forgetting that "Sunni" Muslims account for the immensely vast majority of Muslims worldwide.

It may be that avoiding confusion entirely isn't wholly feasible, but simplification should undoubtedly improve understanding. I'm a "Sunni" Muslim because I'm "just a Muslim" too, a follower of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, and one part of the body of Muslims who also do so.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Officially a Graduate!

Although I've told plenty of people before now, I was holding off on my announcement until I received written confirmation, the evidence to back up my claim.

I graduated! And the proof? I received my diploma in the mail today! Exciting, huh?

It took me an insanely long time to complete my degree (electrical engineering) due to a change of majors and drastic change in priorities and outlook, plus having to work to support myself. But alhamdulillah! While I'm not the first in my immediate family to obtain a degree (both my sisters have a bachelor's,) I am the first to receive it from the same institution at which I originally enrolled, and without ever dropping out. And I do consider that to be something of an accomplishment, small though it may be. And believe it or not, I also finished mine in the least amount of time.

And now I am ready to look toward the future, but I'm faced with other people's expectations. First, they assume that the moment I graduated I was suddenly employed. This isn't exactly the greatest economy, and there is an abundance of qualified individuals ready for companies to hire, rather than newly grads like me. Also, I have for some time decided that I will not pursue a career in electrical engineering.

I spent a full four years working for and with electrical engineers, engaged in the same sort of work as they, but I didn't find it to be at all fulfilling. When I selected engineering, (and I picked aerospace engineering, actually, instead of electrical) it was because I loved science fiction. The idea of developing technologies, and especially all concepts of space travel, particularly intrigued me. One of my all-time favorite experiences was piloting a small aircraft. When I switched into electrical from aerospace, the engineering became more to do with computers, video games, cell phones, power grids, and health/fitness testing. And it really lost interest for me at that point. I appreciate the skills I acquired in studying engineering, and I definitely enjoy math and physics still, so I am looking now towards the idea of teaching.

However, as I am going to be getting married in less than two months, and since I'll be moving across the country, it doesn't seem very practical to even try to either find a job in engineering or invest in teaching certification while I'm still here. Of course, I think it would be worthwhile to do something, at least.

But for the moment, my main priorities are maintaining some practices from Ramadan, improving my health and fitness, and planning my wedding. And I'm pretty excited about all these things. Graduating is just one more accomplishment I can write down as achieved in 2009.

Fit Muslimah Wannabe

Did anyone see this article in the New York Times? Exercise Tailored to a Hijab. It was reprinted in the 'Life' section of the N&O on Thursday, I think. Since I don't subscribe to the N&O, I wasn't aware until someone mentioned it at my monthly Faith Club meeting. Two other members who do subscribe informed me about it (saying that there had been articles "every other day" about Muslims lately.) One even showed me the article, which you can see. It even had the same picture, with the two ladies stretching while wearing hijab.

My mom even brought a copy of the paper home for me to read (she gets copies at work sometimes.) It's an interesting article, I think--I don't see any particular bias for or against Muslims, which was kind of nice to read. Maybe someone else reading had a different impression. As yet, I'm still way behind on my Google Reader (thanks to not reading anything in Ramadan) so I haven't read what anyone else might have commented on regarding the article. Reading it myself I felt like saying "Huh. I could've told you that..." but that's just me.

Mostly the article talked about special considerations that Muslim women who cover (in hijab) have to make in order to exercise. Obesity is not a problem absent, unfortunately, from Muslim communities, but still, exercise isn't emphasized more by Muslims than any other religious group, at least here in the United States.

I have a thought that in general, society (Muslim and otherwise) views religion as dealing with their spiritual life, and fitness to be a part of their non-spiritual life. For Muslims, however, this shouldn't be the case, since we know that Islam encompasses all aspects of life (therefore, why not our health?) and because physical and spiritual aspects are frequently intertwined in a single act. Take ritual purification as an example, where the individual washes himself in such a way to promote good hygiene (physical) but yet as an essential part of a religious obligation (e.g., preparing for prayer.)

Similarly, promoting health and fitness (or failing to do so) can impact a person's spiritual life. There are, for instance, some Muslim brothers and sisters who have tremendous difficulty praying their daily obligation just because of their weight. They might be forced to sit during the qiyyam (especially during taraweeh), or have to sit during ruku' and sujood because they would not be able to lift themselves from the floor. That is an extreme case, but also consider how carrying excess weight can cause a person's bones and joints to fail at a young age, which would also require special accommodations during prayer, or at the very least make it uncomfortable, perhaps even painful to perform prayer.

And if it's painful, that makes it harder to maintain the obligation, and even harder to add in extra salawat. Now of course our deen allows accommodations to people who have medical difficulties (whether related to weight or not,) and it is a beautiful mercy from Allah. But to know that some of these problems can be avoided or at least delayed by just eating right and exercising should be an encouragement for us, from our religion.

So upon deciding to engage in a healthy lifestyle, a brother or sister must still consider religious obligations. For women, a exercise outdoors or even in a public gym open to men and women provides a problem. Exercise is easiest in light, formfitting clothing, which isn't exactly appropriate for a Muslim woman. For men, especially in exercise environments (like parks and gyms,) there might an abundance of women who are dressed in form-fitting clothes that don't cover much at all--and if they do, leave little to the imagination.

I would love to see more women's-only gyms, or gyms with accommodations for women to exercise in private. There is (was) a gym in downtown Raleigh (although the company recently went under) that had a women's-only room. I would have preferred to exercise there but it was too far from my home for it to be logistically feasible. The article in the paper mentioned a women's-only gym which it said had more Orthodox Jewish women. I think that's important because women wanting to exercise in privacy is not something unique to Islam. Women of many faiths value modesty.

I have at times seen other women in hijab at the gym. Frankly, it's not the easiest thing to do. For covering the arms and legs, it means pants and a long-sleeve shirt or a jacket. Honestly, it is cumbersome to do this. After an hour of a hard workout knit fabrics can be soaked through (for heavy sweaters,) and can feel heavy or cumbersome when doing exercises. Wearing a hijab is similarly troublesome. It's just extra fabric where sweat accumulates and prevents some heat from escaping the body. It's not comfortable, and for my own part I would prefer not to wear one, even though I do the best I can with a cotton slip-on, which is probably the best option to go with for working out. I've seen other sisters wearing extremely loose t-shirts (which can work if you're very small and can buy several sizes above what "fits"), and also wearing a sort of exercise dress. For that, the sister had a dress which was long sleeved and extended past her knees, made out of a light fabric, which she wore with some variety of track pants underneath, with a slip-on hijab. It was less form-fitting than other options. While I don't mind wearing hijab on a normal day, even outside on a warm day, wearing it while exercising is annoying, but for me it seems one of the only real options available to me right now. So I hope, truly, that a gym for women lurks somewhere in my near future--it would beat exercising in sweats, for sure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Wedding Dress

I brought it home today: ivory A-line with lace and beading, and a "champagne" colored ribbon. I tried it on, too, once I got home, complete with crinoline skirt-slip and corset, very fun. I was afraid it'd be a little too big but in fact it was quite snug. I have a matching bolero jacket and scarf to wear with it.

A "wedding dress" isn't a typical component of Muslim weddings, as far as I can tell. It's more an American tradition, although I know it's fairly popular all over the world. When trying to do research on Muslim weddings, I've discovered that they are largely influenced by the predominant culture of the land, and can vary extensively by region.

So what I decided I want to do is include all the essential and proper components of an Islamic marriage, and adhere to proper Islamic etiquette, while incorporating some additional American customs. Because Islam is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of cultures, I thought that incorporating different traditions (so long as they don't actually conflict with Islam) would be a fun and exciting way to conduct the marriage.

My fiance is from Pakistan, so it would make sense to include some customs from Pakistani weddings, but since we will inshaaAllaah be having a walima among his friends in Washington, and again in Pakistan (I can't even describe how excited I am about that!), I am going to plan the events here in Raleigh to have a more American feel. Hopefully this will make my family and any other non-Muslims guests feel comfortable (and inshaaAllaah receptive to da'wah), and it should also be fun for me.

And a pretty white wedding dress is one of the "American" customs I would like to incorporate in my wedding. So I've got one now! Some of you might know the thought and deliberation I put into getting the dress, but I have it now alhamdulillah and am quite happy with it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On With the Show!

Alhamdulillah, my "wedding planning" took a Ramadan intermission. For reasons which are apparent, and some which are not, plans for my upcoming nuptials had to be temporarily put on hold. But with Eid behind us, things are now moving right along.

And fast!

The question everyone's been asking me these days is about to be answered...

Setting a wedding date is not exactly a simple process--there are many variables to consider, and the situations of many people to take into consideration. In order to accommodate our families, my fiance and I had to dodge a trip to Pakistan, work schedules, family activities, and another wedding plus honeymoon abroad, which would prevent some members of our families from being able to attend. Unfortunately, with short time it's not really possible to ensure that everyone can be accommodated, and I am sorry for those who will still encounter conflict with the selected date.

But after plenty of thought, consideration, consultation, and prayer, I am happy to announce that Umer and I will be getting married, inshaaAllaah, on Saturday, November 7th!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Graduate Studies

One thing I learned at the Fiqh of Salah class I took a few months ago was the importance of Qiyyam ul-Layl. Shaykh Yaser Birjas described it as an institution for the Sahabah, that they had to become like students of Qiyyam ul-Layl to develop themselves as Muslims.

I think Ramadan is also a kind of school, teaching us to be better Muslims. So we spend a month engaged in worship--fasting, prayer, charity, and general good deeds--but it's not supposed to stop there. In fact, it should be training us to engage in worship throughout the rest of the year. It's a "boot camp" of sorts to prepare us for the rest of our lives. But it's just the training, and we shouldn't leave everything off when Ramadan is over.

One thing that I started doing a lot more of this Ramadan is Qiyyam ul-Layl. And even though I felt like I didn't get as much from Ramadan as I had really hoped to (in terms of reading and memorizing Qur'an especially), I can at least say that Qiyyam became an easier and regular habit for me. I'm not talking about taraweeh exactly, but praying Qiyyam (specifically Tahajjud) before fajr time. Alhamdulillah that I was able to do it. Over the last few months I've really struggled in trying to make Qiyyam a regular habit, but Ramadan definitely helped me get to that point.

So I like to think now that I am going from the school of Ramadan to the school of Qiyyam ul-Layl, to another level of training and disciplining myself. I pray that Allah accepts my siyam (fasting) and also my qiyam (standing in prayer), and makes me one of those who regularly pray Qiyyam ul-Layl.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The N&O's Grudge Against the IAR?

I got wind of this article today, and really it dwarfs my other recent complaints against the N&O. And this time it's written by the paper's Executive Editor, John Drescher. After watching him on WRAL's Headline Saturday, I've got to say I'm really hoping that he takes the N&O down.

Now, setting my personal biases aside, let's look at his complaints about the IAR. He tries, as did a previous article I blogged about before, to illustrate some "shocking" change of position on the part of the IAR administration. Basically, he thinks that before the arrests of 7 local Muslims accused of terrorism, the mosque used to be "open," and that now (afterwards,) the mosque is "closed." To the media, that is.

He's upset about restrictions on journalists that the IAR supposedly is enforcing. Now, I never heard about these restrictions until this article, so I can't really say if they're true or not, but let's just go with the flow. One such restriction is that journalists aren't allowed to interview anyone except a mosque spokesperson on the facility premises. And I think that's a pretty good idea, personally. Let me explain.

I've read plenty of articles thus far about the men who were arrested, and people (journalists, bloggers, etc.) love to say that they've talked to someone "on the inside." They talked to some random guy at the mosque, and since people don't seem to know better, they assume that person is talking for the entire community. And I've heard some pretty stupid nonsense from some random "unidentified sources." In fact, I've heard some pretty stupid nonsense from people I know who I've seen being interviewed on the news.

Some kid off the street who wants to feel important, get his name in the papers or whatever, can give an interview and then is hailed as being an "insider" who knows the "truth" about what's going on with the men who were arrested. Frankly, it's kind of shameful, the way the media has raised up some obscure and ridiculous interviewees as representative of the entire Muslim community.

The IAR is not part of the indictment. It is a place of worship, a place of learning--in addition to holding worship services five times daily, it also houses three schools, two of which are full-time. I don't think that the media should be able to just enter at will and start photographing people (I know other sisters who might have a serious issue with this!) and interviewing people. People go to the mosque to worship, and to learn about Islam. Why should they have to worry about dodging reporters? And now that it is Ramadan, the mosque fills with people every single night (to such an extent that if you're not on time, you might not find parking anywhere nearby.) I think that's just another reason that the media shouldn't be lurking around the premises.

But more importantly, why does the media want to interview people at the mosque in the first place? The only reason I can think of is that they wish to continue pushing this story about Muslims, and want to catch bystanders willing to profess uninformed judgments about the men who were accused.

So I would like to remind the N&O that the IAR had an Open House just a few weeks ago, an event attended by several local media outlets in addition to elected officials and representatives. And the N&O did not attend. So sure, Mr. Drescher can boast about his "full-time faith reporter." But what good is that if an activity exactly demonstrative of the openness he's looking for is blatantly ignored by his staff? As I understand it, the "full-time faith reporter" was on vacation. So nobody came. Not even someone at a lower level, to at least take pictures.

If the N&O wants accessibility to the IAR, then why didn't he send someone to the Open House? The article is incredibly frustrating, and really doesn't do much to impress on me a favorable opinion of the editor. Moreover, the mosque is not a place to be asking questions about politics or ongoing criminal investigations. Its a place to worship and learn about Islam. What will it take for Mr. Drescher to respect that?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Creepy Crawling Critters

Day 1: 8/28/09 Went hiking at Harris Lake with PJ. Took the 5-mile trail. Noticed ticks crawling on PJ at about 2.5 miles. Too late to do anything, kept walking. After hike, notice ticks all over him, and some on me. Ticks crawling over seats in car. At home, bathed him immediately, noticed two sizes of ticks all over his legs and belly. Washing didn't help much. Noticed ticks on me--mom finishes bathing PJ, while I go scrub myself. Easily remove ticks around my ankles--a few nymph size, and many larval size. Ask mom to visually inspect me for any more tick bites--none found. Together we remove any nymph ticks we see on PJ. Later see even more ticks crawling on my shirt. I showered again, and started research on ticks and tick-borne diseases. With the use of a magnifying lens, ticks are determined to be Lone Star Ticks. Covered PJ in Frontline (which is supposed to kill ticks), made him spend a day in his cage.

Day 2: 8/29/09 Fearing another tick bite, I scratched a wound on my ankle trying to "remove" the "tick." Rubbed with alcohol. Left with open sore.

Day 3: 8/30/09 Asked dad to check my ankle sore with magnifying lens--no tick. Felt confident that any tick bites were not sufficient to transmit disease (it takes at least 12 hours) unless the bite alone did it (so I could still get a rash.)

Day 4: 8/31/09 A couple itchy itchy spots starting to show up on my ankles.

Day 5: 9/1/09 A few more itchy spots showing on my ankles.

Day 6: 9/2/09 A lot more itchy spots showing on my ankles--of different sizes. The spots are in the same places where I found ticks on me on Day 1, with the bigger spots where the bigger ticks were (and fewer of them.) All spots becoming more pronounced. A few mysterious spots on my legs as well. Also, I found an engorged tick in my bedroom--bad news. Engorged means it fed (presumably on me) and was probably on long enough to transmit disease, if it had any. Taped it, in case I need it to be tested for diseases later on. Searched entire body for rashes. Found one mysterious spot, larger than the itchy spots on my ankles, and which looks like it might be taking on the bulls-eye appearance (very bad!) of tick-borne diseases. Measured it to be 1cm in diameter. Now thinking I might need to go to the doctor.


Please make du'a for me, that I don't get ill.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Its Middle is Forgiveness

One day when he (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was giving the Friday khutbah, he climbed up his mimbar, he climbed up the pulpit - and his pulpit had 3 steps to it. And so he climbed up the first pulpit and he said out loud Ameen. Then he climbed up the second and he said Ameen. Then he climbed up the third and he said Ameen. So the companions were confused and they said: Oh! Messenger of Allah we have never seen you say Ameen every time you climb the pulpit; this is the first time we have heard you say Ameen. What was the reason for this? The Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: When I was climbing up the pulpit, Jibreel (AS) came to me and told me: O Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam)! Anyone in your nation who manages to be alive when Ramadan comes & yet cannot get his sins forgiven, then may he perish in the fire of Hell. Say Ameen. So the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said Ameen. Then he climbed the second step, Jibreel said: O Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam)! Anyone who manages to catch Laylatul Qadr & he does not manage to get his sins forgiven, may he perish in the fire of hell. Say ameen. So the Prophet (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said ameen. And then he climbed the third one and he said: O Muhammad (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam)! Anyone of your ummah who manages to catch his parents one of them or both when they are elderly and they need his help and he is not able to service them properly and get his sins forgiven then may he perish. Say ameen. And so he (Sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said ameen. (link)