Monday, May 17, 2010

Amusing Antagonists

I can't help but be amused by the recent reporting about Ergun Caner--a man who claims to be an expert on Islam, having converted to evangelical Christianity in his youth. He's even written a few books on the subject, one of which I made a point to particularly refute in a separate blog (although that "project" of mine didn't get very far since I got bored/lazy/busy.) But in his books he kind of exposes himself (to Muslims, anyway) as not being an accurate authority. Not that Muslims would read his books to learn about Islam--he actually writes for Christians to help them guide Muslims to apostasy.

But anyway, when I saw this article today I had to stymie a laugh. A similar article has been published by the Associated Press saying much of the same. In short, he's being investigated to see if he's telling the truth about his personal biography. Personally, I don't think it's that big of a deal since I thought that a person would have to be pretty naive to take him seriously in the first place. And maybe he just made a few mistakes when recounting his past in different places so that the story became a little convoluted in the public view.

But it is fascinating, and I encourage you to take a look at this website to learn more about Caner's distorted past. It's actually pretty funny, I think. The man behind the site has done a fair job of listing all the "issues" with Caner's claims about himself and his family--many are the same things I recognized years ago just in reading his books. But the brother does a good job of organizing them and calling him out.

Although I'm sure there are some people who genuinely convert to Christianity from Islam, some of the prominent preachers and writers who claim to have been Muslim do seem suspicious, including the Caners. So I do find it amusing to see them get called out and questioned. It doesn't really have much of an effect on Muslims, but rather the Christians who have been listening to these guys and believe what they say about Islam. Because in fact they really do know Christianity very well and have studied it extensively--it makes them well qualified to be Christian preachers, right? It's just their knowledge of Islam which is lacking, making them ill equipped to explain Islam to Christians or anyone else.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Losing Touch?

Alhamdulillah, I have been a Muslim for almost five years--just one month shy, actually. I've had time to avail myself of opportunities--classes and socials--for new Muslims, Muslim youth, and general Muslim communities here in Washington and back in North Carolina, not to mention a few events I attended out of town. My perspective on Islam has changed a little in that time, so that Islam is more comfortable to me and less intimidating, and I'm afraid that I might have lost some of my initial passion for the faith.

But what concerns me today is whether or not I'm out of touch with the needs of new Muslims. This issue in particular is one to which I've devoted many, many blog posts over the years, but something hit me today: I still am overwhelmed by thinking about the problems other converts face.

I know what my own problems were (and are) and how I faced them--for better and worse. And I feel somewhat equipped to discuss them with other converts facing similar issues. But since I've come to Washington, I've spent a lot more time with new Muslims--even now working on a class specifically for new Muslims--and I'm reminded that people do take different paths and face different challenges. And some issues facing other new Muslims just leave me overwhelmed, without any sensible advice or response to provide.

It's why I feel that I might have "lost touch" with new Muslims and the experiences they have, after spending so much time trying to get out of the "new Muslim" phase myself. So the last few weeks have been pretty enlightening for me, reminding me of the difficulties that people face when coming to Islam and also the dedication they have to their faith. And the amazing way Allah provides them with the resources to overcome their challenges.

Every challenge is a test--and we aren't tested unless we have what we need to pass the test. Knowing that, and knowing that with every difficulty comes ease (Surat Ash-Sharh.) I read this chapter to a Sunday school class one time, and I read it to myself pretty often as well.

So even though I can't solve anyone's problems, and often don't even have much in the way of advice to give, what I can (and should) tell new Muslims is that they can always turn to Allaah, and that they should always turn to Allaah, and He is the One who will ease their difficulty and reward their patience in dealing with it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hijab Blog

Recently I discovered a blog all about hijab--a great resource for Muslimahs who cover, want to cover, think about covering, etc. Cleverly titled "I Got It Covered," it offers stories, tips, personal experiences and more on the issue of hijab.

For the month of May, they accepted reader submissions with personal stories about starting to wear hijab. So I wrote up a submission, and it was published today, May 4.

So head on over there and read it: Sorority President Dons Hijab. And then subscribe to their RSS feed or bookmark the page, and check back often. Enjoy all the reader-submitted hijab stories this month, and then the regular posting back in June inshaaAllaah.