What Happened to our Ummah?!

As Salam Alaikum friends. I hope you are well today and having a great day. I’m actually having a very good day today because I got to spend some time with a woman who is looking to studying Islam and eventually revert. Masha’Allah! She’s actually a neighbor of mine and I believe Allah brought us together under odd circumstances though, none the less lol. She has asked me to help her study! Alhamdulilah, masha’Allah…what an honor to teach someone the deen!

I felt compelled for a while now to write whats been in my heart about our Muslim community (ummah). Ummah, an Islamic Arabic term, means “community” or “nation”. Now the reason I wanted to write about this today is because the sister I am helping told me that she could not find any other willing sisters to help her study and learn our beautiful Islam! I was shocked but in a way I wasn’t.

It never ceases to amaze me anymore, with all the “every man/woman for him/herself” mentality going around. This is not Islam brothers and sisters. Our ummah is in trouble and has been for many years. My belief is that after our beloved Prophet died, and his companions, so did our ummah. No longer can we count on each other to take time out of our days to help another in need. Yet, we can be on Facebook (me too) and watch T.V., or any other thing that we do that takes away from our duties as Muslims. I am also guilty of this as well, which lead me to change in a small way by helping this young woman out. It makes me feel wonderful knowing dawah is happening! I also consider her a friend as well which as we know Allah brings us together for many reasons.

Next time you see someone sitting alone in the masjid, please, at least say your salams and maybe ask how they are. Especially if they are a new face. In my previous blog about my recent trip to the masjid, I stressed that it was an unpleasant experience, as it was. And it wasn’t the first time no one spoke to me while being alone and after giving my salams. This is exactly what I’m talking about. UMMAH!!! What happened to it?!!

What’s the solution? There may be many ways to help the situation. First off, passing judgement on other brothers and sisters of Islam ruins community (ummah). Lets face it, who wants to learn from or be around someone who is always judging them. Instead politely correct if you can, those things that you see may be wrong. It’s then up to the person to correct and for Allah to judge. Another way is to, again, reach out to others in need. Welcome new reverts with open arms as they are the fragile ones and there is currently no care for them. They take their shahada….everyone is all “Masha’Allah!!”, then BAM!, everyone’s gone! Where did everyone go. It doesn’t stop at the welcome into Islam. It should be a constant help towards those in need. I need to remind myself in this also as with everything I am writing, which is why I wanted to blog this topic.

Also, if you can, volunteer in the Muslims community for things such as helping other learn Arabic or English, which ever you speak and depending on the need. Help others learn some surahs to help them with their prayers. Teach someone that’s just reverting the 5 pillars of Islam as they are the fundamentals.

There are many other ways that I may not even be aware of but I ask if you can please comment with your suggestions. Also, what are your feelings about the state of our Ummah?

As always, May Allah keep you happy, healthy and safe. Ameen.

Love, Amani

 

Learning the Five Pillars of Islam part 5 – Hajj

As Salam Alaikum friends! I hope you are all well.

Now we are down to the last pillar in Islam out of five total. Hajj (the Islamic pilgrimage), is the 5th pillar.

Performance of the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) is required of every adult Muslim, male or female, if physically and financially possible. Many Muslims spend their entire lives saving and planning for this journey; others make the pilgrimage more than once if they are able.

The requirements for performing the pilgrimage are as follows:

  • Maturity and sound mind, in order to understand the significance of the pilgrimage experience;
  • Physical capability to travel and perform the pilgrimage rites;
  • Financial stability, free of debt, so that one is able to bear the pilgrimage expenses as well as provide for dependents during travel.

For one who meets these criteria, performing the pilgrimage is obligatory.

When undertaking the pilgrimage, Muslims shed all signs of their wealth and societal distinctions by donning simple white garments, commonly called ihram. The required pilgrimage dress for men is two white cloths, one of which covers the body from the waist down, and one that is gathered around the shoulder. Women usually wear a simple white dress and headscarf, or their own native dress. The ihram is a symbol of purity and equality, and signifies that the pilgrim is in a state of devotion.

While wearing ihram, there are other requirements that Muslims follow in order to focus their energy on spiritual devotion. Harming any living thing is forbidden — no hunting, fighting, or vulgar language is permitted. Vanity is discouraged, and Muslims approach pilgrimage in as natural a state as possible: excessive perfumes and colognes are not used; hair and fingernails are left in their natural state without trimming or cutting. Marital relations are also suspended during this time, and marriage proposals or weddings are delayed until after the pilgrimage experience is completed.

Every year, millions of Muslims from around the world make the journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for the annual pilgrimage (or Hajj). Dressed in the same simple white clothing to represent human equality, the pilgrims gather to perform rites dating back to the time of Abraham.

During these historic days, white, brown and black people, rich and poor, kings and peasants, men and women, old and young will all stand before God, all brothers and sisters, at the holiest of shrines in the center of the Muslim world, where all will call upon God to accept their good deeds. These days represent the zenith of every Muslim’s lifetime.

The Hajj resembles the re-enactment of the experiences of the Prophet Abraham, whose selfless sacrifice has no parallel in the history of humankind.

The Hajj symbolizes the lessons taught by the final prophet, Muhammad, who stood on the plain of Arafat, proclaimed the completion of his mission and announced the proclamation of God: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam, or submission to God, as your religion” (Quran 5:3).

This great annual convention of faith demonstrates the concept of equality of mankind, the most profound message of Islam, which allows no superiority on the basis of race, gender or social status. The only preference in the eyes of God is piety as stated in the Quran: “The best amongst you in the eyes of God is most righteous.”

During the days of the Hajj, Muslims dress in the same simple way, observe the same regulations and say the same prayers at the same time in the same manner, for the same end. There is no royalty and aristocracy, but humility and devotion. These times confirm the commitment of Muslims, all Muslims, to God. It affirms their readiness to leave the material interest for his sake.

The Hajj is a reminder of the Grand Assembly on the Day of Judgment when people will stand equal before God waiting for their final destiny, and as the Prophet Muhammad said, “God does not judge according to your bodies and appearances, but he scans your hearts and looks into your deeds.”

The Quran states these ideals really nicely (49:13): “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other)). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

Insha’Allah we can all make Hajj one day. I know I can’t wait until I am able insha’Allah 🙂

Love Amani. May Allah bless you and keep you happy , healthy and safe. Ameen

Learning the Five Pillars of Islam Part 3 Zakat or Charity

As Salam Alaikum friends! First let me apologize for this post being out-of-order. I made a simple mistake in the order of the Islamic pillars and seems I got ahead of myself, but all is well now lol 🙂

So, the 3rd pillar in Islam is Zakat or charity. The definition of Zakat is literally means to purify. How is Zakat related to purity? The material world has the potential to distract us from our primary mission: to surrender ourselves to God. Therefore, when we are made to let go of some of our worldly possessions, we learn to force ourselves to let go of some of our greed. Thus, purify! It is written that those who are saved from the greed of their own selves, they are the ones who will prosper. (Quran 59:9)

Zakat does not only purifies the property of the contributor but also purifies  the heart of the recipient from envy and jealousy, from hatred and uneasiness and it fosters instead good-will and warm wishes for the contributors.

As Muslims pay the Zakat they have the genuine feeling that it is an investment and not a debit helping to establish economic balance and social justice in the society.

In general terms, what remains over and above the meeting of needs and expenses, and is hoarded for the full span of one year, is liable to Zakat. Zakat is the right of the poor in the wealth of the rich and is neither optional charity nor philanthropy.

Zakat has a deep humanitarian and social-political value; for example, it frees society from class welfare, from ill feelings and distrust and from corruption. Although Islam does not hinder private enterprise or condemn private possession, it does not tolerate selfish and greedy capitalism. Islam adopts a moderate but positive and effective course between individual and society, between the citizen and the state, between capitalism and socialism, between materialism and spiritualism.

How is Zakat calculated?

Zakat is a proportionately fixed contribution collected from the surplus wealth and earnings of the Muslim.

Each Muslim calculates his or her own zakat individually. Zakat is paid on the net balance after paying personal expenses, family expenses, due credits, taxes, etc. Every Muslim male or female who at the end of the year is in possession of the equivalent of 85 grams of gold (approx. $1400 in 1990) or more in cash or articles of trade, must give Zakat at the minimum rate of 2.5%. Taxes paid to government do not substitute for this religious duty. The contributor should not seek pride or fame but if disclosing his name and his contribution is likely to encourage others, it is acceptable to do so.

Other gains and profits have their respective formula, such as proceeds from industry, agriculture and animal husbandry, real estate, etc. as thoroughly detailed in specialized references.

Note the obligatory nature of Zakat; it is required. Muslims can also go above and beyond what they pay as Zakat, in which case the offering is a strictly voluntary charity (sadaqa). Sadaqa is given preferably in secret. Although this word can be translated as ‘voluntary charity’ it has a wider meaning. The Prophet said ‘even meeting your brother with a cheerful face is charity’.

The Prophet said: ‘Charity is a necessity for every Muslim’. He was asked: ‘What if a person has nothing?’ The Prophet replied: ‘He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity’. The Companions asked: ‘What if he is not able to work?’ The Prophet said: ‘He should help poor and needy persons.’ The Companions further asked ‘What is he cannot do even that?’ The Prophet said ‘He should urge others to do good’. The Companions said ‘What if he lacks that also?’ The Prophet said ‘He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity.’

So we see the positive aspects of Alms giving (zakat) and how it helps our society and Allah knows best 🙂

May Allah keep you happy healthy and safe. Ameen

Love, Amani

 

Correction in one of my posts regarding the Five Pillars in Islam

As Salam Alaikum my friends. Hope you are all doing well.

Well, looking back through my posts, I realized I made a rather simple mistake in the order of our pillars.The 3rd pillar of Islam is actually Zakat or charity. It seems, even though I know this, I must have gotten ahead of myself. With that being said, I will edit that post to be the 4th part of our pillars. I will be doing the 3rd pillar on Zakat shortly. Thanks for your understanding. I must have missed that one lol 🙂

Many blessings, Amani

My Recent Experience at the Masjid (Mosque)

As Salam Alaikum friends! Hope you are all doing well today.

Today I’m breaking away from the technical stuff associated with Islam and posting a personal story of mine, my recent trip to the masjid. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE EXPERIENCE!

Now, everyone knows Muslims go to the masjid to pray and seek Allah primarily, but, there is a social aspect to it as well. Many people like to see friends and chat for a while before or after prayer. That’s normal. It’s a way to connect with our community. Sadly, we are losing our community to selfishness and rude behavior and I am a witness to that.

So, last Friday I went to Jummah prayer. I haven’t been to the masjid in a while before that day. That in itself should not matter as to how fellow Muslims treat you. Anyway, I walk into the prayer area and give my salams to the entire group of women in the room. Loud enough so that everyone can hear of course. What I get in return…..almost silence! A few salams back but nothing what I expected. Now, you might be thinking, “so what”, but, you have to understand this isn’t the first time this has happened to me.

I remember when I first reverted and would go to the masjid pretty often, even days other than Fridays. I would see the same faces. There were a couple sweet sisters who would chat with me, but the majority stuck to their little clicks. This is not what our ummah is supposed to be about. We are supposed to support each other, offer assistance when needed, give our salams, respect each other….what happened to all of this!

This is a real problem with new Muslims , as they need alot of assistance in learning the deen. When I first reverted , there were a few wonderful sisters who offered to help out but they have since stopped going to the masjid for whatever reason. Maybe the same reason I am choosing not to go back. YES, I said it…I am not going back. Women aren’t obligated to go anyway and if I am going to be treated like a piece of furniture, to be ignored, then I choose to pray to Allah in the comfort of my own home.

Now that I think about it, it may just be the masjid I attend but that’s doubtful. You see this treatment even outside of the masjid, on the streets even.

So, now my rant is over. I may consider looking into a different masjid or not. Right now I am bitter towards the whole idea. Allah will not reward me any less if I don’t attend so why feel uncomfortable while I am praying! Ugh.

Well friends, thanks for letting me vent and for reading. May Allah keep you happy, healthy and safe. Ameen

Salam, Amani

Learning the Five Pillars of Islam part 4 Fasting!

As Salam Alaikum friends!

Its been a while since I’ve posted due to being extremely busy with the kids being off for spring break. But, I’m back! Hope everyone who celebrates Easter had a great holiday. Muslims don’t celebrate it but that’s a whole other post 🙂

So we come to the4TH pillar of Islam…fasting! Many religions fast including Islam, Judaism, Christianity and others as well. Most for the purpose to attain a closer relationship to God. There are a variety of ways people fast and for many reasons. I will only be touching on Islam as that’s what this post is about.

There are an estimated 6 million to 7 million Muslims in America whose unique food practices are guided by religious laws and influenced by cultural differences.

Fasting in Ramadan
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Islamic calendar year, which is based on the lunar cycle and consists of 12 months of 29 or 30 days each. Because the Islamic year is roughly 10 days shorter than the Gregorian one, Ramadan shifts yearly.

Fasting for Muslims means abstaining from all foods and beverages, including gum and water, as well as medication and smoking, from dawn to sunset. The two main meals of the day are suhur (immediately before dawn) and iftar (immediately after sunset). These mealtimes are also related to two of the five main prayers Muslims perform every day. Muslims may consume other meals or snacks at night. Aside from hunger and thirst, Ramadan bestows spiritual peace to Muslims; during Ramadan, acts of worship are highly intensified.

It is impossible to describe typical suhur or iftar meals, considering the high diversity of the Muslim American community. Suhur can be dinner, or iftar, leftovers, typical breakfast foods, or ethnic foods. Social gatherings, many times buffet style, at iftar are frequent, and traditional dishes are often highlighted. A few dates and a cup of water are usually the first foods to break the fast, while fried pastries, salads, nuts, legumes, and breads are common. Traditional desserts are often unavoidable, especially those made only during Ramadan. Water is usually the beverage of choice, but juice and milk are also consumed. Soft drinks and caffeinated beverages are consumed to a lesser extent.

While weight loss is certainly not the driving power behind fasting, it is not uncommon for some to take advantage of it to shed a few pounds. At the same time, many Muslims see no changes in their weight, while others may gain weight. I tend to gain weight, surprisingly due to eating in excess at night…which I do not recommend 🙂 Excess fried foods and desserts, overeating at buffet-style iftar parties, and reduced physical activity can be attributed to weight gain. Many Muslims aim for nutrient-dense foods to optimize nutrition and see fasting as a way to detox and allow the gut to rest.

Fasting and Medical Issues
Fasting does not pose any medical risks to healthy individuals.

Exemptions to fasting are travel, menstruation, illness, older age, pregnancy, and breast-feeding. However, many Muslims with medical conditions insist on fasting to satisfy their spiritual needs, and healthcare professionals must work with their patients to reach common ground. Professionals should closely monitor individuals who decide to persist with fasting.

The main chronic diseases of concern are diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, renal disease, and peptic ulcers. Care plans must be individualized, as many patients with these conditions can fast without adverse events. Compliance with medications may be an issue, especially for those on daily daytime dosages. For patients with diabetes, things to consider are feasibility of adjusting medication and insulin dose, clinical stability, history of hypoglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis, and the presence of other comorbidities.

It is not just physical hunger and thirst that constitute the Muslim fast, but the nights prior to the beginning of the fast acquire a far more important character and play a central role in the institution of fasting. The Muslims wake up many hours before dawn for individual prayer and the remembrance of God. Also the Holy Quran is recited in every Muslim house much more than in ordinary days. A greater part of the night is thus spent in spiritual exercises which make upso the very essence of fasting.

During the day, apart from restraining from food and water, all is Muslims are particularly exhorted from vain talk, quarrels and fights, or from any such occupation as is below the dignity of a true believer. No indulgence in carnal pleasure is allowed; even husband and wife during the day lead separate lives, except for the formal human relationship common to all people.

In Islam, alms-giving and care for the destitute is so highly emphasized that it becomes part of a Muslim’s daily life. However when it comes to Ramadan, the month of fasting, Muslims are required to redouble their efforts in this field. It is reported of the Holy Prophet that spending in the cause of the poor was a routine daily practice with him which has been likened unto a breeze, never ceasing to bring comfort and solace to the needy. However during Ramadan, the reporters of the Ahadith — the sayings of the Holy Prophet (saw)– remind us that the breeze seemed to pick up speed and began to blow like strong winds. Alms-giving and care for the destitute are so highly emphasized, that in no period during the year do Muslims engage in such philanthropic purposes as they do during the month of Ramadan.

  1. Other obligatory fasting is most often related to the condoning of sins by God. This also includes violation of the obligatory fasts.

The optional fasting is so well promoted that it becomes a part of the righteous Muslim’s way of life. Although a majority of Muslims do not go beyond the month of obligatory fasting, some keep fasts now and then particularly when in trouble. As it is expected that the prayers offered in fasting are more productive, some people keep extra fasts to ward off their problems, but some do it only for the sake of winning Allah’s special favors. There no limit to this, except that the founder of Islam strongly discouraged those who had vowed to fast continuously for their whole life. When the Holy Prophet (saw) came to learn of one such case, he disapproved of the practice and censured the man for attempting to achieve liberation as if by forcing his will upon . He told the person concerned that: ‘Just by putting yourself to trouble or discomfort, not only will you be unable to please God, but you may even earn His displeasure.’ He pointed out that over emphasis on austerity is likely to make one negligent towards one’s wife and children, kith and kin, friends etc.

The Holy Prophet (saw) reminded him specifically of his responsibilities in the area of human relationship: ‘Do your duty to God as well as the creation of God equitably‘ was the advice. To some, after their insistent petulant begging, he permitted optional fasts only in the style of David, peace be upon him. The Holy Founder of Islam told them that it was the practice of David to fast one day and abstain from doing so the next. Throughout his life, after he made this vow, he kept the fast on alternate days. So the Holy Prophet (saw) said ‘I can only permit you that much and no more.’

The institution of fasting is extremely important because it cultivates the believer in almost every area of his spiritual life. Among other things, he learns through personal experience about what hunger, poverty, loneliness and discomforts mean to the less fortunate sections of society. Abstention from even such practices during the month of Ramadan as are permissible in everyday life plays a constructive role in refining the human character.

I hope this post has been beneficial to you and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment 🙂

Salam, Amani

May Allah keep you all happy, healthy and safe. Ameen

p.s. Pillar number 3 will be out of order due to a mistake made and will come shortly insha’Allah.

And now for some of my poetry for Muslims and Allah!

As Salamu Alaikum my friends. I hope you are all doing well. One of my hobbies is writing poetry. I have been writing since I was a child. Here are a few poems regarding Muslims and Allah, that I have written over the years. I hope you enjoy!

Intricate Creation

However simplistically perceived,
by human eyes,
is in actuality the things that are indeed,
divine and intricate in Your creation.

The easiness of mere curved,
and swirling lines,
that make up our physical bodies,
and our inter-souls,
cannot be duplicated by any means,
except by Your all-encompassing,
and powerful existence.

A Muslims Role

Muslim woman with your head held high,
don’t be discouraged by the opinions of others,
veiled lady with God in your eyes,
remember the paradise lies under the feet of our mothers.

Allah created you with such beauty and grace,
and you show your gratitude with daily prayers,
you may cover your hair but it shows in your face,
how much you love, worship, glorify and care.

Give charity, be kind to others, that’s what God tells us,
honesty, forgiveness and warmth permeate your soul,
live peacefully, gently and in God you shall trust,
for this is a faithful Muslim’s role.

Life as A Muslim Woman

I stand covered from head to toe,
getting stares from people I don’t know.
I wear my veil without any shame,
’cause what God told me is not a game.
In this life you reap what you sow,
so my body to you, I will not show.
What color is my hair?
What size breasts do I have?
All of these questions are for me to know.
The shape of my curves are hidden from view,
and I’m NOT sorry if this offends you.
For God knows what I hold dear,
and with him by my side I have no fear.
Call me names and whisper behind my back,
but remember modesty and grace, I do not lack.

You can check out my other poetry at http://allpoetry.com/couldbeworse

I have all sorts of poetry on that site and that’s my page. Some of it is dark poetry but some isn’t…just depends on my mood. Not all of it is religious, these are just a few I’ve written over the years.

As salamu Alaikum friends. May Allah keep you all happy, healthy and safe. Ameen

Love Amani xoxo

We should learn to coexist with other religions, races, etc. This is one of the keys to a happy life 🙂

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