For the Sisters: Staying Connected When you can’t Pray or Fast

Salaam alaikum y’all!

So, we are coming up on Ramadan fast. Like, quite fast. As of posting we only have a month and some days left. For some of us that is pretty exciting, but for some of us (new reverts, first time fasters anyone?) that can be pretty daunting.

I remember my very first Ramadan, being on such a spiritual high, a productive kick at work, I seemed to be seeing everything through pink, sparkly glasses. But then, a week and a half or so in, disaster struck: the dreaded menstrual cycle.

(Men who are reading this can feel free to duck out at this point if this isn’t a topic that you care to know much about…it’s only going to get worse from here!)

Up until this month, I had been pretty lazy where my period was concerned, but this was different. It was Ramadan, and I didn’t want to lose my momentum in such a sacred month. As a new Muslimah, however, I was a bit confused as to what I could and could not do during this week.

I asked around some of my friends, and actually managed to come up with a plan that kept me spiritually connected and productive during the eight days that I couldn’t fast with everyone else, and today, I want to share some of those things that I did. In shaa Allah you can implement these things in your own life not only during the month of Ramadan, but all year round in order to keep yourself spiritually “plugged in” even when you can’t perform ritual prayer or fasting. Continue reading “For the Sisters: Staying Connected When you can’t Pray or Fast”

Manners of a Muslim Part II

Salaam! Today I want to jump right into the continuation of last week’s post, Manners of a Muslim Part I, to continue the discussion of such an important part of our faith, which unfortunately tends to take a back seat to discussions around worship and rules.

So here are three more points that I find particularly wonderful, where Islam emphasises good manners and treatment of other human beings!

Respect and care for children and the elderly

I thin respecting one’s elders is a theme in many societies (though the modern USA tends to see the elderly as more of a burden these days…), but Islam specifically mentions good treatment of the elderly, as well as children, in the very same hadith.

“He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honor the elderly.” Narrated in Tirmidhi

The Prophet (saws) was known to always greet children with a smiling face and a pat on the head, and take the time to talk to them, making them feel like respected members of the community. He always encouraged them to learn and grow, and seek knowledge in that which was interesting to them.

How often today do we pack our children off with the iPad or the iPhone to go stare mindlessly at a screen, instead of engaging in meaningful conversation with them? Perhaps children would be better behaved if they had the chance to observe good examples from the parents and their guests on what manners and good behavior should look like.

As for the elderly, we are all aware of societal norms such as giving up your seat on the bus for an elderly person, letting an older woman cut in front of you in the grocery store line, helping them to carry or move large objects, and the like, but I think we as Muslims can extend this respect a little bit further. Sit with those older community members in the mosque, listen to their stories and ask them to share lessons from their long lives with you. Maybe ask them to teach you about a certain thing that you know that are passionate about.

I think it is especially important in Muslim communities to start getting the youth and the older generation together, to work on learning from and understanding each other, in order to built a more cohesive and positive community.  Continue reading “Manners of a Muslim Part II”

Manners of a Muslim Part I

“Nothing is weightier on the scale of deeds than one’s good manners.” Narrated in Bukhari

Salaam all! Today’s topic is something a little different.

I talk all the time about how often converts are read the rule-book soon after converting, and how there needs to be more emphasis on care, support and love throughout the journey, but I have found that when it comes to topics I write about, many of them are still from “the rule-book.”

Then I remembered the above hadith. This was the first one that came into my mind, but there are so many other like it. I even came across a blog post recently with a compilation of ten ahadith on the importance of good manners (here if you are interested).

It is a side to our religion that I, and many others, often overlook in our zeal for fasting and sunnah prayers. But you can see from the hadith above, and many others, that it is such an important part of our religion. Worship and good manners go hand in hard, and you will not succeed if you only have one and not the other. And this is a topic that I have sorely neglected writing about here in a space I claim is for those new to the religion…

So today I want to share some of the points that I find most beautiful on how we as Muslims should be interacting with not only our brothers and sisters in faith, but the general society around us. Continue reading “Manners of a Muslim Part I”

Fasting Tips for New Muslims

Salaam alaikum and happy Tuesday y’all!

Fasting: the one thing I dreaded most when I converted to Islam. No food, no water, no nothing from sun-up to sundown for 30 days in the month of Ramadan. My initial thoughts: oh no, let’s just not.

I dreaded fasting for a month so much that I actually started doing sunnah fasts, before I had even taken my shahada, just to get in the practice of doing it. And for the first couple of Mondays and Thursdays that I woke up early to eat and pray, then broke my fast on a hasty mouthful of dates and water in the middle of my evening class, I truly hated fasting. It felt awful, I had no energy, and by 11 AM all I wanted was a cup of tea and my porridge.

But after a few weeks of doing it, my body slowly got used to it. I learned how to prepare properly so I didn’t run out of energy two hours after fajr, I learned how to break my fast in a way that wouldn’t shock my poor digestive system back into work, I learned how to make the most of the time freed up not having to cook meals or, in fact, even think about food until sunset.

Recently, I have been trying to get back into the habit of fasting Mondays and Thursdays, plus the three full moon days of the month not only for the spiritual reward, but also just to keep my body in the practice after falling out of it for a while when life got in the way. To this end, I have been doing a lot of reading on fasting, its benefits, and how to do it in such a way that it will be the most beneficial to your mind, body and soul. Continue reading “Fasting Tips for New Muslims”

blue notebook on desktop with coffee and laptop, text "On Being Yourself"

On Being Yourself

From a lot of the converts I am acquainted with, I get the feeling that after converting to Islam, there is a lot of pressure. Not only a lot of pressure to learn new things, implement new practices, ad rethink old habits, but lots of pressure to also either fit into a mould of what a convert “should” look like, or to assimilate into a culture group so that you are basically a really pale (in my case at least ;)) Arab, Pakistani, Irnaian, or whatever.

Never mind all of these different pressures, just the act of growing into a better person while still trying to retain your own unique self can be pretty darn hard.

I would know, I’ve been doing it for upwards of two years now.

I will be honest: I didn’t feel a lot of pressure from my friends to assimilate into any particular cultural group when I converted. I think in part it was because I didn’t have a bunch of friends from one group, but instead individual friends from all over the place, so there was no collective pressure.

But what I have really struggled with, up until very recently, is struggling with the feeling that I “should” be doing this, that, and the other.  Continue reading “On Being Yourself”