I Finally Had Hijama (and you should too!)

Salaam all!

Hijama, or cupping therapy, seems to be the thing these days. It’s all the fashion among celebrities, and even Muslims seem to be having a revival of this sunnah. I vaguely knew it was a thing in Islam, but I didn’t actually know until recently that it is something that people actually still do. Then I read this article from Ayeina, and was starting to think that it might be something for me to try out. On top of that, my own husband has had it done a couple of times, and keeps telling me just how good it is for your body.

For those of you who don’t actually know what hijama is, basically it is where you place cups on certain spots on your back/neck and create suction, then make tiny incisions in those spots and re-apply the cups to pull out all of the old blood.

Some of the benefits of hijama include (and these are just the ones I find most interesting, there are plenty more out there):

  • one of the few viable long-term treatments for migraines, or headaches in general
  • treatment for other kinds of aches and pains
  • helps relieve fatigue
  • helps with gastrointestinal issues
  • can help with female fertility
  • detoxification
  • rebalances hormones
  • greater emotional well-being
  • it’s sunnah!
  • it is relaxing and rejuvenating

Like everyone, when I first heard of what it was, my first thoughts were along the lines of “ouch” and “ick.” Continue reading “I Finally Had Hijama (and you should too!)”

Imposter Syndrome

Salaam alaikum!

I’ve written about this before, but it is something that I was reflecting on again today: new Muslims (or not so new Muslims) and the “imposter syndrome.”

I’ve never said it in quite those terms before, but I have written many, many times about how many new Muslims feel that they are not quite “Muslim enough.” This could be because of pressures from friends or the community, or it could come from the new convert’s own insecurities. Often, it is a combination of these two things that make new Muslims feel like they will never be “real” Muslims, “good” Muslims, or even just taken seriously as Muslims.

I myself experienced this to some degree, but it is something I have largely gotten over. When I first converted I had the amazing blessing to be spiritually “raised” in such a lovely and tolerant community. None of my new friends or acquaintances ever made me feel less than or different, and they all encouraged me to grow in my own time and way, and alhamdulillah for that. Continue reading “Imposter Syndrome”

Islam, Love, and Obligation

Salaam all.

Just yesterday (as of writing this a week or two ago), I went to visit a friend of mine here in Algeria. Well, she is my husband’s cousin’s wife, so I guess she is kind family. At any rate, she is one of the very few women here in Algeria that I feel I can really relate to, and with whom I really enjoy spending time.

She and I are very much on the same page where is Islam is concerned, and we both have similar ways of practising and thinking about things, which makes her easy to get along with. I know that I can talk about Qur’an or hadith and she won’t get bored, but we can also talk about politics, kids, or our hot beverage preferences just as well. I truly do love her for the sake of Allah swt, and I am so glad to get the chance to visit her and the kids every now and again.

There has been something bothering me in the back of my mind since my last visit, though.

She and I can talk about hadith, seerah, Qur’an, fiqh or any many of other things all day long, and we can be in agreement on a great deal of topics. But when I reflect back on our conversations, there seems to be something so radically different about the way we approach Islam. When I think about it, there seems to be something missing.

At first I didn’t know what could possibly be causing me to think that way; she and I are so alike in many aspects, and we definitely agree on a great many issues. But then I realized what I felt was missing all this time: love. Continue reading “Islam, Love, and Obligation”

On Trials

Salaam everyone.

I usually try to keep as much of my personal issues off of my blog as possible, but today I seem to be having an unusually hard time of things.

I feel like we have hit every roadblock and delay physically possible on this visa application, I am feeling homesick, missing family, and feeling trapped in a country with no infrastructure upon which to build any semblance of a life. The simplest things feel impossible to me; I can’t even keep up with one of my favorite hobbies—writing good ol’ snail mail—because the postal system here is so dysfunctional.

So yeah, I’m feeling a bit down.

Lately I have been just trying to remind myself that this is life. Allah swt tells us multiple times in the Qur’an that the believers will be tested with losses and hard times, and how often do we hear that the more Allah swt tests a servant, the more He loves him? The prophets, the most beloved people to Allah swt, went through unimaginable trials and tribulations.

But it feels so hard when you are in it. It feels like this one day is never going to end, let alone this whole life. Continue reading “On Trials”

Reflections on Change

Salaam everyone!

Change has been something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately, as I have been thinking back on the past few years of my life, and look ahead to what the future may bring.

Specifically I am thinking about getting my husband’s visa to the USA, in shaa Allah. Change tends to be one of those things that you either love or hate; I know people who can’t deal with change and need strict stability and “sameness,” and I know people who thrive on change and get antsy sticking around in one place or doing one thing for too long. I definitely fall into the latter group.

Just to take the example of location: looking back on my life since I turned 18 and began studying at university, I have moved back and forth between cities and even continents almost continually. From my home-town to Santa Cruz then back again in the summer. London my third year, back home, back to Santa Cruz. Back home for the summer, London again in the fall. A year and some months later I am living in Algeria.

And alhamdulillah it has been good. There is a steep learning curve when you travel and live abroad, and I have learned so much about myself and the world around me. Heck, travel is what introduced me to Islam. But in thinking about my future, and especially when we have this visa in-hand (in shaa Allah!!!) I’m beginning to feel that all I want to do is go to my grandpa’s house, roll myself up in a blanket next to the fireplace and hibernate and recuperate there for around a year. And then I want to find my own place and “set up housekeeping” as Louisa May Alcott would put it.

Just writing that, however, makes my brain say, “whoah there, cool it! Sedentary life isn’t what you do; you have always loved travelling so you best stick with it! That’s your thing. You never wanted anything to do with any housekeeping nonsense, so don’t start now.”

Where I run into a wall with change isn’t in the transience of all things in this life or changes in time, season, location, people, possessions, or worldly concerns, but where it comes to changing my own mind Continue reading “Reflections on Change”

Love for the sake of Allah: The Beauty of Sisterhood

Ok, before you even read this post, you have to go read this love letter from a Muslimah, and this post on the sisterhood of Islam.

“Allah will ask on Day of Judgement: “Where are those who loved each other for the sake of My glory? Today, on a day when there is no shade but Mine, I will shade them with My shade.”

Hadith Qudsi narrated in Muslim

This whole “love for the sake of Allah” thing was not something I really understood or experienced, up until very, very recently. Now that I do know how beautiful it is, however, I am a little obsessed with how much I love my fellow Muslimahs and our community, just for the fact that we are supposed to love each other as sisters in religion. Which is why, when I read those two posts above, I couldn’t get them out of my head. Especially that love letter, made me smile all day long!

The whole notion of sisterhood and community was one of the things that actually really attracted me to Islam, once I started studying a little more in-depth. I think it was The Ideal Muslimah that really clued me in to what a beautiful community the Muslims must have, always treating each other so kindly, giving gifts just for the joy of it, lending a helping hand to any sister in need. Upon citing these things to my house-mate, who was not much of a fan of the transition I was going through, as reasons that I was seriously considering Islam, she promptly told me that I should just join a book club or a knitting group, and I could find community that way; I didn’t have to make such a drastic change.  Continue reading “Love for the sake of Allah: The Beauty of Sisterhood”

Don’t Let Them Dull Your Sparkle

Salaam!

I wrote a post way back in the first month or two of this blog, called To Give a Smile Away. I was looking through old posts to share again, and I lighted on that one; it was super short, just a thought I was having at the time, but the beautiful memory of that day when the girl so sincerely smiled at me in the mosque came flooding back to me so vividly when I re-read that post, that I thought I would not only re-share it, but actually re-write it to dig a little deeper into what exactly the situation was in my life at that time.

I then remembered another post I had written, on exactly the same topic, but a bit more long-form. This one never actually got shared with the world, it has been sitting as on Open Office document on my hard drive since August.

So I thought, with a little editing and updating, I would share it with you today. I know this is a theme that has been somewhat recurring in my writing lately (you can spot it here, here, and in some articles I’ve shared here), but for some reason it is something that is just present in my mind a lot lately: Continue reading “Don’t Let Them Dull Your Sparkle”

On Feeling Guilt

Salaam y’all.

So I am writing this on a Thursday afternoon, just as February is about to begin. I don’t know if it will get posted anytime soon, but I wanted to share some reflections that I have been having today.

As you all may or may not know, I try to make it a habit to fast every Monday and Thursday, as well as the “white days” of the month. Which means I should be fasting today; I am not travelling nor am I on my menstrual cycle, so according to me the only excuse is my own laziness.

To be a bit more fair, I started off the day fasting. I woke up around 5:30 AM, prayed a couple of extra rakat and made plenty of duas for help in these troubling political times. I ate a suhoor of some fruit and yogurt, but I was just feeling kind of off. I prodded my husband awake for fajr after I heard the athan, and while he stayed up to have breakfast and head out for a day of fishing, I got back in bed for a couple extra hours of sleep.

Upon re-waking up and trying to begin my day, I was feeling icky to begin with. And then, around 11 or so, I began to get one of the most dreaded feelings I can even describe: I was starting to get all of the warning signs that happen at the onset of my migraines. Continue reading “On Feeling Guilt”

Interfaith

I  received an email a couple weeks ago from the pastor of the church I used to attend, and it was such a beautiful thing that I couldn’t not share it here.

Firstly, he wanted to check up on me, to see how I was doing in these troubling political times. He was also asking after me on behalf of all of my old church members, who have had me on their minds lately. He just wanted to make sure I was OK, and let me know that I was in their thoughts.

This in and of itself was such a lovely email, that it would’ve been sufficient to brighten my day, but then he shared a story with me:

A few nights before (on the night of the awful shooting in Quebec, coincidentally), my old church had hosted a pot-luck dinner for the Muslim community a couple of towns over. The Muslims brought the main dishes to ensure halal meat, etc., and the church members brought the soft drinks, tea, sweets, and desserts.

The Muslims got a tour of the church, and at the time for isha prayer, the imam’s son called the athaan for all of the church members to hear.

He sent me some pictures from the event, and it actually brought tears to my eyes to see all of my Muslim brothers and sisters sitting and eating together in the very hall and with the very people I had grown up with. That my former church was taking these kinds of steps towards love and understanding in a small town and in such troubled times, really brought a smile to my very heart. Continue reading “Interfaith”

Easing into Iman

Salaam! Today I also wanted to share a little story about Valentine’s Day. And when everybody else is talking about the haraam-ness of it, you can bet that’s not going to be the moral of my story.

In my very first year as a Muslim, Valentine’s Day fell literally three months after my shahada.

I remember having a conversation on Skype with my husband (then fiance), and asking if we were going to do something special for Valentine’s Day. He gently explained to me that because we are Muslims we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, and he personally doesn’t believe in it because, as he puts it, “he loves me every day.” Continue reading “Easing into Iman”