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”

Blue Sky Tag

Salaam everyone!

So I am doing something a little out of the ordinary…usually I have to say I am not that much of a fan of blogging awards and tag posts and all that jazz, but this one did make me smile. I’ve been feeling a bit disconnected from my blog lately; my posts are all scheduled out, and while I still love writing about what inspires me, I have been feeling very lazy about getting on and actually connecting with others, whether here or on my social media.

But seeing that I had been tagged by the lovely Shukrallahblog, I decided to participate with the hope that it will help me re-engage with the community I love so much in shaa Allah!! If you don’t follow her blog, I highly recommend it. Hers is one of my absolute favorites, because while she and I don’t necessarily agree on some things, I truly admire how much heart she puts into her writing, and how strongly she stands by her convictions. It is so inspiring, ma shaa Allah!

Jazakum Allahu khairan to Larissa for the nomination =)

So without further ado, here are the rules of the tag:

-Answer the 11 questions given to you

-Nominate and Tag 11 people

-Give 11 questions for your nominees

 

Here are my answers to her questions:

 

1.Who inspires you?

I think I am most inspired by all of the amazing women around the Prophet (saws). The more I learn about his wives and female companions (radiAllahu anhum) the more amazed I am. There is such a diversity of characters and personalities that I can always find something to relate to in one or the other, and they give me such a beautiful example to look up to!

 

2.How do you feel about Ramadan approaching?

Super excited! I’m not in an ideal environment, but in shaa Allah I am hoping to try to make the best of it! I plan to be staying at home quite a bit, getting off social media, and really focusing on what is important during the month in shaa Allah =)

 

3.Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?

Lately, my own house! Haha. These days I can’t be bothered to get all dressed, go out in the heat, and deal with people in this city. But if I was back in the States I would say going for a nature walk, or getting in some good writing time at a local, family owned cafe. I love things like that!

 

4.What is your talent?

Oh goodness, I don’t know. This is why I don’t have a job-I’m super bad at “selling” myself! People tell me I’m good at writing, and I am just starting to really hone my needle-crafting skills with embroidery and cross stitch. That’s about all I can think about right now…

 

5.Choose an inspiration quote that always picks you up.

“… Allah is the Best of planners.” Qur’an 3:54

 

6.Which would be harder to give up, tea or coffee?

Tea for sure! I don’t drink coffee, but I usually end up with a good 2-4 cups of tea a day!

 

7.Is there a book or documentary that really changed the way you thought about something?

Nothing specific comes to mind right now…there are so many things that I have read or heard throughout the course of my journey with Islam that have given me these huge “ah ha!” moments, and really clarified something I had not understood before, especially where women’s issues are concerned.

 

8.What’s more important to you, your home or your career?

Never thought I would say this, but my home. That is what is always there, that is what you have to put the effort into. Careers can change, can come and go, you can get different education and training and take new jobs, but the place and the people you come home to everyday after work should be a constant, a sense of stability, if that makes any sense.

 

9.How long have you been blogging for?

I had a small blog back in the day when I first converted, in 2014, but that didn’t last long. This current blog has been up and running since July 2016, so not even a year yet. But in shaa Allah there will be many more to come!

 

10.Which country are you from?

The United States of America. I used to be a little ashamed of that…awful foreign policies, racism, stereotypes that all Americans are fat and stupid, and whatnot. I used to just say “yeah” when people abroad asked if I was from Canada! But lately seeing how people have truly come together to fight back against the awful things that are going on in the government, plus living in a country where I don’t have half the privilege that I did back home, has really made me feel grateful to be American.

 

11.What du’a do you seem to make the most?

Right now it is dua to see my family. I haven’t seen my family in person for around two years now, and I am really feeling the home-sickness starting to set in. That, and actually duas of gratitude, for good friends, for creative outlets like this, for my husband, and for yummy summer fruits to name a few =)

 

And my nominees are:

 

My Sandbox Journey

Scottish Muslimah

Voice of Salam

Life of a Muslim Revert

Stylebyfj

Mariam Poppins

Genuine Gems Writing

Mina’s Memoir

(I know that a few of these were already nominated in Shukrallahblog’s post, so you don’t have to participate twice if you don’t want to! I think she and I follow a lot of the same people, but I love all of these blogs so much I at least had to give a shout out! Also, anyone else who doesn’t want to of course doesn’t have to participate, but I wanted to at least give y’all a mention =))

 

And my questions for y’all:

 

1.Favorite breakfast food?

2.Which ayah/surah of the Qur’an really goes to your heart?

3.Most interesting place you’ve ever visited?

4.What are your hobbies?

5.What word/phrase drives you bananas when people use it?

6.When do you do your best writing for your blog?

7.Which of the five daily prayers is your favorite?

8.Where would you rather live, city or small, rural town?

9.Your favorite summer fruit?

10.What are you currently reading?

11.What was you “dream job” as a kid?

Marriage Matters

Salaam and jummah mubarak!

I am finding myself this Friday in a bit of a writer’s block, not really feeling any inspiration one way or the other on what to write about. So naturally, I’m just going to share my two-cents about one of those topics that is sensational no matter when you bring it up!

I once heard a speaker at a packed talk on marriage say something to the effect of, “if you want to sell out your class, either talk about marriage or jinn.” And it’s true, the most well-attended classes and seminars I have been to have all been on marriage (I have yet to attend something exclusively about jinn; it’s on my bucket list!)

I understand why people are obsessed with jinn—there is always a degree of fascination around the “supernatural” or the world of the unseen. We can’t see it except on rare, freaky occasions, and we want to know more about what is going on around us. That makes sense.

But I have always found it odd how, in the Muslim community, there is the same degree of fascination around marriage as there is around possession and unseen spirits.

I suppose this is a good time to make the disclaimer though: I actually had no interest in marriage until I was married. Since childhood I would cut out pictures from wedding magazines of pretty dresses and tiaras, but I think that had more to do with my latent desire to be the ruler of the world and have as many pretty dresses as I want than it did with any sort of notion of actually getting married some day.

Anyhow. Obviously I grew up, and much to my own surprise, got married. And I actually quite enjoy it. But that is beside the point—what I am getting at is even from a young age I had no fascination with the big wedding and the perfect husband, so perhaps that is part of the reason that I can’t understand the Muslim (or any other) community’s obsession with the topic.

In Islam getting married is something good. It is encouraged if you have the means and capacity to marry someone, you should do it as early as possible, and not delay for no reason. Marriage is encouraged not only for chastity, but for companionship, for learning and growing together, support, and creating family bonds.

I do not think, however, that marriage is the be-all end-all that much of our community makes it out to be. Continue reading “Marriage Matters”

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”

Book Review: Ramadan Reflections: The 10 Minute Journal

Salaam everyone!

So, in the next couple of weeks leading up to Ramadan in shaa Allah, I am planning to share a few posts with you with tips and ideas that could be useful during that wonderful month.

Today I have something that I am super excited about, a book review! These have been few and far between lately, mainly because of the lack of English-language book stores here in Algeria. This one, though, was sent over to me from Samira at The Muslimah Guide.

You can read her post all about the story behind this book here , so I’m just going to get straight into my review!

The book is called Ramadan Reflections: The 10 Minute Journal.

I’m sure you’re thinking, well it’s not Ramadan so you couldn’t have possibly used this journal yet, how do you have any opinion on it?!

Yeah, well, no, I haven’t used it yet. But I had a look through and it is something that I think will be very helpful in shaa Allah to keeping my Ramadan on track. And I think it is something that others could find beneficial as well!  Continue reading “Book Review: Ramadan Reflections: The 10 Minute Journal”

No Compulsion in Religion

Salaam alaikum =D

“There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (Qur’an 2:256)

We all know this verse. Much of the time it is (rightly) used to prove to non-Muslims that it is un-Islamic to force someone to accept Islam, which is indeed a very important point to be made in today’s culture of Islamophobia. As the verse clearly states, the right way is distinct from the wrong way, and the choice is up to us.

But lately I have been thinking of it from another perspective: there should be no compulsion within the religion.

The Muslim community is by no means homogeneous, and the rich variety of cultures and people who make it up is one of the beauties of Islam. Lately, however, I feel like there is a lot of pressure to all manifest our Islam exactly the same way. This could be pressure on converts to assimilate into a particular cultural group, pressure to follow the “right” madhhab (school of thought), or this could be general pressure to follow some very strict doctrine coming out of Saudi Arabia, for the sole reason that it comes from Saudi Arabia and therefore must be closest to the truth.

I understand that some of these societal pressures often stem from the time of colonialism and have deep sociopolitical roots, but I think on a more personal level they are worth being brought to awareness.

Just like we cannot force others to become Muslim if their hearts do not believe, we should not try to force Muslims into practising a certain way, just because it is the way that we believe is right.  Continue reading “No Compulsion in Religion”

Interview: Life of a Muslim Revert

Salaam y’all!

Today I have something for you that I am pretty excited about…an interview!! It is the first one I have done for this blog, but I have to say I really enjoyed making up the questions and seeing what kinds of answers I got, so in shaa Allah there may be more coming (wink, wink). It also felt like a really lovely way to connect with a fellow sister and blogger, and if you keep your eye out you may just see a reciprocal interview from yours truly pop up on her site soon =)

For our interview today I have Lili from Life of a Muslim Revert . I don’t remember how I stumbled upon her blog, but I was immediately won over by her sweet disposition, heartfelt writing, and her fresh perspective on things. It was just that—her different perspective—that made me want to have her around for an interview!

So here it is, and if you enjoy hearing from her I cannot encourage you enough to go check our her blog!

Salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh! Thank you so much for agreeing to come on for an interview; I love reading your blog, and I hope my readers will enjoy your writing as much as I do. I find your perspective so interesting and can’t wait to learn a bit more!

Waalaikumussalam sister Ashley! I really love reading your blog and I hope, inshallah, you’d like it as much as I liked reading your stories  thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer your questions, it is such an honour.

1.To get things started, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are you and what do you do (if you are comfortable sharing)? When did you decide to convert to Islam?

My name is Lili, and I’m currently in my early 20s. I’m Chinese, and a university student doing a degree in Psychology, alhamdulilah. Inshallah, in the future I am able to help and work with autistic children. I am very grateful, to be a part of this sisterhood in our blogging community. Mashallah the support is truly amazing! Continue reading “Interview: Life of a Muslim Revert”

Concentration in Prayer

Salaam and happy Monday y’all!

I was just listening to a Friday sermon a couple of weeks back, all about our five times daily prayer. It seems like such a simple thing to talk about in times where there is so much that could be covered, but I found the deeper message so beautiful that I just had to share some of my reflections with you guys (plus it is super relevant to our last lovely guest post). In shaa Allah they will be of benefit!

The imam began by talking about the time in the Prophet’s (saws) life that we refer to today as the “year of sorrow.” During the span of a year, he experienced many personal tragedies, including the loss of his beloved wife and constant supporter Khadija (ra) as well as the loss of his protector and father figure, his uncle Abu Talib. On top of his uncle’s death, he (saws) was also dealing with the fact that his uncle never did utter the shahada before passing away, dying as a non-Muslim. The Muslims were still facing persecution in Mecca, and could not yet find anywhere to turn for help.

The imam then noted that it was also during this year, towards the end, that Allah swt gave the Prophet (saws) the amazing gift of the journey to Jerusalem and the ascension to the heavens. It was during this miraculous journey that what we now know as the five times daily prayer was made obligatory on the Muslims.

While this all seems like basic information for anyone who has studied a little bit of the Prophet’s (saws) life, the imam made a much deeper connection: the five times daily prayer was given to the Prophet (saws) only after one of the most difficult and tragic years of his life. Allah swt was giving him the means to cure his sorrow, to connect his heart to Allah swt, something to give him strength and energy to get through the difficult parts of life.

And that is what prayer is supposed be to us as well. Continue reading “Concentration in Prayer”

On Matters of “Inequality”

Salaam all!

I wanted to share with y’all today something that I really struggled with as a convert to Islam, and something that I think a lot of Muslimahs in general struggle with who haven’t necessarily had the time to really study the religion and wisdom behind the rulings. Today I’m talkin’ about money, and specifically, inheritance.

I think I may have mentioned these issues before, but I thought it may be useful to expand on them.

We all know that Islamically, women get less of a share of inheritance than their male family members. Islamophobes cite this as one of the reasons that Islam is inherently backward and barbaric, (some) men cite it as a reason they are “better” than women, and women are left not understanding why there is such an unfair rule in what they are told is a perfect religion. On the surface, it does seem super old-fashioned and not fair at all; I had a huge problem with it that I have been sweeping under the rug since 2014.

But then I was listening to a lecture, and the wisdom behind the verses on inheritance were mentioned. What was a passing remark for the speaker, was a big “ah-ha!” moment for me. How had I never even thought about it like that before?

Here is what the speaker explained: men get more of the inheritance because they have more of the responsibility. Simple as that.

But let me break it down in case there are some that are still not convinced, because I wasn’t either until I had a good hard think about it (don’t worry, I won’t get into any actual math because that is soooo not my thing). Continue reading “On Matters of “Inequality””

My 5 Favorite Resources for New Muslims

1.Introductory Books:

I am sure you can go to a book store and pick up 500 different books on “intro to Islam,” but I wanted to share with you the two or three that I read back in the day. Islam the Natural Way and Islam in Focus were both recommended to me before I converted, and I loved both of them. I also remember picking out Welcome to Islam on my own, and finding that one quite helpful. Writing this right now actually makes me want to go back and re-read these, just to see how far I have come since then!

2.Other reverts’ stories: Continue reading “My 5 Favorite Resources for New Muslims”