Ramadan 2018

Inner Dimensions: The Qur’an

Bismillah al-rahman al-raheem

I think yesterday is the first time in a really long time that I didn’t have a post pre-scheduled to go out, and then I ended up forgetting to post at all. So here is your third post in my Ramadan series Inner Dimensions, a day late!

Today I want to write a little bit about the Qur’an, and I am excited to be writing this post because I feel like I will need it more than anyone. I made some goals for myself around Qur’an this month, and though I felt that they were resonant and achievable when I set them, I am finding myself struggling a little bit. Continue reading “Inner Dimensions: The Qur’an”

Ramadan 2018

Inner Dimensions: The Fast

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Last week I began my Ramadan series Inner Dimensions by writing a little bit about how we can tap back into the spiritual aspect of our prayer, the foundation of our worship. Today I want to take it one step further and talk about fasting, the foundation of our Ramadan.

We know that there are two distinct dimensions to fasting: the inner and the outer.  Our outer fasting is what we tend to think of most often when we think of Ramadan – no food, no drink, no intimacy, from dawn until sunset for 30 days.

But Allah says in the Qur’an:

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous (attain taqwa).”

Qur’an 2:183

This verse makes it clear that the whole point of fasting, we could even say the whole essence of fasting, is not to make ourselves hungry and thirsty, but to use fasting as a means to attain a higher status in our inner-selves, to become more righteous. Continue reading “Inner Dimensions: The Fast”

Ramadan 2018

Inner Dimensions: The Prayer

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Salaam alaikum and Ramadan mubarak to all my amazing readers! I can’t believe this beautiful month is already here, and I am so grateful that you have decided to spend some of your precious Ramadan time here with me.

Today will be the first post in my Ramadan 2018 series, Inner Dimensions. This Ramadan, I really want to go back to basics and look at our worship not as an end in and of itself, but the means to the end of bringing ourselves closer to Allah swt.

And I want to start with one of the five pillars, and the foundation of our faith: the salah, or five times daily prayer.

The more sisters I talk to, the more I find that we tend to really struggle with our salah. We struggle to pray on time, to concentrate during our prayer, and even to feel anything when we pray. From my experience, many of these salah issues come from a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of salah.

So often, we think of our salah as merely an obligation. It is a fard, an item that we must check off of our to-do lists five times every day, a ritual to be performed.

But the point of salah is not to be performed; it is to be experiencedContinue reading “Inner Dimensions: The Prayer”

Personal Reflections

Islam Against All Odds

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

If y’all are on my newsletter list (you can get in on that HERE), you will probably remember a content survey I sent out a little while ago. One of the common answers to the question, “What would you like to hear more of from me?” was that you would like to hear more about how I came to Islam and what drew me to it, despite all of the negativity in the media.

To that end I have already shared my convert story Parts I and II, but today I wanted to look a little deeper about what it actually was the attracted me to Islam in the first place, and what kept me learning more even though in the beginning, I for sure did have my qualms.

“Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the [rightly] guided.”

Qur’an 28:56

Continue reading “Islam Against All Odds”

Personal Reflections

Struggle: My Hijab Story Part II

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Thinking about what I wrote last week and reflecting on what I want to share with you today, I am starting to realize that what I lacked in “struggle” in embracing the idea of hijab, I definitely made up for in figuring out the technicalities of the thing once it was on my head.

I shared last week about how I came to embrace and practice the hijab, and I talked there about how in the very early days I bought a few maxi dresses, a few maxi skirts, loose trousers, and long cardigans in an effort to start transitioning my wardrobe into something more “hijab compliant.”

It was a good foundation, and a good step forward, but it was my approach to hijab after that where things got a little lost.

I had a very haphazard approach in those beginning months after I had started wearing it full time, which turned into a very haphazard wardrobe and a two year personal style crisis. There were, however, two distinct phases that I went through. Continue reading “Struggle: My Hijab Story Part II”

Personal Reflections

Transition: My Hijab Story

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

As I have been sharing my convert story with you all over the past few weeks, I thought it might be beneficial to also tell the story of how I came to embrace the hijab.

From the very minute I started to realize that Islam was going to be my way of life for (in shaa Allah) the rest of my life, the concept of modesty and hijab started taking the fore-front in my mind. I knew from the beginning that it was a requirement in Islam, and I knew that, for myself, if I wanted to embrace Islam I was going to embrace all of it. Even if there were parts I didn’t like or understand at the time.

I would like to tell you it was hard, and in some ways it was surely a challenge for me, but taking up the hijab was not as much of a struggle for me as I have seen other converts face. Yes, in the very beginning I did experience an amount of resistance; that is only natural. I had been living my life one way for 21 years at that point, and to think that I could suddenly change over night would be completely ridiculous.

I loved the way I dressed. Cute dress, cardigan, tights and flats. It was my go-to uniform, something in which I felt both pretty and feminine as well as comfortable and practical. There was a point in my life at which, no matter how fashionable they were, I absolutely hated maxi dresses. The idea of modesty as a complete lifestyle outside of hanging out with one’s grandparents or going to a church function was foreign to me.

And, of course, I was terrified of what everyone around me would think to see such a drastic change, and such a visible proclamation of my new beliefs and allegiances. Continue reading “Transition: My Hijab Story”

For Converts

That Time of the Year

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Today’s post is for all my convert sisters out there. It is no coincidence that this post is going on on December 25th, when most of the world, and for us converts, most of those around us, will be celebrating Christmas.

I wrote a post about this last year, but I think it is such a controversial topic that I once again would like to add some nuance to the “haraam/halal” dichotomy that is no doubt dominating the internet these days.

Do I believe that we as Muslims should celebrate Christmas? No, not really. For someone who is born Muslim and doesn’t have that in your cultural background to begin with, quite frankly there is really no reason to make a thing out of it when we do have our own Eids and traditions around them.

Do I think it is a sin to enjoy a peppermint hot chocolate, like the cozy winter atmosphere, or enjoy the sight of the decorations when I am out and about in my non-Muslim home country? No, not really.

I don’t decorate my own house, I don’t have my own tree, I don’t play Christmas carols on the radio from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year’s. Yes, I eat all the peppermint things because they are yummy, but for all intents and purposes I don’t celebrate Christmas. What I do celebrate on this day, however, is family. Continue reading “That Time of the Year”

Personal Reflections

Embracing Peace: My Convert Story Part II

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

9 June 2014, San Francisco, California

My body felt heavy and exhausted as I stepped off the plane in San Francisco. Eleven hours on a plane after a whirlwind six months abroad apparently takes its toll. Not to mention I hadn’t been able to fit all of my books back into the suitcase I came with, and was now lugging a decent-sized hand baggage, filled to the brim, through SFO.

The last month before I left the U.K. had been a time of intense change for me. As the clouds melted away and spring began to bloom in London in early May, my old life began to melt and I could see that something new would be emerging. I had met my husband (though I wouldn’t call him that for some time yet), and my interest in Islam peaked when I started seeing a practising born Muslim on the regular. It was a rush of books, new ideas, and changes in the way I had always seen the world.

In contrast to the stark clarity with which I remember my time in London, those summer months after I returned are a blur to me. I remember riding my bike to the local library a few times each week, returning the books on Islam that I had taken and scouring the shelves for anything new. My introductory books now had a shelf of their own in my room, displayed right next to the brand new Arabic-English Qur’an that I had picked up on my last trip to Barnes and Noble. Continue reading “Embracing Peace: My Convert Story Part II”

Personal Reflections

Discovering Peace: My Convert Story

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

If you have been following my blog since the very beginning, you probably remember me sharing my convert story in a three-part series way back in the day. But for those of you who haven’t been around since the very beginning (probably a large number) or for those who just want to know a little bit more about where I am coming from, I would like to share it again.

I don’t want to give you the watered down, memorised version of my story that you will get if you ask me about it in the grocery store aisle or through the car window while I am waiting for my husband to bring me a hot tea, or even the short, scared-of-vulnerability version that one-year-ago me wrote.

Today I want to share what was going on in my heart while the outside story was playing out around me.

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3 January 2014, London, U.K.

A somewhat timid me had just landed in London Heathrow Airport after a gruelling 11 hour flight across the Atlantic. Looking back on myself, I can see just how different I must look now. Then, I was frighteningly thin, my collar bones and facial features standing out against my short dark blonde hair. I don’t remember what I was wearing, but I can imagine it was either a pair of skinny jeans, a cute sweater, and boots and a jacket (I was going to London in January after all), or maybe some wool tights and a cute dress and cardigan.

I had a small green slider phone, a long-term-ish American boyfriend, and a six month study program in the German department of King’s College London. I was nervous and excited all at once, as the immigration officer stamped my passport and sent me off into the big city. “Student Visitor, Six Months Leave to Enter.” Continue reading “Discovering Peace: My Convert Story”

Personal Development

Don’t Let Them Dull your Sparkle

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

If you have been following this blog for any amount of time, you have probably already seen this post in one iteration or another. But, in thinking about what I wanted to share today, I couldn’t help but pull this one back out, and after reading it again with a fresh perspective, I decided I would give it another go.

The first post I mention there was written at the very beginning of this blog, in July 2016. I wrote that post as the moment happened. This post that I am re-sharing however, was more of a reflective look back at that moment in time. It has now been nine months since I originally posted this (or perhaps re-posted, I can’t even remember how much I’ve shared it at this point!), and it is just so interesting for me to look back on my journey from the place I am in now. Continue reading “Don’t Let Them Dull your Sparkle”