Lives of the Prophets: Sheeth (as)

Salaam alaikum everyone!

So, it has been quite a while since I’ve done one of these, so I’ll start by letting any new-comers know what’s up: I started a series ages ago (find the first post here) where I share my notes as I listen through Qalam Institute’s podcast series Lives of the Prophets. I love the series, but I have been so busy with other stuff these days that I have been finding it hard to actually sit down and take notes. Usually I do my podcast-listening while doing housework or embroidery, so to stop and actually take notes actually takes a little extra time.

But then, during Ramadan, I had a thought—I can be learning something beneficial and working on blogging things at the same time! So for the last couple of days of Ramadan I sat down every day to listen to a couple of episodes and prep them up for y’all.

Click here for my first set of notes on Adam alayhi salam, and here for my second set of notes on Adam alayhi salam and his sons. Today I’ll be jumping right back in with Sheeth alayhi salam! I was excited for this episode, as Sheeth’s alayhi salam story isn’t one I am very familiar with. I find learning about these things so interesting, not only because it is interesting for me to learn about the prophets from an Islamic standpoint (as I come from a Christian background), but also because it is just so interesting for me to think about these people who lived so, so long ago.

As always, feel free to leave me some comments; did you learn anything? Anything you would like to add? Thoughts on the story/notes?

Here we go!

Continue reading “Lives of the Prophets: Sheeth (as)”

Etiquettes of Making Dua

Salaam y’all!

So, when I first converted, and up until very recently, I thought making dua (personal prayers, supplications) was just a matter of substituting the old Christian hands-folded-head-down move for the Islamic hands upturned and raised, and then asking for whatever it is you need or want.

Which is partly true, I suppose, but quite recently I began to learn that there are actually some etiquettes that you can follow when you make dua to increase your chances of having that dua accepted. So I wanted to share some of those with you today, for new reverts who may not know about them, and for those who maybe did know, but could use a little refresher.

Firstly, as with anything in Islam, you need to make a sincere intention before you begin making dua. It always sounds like something small, but our actions are judged by the intentions. So even if you don’t get all of these etiquettes down right away, you can still keep that intention that you are trying to make dua in the most beautiful way possible and in shaa Allah get the reward of it!

One of the etiquettes of making dua that I actually really love is the next one: to invoke with the certainty that it will be accepted. So basically, if you want to have your dua accepted, you have to be certain that it will be accepted. This is like the hadith that mentions:

“Allah the Almighty said, ‘I am as my servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”
Narrated in Bukhari

Continue reading “Etiquettes of Making Dua”

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”

And Ramadan has gone again…

Salaam everyone and Eid mubarak!

So Ramadan is officially over, and many of us are just finishing celebrating our Eid. I hope you are having an amazing time with friends and family, enjoying all the fun of this holiday. I myself have been doing a lot of family visiting, and trying to keep the sweets consumption to a minimum as I gear up to start making up my fasts and taking care of the extra six days of Shawwal in shaa Allah!

I wanted to just write a quick post, and it will be the last one now until July, to check in with my Ramadan goals and let y’all know how it went

To refresh your memory, here were my goals from my first Ramadan post: Continue reading “And Ramadan has gone again…”

Ramadan Post for Muslimah Bloggers

Salaam all!

Today’s post isn’t really a post…sorry. It’s just a short little note to let you know to go check out the post I did for Muslimah Bloggers in their Ramadan series.

I really enjoyed writing this post for them, and I share some personal Ramadan-revert-experience in there. Actually it is all about the experience of my first Ramadan as a revert, and reflections and lessons from that year, as well as my second Ramadan in a Muslim-majority country.

I would love it if you would go give it a read, and let me know what you think!

The article is called My First Ramadan as a Revert: Memories and Reflections, and it was posted on the fifteenth of Ramadan. Plus, I highly advise you to go give the Muslimah Bloggers page a like; they’ve always got something interesting going on over there!

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”

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”

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”