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Issue 15 March 2017

Pushing Boundaries By any means necessary.

The UIC MSA Publication


from left to right; aarish shahab imaan khan lazma deeb saba ali ali idrees (x2) farooq chaudhry


Introduction I’m approaching almost two years of being formally involved with the Muslim Student Association at UIC, beyond the realm of being a casual member. To be honest, pushing boundaries is something I think is necessary. In the sphere of the MSA, I have always tried to be intentional in my exploration of these boundaries and the limits to which they can be pushed. Reflecting on my attempts and experiences of exploring boundaries, I find myself coming back to two questions: are these boundaries even real? And why am I pushing them? The first question I always wonder, are the boundaries we place on ourselves real in the first place? This isn’t meant to be a philosophical question prompting us to ponder the meaning of boundaries in the first place. They’re very real. Some are from God, some from society, some from our parents, loved ones, friends, and some we place on ourselves—maybe out of fear, caution, or protection of our hearts. But often times the boundaries we encounter, especially the one’s we’ve been socialized to embrace, don’t exist in the first place. That’s the power of socialization: it normalizes abnormalities that we eventually internalize, whether or not they stand true in our hearts. When crossing social boundaries that cultures and customs have put in place—not boundaries of Sacred, legal, or parental law— we often times find inspiration, creativity, and meaning in destroying them. We may even find ourselves. We may find out that the ideas, norms, and practices we’ve come

to embrace are not products of our hearts, and in breaking those constructs, we may come to know how what our hearts truly say and feel. So break those boundaries, don’t think twice, and reflect on your journey. I hope you walk away as a new, improved version of yourself. The other thought I always come back to: why am I pushing these boundaries in the first place? I have to ask this question a lot, especially when it comes to the MSA. There are a lot of customs, norms, and “unofficial” rules I think are odd, harmful to fostering a community, and pointless. When grappling with pushing these boundaries, it’s really easy to get frustrated and annoyed. In that state of frustration, it’s really easy to loose sight of the bigger picture, and just push boundaries for the sake of pushing boundaries: maybe to make a statement or a point, or maybe just out of spite. But that’s a really dangerous mindset to have, because as people of faith, we are people of intentions. We’re people who care about each other. We’re people who always look at the bigger picture—not the pixels. So when pushing these boundaries, it’s really important to consider why you’re doing it in the first place, and whether it’s out of pure sincerity and service, or just because you’re annoyed. In the end, maybe you won’t recognize yourself. Maybe you won’t recognize an organization. I kind of hope that’s the case. I hope we’re never too comfortable with being comfortable, but always pushing buttons, boundaries, and each other, for the sake of love, community, and God. Farooq Chaudhry Al Bayyan Editor in Chief


Collective Poem


I’ve always imagined escaping the fences that enclose me. You might ask why, when everyone is sitting together so cozy.

I wonder

You might ask why I want to disrupt the peace, the flow, But you see, the last time I felt strong, was so long ago We all marvel at how the caged bird sings, But maybe it’s because nobody told her she has wings? And I, as she, sing for my master Blind by glee, ignore the hereafter

do they remember me when they pray to You do they remember me when they pray for what they do do they cry tears

Yes, this cage is safe but I see the outside world; it’s very real. Between the openings, I see the good and bad but l want to feel. Longing for an adventure An endless horizon That you run towards without ever looking back So I must break this cage to feel again Not only the cage that holds me but the also the cage within

For I do when the thought of losing them draws ever so near If you’re reading this please do remember me As I always will, for you

Al Bayyan Staff Abdul Basith Basheer

Elevate Seek more knowledge from the infinite pool to fill the vessels of your heart, mind, and soul Strive to increase your sincerity with, gratitude towards, and confidence in Allah and His plans Donate more of your temporal time for the eternal reward that comes from Remembrance And as you push your boundaries in these matters, You will rise, and get nearer and nearer to Him Then imagine, on the Day of Judgement, the proximity between you and the achievement of the final home?

Fathima Alaidroos



Don’t Forget Your Greatness

I stopped believing when I saw grass growing from concrete;

The odds of you being born In a particular time, place and circumstance Is about 1 in 400,000,000,000 An eye is composed of more than 2 million working parts. Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel As fast as 170 miles per hour. The human brain cells can hold up to 1000 Terabytes of information. The National Archives of Britain, containing over 900 years of history, only takes up 70 terabytes. By the time it is seventy years old, Your human heart will have beat an average two-anda-half billion times.

I stopped believing when the heart monitors stopped beeping; but blood kept pumping; when wooden beads synchronized with the trees & the leaves, the air that we breathe the cells in you and me.

You won the race of life From among 250 million competitors And yet, How fast have you forgotten Your strength, When the proof of your very existence, Is the proof of your greatness

when the water cycle nitrogen cycle, blood cycle, sleep cycle prayer cycle, are all One.

You were born a winner, A warrior, One who defied the odds By surviving the most difficult battle of them all.

when the sun starts the day & the Moon paves the way for between darkness and light the hearts forever sway.

And now that you are a giant Why do you doubt victory Against smaller numbers And wider margins

curious is the case of the believer.

The only walls that exist Are those you placed in your mind. And whatever obstacles you conceive, Exist solely because you have forgotten What you have achieved.

But. I do not Believe. I know.

Farooq Chaudhry

Javerea Ahmed


Half Eye Open One eye opened, the other closed, As if life will stop moving til our souls arose, Like we will be given second chances when Allah knows very well that change will not happen, It’s saddening to see... We talk, walk, breathe, awaken, and sleep, Yet we don’t rise up when the proof has been given and we are asked to speak, Inside your flesh, the truth seeps, Waiting for the proper time to be remembered and heap, These words are not meant to be anywhere near deep, You would know if you picked up the Quran instead of hearing these dry words speak, reading so many fascinations for you to keep, Wake up, read the truth, it’s not your time to sleep, From the sperm to the dirt, We are all the same yet you still boast off with glee, Allah calls 5 times a day, Skip one and we find that okay, Syria cries and we just sit and appreciate, We’re not suffering like the boy on TV surrounded by bombs and piercing loud air raids, It saddens me... We are sitting but do we really breathe, How are we alive if we are always asleep, With Quran implemented in our lives and consistent prayers, We might be worthy enough to Allah, praying that our souls may be ones to keep.

Mohammed Elshareif


Why Why Why Why Why Why Why


Islam Awareness Week 2017: March 13th-17th Meet the Chairs!

Salam friends! Your sister in Islam, Ayah, here. Alhamdulillah, it’s such a blessing that in my final year at UIC, I’ve been given the opportunity and responsibility to give back to my beloved MSA. I’ll save the sappy sentiments, however, for once the greatest week of the year (that’s IAW, in case you weren’t aware) is over. Instead, I’ll take this precious & limited ~page space~ to give you all more insight into the theme because it’s a message we thought about extensively and that we hope you internalize deeply and carry with you beyond these undergrad years. Essentially, the goal this year is to present you with something that will make you uncomfortable, something that will force you to look within yourself with brutal and raw honesty. We want to go back to basics. To grapple with our core beliefs, namely the Oneness of God and the tra-

dition exemplified through the life of our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him, and how they apply to the ways we’ve been socially conditioned to look at the world. We will seek to understand the basic diseases plaguing our society, what Islam says about them, and how our spirituality and consequent activism can serve as a healing force. We know that the first of the Prophet’s reforms upon receiving revelation was to deconstruct the Meccan society around him, for he lived in a world riddled with abject poverty, outright mistreatment of women, lack of education, slavery, and racism amongst many others. These societal ills are not foreign to us- we continue to witness them, and we may have even experienced them.. Even further, many of us may be perpetuating these societal ills without even knowing.

Change starts within [Qur’an 13:11]. Before we are bodies, we are souls. That said, to affect change in our tangible surroundings we must first educate and viscerally understand our existence, our Creator, and our purpose. Along with all the hype you can muster (bananas, anyone?), we urge you to approach IAW with a determined intention to reframe the lens with which you look at the world. I’m beyond excited to share this week with you all and I pray it is a means for all of us to move towards God and by extension, a more merciful and just society.

Though I was incredibly honored to be selected to be the Islam Awareness Week (IAW) lead, I recognized that Ayah and I had assumed the position at a defining moment for Muslims in the United States. Talks of a registry for Muslims had horrifyingly risen and alarmingly vanished. Anti-Muslim hate crimes had reached 9/11-era levels. Islam was repeatedly attacked - not as a religion, but as a “political ideology” which could effectively have chilling consequences on religious liberties. Simultaneously, Muhammad Ali, who had defended Islam against misconceptions and risen to speak against hate, time after time, had recently passed. Ayah and I recognized Islam Awareness Week not only as an opportunity to truly unite, empower, and heal the collective Muslim

Student Association, alongside other underrepresented minorities, but also as a platform to dispel the misconceptions that have plagued public perception of Islam. From addressing Islam’s inherent advocacy for women’s rights with Dr. Jamillah Karim, discussing Islam’s irrevocable denunciation of racism with Ustadh Ubaydallah Evans, analyzing Islam’s promotion of charitable acts with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network’s very own Alia Bilal, examining every human being’s obligation to be an ally for their less-able bodied counterparts with Brother Edmund Arroyo, and discussing our responsibility to serve as activists with Ustadh Hisham Mahmoud and Shaykha Muslema Purmul, we believed that we could create an environment that would be welcoming to peo-

ple of all genders, identities, nationalities, documentation status, faiths, etc. to learn more about the beautiful religion that we are so blessed to have embraced (i.e. Islam), and how anyone can be empowered to dispel the misconceptions surrounding Islam. By empowering Muslims to speak and share their narratives and empowering others to be capable to speak as allies, our priority (aside from pleasing Allah. Exalted be He) was to empower all of our guests.

Ayah Chehade is an undergraduate senior with a major in English and a minor in International Studies. Ayah is also a spoken word poet, a cat enthusiast, and this year’s Islam Awareness Week Chair.

Usama Ibrahim is an undergraduate senior, dual-degree candidate in Neuroscience and Political Science with a concentration in Urban Politics, and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Islam Awareness Week Chair.


Societal Ills, Spiritual Cures Schedule!

Monday: Sexism Fighting Words: Muslim Women's Scholarly and Spiritual Activism Jamila Karim / 11:00 am / SCE 605 Masculinity: The Prophetic Example Imran Salha / 12:00 pm / SCE 605 Men and Women as Supporters of One Another Dr. Meraj Mohiuddin, Faatimah Knight/ 2:00 pm / SCE 605 Tuesday: Racism Diversity in the Islamic Tradition Ubaydullah Evans / 11:00 am / SCE 605 Privilege Walk 12:00 pm / UIC Quad Racism as a Colonial Entity: Reclaiming Our Identities Junaid Quadri / 2:00 pm / SCE 605 Are We Racist? A MuslimARC Workshop Namira Islam / 3 pm / SCE 605 Wednesday: Classism / Ableism Wealth: An Islamic Perspective Alia Bilal / 11:00 am / SCE 605 Ableism: Inclusivity in Our Communities Edmund Arroyo / 1:00 pm / SCE 605 MUHSEN Workshop 2:00 pm / SCE 302 Thursday: Activism Activism Actualized 12:00 pm / UIC Rathskellar Our Privileges Are Responsibilities: How Can We Create Change Hisham Mahmoud / 1:00 pm / UIC Rathskellar IAW 2017 Keynote: Societal Ills, Spiritual Cures Muslema Purmul / 6:00 pm / Illinois Room Friday: Monotheism First Prayer / 1:00 pm / UIC Rathskellar Second Prayer / 2:00 pm / UIC Rathskellar


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You’re Beautiful

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What you didn’t send us

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Poetry, reflection, picture, drawing, etc. goes here

Your Name goes here


Why do you love Allah?

A mere servant and aspiring friend of Allah

I’ve asked my closest and dearest friends and family, “Why do you love Allah?” I feel infinitely closer to each and every one of them after hearing their answers. More importantly, I feel infinitely closer to Allah. SubhanAllah, when you push the boundaries of love and kinship, all you get is more love. Some of my friends and family asked me the same question in return. In response, I said: I love Allah because He loves me and I can feel it at times. This is when I am closest to Him. I can feel it when He blesses me. I can feel it when I realize I have an infinite amount of things to be grateful for. I can feel it when He allows me to do good deeds. I can feel it when He’s guiding me to be better. I can feel it because I have messed up so much yet He always brings me back to Him. I can feel it because I believe He forgives me before I even forgive myself. I can feel it when I cry in dua and I know only He allowed those tears to form in my eyes. I feel it because He’s allowed me to sin and to learn from these sins. He’s allowed me to feel guilt. He’s allowed me to repent and exercise change. He’s allowed me to struggle for Him. I love Him because I can feel Him guiding me close to Him. I can feel Him guiding me closer to Jannah. I can feel Him smiling down on me. He’s who I turn to when I’m sad and when I’m happy. He’s a dear friend who always listens. He’s the best of planners and I know if I’m ever anxious or scared, he’ll be there to show me a path so long as He wills. He’s my savior, my friend, my Lord and there’s nothing and no one that is as perfect and sincere to me as He is.


Reflect. Learn. Grow.


Hi everyone! Welcome to another advice column with Samirah and Nahian! Where you let us know your situation and we give our thoughts on how to live your life! Our first question comes in from Ali who writes: Q. Salam brother, and sister. I recently got called out on the basketball court because I used the n-word to call over my pal Abdullah. I just used it in the friendly way and I would never use it with a hard “r.” I didn’t mean to harm anyone and I’m definitely not racist. I’m not even white, why can’t I say it? Stop. Yikes, that was rough. Our next question comes in from an anonymous reader who writes: Q. Salaam brother and sister, there is a girl in my lecture who is embarrassing our Ummah by showing her hairline, wearing tight jeans, bright makeup and calling it hijab. I told her it is better to take it off altogether if she wasn’t going to wear it properly and she was angry, what have I done wrong? BOI IF YOU DON’T STFU, MAYBE “IT IS BETTER” IF YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES AND YOUR MOUTH.

Lord, we need to make wudu after reading all of these. Anyways, our next submission comes from Mir-Tameem Kareem who writes; Q. Salaam, I am hoping to get married soon as I am 39 years old and finally comfortable living away from my mother, I am interested in a girl. She is very submissive and fair skinned, a perfect match. She has a degree in medicine which I originally was happy about because it will help my reputation and is prestigious. However, I have recently learned she plans to continue working after marriage… even working full time. How do I convince her this is haram? Please help, jazakAllah khair. Brother, what a wonderful question, we are so happy to hear the news of your marriage. Firstly, let me say, it is so refreshing to see a man so extremely attached to his mother... how rare. Second, we agree, a degree in medicine is very prestigious. Lastly, we sincerely hope you are always blessed with the single life as people like you should never reproduce.

Our sense of purpose sometimes gets lost when we involve ourselves with so much. We feel as if there are not enough hours in the day. But it is very important that we as human beings take time out of our day to reflect and ponder over our purpose here in this temporary world and really ask ourselves what did we do for God in the twenty-four hours that we are given. Reflection is key. Reflect, learn, and grow. Sometime throughout your day, sit down and think about what you did and what you can do to improve yourself. As Muslims, it is important that we strive to be the best of people. We have to push to be the best in our character, in school, at work, in studies, in service, and at the same time be the best in worship. We have to push to be on the front lines. Keep striving to do better my brothers and sisters. Learn from your past mistakes and shortcomings and grow from them. Do not let boundaries define you, but, rather, exceed your potential. Reflect. Learn. Grow. Your Brother Always, Ali Idrees

Well, that’s all for this issue, we hope this clears a lot of uncertainties that may linger. Now excuse us as we go rinse our eyes with bleach.


The Hardest Wall to Climb is the One I Built Myself Sarah Basheer

It’s a beautiful thing when we grow. We started out as nothing more than a fusion of cells only to become what we are now. We started off as a blank slate with few skills, no opinions or preferences, and without any knowledge, only to become who we are now. When we grow smarter, it’s an example of our capacity to learn. When we grow stronger, it’s our body’s way of adapting physically. Living things grow and change and these abilities make us alive. Changing means pushing the boundaries, and although we fight civil oppression and push the boundaries of diversity in society, some of the most important boundaries to push are our own. Athletes do it every day, setting new records for humans, scientists too, defying what we always believed was possible. As Muslim youth, we have many boundaries to push, changing the cultural norms our parents grew up with, trying to become affluent members of society, getting jobs and starting families. It takes a toll on a person and we dedicate

our time and effort to those things. But probably the most important boundary to push is the one we don’t always think about, pushing the boundary of our faith. Our Iman fluctuates, sometimes it falls, sometimes it rises. But amongst these fluctuations when we don’t put in an effort, our Iman doesn’t change really. It stays dormant as we fulfill our day to day routines and become accustomed to the allotted time we spend working, relaxing, and worshipping. But life is more than just going through the motions of day to day life. It’s about pushing the boundaries. Moving past what we did yesterday and doing something more tomorrow. Growing spiritually as a person isn’t difficult. It doesn’t take all our time or make us achieve amazing feats all at once. The path to spiritual growth is different for everyone, for some it’s further along and for others it’s further back. The starting place is the desire to change and grow, recognizing your boundaries, and making the intention to push those boundaries.

With the smallest of steps, we can come from one place and end up at another. That’s what pushing the boundaries can feel like. We don’t always see it until we think about it and remember the kind of people we were before, the new habits we’ve ascribed to, the lessons we’ve learned and our new boundaries. I want us all to grow and change in many aspects of our lives, most especially spiritually. So remember, that the boundaries and limitations you feel enclosing you, aren’t really there. Am I smart enough, or religious enough to do these things? Will I ever catch up with everyone who is so far ahead of me? You’ve imagined the fences and walls, building them brick by brick, as you became clouded by self-doubt of your capabilities. But you can build a door too, right through any fence or wall, one that leads to wider and greener pastures, one that will lead you inshallah, god-willing, straight to the doors of Jannah. The journey starts with you. The key is in your pocket, waiting.

though. It was comfortable, familiar, and I had a lot of memories associated with it. My stubbornness of not getting rid of my jacket spoke to a larger issue – my unwillingness to change and step out of my comfort zone. I know it sounds almost ridiculous that my jacket represented this idea, but I know myself well enough to know that it’s true. This blue jacket was apart of my daily routine. I always found comfort in schedules and routines. I saw the beauty and harmony associated with some of the most mundane aspects of life. Last week, I went on adventure with a close friend and a roommate of mine. It was late at night and we explored a neighborhood I was always curious about. I saw a record shop that I’ve always wanted to visit in this location, had a sugar rush

at a cookie shop, and ate a restaurant called Cheesie’s at 1AM. The streets were empty and it was bitterly cold out. I still felt a rush of excitement and was fascinated by everything around me. In my mind, I thought how I always wanted to venture into new places, and do this with people that I love and care deeply about. All it takes is someone pushing you a little bit and encouraging you to take a risk every now and then. I’m starting to realize the importance of these people because they bring something out in us that we have yet to discover ourselves. As for that beloved blue jacket I mentioned earlier: It has found a comfortable place in the back of my closet where it is no longer needed anymore.

My Blue Jacket and a Night of Exploring Safa Shameem

During my later years of high school and into the early years of college, I used to always wear a specific blue jacket. I always carried it everywhere I went. It didn’t matter if the temperature was warm or cold, I made sure that I wore it and it became something that everyone around me noticed. I received amused laughs and odd stares from some of my family. My friends simply thought I just had an emotional attachment to the jacket. The design of the jacket was simple: silver zipper, blue hood, small pockets, and buttoned cuffs. Now that I think of it, there was nothing aesthetically outstanding about this jacket, but I wore it so frequently that I knew this jacket’s demise was on the way. I never felt the need to seek a new jacket until my mom protested that I buy a new one. This jacket was so perfect to me



Editors in Chief Farooq Chaudhry Nuha Abdelrahim Managing Editor Ibrahiem Mohammad Staff Writers Abdul Basith Basheer Sarah Basheer Lilian Maali Nahian Saed Samirah Alam Taha Sharif Safa Shameem Nayfah Thnaibat Ummesalmah Abdulbaseer Javerea Ahmed Staff Artists Shapla Shaheen Saba Ali Doodles Sumaiyya Ahmed

Creative Direction Noor Abdelrahim Interested in contributing to Al-Bayyan? If so, email submissions to

Cover Photo Courtesy of Ali Idrees

Layout Hyatt Hasanieh Maleeha Ahmed

March 2017  
March 2017