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Cover art by Shabnom Khan; page 2 art by Mehreen Rasheed

Contents

The Winter Edition


Staff

Oh where has the semester gone? It seems like just yesterday we were just celebrating Eid-al-Fitr! Because this is the final issue of al-Nur until the spring semester, we have decided to focus on self-enrichment and selfreflection, in preparation of the final exams and winter break. In this issue, we are able to spark a conversation between a senior and a freshman of the MSA, look back on a successful open-

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house event for the MSA members to get to know their cabinet, and ponder on very thoughtprovoking poetry. We hope to continually receive such great submissions, and look forward to what you all have in mind for our spring semester issues, inshallah! Best of luck on your final exams, and have a blessed and fruitful winter break! - Bushrah Rahman msa.nur@gmail.com


News

First Ever MSA/MWM Open House By Tubah Sultan This past week, the MSA/MWM Office had their first Open House. Sure, it‟s late in the semester, but it‟s never a bad time to attend an event where you can meet the MSA/MWM cabinet and get some free food. If you haven‟t been involved with the MSA/MWM much this semester, our Open House was the place to be! The MSA/MWM office is located in Room 0208G in the Student Involvement Suite in STAMP and it is the official HQ for the MSA Cabinet and Committees.

Alhamdullilah, the Open House that took place this past Tuesday, November 30th was a success. Cabinet members were present from 11am to 4pm, and we had students who were interested in helping out with MSA & MWM activities stop by to ask questions and learn about how they can get involved. We marketed the event through word of mouth, via email reminders, sent out through both the MSA and MWM Listservs, text messages and setting up a Facebook event and wall post reminders.

JazakAllahKhair to everyone who attended! The cabinet and committee heads were very excited with the turnout. The positive feedback has prompted us to plan a similar event at the beginning of next semester. Be on the lookout for details! If you have ideas or recommendations for the MSA or MWM, definitely stop by the office before the end of the semester. We‟re open 5 days a week Mon-Fri for Cabinet Hours, Quran Classes, Committee meetings and more!

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News

Freshman Insight By Neelam Sultan What do the underclassmen think of UMD‟s MSA? I interviewed freshman, Aisha Hussain, on her first semester experience being a part of UMD‟s MSA. Aisha is majoring in Psychology. 1) Were you aware of UMD's MSA before coming to the University of Maryland? “Yes, a few of my friends who are older than me were members and so I’d heard about it. Also, I participated in MIST in high school and met people who are now in the MSA, so the UMD MSA isn't entirely new to me.” 2) If you were aware of UMD's MSA, did that play an influential part in your decision to come to UMD? Shown on right: Sophomore Mehreen Masoud connects with freshman Sagah Ahmad Shown below: Muslim sisters in a MWM event.

“In some ways yes and in some no. I liked that the UMD MSA was really active and that I knew that I wouldn't be going to the University completely alone-I would know a few people at least through the MSA. But at the same time, this was also a bit of a setback since I didn’t want to stay with people I’d grown up with, I wanted to meet new people at Maryland as well (but now that I’m here, it’s a good balance since the campus is so big, you’ll meet people everywhere but still know where to find your close friends).

but I've learned a lot already through the MSA and met a lot of great people.” 4) What is your most memorable MSA experience(s) so far? “My most memorable experience wouldn't really be an event, more like moments that stand out to me in the Musallah or Jummah. But, if I had to choose an event it would be the MWM Ball, which was a lot more fun than I expected.”

5) What would you like to see more of from the MSA in the future? 3) How would you describe your first “The MSA is doing a good job in keepsemester experience being a part of ing up with educating us in Islam, but Maryland's MSA? “Overall it's been a good one Alhumdulil- as an underclassman I know that I went to a lot of the older sisters for lah, a few minor things here and there, advice with my classes and the University in general, so it would be nice to see (other than the mentoring program) more (I guess, events?) that are not taking the focus away from Islam, but just help the freshman/ underclassmen transition from high school to the University of Maryland.” 6) Any last thoughts on the MSA at Maryland? “Overall the MSA is nice, [although] judgmental sometimes, it's definitely a good place to meet people at UMD who share common interests with you. " As an MSA we should listen to and reflect upon what underclassmen have to say about our organization. First impressions are significant, they can influence ones decision to be a part of our MSA and ultimately change the course of one‟s University experience and experiences thereafter. InshAllah the MSA at Maryland will continually strive to listen to its member body and act upon concerns and ideas that will better the overall perception and experience of the MSA.

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Spirituality

Struggle is the Key to Attaining Guidance By Mohammed Shaikh and Omar Chatila Sins mean transgression of Allah law‟s. Most of us wonder why we commit sins most of the time, and Why we have this difficulty overcoming the desires. Let‟s discuss the reasons behind the struggles we have with the sins we commit. Allah, the Most Wise, created desires in us humans for a reason. For example, we enjoy sleeping and relaxing, we (men and women) love beauty, and Allah more specifically bestowed upon women a beauty that allures the eyes of men. We also love to look beautiful. Women specifically have this desire (part of their fitra) to dress elegantly and be admired by others. All of these desires have wisdom behind them. The desire to relax exists because our bodies need it to function properly. Men and women are attracted to each other so that they can pursue marriage and populate this Earth. Allah has bestowed women with

beauty to attract the attention of men. However, as believers, the existence of desires holds an underlying reason, one that overshadows the rest. These desires exist in order that Allah may test us on how we fulfill these desires. Allah states in the Qur‟an: “For anyone who has transgressed and preferred the present life, Hell will be home; for anyone who feared the meeting with his Lord and restrained himself from base desires, Paradise will be home” (79: 37-38). As scholars said, one of the reasons the prophets were sent is to save individuals and society in this life. If these desires are fulfilled according to Allah‟s law, then the society will live in peace. So, when you sleep at night, are you going to set your alarm to wake up for Fajr? Do you pray the five prayers on time? Why do you wake up for your classes but not for Fajr?

Sisters, are going to cover your body up properly? Are you going to cover this blessing that Allah has bestowed upon you, cover it from the eyes of men who are not lawful for you? Or you are going to just ignore the conditions of the Hijab, as mentioned by Allah Himself. Or have you gone worse than that? Brothers, are you going to lower your gaze when you see a beautiful woman passing by you? Are you going to needlessly chat with a lady who it is not permissible for you to interact with? Or have you gone worse than that? Yes, you might forget that Allah is watching over you. You may become weak in front of your desires. You are human after all. But, are you going to prefer Allah or your desires? are you going to give up that easily? Or will you choose to struggle?

Hadith of the Month: Loving for the Sake of Allah Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: "Allah will resurrect on the Day of Judgment people whose faces are full of light (noor), on pulpits of pearl, being envied by the people. They are not messengers nor are they martyrs." An Arab person knelt down on his knees and said: "Oh messenger of Allah, tell us who they are!" The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "They are those who love each other for Allah's sake. They are from different tribes, and different countries, and they come together and gather to mention Allah and remember Him." [Authenticated by Al-Albani] Provided by Susan Shatila

The Holy Qur’an—image taken by current MSA student

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Lifestyle

Final Fears or Just an Illusion? By Tara Mohammed It‟s like a reoccurring nightmare. Always in your subconscious, but as the days get closer, you can‟t get it out of your mind. Final Exams. Now, I wish I had five easy steps to acing every final, but I like to keep it real - they don‟t exist. What I CAN help you with, is how best to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually for that week of dreadful finals. DON‟T Psyche yourself out! Its finals week, not the Day of Judgment. People have gone through it before you, and people will go through it after you. To prepare yourself mentally, write out your week. List all your exams and all other activities, responsibilities, or assignments you have. Having things on paper will help you visualize and organize your tasks. DON‟T skip prayers! Even if you feel like you‟ve just finally gotten into your studying groove, as much as you study, only Allah can determine your outcome; trust that. Also, what is an act of worship can also become a break from the seemingly never-ending studies at hand. You return to your books refreshed, renewed,

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and in the right state of mind. Take the time to honor your prayers and value your time with Allah just as you value your time with your books. DON‟T overload on caffeine! They will only make you jittery causing you to crash later. If you drink caffeine regularly, completely cutting it out of your diet may give you a headache, so just stick to your regular one cup of Joe. Otherwise, avoid the Venti coffees and the destructive energy drinks. If you‟re getting your rest, just keep hydrated with water throughout the day. If you need a little kick, try green tea, warm or chilled, as an alternative. DON‟T forget to say bismillah! No better way to start your exam than with the remembrance of Allah. There are also many duaas, or supplications, you can say before you start your exam. A duaa that I particularly like is the one that Prophet Musa (peace be upon him) used before he went to confront Pharaoh, it goes as follows: “Rabbi ishrah lee sadree, Wayassir lee amree, Wahlul Uqdatan min lisanee, Yafqahoo qawlee” Translates: “My Lord, I ask you to expand my

breast, make my task easy, undo the knot in my tongue so that my speech will become comprehensible” DO make some sacrifices! Family having a movie night? Some friends celebrating their early end of exams? Sit it out. In the bigger scope of things, the extra time will help you eliminate the stressful nights keeping you calm, cool, and collected. You‟ll have all of winter break to let loose! DO stay up after Fajr! Following the practice of our beloved Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him), do not return to your pillows straight after your Fajr prayer. Instead, use this time to study. You will retain a lot more information and feel less drowsy throughout the day. DO eat before your exam! Make an exception to your carbfree diet for the week. Carbs release most of the energy our brains use. To utilize this, eat a light meal with carbohydrates about two hours before your exam. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts are all great things to incorporate into your meal.


Alumni

Thoughts on Winter Break from an Alumna By Neelam Sultan Wondering how to spend this Winter Break? Alumna, Mariam Khan speaks on how she spent her Winter Breaks as a student at UMD and advises current students on how to make this Winter Break time well-spent and more meaningful. 1) How did you spend your Winter Breaks as a student at UMD? “I interned at a biotech company for two winters after working with them over the summer. One winter I also started preparing for the MSA Dawah Committee for the next semester.” 2) Over Winter Break were you a part of any non-profit or community service efforts? If so, what was the service effort and how was it a meaningful experience? “MIST outreach activities and Project Downtown. Project Downtown is a DC Council community service activity. DC Area MSAs bag lunches and distribute them to the homeless around DC. We got the chance to offer a meal to those that are less fortunate and also share conversations with them.” 3) Looking back, are there things you would have done differently or spent you time differently over Winter Break?

“Looking back, I wish we would have shared our break plans with each other to encourage and support one another in using our time wisely. Yes, some of us might be working, taking classes, spending more time with the family, etc., etc. but afterwards when we shared our 'break stories,' it always felt like we had potential to do more, especially when it came to getting closer to

“...it always felt like we had potential to do more, especially when it came to getting closer to Allah swt.” Allah swt.” 4) How is Winter Break different from Summer Break? What opportunities does Winter Break provide that are different from Summer Break? “Winter break offers a shorter period of time to experiment with things you

might be interested in. If you have thoughts about a minor or changing a major, this is a perfect time to explore the idea to make help make your decision. Also, it's a perfect time to break a bad habit. Having trouble with Fajr salah, inconsistent reading or memorization of the Qur'an, procrastination, organization (including that untidy room), or poor eating habits? Nip that bad habit in the bud this break! Six weeks is just enough time to make a change, long term or permanent. And remember the Prophet sws said: „Whoever leaves something for the sake of Allah, Allah will replace it with something better.‟ ” 5) What is your advice to current students who are not sure what to do with their time over Winter Break and wish to make the most of their Winter Break? “ My advice would be to first ask Allah swt to grant you barakah in your time. And remember: ".......my success (in my task) can only come from Allah. In Him I trust, and unto Him I look. " [Qur'an 11:88] Mariam Khan graduated in Spring 2009 with a major in the Biological Sciences (Physiology/ Neurobiology) and minor in Spanish.

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Lifestyle

Simplicity Simplified By Anonymous Over the past few years, I‟ve realized nothing in the Manual of Life is confusing or even complicated. It‟s how we read it that confuses us. Life doesn‟t demand that we conform to the latest fashions or that we throw the best party. We don‟t even have to take our vitamins and stay out of harms way. Bring harm to me and I promise you I will be just fine. We fret over the little things; the non-essentials. We fuss over what brand of jeans we wear and over the Ranch & Ziplocs we buy. Walk into any grocery isle today and you‟ll find well over 75 varieties of chips. The non-fat and the low-fat and the extra extra oily fat; they‟re all the same. The world of choices is simply a con to confuse us into buying more than we need. I‟m not trying to endorse communism, but honestly the multitude all these choices is getting ridiculous. We end up standing there for fifteen minutes just to get a bag of chips, and then we worry if the guests will like them. Maybe the lime flavored ones would be better, or maybe the fiery hot cheesy dippables… Talking about food, why did we stop eating it? Future generations won‟t even know what real food is because of how much we‟re butchering its existence! Our foods might as well be made in plastic? Along with everything else because it‟s all fake. Life doesn‟t call for genetically altered and artificially pumped food. And even after all these chemicals are injected into our food, we somehow worry about taking daily vitamin tablets. We vex

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about how much food we can produce and enhancing the size. In reality we‟re simply fueling debates and causing even larger headaches. Is normal, naturally grown food insufficient for us? Are fruits and vegetables going extinct in favor to artificial and chemical poisons?! My heart goes out to those kids who will never in their lives enjoy a pure, unaltered strawberry. Besides the fact that it doesn‟t satisfy my taste buds, I‟m sure the physical well-being of my body doesn‟t appreciate fake food either. The human body is a miracle of its own and has been yelling at us for the past 100 or so years. We insult it by ingesting cough syrup and over-

doses on Advil. We have the best health care in history and yet we still worry about kids climbing trees and running on the school sidewalk. The worst that could happen is a child gets a broken limb. The child would actually be happy to be given a little extra human attention, and a couple scoops of their favorite ice cream. As far as our body is concerned, all we need is a little more sun, wind, and water. It‟s almost as if we enjoy the complications. When there aren‟t any, life is boring and unsatisfactory. What ever happened to that simple old lady that lived in a shoe?

Sisters enjoying each other’s company simply for the sake of Allah.


Spirituality/Lifestyle

The Essence of Peace By Nurideen Bashir About two weeks ago I found something on television that intrigued me; a debate on whether Islam was a “peaceful” religion. The forum was headed by a white man and featured two prominent Muslim scholars on the proposition and two atheists on the opposition. The objective of the show was to sway the audience in favor of the side that laid the best argument. For a while I became enthralled in the debate and tactics of both sides as they argued and counter-argued, jostling back and forth to prove their superior knowledge of the subject matter and then at some point it hit me. After quarrelling within myself for a few profoundly futile moments I came to a precipice that led to one question in particular; who was I to question whether Islam is peaceful or not? When did we as human beings become so righteous that we‟d have the gall to question higher power? If anything, it would seem that what should have been debated was whether “people are peaceful” not Islam. The interesting thing about this is when Allah created the human, He infamously proclaimed the word “BE” and there we were. It‟s never said that Allah mentions the word peaceful or harmonious after that word “BE,” so what makes us think we are so peaceful? If we are arbiters of peace, what does it say that as many wars have been started in the name of peace, just as much have in the name of conflict? After all, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X died in the name of this great concept that we‟ve claimed as our own. Wasn‟t the war in Iraq, prisons, and the creation of the Taliban all built around this concept? Say what you will but in order for there to be a peace, one must thwart some other form of opposition, much like this debate. Prisons, police, and yes, even the Taliban were conceptualized in the name of peace. So do we really need Islam to be peaceful? And did Allah intend for it to be peaceful?

The fact is, Islam is the way of life but it‟s not the life and the human; the life itself, is a mere vessel of both good and bad. There is NO life that is above this rule. This is why we say „As salaam wa alaikum’(may peace be upon you). This is not because we are inherently peaceful people; rather we are suggesting that the peace of Allah and the peace within us be brought to light instead of the evils within. But the truth is, peace is not the only thing we are asking for, as the greeting is supposed to be ex-

tended to „As salaam wa alaikum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatu’ (may the peace and mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you). This is the essence of what Islam is. It is not just peaceful; it is merciful and breeds blessings. More than peace, this is the essence of balance and this is what we must understand about Islam and about us as human beings. It is not a matter of whether Islam is peaceful, it is balance. And we are in need of balance; neither peace nor conflict can compare to contentment. This is what Islam is. A young Muslim brother representing the essence of peace through du’a and connection to Allah (swt); Image taken by Ridwanur Rahman

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Spirituality

Hajj: the Journey of a Lifetime By Anisah Imani December 2003 was my first time traveling out of the country. My mom and I would be gone for 3 weeks. For months beforehand, we drove between Philadelphia and Baltimore for Sunday classes and packing lessons. We were ready, or at least we thought we were. Nothing actually prepares you for standing in front of the very first place of worship with millions of other people from all over the world. It is an amazing experience, one beyond words, something that can only be felt. I was 12, in the 7th grade, and my mom had spoken to our group leader, who confirmed that I was old enough for my pilgrimage to be counted. After that, there was no turning back. We prepared to embark upon a journey from which many do not return. Fear was not one of our major emotions; instead there was great excitement and nervousness. We wanted to make sure every step was made with exact precision so that our duas and overall pilgrimage would be accepted. They say that „only those who are invited by Allah (swt) get the opportunity to make Hajj,‟ and we honored that invitation by learning, memorizing, and carrying out every ritual just the way Rasulullah (s) had performed it. Being the youngest and most energetic member of our group, the thought of danger was far from my mind. Every outing in Makkah and Medina was an adventure in my eyes, even if it was as simple as walking to get food. Upon arriving in Makkah, the first thing we did was put on our ihram and walk down the street from our hotel to Masjid Al-Haram. It was about 2 in the morning and the Masjid was just as full as if it was dhuhr time. Thousands of Muslims were swarming around the Ka‟bah and praying Sunnah. There was so much order amongst the chaos. SubhanAllah and

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Allahu akbar were the only things we could say. My mother and I were in a group of several women and two or three men. I remember we were down on the first level making our tawaf, and at some point we all made the decision to go up and touch the Ka‟bah. The moment my hand touched the brick, an indescribable feeling ran through me - almost like a glowing light entered my body, filled every part of me, and left through my feet. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I knew at that moment this trip would forever

change me. I learned many lessons on Hajj, the major one being the importance of patience. Sabr was the one word that everyone continuously said to each other throughout our time in Saudi. Hajj was not a stagnant event in my life. It remains a constant reminder of the beauty and awesomeness of this deen. After Hajj there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I was on the right team.

Image of Ka’bah taken from Nadia El-Hillal

They say that ‘only those who are invited by Allah (swt) get the opportunity to make Hajj,’ and we honored that invitation by learning, memorizing, and carrying out every ritual just the way Rasulullah (s) had performed it.”


Creative Writing

What Adam told Eve: Part 2 By Nurideen Bashir My purpose is clear as crystal stars I can see through to your heart and there's so few Mars or Venus between it the type of seed that can raise the seas in the seasons you're so cool, you sing from your core and that chorus is soulful

you're a ten set ablaze even when there is rain there's never a hint of gray with you so I am not afraid of you in fact, I'm amazed at you as we circumambulate even when there is rain there's never a better day than you

I adore it in fact I applaud as if I were your audience and you're my performance, gorgeous but then what are portraits for the calm in the middle of this war arrows flying, fear, violence but Eros, the son of Aphrodite's inside us so in the midst of this roar you're a silence you're the truth so I don't hear the lion when you shine, I shine right beside it's an honor, we're defying modern science I get why they say lower your gaze since most of us cannot take the rays

So there you have it I'm dedicating this to my favorite golden shining flower a yellow rose and a firecracker frozen, such explosive firepower I know, I know sometimes I overstep my bounds but you see, every king should overstep his crown for a queen and you are a queen, so when you rise I fall for it never tripping I just hover and in that instant I discovered you glow at a distance I realized we could be lovers like sweet dreams and summer

and winter and all its wonder did you ever notice I follow you around the globe miss watching over your slumber? that's your level, that's your caliber and I would never want to steal your shine only reflect it with your hands in mine I'll protect your intentions wouldn't mind you being the first to my second because seconds lead to minutes and minutes lead to hours and I would love to have ours so run, and run, and stun and stun you sparkling sun in all your everlasting beauty and know that I'm in tune with every movement since you and I are one in two miss since you're my Laila, and I'm your Majnun miss sincerely yours, a really flawed, nearly floored humble Moon...

Our Worlds By Tara Mohammed Now we're getting personal The All Just knows justice So you're lucky itâ€&#x;s not just us in this room Because an eye for an eye Does not mean you should follow a lie with more lies So excuse me while I look past you for some truths. Unable to dissect the realities of being selfless You're stuck in a realm of self absorbance Where you equals I and We doesn't include me So how can you expect me to achieve anything When you don't know you from me

And I can't be I without you And you can't be you without we? So where does it go from here?

discrete So unleash your fears and prepare for your defeat

I'm dotting I's and crossing T's In the hopes that you may comprehend my anthology But understanding is only half the work I'm giving you the key But you'll have to do the clockwork Because time doesn't endure all So you're winding backwards But tricks only fool the foolish And the foolish tend to fall Into timeless ignorance Because history does repeat And unconsciousness doesn't come

But youâ€&#x;re already beat down and abused I know you're tired of the past But you continue passing down evils that need to be passed... I'm just trying to change your world While I make imprints in mine Like we're entwined but I still can't seem to align our planets So I'll settle for it to be Sunshines to shorelines for us to meet.

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Al-Nur: Volume 16 | Issue 3