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Volume 19 ● Issue 5 ● March 2012 ● Jumada al Awwal 1433

Overcoming Struggles

Got Dua? Using the power of dua to seek enlightenment and relief during any life situations or struggles

Comic art by Safia Latif


Overcoming Struggles Table of contents: 5: news Running for Change Running for Change Team

6-7: spirituality Terrorism Not Religion Mohammad Sharif Dua of Musa Br. Tarif Shraim

8-9: center spread Empty Hands, Heavy Words Designed by Fatimah Waseem

10-11: lifestyle Cover by Sofia Beg; inside art by Google Images

Climb Fatimah Waseem My Name is Red: A Review Farhaan Madar

12-13: syria week Photography by Omari Sefu



As’Salaamu Alaikum,

Every single thought of Allah (swt) counts, so like the peoAs tragedies unfold, whether ple of Egypt, Lybia, and Palin our lives or on the screen, estine, let’s take the time to refocus the very purpose of we all might be thinking, “God, when will it end?” As our lives. Let’s take this time the tension in our brows and to worship Allah (swt) again. And again. And again. the mixed signals of hope and desperation begin to This issue of Al-Nur is deditake over, we often forget cated to the people of Syria the whole purpose of it ever and Muslims suffering happening. throughout the world: our dua’s are with you. But, “it’s times like these we Zeynep Karakas learn to live again”. Editor-in-Chief

A Special Thanks to:

President: Muneer Zuhurudeen Vice President: Osama Eshera Secretary: Tara Mohammed Treasurer: Saad Rehman Masjid Affairs: Omari Sefu Public Relations: Youssef Elnabawi VP of Sisters’ Affairs: Sheima Gimie


Editor-in-Chief: Zeynep Karakas Editors: Sofia Beg Sheima Gimie

Zoeya Saleem Fatimah Waseem

Layout Designers: Sofia Beg Hager Elgendi

Zoeya Saleem Fatimah Waseem

Writers/Contributors: Hager El-Gendi Safia Latif Farhaan Madar Omari Sefu Farhan Shah Mohammad Sharif

Mohammed Shaikh Tarif Shraim Bilal Tariq Fatimah Waseem Muneer Zuhurudeen Running for Change Team

President: Noha Eshera Vice President: Tara Mohammed Treasurer: Hafinah Dasti Public Relations: Safia Latif



for Change

March 17, 2012: Ah, yes, the first day to kick back and relax for Spring Break. But, Alhamdulilah, for others it was the making of some serious history (off-the-couch). On that day, a handful of firm and energetic young Muslims from the Washington DC metro area were on duty for the Running for Change Campaign organized by Naomi Henry, a MSA alumni. As a part of the campaign (or dare really), we ran 13.1 miles in the National Rock ‘n Roll Half-Marathon series while raising over $1000 for the Muslimaat Al-Nisaa shelter for displaced Muslim women in Baltimore, MD. Here’s what one participant, Ola Alghazzouli, had to say after completing the run, (Post-race; rear from left to right: Gisica Abdalla, Zeynep Ka“It is an experience that I do not regret. It rakas, Deanna Zare, Naomi Henry, Parise Henry, Dina Ibrawas definitely an answer to my prayers him; front from left to right: Karam Hijji, Ismail Nicolas, Joseph Alhamdulilah, to get up and get back into Mehrabi; missing: Emily Waters and Ola Alghazzouli) shape.” Keep your eyes peeled for some more fun on our Honestly, the whole thing was a blur, but I guess Facebook page: Running for Change.

this picture speaks for itself. Godspeed! But, this isn’t the end of it--we’re still planning on running some more. Join us in our next race in- RUNNING FOR CHANGE TEAM shaAllah! After all, what better way to help your favorite charity while keeping yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually in-check?


Terrorism Not Religion Terrorism is often defined as political violence or other inhumane practices. Killing, torturing, and humiliation of innocent people are some of the recent examples of terrorism. According to the Global Issues, “Terrorism is the attempt to achieve a goal through violent or destructive acts intended to induce change by instilling fear among a group of people. Terrorists typically have little regard for innocent noncombatants. A variety of motives underlies terrorist acts, including religious, social, economic, and political motivations. In general, terrorists are unwilling to negotiate with their perceived enemies, or are prevented from doing so by political, social, or economic circumstances” (Global Issues in Context, 1). Therefore, it is easy to determine that terrorism is a type of violence that targets innocent people as their victim of aggression. It is clear that to observe and satisfy the social, political, and economic frustrations could motivate a person to become a terrorist. Is there a satisfactory answer towards religious affiliation of terrorism? In short, terrorism is an evil and cruel behavior of one person or group towards all innocent beings that might result from socioeconomic or political conditions, but it has nothing to do with religion. I was unable to find any credible link for understanding the religious affiliation of terrorism. As quoted in the Quran, “Take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom” (Quran, 6:151). It also says in the Quran, “If any one slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole people and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” (Quran, 5: 32). Looking at these guidelines from the Quran makes it easy to understand that there is no religious affiliation of terrorism, but there could only be a personal, economic, or social condition that elevates one to commit such horrified actions against all mankind.

factors that contributed towards the building of Hitler as a cruel leader. In the same way it’s not Islam or any other religion that promotes the killing of innocent people. Much observation and research has led me to believe that a contributing factor to terrorism is the perpetrators usually belong to poor families. Today’s terrorists are children smuggled through human trafficking to Afghanistan from different underdeveloped countries. These children are then hijacked and used to spread or achieve political agenda, using Islam as a shield. On the other hand, as reported in the article Terrorism, “International law does not provide a single definition of terrorism, but the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004) contains the best attempt by the United Nations at providing one. Resolution 1566 states that terrorism refers to “criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act” (Global Issues, 2).

As per the above mentioned definition of terrorism, it’s not wrong to determine or state slavery as an act of terrorism. Similarly, racism against African Americans by predominant Whites in America before modern civil rights movement should also be considered as an act of terror although in that case both races belonged to the same religions and geographical nationality. It is of importance to understand that there is no religion or culture that promotes and cultivates the act of terrorism. Instead, it is the frustrations or reactions of one person or group that are associated with social, economic, and political agenda that a person is struggling to achieve, ultimately taking the path of terrorism to achieve those worldly ambitions. Conclusively, religion and spiritual teachings only On the other hand, looking back in history, we spread the message of love and care for all without can see that Nazi policies towards Judaism were borders. also unjustifiable by any culture or society. So, should we blame Hitler or Christianity? In simple WRITTEN BY MOHAMMAD SHARIF words there were social, political, or economic



An Extraordinary Supplication for Extraordinary Challenges WRITTEN BY BR. TARIF SHRAIM

Life is indeed full of challenges and not a day passes by except that each of us faces obstacles and difficulties that compel us to seek means to bolster our ability to get by. While external obstacles are endless, the greatest impediment to our progress and ability to cope with challenges often lies within our own internal selves. It is indeed during those dark moments when our hearts feel constricted, fearful, or disturbed that we feel less able to undertake difficult tasks in life. In Surat Taha, Allah describes to us an episode in the life of Musa when he too faced a seemingly daunting task that weighed heavy on hisheart. But Musa’s challenge was no ordinary challenge; he was after all tasked with standing before the most ruthless tyrant of the time,the Pharaoh. Prophet Musa instantly realized that he could not proceed with his mission without Allah’s aid, so he called out to Allah with the supplication: "Oh my Lord! Expand for me my chest and ease my task for me; and untie the knot (the defect) from my tongue that they understand my speech.” (Surah 20, verses 25-28) In this glorious supplication, Prophet Musa makes multiple requests that included seeking Allah's help in the task that lied ahead of him, and the removal of the impediment in his speech. But it was in Prophet Musa’s request that Allah expands his chest that we realize how important the condition of one’s heart is before carrying on with any mission in life. When Prophet Musa asked Allah to expand his chest, it was a request to grant him tranquility, boldness and confidence so he would not be overcome with by fear or discouragement while undertaking his task; it was a request to illuminate his heart with discernment and wisdom so he could know s how to think clearly and act soundly under difficulty, and it was a request for his heart to enlightened with the divine rays of support from Allah so he could ultimately succeed with his mission. This powerful supplication of Prophet Musa holds a very dear place in my heart because it was one of the first supplications that my mother taught me when I was at the tender age of five. To this day, I continue to revel at the unparalleled treasures and impact of this supplication on my life. Every time Allah has blessed me to utter this duaa, be it before an exam, a conversation with someone, or any difficult task I faced, I have found Allah to be by my side, granting my heart ease, facilitating my tasks, and empowering me to conquer challenges I never thought my heart had the strength to face. If my mother taught me nothing in this life but this extraordinary duaa, then I will forever be grateful to her for she has given me, by the permission of Allah, a gift whose meanings and fruits continue to unfold beyond my imagination to this very day.


of the Month

Abu Hurairah (RA) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said: 'In the last third of every night our Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) (Allah (SWT)) descends to the lowermost heaven and says; "Who is calling Me, so that I may answer him? Who is asking Me so that may I grant him? Who is seeking forgiveness from Me so that I may forgive him?."' [Muslim]


FATIMAH WASEEM "Oh Allah, we seek refuge from knowledge that does not benefit, from a heart that does not fear, from eyes that do not weep, from a a soul that always wants more, from a du'a that is not heard.

BILAL TARIQ MOHAMMAD SHAIKH “O Allah, I ask You for the delight of gazing at Your Countenance and the eagerness of meeting You.”



"My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will)." [Surah al-Ahqaf, v. 15]

EMPTY HANDS, HEAVY WORDS A collection of some our most favorite du’aas.

FARHAN SHAH "O Allah, let Your Peace come upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have brought peace to Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious. Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as you have blessed Ibrahim and his family. Truly, You are Praiseworthy and Glorious."

HAGER EL-GENDI “O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.”



My Name is Red opens in dramatic fashion with the voice of a disembodied dead miniaturist, whose soul is in the limbo between this life and the next because his body hasn’t yet been discovered and buried. The estranged voice belongs to Elegant Effendi, who has just been murdered by one of his fellow artists. The opening chapter sets the premise well for the novel and provides a lyrical segue to the rest of the book – to uncover the identity of the ‘vile murderer’. The plot is complex and each chapter is written by a different character in first person – this gives the reader multiple viewpoints building to the same incident. The reader as a result empathizes with all characters, even conflicting ones, and forges a very intimate and personal connection with them. Some characters even address the reader directly; memorably, a dog has the audacity to remark, “You seem to believe a story in which corpses speak and characters use words they couldn’t possibly know, but you cannot believe a dog can Pamuk treats the novel as a masterpiece and like any great work of art, the greatness lies in the speak!” manner and the emotions it evokes. He does so deftly by using an array of colors to effectively porOrhan Pamuk uses considerable craft and guile to tray a range of human emotions – from the jealkeep the reader in the dark about the identity of the ously of an artist, to the personal insecurities of murderer. He prods and teases the reader with different characters and the burden of guilt weighchapters titled, ''I will be called a Murderer'' in ing heavy on the murderer’s mind. which the murderer himself ,who is well hidden Although it is not the easiest book to read and under this literary guise, converses with the reader takes time to digest every page, the book does ofoffering subtle hints of his true identity without giv- fer wonderful rewards to the patient reader and I ing himself away. wouldn’t think twice to recommend this book to anybody. Questions over the European style of individualistic painting versus the Eastern philosophy of conformity treads moral ground and is a recurring theme. My name is Red, is not the easiest book to read, It also acts as a jumping board to other interesting because its characters are so compelling in their snippets of art history. The eastern philosophy is arguments and each page takes time to digest, but epitomized, my favorite line, when a painting of a it does offer rewards to the patient reader. Read it Tree says ‘I don’t want to be a tree; I want to be its for its brevity and Pamuk’s pearls of wisdom. meaning.’




bean burrito from Taco Bell without a wallet. So I In the 19 years I have been alive, I have survived a jostle my belongings and bear the burden. number of obstacles — a grueling eye surgery, a 15-year-old brother who knows better than anyone how to annoy me, a face full of mosquito bites at Some students can merrily skip down my minimy aunt's professionally photographed wedding Armageddon, hurtling down the challenge that deand an assortment of similar catastrophes. fines my very existence. They have it easy. My insides flare up. Upon arriving at this university, however, I have realized that there are far more challenging, lifemolding, character-changing, mind-boggling, heartwrenching tests. Namely, there is one I must endure everyday: the climb up the looming mountain that rests between Stamp Student Union and Cole Field House. Yes, it is a mountain. You see, that monolithic being represents a journey that captures the epitome of a student's life. It's a hill that gets steeper and steeper every four meters you climb. Occasionally, it blasts you with a dose of hazy, white gas — a strange chemical that I have yet to pinpoint the exact location and nature of — synonymous with the hazy, obstructing distractions of life. To make matters worse, there are no railings — it is just you and the elements of nature.

But worst of all is the mountain's sheer power to expose the inner workings of man. In a few meters' length, the obstacle can reveal the best and the worst of a person's physical state. There is nothing you can hide. In a matter of seconds, it will reveal your true colors and bring you down to your knees, spluttering, gagging, huffing and puffing erratically. In these brief moments, I remind myself that life has no shortcuts. I don't know about you, but I aim to go up. The load on my back, the white burst of haze to my left and the apparent ease of others isn't going to stop me. I may be out of shape, but it's going to take more than few huffs and puffs to make me give up.

So the next time you see me walking up my personal Mount Everest, know that I'll be climbing this On days when I must make that fateful journey, I little obstacle my four years here. We wil all be am reminded of the way it completely symbolizes my life. The burden on my backpack weighs on my climbing this hill together. shoulders. Sweat pours down my back. Every And when someone remarks, "Hey, kid. Why don't muscle in my body screams for relief. My feet you just cut through Stamp and save yourself all struggle to move forward and my knees bend to the floor while my backpack yanks me back. I'm a the trouble?" puppet floating with strings. I'll say, "Good question. Maybe that's why I'm here, studying at this university." But I climb anyway. I could choose to travel light. But you see, I've got my eyes on the prize. You can't buy that $1.47

We can only go up from here.








Volume 19 ● Issue 5 ● March 2012 ● Jumada al Awwal 1433

Overcoming Struggles

You can find this issue and more online!

Al-Nur March 2012  

Learn all about overcoming struggles with dua.