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Ascent is a publication of the Loughborough Students Union Islamic Society and is produced once every academic term. All views expressed in this magazine are those held by the respective authors and therefore do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Loughborough Students Union Islamic Society. All content may be edited at the editor’s discretion for the purposes of clarity and space.

Ismail Hussein Ismail Hussein

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Muslim Life in Loughborough

Aisha Gara


A Student’s Ramadhan Diary

Siham Alhinai


Eat Halal, Eat Healthy, Eat Well The Essence of Ibadah and University Life

Ismail Hussein Easa Saad

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Ismail Hussein Khaled Elgeneidy

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Awab El-Niel


Renad Alamaoudi


Leena Pala


Sara Lahaware


Editorial Note

The Golden Age Science in a Golden Age Malcolm X

Zakat Al-Ne’am

Islam and Feminism

Eat Halal, Eat Healthy, Eat Well

Editor: Ismail Hussein Co-Editor: Sara Lahaware Layout & design: Basil Mustafa Picture Contributor: Ismail Badat


Loughborough Student Union Islamic Society Loughborough University Union Build, Ashby Rd, Loughborough LE11 3TT

‫بسم هللا الرحمن الرحيم‬ In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Kind. It gives me the great privilege to introduce the first issue of the Loughborough Students Islamic Society’s first and original publication, our own ‘Ascent Magazine’.

Our title – ‘Ascent’ – may not immediately resonate with some ears. However, this choice has largely been driven by our aspiration towards promoting a thought provocative publication that relates to the daily issues a young Muslim student may encounter. As a consequence, we hope to leave the reader with a level of consciousness that provides an enhanced understanding of the applicability of our Islam into our daily lives, thereby partly facilitating our journey towards attaining the heights of nobility and the transcendental values promoted by Islam.

Some remarkable steps have being taken from what was initially a passing idea. This has seen the collaboration of a dedicated number of students - past and present – who carried a shared vision towards developing a platform where the ideas, opinions and knowledge of the Muslim students of Understanding that the beginning of university life marks a Loughborough University can be expressed and shared across significant life transition which arouses apprehensive feelings in many, we had thought it necessary too particularly focus some the campus community.


of our topical sections upon introducing and easing the newly undergraduate student into university life throughout this issue. Finally, at this moment in time it may be safe to say that we are still undergoing the ‘teething’ stage’s of this project, and in saying this, there is certainly plenty of room for possible improvements. In this case we would be eager to hear your opinions, which will aid our efforts as we work towards establishing a respectable publication of Muslim Student journalism.

Knowledge is like rain which falls on people's hearts and removes their impurities, and falls on their intellects and illuminates them. Allah is Him whose help we ask. Allah is enough for us and the best of guardians.

‫عليكم السالم‬ May Peace Be With You.

We ask Allah that this magazine may have been composed for His pleasure alone and that its readers may benefit from it. Editorial Note ISMAIL HUSSEIN

Being a Muslim student at any university is not the easiest feat, temptation is all around and being a young adult, it is easy to be lured into the ‘fun’ side of student life. Many of you will have experienced being on the receiving end of an incredulous look or shocked expression when you tell fellow students that you do not drink or go clubbing, especially when it is perceived to be the norm for the majority. There is not a large Muslim community at Loughborough University, but by no means is this a bad thing! It merely means that we are a close-knit society and the feeling of unity between brothers and sisters within our small Ummah is strong and resilient. If you are living in Loughborough town


Being Muslim & University Life

or in the University halls, it is easy to feel isolated from the wider Muslim community – but this is where the ISoc comes in! There are countless activities going on for students, ranging from weekly sisters and brothers circles to enjoyable game nights. Last year, during charity week, the Isoc organised a trip to Wales to climb Mount Snowden – this was one of the most exciting events in the calendar and it was a true test of our willpower and dedication! As well as this, the annual BBQ is another highlight of the academic year, everyone is welcome and there are many games to play. During this event, there is also a huge bouncy castle on site (to bring out

your inner child). It is a great chance to share this experience with all your friends and makes for a wonderful end to the year.

Some international students shared their thoughts and experiences of being a Muslim student living

I recently returned to this country to study my PhD course at Loughborough University. What I liked most about the Islamic society before coming here was the fast communication through Facebook and emails with one of the sisters. Being introduced to a female student was great because it meant that I could speak with her freely, and its a comforting thought to know you have a friend in a unknown city. I also liked the society’s website which had info on where to find halal food!”

” ”

Towards the beginning of term I used to go to London a lot during the weekends to visit my friends and family from back home (Jeddah) as I didn’t know many people at university. But, when I became an ISoc member, I immediately felt like part of a loving family and I began to enjoy my weekends here a lot more. The ISoc made me feel as though I had a piece of home with me

In the past, the ISoc has organised picnics in local parks, trips to nearby cities and many other evenings out. Being part of the ISoc helps you to enjoy university life to the fullest and experience memorable moments with friends you will cherish for life. As part of Islam Awareness week, the ISoc organises famous speakers to deliver lectures and seminars. These events are unmissable and being in attendance is a great way to maintain your connection with the Almighty. Allah says in the Holy Quran: ‘So remember Me; I will remember you’ (2:152).

The beauty of Islam is that one feels an instant connection with fellow Muslims, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Albeit not the largest, the Muslim community at Loughborough includes brothers and sisters from many different parts of the world. So, take advantage of your ISoc, widen your horizons and make connections with Muslims from all over the world!

Muslim Life in Loughborough AISHA GARA




ABOUT US Loughborough Students Islamic Society is a student led organisation and the Islamic representative body for Muslims across Loughborough campus. We strive to be an exemplary and unified organisation to promote the Islamic way of life as taught by the Quran and Sunnah, and as practised and understood by the Prophet’s (May peace be upon him) companions. We provide the leadership and services so that faith can be established, communities can be transformed and the goodness and purity of Islam can be shared with all.”


Maintenance of prayer spaces across campus Deliver Jummah and Eid Prayers Host events such as exhibitions, lectures, workshops and seminars Dawah efforts and volunteering work across campus and within the local community. Sporting, social events and trips Offer pastoral service and help for students in need of support.

OUR AIMS: Empower the Muslim’s upon campus by providing them a platform to air their views. Establish an environment that fosters a sense of community and belonging. Offer opportunities for all to further their understanding of Islam through education initiatives. Promote a true understanding of Islam and Muslims throughout campus.

EDWARD HERBERT BUILDING: Located in the heart of the university campus, the Edward Herbert Building (EHB) is central to the activities of the Islamic Society and is perhaps the most frequented of all campus buildings by Muslim students. Home to the Centre of Faith of Spirituality, the facility offers space for prayer and reflection within our own purpose built Muslim prayer room located on the second floor, which is also fitted with an ablution area. Our prayer room holds a large collection of Islamic literature that provides one the opportunity to further their Islamic learning and share knowledge in the company of . Just as importantly, weekly Jummah and bi-annual Eid prayers are offered within EHB Quorn Hall, located upon the first which provides the space to accommodate the large number of congregants from the campus community. With plenty of amenities including a convenience store and a large seating area located at the atrium of EHB, this building offers a comfortable and relaxing environment which has come to attract students from all across campus. See the map on the inside of the back cover for the location.

As an international student, it was my first Ramadan away from home (Oman). Being away from the familiar environment, its climate, culture and above all, my close relatives and friends left me with feelings of apprehension and unease. Moreover, as the month of Ramadan drew closer, it soon became apparent that the duration of sunlight hours was increasing day by day and what was due to come were longest fasting hours that I had never encountered. These worries soon developed into doubts, where I even questioned whether I had the character to accomplish the struggles and challenges that lay ahead.


Being Muslim & University Life

Rather than be subdued by these doubts, I told myself that preparation and planning was absolutely necessary to ensure that a highly productive and beneficial month would result in both an enhancement of Eeman (faith) and my study commitments. My philosophy was quite simple, a failure to plan would result in a plan that fails. So I immediately enrolled myself onto a Ramadan preparation course, delivered at the local Islamic Centre. To further my preparation, I filled every spare moment of my time by viewing numerous motivational Islamic lectures uploaded on Youtube. All of which proved to be extremely helpful, not only did they offer shorts bouts of inspiration but the

additional tips outlined were indispensable. Soon those previous feelings of anxiety began to ease which highlights the effectiveness of planning ahead for all those embarking upon this magnificent spiritual journey.

Quran recitation competition together with a group of sisters and a number of the local children, which was thoroughly enjoyed and also encouraged all to practice their recitation as well as learning additional chapters of the Quran.

Just before the arrival of Ramadhan, an email was sent from the Islamic Society (ISoc) encouraging all from the Loughborough campus and community to donate towards an Iftar project. This was delightful news, as the ISoc along with a local Islamic Centre were offering to host as well as prepare a meal for all those who were fasting, which benefited all. Not only did this service alleviate the hassle of having to prepare one’s own meal for the day, which may potentially detract from time spent in worship. But just as importantly, a highly nutritious meal made up of appetising curries, mouth drooling rice dishes and crisp fresh salads provided all the sustenance needed to replenish ones depleted energy stores for another day of fasting and studying.

Particular attention was also focused towards attempting to pray as often as possible in congregation. We even arranged between ourselves to spend an entire night within the prayer room which involved; the recitation of Quran, prayers, short talks and intermittent refreshment breaks which formed the main structure of the evening. The evening was a resounding success, and what was most memorable was the interaction between all sisters, who shared experiences, thoughts, opinions and advice, all of which I would carry with me throughout the rest of the 11 months of the year.

After the first couple of days of fasting, I became extremely amazed that the little consumption of food was still sufficient to fuel a busy day. Now, I truly began to appreciate the concept of moderation. We often forget that eating beyond the point of satisfying our hunger is indulgent, unnecessary and simply excessive. The profound effects of fasting deprived my sensual appetites, which could lead to the stimulation of lusts and temptations, all that which weakens the soul and one’s spirit. For those who understood the essence of this month the voluntary denial of sustenance took a higher and nobler dimension, it curbed any hint of gluttony and disciplined the soul to become strong and virtuous. A stand out moment of Ramadan was witnessing the amazing sight and remarkable strength of the Loughborough community. Local providers, organisations and the ISoc established a network of support to provide iftar every day for the entire month. As a foreign student, this atmosphere of togetherness experienced year from year at home was something I thought would be absent. However, I was proved wrong. The solidarity between all the brothers and sisters, students and staffs all from different ethnic and socio-economic background was immense. All were united as we prayed, endured the pangs of hunger and ended the day by breaking our fasts together. The kindness, generosity, and sincere love for one another brought about more than just a sense belonging, but it seemed that all those within Loughborough became a large family to one another. When entering the last 10 days of Ramadan, everyone made an effort to exert themselves and maximise every moment possible in worship. During this period the ISoc hosted a

The closing of Ramadan and the arrival of Eid was bitter sweet. Bitter in the sense that after much longing, we were to be separated from this blessed month, yet it was accompanied by sweetness, as the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr allowed all to celebrate the previous month’s accomplishments. This momentous occasion is a day many associate with joy and smiling faces, and Eid celebrations on Loughborough campus was no exception. Shortly after Eid prayer a breakfast was served within prayer room, where

delightful treats and refreshments were available along with fantastic company from all present. Overall, the rejuvenation of my faith, my love for time spent in worship and time spent in the company of righteous and supportive friends shall continue to carry me forward from Ramadan. Never had I imagined that I would experience a Ramadan as such. The services offered by the ISoc and others is something that is highly appreciated by all and I pray that this continues for years to come so that others like myself can experience the many benefits there are to achieve. O Allah, we implore your extended mercy, accept our prayers, our fasting, our standing in worship, our bowing and our prostration and forgive us for our misdeeds and divest from us our faults. A Student’s Ramadhan Diary SIHAM ALHINAI

In every person’s life, there comes a juncture where they begin to think about the kind of life they are living and the kind of life they want to lead, as well as the purpose behind this life. In modern times, this phase tends to coincide with the few years one spends at university. With newfound independence and faced with a multitude of unfamiliar and exotic lifestyles, it is very easy for one to lose sight of who they are. Navigating this new environment while staying true to ones convictions requires deep thought and introspection.

foundations on which their convictions have been built, a process that could cause the foundations to crumble or to be reinforced. In the latter case, this facilitates the individual to forge an identity that incorporates their previously held values into the new surroundings they are living in. When searching for purpose, one need look no further than the ultimate source of guidance bestowed upon us by Allah.

‘And I did not create Humans and Jinn, except to worship me’ Some shy away from this difficult process and instead choose to assimilate themselves into one of the lifestyles they come across; discarding all that they were, for what those around The word translated as worship is A’budu, for which the root them want them to be. Then there are those who reflect on the A’bada (Ain-Ba-Dal) has two implicit meanings. One of them is


Spirituality and Philosophy

A’abid (worshipper). The other is A’bd, or slave of Allah. Now while being a worshipper is a temporary state, limited to the time we spend in prayer/fast/remembrance, the concept of becoming a slave implies a permanent state. A slave is not just a slave at certain times, rather his bondage extends to every waking moment of his life. However in order to curb the influence faith has in our lives, we tend to limit the meaning to A’abid. One may be attentive to their prayers and other rituals, but faith is left behind at the Mosque as one goes to attend to the rest of the worldly affairs. This is not what Allah wants from us, as we can see from the implicit meaning A’bd. The concept of slavery is to have your entire life owned by another, every

single action you undertake is accountable to the master. So there can be no sphere of life where we are not accountable to Allah be it business, studies or interactions with people etc. His teachings must pervade into all of these facets of our life. Since the mention of Slavery holds many negative connotations, we must realise that slavery towards Allah is understood differently. Allah’s defining characteristic in relation to us is Al-Rahman, derived from the root Rahama (Ra, Ha, Meem) from which the word Rahmi or ‘Womb’ also stems. The protection and nourishment the fetus receives in the womb mirrors our relationship with Allah, The Essence of Ibadah and University Life EASA SAAD

our very existence is a sign of Allah’s mercy. We owe our very existence to Allah, yet still He asks from us a Qard Hasanah (a goodly loan) Quran 2:245. We are the ones who come into the world with a debt, as Allah says in Surah Al Asr: ‘Verily Mankind is in a loss’

This hadith teaches us that the life of believer must be one of struggle and hard work, be it in spreading the word of God, studying or making an honest living. Through studying we realise our potential, expand our horizons and make ourselves valuable contributors to the society around us. Allah says: ‘And that there is nothing for man except what he strives for’

This is the debt of creation owed to our Lord; yet Allah does not speak of repayment of a debt, but of a loan that he promises to multiply for us! What this state of A’bd really signifies is a state of perennial humility and subservience to our Lord and His teachings. A state that ensures fairness in our dealings, compassion in our relationships, kindness in our interactions and sincerity in our efforts. Our lives can be viewed as a ‘Qard Hasanah’ (goodly loan), offered up to our Lord in the hope, no, the certainty of a repayment many times over. It is through this lens that we must strive to view our existence, including our time spent at university.

Certainly we must strive in our worship of Allah and adherence to His commandments, but equally we must strive to educate ourselves in order to gain the knowledge and tools to engage with the society around us in a meaningful way; setting ourselves up to be valuable people to our family, society and most importantly to Allah. To conclude, I have discussed the term ‘Ibadah’ its connotations and how they can apply to university life. We really do not spend enough time reflecting on these simple concepts Allah continuously teaches us in the Quran. That is why we fail to comprehend the deep meanings hidden beneath the surface, that can resolve so many issues and questions that we have. The Quran is an ocean of wisdom, yet most of our attempts to engage with it are akin to dipping in our toes. It is only once we submerge ourselves and explore this ocean, that we will start to discover the real benefits of this incredible book. There are teachings inherent that can be applied to any possible situation that we may experience, solutions for every problem. At a time when the guidance and love of your family may seem distant , turn to the guidance and love from the one who is Al-Hadi (The Guide) and Al-Wadud (The loving One), by reflecting on the Book He sent down.

First and foremost each and every one of us is responsible for the conveyance of what Allah has taught to us through the Quran. The best method for this is through example. Every single person that you meet at university is a new trust that Allah has accorded you with. Fresher’s week in particular, when one is exposed to such a vast number of new people; is a prime opportunity to display the beauty of the Islamic character to others. As the other freshers stagger drunk into the depths of murky nightclubs looking for purpose, be the example of one who is already aware of his purpose and convey it to others with humility and compassion. Throughout your time at university you will come across a wide variety of “[This is] a blessed Book which We have revealed to you, that they people, with vastly different opinions and lifestyles. Be might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would knowledgeable about the path you have chosen, ensure it has be reminded” rational foundations and embody the magnanimity of character it teaches us. In this way even the simple of interactions with others will be a service to your Lord. This is the spirit of As this Ayah says, once you are amongst those who reflect, Dawah; ‘living’ Islam and teaching its message through you will be reminded. Reminded of your purpose, and how you can fulfill it. practical actions. Let us not think that our main purpose for being at university falls outside of the religious sphere either. Some people often use religion as an excuse for not working hard at their degree, statement such as “What’s the point, this is all for Dunya anyways!” or “Deen is more important than studies” become a shield against criticism regarding poor work ethic. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported to have said:

‘The Mu’min (believer) dies with sweat on his brow’


Spirituality and Philosophy

We are about to travel through time, beginning from the 5th century AD following the fall of the Roman Empire. This period is now commonly known as the “Dark Ages.” A term of which has been used to characterise the state of humanity within this era of history. During this period, European civilisation suffered from unfortunate deterioration that eventually led to the spread of poverty, diseases, plagues, ignorance, and myths. This raises the question that we are aiming to tackle within this article; Was the rest of human kind actually living in darkness during the so called dark ages? Or did this era have a brighter side that was unfairly ignored?

Many of us are unaware that whilst Europe was steeped within darkness, where illiteracy, ignorance and immorality were all rife, the bright light of science and morals shined through the Islamic civilisation, spreading from parts of Asia in the east to the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) in the west. Thus, naming this period of history as the “Dark Ages” is as misleading as it is erroneous, since it ignores the fact that at the same time the Islamic civilisation was enjoying its “Golden Age”, lighting the road for humanity towards modern civilisation as we know it today.

Science in a Golden Age KHALED ELGENEIDY

Expansion under the Prophet Mohammad, 622-632 Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632-661 Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661-750

The contribution of the Muslim civilisation to humanity was clearly evident in the intense translation activity that occurred in Andalusia (southern region of Spain), involving the translation of tons of scientific texts from Arabic to Latin, which in turn was later translated to English to be adopted in many European universities for centuries to come. One famous example for this is the book called “The Cannon of Medicine” compiled by the Muslim scientist “Ibn Sina”, which contained all the medical knowledge known at that period of time. The book remained to be the main medical textbook in universities across Europe until the 18th century! Our journey to explore the beauty of the Golden age is about to unfold, we will attempt to shed some light on some of the great scientific breakthroughs made by Muslim scientists during this fascinating era, through this series of articles. Hoping that such articles will raise the interest of the readers to learn more about this forgotten civilisation and acknowledge the work of its scientists that has long been overlooked.

The Cannon of Medicine

At the time scientists in Europe were struggling to present their work in an environment that considered science to contradict with religion, Muslim scientists were laying the foundations of sciences that gave rise to numerous inventions that we still use today. The highlights and achievements of only three, amongst many, of these Muslims are explained


Islamic History

below. Muhammad Al-Khawarizmi (780 - 850 CE), the founder of the branch of mathematics now known as “Algebra”, which is actually derived from the Arabic word “Al-Jabr”! In his books AlKhawarizmi developed several arithmetic operations, including operations on fractions, with the aim of systematically solving practical problems which Muslims Front cover of Alencountered in their daily life. bucasis (Abu Al-Qasim These books were adopted in Al-Zahrawi): Renowned European universities up until the Muslim Surgeon of the 17th century. Using the operations Tenth Century by Fred he devised, he was the first to Ramen (Rosen Central, solve linear and quadratic 2005) equations, which we widely encounter nowadays at least during our Maths classes in schools. In addition, he explained the use of the “zero” for the first time in mathematics and developed the decimal system. The applications of Al-Khawarizmi’s work in our daily life are endless! As he actually laid the foundations of the digital world we live in today, which relies on the use of algorithms in applications ranging from simple pocket calculators to sophisticated computerised equipment. In fact, the word “algorithm” itself is named after him, so it is worth remembering his contributions whenever we encounter anything that involves the use of algorithms.

Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi (936–1013 CE), known as the father of modern surgery, he was not only a knowledgeable medical scholar, but also a great practicing physician and surgeon performing operations that were never attempted

before. He documented almost fifty years of his experience in his famous thirty-volume encyclopaedia of surgery, called “Al -Tasrif”, which after translation remained to be the standard reference for medical students allover Europe for more than five hundered years! In his book, Al-Zahrawi classified 325

Artistic scene of Al-Zahrawi treating a patient while students look on

diseases, analysisng their syptoms, and describing their treatments. In addition, he was the first in medical history to describe a haemorrhagic disease transmitted by women to their children during pregnancy, which we call today “haemophilia”. Moreover, the most famous volume of his fascinating encyclopedia is book 30 on surgery, which was referred to by almost all european authors of surgical textbooks. It was the first book of such size (300 pages) dedicated only to the field of surgery, which at that time also included dermatology and dentistry. The book contained pictures of surgical intruments that have been developed and used by Al-Zahrawi for the first time in histroy, with illustrations and descriptions of their use in actual surgical procedures. Amazingly, many of these tools and practices are still being adopted at the hands of surgens today to save the lives of millions of patients, thanks to the efforts of Al-Zahrawi in establishing the foundations of modern surgery. Al Hassan Ibn Al-Haytham (965 – 1040 CE), known as the father of modern optics, who not only explained the nature of light and vision, but also is credited for laying the foundations of the scientific method using experiments designed to test hypothesises.

Before Ibn Al-Haytham, people used to believe that we see objects because light is emitted from them! However in his famous book “Kitab al-Manazir” (The Book of Optics), he refuted these prevailing misconception through his own experimentation, and proposed a hypothesis arguing that "vision is accomplished by rays coming from external objects and entering the visual organ". In addition, he wrote nearly 200 books explaining his remarkable findings in topics such as dispersion of light, visual contrast, role of the eye movement in perception, the formation of the inverted image in the back of the eye, and many other breakthroughs that inspired the work of many other scientists for decades! Even more interestingly, he developed the very first model for what we now know as a camera. At his time it was a dark room with a hole on one side, projecting an inverted image of the outside on the opposite side of the room. He called this new invention “Qomra” (dark room in Arabic), which after translations became known now as the “Camera”! So the next time you take a photo with your camera, remember that it was thanks to the findings of Ibn Al -Haytham that we are able now to record the precious

An illustration of Camera Obscura

moments of our lives. In the end, when we discuss our heritage and admire our previous civilisation, the aim is certainly not to just to boast about a history that contradicts with our reality now, but rather encourage us to work towards a similarly bright future. This will never be achieved unless each individual Muslim bears the responsibility of excelling in all fields of life as instructed by Islamic teachings, not for personal glory but for the rebirth of a new Golden Age for our Muslim Ummah.

An artist’s impression of al-Hassan ibn al-Haytham

Science in a Golden Age KHALED ELGENEIDY

The early 1940’s, the young disenfranchised man, arising from the rustic landscape of the Mid-West, with his legs too long for his trousers, would take his first subway trip from Boston, accidentally landing at Cambridge MA, the home of Harvard University. Some twenty years later, the black leader would return, intentionally, standing before the Harvard Law School Forum, presenting his views on the problems and solutions to the American Negro. I don’t come here tonight to speak to you as a Democrat or a Republican or an American or anything that you want me to be. I’m speaking as what I am: one of twenty-two million black people in this country who are victims of your democratic system.


Islamic Personalities

And there truly is no better way to describe Malcolm X, he was who he was. No camouflage, no cover up, unlike the many modern-day self-named activists and politicians today, such as those in the Quilliam think tank, who fall deep into the trap of appeasement claiming to implant goodness into society whilst they only implant evil into themselves. Malcolm X’s youth would shape his life as one of modern history’s most influential figures when it comes to civil and human rights. As a teen he would admire the “conk”, a hairstyle that straightened afro hair. He thought nothing of it, but the future activist’s act was simply reflected a desperate need for self-worth that one thought could only be

achieved through the oppressors’ eyes. This is just one form of 20th Century slavery, by which its emancipation is still out of sight. So what is the problem in today’s society, you may ask? Well, this can be answered by the testimony of the 816 reported victims of Islamophobic attacks in London alone in the past year, a 70% increase from the year before, or even worse, the language and narratives that the media uses fuels these hate crimes, as reported by Russia Today. It is the attitudes of the population, more than their actions, which threatens Muslims today. Islamism, Jihadist, Islamic Extremist are terms widely used to collectively demonise Muslims. They make “the criminal look like he's the victim and make the victim look like he's the criminal”, an accurate warning about the press by activist, Malcolm X. Oppression on a societal level is inwardly subtle. Once you change one’s state of mind, you change their state of being. And once you change their state of being the doors of injustice are opened into a new world where the right becomes the wrong and the wrong becomes the right. It was the perspective that his people carried, which would determine the success of Malcolm X’s revolution, and these ambitions stood higher than mere political goals. For he understood that “we cannot think of uniting with others, until after we have first united among ourselves”. Unity emanates from freedom and freedom starts with the breaking out of the mental shackles that placed us in a position that tricked us into believing that somehow we are the problem – that it is we who are in need of dire reform, solely intending to cement the hearts of the oppressed people with animosity for each other while disuniting them eternally. And when we do speak out about bringing in change, the government calls up the modern-day Uncle Tom. In David Cameron’s 2015 anti-terrorism speech, he mentions “there are a huge number of Muslims in our country who have a proper claim to represent liberal values… including Labour MPs here in Birmingham – so do consider giving them the platform they deserve”. Although some politicians (I’m speaking about those sympathetic towards the condition of the Western Muslim) bring much benefit to the Muslim community and they should be admired and supported, however to place someone who has turned his back on his own people, exchanging the disapproval of his master for the pomp and glory of this world, to be a representative of his people, as the media has been working hard doing, is only creating more divisions within the Muslim community, drive us further back in the road to unity. Today we are conditioned to accustom ourselves and govern our daily lives, exclusively, around the equivocal essence of

British values. Anyone that tries to challenge this ideology, in a similar fashion like Malcolm X used to do – challenge governmental ideologies, is deemed an extremist. The New York Times even labelled him a “bearded extremist” the day after he was killed. Though it is the protest, and it has always been the protest, of the ideals of the public that have created reform in society, despite the threat of the opposition. The labels that the media stuck on Malcolm X, and still stick on activists today, are simply a means to detour the consciousness of the masses past open-mindedness and sound reason, landing them on a plane of ignorance with open hatred. Malcolm X, similar to current-day activist organisations like CAGE, was despised for his bitter blend of truthfulness and eloquence; his unwillingness to tow the governmental line when it came to speaking and addressing societal affairs. However the ongoing discrimination had only this only strengthen the conviction in his beliefs: “I have been more reassured each time the white man resisted me, or attacked me harder-because each time made me more certain that I was on the right track.” In particular, this is the attitude that any ambassador of justice or leader of an oppressed people should uphold today. Muslim activists must adopt a similar attitude, seeing a win-win situation in all outcomes that result from sincere actions. We therefore find, in Malcolm X’s final published piece of writing, the genuineness in his mission: “I know that societies often have killed the people

who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America-then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.” I am confident that activists from CAGE suit the above criteria, though one may argue that it is also their status, amongst the people they claim to represent, which limits their advancements in activism. Well, by all means Malcolm X excelled in status, but it didn’t arise out of nowhere – take the symbolism behind his genealogy for example. His maternal grandmother was raped, by a Scottish man. His mother was so ashamed to carry the scar of her mother’s rape (her light skin) that she married the darkest man she could find just to get the ‘white’ out of her progeny. His hair proclaimed a reddish tinge throughout his whole life, hence being nicknamed ‘Red’ in his youth, a symbolic mark of oppression that he would act as a weapon in his mission. He was respected by his people because he was from his people. He was quite literally a victim of his enemy before he was even born. Malcolm X AWAB ELNIEL

However this should not cause such activists to fall into despair for they share a trait with Malcolm X that would prove sufficient in their mission: Islam. The true success of Malcolm X’s mission is evident from the attitudes he gained and left behind after his Hajj Pilgrimage, the ‘set in stone’ between The Nation of Islam and the true, Orthodox form. "Perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man.” Islam, including the practices and beliefs of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), alone, is sufficient in ridding the financial, racial, religious, gender or political inequalities in 2015 as it had done in 632.

Zakat: A charitable contribution Ne'am (singular: ne'mah/ neimah): Gifts from Allah We are all here to worship God, are we not? We pray, we fast, and we perform good deeds that will hopefully grant us a place in Jannah insha'Allah. Therefore, it is good to focus on ourselves and our spiritual development. However, we must not forget that sometimes, our spiritual development is linked to other people. This means that we are also required to be dutiful towards others. In this case, we must always remember that giving is a two-way street; by performing a good deed for the benefit of someone else, you are not only servicing that person but also yourself.

20 Islam in Society

Whether we are portrayed as enemies, threats to society or even as friends, it is crucial that we neither overlook nor allow ourselves to be satisfied with the sickness of society’s heart, by which all forms of injustices root from. It is for this reason that we should study modern examples like Malcolm X’s for his legacy reflects an exemplar standard whereby if modern day Muslims were to acquire, would perhaps bring us closer to resolving the same issues we face today as Malcolm X died trying to resolve 50 years ago.

We are blessed with much more than we think, whether that may be our health, our wealth, as well as our friends and family. But we forget that our talents and hobbies are blessings too, and that we should help others and fill a void in our community through our own activism.

There are plenty of unconventional ways to help and give back to the community, and the secret is in the 'niyyah'. If the intention is there and pure, then you shall be rewarded, God willing. There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from performing these good deeds. It is a form of cleansing, and we should take advantage of it as much as possible. For instance, a man in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has installed a fridge outside his house so that people in the neighbourhood can

stock it with leftover food for the homeless to use, and save them the embarrassment of having to beg. Simple idea, unimaginable results.

Another idea involves a mobile shower bus. Lava Mae is a business founded by citizens in San Francisco developing a concept which involved providing access to sanitary care. This involved renting four buses which were retrofitted with showers, sinks, a changing area, a hairdryer and a toilet, serving two people at once. The reason behind using mobile buses for this project was to maximise the amount of its use and reach as many homeless people scattered around the city as possible. As well as this Lava Mae minimised the cost of running, as using a bus would avoid paying rent, ensuring the longevity of such a project. The initiative’s slogan reads as follows: “With hygiene comes dignity, with dignity, opportunity.”

The Lava Mae Logo

These projects have no restrictions; any ordinary individual can start a volunteer project and act towards making their community a better place. There is no age limit. To prove that, allow me to introduce to you a group of elderly retired volunteers in California. They have dedicated their time to farming crops and planting vegetables to pass onto volunteer chefs, who then proceed to cook them for the homeless in that area. In a time where selfishness pervades, these seniors are preparing roughly 900 meals a day out of the goodness of their hearts without asking for anything in return.

There is an important lesson to learn from these examples; that is your contribution matters. Putting someone else's happiness ahead of yours can make all the difference, thereby enabling both benevolence and excellence continually spread. And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction.






I was in the middle of a discussion with a Muslim colleague when the word Feminism came up. I –unthinking of the consequencestalked about my devotion for the feminist cause. There was a long, awkward pause. Then he finally plucked up the courage to ask why I was associating myself with being a feminist. “What’s the need for it? Isn’t being a Muslim enough?” he questioned. I pondered over this question for a while. On one hand he was right; Islam has always been sold as an ideology and complete way of life. What then is the need for another ideology? However, after comparing early Islam to the Islam practiced in Muslim countries now, I realised that the answer was more complex.

First wave feminism swept the British nation in the late 1800s, invoking armies of suffragettes who fought for legal equality. Little did they know that over a thousand years ago, in 610, in a country far from the western civilisation, a man had already proclaimed a religion that ensured women’s sexual, reproductive and economical rights. Second wave feminism rose from the ashes of the burnt out suffragettes in the 20th century, promising an eradication of cultural and social inequalities that women faced in the western world. Little did they know that, once again, Islam had beaten them to the punch by establishing the revolutionary idea that women are not just born to be mothers. There are many freedoms Islam has given to women; their right to

22 Opinion

education, their right to be respected, to own property, to divorce, to receive welfare and to have a career. And women have taken full advantage of this throughout the years; from Fatima Al Fihri in 859 opening the first known university, to Shah Bano fighting for her right to alimony after her divorce, this article could cite many more examples of females taking full advantage of the rights Islam gave them. All this points to a rather strange conclusion; that, contrary to the misconceptions the western world have about the ‘barbaric’ East, the Eastern, Sharia-compliant world was thriving and modern. In fact, it took the West over a thousand years to catch up. It also gave the East a thousand years to corrupt these laws to suit a capitalist regime, leaving the once prosperous countries now rife with oppression and struggle.

The fact of the matter is that the Islam described above does not exist anymore. We cannot try to convince non-Muslims of an Islam that no longer exists in its majority. Now, in these once sharia- compliant parts, news of child brides, female genital mutilation, banning female education and oppression of women is a common story to tell. It is then not illogical of the media to link Islam to these acts of misogyny. In fact, in some countries, Islam is used as a way of enforcing this oppression. So how did such a modern, tolerant religion become a symbol of misogyny? The answer is that Islam is not what it once was. Although the religion is diverse enough to accept cultures and traditions, under the various regimes it has been subjected to over the years, Islam has now become a symbol of misogyny where once it was an inherently feminist religion. People have taken advantage of this tolerance and have enforced a sexist culture in the name of religion. The cultural expectations and subsequent distortion of what is meant to be Sharia Law inhibits females. Contrary to what is believed, there are in fact no totally Sharia compliant countries any more in this day and age. The Islamic law has been bent to suit the cultural and political agenda. A prime example of this is Saudi Arabia; this country appears in the media almost daily for its continued oppression of women. From the banning of female drivers, to the cultural enforcing of the Niqaab, Saudi continues to prove to Muslims around the world that it no longer is compliant with Sharia.

different version of Islam. Islam suffers in the eyes of the West because of this. Muslims of this age no longer remember a tolerant Islam. When my esteemed colleague raised his question I realised that whilst I had been focusing my energies on showing non-Muslims that the original Islam is inherently feminist; I failed to see that Muslims are in need of the same education. Perhaps it is because they do not see that feminists have fought for the same things they did. Islam and Feminism are NOT at odds. Just like Islam, feminism has been given a bad name in the press. The word feminist comes up with all sorts of negative connotations. From being accused of inciting hatred towards men, to spreading their matriarchal agenda, feminists have not come away from the media unscathed. It is a sad state of affairs when young Muslims who are facing the anger of the public through the media because of their religion, will, with the same brush, tarnish the name of feminism. Perhaps Muslims may have been mistaken into believe that in order to agree with feminism they must agree with all its goals. Feminism can mean different things to different people, and therefore, just like Islam, it represents a diverse range of groups and thus it would be unfair to deem feminism as been completely contrary to Islam. At last my colleague’s question can be answered. Now being a ‘Muslim’ isn’t enough; not when it is Muslims that are oppressing women, either by committing the acts themselves, or by staying silent and watching it unfold. Being Muslim is not enough when there are feminist groups fighting for the equality that ‘Islamic’ countries have deprived women of. When Muslims start to actively oppose misogynistic cultural practices, when Islam becomes what it once was, then perhaps being ‘Muslim’ will be enough. Until then, they need now to at least acknowledge feminism. Islam and feminism are not at odds.

When they see the freedoms bestowed on western women, coupled with the media’s continued disapproving gaze on supposedly Islamic practices, it is no wonder then that Muslims flee from this totalitarian system. Suddenly a non-conformist, more liberal Islam comes into play; it lines itself up with western views of sexuality and ‘liberation’ that unfortunately directly contradict the Quran and Hadiths. Muslims are living between the ends of two extremes and as such are failing to understand that Islam, far from being a fundamentalist regime, was bought about as an ideology and a way of life. Unfortunately, this is no longer practiced in the majority and many Muslims are living under an elitist, fundamentalist movement that brooks no changes that could harm its political agenda. Some Muslims over compensate for the mistakes of Middle Eastern regimes by coming up with a totally

Islam & Feminism LEENA PALA

Dear student, Welcome to Loughborough University, your second home for the next few years! We do not know each other but I am hoping to enlighten you about your own self and what is to become of your eating habits over the next few years of your time at university. It is almost an inevitable student custom, when moving away from home and assuming responsibility for the purchasing and preparation of food for the first time, that your dietary habits change‌ more so for the worst. Allow me to explain.


Islamic Lifestyle

It is no secret that University life offers many temptations, and believe me when I say, food will be one of them. Over time you may notice a decrease in your weekly consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables due to more reasons than just one. Not only will fresh, wholesome food become a once in a while treat for your body, but you will placate yourself by justifying the lack of it by blaming your busy student schedule‌ even though purchasing a granola bar between lectures is just as time consuming as picking up a bar of chocolate or packet of crisp.

Either this or a tight weekly budget will be the reason for unhealthy meal choices. Many believe that healthy eating is more damaging to the wallet than a quick stop at a fastfood joint. However, I am here to tell you that this is no more than a pacifying excuse used by people who want to eat deep fried meals as often as possible. A successful weekly shop at the supermarket will feed you many meals and will save you money in the long run. Why not try the outdoor fruit and vegetable market, which stands every Thursday in Loughborough town centre, to buy fresh goods for cheaper prices? And whilst you’re at it, take your friends along with you! More than the reasons mentioned above, the most encouraging of all will be the distance between you and your parents. That’s right. The lack of parental supervision over your diet will cause you to give into your desires of unhealthy snacks and food quicker than what is usually normal. You may have been upset when waving goodbye to your parents before the start of term, but the absence of their watchful gaze over your eating habits will become your biggest freedom. And though, your conscience may cause you to feel guilty when dialling the local take away fourth consecutive day in a row, nothing will stop you from making that call. Ok, all jokes aside, many if not all students experience an all time low of healthy eating when they join university. And if you are hearing of this student tradition for the first time you might even be in denial and think “that will never be me”. Well. Let us wait till your first set of exams. When the pressure is high, you’ve left revision too late or your coursework is due in less than 24 hours, this is when you will be most inclined to order your dinner rather than cook it yourself. Ironically, according to much scientific research, exam period is when your body needs healthy nutrients from wholesome foods the most, in order to maintain high energy levels. But according to my own research, the average student is most likely to do the exact opposite and self inflict bad memory retention by eating foods which slow down brain function. It is easy to fall into an abyss of salt, sugar and fats if you are not careful. Buying ready meals feels like the simpler solution but in the long run it is damaging to the body, more so than you think. Many of us can’t imagine where we will be in 20 years time and neither can we imagine the toll our diet choices will take over our body 10 years on from now. And just as important as it is to watch what you are eating, also keep an eye on how much. In today’s day it would be unrealistic and bad advice to tell you to never eat an unhealthy meal ever again because naturally your body will crave it. And denying your body’s natural crave can

lead to binge eating later on. So eat as you desire but eat, as Islam teaches us, in moderation. As with anything else, following the guidelines of Islam will allow for the perfect balance. Our health and bodies have been described as an Amanah (trust) from Allah, and it is a requirement upon us to maintain both. And what better way to do this than to learn from the sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him), who instructed to fill one third of your stomach with food, one third with water and leave one third for air i.e. empty. As well as this, this article cannot stress the importance of eating halal enough. Being away from home, especially if you are an international student, the idea of finding halal in a non-Muslim country may be daunting but where there is a will there is a way (I advise you to speak with fellow Isoc members and get advice on best places to shop). To wrap up, healthy eating at university isn’t as difficult as it seems. You’d be surprised but a bit of self discipline and you will not be one of the take-away attackers. To make the right choice is to make the better choice. So before you indulge in sugary and salty foods to fuel your study sessions this year at university, just stop. And think. Eat halal, eat healthy, eat well.

Spicy Omelette Ingredients: 2 eggs Half a small onion- chopped One smalltomato- chopped Coriander- finely chopped One green chilli – finely chopped (only for the brave) Salt and pepper to taste Method: 1.

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl (For extra taste squeeze the chopped onion and coriander to extract some of its juice before adding in all other ingredients)


Cook on medium heat in a pan with some olive oil, flip once to evenly cook both sides

The Student Diet SARA LAHAWARE

Chicken Alfredo:

Grilled Fish & Roast Veg:



Pasta or spaghetti of your choice 1 chicken breast fillet cut into small cubes 3 cloves of garlic- crushed Green vegetables of your choice (broccoli & spinach work well) Double cream Salt and pepper to taste Method:

Fish fillets Vegetables of your choice- sliced or diced (i.e. carrots, peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes) 1 or 2 cloves of crushed garlic Lemon Salt and pepper to taste Method: 1.

Place all cut vegetables in a baking tray/dish, drizzle with olive oil and add enough salt and pepper to taste (for extra taste throw in a knob of butter) and mix

In a separate pan heat some olive oil and fry chicken cubes on medium heat, adding in the crushed garlic and vegetables of your choice


In a separate plate coat fish fillet with garlic, salt and pepper along with some lemon to suit your taste and gently rub on


Once chicken has cooked and vegetables have softened, add in your boiled pasta or spaghetti


Place fish in the same baking tray as your vegetables and place in oven to cook on medium to high heat


Pour in enough double cream to coat the entire mixture


Cook for around 15/20 minutes or until fish has thoroughly cooked.


Season to taste and let simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes.


Boil spaghetti or pasta in a pot with a pinch of salt until fully cooked



Islamic Lifestyle

Ascent Magazine Autumn 2015 Issue1  

A publication of the Loughborough Students Union Islamic Society

Ascent Magazine Autumn 2015 Issue1  

A publication of the Loughborough Students Union Islamic Society