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‫مجلة المسلمات الجميالت الملتزمات‬

magazine

The global magazine for Muslim women May2010

٠٢٠٢ ‫مايو‬

Jumada al-Thani 1431

٠٣٤٠ ‫ماين الااىية‬

The Prophet (SAW) said, “He who is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully”.

Narrated Jarir bin 'Abdullah; Volume 8; Book 73; Number 42

Volume I Issue X

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CONTENTS May 2010 Editor's Letter …………………………….…………….Pages 4-5 Islamic words explained for the Non Muslim……………....Page 6 A little R&R: Roles and Relationships ..………...……....Page 8-11 Mother Goose ……………………………………....Pages 9-11 Recess Kids: Hakim and Leila-Remembering Allah…….....Page 12 Recess Kids: Garden of Knowledge……………..……….Page 13 Habibi Halaqas ……...………………………...……Pages 14-15 The Significance of Qur‘an in Arabic.………….….....Pages 16-19 Why Don‘t the Youth Listen to me? …………..…….Pages 20-23 Shaking Hands with the Opposite Gender……….... Pages 24-27

© Copyright Modest Beautiful Muslima Magazine 2009-2010. Reproduction or redistribution of anything from MBM requires proper credit to be given.

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CONTENTS May 2010

L‘activisme Islamique Grandissant (La Da‘wah)……..Pages 28-29 Interview with Sally Steenland from CAPS………..…Pages 30-33 Catching up with Muslimas Oasis…………..………...Pages 34-37 How I Came to Islam …………………...………...…Pages 40-46 Wings that Fray………………………...…………...Pages 48-57 Muslima on a Mission ………………..….…………. Pages 58-59 Interview with Productive Muslim………………….....Pages 60-63 Interview with Digital Dhikr………………………….Pages 64-66 10 tips for Muslimahs without a Major………….........Pages 69-71 Halal Greek Cuisine...........................................................Pages 74-80 Qur'an Challenge…………………………………....Pages 82-85 MBM Reader Spotlight…………………………………...Page 86 Journey to Jerusalem Ch. 7………………………......Pages 88-95

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From the Bism Allah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem. In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatu. May the peace & mercy of Allah Subhana Wa Ta‘ala be on you.

Dear MBM Readers, In today‘s society, there is an immense concentration on fulfilling the needs of the individual rather than the needs of the whole society. However, even so, there are still some very special individuals out there, both Muslim and non-Muslim who do dedicate their time to help humanity by means of activism. The concept of activism and volunteerism is such an important concept in not only Islam, but humanity in general. InshaAllah (God-willing) I want to briefly focus my editor‘s letter on the importance Islam places on doing things for the pure sake of Allah SWT. Therefore, when reading through this issue and reading through certain spotlights of individuals who are putting in their time, remember to do two things. One, make sure that you use this as a source of inspiration for yourself. Two, remember that the intentions behind doing any sort of volunteerism is huge. It should be our goal to do all of these good things for the sake of humanity and for the pure sake of Allah SWT. Therefore, these things should not be done to show off, or to be better than anyone else. Rather, it should be done in order to ease the pressures of others while also pleasing the one who created us. This is a tremendous concept in Islam. Another huge aspect that is correlated to activism is time, specifically the lack of time. In Surah Al-Asr, Allah azza‘wa‘jal swears by the constraint of time that is put on all of mankind. The Creator of the Heavens and the Earth knows

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Editor

how tight and squeezed our time is. He is indeed the One who created this constraint on us. But we must remember that Allah SWT is the most merciful. Therefore, we must remember that if we sincerely want to do something, and we do it for His sake alone, he will put barakah (blessings) in our time. Now, who would not want the blessings from the one who created the concept of blessings? So please enjoy the issue, get inspired, and make duaa for everone mentioned in this issue.

Everything that is good in this issue comes from Allah SWT. Everything that is bad comes from me. InshaAllah everyone will benefit. And Allah SWT knows best. Jazakum Allahu Khairun,

Yasmin Essa

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MBM Presents a brand new regular column:

A Litte R&R:

Roles & Relationships Meet Tayyaba Syed Tayyaba S. Syed is a wife, mother, and writer. She is also a certified substitute teacher and teaches on a part-time basis. She has written for numerous publications including the *Chicago Crescent Newspaper*, *Azizah Magazine*, and *Muslim Quarterly Magazine*. She has been featured on air with National Public Radio's "Speaking of Faith" program as well as Soundvision's Radio Islam. She also does public speaking on marriage and family for Muslim women. She is a lead volunteer for the Refugee Assistance Program (RAP) as well as Camp Busy Bees in Illinois. She finds inspiration for her work through her wonderful family and community.

Visit her blog at www.tayyabasyed.blogspot.com Photograph: Don Ionut Popescu | Dreamstime.com

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Photograph: Tayyaba Syed

Mother Goose It was a dark and chilly night, but she did not budge from her position. There was an absolute sense of focus and fearlessness in her eyes. She was determined and remained steadfast toward her goal. She knew what she had to do. It was what Allah had intended for her. Nothing could deter her from her goal: to keep her baby gosling eggs warm and safe in their nest. So what exactly does mother goose have to do with helping us understand relationships though? It is simple. We need to reflect on the role and responsibility that she has as a mother to fully understand the concept of relationships. Before we can comprehend the dynamics of the different relationships we have with the people in our lives, we must first learn to

define our exact roles within those relationships. If one was to really think about it, which of Allah‘s creations actually question their roles and purpose here on this Earth? We see so many examples in nature of animals and plants and even the wind and water doing just what Allah wills of them. Yet, here we are as humans always redefining our roles or trying to go against what Allah has originally intended for us. A primary example of that is how we approach and value motherhood. What was so apparent and fascinating about the goose sitting over her nest was how she was owning her role as a mother Suban Allah. She was alone but did not seem lonely, because Allah was her and her babies‘ Protector and

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Provider. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, ―If you have proper and sincere tawakkul (reliance) on Allah (SWT), He will grant you rizq (sustenance) like the birds are given rizq, who come out of their nests in the morning with empty stomachs and return to their nests in the evening with a full stomach.‖ Allah (SWT) says in His Holy Qur‘an, ―And whoever places his trust in Allah, He is sufficient for him.‖ (Surah At-Talaq 65:3) The institution of marriage and procreation is part of our Islamic tradition. Allah (SWT) chose the prophets and messengers, and in Surah Ar-Raad He states, ―And indeed We sent messengers before you and made for them wives and offspring.‖ (13:38)

Children are a true blessing from Allah and a continuation of the ummah. We unfortunately take the gift of motherhood for granted. There are women who will give and do anything to become mothers and yet month after month get disappointed during menstruation. Then there are those women who cry and complain when Allah blesses their wombs and later their arms with a healthy baby. Why is that so? We should jump at the opportunity of becoming a wife and mother, because that is what Allah has ordained for us. By showing ungratefulness or treating our

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children unjustly we are not fulfilling our God-given duty as real mothers.

For example, a child‘s first musalah is his/her mother‘s lap. Heaven is accessible to the child at his/her mother‘s feet. A mother has three times the right of a father over her child. A mother that delivers her baby becomes as pure and sinless as her newborn child. Every drop of breast milk that enters her baby‘s mouth erases one of her sins. If she has to stay awake at night for the sake of her child, she will receive the reward of emancipating seventy slaves. All praises be to Allah!

In her book Woman Power, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who holds a postdoctoral certification and licensing in marriage and family therapy, writes about the beauty of being a mother and a wife, ―What has, throughout all time, been special about women is their natural tendency to bond, nurture, nest, show compassion, and love. When we speak of ‗mother love,‘ we talk about the purest and strongest of all affections. When we speak of ‗mother‘s milk,‘ we talk about the medium through which life itself is transferred. Women are special creatures with the ability (together with a husband and God) to create life within their wombs. Mothers are the source of life and sustenance, through breastfeeding and emotional caretaking.‖

Some circumstances including health reasons due hinder women from embracing motherhood right after marriage. However, this whole idea of avoiding having children for financial reasons must be avoided. Indeed Allah is the Best of Providers for He says in His Holy Book, ― And do not kill your children for fear of poverty: We give them sustenance and yourselves (too).” (17:31)

This article was inspired by this type of goose: www.jeffraflik.com/ canada.goose.042807.1730.jpg

Artwork by Mariam Al-Kalby

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www.recesskids.com

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www.recesskids.com

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Habibi Halaqas Online Lectures for Sisters once a week during the evening. -Islamic Knowledge -Life skills specific to Muslim Sisters -Social Psychology -Self Grooming -Parenting

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www.HABIBIHALAQAS.org

When you educate a man, you educate a single person. When you educate a Woman, you educate a household!

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The Significance of the Quran in Arabic. By Amani Zidan

“Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an that you might understand” (Surat Yusuf, 12:2)

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Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatu Allahu wa Barakatu MBM readers, Although the Quran Al-Kareem is translated in more than 50 languages worldwide, there is no doubt that as Muslims, we should learn the Quran by its original language in which Allah (swt) has sent it down to us: Arabic. No matter what language we are native to, I believe that we should make it a requirement to ourselves to learn Arabic. We should all study Arabic in order to read, write, speak and understand it fluently. The reason why Allah (swt) has sent down the revelations in Arabic is so we could understand the significance of each ayah (verse) word for word. When the Quran is translated into different languages, verses lose some of their meaning behind

them, due to certain linguistic and meanings that can only be understood in Arabic. I was blessed by Allah (swt) to attend the MSA East Zone Conference 2010, held in Atlanta GA. In the words of Brother Wisam Sharieff, ―It is the language of your religion, Learn It!‖ Many Muslims who are born into Arabic speaking families already have the advantage of understanding the Quran and reciting it in its original tongue. However, many of these individuals take their language for granted and sadly do not put it to use vitally for Quran. As a Palestinian born American, both of my parents speak Arabic and are quite religious Muslims, Alhamdulilah. Being raised in the US, and attending the public school system, I lost my interest in learning the language as long as I can remember. I know 16


this is out of the ordinary, because coming from an Arabic family it is believed that I must naturally speak and read it perfectly. Wrong! This stereotype definitely does not apply to me because I did not start speaking Arabic well until my teenage years. I am still learning it, as I use it more often each day. Because of my funny accent speaking it as a child, I felt discouraged and reluctant, so this is why I had put it off to the side for so long. Therefore, I grew up speaking and interacting with my siblings in pure English. I would pretty much consider English my first language, and Arabic my second. I am not saying that my parents did not try teaching me the importance of speaking Arabic, because since early childhood we always attended Arabic school in our community and took Islam classes at our nearby mosque where we would recite and memorize Quran. Truly, it was my error to lose the relationship of my language and religion growing up. I had not realized the importance of making it my priority. I reconnected this correlation as I became a freshmen in high school and started wearing the hijab my first day. As a current freshman in college, I am very proud of the way I took responsibility in gaining confidence as an Arabic speaker and putting it to the greatest use ever: through Quran. The reason why we should all really learn Arabic is to truly master both reading and understanding the Quran.

Imagine for a minute if the Quran had been sent down in a language other than Arabic. Would it still have the same meaning? The Same intention? In Surat Fussilat, Allah SWT says ―{And if We had made it a non-Arabic Qur'an, they would have said, "Why are its verses not explained in detail [in our language]? Is it a foreign [recitation] and an Arab [messenger]?" Say, "It is, for those who believe, a guidance and cure." And those who do not believe - in their ears is deafness, and it is upon them blindness. Those are being called from a distant place.}‖ (41:44). I would not have it any other way even if I was not of Arab origin. This is because Allah (swt) specifically wants us to gain every unique meaning in every single verse. Only in Arabic would you retrieve a full knowledge and insight of the Quran. ―A Book whose verses have been detailed, an Arabic Qur'an for a people who know‖ (41:3). Arabic, as interesting as it sounds, is honestly a very hard language to learn. I still have difficulty when conversing with someone in Arabic, and sometimes I go back to English, because I know it is easier. However, I‘m trying to stop this habit because I really want to excel in Arabic. I encourage all to do so. Sometimes I test myself for fun by finding a friend who speaks Arabic. I try to go for as long as I can. It is not easy. As I get used to hearing it more and involving myself into it, it becomes less complicated. Muslims come from so many backgrounds and cultures. For converts who are new to the religion and language it is also difficult. Learning Arabic for the sake of Allah Photograph: Christina | Dreamstime.com

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(azzah wa jal) is a goal every Muslim should have. Imagine being a Muslim from a foreign country such as Germany and having to know Arabic. Keeping up with the English language is universal. I think many would agree that this thought is just mind boggling! German is already complicated enough and having to learn Arabic doesn‘t really ease the pressure.

It doesn‘t matter what country they are from, as long as you can be introduced to the language. Having a friend is great factor; you don‘t have to feel embarrassed if you have a question about something, or asking them for help. I‘m sure they would be willing to teach you all you desire if they are a true friend! So don‘t feel shy, this really makes a difference than when you have to ask an instructor. Ask them how to pronounce words, the alphabet and even sing it with them! You will see yourself improve each time you‘re with that friend, and keep going over the things you learned while studying new things. Language is something you have to learn by speaking, reading and writing is the other part but even so all is equally important when approaching the Quran. Take a course in Arabic. I am taking one now, and it is really amazing. This way you can meet some people who may be in

the same boat as you are. Also make sure to set up an appointment with the professor to help explain some things. Ask them questions on how you can improve speaking, and go over the topics in class so that you can practice writing and reading small phrases. Don‘t feel self-conscious if you are starting out a little slow. Remember slow and steady always wins the race! Insha‘Allah the more you are familiar with some things, the more you will get comfortable in using them. Most of us don‘t have time on our hands while we are home anymore, so while driving you could repeat the verses until you get them right and then check the translation so you are reassured. I do this now and it really helps. But first don‘t look at the translation until you know how to recite it in Arabic. This will help for when you hear something familiar being repeated; you will know what the subjects about. Go to your local mosque and listen to the lectures in Arabic. If you have questions many around you would be willing to answer them for you or you can ask the Imam or Sheikh. Try to sit next to someone who you know is fluent in the language and they can better explain it so you can understand. It really is a remarkable feeling when actually understanding what the meaning of an aiya, or verse is saying. The motivation will surely give you confidence and you would be more active in the language for the sake of Allah (swt). Read Quran with someone, or on your own time in Arabic even if you don‘t know what it means. First learn how to read and pronunciation, this makes it so much easier to figure 18


out the meaning. If this doesn‘t make any sense to you it will soon, because if you keep reading until you pronounce Quran perfectly, then the meaning will come to you as you go along. Use your elementary tactics, practice DOES make perfect! Lastly, I‘m not sure if this would help you with reading Quran in Arabic, but go to a dinner with Arab speakers. You will be able to have conversations and hear some things that you may have not heard before. Learn new ways to say something, and ask questions about the names of types of foods that you eat. Speak of their significance to the Quran, and what Allah (swt) specified which is allowed or not. ―They ask you, [O Muhammad], what has been made lawful for them. Say, "Lawful for you are [all] good foods and [game caught by] what you have trained of hunting animals which you train as Allah has taught you. So eat of what they catch for you, and mention the name of Allah upon it, and fear Allah." Indeed, Allah is swift in account.‖ (Surat Al-Ma’idah 5:4). Certainly, you will feel more comfortable when around the dinner table. So you could express yourself freely, especially when surrounded by family and friends. For some reason, food is always a good way to start off learning something new, whatever the case may be.

Quran definitely gives you a perspective that I think won‘t be seen from the lens of another language besides Arabic. Insha‘Allah these ideas can make of use to some of you, and really consider learning the language of the Quran al-Kareem. Learning Arabic is going to take some time, so please make a commitment to it. Always say Alhamdulilah for everything and when you find yourself in uncertainty go to Allah and He will guide you in your decisions Insha‘Allah. I also advise that you make Duaa every day and ask Allah (swt) to strengthen your Arabic, and most importantly Quran. If I can do it and still progressing, I encourage all of you. For those of you who come from Arab speaking families and like myself, Do not procrastinate because you never know what Allah (swt) has planned for you. Just remember that I did it simply by communicating with others around me, and all of you can do the same. Also, that you are doing this for the sake of Allah (swt) and surely He knows best. Don‘t give up on the language of your religion, as it was created for a reason! Everything good in this comes from Allah (azzah wa jal) and everything bad comes from me.

These tips I discovered along with advice from friends and family really work out for the best of you. You will also learn some things on your own. The greatest thing is that it never ends, because I am still learning new things every day, and strengthening my Iman gradually, Al-Hamdulilah. Reading the 19


Why Don’t the Youth Listen to me? by Nihal Ahmed Khan

This is a question which has been lingering in the minds of many "Islamicallyaware" youth in the Muslim community for a very long time. They may be the main volunteers in their masjid, be active in their MSA, but cannot contemplate at why nonreligious Muslim youth do not start practicing Islam after they tell them that their pants being too tight will cause them to go to hell :-/. My intention with this article is to shed some light as to the proper and most effective way of guiding (in the directional sense; it's only Allah who guides) Muslim youth who have strayed from the community, back to the masjid. To start:

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Give Da'wah with Wisdom In Surah Nahl, it says, "Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction." At the same time, Aa'isha (R) the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "If the first revelation was to tell the Arabs to stop drinking, they would have never stopped drinking." The hadith went on to mention the act of fornication in that context as well. The whole point is that we cannot expect results in a day; rather, we need to be patient and persistent in the youth work we are involved in.

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Anytime we call the youth towards Islam, we need to understand the circumstances surrounding them and what they are going through.

2. Mildly-Religious Youth

You simply can't tell a sixteen-year-old Muslim youth to not listen to Jay-Z if he is not praying salah.

THESE are the youth the religious crew need to focus on!

The three types of Muslim Youth This is a categorization which I adopted after listening to a lecture from Br. Nouman Ali Khan. He said that generally the Muslim youth in the west fall into three categories: 1. Religious Youth They're your MSA going, weekend seminar attending, shaykh so-and -so rocks, etc type of guys (You know who you are). They're keen on gaining knowledge, want to go study overseas, and attend college/high school at the same time. They're active in da'wah and are recognized in their communities. They teach sunday school and conduct the weekly halaqas and truly care about their communities. InshaAllah the will be the leaders of the Muslim youth

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(The most important category.. read VERY carefully)

Who are they? They come to the masjid for Jumu'ah, come to the Friday night youth group, Islamic events, etc...but check this out, they still listen to music, could find some better friends to hang out with, and may even let a few curse words fly here and there. They have a relationship with the religious youth and with the third category (who will be talking about next), the non-religious youth. The religious Muslim youth need to understand that THESE are the guys who they need to work with and build a rock-solid relationship with! They are the most effective route towards getting across to the non-religious Muslim youth.

Be a brother, not a scholar! (If you find me a word which rhymes with sister and is relevant to "scholar," then I'll put it in too :D)

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Instead of being du'aat, ameers, ameerahs, MSA presidents, and coordinators, learn to be good friends to the middle-men youth. Take them out to eat randomly and buy them a slice of pizza or something. Take them to the mall if they need a ride....you get the point!! Simply, be really chill with them. That's the first thing before anything. As John Maxwell said,

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care." Secondly, do not focus on too many lecture/knowledge type events for them. The weekly halaqa should be their main Islamic source of selfdevelopment. These halaqas need to be lots of fun and attention catching. Make sure there are moments in which you have the guys on the edge of their feet, at times be laughing with them, and at times be really emotional with them. This will stir their emotions to make them think about their true purpose. And I am 110% against presenting educational material in halaqas in which the middlemen youth are present.

Sorry, but Usool al-Fiqh won't work here; save it for a knowledge based halaqa.

Thirdly, have lots of halal activities available for them. The middle-men youth have interests and hobbies...as a religious youth, you need to find out what they are!! For example, the youth I work with are into basketball, skiing, fencing, bowling, and the like. Last month, we went bowling. This month, we're going to be playing basketball after Fajr every Sunday, football before the halaqa on Fridays, etc. Basketball tournaments were a big turn on for our community's youth.....then again, as one of the aspiring leaders of the youth, you would know what activities your community's youth are into. Another thing which is important is to be up to date with sports, movies, and music which is popular amongst the youth. I'm not saying go out of your way to watch or not watch Alice in Wonderland or Repo Men, or listen to the latest song by T-pain or Kesha, but at least do research and find out who's song is on the top radio charts, which movie is currently a hit in the theaters, and who won the NBA AllStar game, the Superbowl, etc. If you're not up to date with pop-culture and live in a cave, then it is time to get up to date and feel the sunlight :)

Photograph: Gina Smith| Dreamstime.com

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3. Non-Religious Youth These youth don't come to the masjid except on Fridays when their parents bring them. They also are not involved with the masjid and may not pray, read Quran, etc. They have girlfriends/boyfriends, do drugs/ alcohol, and also do not hang out with a healthy group of friends. The mildy religious crew is the only group to have a grip on these youth. They are the ones who can bring the nonreligous youth towards the masjid and/or activities planned by the religious youth. Of course the religious youth can have an effect on the nonreligious youth directly, but it is the mildy-religious youth who can have a

greater chance at convincing the non -religious youth through indirect means to come to the masjid. In conclusion, even after putting in much effort to get the youth to come to the masjid, we need to understand that guidance is in the hand of Allah. We can only do so much as to ask Allah to put in us the ability to direct the youth towards Islam. Please do keep in mind this is a process which takes months and years and not hours and days to implement in the community. But inshaAllah, if we are steadfast, the fruits of this work will be seen in the future! Jazakam Allahu Khayr!

This is a reposting from Nihal Khan‘s blog. Please visit his blog at

http://nihalkhan.blogspot.com/ Feel free to leave him comment to let him know what he could add, change, remove, etc!

Nihal also writes for Muslim Youth Musings. See below: http://www.muslimyouthmusings.com/author/nihalk1/ mbmuslima.com

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By Yasmin Essa Not too long ago, while I was talking to my boss, Keith Fonseca. He brought the topic of Islam up, mentioning there were a few things he didn‘t understood. I asked him to name one and be brought up the issue of shaking hands with opposite genders in Islam. I really appreciated his genuine desire to know the reasoning behind this topic and his sincere effort to understand from the correct source. His main confusion on the topic was not just why it‘s not permissible in Islam, but also why there was such a inconsistency across Muslims. His question

is probably a main source of confusion for many non-Muslims, especially due to the fact that some Muslims do shake hands with the opposite gender, while others do not. The respect and innocence behind his question really inspired me to write this article and I do hope that it does a good job in answering his question, as well as clearing the topic up to anyone else reading, non-Muslim or even Muslim. Ironically enough, for the very beginning of my article, I won‘t even be touching upon the topic of shaking hands. This is because not shaking hands is just an action. The real Photograph: Woo Bing Siew | Dreamstime.com

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confusion and clarification that is needed lies within the reason of why certain individuals do this action. P.S. If you start reading from this point on, I highly recommend that you finish because if you only read certain things I discuss in the beginning, you will not understand the greater point. Islam is not wearing a head scarf to cover your hair. It‘s not growing a beard. It‘s not dressing conservatively. It‘s not following certain gender relations. It‘s not fasting the month of Ramadan. It‘s not performing ablution. Nor is it praying. It is not refraining from using profound language. Islam isn‘t strictly staying within the boundaries of marriage.

(wahid) and Unique (ahad). In Islam, the only unforgivable sin is the sin of shirk (to associate partners with God). Once the establishment of Tawheed is in place, all of the duties a Muslim has unfold from there. Allah SWT is simply the Arabic word for God. However, in the Arabic language, the word Allah cannot be made plural, or be given a gender or changed in any way to alter its monotheistic characteristics the way that ―God‖ can be made into ―Gods‖, ―Goddess‖, ―Goddesses‖, etc. The letters SWT stand for ―Subhana wa‘ta3la‖ which is the arabic praise used after the name of Allah meaning ‗glorious and exalted is He‖ Therefore, Muslims do not believe in a different God or a different message. Muslims believe in all They may be things a Muslim the prophets: Adam PBUH, Abraham do, but they are not Islam. PBUH, Noah PBUH, Jesus PBUH, Mohammed PBUH, etc. ―PBUH‖ stands “ ” for ―peace and blessings be upon him‖. A major difference between IsSimply put, Islam is the submis- lam and Christianity is that Muslims view Jesus PBUH as a Prophet of sion to God. However, in order to really understand this, one concept God. We do not believe that he is has to be understood and that is the God in the form of man. Muslims beconcept of Tawheed. Tawheed is the lieve that Allah SWT is the Creator concept of monotheism in Islam. It is of everything and that He is the the establishment that God is One source of all mercy. Photograph: Assaf Shuster| Dreamstime.com

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SWT prohibits the drinking of alcohol. Some will argue that this limits a Muslim or that there is some good in alcohol. In the second chapter of the Qur‘an, Allah SWT reveals that there is some good in alcohol, but that the bad outweighs the good. This is definitely true, from a health standpoint, a logical standpoint, or a safety standpoint. Basically, this can be held true for many things. Muslims believe that many things in this world have both good or bad. Allah SWT promises that all Muslims have many different of these things will be available in duties towards their Lord. In Islam, Heaven. However, they will be the Quran and the Sunnah are our two streams of guidelines for how to stripped of their deficiencies. Therefore, they will have only good live our lives. The Quran is the Holy and no bad. Muslims believe that by book for Muslims. Muslims believe following the rules of Allah SWT, that the Qur‘an in its Arabic form is they can strive to attain Heaven. the unaltered word of Allah SWT. Okay, so I have spent so much The Sunnah refers to the documentations of how the Prophet SAW lived time writing and I have not even touched upon the issue of shaking his life. Muslims view the Prophet hands. The thing is, if I had started PBUH, as well as the Prophet‘s bethis article without speaking about fore him as the perfect example of the above information, an individual how to live their lives. who is not Muslim would not really understand why Muslims do not shake hands with the opposite genders. Everything I have already explained gives a deeper understanding of why Muslims do certain things. Some people who are not Mus- As far as shaking hands goes, this lim do not agree with this. For exam- falls into the category of gender ple, according to the Qur‘an, Allah relations. In Islam, Allah SWT has In Islam, we believe that we will be held accountable for everything we do and that our good deeds and bad deeds will be weighed against each other on the Day of Judgment. We view Allah SWT as the most just of judges and that he forgives everything as long as one does what is necessary to be forgiven (sincere intentions, sincere prayers, obeying the laws of Allah SWT, etc)

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prescribed that modesty (both male and female) and appropriateness be practiced. A male and female that are not related are not supposed to touch each other at all, even if it is something as simple as shaking hands. While shaking hands is inherently very innocent, it is still a door opener to acting more lax with the opposite gender. This is an example of one of the ways that Islam is a protector. Does this mean that simply shaking the opposite gender‘s hand will always lead to something inappropriate? No, not at all, as most times it will not. This does not change the fact that sometimes that does happen. However, I can speak from personal experience and say that there is definitely a difference in the level of respect and appropriateness given to someone who does not shake the opposite gender‘s hand. I know this must all sound pretty bizarre to most, while touching is very well accepted in modern day society. However, there are many things accepted that may not necessarily be beneficial for us. I would

also like to mention that this does not mean that Muslims should be cold or not friendly to the opposite gender. They should be, but in an appropriate manner. They should be genuinely sincere and very nice to everyone, as Muslims strive to emulate the role of the Prophet PBUH, who was known for his high level of character. Now some may be wondering why some Muslims do not shake hands while some Muslims do. The thing is, humans are flawed. Just because they do one thing, does not mean the religion of Islam should be judged upon that. The Prophet SAW, who is the most quoted man in all of history, predicted that there will be innovators and those who stray away. However, Muslims do have the preservation of the Qur‘an and the Sunnah in order to know what is right or wrong. This does not mean that someone who shakes hands is a ―bad Muslim.‖ Only Allah SWT can judge us and only He knows our intentions. We are all human beings, and we all lack in one are or another. Photograph: Lloyed Luecke| Dreamstime.com

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For our French readers

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Photograph: Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime.com

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Interview with Senior Policy Advisor, Sally Steenland (Center for American Progress.) Yasmin: Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed by MBM today. We appreciate your time. So, to begin, I have done some reading about the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative that's under the Center for American progress. If you could, could you please tell us a little bit about the initiative in general. Sally: Sure, I would be glad to and thank you so much for talking with me today, I really appreciate the opportunity and I appreciate the good work that you're doing as well. The Center for American Progress, is a Washington-based think tank where research and educational institution. We were set up in 2003 so we are a relatively new think tank. We call ourselves progressive and the tagline we use is that we care about social justice and we are progressive in our vision and pragmatic in terms of getting things done. We have a very strong communications arm so that when we do reports on policy issues whether it is on health care, immigration, national security, economics or environment—whatever it is—we want to make sure that reports and studies do not just sit on a shelf.

We have a very strong communications arm that works with the press, works with the media, get our people out on TV. We have blogs, we have something called think progress and the Wonk room that very much tries to influence the public debate and getting the new cycle. The Faith and Progressive Policy initiative that I am a part of has been part of CAP since its inception. That's one thing I think that makes CAP rather unique among a number of thinktanks because we're not a faith-based based group but we are a group that takes religion quite seriously as a force in people‘s lives and as a force in the public square. We feel that we need to be smart about religion. Religion is very often accused as a weapon, used as a devise tool, rather than a potential for a social cohesion as a way of bringing people together, of uniting people and rising above issues to inspire to work together to make the world a better place. 30


Yasmin: Thank you so much for your indepth answer. That sounds great. Before we get into talking about the Young Muslim American voices project, could you speak a little bit about how this initiative has done? I have seen a couple things on your blog, but if you could just elaborate briefly Sally: Sure, I would be glad to talk about the other projects that we have done. One of the things we do is work a resource to our other policy teams. For instance, our immigration team puts out a report with one of our senior fellows on the very good work that communities are going on immigration. Not only are they serving the members of their congregation but serving those in need but they're really standing up as very strong advocates for policies on immigration reform. This report that we did looked at faith-based communities across the country that are doing some very innovative and creative things in terms of undocumented workers in their communities. We did an event, that brought leaders from different faiths and traditions to talk about what they were doing and why really why the right thing to do was the economically smart thing to do for our country. We do a lot of work with our energy team on climate change and the

good work that faith-based communities are doing on that. We work with our poverty team on the good work that faithbased communities are doing on poverty.

Especially with the recent economic recession, they have really seen a lot of suffering and so very often these communities not only are responding on the front lines to that suffering but they're also working for policy and advocacy. Many of them find themselves overwhelmed in terms of their own resources and realize that they can't do it all. Yasmin: I'm so glad to see that you and your team have taken such a progressive initiative and I completely agree with you that working with types of faith-based communities on, as you have mentioned on a humanitarian level is completely necessary. I want to talk a little bit about the Young Muslim American Voices project. I understand that you serve as a senior policy advisor. What is your favorite part of 31


the involvement of this project Sally: Oh boy, I like every single part of the project, it's just been a wonderful experience, and we just feel very honored to work on it. It's a very modest effort on our part. There are so many groups that are just doing extraordinary work in this area, that we certainly benefit from every day every day. We are glad to do our little piece on it.

In some cases, in civic involvement and engagement, through arts, and it's through culture, very creative efforts and it's just been a thrill for us here to get to know some quite extraordinary young men and women.

ject. How were they picked to be interviewed for that project, specifically that panel and anything else that was involved in that project? We wanted to bring together a group of about fifteen or so Young Muslim American leaders, 35 and under, representing the next generation of leaders to Washington Center for American progress for a day long round table meeting in November. One of the first things we did was started to do research on terms of who was out there and casted it pretty wide. From there, we did just dozens and dozens of very in depth interviews with lots of people and we interviewed just a bunch of really extraordinary people. Because of space considerations, we couldn't bring everybody that we talked to, to Washington but we do hope to be able to continue the program if we get funding and to bring in new groups each year. Some of the things we looked at as we decided who would be part of the meeting was diversity so we didn't just want the same kind of person.

Yasmin: I'm glad that your team has decided to take this effort. I did watch a lot of videos from that panel you did have for the project. There are some very astounding leaders spotlighted in that pro32


so in other words we didn't want everyone doing community service or everybody in a non-profit organization but we wanted people in business and government and the arts and law and all different kinds of areas. Beyond that, in the interviews that we conducted, because they were so detailed, some of the questions that we asked people are "from your vantage point, what do you think are some of the major challenges and opportunities facing your community?", and we got some very, very interesting answers and so as a result of all of those interviews we did, we had a notebook of transcripts and these were all off the record interviews. We weren't interested in quoting anybody or putting them in a newspaper article or something. We just really wanted peoples very candid, and honest, and frank assessments and I have to say people were amazingly generous with their time and very honest with their responses. We have this notebook of answers, or of interviews, and we went through them and we started looking for themes. What comes up again and again? What's surprising? What feels important? Based on that, as we looked through that, that helped us build the agenda for the day

because we did not want to impose an agenda from the outside on people. We wanted it to come from the groups itself and so based on that the group actually built the agenda before they even came. When we got together in November for a day, we spent the morning all together talking about the challenges and the opportunities faced with to make their organizations more effective. We discussed ways to work on identity issues, ways to educate Americans, more broadly about who Muslim Americans are in this country and then in the afternoon we broke down into small groups that individuals had selected to work with CAP policy experts on either national security, blogging, civil liberties, immigration health care or whatever the issue was. Yasmin: Thank you Sally. I want to say that I really appreciate the fact that it seems like the project itself let the Muslim Americans mold the project, rather than as you had said, molding it from the beginning. I think that is very important. I also want to mention that it's great that it seems your team did not only a deep search, but really went into it to make sure that everything was well balanced in terms of the type of people terms of shedding light to all different types of people.

http://www.americanprogress.org/ 33


Catching up with Asalamualekom sisters. So you last heard from us in MBMuslima Issue 3 (and if you didn't, go check it out after you read this inshaAllah) 6 months and 6 issues later and Muslimas Oasis has grown beyond my hopes and continues to grow Alhamdolillah! Our look and logo has changed since we last spoke (and there are more new upgrades being rolled out now), our author and article list has grown, our articles have stirred discussion, support and debate, our reach has widened and we are so excited to be bringing you this update. The biggest recent news is Blue Hijab Day and the Marwa Self Esteem Project, these are still works in progress but they are budding projects that (we hope) will start new and much needed discussions in our communities.

Blue Hijab Day April is Autism Awareness month and we wanted to do something that would catch the attention of Muslim Women and the Muslim Community (why Autism? My daughter is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, so it was a cause I wanted to put Muslimas Oasis behind) I wanted to start a conversation about Autism in the Muslim Community, so much is not known. For April 2nd, UN World Autism Awareness Day, AutismSpeaks.org has a 'Light it up Blue' campaign where people wear blue and buildings turn on blue lights for Autism Awareness. How could I use that hype and build on it within our community, how could I use this but make it uniquely Muslim as well, so the Muslim Community would take Photograph: Serghei Starus | Dreamstime.com

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notice? We created a worldwide event 'Blue Hijab Day' (in association with Muslimas Oasis and an upcoming project 'Little Miss Sunshine') I hoped to get 100 people involved. It grew, and grew, and grew! We reached our goal of 100 in 1 day. I set another goal of 1,000 which we surpassed in a few more days and by the time April 2nd rolled around 9 days after it began, we were above 2,100 RSVP'd attendee's, almost 1,000 maybes and almost 5,000 who unfortunately didn't respond in time. I realized this was much bigger than I had expected and I ran with it! We had fliers and tags to pin on and we have much bigger plans for next year in the works as we speak including a unique online fundraiser inshaAllah b'idhnillah (with Allahs permission), we succeeded in starting the conversation, inshaAllah next year the theme will be 'Starting the movement'. Keep up with future Blue Hijab Day plans and events at facebook.com/bluehijabday

Marwa Self Esteem Project

This project is still very much in infancy and resides primarily on facebook but I have big plans for it inshaAllah and hope to devote more time to it over the next few months. From the facebook page: The Marwa Self Esteem Project was created by Muslimas Oasis as a way to encourage, inspire and teach Muslim Women (and Non Muslim Women) to Know, Love and Believe in themselves and their strength as Women and in turn, how to teach their Daughters the same. Marwa is an Arabic name with 3 meanings. The first meaning is 'Flint Stone' Symbolizing Strength and Spark. The second is 'A fragrant Herb' Symbolizing something Delicate and Feminine. The third is the Al-Marwa mountain in Mecca, symbolizing something with deep roots and deep significance to all Muslims. Marwa is also the name of a woman who was killed in a German court room after taking a Photograph: Ben Goode | Dreamstime.com

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a man to court for harassing her based on her Hijab. Her harasser attacked her and killed her in the court room, she was dubbed 'the Hijab Martyr'. Her courage to take this man to court for something so many Muslim women know about first hand, speaks of a strong sense of self and self worth that sister Marwa had to have possessed. May Allah have mercy on her. The Marwa Self Esteem Project was named for all of these reasons and may it be a means for the empowerment of Women and Girls.

one I wanted to excite in sisters for a positive affect? I can see it now more clearly than ever before, and that's exciting for me! I'd like to thank everyone who has supported Muslimas Oasis, not least Yasmin and MBMuslima! I'm looking forward to sharing many more positive moments and making a lot more difference with all of you. Our goals and hopes for new opportunities to reach sisters and promote awareness remain limitless. We're excited to see how Muslimas Oasis and our Projects grow and change to reach more people and nurture more understanding.

Nurture your self esteem at facebook.com/marwaproject Join the Movement! Where we are and where we are going. Now? We're full steam ahead. We have regular columns, a backlog of articles waiting to be published, a lot of involvement, talented and passionate authors, intelligent and respectful discussion, non muslim supporters and big dreams! Remember that passion I talked about in our Issue 3 article? The

To get involved you can contact us from our website: www.MuslimasOasis.com on twitter: @muslimasoasis) on facebook: (facebook.com/muslimasoasis) 36


or by email (info@muslimasoasis.com). Let us know what you can add to Muslimas Oasis, and if you have your article already, send it along for us to look at. We welcome cross posted articles if you have an existing blog and we are open minded, so if you have an idea, but aren't sure, send it along anyway! We have a handy form on our website so you can

introduce yourself and what you have to offer the Admin. of Muslimas Oasis to the Even if you don't have anything to write about you can get involved by commenting on our articles, rating our articles, sharing our articles and talking about us to Others! And of course, making dua for our efforts and for us.

Photograph: Serghei Starus | Dreamstime.com

www.muslimasoasis.com

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How I came to Islam By Brother Kyle Smith I was inspired to write this article by a fellow brother, Ahukum Yusuf. May Allah SWT reward him.

InshaAllah, in this article, I am going to discuss how I came to Islam and how it has changed me. InshaAllah, I am going to give a brief summary of my life prior to Islam. I had a great childhood. My parents have always been very involved in my life. My parents have always made sure to provide me with clothes on my back and food in my stomach. They always made sure I was involved and interacting with others. They signed me up for recreational sports, and several other group activities. More importantly, they have always been there for me emotionally. My mother has always been a source of motivation for me. When I was a young kid, I lacked selfconfidence. My mother always told me that I could do things, that I thought I could not do. I have to thank her a lot for molding me into the man I am today.

I was also blessed with two great brothers. When we were younger, we always did things together. I have also been blessed with close relationships with my grandparents. All of my grandparents have always lived within 10 miles from my house, so we got to see them all the time. Through grades 1-8, I attended CCD, which is a one day a week class for Catholic children. As a kid, I always believed in and feared God.

I can remember numerous occasions, where I contemplated stealing candy or something from a grocery store. Sometimes, I never did it because of my fear of God. If I did in fact steal the candy, I always felt terrible afterwards. When I was young, my mother instilled in me the fear of God. She used to say things such as ―God is watching you‖. So back to the topic of CCD. Basically, all of my fellow classmates hated it. Now I am not trying to insult the instructors there, or Catholics, but in my time there I really did not learn anything about the religion. I believe that most of my classmates would agree with me. I was always a genuine, sincere child. I was always the one that wanted to unite my friends, and make others happy.

Photograph: Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime.com

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As time progressed, certain things in my personality began to change. As I stated earlier, as a young kid, I lacked self-confidence. My older brother was the exact opposite. He always believed he could do anything. My brother was a social butterfly, and had many friends from both genders, and from all different backgrounds. About halfway through my sophomore of high school, I questioned myself, saying ―why am I shy/ and lack confidence?‖ I decided that I was going to change some characteristics about myself. I decided that I was going to be more outgoing, that I should interact with females more, and that I should have a larger group of friends. I decided that I wanted to be more like my older brother. Therefore, during this transformation, I started to change the way I dressed, and how I acted around others. During this time period, my brother and I played on our high school's football team. He was the captain, and a great leader and player. I myself desired to be like him, but even better. During this period of transformation, I wanted to be cool, and “well known”. I thought that this could be achieved through gaining others respect. I also thought that I had to be

―tough‖, and to never back down from anyone. This mentality that I acquired, sometimes caused me to be hostile towards people, which resulted in confrontations. Anyway, I did gain the respect that I desired. I also made a lot of friends during this time period. My senior year, I was chosen to be the captain of my high school's football team, where I led my team to the state championship at Giants stadium. At this time, I was receiving mail from colleges that wanted me to play football. I always knew that I wanted to go to college, but, in my heart I was unsure if I wanted to play football. However, I did not communicate my feelings with others. I kept this uncertainty to myself, though. My high school coach helped me come to the realization that football could help me to get into a very good school. I wanted to go to a four year college, and not community college. Therefore, without factoring other elements in, I chose a school essentially because of football. My first semester at college was very difficult for me. I did not like anything from the environment, the school, or the football team. Even so, I

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did do really well in football, as I was one of the top ten of the team's eighty six freshmen. I ended up quitting the team though, because I was going through a really rough time. This was the first time I ever quit anything. My grades were suffering because of how I felt. My GPA was a 1.4 after my first semester. During my winter break, which was a month off between semesters, I was motivated by family and friends to do better academically during my second semester. They informed me that if I did well I could transfer to a different school. My second semester was also very tough, as I hated being there. During this time I had not really contemplated God, the only thing I really thought about was getting out of that situation. Alhamdulilah, friends of mine, brought the topic of religion to my mind. At this time, I started to learn about Islam. Prior to this, I did not even know that a Muslim and Islam were the same thing! I thought they were separate religions (lol).

Anyway, I had many questions about the religion, as I did with my current religion at that time (Christianity/Catholicism). So I started to compare the two. Everything I learned about Islam made so much

sense. The things that really amazed me were scientific miracles of the Quran, such as the miracle in Surah Al -Mu'minoon (Ayahs 12 to 14) where it discusses how insemination occurs between a sperm and a woman's egg and the phases of growth until a fetus is born. This is the same description that a doctor today would give today, and the invention of electronic microscopes have only been around for a few decades, subhanAllah. In Ayah 30 of Surah Al-Anbiya Allah SWT discusses how the universe was created in a very similar matter as the big bang theory that we believe today. The linguistic miracles of the Quran were another thing that astonished me, specifically, things such as palindromes in the Quran, which are sentences long. In Arabic, the sentence 'wa rabbaka fakabir', translates in English to: declare the greatness only of your Lord. Now this is one of many palindromes, and this is only one very small aspect of the linguistic miracles of Quran. The fact that the Quran is the verbatim unaltered unchanged word of God amazed me.

Of course, I had many more questions about Islam, so I was referred to Imam Moustafa Zayed. Photograph: Antoly Tiplyashin | Dreamstime.com

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Imam Moustafa and I spoke through email on numerous occasions, where I had a lot more questions. After several emails, Moustafa encouraged me to come to his class that he teaches, which mostly converts attend. Upon meeting Moustafa, I was even more amazed with Islam.

I realized that Islam has the perfect taxation system, 2.5 percent of yearly earnings only if someone can afford it. Individuals such as Bill gates would pay $240 million, and a poor man would pay nothing. If this was applied correctly throughout the world, just imagine how there would be no poverty. Other things about Islam just made so much sense. Non-Muslims always wonder why Muslim women dress the way they do, as a common misconception is they are oppressed. However, a Muslim women‘s attire in fact shows so much more respect than most of the outfits women wear today in the United States. People also wonder why non-married men and women do not touch. All these things that people think are extreme and unnecessary are actually for our protection. All of this just made so much sense to me. At this point, I was still at my college that I did not like. During my second semester, I got really close to a friend who lived across the hall from

me. SubhanAllah, its kind of ironic. We played the same position in football, and we had a lot of things in common. I just saw him as an average guy, I did not even think about what religion he was. SubhanAllah, he was actually a Muslim. I went a full semester without knowing this.

I really did not think about this until I started to contemplate religion. He was somewhat helpful in my questions I had about Islam. Me and him started to go to a mosque in town, where we met many good brothers, Alhamdulillah. Everyone there was really nice and helpful. One of the brothers we met is a convert, who happened to just be visiting. He lives in Saudi Arabia. We still speak on the phone every now and then. On the weekends, I used to come home from school to see my family, friends, and go to the mosque. One weekend, I went to Rider University, where the Islamic games were being held. Here, I saw many Muslims united having so much fun, and having friendly competitions with each other. Everywhere I went, every mosque or anything Islam related everyone was so nice, happy, and helpful. This made me feel at home with the Muslim community. I never had this feeling when I was a Christian. Imam Moustafa saw

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how much joy Islam brought to me. He informed me that if I truly believe that Islam is the truth that I should not wait a long time to take my shahadah. The reason for this was that one never knows when they will pass. I realized the severity of this, and I was ready to take my shahadah, however, I was worried about my families concern. My family did not think that I gave my decision enough time. In my heart, I wanted to start praying at this time, but I respected my families wish and gave it a little more time. As I stated in my previous article (can be found in the April issue of MBM), my family wanted me to speak with the priest, so I did that. Alhamdulilah, my talk with the priest increased my belief in Islam even more. Shortly afterwards, just between Allah (SWT) and myself I took my shahadah. About a month afterwards, I took my shahadah at the masjid. SubhanAllah, most of my family came, including my father (who said that he would never go to a Mosque), and my older brother (who really opposed my decision). My mother was always very supportive in my search. For my sake, on two different occasions, my mother came to Imam Moustafa‘s class to learn about Islam.

Islam has changed me for the better in many ways. Ever since puberty, I never really thought about Allah (SWT). Since Islam, I think about Allah (SWT) in every single thing that I do. Islam also makes me appreciate how fortunate I am. As stated earlier, I always had a good life. I was blessed to live in a free country. I have always had food, clothes, and the right to an education, etc. Others around the world, are not this fortunate, as they may have none of these things. In the past, sometimes I used to complain when I did not have certain things. Since Islam, rather than worrying about what I do not have, I just thank Allah (SWT) for what I do have, Alhamdulillah. Before Islam, I used to let little things bother me, such as people not cleaning up after themselves. Also, I used to get tense, if I thought someone was making fun of me. Islam has guided me to never get stressed or let these things bother me. Alhamdulillah, I can confidently say it‘s impossible for me to get angry since Islam has came into my life and inshaAllah, it will remain that way. As I stated in my previous article (April issue), good manners weigh the most on one‘s scale on the day of judgment. Good manners contains three parts. Photograph: Dvmsimages | Dreamstime.com

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The first part is having a pleasant welcoming face. The Prophet (SAW) stated that smiling is a charity. I have always been a happy person. However, I can remember times when I saw people I knew and tried to avoid looking at them. Islam has made me realize just how stupid this really is. Since Islam, I always walk around saying hello to everyone I know, and making sure I shake brothers hands. It makes me feel good inside to know that I deal with everyone really nicely, and that I am an approachable person. The second part of good manners is stopping yourself from hurting others. This is different from not hurting people. The difference is, a defenseless weak person (either physically or mentally weak) may not even have the ability to hurt people. Therefore, the difference is when a person who has the ability to fight/ argue back stops themselves purely for the sake of Allah (SWT). That is good manners. This is something that I hold close to my heart, as back when I was trying to be the ―tough guy‖, I would never back down from anyone. Since Islam, I never get into arguments, alhamdulilah. Allah (SWT) has the perfect guidance, as this is such a better way to deal with people.

When someone gets into arguments, fights etc, several bad things can happen. People can get hurt in these situations or even get in trouble with the law. Most of all, this destroys relationships with others. None of this happens when these situations are avoided. When the individual who started the argument calms down, they may realize they were wrong. They may end up apologizing as well. This is possible because it is very hard for someone to stay mad at someone else, when the other person is dealing with them very nicely. Whenever my family members get upset, I always stay calm about the situation no matter what. Regardless of whether I was wrong or not, I will always apologize to them, and never get angry, alhamdulilah. The third part of good manners, is to benefit every living thing. This does not mean just people. It also means animals, trees, plants, etc. Whenever the prophet (SAW) saw a cat drinking from a bowl which was difficult to reach, he would tilt and hold the bowl until the cat was finished drinking. In addition, the prophet (SAW) forbade his companions from having conversations while riding their horses, being that it would lengthen the amount of time the horses would have to carry the companions. Islam has driven me to want to benefit every living thing, 45


alhamdulilah. Before Islam, on certain occasions I would help others. However, this would usually only be because I was asked to help. Sometimes in situations like this, I would be annoyed, as I saw this as an inconvenience. Islam has changed how I feel about helping others, as now I look to help others, rather than them having to ask me. These things include, calling my grandparents to see if they need anything, rather than them having to call me. Helping someone out in the gym, if they are performing an exercise wrong. Offering others rides and the list goes on and on alhamdulilah. Since Islam, I have also become much more concerned about the environment. I will admit before Islam, I used to litter. However, since Islam if I see someone litter I will pick their garbage up and throw it out for them. Islam has helped me to go the extra mile in benefitting every living thing, Alhamdulillah. The prophet (SAW) stated that cleanliness is half of faith. Now I have always been a clean person, but Islam has made even cleaner.

I always make sure to wash my hands, make sure I do not make a mess, and I make wudu often. Islam has helped me to become the man that I have always aspired to be. I am very proud of myself and how far I have come Alhamdulillah. I am very proud of myself for several reasons (how hard I work, my constant dhikr/worship of Alllah (SWT), and the way I treat others). Alhamdulillah, I have to thank Allah (SWT) for all of this. As I stated earlier, I am also very thankful for having a great childhood, a great family, but most of all, I am thankful to Allah (SWT) for opening my heart to Islam. I also want to thank my family, friends, and everyone who has helped me in my journey to Islam. I believe that it was innate for me to be a good person. However, when I was growing up, pressures from society to fit in pulled me away from this. Alhamdulillah, Allah (SWT) brought me back to the way I was created, and that is to worship him and be a righteous brother.

You can E-mail Brother Kyle Smith at

sptiger51@yahoo.com to ask him any questions. Jazakum Allahu Khairun. (May Allah reward you for the good) 46


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A story about a Muslim girl's identity struggle. Followed by story lessons, motivation to not fall into the same situation, and how parents can help. I was going to be an Indian princess in a Christmas play even though we didn‘t celebrate Christmas. We were the few Muslims in Logan, Utah. But I didn‘t care. The third grade teacher, Mrs. Iams, had told students their part in the upcoming show and I shivered with joy when I found out I was the only one chosen to be royalty. I was in the classroom filled with blue eyes and butter-rum colored heads and Mrs. Iams, with her hair fixed up like a black beehive, said I could be the ―Indian princess because I looked just the part.‖ The other girls in the class squealed when they found out they were going to be dolls but that didn‘t bother me because being a princess was better than being a doll. It was silent reading time after she assigned roles and I couldn‘t read. When the words on the page didn‘t distract me enough from my buzzing thoughts and dreams, I looked around

the room in hopes of trying to concentrate. My heart thumped like Thumper’s foot in Bambi, and my eyes scanned the classroom, not knowing how to contain my excitement. I tried to focus on the rows of hooks where we hung our fluffy coats and boots, where Brian‘s Ninja-Turtle backpack hung dangerously from one strap on the metal hook. I turned to the far left of the hooks and looked down at my silver boots beneath my red-orange backpack I had to wear when I walked the five blocks to school, and the ones I had to wear at recess time. The most humiliating place to wear them. I hated those shiny boy boots. My mother refused to listen to my complaints about how much they made me look like a space boy. I had to wear them even if Katie had pink ones her mother-who was the president of the PTA- had bought her from Fred Meyers. Photograph: Constantin Opris | Dreamstime.com

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girls at lunch recess, I pretended I was wearing boots like Katie or red ones like Melissa. I prayed that they wouldn‘t notice the boots. But they did. They always did. Megan leaned against the brick building at lunch recess and thoughtfully chewed on a piece of celery. She then turned and said to Andrea, ―Are you going to get to come over to my house this weekend?‖ ―Yeah. My mom said I can go and that I can use my twenty-dollar allowance to buy some cutie booties.‖ Andrea remembered my boots and looked down at them. They were wearing at the sides and on the left foot my red sock peeked through. ―Hey, you‘re the ones that need cutie booties, not me.‖ She laughed hard and Megan joined her and so did the rest of the clan. Melissa giggled and Katie held her belly while she let out small snorts. I grimaced under the unforgiving sun as the girls let out laughter and shouts. Megan‘s blue eyes glistened and added, ―They look soo funny. They‘re for boys!!‖ ―She looks…looks…like an ALIEN!!‖ Andrea was laughing real hard this time and her heart-shaped necklace was bouncing off her chest. She bumped into me and I got a whiff of her strawberry spray she always spritzed on herself on Wednesdays.

Every other day she wore vanilla, like Megan because it was ―the rules.‖ ―Noor always looks so funny. And even her jacket looks weird.‖ This was Katie talking, a mouth full of braces. And when she did, she was never nice about it. She picked at the lint on her pink flowered thermal and stuck out her thin bottom lip in concentration. ―No they don‘t.‖ I said. I played with the zipper on my navy blue jacket. It was from Kmart when my mother and I bought it on sale. I liked it at the time but now I didn‘t like it as much. ―I‘m going to get new ones for my birthday.‖ That lie was fatter than Katie‘s peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We didn‘t do birthdays either. ―Yeah, right. From the dump!‖ Megan stood beside me and grinned, exposing all her teeth. Then she pressed her really pink, pink boot on top of mine. She pressed hard too. I gave a yelp and Megan and all the rest of girls laughed until the fifth grade boys from the basketball courts paused in their game to see what the ruckus was all about. I returned back to my Goosebumps book and tried to conceal a smug smile as I thought of how nice and smart Mrs. Iams was to pick me out of everybody to be a princess. All this time I thought she favored

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Katie and the other girls but now I knew she liked me for sure. No one else was picked princess. I looked over at Mrs. Iams‘s desk and she was bent over flipping through a Redbook magazine. I love you, I thought. Now the girls would have to invite me to slumber parties and swimming pool get-togethers. Now the mothers of Katie and Megan would appreciate my looks and notice that my eyes were like Jasmine, from Aladdin. Now I was going to be respected and loved by all. Rehearsals were during the middle of the school day when the snow outside softened into slush, and tracks of brown wetness trailed the brick hallways as students trudged back to their classrooms. The PTA mothers made sure they were there to help us. So many of the pretty girls with curly pigtails and rainbow ribbons in their hair like Megan, Andrea, and Katie had mothers in the PTA who planned every Parents‘ Night, food drive, and every other activity or event that was created. There was no doubt that the PTA took the Christmas play very seriously. It was as though they were planning for the Miss America Pageant. My mother wasn‘t in the PTA nor was she going to help with the rehearsals. She had to take care of my baby brother Omar, and besides, we

didn‘t celebrate these holidays. And even when I asked her to join the PTA or help with school events, she would just tell me to be quiet and go do my homework. ―Mama, I‘m going to be a princess. Mrs. Iams said I would do so well.‖ I watched her as she slipped her tattered apron underneath the sewing machine‘s bobbing teeth. Baba had gotten it for her from Deseret, the thrift store downtown. ―Well, what do you think?‖ I nervously licked my lips and waited. I pulled at the thread dangling from my sweater. ―That‘s fine. Don‘t make a big deal of it.‖ She held the apron up and examined it. ―You know that we don‘t do Christmas.‖ Mama then turned and looked at me, her mouth a straight line. ―Do you think your Baba would like to know that his daughter is doing things that Muslims don‘t do?‖ She sighed and waved her hand, and said, ―Go do your work. Do you have any today?‖ ―Yes. But I need help on the math.‖ My eyes watered and I rubbed my eyes so Mama couldn‘t see them. The sweater I was wearing started to make me sweat and all of a sudden it made me feel itchy. ―Okay, just let me finish this and I‘m coming to the room and help you.‖ Mama scratched her head and wet Artwork by Mariam Al-Kalby

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her fingers as she tried to fold the hem of the apron. The front door flew open and Baba walked in carrying his boots from work. There was mud covering the front of it and some of it smeared on Baba‘s gray sweater. He smiled as he tossed the boots on the floor, one of them bouncing off the wall and landing on the brown carpet. I looked at Mama because I knew she hated Baba when he did stuff like that with his boots. She was too busy straightening the apron on her lap. Mama didn‘t even notice. I ran to Baba and threw my arms around his neck and smelled his sweaty neck. ―Baba, I‘m going to be a princess at school!‖ ―Oh, good, good. How was school? Did you bring a lot of homework?‖ He pulled me back and looked into my eyes. His eyes were big and round, like chocolate malt balls. ―Yes, but Mama will help me with the math.‖ ―Your mother is very good with things like that. Now go along and do your work.‖ Baba patted my back and lifted himself off the ground. He walked over to Mama and asked, ―What is there for dinner?‖ I walked back to my room and closed the door behind me. Omar was sitting on his bed looking at his

books when I came in. I remembered how Mama wasn‘t happy about my role and was nervous that Mama would tell Baba that I was doing a Christmas play when I felt my eyes begin to sting again. It felt like jalapeño peppers were rubbed on them. Omar walked over to my bed and sat next to me. ―What‘s wrong, Noor? You look like you want to cry. Why?‖ He scratched his nose with his little fiveyear old finger and I could see he had eaten something because his mouth had some black crust on the sides. He must have had some Oreo cookies. ―I‘m going to be a princess at school and Mama doesn‘t like it.‖ I sniffed and swallowed my tears and wiped Omar‘s mouth with the sleeve of my sweater. He stood there and waited for me to finish cleaning his face. ―I like it. You look like a princess sometimes, when your hair gets curly after the shower.‖ Omar slid off my bed and picked a toy truck from the floor and rolled it up the bedpost. I smiled. I grabbed my backpack and pulled out the paper with my two lines on it and repeated them over and over. My brother made me feel better and I couldn‘t wait to go to school the next day. Artwork by Mariam Al-Kalby

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I overheard Megan and Andrea discussing their parts of the play during recess the following day. ―My mom and Katie‘s will do our makeup and hair. What‘s your mom going to do?‖ asked Megan, glowing like a cherub, her turquoise eyes sparkling like glitter. Snow specks descended softly on her head, her face resembling the porcelain dolls I saw at the mall and the one I wanted to have so badly. ―My mom is making our dresses a combination of pink and red with scraps of different fabrics, so they can look like patches, just like dolls!‖ said Andrea tugging at her red thermal underneath her pink and white fluff jacket. Her hair fell straight down to her shoulders, and her candy cane earrings flickered in the light. We had just finished our lunches: Megan just finished a jelly sandwich, and Andrea with her Lunchables. I slowly chewed the last carrot my mother peeled and cut for me to take that morning. I hid my tuna-no mayo sandwich in the reused brown bag because it was on wheat bread instead of white, without the crusts cut off like Megan‘s. They were going to be with another group of girls, who participated in gymnastics and orchestra, to do their little act. Even though I didn‘t do these things that they did, I tried real hard to fit in and talk about the things

they were talking about. If they went to a birthday party, I did too. If they went ice-skating, well, what do you know, so did I. How come we never saw you? Oh, probably because we only stayed for a little bit. We had to go home early. Mmmhmm. Shivering in the snow, squished beside the bushes, one blue thumb sticking out of a glove, and looking down at my boots caked with mud and dirty snow slush, I chimed in and said, ―Yea, well I‘m going wear an Indian dress and moccasins. The moccasins are going to be from Sally.‖ I hesitated. I knew Sally wasn‘t well liked, with her thick black glasses and stuttering problem. I didn‘t want to be a dork like her but since Mrs. Iams said I was a princess I continued, ―And she‘s gonna‘ let me borrow ‗em,‖ I said, hoping to join in on their conversation. Andrea and Megan looked at each other, wrinkled their upturned noses and snorted. Megan turned to me and looked me up and down and said, ―You look the part.‖ She studied me hard again; her eyes pierced every limb of my body. Megan‘s stare lingered longer on my dull brown hair than the rest of me, and it was like she was looking at a grimy Photograph: Manuel Fernandes | Dreamstime.com

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dog. She took her red polished finger and pushed it against my chest and I smelled her vanilla shampoo and her jelly breath and said, ―Yea, you really do look Indian.‖ Both girls flipped their hair and turned back to each other like I wasn‘t there the whole time trying to think of things to say, and went on about their hair and makeup. Before I could say anything else, the bell rang and lunch recess was over. Megan and Andrea laughed and chirped away while I tagged behind them back to Mrs. Iams‘s class. My chest still hurt from Megan‘s weird poking. When our class practiced, my heart shook like a fragile maple leaf from a tree. The closer we were to my part, the more my hands got sweaty. I would wipe them on my skin -tight gray corduroys that I hated so much. I sighed and waited for my turn. Finally it came for my turn at rehearsal. I stood up, said my two lines, and sat back down, my cheeks red as the Red Hots candy most kids got for Valentine‘s and I didn‘t. I was proud I was an Indian princess. I glanced over at Melissa to see if she had seen my performance, and she stuck her pink tongue quickly at me. I frowned and looked at Megan. She was too busy paying attention to Mrs. Iams to

look at me. The night finally came for the real play. I begged Mama to take me and told her how important it was. And that she needed to be there too. I mean, the play needed me! She reluctantly agreed and took Omar with her. Here was my opportunity to show my mother I was great and I wanted her to be proud. I was wearing Sally‘s gray moccasins, my brown Indian dress that came up to my knees, while freezing my calves into popsicles, and my two dark braids that mother did for me. A red and orange bead necklace was around my neck and also had my little construction paper headband and polyester feathers to go with my costume. I felt like Sacagawea and beaming so much made my jaw hurt. Mama and Omar stood in the back of the audience because there wasn‘t any more room left to sit. All the mothers and fathers, and brothers, and sisters, and grandmas, and aunts were sitting in all those seats. I knew my mother wouldn‘t mind. The play started and when it got to my part, I made sure to look at my mother and recite her the lines. She smiled and nodded after I proudly said them. Omar was playing with his toy car, standing right beside her.

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The curtain closed after I said my two wonderful lines and I went and stood in the back while the rest of my class sat on the steps entertaining the crowd. Megan and the other dolls prepared for their act. Mrs. Iams told me to stand in the back so that if a girl forgot a prop, I‘d be there ready to give it to her. I felt so privileged to be chosen yet again to have the best parts in the play; the princess and the prop master. The curtains lifted open and there were six beautiful dolls on stage as still as statues. It was Megan, Andrea, Katie, Melissa, Amber, and Lisa. Their yellow curls bounced gracefully off their shoulders; their eyes twinkled like blue and green Christmas ornaments. I watched behind them, smiling, as they danced like ballerinas and sung about being a broken doll on their ―mommy‘s knees.‖ Their PTA mothers had painted their lips coral red, and rounded their cheeks with rouge. They had the patches on the dresses Andrea‘s mother helped make and they had hunter green bows in their hair with gold lining the edges. They all looked so perfect. Dolls on the cover of a Christmas card. Megan was the star of the show and she knew it. She floated across the stage like an angel on ice-skates

and her dress twirled like strawberry swirls in ice cream. The spotlight bounced off their dresses and I watched in amazement. I was watching so intensely that I dropped my feather from my costume and couldn‘t find it on the floor. It was so dark back there. The only light on the stage was on the dolls. I reminded myself I‘d find it once the play finished. Some threw roses and teddy bears onto the stage when the play ended. One rose poked me and scratched my forehead. It was so nice that people tossed these things for us. The crowd was so excited by our performance. They yelped, and whistled, and shouted names out. We were the best. As we walked to the car, and the snow quietly descended on our coats, I asked Mama what she thought of my great performance. ―Wasn‘t I so good Mama? Wasn‘t I the best?‖ I was skipping all the way to the car and holding a teddy bear that had Megan‘s name on it for some reason. ―Yes, Noor. You did very well.‖ She didn‘t smile. She opened the station wagon‘s door and pushed Omar and me inside. Photograph: Agencyby | Dreamstime.com

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―Omar, what did you think? Wasn‘t I so great when I said my lines?‖ I was hoping to get a better response from him. Mother was obviously too tired to say much about it. ―Noo. You weren‘t any good. You just had two stupid lines and…‖ ―Be quiet Omar. Don‘t be rude to your sister.‖ Mama was glaring at Omar through the mirror while she drove. The snow started to come down faster, and the windows were getting covered quickly. ―But, but even you said is that all they gave her? Two lines?‖ ―Be quiet, Omar.‖ Mother bit her bottom lip. She tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. Mama now had to use the windshield wipers in order for her to see where she was going. ―And why did they put her in back? Why isn‘t she with rest of the girls?‖ Omar kept going. Mama looked like a maraschino cherry. Whiteness surrounded the car. I heard a ringing in my ears and twirled the feather I found on the stage faster and faster.

―Quiet!‖ He stopped and grunted in satisfaction. He looked at me blankly and then at the window. We were passing pine trees and colored lights on two-story houses. Everything looked so perfect, so fit together, like a picture from a calendar. I peered real hard at my reflection in the window for a few moments. Then I looked down at the feather in my hands and imagined myself sprouting wings. Turning the handle that brought the window down, I stuck my hand out the window and held the feather. It flapped against the falling snow. Then it danced in the wind as it floated in the air, its image a dark speck in the glowing white.

Followed by story’s lessons, motivation, and how parents can help. 55


Story’s lessons:

Kids will always make fun of you no matter what. Whether it‘s the color of your hair, the clothes you wear, or the way you talk, kids will always, find something to pick on. They do this only to make themselves feel better about who they are as well as doing it out of ignorance. Noor should have accepted who she is and what she looked like. As Muslims we will always be the stranger. Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Islam initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its old position of being strange, so good tidings for the strangers" (Muslim, Attirmidthi, Ibn Majah, and Ahmad). Especially when you go to a public school or school with non-Muslims, you will always be considered weird or an outsider because of this. If not, it is possible you are forgetting your deen and are becoming one of them like Noor tries to do. Islam should be first, no matter how difficult that may be; you don‘t want to fit in and start losing your Islamic morals and ideals. Do not compromise with the deen. Noor was in the play when she should have been exempt from it. She should have told the teacher she didn‘t do anything that involved holidays. Noor also lied to the girls about who she is and lying is haram in Islam. She should have found other girls to be with that didn‘t make her compromise her Muslim identity.

Motivation

: Realize that you are different because you‘re Muslim and you are better than them only because you are on the right path, obeying and worshipping Allah (swt) and the ones who are not Muslim are disobeying Him. Photograph: Olga Drozdova | Dreamstime.com

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You are doing dawah when you show and explain your Islamic identity; Allah will reward you inshAllah for this. The harder it is to preserve your Islamic ideals, Allah (swt) will give you greater reward for it. With hardship comes ease. You are not alone. Muslims will always stand out, and you should be proud of that because Allah has chosen you to be amongst the Ummah. You will be put down for who you are and what you believe in. It is just accepting this and preparing ways in order for you to defend yourself for being a Muslim. Knowledge! Knowledge! The more you dedicate yourself to your deen and learn about it, the more answers you will share with others about who are and what your beliefs are. If you do not learn more about Islam, you will surely be defeated in standing up to your Muslim title! You will definitely look weak in the non-Muslim eyes when in truth, we are powerful because we are on His path and success comes from Allah SWT only.

How parents can help:

Tell your child she is not the only one who will feel left out; everyone has tasted this unsatisfying feeling. Try to involve her with other Muslims her age. People always feel better and gain self-confidence when they are with people of their own kind. Help her to learn more about Islam and about her heritage, culture, and background. Involve her in Islamic activities and activities with other Muslims. If that is difficult than get her involved in acquiring skills (memorizing Quran, learning ahadeeth, sports, art, and so forth) so she feels confident about herself. Tell her this is one of the many tests from Allah (swt) and the harder the test, the more it means that she is closer to Allah. Let her read and learn about the stories of the prophets, wives, and followers. So many lessons and hardships to learn from! Tell her this experience only makes her stronger and wiser. Allah only gives his slave what she is able to handle; Allah does not overburden the slave if He thinks she can not handle the situation.

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By Lisa Shah The past three years of my life have probably been the most significant years of my life. So much has happened in that time and I have emerged a new person. Yes, I started college, moved to New York City, and changed my major, but the largest and most rewarding of these changes has been my reversion to Islam. It didn't happen too long ago, but in the years leading up to my shahada, my life began to change for the better and, Alhamdulillah, I am now the happiest that I have ever been :D As I began my quest to learn more about this religion, one of the first things I came across was a website (which has since been taken down) that listed various health guidelines taken from the Qur'an and Sunnah. As a student who hopes to one day be a doctor (insha'Allah) this was extremely intriguing. I had never really associated religion and health before. The website used the texts of these sources to derive sound proof supporting or opposing various medically-related topics.

Alhamdulillah, learning about this was my gateway into this complete way of life. I never used to be health conscious. I mean, I was an athlete throughout my grade school years, but I never made what one would categorize as healthy or smart decisions. I was a teenager who ate poorly, slept little, and only focused on the immediate pleasures of life. But throughout the years I have seen members of my family and some of my closest friends suffer from the effects of poor lifestyle choices. I have watched a severely overweight friend drip with sweat and gasp for air after climbing a single flight of stairs and have said nothing. I have watched members of my family who are at a high risk for diabetes continue to eat fat and sugar laden desserts after hefty meals and have said nothing. I truly wanted to use what I had learned to give them some advice, but I said nothing because I felt that they would be offended if I did. Photograph: Paul Benit | Dreamstime.com

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Lisa’s Blog muslimaonamission.blogspot.com/ But then things became real for me. When the tables had turned and it was me who had to fight a battle for my health, I spent the entire time suffering, wishing that somebody had said something to me. Maybe if they had, I wouldn't have been in that situation. But Allahu Alim. So here's the deal. I'm not the healthiest person alive, nor do I claim authorship of any advice

that I give. I'm a student now and will be one for the rest of my life. The way I understand it, life is just an opportunity to learn and act in accordance with what you've learned. When I learn something, I'll share it here. My plan is simply to spread awareness in hopes that people will take my words to heart. I'm not a teacher, a doctor, a rocket scientist or anything like that.

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Interview with Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu Br. Mohammed. Please give us some general background information on yourself that you feel will help readers put your interview answers in better perspective. Bismillah. My name is Mohammed Faris, Founder ProductiveMuslim.com, ProductiveMuslimah.com, and co-founder of 1000GoodDeeds.com. I‘m an Investment Officer for an Islamic Bank during the day and ‗ProductiveMuslim‘ at night ;). I‘ve worked on ProductiveMuslim.com for about 2 years now, and in the past 6 months, expanded the site, by recruiting a full team and introducing a number of products and services including, Friday Naseehas, One-to-One coaching, Webinars, Weekly Newsletter, and much more hamdulillah. In your opinion, what is productivity? Productivity has many definitions, and many people I‘ve asked explain it in different ways. Perhaps to me, Productivity is that positive constant energy which leads you to take practical steps to achieve one goal after another. It starts with taking a

Interview by Yasmin Essa

simple step of action, and focusing on your task at hand until you complete it. Productivity comes naturally when you‘re excited about something, but may be harder to come when you‘re bored or don‘t like a task. Therefore, productivity can sometimes be taken as a measure of how passionate you‘re about the task at hand. Productivity is such an interesting topic. It can be used for permissible/beneficial things (Halal) as well as prohibited/harmful things (Haram). Can you elaborate on this? If we define the result of productivity as a positive beneficial outcome, it‘s hard to imagine productivity to lead or be used for Haram. In fact, in my view, prohibited and harmful things are ‗productivity killers‘. They distract the person from their true purpose in life, thus distract them from being truly productive. Productivity occupies the person in beneficial ways, kills boredom, benefits others, and helps them grow; therefore it can only lead towards good inshaAllah. The one thing I‘d add is that for us as Muslims, in order for our productivity to be rewarded by Allah (SWT), we need to have the right intentions in place. We have a Photograph: Madartists | Dreamstime.com

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motto on ProductiveMuslim.com which says ―Have good intentions and work hard!” What is Islam's view on productivity as you see it? Islam being more than a religion but a way of life lends itself naturally to a productive way of life. In fact, this is our main message on ProductiveMuslim.com: how does Islam inspire us to become productive? If we look into the whole structure of Islam, from defining our purpose of life, to regulating our eating/drinking and arranging our time around Salah, we can see how Islam is a natural productivity developer! If we look into the early Muslims, they didn‘t set out to be productive, but they practiced Islam and followed its traditions so well which made them productive pioneers of their time. Islam gives us focus, purpose, and goals; all 3 important ingredients for anybody to be productive. Islam also gives us the spiritual tools to be productive. Remember productivity is not only about physical actions, it‘s connected to our state of mind, our emotions and our soul. A person whose at peace with his/her soul, heart and mind will be much more productive compared to a person who‘s depressed for example. Unfortunately today, people don‘t see Is-

lam as a religion that encourages productivity; they accuse it of being a ‗backward‘ religion and that it makes people lazy and unproductive. InshaAllah with initiative such as ProductiveMuslim.com and others, we can correct this misunderstanding and inspire many Muslims to become productive through Islam inshaAllah! As the founder and CEO of ProductiveMuslim and ProductiveMuslimah, please share with us how you started both endeavors and the inspiration behind the two. It started 3 years ago when I was juggling between many responsibilities (2 jobs, masters degree, dawah projects, education projects..etc). I became very interested in how to efficiently and effectively manage all my tasks and responsibilities and started reading about productivity and how to get things done. I read books, visited blogs, even learnt new softwares, and basically became a productivity addict! As my research into productivity deepened; I started realizing how some of the concepts taught in the books/blogs I was reading can be found in Islam, e.g. Many productivity ‗gurus‘ recommend waking up early and working in the early hours of the day. I could not help but link this to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) dua which said: ―O Allah, bless my Ummah in its early hours‖. Another productivity Photograph: Madartists | Dreamstime.com

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would say ―spending 5-10 minutes of your time, at least 4-5 times a day, focusing on your purpose of life helps you become productive‖ isn‘t that a description of our 5 daily prayers?! Such clear links took me on a different research path, and I started studying how Islam makes us productive. I wanted a place to document my thoughts and findings, and share with like-minded people how Islam can make us productive, so I started ProductiveMuslim.com as a simple blog, almost like a personal journal. SubhanaAllah, within a few months, the popularity of the blog grew, and I recognized the potential for the website to help young Muslims become productive. Alhamdulillah, with the help of Allah (SWT) we‘ve reached where we are today and inshaAllah will continue to expand and deliver our message. Regarding ProductiveMuslimah.com, this came much later. I started looking at the demographics of my visitors to the website and facebook page and I noticed that more than 60% of the visitors were sisters. And I realised that there weren‘t many websites that were tailor made for the Muslim sister to inspire her and encourage her to become more productive. This realization was coupled with a number of sisters emailing me suggesting to start ProductiveMuslimah website and hamdulillah

with their help we launched ProductiveMuslimah.com. 6) What is the best way a Muslim can be productive? There are 2 approaches for the Muslim to choose from in order to start treading on the productivity path: A top-down approach, and bottom up approach. 1. The Top-Down Approach simply begins with the Muslim/Muslimah having a clear vision of what they want to achieve, they have a clear understanding of their purpose and what Allah created them for. This vision/ purpose drives them to being productive throughout their life, achieving many mini-goals, all leading towards achieving their ultimate vision. 2. The Bottom-Up Approach is for those who don‘t have a vision yet, but want to be productive. My suggestion to them is to get involved in as many interesting projects as they can, this will inshaAllah open doors for them they never thought of before, and set them on a productive path towards finding their vision and purpose inshaAllah. Which approach to choose from is up to the individual, but in either case, sitting idle is not an option! Photograph: Madartists | Dreamstime.com

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First and foremost we must be productive with our Deen. However, it is also very important to be productive towards our society. What are your thoughts on this? Very true. As mentioned above, being productive in our Deen lends itself naturally to being productive in our Dunya. The moment we focus our lives to obey Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him), and we start building a truly Islamic lifestyle, you‘ll notice the immense productivity that you suddenly have. You‘ll be wasting less time and will be much more active in your home, your mosque, and community. Productivity is not a selfish endeavor, in fact, the measure of a truly productive person is not how many tasks they get done, but how they can balance the different responsibilities in their lives whilst adding value in each of their different focus areas: family, work, community, personal/ religious development..etc.

JazakAllah Brother. Do you have any final questions or comments? JazakumAllah khair, this was a truly beneficial interview to me personally, helped me self-reflect on many things. I just have one simple request to MBMuslima readers,

we’re looking for contributors for our ProductiveMuslimah.com website to contribute weekly/monthly on any topic related to productivity, if any of MBMuslima readers is interested in this position, please e-mail us at productivemuslimah@gmail.com

What advice do you have for a Muslim or Muslimah who wants to be more productive but is having trouble with this? There‘s a lot I could say but perhaps I can summarize my advice in 5 sentences: Remember Death. Life is short. Know who your Creator is and know why He created you. Don‘t listen to Shaytaan, he just wants you to make you lazy. Discipline yourself. (Oh and visit ProductiveMuslim.com :P). Photograph: Madartists | Dreamstime.com

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Interview by Yasmin Essa Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu Brother Basim. Thank you for taking your time to answer questions from MBM. InshaAllah, we would like to talk about your wonderful new iPhone Application, Digital Dhikr. I think the best way for those interested to learn about it would be by watching the short video on your website. However, can you please explain the application to us here?

which is used to make Dhikr, after salat or at random times. It simulates the Islamic prayer beads (Subha) by fully animating a set of beads that flow across your fingers as you slide them across like a traditional Subha. What motivated the creation of Digital Dhikr?

I bought this cool looking Subha from Egypt when I was there, and wanted to Walaykum Assalam Sister Yasmin. carry it around to remind me to make Thank you for your interest in Digital Dhikr but it wasn‘t always practical. So I Dhikr and featuring it in your cool decided to make software to digitize it magazine. and have it with me all the time. I Digital Dhikr is an application that found that I make Dhikr more often now simulates Islamic prayer beads (Subha), because I have it with me. So as I am 64


walking to meetings or waiting for something, I make good use of my time by using Digital Dhikr. Did you develop the application yourself? If not, who did? Furthermore, please share with us the process. Did you have any struggles or difficulties in doing so? I have a team who helped put this together. There were definitely difficulties along the way but ilhamduallah we got through them. When was Digital Dhikr launched? March 3, 2010 Who else is working on this project with you? My great team! Can you share some of the key features and benefits of Digital Dhikr?

Mode to just Tap the beads to have them slide. 2 Dhikr Modes: After Salat or Normal. After Salat Mode is used directly after salat w/ 4 common Islamic Dhikr predefined. Normal Mode is used anytime and you can select from a variety of Dhikr with an option to shuffle and mix it up while doing Dhikr. Listen to the Audio for each Dhikr and reference it for pronunciation and memorization. A counter shows your position and you can Reset it anytime. You‘ll get cued every 33 counts with a pleasing sound and visual. Benefits It‘s conveniently always with you when you need it. A simple way to earn good deeds in the form of Dhikr. Engages mind, body, and soul.

What kind of feedback have you gotDefinitely….some of the key features ten back so far? and benefits are: So far I‘ve had positive feedback and I Features encourage people to rate it and pro2 Touch modes: Scroll and Tap. Slide vide their feedback in iTunes. the beads across the screen in Scroll mode or change the Touch 65


JazakAllah for answering all of our How can our brothers and sisters in questions. Do you have any final Islam learn more about Digital Dhikr? comments or questions? Go to digitaldhikr.wordpress.com Does your team have any future plans or new ideas for Digital Dhikr or any related projects? Most definitely! Our next Islamic app is underway so stay tuned. We will continue to develop useful Islamic apps for muslim brothers and sisters all over the world.

Wa iyyaki. My final comment is from Surat Al-Ahzab 33:35 ―And the men and women who remember Allah frequently, Allah had prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.‖

Get your copy of Digital Dhikr from iTunes.

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For Married Muslimahs:

A blog about Islamic marriage written by a fellow Muslim sister.

Photographer: Sameh Abdallah

http://tightknot.wordpress.com/

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SUCCESS GUIDE FOR THE COLLEGE MUSLIMAH. MBM Colum Inspired by Sister Glory Ali from NJ. JazakAllahu Khair Sister. A new regular column in MBM, The Success Guide for the College Muslimah will feature a top ten in each issue. In this issue, we will be looking at ―10 tips for the college Muslimah without a major‖. Future issues will provide tips for Muslimas that are : - High school seniors - Graduating seniors - Fresh Graduates & much more.

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10 tips for the college

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Get involved in a plethora of activities. By doing this, you will have a better chance at figuring out what you have a natural disposition to do.

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Befriend upperclassmen of all different majors.

Make a list of your natural strengths and weaknesses. After doing this, do a deep analysis of your strengths and weaknesses and see how they connect to different possible majors.

Utilize career services at your school. By doing so, you can go speak to someone, find information, or even take assessments to figure out what might work best for you.

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Envision the future you desire for yourself. Do you want free time? Family time? What kind of job will give you the future you want? 70


Muslimah without a major. By Yasmin Essa

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Make duaa and ask others to make duaa for you. Duaa is such a powerful tool. Make sure to constantly seek refuge in the One who created you.

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Speak to professionals of all different disciplines. This may be one of the most practical ways to see what the real world looks like after college.

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“Tawakal 3la Allah” After choosing a major, realize that you must do your best and leave the rest in the hands of Allah SWT.

Make your daily prayers. Sometimes when individuals get so stressed, religion gets put on the back burner. Don‘t let this happen. Remember the reason why we are here.

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Understand 2 types of planning. 1) Personal planning 2) The planning of Allah SWT. The planning of Allah SWT overrides all and is what is better for you.

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Spring Cleaning the Halal Way by A simple guide to finding halal, non-toxic cleaning products and a basic checklist for how to quickly and efficiently deep clean your kitchen. E-book in pdf. format. 334 kb, 9 total pages. PayPal or credit cards accepted.

Price 1.49 The E-book includes: 

What is Halal Cleaning?  Products to Use  Getting Started  Cleaning From Top to Bottom  Inside the Cabinets  Cleaning Large Appliances  The Exterior  Floors  Finishing  Cleaning Products Brand Recommendation

Click here to purchase Yvonne’s wonderful Ebook!

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Is your kitchen halal? Turn “my halal kitchen” into “your halal kitchen”. Photograph: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Visit myhalalkitchen.com for all your halal needs.

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Photograph: Aleksandar Bracinac | Dreamstime.com

Recipes adapted or taken from, Best of Greece: The Taste of Sunny Greece Brought to Life in Over 30 Delectable Recipes�

Courtesy of www.myhalalkitchen.com Š Copyright My Halal Kitchen 2008-2010. No reproduction or redistribution of this recipe is permissible without the express written consent of the Editor of My Halal Kitchen. 74


Photograph: Manon Ringuette | Dreamstime.com

I‘ve had many different versions of Moussaka, but not the one in this recipe. It takes a bit more effort than the styles that don‘t top it off with a creamed sauce, but I think it‘s worth it. (Serves 4-6)

Ingredients (Base)  2 large eggplants 2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil + 4 Tb. more  1 lb. ground beef  1 yellow onion, finely diced  2 garlic cloves, minced  1 can organic tomato sauce  salt, to taste  ground pepper, to taste  4 Tb. fresh parsley  3 sprigs fresh thyme  4 Tb. bread crumbs, unseasoned 2 egg whites Ingredients (Sauce)  3 Tb. butter  1/3 cup unbleached flour  1 2/3 cup whole milk  ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 1 ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  2 egg yolks  1 egg Photograph: Torsten Schon | Dreamstime.com

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Preheat your oven to 375°. 2. Clean and cut the eggplants into circular shapes. Layer in a colander and salt generously. Put a heavy piece of cookware on top to hold them down. Leave for 20-30 minutes to drain. This also helps to remove bitterness from the eggplants. 3. In a large sautÊ pan, heat 2 Tb. olive oil and add the meat. Cook over medium-high heat until the meat begins to separate nicely (about 1-2 minutes), then add the onion and garlic. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. 4. Add the tomato sauce + 2 Tb. water and stir well, bringing the meat to a boil. Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and fresh thyme. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 15 minutes. 5. Going back to the eggplant- rinse well and dry very well with a cotton towel. On two baking sheets each lined with parchment paper, place the eggplant pieces. Use a pastry brush to 1.

dress the tops with the remaining olive oil. Place in the oven on separate racks for 10 minutes. When done, set aside to cool. 6. Going back to the meat, add the breadcrumbs and egg whites. Stir well and remove from heat. 7. Next, make the sauce. In a small saucepan, add the milk, butter and flour to low-medium heat. Use a whisk to create a thick, creamy mixture. Reduce to a simmer. Once it becomes thick, add half of the grated cheese and all of the grated nutmeg. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes. Then, add the egg yolks and whole egg. Whisk well to incorporate. 8. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Make one layer of cooked eggplant, then add one layer of meat. Repeat one more time. 9. Add the cream sauce and top with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until top has mostly browned. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe Courtesy of www.myhalalkitchen.com Photograph: Torsten Schon | Dreamstime.com

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This yogurt dish is certainly not unique to Greek cuisine, but the preparation and ingredients are traditional for this region. Goes great with toasted pita bread or even chips for dipping as a party appetizer. Serves 4

1 large cucumber, peeled, and seeds removed 1 cup extra thick yogurt, preferably European style whole milk yogurt  2 small scallions, minced  1 garlic clove, minced  2 Tb. Fresh mint, roughly chopped  Sea salt, to taste  Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Photograph: Iwka | Dreamstime.com

Recipe Courtesy of www.myhalalkitchen.com

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Chop the cucumbers into small segments or finely dice. Dry with a towel to remove moisture.  In a large serving bowl, whisk the yogurt until smooth. Add the cucumber, scallions, garlic. Stir to combine.  Add the mint, salt and ground pepper to the yogurt mixture.  Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh mint, if desired.

Photograph: Iwka | Dreamstime.com

Love Yvonne’s Recipes? Ask the cook questions by E-mailing your questions to admin@mbmuslima.com All questions will be forwarded to Yvonne (Founder of My Halal Kitchen) 78


This is a very light cake, perfect for guests visiting for tea or coffee and quick for you to make.

3 Tb. butter  4 Tb. runny honey  Rind and juice of 1 lemon  2/3 cup whole milk  1 ¼ cup plain flour  1 ½ tsp. baking powder  1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg  ¼ cup semolina flour  2 egg whites  2 tsp. sesame seeds 

Photograph: Torsten Schon | Dreamstime.com

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Photograph: Mikael Damkier | Dreamstime.com

Preheat oven to 400⁰F.  Spray a deep, square cake pan with oil. Line the bottom with parchment paper, if you have it. Set aside.  In a large sauce pan over low heat, heat the butter and honey until melted. Set aside.  Reserve 1 Tb. of the lemon juice and set aside.  In a separate bowl, add the rest of the lemon juice and the lemon rind to the milk.  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and nutmeg. Beat this mixture and the semolina into the milk mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold evenly into the flour/baking powder/milk mixture.  Spoon the mixture created in step #7 into the parchment-lined cake pan. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.  While the cake is still warm, drizzle the reserved lemon juice and warmed honey/butter mixture over the top of the cake. Let it saturate the cake for a few minutes.  Cut into long pieces and serve while still warm. 

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No computers are required, so you or your children can recite anywhere, at any time in just 3 EASY STEPS! 1. Point the pen on selected verse 2. Listen to the verse being read in high quality voice audio. 3. Recite the verse with ease and confidence! Accessories: USB, User Manual, Holy Quran

Quran Readpen is a new learning and teaching technology, where voice can be heard from the pen speaker when pointed on the specially printed Quranic pages. The recitation voice is clear, full and beautiful.

Click Here to Learn More 81


QUR’AN CHALLENGE

Photographer: Sameh Abdallah

Each issue, MBM will choose one Surah that we challenge our readers to memorize completely within a month's span. This issue’s challenge is Surah Al-Fajr MBM is currently focusing on smaller Surahs to encourage those who are new to Islam, inshaAllah.

On the following page, you will find the Translation and Transliteration of Surat Al-Fajr. MBM wishes you all good luck to memorize this, inshaAllah!

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Surah Al-Fajr Translation Credit: http://noblequran.com/translation/surah89.html Transliteration Credit: http://www.islambasics.com/view.php?bkID=30&chapter=89

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful Bismi Allahi alrrahmanialrraheemi 1. By the dawn; Waalfajri 2. By the ten nights (i.e. the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah), Walayalin AAashrin 3. And by the even and the odd (of all the creations of Allah). WaalshshafAAi waalwatri 4. And by the night when it departs. Waallayli itha yasri 5. There is indeed in them (the above oaths) sufficient proofs for men of understanding. Hal fee thalika qasamun lithee hijrin 6. Did you (O Muhammad ) not see (thought) how your Lord dealt with 'Ad (people)? Alam tara kayfa faAAala rabbuka biAAadin 7. Who were very tall like lofty pillars, Irama thati alAAimadi 8. The like of which were not created in the land? Allatee lam yukhlaq mithluha fee albiladi 9. And (with) Thamud (people), who cut (hewed) out rocks in the valley (to make dwellings)? Wathamooda allatheena jaboo alssakhra bialwadi 83


10. And (with) Fir'aun (Pharaoh), who had pegs (who used to torture men by binding them to pegs)? WafirAAawna thee al-awtadi 11. Who did transgress beyond bounds in the lands. Allatheena taghaw fee albiladi 12. And made therein much mischief. Faaktharoo feeha alfasada 13. So your Lord poured on them different kinds of severe torment. Fasabba AAalayhim rabbuka sawta AAathabin 14. Verily, your Lord is Ever Watchful (over them). Inna rabbaka labialmirsadi 15. As for man, when his Lord tries him by giving him honor and gifts, then he says (puffed up): "My Lord has honored me." Faamma al-insanu itha ma ibtalahurabbuhu faakramahu wanaAAAAamahu fayaqoolu rabbee akramani 16. But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life, he says: "My Lord has humiliated me!" Waamma itha ma ibtalahu faqadara AAalayhirizqahu fayaqoolu rabbee ahanani 17. Nay! But you treat not the orphans with kindness and generosity (i.e. you neither treat them well, nor give them their exact right of inheritance)! Kalla bal la tukrimoona yateema 18. And urge not on the feeding of AlMiskin (the poor)! Wala tahaddoona AAala taAAamialmiskeeni 19. And you devour inheritance all with greed, Wata/kuloona altturathaaklan lamman

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20. And you love wealth with much love! Watuhibboona almala hubban jamman 21. Nay! When the earth is ground to powder, Kalla itha dukkati al-ardu dakkan dakkan 22. And your Lord comes with the angels in rows, Wajaa rabbuka waalmalaku saffansaffan 23. And Hell will be brought near that Day. On that Day will man remember, but how will that remembrance (then) avail him? Wajee-a yawma-ithin bijahannama yawma-ithin yatathakkarual-insanu waanna lahu alththikra 24. He will say: "Alas! Would that I had sent forth (good deeds) for (this) my life!" Yaqoolu ya laytanee qaddamtu lihayatee 25. So on that Day, none will punish as He will punish. Fayawma-ithin la yuAAaththibu AAathabahu ahadun 26. And none will bind as He will bind. Wala yoothiqu wathaqahu ahadun 27. (It will be said to the pious): "O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Ya ayyatuha alnnafsualmutma-innatu 28. "Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him! IrjiAAee ila rabbiki radiyatan mardiyyatan 29. "Enter you, then, among My honored slaves, Faodkhulee fee AAibadee 30. "And enter you My Paradise!" Waodkhulee jannatee 85


MBM reader Spotlight:

How

two mbm readers get involved in their community

My head instructor and I teach shotokan karate and I am working on making a Quran class for women in my self defense to the youth in nearby masjids! area as well as and I teach a sister how to pray. - Evelyn Gutierrez –Parisa Nuha Gillespie

Photograph: Antonio Ovejero Diaz | Dreamstime.com

MBM asked: When facing adversity, how does Islam get you through? Through prayer I can face anything. I fear none but Sabr (patience) and dhikr (remembrance of Allah Allah SWT. Whatever happens, I know Allah SWT SWT). always read the powerful ayahs from the will guide me. Quran. Having faith in Allah SWT and total reliance in Him decreases your anxiety and you are able to face -Sahar Pheonix any adversity! -Mohsina Meer Patience, prayers and total believe in Allah SWT. Also believing that whatever has befallen u was never Knowing that Allah SWT puts no burden on you that meant to pass you and whatever has missed you was you can‘t handle. never meant to be yours. May Allah SWT make it easy –Fatimah Washington for us all. –Hidayah Balogun Having Trust in Allah (SWT). -Maria Walker

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Sameh Abdallah is a photographer and graphic designer that tries to provide anything artistic to fellow Muslims from photography to graphics.

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/xspideysamx Personal website www.samabdallah.com E-mail: abdallahs1@yahoo.com Advertisement

Advertise in MBM For more information, E-mail advertising@mbmuslima.com

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Chapter 7

The Golden Gate By Meena Ansari "Yummy! That was a delicious breakfast" said Emma. It was now morning, the girls had showered, got dressed and also ate breakfast at Café Trinity. Suhana: "Mr Roberts has certainly chosen a great accommodation for us" Daniela" "HE is a great man, God bless him" Emma: "Did you guys sleep well last night?" Suhana: "I sure did, I was really tired" Daniela: "I had to take sleeping pills, since I had taken such a long nap haha!" Suhana: "Okay girls! It‟s noon!" Emma: "Yes dear! But we still have 5 minutes! Relax! It‟s not as if he‟s going to be here right on time!" Suhana (smiles): "I am going anyways" Daniela (sighed): "Oh dear" Suhana went towards the lobby and there she saw Raj sitting, waiting for them to arrive. Raj (smiles): "Good afternoon Madam" Suhana (smiles): "Good afternoon Raj, and by the way, please refrain from calling me ma‟am, miss or madam, I don‟t like being formal" Raj: "Alright, as you wish ma‟am" Suhana: "Excuse me..." Raj: "Oops! I mean Suhana" Raj (blushes): "Um... So is Daniela ma‟am coming?" "I am here!" said Daniela Raj: "Oh! Good afternoon ma‟am" Daniela (smiles): "Same to you, Shall we get going now?"

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Raj; "Sure Ma‟am, in fact I have arranged a very unique ride for us" Emma: "By the way Raj, I must say. You are very punctual" Raj: "Thank you Miss, I believe in being professional, no matter what my job is" Daniela: "So, where is our ride?" Raj: "Right outside Ma‟am, please follow me" The girls followed Raj outside the Hotel, and right in front of them stood a Horse Carriage. Daniela: "Are you serious? A horse carriage? Can‟t you arrange a car?" Suhana: "Daniela, this perfect, it‟s so beautiful!" Emma: "I agree! I have never been on a horse carriage before! This should be fun!" Daniela: "Alright....If you guys insist...I will go with it!" Raj (smiles): "Alright Ladies, today we will be visitng one of the most important sites in Jerusalem called, The Golden Gate, I will explain more while we ride" Raj opened the little carriage door Daniela, Emma and Suhana. Daniela and Emma sat in the back seat, while Suhana sat with Raj in the front. For some odd reason, Raj and Suhana could not take their eyes off of each other. Emma (coughs): "Should we get going now?" Raj (smiles): "Sure Ma‟am" Raj told the carriage driver to begin the ride, in Hebrew. Daniela: „Wow! You speak Hebrew?" Raj: "Yes Madam, I have to, I live in Jerusalem after all" Suhana: "What other languages do you speak?" Raj: "I speak Hebrew, Arabic and Hindi" Suhana: "Awesome! I speak Hindi too!" Emma: "Interesting! You speak four languages!" Raj: "Thank you Miss, and yes Suhana, I learnt Hindi from my Mom and Bollywood Movies"

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Suhana: "You watch Bollywood Movies? I love them!!" Raj: "I love them too" Suhana (smiles): "You are one of the few guys I have met who do" Daniela: "So, where are going? You were about to tell us, right Raj?" Raj: "Yes Madam, like I said, we are going to get a tour of the Golden Gate" Emma: "When are we going to reach there?" Raj: "Anytime soon Miss" Suhana: "What else is there to see in Jerusalem?" Raj: "There are several places Suhana, I think it would be great if we visit the most important ones first" Emma: "True" Raj: "By the way, if you donâ€&#x;t mind me asking, what made you ladies come to Jerusalem?" Emma: "We have been sent by a great man named Mr. Roberts, he saw the dedication in us to research the roots of our religions, therefore he sent us here to fulfill our wish" Daniela: "So now we have to make him prod by researching as much as we can" Raj: "This is interesting, what religion are ladies?" Suhana: "As you might have known, I am Muslim" "I am Christian" said Emma, as she touched the chain on her neck that had the cross. Daniela (smiles): "And I am prod to be Jewish" Raj was amazed at hearing this. Raj (with surprise and excitement): "This is amazing! 3 Ladies, One Jewish, One Christian and another Muslim have come together at Jerusalem!! And that too to research the roots of their religions!!" Emma (smiles): "Wow, you seem more excited than us! Haha!" Raj: "Maâ€&#x;am, why did you not tell me this before??? I would have taken each of you to the perfect places!" Daniela (with curiosity): "What do you mean?" Raj: "How many days are you here for?"

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Suhana: "A week" Raj: "So that means you have 6 more days left, including today, correct?" Daniela: "Yes" Suhana: "I know it‟s very less, but that was the best Mr. Roberts could do for us" Raj: "That is perfectly fine, after getting a tour of the Golden Gate today, I will take Ms. Daniela to Western Wall tomorrow, then Mount Olives for Ms. Emma and finally Al-Aqsa Mosque with Suhana" Daniela: "You read my mind, I was just about to tell you to take me to the Western Wall tomorrow!" Emma: "I think it would be great if me and Suhana did some shopping from the Boutiques and even visit a Museum, while you can take Daniela to the Western Wall" Suhana: "So, Raj and Daniela are going together to the Western Wall?" Daniela (Sarcastically): "Girlfriend, don‟t worry, I am already engaged, I won‟t steal him from you!" Raj: "haha Madam, you are too funny" Suhana (Sarcastically): "She sure is!" Raj: "Okay, so tomorrow at noon, will that be fine with you Madam?" Daniela (smiles): "Yes, I will be ready" The Carriage suddenly stopped. Raj: "And here we are! Welcome to the Golden Gate Ladies!" Emma: "That was quick" Suhana: "Maybe because we were all talking, so we did not realize" Raj got off the Carriage and then opened the door for Suhana first and then Daniela and Emma. "Thank you Raj" said both Daniela and Emma. Raj: "You are very welcome Ladies, Now please follow me" Daniela, Emma and Suhana started following Raj towards the Golden Gate. The Golden Gate was located in the "Old City" part of Jerusalem. The Old City was the place that consisted of most if the historical sites and was quite far from the modern part of Jerusalem. The girls could literally feel the peace that surrounded the area. The land was so quite and serene, as though no soul ever visited the place. It was hard to believe that this was the very site where such dramatic past events took place.

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"Oh Lord!" screamed Daniela and Suhana Emma: "What happened?" Daniela: "Our skirt‟s have been stuck with this sticky grass!" Suhana" "I shouldn‟t have worn my long skirt!" Emma and Raj quickly came towards them. Emma tried to help the girls. Emma: "Now, this is one of the reasons why I dislike and don‟t wear skirts!" Emma brushed off the pieces of grass from the skirts. Emma: "Are you guys good now?" Daniela: "Yes, Thank you Emma" Suhana (smiles): "Thanks so much Emma" Emma: "You are welcome girls, let‟s get going now" Daniela: "How much further do we have to go?" Raj: "Not much Madam, Just right up that hill and there is the Golden Gate!!" The girls and Raj began walking up the hill. From further view, the Golden Gate seemed like an ordinary ancient wall. But, as the girls got closer, they could see that the gate really did look golden, especially with the sun shining upon it. "Alright here we are! This is the blessed Golden Gate!" said Raj Suhana (sighed): "That was a long walk! But it‟s all worth it! This gate is so beautiful!" Emma: "It is amazing how I am literally standing on one of the places where the blessed parents of Virgin Mary stood thousands of years ago!" Daniela: "Tell us more Raj" Raj: "Alright Madam, The Golden Gate is oldest gate of Jerusalem. In Judaism, it is believed that the divine presence used to ap pear through this gate, and will appear again when the Messiah comes and a new gate replaces the present one. That is why formerly Jews used to pray for mercy at the former gate at this location." Therefore, it is often referred to as "The Gate of Mercy" in Judaism. In Christianity, the gate was the scene of a meeting between the parents of Virgin Mary, hence it became a

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symbol of depicting the life of the Virgin Mary. In Arabic, it is known as the "Gate of Eternal Life". In ancient times the gate was known as the "Beautiful Gate"." Suhana: "Mashallah! You have so much knowledge!" Raj: "haha! Thank you Suhana" Daniela: "Well, he has to, he is a tour guide after all" Raj: "Exactly Madam! Also, as you can see, the gate is actually closed with rocks built in, it used to be open thousands og years ago, but it is believed that since the Jews believed that the Messiah will come through this gate, the rulers of that time purposely got it closed, due to that very reason" Daniela: "haha! Yet still believe that the Messiah will definitely come someday!" Emma (smiles): "Guys, I am going to take pictures of this place, so I am right around the corner" Daniela: "Okay Emma, take your time" Suhana: "See you around girlfriend!" Emma: "There are going to be really precious for my museum!" Raj: "You have a museum miss?" Emma (smiles): "No, not yet, but someday I hope to" Emma went off to take photographs while Daniela and Suhana walked around the Golden Gate with Rah. Later, even Daniela and Suhana took out their camera‟s and began taking shots of the location Soon, the sun was about to set. The girls had spent the entire afternoon touring the Golden Gate. "It is best if we now leave Ladies, evening is not a safe time to tour around" said Raj. Suhana (smiles): "You are right Raj, guys I think we should go back to the hotel now" Daniela: "Yeah, let‟s get going" Emma: "I absolutely loved this place! Can‟t wait till I visit Mount Olives! Thank you so much for bringing us here Raj!" Raj (smiles): "The pleasure is all mine Ma‟am" The girls and Raj headed toward the carriage that Raj had called back again. As they rode back to the hotel, the ladies were lost in deep thoughts. They were especially excited about visitng the special sites that Raj had promised to take them to. Daniela (in her head): "Lord! I can‟t wait till tomorrow! I have been waiting my whole life to visit the

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Western Wall! And I have actually started to like Raj, he seems like a nice guy, If all goes well, I will be really happy for Suhana!" Suhana (in her head): "Oh Allah! Raj is so spectacular! So amazing, so intelligent, so handsome, so kind. I can go on and on about him! I barely even know him, but he is already so special to me! What is happening to me? Have I found my prince? Oh my God...I need to call Naina!!" Emma (in her head): *Thinking about Ed* Raj (in his head): "Suhana is such a unique person. So humble, so modest, and yet so beautiful at the same time. Oh Allah! What is this? Is this a long-term bond? Or is it meant to end by this week itself? Because if there is something in store for the long run, then Allah I ask for your help, to guide me and her in a way that pleases you, through marriage" "Hotel Trinity is here Ladies" said the Carriage driver Like always Raj opened the carriage door for the girls. Daniela, Emma and Suhana paid their share of price to the driver. "Good Bye Ladies" said Raj "Good Bye" said Daniela and Emma Suhana (staring at Raj straight in the eyes): "Bye Raj, Take care" Raj (staring at Suhana back): "Suhana, you take care too" Suhana blushed and went into the lobby. Raj (blushed): "So, I shall be here by noon tomorrow, alright Madam?" Daniela: "Okay Raj, I will be ready, see you tomorrow" Raj: "See you, Bye" Raj sat on the carriage and went away. Emma (smiles): "These two definitely have a thing for each other" Daniela" They actually look adorable together" Emma: "I thought you didnâ€&#x;t like Raj?" Daniela (smiles): "I was so wrong about him, I am just like that, a bit suspicious at first, bit later I warm up, I really hope all goes well for Suhana" Emma (smiles): "Me too"

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Daniela: "Okay, time to go in" Emma and Daniela went towards their room. When they entered, Suhana was already lying, taking a nap. Daniela and Emma got fresh and went to eat dinner at the CafĂŠ. As soon as Suhana woke up, she offered her prayers and joined Daniela and Emma for dinner. The girls talked about how the day went by and their plans for tomorrow. Daniela was especially delighted and excited because the Western Wall awaited her.

Hope you enjoyed Chapter 7. Thanks Meena! For previous chapters, please check out previous issues of MBM

Read the next chapter in the next issue of MBM!

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Assalamu Alaykum, Alhamdulilah, we have launched ―The Dua Club‖ on our new blog (mbmuslima.com/blog) At The Dua Club, will be able to post requests for duas from your sisters and brothers in Islam. Simply leave a comment requesting other Muslims to do dua for you inshaAllah. You may specify the reason you would like dua if you wish. Also, please read the requests of others and please make dua for them. There have already been posts, so please go check them out. Although MBM is a magazine and blog for Muslim women, this will be a club open to both males and females. JazakAllah khair.

Click here to visit the Dua Club! 97


Personalized Scrapbook Blog Layouts made exclusively by Summaiyah

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Visit the MBM blog Featuring: - The Dua Club - Halal Job Search via WorkHalal.com

Photograph: Graffo | Dreamstime.com

mbmuslima.com/blog

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Assalamu Alaykum, Alhamdulilah, we have launched ―The Dua Club‖ on our new blog (mbmuslima.com/blog) At The Dua Club, will be able to post requests for duas from your sisters and brothers in Islam. Simply leave a comment requesting other Muslims to do dua for you inshaAllah. You may specify the reason you would like dua if you wish. Also, please read the requests of others and please make dua for them. There have already been posts, so please go check them out. Although MBM is a magazine and blog for Muslim women, this will be a club open to both males and females. JazakAllah khair.

Click here to visit the Dua Club! 100


Are you on the MBM mailing list?

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If not, register for free at www.mbmuslima.com/home

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SHOP MBM designed apparel and accessories with du’as, hadiths, and qur’an ayahs

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MBM Issue 10  

May 1st issue The Activism/Humanity Issue

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