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The Pillars of True Morality
AREEJ HASHMI, 21
ur goal as Muslims should be to internalize and apply Islamic values so deeply that we filter everything through them. True understanding of the Quran and Sunnah comes from educated opinions formed by students of knowledge who have spent years specializing in these disciplines. That is why, as budding students of knowledge, it is important to develop a relationship of trust with a reliable mentor.
address controversial topics at school or the workplace, it will be hard to stand for morality. It may hurt you to feel like the odd one out, but take solace in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him): “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange [as it began], so give glad tidings to the strangers.” [Muslim]
#3: Emac Yorf #1: Asu Ressit Maybe you were shamed into wearing the hijab because “your curves are shameful and should not be seen”. Maybe you were told to pray because “Allah will be angry with you if you don’t and you will go to hell”. Maybe you were never taught about anything related to Islam and did not get the chance to develop a connection with Allah. Perhaps these experiences left you feeling biased and bitter towards religious learning, but it is your responsibility to seek authentic knowledge and learn the truth from experienced and learned scholars.
#2: Ovem Per Prer You may have to battle familial and cultural pressures that push you to conform to misguided interpretations of Islamic concepts or feel societal pressures to comply to a different understanding of morality. This is where the price of morality starts to feel a little more burdensome. While you embrace the Quran and Sunnah and are trying to work toward becoming a better Muslim, your family and society may have turned against you. When well-wishing family members correct you and tell you not to be strict about your beard or hijab or you are forced to
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In a world where people “go with the flow” and try not to appear different in any way, you have chosen the path of morality, the road less travelled. Once you have understood the Quran and Sunnah, started to implement them in your life, and tasted the sweetness of Islamic ideals, you will be able to look at society’s ideas of morality and realize how shallow and inconsistent they are, while the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah are wholesome and reliable. Your lens will change and you will experience a Gestalt switch that will broaden your perspective permanently. Maybe this seems like an impossible feat. Maybe you feel like you are a hopelessly terrible person, but take it a day at a time. One day your lens will change inshaAllah. A past mentor of mine once mentioned, “The further away you are from something, the more unreal it seems, but the closer you are to it, the more you are able to accept it and believe it.” You can do it. Just take it a day at a time.
InshaAllah: God-willing Quran: The Holy Book of the Islamic faith Sunnah: The traditions or ways of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH)
NIHA SOHAIL, 16
hOw DarE wE aS a naTioN cOntInuE tO hIndEr The peOplE tHat maDe Our coUntRy WhaT iT iS tOdaY?
he Canadian government claimed that their objective was to ‘civilize’. In their native country, the Indigenous peoples of Canada have been discriminated against and forced to denounce their culture and norms. The roots of this assimilation can be traced back to the establishment of one of the most systematically flawed legislations in Canadian history: The Indian Act. The Indian Act is an amendment made by Canada to control the Indigenous lifestyle, restricting them from necessities like resources and education. The 60s scoop is when the real trouble began to roll in. The Canadian government issued Indigenous children into the residential school system. Here’s the catch—it’s not a school, but rather an internment camp where Indigenous culture is abolished both mentally and physically only to learn the “virtuous” ways of the dominant culture. Children who disobeyed the rules would succumb to these “bad spirits”. Surviving this unendurable and oppressive system was rare and even those who did would be met with mental health issues and trauma that would remain in the fabric of their society for generations to come. The Oka Crisis of July 1990 was an incident involving the mistreatment of Indigenous communities that was recognized worldwide and involved a dispute between the Mohawk Nation and the town of Oka, Quebec. The Oka officials invaded Mohawk burial grounds just to extend a nearby golf course! Instead of negotiating with the Mohawk people to trade the land, they resorted to violence, silencing the Indigenous people who pleaded for nothing more than what they deserved. But by September 11, 1990, the Mohawk people fought for the sacred land and won the long fought battle. Even though the Indigenous community has survived these inhumane events, the past is still referred to as the “Northern Secret”, as the rest of the world calls it. A poll from APTN News states that 53% of Canadians say that Indigenous Canadians would be better off integrating themselves into modern society, despite losing their culture and norms. If the Canadian government back then didn't apply the rules they set on the Indigenous people on themselves, how are they considered to be following the righteous ways? Canada claims to accept people of all other races and ethnicities, so how dare we as a nation continue to hinder the people that made our country what it is today?
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IMAN UMAIR-QAISER, 16
icture this: it’s lunch time, and all your friends are bored out of their minds. The conversation is sparse and awkward, and you feel an impending sense of doom at the prospect of your friendships deteriorating in front of your very eyes...until you remember this article, and suggest a game to play! But which game? Sure, you have your classics, like Truth or Dare or Charades, but those require thinking, and the last thing you can do when you’re bored is think. So, here are some low-material, low-organization, super fun games to play for the sake of preserving your friendships and your sanity.
Mafia 1. Choose a Narrator. This person will lead the game, but will not participate in the proceedings. 2. The Narrator randomly assigns everyone a role, using either playing cards or paper scraps. 3. You can be a good role (villager, doctor, or detective) or a bad role (mafiosi). 4. The ‘village’ enters the Night phase, where everyone puts their heads down and the Narrator calls on the groups/special roles one by one. Everyone must be quiet so as not to reveal their role. 5. The Mafia collectively (but quietly!) choose a player to be killed.
10. The village wins when all the Mafia are eliminated. The Mafia win when there is one villager left. Notes: This game is also known as ‘Werewolf’, and there are more roles that you can research and add to your game!
Paranoia 1. Sit in a circle. 2. Whisper a question to the person on your left, making sure no one is listening. The answer to the question needs to be one of the people playing. E.g. “Who is the most likely to go to jail?” or “Who is the most likely to cure cancer?” 3. The answer must be completely honest. 4. The person chooses their most honest answer to the question, and says their answer out loud. 5. Flip a coin. 6. If it lands on heads, the question is revealed, and chaos ensues. 7. If it’s tails, the game moves on, leaving everyone to wonder what the question was.
60 Second Story
6. The Doctor can protect any one player, including themselves. If that player is chosen to die, they survive the attack.
1. Come up with a random topic or find a random word generator.
7. The Detective chooses a player to see their role, which the Narrator reveals to them.
2. Make up and tell a story in one minute centred around that word or topic.
8. The ‘village’ enters the Day phase: any attacks and deaths are announced, and dead players have their roles revealed. The town council (i.e everyone still playing) then convenes to accuse players of being members of the Mafia.
3. No prior preparation; pure improv.
9. Players vote for other players to be eliminated from the game (dead players can’t vote). When a player is eliminated, their role is revealed to the village.
Now go forth, fellow comrades in boredom. Use these tools that I have bestowed upon you wisely, and make lunchtime and other socially-awkward moments a little bit bearable.
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4. If you want to make it a competition, the group can decide which is the best or funniest story.
Healing the Mind D
o you ever wonder how a form of art can leave you in awe? How the rhythm of a song can leave you lost in its beat? Or how the movement of your body can help you dance away your worries? Simply put, therapy is treatment intended to relieve or heal mental or psychological disorders.1 Therapy helps relieve mental or psychological strains that sometimes impact us negatively. It is also a way to find some closure in healing psychological disorders due to the impact of being affected by illness. There are different methods, including art therapy, music therapy, dance therapy, and imagery.
Art Therapy The word ‘art’ can make you think of drawing, painting, sculpture, or other forms of expression. As a therapy it’s about creating art, viewing it, and talking about it. Art therapy helps manage emotional conflict and makes you more self-aware. Sometimes it’s a way of expressing the unspoken, hidden emotions, anxiety or focus on mentally healing from the pain of being diagnosed with an illness. Brain wave patterns are influenced and you feel a sense of freedom.2 If you feel yourself struggling, or you are under a lot of stress, consider engaging in something art-related. It could be colouring, scribbling, doodling, painting a landscape, illustrating a comic, creating origami, attempting calligraphy—the list of mediums and methods is endless.
Music Therapy How many of you turn on the radio? Swipe through Spotify? Scroll on iTunes? Listening to music casually is also a way of healing. Music therapy promotes healing and enhances quality of life. You can create your own music, sing, discuss and listen to it, and occasionally use images as guides with music.2 Music therapists use music as therapy by doing music improv, analyzing the response of listening to music, writing songs, discussing lyrics, viewing imagery with music to relax, and performing music by singing. These methods are a ‘self-expression’ of “personal experiences or feelings” using your voice.2 Music can also be an escape for the mind. It can take
you away from reality and lead you to another place. This depends on the lyrics, the voice of the singer, beat of the song, or the rhythm that keeps you in tune with the music you are listening to.
Dance Therapy Most of you might have encountered moments where you’re at a wedding, school dance, or other social event, and suddenly the music starts to get really loud as everyone starts moving to the beat of the music. The floor has a bunch of people jamming and moving around; well, that’s what we call a dance floor. Dance is also a form of therapy using body movements to improve the mental and physical being of individuals.2 Dance therapy increases endorphins, a type of neuro-substance that leads to physical well-being by enhancing the functions of the body’s systems. It works with your circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, and muscular systems, leading to a physically fit you. The movement and rhythm of the body is a mental release of stress felt due to physical and emotional pain.2 Exercise is the best thing you can physically do for yourself, but it is also the best mental release. If you've ever heard the phrase ‘hakuna matata,’ you can think of dance as a way of having "no worries for the rest of your days." Dancing can lead to a sudden burst of happiness that you feel in a moment, giving a much needed psychological release. Keep in mind that these therapies are meant for healing cognitive psychological or mental strains from certain situations or experiences. Think of it as a secondary, not a primary, source of healing. Talk to your doctor before you consider pursuing any of the above therapy.
1. “Therapy.” Lexico: Powered by Oxford, 2019. Lexico, https://www.lexico.com/definition/therapy. December 15, 2019. 2. Art Therapy, Dance Therapy, Music Therapy, and Imagery. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/ content.aspx?ContentTypeID=85&ContentID=P07338. Art Therapy, Dance Therapy, Music Therapy, and Imagery Health Encyclopedia - University of Rochester Medical Center. December 15, 2019.
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AISHAH AHMED, 17
HUMAN Myth SELFISHNESS
o be good, or not to be good. For years, scientists have wondered and researched what human nature is really like. Are we inherently selfish and indifferent, or do we tend to look out for the good of others? There have been several polarizing opinions: many assume that humans are born with the inclination to do bad, so acts of generosity go against our nature. Other psychological research suggests the opposite: selfishness is far from being people’s primary motivation, and humans are “prone to act for the good of the group”.¹ But human nature differs from one person to the next, so it’s hard to generalize people’s nature as good or bad when there is so much grey area in between. Tom Jacobs, from Pacific Standard, says, "It is ultimately shortsighted to envision humans either as categorically egoistic* or altruistic*.” Although it isn’t accurate to view everyone as either only bad or only good, it has been established that as humans, we’re somewhat “An individual's level selfish since we tend to weigh the benefits and consequences of altruism or before helping others. selfishness can be As new research suggests, “We will forgo predicted, to an benefits to help others, but are extent, by their much less willing to suffer personality and how harm.”² This proves that to previous experiences some extent, we’re selfless and happy to aid others and do shape and influence are have a capacity for genuine theirkindness. decisions.” But, we also have limitations and if we feel threatened or too challenged, our kindness can disappear, replacing it with an attitude that stems from self-preservation but is perceived as egoistic. However, it isn’t always about a person’s nature, but also how a person has been nurtured and raised. A study concluded that certain “traits emerge so early in our lives that they appear to be innate.”³ Children at the mere age of 14 months, for example, begin to aid one another by handing over objects another child might not be able to reach. At the age of two years, they start sharing things they value, like a favourite blanket or crayons. The same study concluded that children aged three years begin “to protest against other people’s violation of moral norms.”⁴ With the help of their parents and guardians, children develop such habits so early in life that it can be MY VOICE | ISSUE3VOL7 2020 | 10
confused that they were born like that. Therefore, certain actions and behavioural characteristics—associated with kindness and selfishness—are not necessarily naturally embedded in someone—rather, it is learned behaviour. An individual's level of altruism or selfishness can be predicted, to an extent, by their personality and how previous experiences shape and influence their decisions. For instance, let’s say Person A cuts in line at a grocery store. Person A displayed a level of egocentrism. Person B, however, could either let it go and carry on with their day, which would display that they are calm and were taught to not make a big deal out of small things or could aggressively confront Person A by engaging in an argument; this doesn’t necessarily show that Person B is selfish but it proves that there is a spectrum between complete altruism and definitive egocentrism. We are not as selfish as some psychologists, scientists, and the general public have previously assumed. It's not entirely about how a person is born, whether they are inherently bad or good; rather it largely depends on a person's upbringing or social connections which influence their behaviour and morals, that shape or make them ‘good’ or ‘bad’. *Altruistic: showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others; unselfish *Egotistic: being centered in or preoccupied with oneself and the gratification of one's own desires; self-centered (opposed to altruistic) 1. Pappas, S. (2017). Conflicts of Interest: Are Humans Inherently Selfish? Retrieved December 22, 2019, from https://www.livescience.com/57991-conflicts-of-interest-sci ence-humans-selfish-cooperation.htm 2. Jacobs, T. (2017). Are Humans Altruistic, or Selfish? Context Is Key. Retrieved December 22, 2019, from https://psmag.com/news/the-angel-on-our-shoulder-is-realbut-it-isnt-always-in-charge 3. Monibot, G. (2015). We’re not as selfish as we think we are. Here’s the proof. Retrieved December 22, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/14/s elfish-proof-ego-humans-inherently-good 4. Monibot, G. (2015). We’re not as selfish as we think we are. Here’s the proof. Retrieved December 22, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/14/s elfish-proof-ego-humans-inherently-good
Should Billionaires Exist?
FATIMA SARFRAZ, 16
paying their fair share while taking into consideration on’t billionaires work hard for every nickel, every low-income families and non-profit organizations penny? Shouldn’t we find them nothing short of amongst others. Again, this is not always the case as many admirable? Why then was I caught off guard when I first corporations keep money in offshore tax havens which came across this question? As income inequality continues illegally excuses them from paying taxes. Additionally, to increase in the United States, this is being asked more business owners need to stop writing off material objects frequently on a national level. for their enjoyment as business expenditures, which In America, the top 1 percent—families with an corrupts the system and throws everything off balance. annual income of $400,000 or more—1have more assets In a Democratic debate that took place in and wealth than the entirety of the bottom 90 percent.2 October of 2019, American Senator Bernie Sanders But what does this mean and why is it so voiced his opinion that billionaires should not concerning? A reporter for The exist. Their immense wealth is part of the Washington Post, Christopher "Every citizen reason behind great economic inequality, Ingraham, explains this using the should be paying which Sanders describes as “a moral and example of pies. If America had a economic rage.” Sanders strongly their fair share population of 100 people and there were believes that “…we should demand that 100 slices of pie representing wealth, the while taking into the wealthiest top one-tenth of 1 percent slices would be distributed among consideration paying their fair share of taxes so citizens equally. That means one slice per low-income families start we can create a nation and a government person. But we don’t live in a perfect and non-profit that works for all of us.” world, so of course, this is not the case. organizations So, should billionaires exist? In reality, according to Ingraham, The wealth they possess can do so much amongst others." the top 1 percent own 40/100 slices of pie for the 7 billion inhabitants of this and “the next 4 percent split 27 slices world. For example, Jeff Bezos has the between them, while the next 5 percent take ability to end world hunger. Instead, another 12 slices (a little over two slices per billionaires choose to spend their money person). The bottom 10 percent of the top 20 percent on cars that cost over a million dollars or build private get, on average, one slice of pie each.” Oh, and guess how skyscraper homes that cost $1 billion (USD) like Indian many slices the bottom 20 percent have to share between billionaire Mukesh Ambani. So with all this in mind, I them? Just 1 slice of pie! strongly believe billionaires should not exist. Although wealth is more equally distributed amongst Canadians than Americans, there is still a noticeable gap. To measure income inequality, we have the 1. kathleen_elk. “Here's How Much You Have to Earn to Gini coefficient with a scale of 0 to 1. A coefficient of 0 Be in the Top 1% in Every US State.” CNBC. CNBC, July indicates exact equality—a perfect world—while 1 27, 2018. represents total inequality: the slices are not distributed https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/27/how-much-you-have-toequally. In the ‘80s, Canada reached a Gini coefficient of earn-to-be-in-the-top-1percent-in-every-us-state.html. 0.281 and the number has slowly increased since to 0.323 According to the Conference Board of Canada, inequality 2. Ingraham, Christopher. “Analysis | The Richest 1 is due to two factors: market and institutional forces. Percent Now Owns More of the Country's Wealth than at Firstly, market forces are the “…increasing demand Any Time in the Past 50 Years.” The Washington Post. WP for highly skilled labour”.3 Developed countries value Company, April 29, 2019. exporting goods made by higher-skilled professionals https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/12/0 6/the-richest-1-percent-now-owns-more-of-the-countrysrather than importing goods made by lower-skilled wealth-than-at-any-time-in-the-past-50-years/. professionals. Consequently, low-skilled jobs experience loss in developed countries. 3. “Income Inequality.” Income inequality - Canada and Secondly, institutional forces refer to declining world results. Accessed November 17, 2019. unionization rates and minimum wage rates. This can be https://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/Details/society/incom solved by government taxes. Every citizen should be e-inequality.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1.
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“ It fo ’s o an r a ka do d w y t es do hile o lo n’ ing if se t m w it f ak ha me rien e t is an ds se b s a ns es ke nd e t f ep b to or in e ot yo g un he u yo po rs , ev ur pu . en mo la if ral r it s
T V S H TH E R E IG EA H T SY W W AY AY ng h s vi at es Pa e P cc 26 th SuADEEL, to HIMA
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y t s e d o M e r e h w y Ever
KHADIJA AMEER, 13
lliyah rushed to work; she was late. She raced into the meeting room, fixed her hijab and sat beside Naomi, her colleague. Naomi's bag was still around her shoulder, her jacket tied around her waist, and her cheeks were flushed—she had just come in, and it was obvious. said.
“You’re late, Naomi,” her boss
“It’s not my fault my children lost my purse," Naomi snapped. Mr. Charles ignored “What about you, Alliyah?”
“I’m sorry sir, it won’t happen again,” she said, looking down. “If either of you are late again, you’ll have to be fired. My office does not tolerate tardiness. Do you understand?” Mr. Charles asked. Alliyah nodded, while Naomi scowled as the rest of the staff in the room chuckled. “Alright, discussion.”
That evening, Alliyah returned to her apartment and got ready for the weekly lecture she attended at the
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masjid. At seven o 'clock, Alliyah sat at the back of the hall and watched the community’s scholar, Sister Aisha, sit on the carpet and look through her notebook. She started with the dua, then continued on. “Modesty. A fancy word. But what is it really? Most people think of it as Muslim women wearing hijab and covering themselves under abayas, right?”
Alliyah wondered whether she had been modest at work that morning. She had apologized and accepted her mistake, but Naomi had straight up snapped at Mr. Charles, which irritated him. If Naomi was modest, she would have given her excuse in a decent way so as to not upset him.
Many nodded their heads in agreement.
“Take Yusuf, peace be upon him, as an example," the scholar pointed out. “What did he do when the minister’s wife trapped him in the house?”
“Yes, I agree, but modesty is not just for women, it’s for men too. And it's not only physical, but spiritual.”
Alliyah raised her hand, and the scholar gestured to her to talk. “He told her to be afraid of Allah, so he was being modest,” Alliyah added.
Everyone listened eagerly; it was always a delight to listen to Sister Aisha talk. She had a light voice but it was convincing and strong, and whenever she talked, her words were always sincere.
“Exactly. Modesty isn’t just in one’s clothing; it’s also in one’s character. Not only at home, but outside too. At work. At school. Wherever you may be and whatever the situation! More importantly, it’s part of our deen.”
“Yes. Muhammad, peace be upon him, was so modest that it was said by Abu Sa’id—a companion—that he was shyer than a veiled virgin girl. From Sahih Bukhari*, hadith number 762.” She flipped through her notebook again.
The lecture continued for half-an-hour, but Alliyah could think only about how modest the prophets were. Muhammad (peace be upon him) was abused but he did not attack back, instead choosing peace.
Yusuf (peace be upon him) had the incident with the minister’s wife but he stayed pure. When Musa (peace be upon him) had gone to Madyan and helped the two women, he walked in front of them so as to not think of them wrongly from behind. Alliyah smiled. Modesty can be everything you do in your daily life. The next day at work, Alliyah was right on time as she promised and Naomi was a minute late, but Mr. Charles did not care anymore. When she tried to apologize, he waved her off. Alliyah squeezed Naomi's hand when she tried to retort. They took their seats as the meeting went on, sitting across from each other. As soon as the meeting ended, Alliyah trotted up to Naomi and grabbed her hand right as she was about to exit the meeting room. "Hey!" Naomi yelped. "Hi," Alliyah said sheepishly. "What do you want?" "Hey, I'm sorry you're having
“Modesty. A fancy word. But what is it really? Most people think of it as Muslim women wearing hijab and covering themselves under abayas, right?”
trouble with coming to work on time," Alliyah replied, letting go, "but…you should try to be as early as possible, eh?" "I do," Naomi sighed. "Well, what about say sorry instead of—" Naomi interrupted her, "I know. I'll do my best next time.” Quietly, in her heart, she said: Like you. From that day on, it seemed as if Naomi had completely changed her attitude. She was more… Modest.
*Sahih Bukhari was the book of hadith compiled by Muhammad Al-Bukhari, a religious leader.
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