MY Voice Magazine: Vol 1 Issue 3

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CONTENTS Jusk Ask: Q&A by Youth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

THE TEAM Editor In Chief Nargis Naqvi

Fashion: Spice up Your Wardrobe with a Cultural Infusion. . . . . .6 Editor Maariyah Baig Role Model: The Legacy That Will Live On. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Lowering Your Gaze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Design Team Ahmed Saleem Creative Writing: A Perfect Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Tayel Shahzad Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Maha Siddiqui Feature: Culture vs. Religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Illustration The Wedding Extravaganza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Anshaal Hussein Comic: Blast from the Past . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Cover Photo Jokes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20 Rameesha Ashfaq Current Events: My Perspective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 MIST . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Dear Reader, Assalamu `Alaikum!

Editors Komal Adeel Rabia Ahmed Saleha Bakht Salwa Farooqi Sarah Khan Zara Khawaja Mentor Hina Mirza This is a project by:


Contact us:

letter from the editor

As Canadians, the idea of multiculturalism and celebrating our ethnic backgrounds always seems to be a topic of discussion. Talking to students in high school and teenagers in general, one issue I’ve found that comes up time and time again, and that many of us can relate to, is that of culture and tradition clashing with our religious beliefs. Sometimes it’s difficult to draw the line between culture and religion. We’ll observe traditional practices in our life that aren’t religiously sound, but at the same time we’ll call certain practices into question wondering if they contradict our religious beliefs. What’s considered going “too far” when it comes to following traditional practices for the sake of celebrating our ethnicity? Can we be true to our culture but still practice Islam to the best of our ability? The answer isn’t always clear cut, but we hope you’ll find that this 3rd issue of MY Voice brings out diverse topics relating to the theme of culture vs. religion.

As with our previous issues, our writers have written about an array of topics—what we hope are interesting, fun and even helpful takeaways for you. There are no words to express the thanks and gratitude I have for the MY Voice team in helping produce this magazine. This publication would not be made possible without the dedicated writers, editors, designers and mentors working hard behind the scenes to make our ideas come to life. Thank you too, dear reader, for taking the time to read what the youth of today have to say. Jazakallakhair,

Maariyah Baig

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aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa SPICE UP your wardrobe aaaaawith aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa a CULTURAL INFUSION


he Muslim world is made up of some of the most colorful cultures in the world spanning from the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa and beyond. Living in a North American society, us youth tend to lean towards conforming to Western culture, especially when it comes to the way we dress. But our greatest fashion advantage is that we can infuse our cultures and bring some style and originality to our look!

Instead of competing our ethnic cultures with our Canadian identity, I suggest that we embrace the unique look that it can bring to our styles. For this piece I used one “cultural” item and I completed the look using basics and accessories that reflect Western style. This first look was built around this shirt made out of sari material. The vibrant print makes a strong statement, so I paired it with a basic long sleeve shirt underneath and a pair of jeans. Highlighting the blue in the details of the fabric, I chose to use an electric blue clutch with this ensemble to bring in the Western touch. I also added the lovely blue statement necklace, along with the staple watch and leather cuff to finish off the look.

I carry the blue into this young man's outfit as well. Here he is wearing a longer kurta-like tunic over his jeans. This gives him a casual look but suggests a cultural twist to his outfit as well. Without going overboard in the fabric or the embroidery, men have a great selection in the market now to choose something different and fun as well.

The next look that was put together used this traditional dress, typically found in the Middle East, as its focus. To add a little more edge to this dress, I combined it with this simple black blazer and the metal belt. The belt defines the waist (without being too suggestive) and its gold finish brings out the muted colors of the print. To keep the edgy feel I added the studded, nude colored clutch and I kept the accessories simple. What I want to make known through these looks is that we shouldn’t have to choose between our background and our Western lifestyles—instead we should opt to make our own unique style by combining aspects of both cultures that will keep us on the right path insha’Allah.


photography by

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Role Model

legacy The

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he passing of Nelson Mandela came as a tremor and left the world shaken. t The world-renowned leader, who abolished apartheid, stood up against racial segregation, and tenaciously fought for social justice, truly made an unforgettable mark on the world. Although Nelson Mandela was a non-Muslim, his passion for serving his community and standing up against social injustice was an inspiration for the entire world. His hardworking, charitable and forgiving character is a true reflection of what a good Muslim should portray in his/her character. One thing as Muslims that we can take away from Nelson Mandela’s endeavors was his commitment to giving back to the community. Mandela was devoted to supporting various charities while being in the pursuit of eradicating poverty, hunger, and funding educational programs. Nelson Mandela was a perfect example of an avid and passionate philanthropist. Zakah, one of the five pillars of Islam



and an obligation to every Muslim, is the benevolent practice of giving a share of one’s earnings to the less fortunate and poor, if you are able to do so. In addition to zakah, sadaqah is also another practice of charitable giving. Giving sadaqah is voluntary as opposed to zakah, and is not limited to the form of monetary funds; it could be in the form of providing a meal or donating clothes to those who are less fortunate. Just as Mandela did, we as Muslims should strive to give not only monetarily, but also with our time and energy. “Man can have nothing but what he strives for; That (the fruit of ) his striving will soon come in sight: Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete.” (An-Najm 53:39–41). The concept of hard work is emphasized in the Qur’an numerous times. If we want something, whether it is a closer relationship to Allah, or a good grade, it is necessary that we put in effort and commitment while working towards

our goals. Nelson Mandela was extremely hard working and persistent in achieving his goal of the abolishment of apartheid, which resulted in success. Mandela was an inspiring leader that truly worked hard to achieve his goals and fulfil his ambitions, bringing change to the world. Nelson Mandela also demonstrated a very forgiving nature after being wrongfully imprisoned by the South African regime for 27 years, labelled as a terrorist. Mandela, after being released from prison, still had the capacity to forgive those who had jailed him wrongfully and unjustly. He was able to rid himself of the poisonous emotion of spite, and anger, and instead brought about an inner peace by coming to terms with the wrongs done to him. In Islam, human forgiveness is important in our relations with others. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “Whoever suffers an injury and forgives (the person responsible), God will raise his status to a higher degree and remove one of his sins.” Holding a grudge and trying to take revenge may fulfil our desire to rid ourselves of the emotion, but forgiving does much more; forgiving those who have wronged us brings about a level of inner peace. Nelson Mandela tr uly wa s an inspirational person and a role model to many. Leaving his legacy behind, Mandela’s generous character, hardworking personality and forgiving nature, are some characteristics that we as Muslims can strive to embody.

BY MAHNOOR NAEEM Original photograph: Wikimedia Commons

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1.) Stay away from direct disobedience to Allah: Allah tells us in the Qur’an (24:30): Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and guard their modesty. That is purer for them, verily Allah is All-Aware of what they do.”




hances are if you’re reading this, you’re probably a teenager; and you live in Canada, and you’re really happy that the godforsaken winter is finally over! Chances are that with the arrival of the spring breeze, we’re seeing a departure in the layers worn by all the girls. So if you’re a Muslim teenage guy with raging hormones, then it’s actually YOU who really needs to read this article. This article is geared towards boys, you know who you are. Forgive me sisters for not including you because I have no idea if you have the same curse of shifty eyes that we guys have. Even if you did, I still couldn’t help you, because I don’t know what you see in us hairy, disgusting guys. However, I know all too well what impels a guy to look at a girl instead of lowering his gaze—I myself am working on it. But as the saying goes, it’s ‘easier said than done.’ So I’m going to share a few tips with you guys on how to lower your gaze based on my experiences, and hopefully convince a few of you to stop staring at girls; these are going to be reminders for myself as well. I hope these will be useful when coming across a girl flaunting her summer finery! I have a habit of questioning everything. My questions range from innocent to blasphemous, but so long as the answer is not obvious, I will question it. But I never question the commandments that are inevitably good for me and others. Such as, when I was told lying was bad, I had no questions, no arguments, and no justifications whatsoever. The same thing happened when I was told not to look at girls because deep down, I knew that it was just wrong. Allah gave us all a conscience that tugs at our heart with what is wrong or right. Why these things are haram (unlawful) is obvious, and even non-Muslims will meet us halfway in saying that some things are just plain wrong. Right and wrong is like black and white in Islam. There are barely, if any, grey areas. What is bad or good is clearly apparent, and staring at a girl is definitely a bad in Islam. It is something coded in human decency. Even in Canadian culture, staring at somebody is considered extremely rude and may even be considered as harassment. Why staring at a woman is bad will not be explained; rather, this article will focus on practical steps to fight against one’s desires to do so, and exceptions that can be made due to necessary interactions with the opposite gender.

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This is a direct command to us from Allah. If we say we believe in Him then true tawheed (belief in Allah) comes from knowing He is all around you, and letting His presence stop you from sinning. Allah can see all our thoughts and all our actions. If we continue to stare at a girl after the first glance, He knows. He knows our deepest thoughts; “We created man, We know the prompting of his soul, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein” Qur’an (50:16). If we still fail to lower our gaze, it is direct disobedience. A good way to remember that Allah is always with us is to include Him in our every thought, always thinking about what he likes and dislikes. 2.) Consider your eyes as a blessing and amanah: Allah gave us our entire body as an amanah (trust). However, He gives the eyes a higher status, calling them ‘the beloved things’. Imagine your best friend loaning you something to use. You realize that he has loaned you something of great value and by losing or abusing it, you would jeopardize your friendship. Think about the reverence you give that object, and then compare it with your eyes, and the One Who entrusted them to you. Do we treat our eyes, a great gift from Allah, with the same amount of care as a friend’s material possession? Let us take care of our eyes, and not just physically, but by lowering our gaze and not watching anything that can instigate lust and affect our morality. Ali ibn Abi Talib once said, “What the eye sees the heart preserves.” So don’t let your eyes see what you don’t want in your heart and what you don’t want to be accountable for on the Day of Judgment. 3.) Be in a circle of good friends: I would like to dedicate this section to my friends. They are the reason my parents let me go out and ‘chill’, in the midst of all the fitnah (confusion between right and wrong,) and nafs (desire, temptation). Before I get to why my friends are the reason I get to go out on my own, I will explain how I acquired them. My parents have seen and heard of many young people’s lives getting ruined by bad friends. They freaked out when I wanted to go out with my friends for the first time. So I made a deal with them that they will meet all of my friends, and could decide if they were appropriate friend material. Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) I had to be very selective when it came to choosing a friend, and for this I am thankful to my parents. My friends are mostly boys I see in the Masjid, Sunday Islamic classes, or my school MSA. I introduced them to my parents, and they approved them because they know that we know our boundaries. One of the things I appreciate in our group is that we are not two faced. Be it at the mall or playing sports, we maintain the same sense of appropriateness we would in the Masjid. I have become a better person because of the right friends. It may seem uptight for a friendship, but you have to agree, it’s also the most beneficial relationship one could have. This is the

“What the eye sees the heart preserves.”

And the believers, men and women, are protecting friends of one another, they enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.” Qur’an (9:71) 4.) Engage in positive diversions: The advice that the Prophet (pbuh)* gave to unmarried men was to get married as soon as possible if they could afford a family, and if not, to fast. However, I know that I could not possibly fast for every single day of my unmarried life. But if we read between the lines, the Prophet (pbuh) is saying that we should keep our minds busy with something other than girls. How did I deduce that? Well, if we are fasting, we would be too busy thinking about food. We would stare at it, wonder what it tastes like, and picture eating it. An English proverb my Mom really likes is: ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ Whoever said this could not be more correct. So keep the mind busy. Find things that you enjoy and engage yourself. You can read Qur’an, play sports, do exercise, seek beneficial knowledge, do community service, hang out with friends (good ones, of course), engage in anything that will keep you productively busy, preferably things that will be of benefit to you as well. 5.) Remember the benefits: Such a simple thing as lowering our gaze when a girl walks by has abundant benefits in this world and plentiful rewards in the hereafter. Any person abstaining from a sin just for the sake of pleasing Allah will be rewarded profusely, as it constitutes fight against our nafs. However, I believe that the biggest reward is in the deed. When one deliberately stares at a girl once, a bit of purity and morality dies. The one committing may not feel as guilty the next time. He might even graduate a level, (or rather degrade, in Islamic context) and start flirting. He might dig a deeper rut for himself and get caught up in relationships—I could write an entire article on why that’s bad. The worst effect of committing one sin is that you might be desensitized to other sins, and before you know it, you’ll be in a ditch so deep that addictions and justifications of sins will only drag you deeper. You will continue to dig for that fool’s gold, which really isn’t there, until your own ditch collapses on you. On the other hand, being able to obey Allah, to be able to please Him, offers nothing but peace and tranquility. Allah wants a sound heart from us; unlawful gazes can only darken it. Having said all this, we have to keep in mind that we live in a secular society with blurring gender relations. Many times we have no option but to interact with the opposite sex. Any physical contact with the opposite sex has to be avoided unless a dire need arises to save a life. A question raised by many teens is ‘What if you feel like that girl is your sister?’ To that I say that the Prophet (pbuh) definitely thought of all women as his sisters, but he still never made small talk with them. The only reason he would let young women talk to him was for Islamic matters, and even then, he would keep his gaze lowered and keep a very respectful manner and distance. However, I know that with all the intentions to please Allah, things still get out of the hands sometimes. To finish off, let me share a true story. Once upon a time, there was this dashingly handsome grade 8 boy. I, I mean he, was playing soccer during

recess. He was always the underdog, who had great potential just waiting to shine, but could never show it because everybody else on his team thought they were FIFA players who could take on the entire opposing team. However, that unnamed guy showed them how it was done, and got his first goal, still in grade 8, which was also not his last. At first, he got all the girls screaming and cheering for him, which he was not used to as he recently moved to Canada, and his school back home was not co-ed. This got him blushing, but in the most manly way possible! Then, he made his second goal, which made all the girls go crazy, and they started to run towards him, like a mob. And all he could do was run to save his purity. I still remember that scene: A ruggedly handsome boy running and screaming “help, help!” to save himself from all the girls running behind him. So brothers, after all your effort, if there is no other way to save yourself, RUN bro RUN!

*(pbuh) peace be upon him

literal embodiment of friendship for the sake of Allah, and I would have it no other way.


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lulTure W

e live in a diverse society where each culture has its own traditions and customs. It can be hard to identify the difference between what our culture requires from us and what our religion requires. With so many blurred lines, how can youth begin to cope with these complex situations? In the Ahmed household, Hina is confused by the often-opposing pressures of being religious and following her culture. As a sixteen-year-old born and raised in Canada, Hina has accepted different cultural morals and values than those held by her parents. Adjusting to her parents’ culture is hard enough, but when its morals and values seem to clash with religion, Hina does not know what to do. For instance, on Sunday at the Ahmed breakfast table, Hina’s parents tell her that she will not be allowed to attend university. On hearing this, Hina’s heart crumbles. Thoughts flood her mind. She has been working hard for several years in order to achieve her goal of attending university and pursuing her passion of learning. She couldn’t watch her hopes and dreams go down the drain only because she was a girl and supposedly did not have a right to pursue an education. She remembered reading, and knowing that Islam encourages education " There are many for both women and men. situations in which Then why would her parents forbid her from attending stereotypical university, why would they arguments based off say such a thing ? She had of culture become to explain the differences the root of several between culture and religion religious issues. to her parents, but she knew they wouldn’t have it. Hina looks at her parents, who are waiting for a response. Suddenly, she becomes furious. She is about to yell when she remembers that she must respect her parents. She decides that arguing will lead to no good. She leaves and makes her way to her room and begins to cry. She asks Allah for help and then wiping her tears, decides she must stay positive. The next time this topic would be brought up she would reason with her parents, and explain the goodness of education. There are many situations in which stereotypical arguments based off of culture become the root of several religious issues. Such an issue would be the one Hina is facing of not being able to pursue an education only because she is a woman. These stereotypes are present in society for so long that people are unable to distinguish

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between religious concepts and those developed through culture. Muslim youth caught in this confusion all wonder what is actually Islamic. If this question remains unanswered, it can lead to great loss: Youth can become disconnected from Islam for reasons that have nothing to do with the religion itself. It is therefore essential to ensure that only true information about Islam (and not cultural traditions) are included in teachings about the faith.



• •

One method youth can use to clarify misconceptions about Islamic issues is speaking to trusted It is important scholars. These scholars have studied Islamic principles that we interpret thoroughly for several years. the Qur'an with They are educated and can a scholar’s provide some of the best assistance in order and most precise answers to accurately to questions one may have, understand its especially those regarding differences between Islam message. and culture. Another way to gain accurate information about Islam is by reading the Holy Qur'an. However, it is important that we interpret the Qur'an with a scholar’s assistance in order to accurately understand its message. By using these sources, it is entirely possible to find a satisfying resolution to a controversial argument. Aside from strengthening Islamic faith in the individual, we should try to enhance Islamic faith in the household. It is important for one to create an environment in their home where everyone is confident of what Islam requires of them. Youth can accomplish this by communicating clearly with their parents and learning alongside their family to find an answer to the question: What is actually Islamic? Sixteen-year-old Hina Ahmed set out to correct the misconception in her house that women are not allowed to pursue a post-secondary education. She spoke with a trusted scholar and communicated her concerns with her parents. In the end, she was satisfied. Although there are many blurred lines between culture and religion, youth can take action to sort out cultural priorities and the truth of their religion. This will help them cope with complex situations. The youth can determine these differences as long as they stay positive and make an effort to seek true information.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "Allah makes the way to Jannah easy for him who treads the path in search of knowledge." (Muslim, Book 13, Hadith 3)


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