MY Voice Volume 10 Issue 3 The Hypocrisy of Heroism

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Dear Reader,

We are so excited to share our vision with you. My team and I have been working diligently for months on this issue.

We wanted to examine heroism critically and consider where it fits into contemporary politics. As usual, we had a lot of ideas about how to best approach this topic. Perhaps we would base our research on current events; perhaps we would concentrate on Canadian heroes throughout history; perhaps we would locate an authority who could assist us in comprehending the concept from an academic standpoint. We concluded that the best course of action was to simply ask ourselves: What does heroism mean? And what does it mean now? We made the decision that if we could provide answers—if we could get people to consider what heroism really means—then they would have found something useful in our magazine that could be applied to themselves.

We wanted to concentrate on something significant, not merely important. We wanted something that would provoke thought, but not in a way that would make you shut down the moment you turn your mind toward politics. That's what led us to focus on heroes: we knew they were universally recognized symbols for good, and so we thought about how much good we expect from them, and the consequences of those expectations not being met.

Our Feature explores thoughts beyond the veil of modern feminism, highlighting the cruelty, injustice, and oppression facing Muslim women on the world stage. Check out our Quran Gems piece, to learn more about the various avenues we can undertake regarding rightly guided action. Be sure to read our News and Current Events articles, to learn about the hypocrisy of thought surrounding the Fifa World Cup in Qatar, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

We are so grateful to all of you who contributed to the theme of this issue. We know how difficult it is to narrow down your ideas and get them ready for publication, and so we hope that you are proud of what you have created in these pages before you.

Sincerely yours,


IN THE SPOTLIGHT Br. Umar (heart.of.ease)


Halal Rizq - High Risk

The Greatest Benefit of being Humiliated


Hell Turned Help Your Islamophobia is showing!




Modern Feminism


Hijab: Liberty or Liability?

The Islamic Golden Age


The Hidden Industry of the Halal Label Access to Information


It's all in your Gut-Biome

Dopamine Distraction


The Moral Code of the West

The Starvation of the Middle East

Answered by Brother Omar Zia

1. What is the best way to start learning more about my religion? Where do I begin?

Thank you for your question. When learning about your faith, it is important to remember to go slow and take your time in discovering which resources will serve you best. I would suggest starting with a trusted source, such as your parents, a family member, or a friend if they are practising and knowledgeable about Islam. Another great source would be your local masjid which offers classes for teenagers or young people to learn more about their faith and how to practise it. When choosing a book, or looking for speakers on YouTube, it is essential to check out these resources with a trusted source such as family, as mentioned before, or your local Imam. As you begin the journey to learning more about your faith it is very important to centre faith as part of your identity. This may include considering your gender and faith based identities, as well as your cultural and faith based identities and how they may intersect with one another. In order to prevent any confusion it is suggested to maintain consistent sources of knowledge rather than hopping around for speaker to speaker. Finally, to begin to learn more about your faith you have to ask yourself why this is important for you and what you are attempting to gain. This will help keep your intentions sincere and help you demonstrate personal commitment to using faith to become a better, more spiritually engaged and someone who is able to better attune themselves with their environment in order to make a positive difference in the world. In your journey to learn more about your faith and your faith identity, it is paramount that you remain steadfast and to not give up. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us that when a person walks towards their Lord, their Lord runs towards them. When they take one step towards Allah, Allah takes 10 steps towards them. There is an easy du’a to make: Rabbee Zidnee’Ilma “Oh my Lord increase me in knowledge.”

Questions answered by:

2. There is so much going on in the world. Covid, racism, the genocide of Muslims in four countries that I know of. I feel like I should just give up. What do I do?

Thank you for your question. No doubt there is a lot going on in the world which does not provide hope or sense of security or peace. A lot of what we strive for as human beings, as Muslims, and certainly as young ones is searching for and helping to create a sense of peace, security, and love in this world. As we see global politics play out, we indirectly experience the trauma of genocide and other forms of evil that perpetrate to oppress minorities around the world. As teenagers it certainly is a struggle to try and find a voice or a platform with which to share our concerns, and often times it may feel as though we are not able to make a difference that we are hoping to make.

As such, it is easy to give up hope that there might be a change in the future. As Muslims, we must return to the Quran to look for hope and guidance as we watch the world experience the maladies that exist. In Surah Baqarah (Chapter 2 Verse 21) Allah tells us that His help is ever near. In order to keep hope alive, it is prudent to join organizations where you can feel like you’re making a difference, such as MY Voice Canada.

Justice For All is another organization, which helps bring issues of genocide against Muslim minorities to the political forum of Canada and Ontario. As a student, you can consider starting an Amnesty international student club at your school to shed light for your fellow students in hopes that they can contribute in some form or manner, whether it’s fundraising to bring further awareness or collaborating on campaigns, alongside any other forms of intervention.


The believers who are struggling the most in their faith are defined as those who have difficulty submitting to their Lord's commands, and these commands can vary from matters of fulfilling the obligatory acts all the way to matters of how they are commanded to think about Allah¹ pertaining to their trust, reliance, allegiance and the status they give Allah in their life.

So whenever we see an issue with a believers ability to follow Allah's commands, be that from their own unruly Naafs², desires, the devils whispers or their bad influences, lifestyle and habits, it all comes back to them lacking knowledge of Allah, and love for Allah, that stop them from being able to submit to Allah.

The rectification of a Muslims Islam rests in the ability for them to remove any obstacle that prevent them from submitting to Allah, but no one can submit to Allah or remove these obstacles until they truly love Allah, furthermore, no Muslim can truly love Allah until they know intimately who their Lord is.

Indeed with knowing Allah Azzawajal³ comes the cultivation of a deep love and unbreakable bond, and from the development of that relationship comes the motivation needed to fight against every obstacle for the One they love, making submission to Allah easier.

By submitting to Allah, a believer can attain every blessing that a human being could possibly desire, they will gain guidance, patience, forbearance, happiness, contentment, strength, and go on to live the happiest of lives possible. Not only will Allah increase their health in all possible ways, but in the end Allah will grant them eternal success to live forever in the purest of places with the most beautiful company.

If you're struggling with your submission, feeling depressed, frustrated, anxious, lonely, insecure, or hopeless about ever becoming more practicing, all you have to do is spend time studying Allah's Names, Attributes, and cultivate a deeper love for Him. Learn why we worship Him, because when you run to Allah, you will be met by the warmest and most welcoming of embraces.

By knowing Him, you'll love Him, by loving Him, you'll submit to Him, and those who submit to Him are called "Muslim".

Umar, your revert brother Instagram @heart.of.ease

1God 2Self/ego 3Glorified and Sublime be He

Generally speaking, wealth and children are a source of happiness and opportunity. Yet Allah1 in His infinite mercy reminds us, "O you who believe! Let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whoever does so, it is they who are the losers."2 The mention of wealth and children are meant to emphasize that their (excessive) pursuit or indulgence diverts the believer from Allah. Many times, enthusiastic worship is sidelined by an unsatiated desire for wealth as well as the lengths to which believers may incline towards to fulfill all of their children's wants. Does this mean we should opt to live an ascetic life and not start a family? Absolutely not.

ourselves, whether through taking out loans or working overtime to pay for unaffordable lifestyle choices, should not be the norm. Not only this, but solely focusing on wealth and children may lead to impermissible streams of income; delayed, missed, or unfocused prayers; weakening of faith; and on and on.

Believers need to be smart from a young age. And we need to work collectively in our individual families to ensure we help each other stay on the path of Allah and not towards disobedience. As an adolescent, be merciful towards your parents. Ask your father and mother for what you know is affordable, make the most of what they provide you with, and acknowledge their hard work through expressions of gratitude. Not only is this ihsan6 towards parents which is loved by Allah, but preparation as a future spouse; to make do and be content with what is provided.

Remember, while you did not pray for your father and mother, they prayed for you.

Various Islamic narratives stipulate the connection between worship, wealth, and family. One such Hadith3 expresses, “Whoever misses the Asr4 prayer, then it is as if he was robbed of his family and his property.”5 Oftentimes, we get so caught up in upsizing our homes, transportation, electronics, wardrobe, etc that we forget our true purpose: to obey Allah. Not only this, but the acts of worship that once brought feelings of peace, now become monotonous or even burdensome. Remember, while we are allowed to and should enjoy the bounties of this world, they should not hinder us from remembering Allah as He deserves to be remembered. Overburdening

So, make things easy for your parents and worry and pray for their dunya7 and Akhirah8, just as they worry and pray for yours. Not only this, but send them loving reminders to pray while they are at work earning a salary for the things you use and spread out the prayer mat for them as they come home. As children of parents, we can help them stay on the one and true straight path by wanting, prioritizing, and facilitating acts of obligatory and voluntary worship for them. Help your parents towards Jannah by leading them there the same way you would like to be helped one day.

As children of parents, we can help them stay on the one & true straight path by wanting, prioritizing, and facilitating acts of obligatory & voluntary worship for them.
1. God 2. Surah Munafiq Ayah 9 3. Teaching of Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) 4. Afternoon prayer 5. Jami' at-Tirmidhi 175, Book 2, Hadith 27 6. Excellence 7. The worldly life 8. The eternal Afterlife Rahima Adeel

Areej Hashmi, 19

Humiliation is one of the unfortunate experiences of life. Social humiliation, in particular, can be a great source of anguish. But what causes this complex human experience in the first place? Humiliation can arise from being ignored, overlooked, taken for granted, denied rights, rejected, abused, betrayed, and abandoned. Unfortunately, as budding adults, these are things we experience regularly. The only precaution we can take is to know how to deal with it when we experience it—and who better to learn from than those who were humiliated the most; the prophets.1

Prophets Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, ‘Isa, and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are known as Al’Ulul Azm, the Possessors of Greatness, or the five greatest prophets. Yet, when we look at their lives, we find many instances where their people humiliated them. With this, we learn our first lesson about humiliation: Your status in society does not determine your worth.

What made these prophets so special? They were elevated in status because of their perseverance in calling to Allah’s way, their patience in the face of difficulties, and their submission towards the commands of Allah. Our second lesson about humiliation is that your patience and actions are true determinants of your worth.

Nuh was called crazy by his people for building a ship. Ibrahim was told to stop preaching lest his own father would stone him to death. Musa was repeatedly disobeyed by his people after he had saved them from a tyrannical leader. ‘Isa’s words were twisted by his people and they took him as God instead of the One he was calling the people to worship.2 And finally, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was repeatedly ridiculed by his people. He was accused of being a liar, a sorcerer, and a madman. He was plotted against, his family was hurt, and they were slandered and shamed by all.3

Humiliation helps us realize how truly alone we are in this world. It rids us of the shackles of serving society and striving to meet the status quo. It allows us to realize how dependent we are when it comes to any challenge. So what do we do with these realizations?

We turn towards the One who is Self-Sufficient, All Powerful, All Seeing, All Hearing, and All Knowing. We open our hearts in front of the One who understands our pain and suffering when no one else even acknowledges its existence. We learn to rely on Our Creator for our happiness and success, and not His creation—just as the prophets did.

When we realize that our success or failure only depends on whether Allah is happy with us, we need not seek forgiveness or approval elsewhere. We simply raise our hands to the One who created us and ask Him to forgive us, and to give us the strength to forgive ourselves.

That is the benefit of being humiliated, and what a great benefit it is. Alhamdulillah.

1. Once a man asked the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “O Messenger of Allah! Which of the people is tried most severely?” He replied, “The Prophets, then those nearest to them, then those nearest to them.” [Tirmidhi 2398]

2. For more information on the stories of these prophets, please refer to Mufti Ismail Menk’s lecture series on Youtube, “Stories of the Prophets”

3. For more information on the life of the Prophet Muhammad, please refer to Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture series on Youtube, “Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (S)



Firdose Khan, 15

To some degree, we are all familiar with the welfare system, whether that be through experience or simply in concept. The system is portrayed as a way for our country to support us while we bounce back from rough times. However, people in the welfare system have a challenging time escaping it because oftentimes, the benefits of staying on welfare outweigh the short-term advantages of supporting oneself. Poverty traps are economic and environmental circumstances that reinforce themselves, perpetuating poverty for generations Individuals may find themselves lacking the capital necessary to generate a stable income. It is important to note that poverty traps are not determined by a ‘lack of money ’ or economic power, rather, they can be caused by environmental issues that affect other forms of capital, such as real estate or harvests They can also be caused by poor education, healthcare and political systems

If an individual is aware that by not taking employment and remaining in the welfare system, they would have more money than they would at a starting job, then there is little incentive to work because earning minimum wage will lower quality of life. The welfare system is undoubtedly flawed in this aspect. One may choose to remain below the poverty line because the alternative means less money available to cover rent, transportation, food and childcare costs. On the same note, this creates a belief that those who depend on the welfare system are inherently lazy and a burden on society for not supporting themselves by ‘getting a job’. It may be more beneficial to remain on welfare for the foreseeable future Especially in an economic climate like the one we ’ re experiencing currently, every dollar counts. A proposed solution to this is to gradually decrease the amount of welfare money provided as individual incomes increase, to soften the loss of welfare subsidies.


2022, from https://www youtube com/watch? v=D9N7QaIOkG8&ab channel=TED-Ed Walters, T. (2022). Poverty Trap: Definition, Causes, and Proposed Solutions Investopedia Retrieved December 21, 2022, from


Enter the welfare system, meant to aid those who need it the most Social assistance, or welfare, can be defined as subsidies given by the governments to citizens who meet specific income requirements, funded by taxpayer dollars. Most welfare systems only consider those who have already ‘hit rock bottom’, and only help so long as one stays within a particular economic threshold. Once that threshold is surpassed through income generated by employment, the aid received from welfare is revoked and individuals are left to fend for themselves, even if they earn less money than they were when subsidized through welfare systems Bay, A , & Ofer, A (2022, January 11) Why is it so hard to escape poverty? - Ann-Helén Bay YouTube Retrieved December 21,
Regardless, know that individuals on welfare would all much rather have the capacity to support themselves A system meant to help actively holds many in a compromising position, which makes it all the more difficult to escape It’s a tough world out there, and perhaps the only choice is to lean into the toxic hero, even if that means it’s harder to be your own hero.


, or the ability to spread political ght forth what was once unimaginable nonymous profile pleads for attention. ases while completely disregarding the s to Muslims, there tends to be a ng human rights violations How can t hatred also turn a blind eye to violence ou a hypocrite, an Islamaphobe, or both?

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ly care about issues when they align ideologies is a strong one, however, it essed women burn their hijabs in women choose to wear them Another sts were being held, in an attempt to sing that was occurring in Palestine of the only celebrities to speak up about dustry “When I post about Palestine, I million less of you see my stories and modelling contracts and business hips over her support of Palestine. ho do not care.

refraining from speaking out against sed by years of xenophobia simmered types that continue to be propagated. you the saviour you think you are, nor ou think it does. If you truly were a umans Start calling out Islamophobic ucate others and call out doublehowing!”

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Our Lord says this earth will be shaken up turned to powder, mountains made to pass away, blown to dust seas: a blazing fire overflown and skies will become an earthquake the sun wound round will disappear, the moon will eclipse light of the stars, extinguished Our universe will collapse unto itself by its sheer weight

For all of this, you are forgotten by each of us sons of Adam, you have been abandoned by your own brethren, because heaven was made to be inherited by people like yours, Yemen

Our Lord is Al-Adl, the Most Just your hunger has been recorded and recompensed: a reparation prepared 50,000 years before the creation of time and space; your justice will be served in the Most Just way.

The spell of Fajr pierces the heavens at dawn settling its weighty plea into the hearts of believers

Casting the sleep from your eyes, you awaken, arise the time has come to meet your Lord And what a meeting it is, from the moment you utter Alhamdullilah — there, in your heart, manifests a profound ascension the contentment of your soul to stand before Rabb-al-Alamin cannot equate or translate to a thousand years of finite human pleasures

The birds, they chirp along, too–eager to dispel the illusion that all are asleep at this hour their harmonious intonations blending to utter a song of praise, for– He to whom you, too, praise and who, the very moment you do exclaims “ My servant praised Me! ” and again, when you say “ Ar Rahmani Raheem ” responds, “ My servant continues to praise me! ”

I am in awe of my Lord, who has been patient with my inability to pray to a degree befitting of His Grace, and who despite praises me in what can only ever be–my attempt at a humanly flawed ephemeral admission and profession of love for Him

¹While reciting Surah Al Fatihah in prayer, in a Hadith, Allah says : “My servant has praised Me, my servant continues to praise me, my servant declares me Majestic. This is between Me and my servant, and for My servant is whatever he asks for.” (Muslim)

Fardowsa Ahmed, 26


The oppression of Muslim women has been a longstanding issue that has become normalized and even encouraged throughout the last few years. Modern day feminism is not intersectional at all. Modern feminism, like mainstream feminism, has always been about the rights of white women at the expense of women of color. Women who are people of color (POC) have been forced into the position of “scaffolding” to prop up and ensure that white women are able to fight for the rights that they deem important, all while promising they would help those same women afterwards. They never have. In fact, the ability for white women to detach themselves from the oppression of POCs by occupying the minimized group has absolved their role in the continued perpetuation of white supremacy. If we look at the ways in which women of color are oppressed, specifically Muslim women, white women in their own situations have fought for the same issues but in a different packaging.

White women have historically fought for the right to an education without persecution, which further transitioned to the right to hold a job. Muslim women, on the other hand, have had to fight tooth and nail for the same, and in recent years have had to deal with the added pressures of oppression mounting on a global scale—oppression which prevents them from pursuing the same rights and freedoms as their white female counterparts.

Dr. Mariam Noor is a Danish-Somali Muslim and an engineering PhD who invented a ring for leaky heart valves. Her state-of-the art medical device was recognized as a breakthrough in the world of cardiovascular health and surgery, and propelled medical innovation and development for all of mankind. Denmark passed a law to ban hijabs in the country, as it was seen as a symbol of oppression for young girls and women. Ironically, if this law had been passed just a few years earlier, Dr. Noor would not have been able to pursue her higher education, her PhD, nor the life changing research she dedicated years of her life towards. Dr. Noor’s dreams, professional aspirations, and her ability to invent medical devices with the capacity to save millions of lives, would not have come to fruition because she wears a hijab. Furthering the conversation, white women have fought for their ability to dress immodestly and for their rights, just to be attacked and shamed for doing so. Muslim women however, are vilified for wanting to dress modestly.



Freedom and oppression in the west has always existed from a colonial standpoint that tries to maintain the idea that white society is better and more civilized or progressive. Throughout history, the west has vilified and criminalized entire groups of people, or othered them, to deflect and distract from their own immoralities and hypocrisies of breaking their own laws and oppressing countless communities. The right to be progressive and have freedom of expression and speech is present, but with the exception that if your views and opinions do not conform with the state and their interest, then your views are wrong, archaic, etc. Within the same vein, if your idea of freedom does not conform or look like what the west adheres to, you are considered oppressed, and it is in this greater censoring under the guise of freedom that Muslim women are losing their rights.

Historically, groups have been othered and criminalized including Indigenous people, black people, and now Muslims, to distract from the illegal and morally corrupt behaviors of the west. Because of this, Muslims and Muslim women in particular (as they are the ones who more widely wear clothes to signal their faith) have become a target. There is also a sheep mentality amongst the masses of people that think they understand individual thoughts and rights, but again conform to the greater encompassing ideologies and most likely fear voicing their real opinions for fear of being ridiculed or pushed into a space of otherness as well. So, what has modern feminism done for us? It has taken away our agency and denied us the opportunities to function as students, leaders, or contributing members of society. It has made every day interactions a battle for our identities; making us choose between an education and practicing our religion. The onus is on us to move the needle to keep fighting for our freedoms and towards a mutual understanding of our religion in the public sphere. In the same light, our governments and media should play a crucial role in education, to foster acceptance of the increasing diversity in western societies. By initiating the groundwork, perhaps we can pave the way for our future generations to prosper and thrive in ways that we are missing.

Blue Mosque Digital Painting by Faria Malik

Halal certification is one of the food industry's most disputed and recently, most profitable labels. When a product is certified as Halal, it signifies that it complies with Islamic law and is permissible for consumption by Muslims. Meat or animal byproducts must come from specific animals, and the animals must be slaughtered following Islamic laws to acquire this certification. Muslim customers purchase Halal certified goods to feel secure in knowing that the products they use are consistent with their Islamic or cultural values. Products can also be certified as Kosher, which provides Jewish customers.

Halal is a big business, and its benefits are worth getting a label. A report referenced by CNN valued the global halal food and beverage market at $1.37 trillion in 2014, which represented 18% of the entire market.¹ This number is only growing, as the same report states that the number of Muslims worldwide is expected to increase from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.8 billion in 2050 . The Halal certification also appeals to non-Muslims and non-practicing Muslims, believing that halal goods are of a higher calibre. A halal certification, in their eyes, is a seal of approval signifying superior quality due to strict supply chain controls and inspections. Other benefits include having a larger target market, having a more polished brand reputation and

having the upper hand against competitors. There is a rise in businesses applying to obtain halal certifications as the global halal market grows.² This is not only due to the anticipated increase in the world's Muslim population, but also the general trend of multinational corporations increasing the availability of their halal products.³ The market for halal food has grown significantly over the last ten years and is now expected to be worth $632 billion annually. Due to Canada's growing Muslim population, supermarkets, producers, and eateries are looking to profit in halal food sales. Consumers in Canada are starting to understand the label's clarity, and companies should be using this opportunity to reap the benefits of the halal certification.

A halal certification shows that a product complies with Islamic law, and offers higher profit margins, a larger target market, and meeting consumer needs. A Halal certification is one of the most debated, contentious, and overly complex designations in the food sector, but it does not have to be anymore.

¹Morlin-Yron, Sophie. “Makeup, Meds and Sports Wear: Why Halal Has Become Big Business.” CNN, 29 Aug. 2016, www.cnn. com/2016/08/29/world/halal-industry. Accessed 22 Nov. 2022.

²“Halal Food: Certification Trust among Consumers in Canada 2015.” Statista, Accessed 22 Nov. 2022. ³digital-002. “How Halal Industry Influenced the Global Market with a Wide Range of Food & Non-Food Products.” HMA - Halal Monitoring Authority, 15 June 2022, -food-products/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2022.

Zoha Ameen

The voter turnout for this year's municipal election across Ontario was thirty-six percent. According to CBC, it was the lowest turnout since 1982. There are many speculations as to why the voter turnout was low, from voter fatigue to simply not enough local press on the election, but as a youth myself, it is easy to infer that the majority of unwritten ballots belonged to youth.

With Canadian youth making up 40% of eligible voters, youth turnout in elections has been an issue beyond this municipal election. Statistics Canada's data report found in 2020 that only sixty percent of youth aged 15 to 30 in Canada showed interest in politics.

As a student journalist who covered this year's election on the lack of youth engagement, I was surprised to learn that it had to do with barriers they faced when accessing information about the elections, one being information on candidates.

"I volunteer with a Scarborough storefront, I run a youth group out of there. And we wanted some of the candidates to come and speak to the community. And it was so hard to even get in touch with them," said Bia, a 21-year-old University of Toronto Student who has been active in the youth advocacy space.

Bia was one of the many youths who did not vote for this year's municipal election, partly from the chaos of her move, paired with a lack of information on Candidates in her area. She explained how frustrating it was to seek out information from the Vote Durham website only to see candidates' names and no candidates website or social media to learn about their platform. Bia had to find information through searching, preventing her from quickly learning about each candidate.

"They never showed up on my feed anywhere on social media, which is like where most youths are. So, why aren't folks capitalizing on that?" said Bia.

Bia’s response isn't surprising, considering a report from Elections Canada for the 2011 federal elections, which found that lack of knowledge about candidates was a barrier youth faced when it came to voting.

Compared to older voters, Gen Z voters consume their media from networking applications, according to Elections Canada. For Bia, getting youth to vote means providing accessible information. "Youth are not going to come to you. You cannot complain about low youth voter engagement but do nothing to rectify that issue".




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Muzna Erum

The gut microbiome –a symbiotic guest living inside you that weighs two kilograms, contains 100 trillion microbes, and is larger than the span of your brain–wasn’t thought to exist for most of human history. Until microbiologist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovered the existence of the human microbiome in the 1600s, the idea that microscopic organisms could even alter human health was unheard of. Later, physician Alexander Fleming demonstrated that infections could be treated by antibiotics, which work by killing all microorganisms, paving the way for future research that led to the discovery of the gut microbiome. Now we understand that while antibiotics are certainly beneficial to treat infections and disease, most bacteria in our gut are considered to be “good” bacteria– in fact, 99% of our gut bacteria have a mutualistic relationship with our bodies, meaning that they benefit from living in our gut, and we benefit from being their hosts. These benefits include a strong immune system, improved appetite, metabolism and digestion.¹

Not only is a healthy gut microbiome beneficial to your health, but the consequences of poor gut health can be severe. The best way to improve one’s gut health is to have a healthy diet; because the gut microbiome is so diverse, it thrives on a diet rich in color, fiber, fermented foods, and live bacterial cultures.² Even common beverages contribute to gut health – coffee and tea – encourage growth of good bacteria while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria.

Current research points to the benefit of Islamic practice and prophetic sunnah³ on our gut microbiome. Fasting in Ramadan has been shown to improve the health of the gut microbiome, by increasing the diversity of bacteria species in the gut.4 Sunnah foods like dates, olives, pomegranates, figs, and black seeds are not only considered to be “superfoods” with a host of health benefits,5 but also promote gut health. However,

just as it is important to consume a diet that helps your gut bacteria, it’s also important to avoid causing harm. One of the biggest culprits in this regard are excess sugars and refined carbohydrates, which affect the composition of the gut microbiome by proliferating the growth of “bad” bacteria and silencing “good” gut bacteria, leading to inflammation in the gut.

Perhaps most fascinating is that the gut is now being called the “second brain” or “little brain” in our body, and the relationship between the gut and brain via the gut-brain axis is presently a hot topic of research. The gut-brain axis involves two-way communication between the central nervous system, and the enteric nervous system, where gut bacteria generate neurotransmitters that impact mood, like dopamine and serotonin. This means that the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain are influenced by what occurs in your gut. Conversely, the reverse is also true: your thoughts affect your gut. Thus, cultivating positive thoughts and managing negative emotions like stress can shift your gut microbiome for the better–that’s some food for thought.

¹Valdes, Ana M., et al. "Role of the gut microbiota in nutrition and health." Bmj 361 (2018).

²McDonald, Daniel, et al. "American gut: an open platform for citizen science microbiome research." Msystems 3.3 (2018): e00031-18.

³Traditions and practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

4Su, Junhong, et al. "Remodeling of the gut microbiome during Ramadan-associated intermittent fasting." The American journal of clinical nutrition 113.5 (2021): 1332-1342.

5Ali, Sharique A., Naima Parveen, and Ayesha S. Ali. "Links between the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) recommended foods and disease management: A review in the light of modern superfoods." International journal of health sciences 12.2 (2018): 61.



Your latest notification comes in: it’s a few reactions to the latest story you uploaded on Instagram. You never intended to be using your phone; you set this time aside to study, get some work done, maybe even sleep early.

But now, you’re distracted.

Suddenly, you are caught in a seemingly endless wave of notifications you feel the need to respond to. A few hours have gone by–and you are no closer to finishing up studying than you were when you began. You hate to admit it, but this happens more often than you’d like. You feel trapped, caught in an endless hatelove-relationship with your phone.

Does this sound familiar?

Our brain function relies on a number of neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that transmit signals from one neuron to a target cell. Most relevant to explain the addictiveness of technology and social media is the neurotransmitter dopamine.¹ Dopamine is a central part of the brain’s reward system and is considered a “feel-good neurotransmitter.” It has wide-ranging benefits that include enhancing mood and motivation, in addition to mediating complex processes like learning and emotional response.¹ Whether you are eating your favourite food or

scrolling your TikTok feed, the release of dopamine is followed by feelings of pleasure and reward. Since your brain recognizes dopamine is associated with these activities, this creates a reward system, with dopamine involved as a key player. Without even realizing it, you may start to feel the need to perpetuate the dopamine loop–a cycle of motivation, reward, and reinforcement.

In the case of social media, this is not accidental. As New York Times writer David Brooks shared, “Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with ‘hijacking techniques’ that lure us in and create ‘compulsion loops’”.² A former Facebook Investor even describes himself as a “conscientious objector” to social media, noting that the success of social media companies can be attributed to “exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”³

Is there a way to minimize distractions from our dopamine-engineered digital sphere? Consider implementing the following evidence-based strategy: deep work.4 Deep work, dubbed the “superpower of the twenty-first century” is a term coined by Cal Newport, referring to “professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”4 To undertake deep work, start time-blocking with the Pomodoro method,5 then gradually increase the amount of time you work without distraction. Reward yourself for any small victories–dopamine-release works both ways and can help you positively reinforce your new habits.6

The next time you get a notification, take a moment to pause. Ask yourself: can this wait? I promise, more often than not, it can.

¹ dopamine

² mar/04/has-dopamine-got-us-hooked-on-techfacebook-apps-addiction ³https://www.theverge. com/2017/12/11/16761016/former-facebookexec-ripping-apart-society

4Newport, Cal. Deep work : rules for focused success in a distracted world. 1st ed. New York; Boston: Grand Central Publishing, 2016.

5 pomodoro-technique

6 pnas.1014269108

"Without being used mindfully and purposefully, technology and social media have the power to create never ending distractions and diversions that can negatively impact your sense of self and pursuits."
Fardowsa Ahmed, 26


The Qatar 2022 World Cup officially started amid massive controversies surrounding the World Cup. Since Qatar was announced as the host of the 2022 World Cup , it has been so controversial for this one tiny nation. It is so significant that BBC did not air the opening ceremony in favour of the Qatari criticism.

One of the biggest critiques is on the legal status of homosexuality in Qatar. A key point that everyone seems to be missing is that other previous World Cup hosts do not fully support homosexuality in their own countries. For example, South Korea, the 2002 World Cup host, is more prone to violence and employment discrimination of LGBTQ+ individuals. People seem to bash Qatar for not being fully supportive, yet many previous host countries have laws and regulations to make it harder for LGBTQ+ individuals to thrive. Qatar also put out a statement saying, "Everyone has to be welcomed; everyone that comes to Qatar is welcome whatever religion, race, sexual orientation, or belief she or he has." Therefore, the criticism of homosexuality being illegal in Qatar should also apply to other countries with "hidden" ways of making homosexuality illegal.

Another criticism of the Qatar World Cup is the human rights abuse allegations of migrant workers, which is valid to draw attention to. However, the criticism is one-sided and implies Qatar is alone in having this issue—as though it does not occur in other ways, in other countries.

Has everyone magically forgotten what happened in the world's western hemisphere for the past 4,000 years? In Canada, 150,000 Indigenous children were seized and transported to schools riddled with sexual and physical mistreatment, in what was organized and cruel cultural genocide. Today, Indigenous peoples continue to lack basic access to clean drinking water, struggle to have adequate housing and shelter, and, in the words of Indigenous elder Lorraine Whitman, have “been treated like second-class citizens in [our] own lands” [1]. When the 2026 World Cup is hosted by Canada in 2026, will this be addressed? Will anyone care?

One-quarter of countries that have hosted the World Cup have laws that outlaw homosexuality. Not to mention the amount of "hidden" ways that land in the west used to violate human rights and their rules about homosexuality being "legal." If this is the stick that the world will use to beat Qatar, you have to beat everyone else. The criticism of the Qatar-hosted World Cup is laced with pure hypocrisy. A simple solution is to stop putting countries on a pedestal and call out any country that commits injustices. This way, we can hold everyone accountable and bring an end to hypocrisy.

¹"Whitman: 'We Have Been Treated like Second-class Citizens in Our Own Lands'." Web. 1 Jan. 2023. Zoha Ameen

The Middle East has been left hungry for decades, and no one has blinked an eye. Women, children, and people just like us are left to starve and are deprived of their lives. In Yemen, 11 million people were underweight between 2016 and 2018, up from 6.2 million between 2004 and 2006. Conflict and rural change are key indicators of hunger under the sustainable development goals (Statista). The starvation crisis has become a normalcy all across the MENA region. The world needs to discuss this, the largest humanitarian crisis. It is becoming more urgent, and the West must stop ignoring it.

The West has continued to ignore famines, crises, and conflicts caused by their direct actions. The execution of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in November 2018 coincided with the news of this humanitarian crisis, and would become the first time ever that it was acknowledged to a public audience. It made the front page of the New York Times. According to a survey conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) among Americans, one-third of the population had never heard of the Yemeni conflict. The Western world is ignorant of the countless that are starving because of their actions. "It is not simply a failure of global empathy that makes the famine possible. It is the possibility of dismissing the famine as an event of global insignificance and ignorance that fails those starving." The famine in Yemen highlights this fact (Tanielian). Western countries are to blame for the famine in Yemen and others in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, as they were trying to serve their own purposes of furthering their military agendas and did not think of the repercussions innocent civilians face in the aftermath.

The Russia-Ukraine war is making the starvation problem even worse. The world's most significant humanitarian and refugee issues are in the MENA region. 50% of the wheat consumed in the area is imported from Russia and Ukraine. The worst affected are nations like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, and Palestine, which are already suffering from high inflation and a global disaster. Despite the loss of livelihood for people, the war on Ukraine is driving prices to all-time highs. “Prices are soaring, imports are going to be diminishing so humanitarian needs are going to increase exponentially,” states Aaron Brent, CARE Director in Yemen.” The hyperinflation caused by the war has exacerbated the crisis. More are going hungry and there is neither enough money nor enough food to be purchased for these people.

The world has chosen to ignore the ever-growing MENA region's starvation. The Middle East has suffered from implicit complications caused by civil conflict and wars, to the new obstacles caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine. The Arab world deserves to have food on its table. The Middle East deserves to eat.

“Deteriorating Hunger Situation an Urgent Crisis for Millions Caught in Armed Conflict.” International Committee of the Red Cross, 11 July 2022, www.icrc. org/en/document/deteriorating-hunger-situation-urgent-crisis-millions-caughtconflict. Accessed 22 Nov. 2022. Statista, Canada. “Yemen: Number of Undernourished People 2018.” Statista, 2018, Accessed 22 Nov. 2022.

Tanielian, Melanie S. “Essential Readings: History of Modern Famine in the Middle East | MESPI.”, 6 Oct. 2018, Accessed 22 Nov. 2022. Toper, Ezgi. “Nearly One Third of the Arab World Is Experiencing Food Insecurity.” Nearly One Third of the Arab World Is Experiencing Food Insecurity, 16 Oct. 2021, Accessed 19 Nov. 2022.

UNICEF. “Hunger and Malnutrition in the Arab Region Stand in the Way of Achieving Zero Hunger by 2030, UN Report Warns.”, 24 May 2021,

---. “Yemen: Acute Hunger at Unprecedented Levels as Funding Dries Up.”, 14 Mar. 2022,

“Yemen Crisis Explained.”, 14 July 2022, www.unrefugees. org/news/yemen-crisis-explained/.

Zoha Rafayameen, 16
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