COPY EDITORS Asmaa Elhayek (Chief) Amina Mohamed Hirra Sheikh Marwa Saad Muhammad Bilal Molani Farhana Islam LAYOUT & DESIGN Azizah Arif Mohamad Khodr Zenaira Ali Wasif Ahmed
From The Editors Desk Riders Without Borders
Financing The Future
Per Aspera Ad Astra: London 2012
Simple Acts to Everlasting Impact
Empowerment Through The Arts ft. Artists from the “And he loves beauty” Exhibition
Hijab, Islam and White Privilege
Do You Want To Be Successful?
And We Are Ever Toiling
Reviving Your Prayer
On The Wings Of Angels
To: The Leprechauns, From: U of T
Reclaim Your Heart - A Book Review
7 Dietary Tips En Route to an Empowering and Healthier Lifestyle
Some Things To Think About and Prayer Spaces
COVER DESIGN Wasif Ahmed CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Zenaira Ali Zainab Asadullah Community Affairs UofTMSA Empower UofT Marwa Saad Maheen Akif Musab Qureshi Katarina Violet Emily Hirra Sheikh Lobna El-Gammal Amina Mohamed Amjad Tarsin Ibad Cheema SPECIAL THANKS Boonaa Mohammed Aisha Raja Syed Sarim Ali He Loves Beauty Artists CONNECT WITH US ONLINE tmv.uoftmsa.com facebook.com/themuslimvoice twitter.com/tmvmagazine tmvmagazine.tumblr.com youtube.com/tmvmagazine flickr.com/photos/tmvmagazine SEND US SNAIL MAIL The Muslim Voice c/o Muslim Students’ Association 21 Sussex Avenue, Suite 505 Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1J6
The Fine Print: The ideas and opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the TMV staff, the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) or the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU).
As’salaamualikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu, May the peace and blessings of Allah be with you.
You open your eyes. Dismiss your alarm. Your roman blinds recede as programmed and unveil a breathtaking, panoramic seaview. You grab your ironman suit, buckleup in your Bugatti Veyron, and drive like you’re in the latest model of the batmobile on the German Autobahn. You, against the world of evil. Growing up in this society with two older brothers and a far too wild imagination, this was my perception of empowerment. Being so full of power that this world could not contain you. When people think of power, they think heroes, politicians, their boss, their prof – in short, every being they see as having been placed above them by society. Power is often viewed as being something external. Sometimes as a label to ascribe to things we cannot fully comprehend. But today, you are going to see a side of it that you’ve often overlooked. You are going to realize what it really means to be empowered, and that in truth, it is the thing you had been toiling for all this time. The thing is, when Our kind was created, Allah made us distinct from His other creation by giving us the ability to reason, to feel, to make choices and act upon them. We often take it for granted, but the fact that we have so much innate potential is something really profound. Sometimes between mundane Mondays and freaky Fridays, we lose sight of who we really are at the gist of it all. But even an ostrich
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knows that hiding its head in a hole doesn’t change reality. These abilities that are our greatest blessing, also serve as our greatest trial. Somehow we must employ true reason, guide our emotions, and act upon decisions in a way that our purpose is fulfilled. Our purpose of pleasing Allah, our Creator. And to succeed in this mission, we have been granted guidance through the Qur’an and the words and life of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Life then, is a journey about wisely practicing this power. And only a person that realizes their power and the purpose behind it, can truly use it well and be empowered. Every day through your facebook newsfeed, your twitter updates, newspapers (that odd morning when you decide to read one), you witness countless examples of other humans who use this power to better themselves, their communities, and this world. They challenge the norms and push the limits. “The crazy ones” as Apple calls them. They are perceptive to the realities of this world. They internalize these realities. And most importantly, they do something about it. To some they are known as the Mo Farahs of this world, to others the Malala Yousufzais. To you, they may carry an intimidating image of empowerment. But rest assured, there is no magnitude in acts of empowerment. Empowerment exists in the most complex to the simplest of acts: from speaking-up against injustice, to a simple, heartfelt smile. In this issue, individuals share accounts of their different, practical journeys as they move from possessing power to becoming
empowered. I hope that the words and images on the pages that follow encourage you to reflect on their unique messages, and inspire you to grow and strive for excellence, as you carry forward on your own individual journeys en route to empowerment. Wassalam (with peace), Aiman Batool Editor in Chief at The Muslim Voice
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“I, Along the Way”
’ve recently started driving. That makes me the fourth member of my family that must constantly readjust the settings of the driver’s seat in our family car to ensure a safe and comfortable journey. But driving itself has been rather strange as I begin to make it yet another responsibility of my daily life. Always the passenger, never the driver: I never paid attention to the buildings that passed me by, names of streets, signs. (The signs!) I never had to. Now, though, the world has opened its roads to me. I see things I never saw before. The things I passed by so blindly everyday suddenly stand out, come to the forefront and somehow look foreign. Driving. Life’s greatest metaphor! Signs that instruct you to slow down, your grip on the steering wheel, passengers that are so much more than just passengers: all so easily applied to the ins and outs of our daily lives. (This is the stuff English Specialists are made of.) I never knew my university experience was lacking something so essential until The Muslim Voice became my driving force, the minivan I drive on the roads of my life. Campus looks different, feels like something else. Sammy’s, once just another food court that served me lunch, has transformed into something closely resembling home. In here I bump into friends, enjoy a meal with those that inspire me, make me laugh and lift my spirits—the place I drive to when my ‘Check Engine’ light comes on and the fear I’ll break down in the middle of the road overwhelms me. The library is no longer just a place where I
pour over essays and cram for exams. Here I learn, grow, define myself in the terms I choose for the person I am, the person I strive to be. The Multi-Faith Center. Good ol’ MFC, the one place that will never let you down. It is a safe-haven, a sanctuary. I never knew it for the place it was until I opened my eyes and saw it for something more. Here is a place I can be myself. And more than that, I can be comfortable with that version of me. I have found inspiration in myself, in those darkened places that TMV has brightened. I have found empowerment through late night conversations and early morning train rides. I have found my voice amid the places of my heart that I have silenced. I, along the way, have made a better version of me, closer to the person I want to be. TMV is my guiding headlight no matter where I go or how I decide to get there. I have reached a point in my life where Uturns are no longer possible, necessary or even desirable. There will be bumps in the road, twists and turns, empty gas tanks in the darkness of night on lonely avenues. It will get slippery when wet. There will be blind spots that will conceal life’s greatest perils. But things won’t always be as they appear. Every tribulation is an opportunity for a mistake. All those seemingly horrible moments on my path I take as lessons, reminders that I need to express my gratitude and say ‘thank you.’ Alhamdulillah for speed bumps when I am going dangerously fast. Alhamdulillah for that empty gas tank
that never again let me take tomorrow for granted because, no matter how much the media may try to have me believe tomorrow will bring lower gas prices, tomorrow may never come. Alhamdulillah for the twists and turns that helped me understand that nothing in life is straightforward, and that’s ok...because it is anticipating what may be around that corner that keeps me alert and attentive and keeps my eyes open to new possibilities. They make me eager for those moments in my life when I will turn a corner and find something new, something like TMV, that will change me always for the better. Words splattered on paper may not empower you, but the stories and the people that live within them will take you on the journey of your life. It doesn’t matter what you decide on your way. Our lives are already on the course of destiny. The only thing that matters is how you look at the decisions you make. How will you let them shape you into the person you want to be? Open your eyes to the better moments in your life, and when you feel there aren’t very many, remember that you can make any moment into a great moment. That’s what ‘empowerment’ means to me. Don’t limit yourself to your potentials. You have the potential to go beyond your limits. So buckle up. Life is a bumpy ride. Jazakallah for your continued support, Editor’s Associate Asmaa Elhayek
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 5
DAYS • 100TO 10 10 DAYS • 100
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TOWNS • 1000 OWNS • 1000 KM KM
harity is not only the sharing of monetary wealth, but can also include the distribution of acts of kindness. In fact, according to Islamic traditions, even a simple act like smiling at someone is considered charity. This was the basis behind Riders Without Borders, an organization that set out to empower their community. Riders Without Borders embarked on a 10 day trip over 1,000 km from Toronto to Quebec City. They biked their way across the provinces with a support system that included over 40 volunteers. Their aim was to perform good deeds along the way. “During each day, we visited local communities,” said Sharah Hoque, a nurse-in-training who volunteered with Riders Without Borders. “We visited nursing homes, we visited animal shelters, we visited universities and we did some sort of community service for them.” Event organizer Hosam Helal said the idea came from a fundraiser bike-a-thon that he had attended. In that event, riders had to raise $1,000 for charity. “It was good, but I felt it would be nice to have an opportunity to not raise money, but do good yourself without having to rely on finances and instead relying on physical strength to perform acts of kindness,” he said. “The main motivation was to portray Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him through actions.” Helal said. “It would be silent da’wah: you don’t say much, you just do it and people would appreciate that.” One of these people was Helen deMarsh, a 56-year-old social worker. “I was sick on the day the Riders Without Borders group was passing through the Ottawa area where we now live,” she said. The Riders Without Borders
team made a get well soon video for deMarsh. “The video cheered me up,” she said. “We are amazed with what they accomplished and impressed with the challenge they took on.” Another stop was made at a hospital in Quebec where the riders met a young child who had been a part of an accident. “We took one gift and gave it to him. He got out of bed and was struggling to even walk,” Helal said. “He came in walking on one leg because the other leg was broken. He said, ‘Thank you very much,’ in a French accent. It was very touching.” But the acts of kindness did not only go one way: the riders experienced kindness from strangers as well. “On the second day of the trip, our youngest rider fell while he was going downhill and hurt himself very badly. He was in a lot of pain and couldn’t get up or move. It became a scene and a lot of the neighbours came out to call the ambulance,” Hoque said. “One couple came out with supplies to help him clean his wounds. Some neighbours offered to drive us to the hospital. It was very genuine and incredibly kind.” Despite the bumps and bruises, the trip was a success. “Over the course of the 10 days, we really became a family. After we came back to Toronto, we met up on a few occasions just to catch up,” Hoque said. “A lot of us are already talking about next year. The people we met, we really got to know them.” Helal said he hopes this is not the last of Riders Without Borders. “I hope that Allah inspires us to continue this and that the community can assist us in making it happen in a way that gains Allah’s pleasure,” he said.
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g n i c n
a n i F Future e th
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s we make our ways through university and head towards the working world we come to realize the liberation of financial autonomy. University is the first time in our lives where we have more or less complete control over our expenditures. We start to understand the impacts each financial transaction, be it buying lunch or paying rent, can have on our budget.
PHOTO // IFRAH AKHTER
However, for those of us on a student loan, this financial autonomy is a mirage. We are, in essence, consuming today what we will earn and pay for in the future. For when we graduate and start our careers as young professionals, we will be weighed down by mounting student loans due to steep interest rates which can take quite a number of years to fully payoff.
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The reasons for the impermissibility of interest in the Islamic financial system are numerous but the overarching one is that interest does not promote risk sharing; rather it transfers the risk of payment on the loan recipient. In this way, the person granting the loan is guaranteed a premium return on their money, whether or not the loan recipient can afford to pay back the money. To get back to how this is relevant to us – there are certain steps that we can take to alleviate the financial pressures that tend to accumulate. Not only that, but the age old cliché, “it’s never too early to start thinking about retirement,” is actually true. Savings for retirement are automatic for all workers in Canada. All employers deduct RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) contributions from employee paychecks. (The next time your paycheque comes in, look at the deductions and you will see it.) But these contributions are minimal and do not do enough to ensure a satisfactory quality of living. Also, RRSP’s earn interest and are thus not a viable option under the Islamic model.
various investment vehicles (tools) such as common shares (stocks), Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), Commodity Exchange Traded Funds (CETFs), currency trading (forex), etc. These terms at times sound daunting but the concept behind them is simple. We all know that stocks represent part ownership in companies (a 5% stock ownership of Coca-Cola would make us 5% owners of Coca-Cola, woot!). Therefore, by investing in stocks we are investing in companies and as these companies grow larger in value, our stocks appreciate in value and we become better off financially. ETF’s are similar to stocks in that they are actively
are not the only “Savings hedge against loans and retirement needs.
We, as individuals, have access to a variety of investment tools that we can employ to our advantage. Savings are not the only hedge against loans and retirement needs. Investing is the golden alternative. Investment is a word that is easily misunderstood. It does not necessitate large sums of capital employed in multimillion-dollar ventures that will boom or bust. Smaller sums of capital can be invested through
F o r those of us who are not avid investors, it suffices to purchase stocks or ETFs and keep them for the long run (5-10 years or more). Over the course of time our investments would appreciate in value and our net worth would be increasing as a result. There are a number of online options available for investment, but it is a good idea to speak to a banker first about the various options available and how they can suit your needs. All banking institutions in Canada have stock brokers who can provide information specific to each person’s financial needs.
Investing is the golden alternative.
traded on stock exchanges as well. The only difference is that an ETF represents a portfolio of numerous companies while a stock is shares for a single company. So by buying an ETF, one would own stocks in multiple companies and thus spread the risk. This means that even if one company goes bankrupt the other companies would probably still have positive returns; thus, protecting the value of your investment. The cool thing about ETF’s is that they deal in commodities as well. Commodities are natural resources. So if we buy a gold ETF, we can be owners of a sum of gold (which we would never actually see, it’s all electronic), and we would still benefit if the price of gold went up (which it does tend to do a lot).
Take this example: research in Motion stocks were trading at $69.86 in February 2011. Now these shares are trading at $8.23 (some people weren’t too…overjoyed…by this). The tech industry is a high risk-high reward industry so this can be expected. The greater the risk you are willing to take on, the greater the potential reward (and losses). Investment decisions become even more crucial in the long run when we look to save up for houses, cars, weddings and retirements. By acting in an informed way we can give ourselves that firm footing that will open up options for us, make us selfreliant and bring us that much closer to that elusive but achievable financial autonomy.
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Per AspeRa Ad Astra :
L NDON 2012 BY ZAINAB ASADULLAH
think we all felt it, the build up to the Olympics, the buzz that permeated the air, the lilt in our conversations as we excitedly talked about the upcoming games. It wasn’t just any Olympic games; there was an extra excitement for our community. Rumours and theories were passed back and forth with increasing fervour when we discovered that there would be Muslim athletes competing during the month of Ramadan. There was an even greater buzz when news that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had entered female athletes into the games for the first time in Olympic history reached us. Even Friday sermons weren’t safe from the growing excitement that permeated the atmosphere. I distinctly remember my local Imam citing these athletes as modern day role models, their dedication to excellence and faith throughout the games as something we ourselves should aspire towards as well. I had watched every Summer Olympics game since I was able to understand the significance of first, second and third place. This time it was different. It was certainly uplifting, but seeing their words in action, and actually viewing the triumphs play out on our television screens created a drama, a tension the like of which
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I had never before encountered in my life. The moment in which Mo (Mohammad) Farah, a young Somali-born Muslim on Team GB won the 10k was an exceptional moment. Here was a young Muslim man who had suddenly become a national hero in Great Britain. It was more than just winning a race. The image that is forever imprinted on our minds of a celebratory Mo Farah on his knees, roaring his approval to the millions, wasn’t just his exultation of approval. It was ours. I know how I felt in that moment, I felt as though it was Muhammad Ali’s time again, when Islam was still viewed as a beautiful thing, an untouched pearl in an otherwise amoral world. Winning that race suddenly brought the feeling I had only just managed to take hold of through history books, into sharp relief. It had become a reality for one single moment.
Anti-Islamic tensions, particularly in Europe, –we in Canada have been relatively sheltered from the full brunt of the xenophobes and Islamophobes– are reaching an all-time high. ‘Anti-halal’ meat campaigns, English Defense League marches, the British National Party gaining more traction in the UK: these are just
examples for the rest of us,
and OF the rest of us. ”
a few of the things that were making being Muslim, or even brown-skinned, in the United Kingdom much more difficult. So to see a Somali-born practicing-Muslim man, a family man, a pious man, and a man dedicated to excellence suddenly become a national hero...well. What it gave us, in the shape of two gold-plated discs, was hope. Hope that the path on which we had previously seen the role of Muslims in the West being taken down wasn’t one that would end badly, but that the tides were indeed (if infinitesimally) turning. It doesn’t mean that Mo Farah, or any one of the Muslim athletes, will single handedly change the international opinion of Muslims overnight. Of course not. What it means, is that our Olympic role models, who struggled to even be at London 2012, who fasted through intense training and competing, who dedicated themselves to excellence; were finally being seen for something far beyond their religious affiliation or nationality. They were examples for the rest of us, and of the rest of us. What I felt, what I am sure millions of Muslims felt this summer, was inspiration. All we have been doing, thus far, is defending ourselves. Defending our image cast by extremists, defending our image against hate attacks from the media, defending ourselves against religious and
PHOTO // JOHN SMITH PHOTO // DIARIODOCENTRODOMUNDO.COM.BR
secular intolerance. And for a long time it was rather like punching a brick wall with a bare fist. We would try and try to wear a hole through the impenetrable barriers set up before us, and would depart more hurt than before. We couldn’t win. But our own proverbial gold medals aren’t as unattainable as we may have previously thought. I know that now. Many of us already knew it, but sometimes it takes an example of someone displaying the truth to really show us that we needn’t defend ourselves. We just need to be ourselves, to follow our deen to whichever place it takes us, and
do so to the best of our ability. Our neighbours, our friends, strangers on the street, the world will finally see us. See us as individuals, see us as proactive members of our communities, of being excellent. Mo Farah, and the rest of the Muslim athletes showed us that it may not do to make the world forget about the atrocities committed in “our name.” But we can show them that being a Muslim is so much more than what they perceive, that we are all individuals motivated toward greatness by
our faith. Whilst we may not all be worldfamous, or even any good at running really really fast, we can be examples to our own neighbours and friends, and members of our community who showcase through example what it truly means to be Muslim. That submitting to Allah (swt) is not just a passive act. It is a promise to overcome difficulties and aspire to excellence. Per aspera ad astra.
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 11
TO EVERLAST BY MUSAB QURESHI
Sometimes a small deed can have a big impact. From a simple smile to a lifechanging action, you can help create positive change in someone else’s life.
have to be here you know. It’s my responsibility. Who will take care of him otherwise?” remarks Mr. Arif. Every Friday, Mr. Arif can be seen bustling with excitement at the mosque’s entrance gate, eagerly waiting for his companion to show up. Hidden underneath his wrinkled face and weary eyes there is a definite glow of pride. For the weekly Friday prayers, it is Mr. Arif ’s responsibility to take care of a blind attendee –to be his eyes in the mosque, to guide him to the prayer area and to make sure he is attended to. Mr. Arif comes in well ahead of the actual prayer time, sometimes even an hour earlier, just to make sure he doesn’t miss out on his “responsibility.” Turns out that Mr. Arif is a seventy something gentlemen who has suffered multiple cardiac arrests. It is evident that walking is, in itself, a struggle for him. Now imagine this: an elderly gentleman who can barely walk and who suffers from a severe heart condition is given the re-
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sponsibility of taking care of a blind person. Not the average empowerment story! Mr. Arif ’s responsibility has been given to him by the mosque’s Jummah co-ordinator. “Brother, I don’t know what he did. I feel my dad has a renewed sense of purpose. You know, he was bedridden for a long time. Now, it seems like he’s living just to come out on Fridays!” exclaims Mr. Arif ’s son. Mr Arif ’s story is a testament to the power of empowerment. This might be an extreme example of a person in his old age deprived of a feeling of “self worth.” But in no way does it defeat the point. Be it old, be it young. We can all do with a bit of empowerment every now and then. And we don’t have to be Jummah co-ordinators to empower others. Oftentimes, simple things go on to make lasting impacts. That smile from your friend that makes your day a bit better. That compliment you never expected to receive. Any seemingly small actions such as these (and countless others that we’re all aware of) can go on to make a big difference, from simply lifting someone else’s spirits to helping them realize new aspects of their personalities. In Islam, empowerment is a critical element to a lot of the practices. Take for instance charity.
TING IMPACT Sure it’s an obligation, but it’s one that’s meant to empower both the giver and the receiver. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would always look to empower others. His interactions with children were especially empowering. It is said that his grandson Hussein, suffered from severe stuttering. Hussein would often feel embarrassed to talk in social gatherings. Once, excitedly Hussein rushed to the Prophet, whilst he was amongst his companions, to talk to him about a particular matter. Hussein’s stutter got the better of him and it took him quite a while to finish what he wanted to say. After Hussein finished, the companions perplexed, turned to the Prophet not knowing how to respond. The Prophet hugged Hussein and said, “Hussein has inherited his stutter from his uncle Musa.” It is said that from that day onwards, Hussein was proud of his stutter. And why wouldn’t he be? Now, this so called disability of his has been equated to something of value. It’s been called an “inheritance,” that too came from a great
Prophet. Hussein was empowered by the realization that Prophet Musa too had a stutter and that did not stop him from reaching great heights. On Fridays, whenever I get a chance I head over to catch a glimpse of Mr. Arif taking care of his blind companion. The Jummah coordinator, lurking in the background, is never far behind. I say to myself, the Jummah coordinator could have easily taken care of the blind individual himself or he could have assigned the task to one of his regular volunteers. But he chose to empower someone else. He chose to empower Mr. Arif, an elderly gentleman feeling lonely and dissatisfied with life. By doing so, he helped Mr. Arif discover a sense of purpose. The Jummah coordinator empowered Mr. Arif towards an action he can be proud of. We are all in this life together. Helping others achieve their goals can get our own on track!
“Be it old or be it young. We can all do with a bit of empowerment every now and then.”
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Empowerment Through the Arts Featuring artists from the “And He loves beauty” art exhibition (08.25-30. 2012)
n an effort to portray beauty in numerous forms of art, Muslim youths of various academic and ethnic backgrounds enjoined to present their talent in a unique group exhibition. With a focus not necessarily on religious art, but instead, on one that reflects their personal and group identities, these students featured a wide range of artwork including calligraphy, glass mosaics, paintings, photography, and drawings. The exhibition focused on the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that “ God is beautiful, and He loves beauty.” Surely, allowing your very being to become an expression of beauty is the key to empowerment. Here are some works of art submitted by these artists as they each capture “empowerment” through their talents.
JAUDAT ADNAN In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
HARIS MUSHTAQ ‘Nun. By the pen and by that which they inscribe.’(68:1) 14 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
TEHNIAT KHAN The Girl From the Gaza Strip
ISRAA HOWLADER Subhanallah - Exalted is Allah Above All
TMV P hotography Contest Winner!
AYA DAJANI Waking Light ZAINAB ASADULLAH The Aspiration of Imagined Futures in the Wake of Terrible Pasts About This Piece “This is a picture taken after very sad and heartbreaking news was given to this young man. So he ran up this hill and leapt for the sky. When I asked him why, he just said: “I don’t want to cry anymore, I want to smile instead. I want to jump instead”. Empowerment isn’t just about the grand gestures, it’s about the ability to smile no matter what.” - Zainab Asadullah
SEHAR SHAHZAD Straight Path THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 15
PHOTO // IFRAH AKHTER
Islam, Hijab & White Privilege BY KATARINA VIOLET EMILY
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The experience of white female reverts to Islam in donning the hijab is a complex one. In my experience as a recent white revert to Islam who has chosen to wear the hijab, I feel there is much to address. Of the many issues revert sisters are currently facing, I hope to specifically address the presence of white privilege in relation to hijab. Many people in the West who perceive the hijab as a symbol of the backwardness and oppression of Islam are left confounded by the sight of a white woman choosing to wear it. The questions I have received from people in my personal and professional life are not unique to white revert hijabis. However the nuances with which these questions are asked holds light to the Oriental idea of hijabis as an Other (Said, 1979) in Western society. The simultaneous Otherness and privilege with which I am treated as a white hijabi, pinned against my position previous to taking on the hijab, speaks to the prevalence of white privilege in the West. Amongst Muslims I am still viewed very much as a white woman. In Muslim spaces my whiteness and the privilege that comes along with it, remains. In discussions about the treatment of Muslims in the West, I myself and other Muslims around me are very much aware of the privilege I hold in that I spent my youth free from any cultural or religious stigma. I did not grow up the tar-
get of Islamophobic comments, mistreatment or social exclusion due to people’s perceptions of my expression faith. While my privilege is real within the ummah, I have been treated as nothing but a sister in Islam mash’Allah. However outside of the ummah, I am treated as a combination of an Other and someone with special authority stemming from white privilege.
no means completely erased by my identity as a Muslim outside the ummah. I am still characterized as an Other, but I am treated as one with nuanced knowledge. White folks repeatedly ask me questions as though I am the go-to authority on Islam. I find this particularly offensive, as the nature of these questions is an act of privileging me above other Muslims. In what universe am I an authority on the sentiments I am largely treated as an Other that of Muslims protesting ‘The Innocence of people find difficult to stereotype. While Muslims’ film in the Middle East? How non-white hijabis experience this same can I begin to give a summary of the opinOtherness, Western society has a quiet ex- ion of all Muslims on 9/11, the Taliban or pectation of their decision to wear hijab. I the Muslim Brotherhood? I am a Muslim am an anomaly to white Westerners and with a unique cultural and social experithat disrupts their misinformed percep- ence, just like all Muslims in all the other tion of the wearing of the hijab as a cul- diverse communities across the world that make up the ummah. tural practice. My motives for conver- While my privilege is real White reverts are sion are frequently within the ummah, I have not the Westerner’s or Western scholarquestioned. White been treated as nothing but ship’s answer books non-Muslims frea sister in Islam mash’Allah. to Islam. We are no quently prod me with questions concerning However outside of the more knowledgeable my reasons for re- ummah, I am treated as a than any other Musverting to Islam, hop- combination of an Other lim who is at the same ing they will receive and someone with special level of the study of an answer beyond my authority stemming from Islam as us. I hope that as people in the love for the Prophet white privilege. West are exposed to (peace be upon him) more Muslims and and Qur’an. It is ofcome to understand Islam, these misconten assumed that I have reverted for marceptions are broken down. InshaAllah riage and no other reason. My practice of as the ummah continues to grow in the hijab is questioned heavily and critiqued West, these offensive stereotypes of hijab as being a validation of the subservience and white privilege will begin to dwindle of women in Islam. I am treated as being invisible in clothing stores, a threat in air- down. It is the responsibility of this generports and spoken down to when I ask for ation of young Muslims to help erase these stereotypes through da’wah. directions or advice. Despite the treatment I receive as an Other in many settings, my white privilege is by
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 17
COMMUNITY AFFAIRS BY MARJAN AHMED AND MUSTAFA KHAN
PETALS & LETTERS: PINK HIJAB DAY
ommunity Affairs! Before joining the team, we had absolutely no idea what the committee was about. Bored from the pressures of engineering studies, we came across an ad on Facebook for volunteering opportunities. Thankfully, the time was set after 6pm (yes, engineers don’t get free before that especially 2nd year ECEs). We decided to go check it out, and lo and behold, it instantly became our favourite campus committee! It was nerve-wrecking walking into a room full of complete strangers but that feeling was soon replaced by excitement
as Yusra U. Qazi (a.k.a ‘The Boss’) told us that before leaving the room, we’d all have become best friends. We were skeptical, but as the night progressed, her words became a reality: we built strong bonds embedded in volunteerism, virtue and good deeds. So what exactly is it that makes this committee special? Without a doubt, it is the teamwork and dedication of the individuals that comprise the team. We have garnered unforgettable memories of moments that have made us laugh and moments that have made us grateful. Each of these moments have helped us appreciate what we have and challenged us to give others what we can. It truly has been a remarkable experience becoming a part of this family.
BY ZINEB DRISSI-SMAILI Community Affairs hosted its annual “Pink Hijab Day” event on October 24 at the entrance of the Gerstein Library. The event was held to promote breast cancer awareness and raise donations for breast cancer research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, while taking the opportunity to eliminate barriers and stereotypes by encouraging people to ask Muslim women about the hijab. Despite students rushing in and out of Gerstein due to their hectic studious lives, the pretty pink booth set up for the event was quite popular. The booth had various items for sale, the most popular being the roses, scarves and delicious cookies! Individuals from different backgrounds came together to garner a deeper understanding of why Muslim women wear the hijab while spreading breast cancer awareness!
On September 22, Community Affairs partnered up with ‘Volunteering with Virtue’ to clean Cherry Beach as part of a multi-faith initiative. The cleanup brought together a band of enthusiastic individuals from different faiths and backgrounds. As an attendee I witnessed how, despite there being little to actually clean up, the afternoon brought out the true essence of community among the volunteers. Having only met a short while ago, we scoured the sand for bits and pieces of garbage, working together while getting to know one another and reflecting on our experiences. This marked a step towards establishing a well-knit community based on a clean and sustainable environment for all to enjoy.
BY NUVAIR ALI IMAM
BY ASMA ALABED In partnership with the Muslim Association of Canada and the Scadding Court Community Center, Community Affairs team rose on a Sunday morning to host and volunteer at MAC’s annual Eid-ul-Adha luncheon. Miles away from home and familiarity, alone on Eid with my meal plan in place of my family’s traditional lamb feast, I felt more blessed than ever in knowing that I had the opportunity to serve our less fortunate brothers and sisters. This thought in itself is very humbling. Not only was it tranquil working with Muslims from the community like a real Ummah should, the Eid luncheon was also a reality check: we often easily overlook it, but we must always remember that all of our blessings come from Allah (swt). Next time you make a Tim Horton’s run and are waiting in line for a hot chocolate or Timbits, take the time to remind yourself that you’re not waiting in line for what very well could be your only meal of the day.
TO GET INVOLVED WITH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS AT UOFTMSA, EMAIL COMMUNITY.AFFAIRS@UOFTMSA.COM. 18 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
ELIMINATING MANIPULATION POVERTY AND OPPRESSION WORLDWIDE THROUGH EDUCATIONAL REVIVAL
BY AMINNA SYED
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CHECK US OUT ONLINE WEB TMV.UOFTMSA.COM FACEBOOK /THEMUSLIMVOICE TWITTER @THEMUSLIMVOICE EMAIL TMV@UOFTMSA.COM THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 19
ecently, I was talking to a friend of mine who has been going through some personal struggles that have left her feeling down and confused. As we were talking, she said, “It’s too late for me to be successful. I’ll never be anybody.” Success. Everyone craves it. Everyone wants it. Society sets the bar. Medical school. Money. Fame. Marriage. But what is success to begin with? Are the rich the most successful? Are the smartest the most successful? Who are the successful?
PHOTO // AZIZAH ARIF
20 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
Do you want
You and I can never be “successful” if we never get to take that first step into Jannah. Every breath that we take is a gift from Allah. A chance to right wrongs. A chance to earn our spot in Jannah. Knowing this, then how can it be too late for anyone that’s still breathing to enter Jannah? How can it be too late for us to be successful?
In this life, the feeling of failure occurs because society has given us its own standard for judging success. A standard that is based on monetary value and status. It is a standard that leaves us disempowered. If someone owns a billion dollar empire in this world, but does not make it to Jannah, then what have they really achieved? If someone has barely enough food to make it through the day, their bank account is empty, but they make it to Jannah, then what have they lost? It is this realization that will empower us not just in this life but in the hereafter as well, inshaAllah [God willing].
Allah tells us, “Successful indeed are the believers…” The believers. But who are these believers? Allah explains that they are those who pray humbly and submissively, who turn away from ill speech, who are observant of their zakah [charity], who guard their chastity, who do not break their trusts and promises and who maintain their prayers. But what do they get for their success? “Who will inherit al-firdous. They will abide therein eternally.” Not just Jannah. But Jannat al-firdous. The highest level of Jannah. Forever. That is the ultimate prize. That is success. [Qu’ran 23: 1-11].
by marwa saad
Who better to answer these questions than the One who created us? The beautiful thing about having Islam is that we know we were created for a purpose. We were not created to wander this Earth and all become doctors. We were not created to make trillions of dollars in this world so that we can buy Jannah [paradise] in the hereafter. No. We were created for something much nobler than that. We were created to worship Him.
When the world pushes you to your knees And nothing is going as you please When you feel ready to explode And can no longer carry your load When the stress of the world becomes too much And you look for a thread of hope to clutch Who else can help you along Except for the One to whom you belong?
Perseverance BY LOBNA EL GAMMAL
I am the weed that grows between the cracks. Rooted in cement and stones, lacking the luxury of soil, I have learned perseverance. As you push and pull at my roots, your sweat waters my stems, making my fruitless efforts fruitful, for I am the toughest weed to remove. You will complain that I am strong, difficult to grasp, and impossible to uproot from the roots. Yet eventually you will let me be. You forget that my stability, sturdy as I may seem, is not born of ease, for I am meant to live amongst the dirt. I am strong, only because I was once weak. I am resilient, only because I once lost hope. My birth away from soil, is an obstacle and challenge, turned into a blessing, for I make do with what I have. My struggle to grow, amongst the harshest of materials, is what makes me firm, from cherishing my efforts. It is the deepest of my roots, those in the most pain, crushed by bricks and slabs, that empower me to remain rooted. I am the weed that grows between the cracks. Rooted in cement and stones, lacking the luxury of soil, and I will teach you perseverance.
22 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
BY BOONAA MOHAMMED
ven though I was born into a Muslim family and participated in the basic Islamic rituals (fasting, no pork, Sunday school etc.), I never really learned how to pray. I guess for all those years when I did pray, I was just following the people around me, going up and down with no real understanding of what to say, what it meant and why I was saying it. After many trials and tribulations in my own life, I felt this aching desire to speak with Allah and connect with the only One capable of soothing the ache in my heart. So I slowly began watching and learning how to pray, like someone who had just embraced Islam, going over all the books, DVDs and resources available to me until eventually I felt comfortable enough to pray on my own. Sometimes I would practice alone in my room; it wouldnâ€™t even be time for salaah (prayer), but I just wanted to make sure I could remember all the words under pressure. To the best of my knowledge, from that day onwards I have never missed one prayer, Alhamdulillah (All praise belongs to Allah). This was by far the most empowering moment I have ever experienced in my entire life because it has allowed me the opportunity to converse with my Lord in a way so many yearn for. I pray that Allah keeps me steadfast in my salaah, and accepts all of my efforts for His sake and His sake alone. Ameen.
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 23
On the Wings of BY AMJAD TARSIN
ike a nugget of unrefined gold, most people are sources of extraordinary, untapped potential. However, they may never notice the potential Allah has placed within them - the potential to worship and know Him. As God says in the Quran, “God will raise up, by many degrees, those of you who believe and those who have been given knowledge” (58.11). One of the goals of the Muslim Chaplaincy at UofT is to empower you to discover the God-given potential within you in the hopes that Allah will raise you in status. As the Muslim Chaplain, I want to provide support for you during these foundational years and equip you with the tools to understand Islam in a way that both connects you to Allah and allows you to engage in society positively. In a beautiful hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “You will ﬁnd that people are mines of gold and silver. The best of you in the time of ignorance before Islam will be the best of you in Islam if they gain understanding of the religion” (Bukhari & Muslim). Scholars mentioned here that the central condition for a person to become the best is that they gain an understanding of the religion. In other words, you are able to tap into your true potential as a human being through a sound understanding of Islam. A lot of people might be uninterested in learning more about Islam because “they already learned it all as a kid”—but the more you learn about Allah and His Messenger, the deeper an appreciation you can gain for Islam. We live in a difficult time where Islam and Muslims are being targeted and stereotypes are being forced upon us. A proper understanding not only gives you the tools to become a whole human
being, but it can also benefit others and change their perception of Islam. When the Prophet taught us that smiling is considered to be charity, that is something that affects both others and ourselves in a beautiful way. People need to experience the beauty within Islam. This will only happen when Muslims begin practicing Islam based upon a sound understanding, and this will come from learning. Working to gain an understanding of Islam is not necessarily an easy task. It takes effort, but your efforts will be rewarded. In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The angels set out their wings [for someone seeking knowledge to walk upon] for the seeker of knowledge, out of pleasure for their endeavor” (Abu Dawud & Tirmidhi). When Islam is understood and practiced, justice and beauty begin to spread, making the entire world a better place. We are representatives of Islam. As a result, we have a responsibility to understand Islam in order to represent God’s religion in this world. It is a big task, but you do have the ability to make a difference. Knowledge brings about understanding. Understanding brings about responsibility. When we are able to do that, great things will happen. One of my favorite descriptions of the Prophet Muhammad mentioned in the Quran describes him as a “luminous lamp” (Quran 33.46). You too can be a beacon of light, shining beautifully for others to see and benefit from. We have a responsibility to understand our religion properly for our own relationship with Allah, but also to be able to clear misconceptions and show how Islam and Muslims can be a source of wisdom, beauty, and light from which we all gain.
“...the more you learn about Allah and His Messenger, the deeper an appreciation you can gain for Islam.”
HAVE YOU MET THE CHAPLAIN? EMAIL FACEBOOK email@example.com www.facebook.com/amjadmtarsin WEBSITE TWITTER www.mcuoft.com @AmjadTarsin 24 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
PHOTO // ALI SAEED
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 25
e h t : To
, s n u a h c e pr
ou know what I don’t understand? Why U of T doesn’t have an underground route system that allows students to get from one end of campus to the other in less than ten minutes. We can call it ‘The Underground Walkway.’ This year, I was blessed with three days of six-hour back-toback classes, most of which go from one end of campus to the other. And I hate it. A lot. While I recognize and appreciate the importance of punctuality, I just…can’t do it. My main issue is not the running across campus. It’s not the weird pain of my messenger bag as it hits my leg with every forward step. It’s not the uneven paths in Queens Park.
It’s the lecture halls. They were built for leprechauns.
T f o U : From BY AMINA MOHAMED
Lecture halls are not built to accommodate latecomers; heck, they were barely made to accommodate punctual people. Let’s take the Earth Sciences building. I have an English course in one of its lecture halls right after a class in St. Mike’s. So two days a week, I run through Queens Park, through the tourists and recently married couples outside UC, and past the hot dog vendors, just to end up in a gloomy lecture hall and of all things, pucker up to learn about how one man thought his beloved was “more lovely” than a summers day. I highly doubt that, Mr. Shakespeare. Consider the aisles of this –or any– lecture hall. There is about one foot of space between the backrest of one seat and the back of the one in front of it. Consider that you have to sit, straight up, knees together, elbows in, and take notes for fifty minutes per lecture. I can’t help but wonder whether this was a cruel and unusual punishment by the architects. Did they just sit in their offices and brainstorm the best ways to make lectures more testing than they already are? Just walking through an aisle to find a seat after lecture has begun is an adventure. They are so close
together that you can pretty much guarantee you’ll hit every single person you pass, most likely in the face. When I shuffle in, there’s just a line of “excuse me…pardon me…I’m sorry…was that your nose?...ooh, is it bleeding?” until I find a seat. My professor made a point of discussing the seating issue in class once. His solution to the cumbersome side theatrics was dubbing the last three rows ‘The Stocks,’ for all latecomers, last-minute smokers and crappy students. And that is where I am forced to sit, every class, because our campus is Narnia incarnate. Also, what is up with the double stair thing? One giant step and one little step. I have yet to figure out a graceful way to mount these stairs, in fact, I’m starting to doubt there is one. The way I see it, the worst part of all this, is that all this could be fixed if classes were fifteen minutes apart instead of ten. That extra five minutes would give me, and all other cross-campus runners, the opportunity to hope –hope that we get to class before lecture begins, hope to find a seat without whispering apologies, hope to avoid ‘The Stocks’ for just one more day. But of course, U of T doesn’t roll like that.
26 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
BY MARWA SAAD
ove. Loss. Pain. Status. Identity. Community. Yasmin Mogahed covers a wide array of topics in her new book, Reclaim Your Heart, with one central theme: bringing people back to Allah. It is a manual of how to reclaim our heart from the hold of this world in order to reconnect it with Allah. Yasmin Mogahed is a freelance writer, international speaker, and the host of “Serenity,” her show on One Legacy Radio. She has previously taught Islamic Studies at Cardinal Stritch University and has also worked as a columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Yasmin Mogahed has become a household name in the Muslim community in the west. Her work’s power lies in its ability to relate to everyday problems and
situations. Her work is available online at yasminmogahed.com. Reclaim Your Heart is Yasmin’s first book. As I read through Yasmin Mogahed’s book, I did not expect to like it. However, as I continued reading, I often found myself being blown away by her connections and conclusions. I finally understood why her work is so popular. This book is a great reminder of how our struggles and pain are an avenue to return to Allah. It is a reminder that everything in this world is temporary. This is not a book you read once. This is a book you read over and over again and every time you will be re-motivated. If you know anyone that is going through a difficult time, this book makes a great gift to help him or her get back on track. Even if life is going well, this book will help you put your life in focus. Reclaim Your Heart is easy to read for the religious and the not-so religious. This is a book for everyone.
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 27
BY IBAD CHEEMA
READ THE LABEL UT DOWN ON C in evthat’s used SUGsuAgaR r (the kind for diabe-
Most grocery items have a regulated “N trition Facts u” label prin te d This is a very on the back . helpful tool in making in formed choic es. Always o pt for foods in protein, ca high lcium, iron, vi tamins and lo in calories. Th w e breakdown of the fat is al important. If so two items hav e the same p centage of fa erts in them, th e one with lo trans fat and wer saturated fat is always bet ter.
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STreally KFkA A E R B st T fa EA a wholesome brea dy’sis energy
ON P U D A O L 0 to have. 8-1 LIQr isUthIeDbeS st beverage id u fl e body
HAVE A M EAL EVERY 3 H OURS Spacing out our meals is a really to k
Wate eep the bod good way eep th dy ater a day k w f o s e lps the bo Every 3 hours y burning energy all day ss e h gla r te a W . our metaboli alance. tects the sm tends to sl down the ra levels in b better, pro re and o te w ts n o f ie fa tr t u burning. Th tu we feel tired absorb n is means y tempera and aren’t en ulates bod Probg . d re te , ergized enou ts ra to d in y ta h jo ck ll e le w th s gh e world. Eat muscle ing regularly e, dry skin means th keeps our at we eat sm ines, fatigu al ra so ig a m m s o a fr aller portion prevents fat lems such all result s, which build up. cramps can le sc s. u ie m d o d b n r a u o in r of wate deficiency
CUT DOWN ON PROCESSE D FOODS Processed
foods are hig h in sodium rated fats, tr , satuans fats, ch olesterol, su and a whole gars host of other thin not beneficial in any way. Th gs that are e compound ed effects of excess proce ssed foods b to accumula egin te and surfac e later on. Fru vegetables, its, chicken/turk ey meat, brow rice, oats an n d such are al l st that don’t ge t fulfilled wit aples of diet h a diet high processed fo in ods.
EN ROUTE TO AN EMPOWERING AND HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE
e bo Having ick start th ing. It reactik to t n a rt impo morn cess in the sis durburning pro bolism after that sta ta e nts that vates our m ives us the vital nutrie g d day. Whole ing sleep an rest of the e , th ts r c u fo d g in pro keep us go lude dairy c in s t in a m th a s vit some food are high in d n a s re it a u ) fr rt u at, erries, yog whole whe ge juice, b n the day. ra f o o l s a a e h m (suc r first u o r fo s n o ti the best op
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28 | THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012
o t s g n os me t hi k about. . t hin KIF EEN A H A M BY
. must apply ough, you do. n e t o n is Knowledge t enough, you must ce Lee no - Bru Willing is
Humble yours elf.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes. Hope. It is th e quintessenti al source of you r greatest stre human delusion, simult aneously the ngth and yo ur greatest w ea kness. -The Mat rix Reloaded
e. But things as People, well, they din go on and on. ts. ro d oo W . es bl they ca Stone crum a dream, a legend, cal novelist) fragile as a thought, - Chuck Palahniuk (American satiri
will look Enjoy the little things in life; one day you gs. thin big the were they ize back and real ert Brault -Rob
When I die, I wanna go peacefu lly like my grandfatherin his sleep- not screaming, like the passengers in his cars.
Those who want, will find a way. Those who don’t, will find an excuse. we me.” attach chains , “You o . I don’t understand banks. Why do they h t r a E y e k h money, you t S my with o you le t ho ys to their pens? If I am trusting never sa . It lights the W om the 1300s) n u S . pens e h t fr should trust me with your n poet s time t like tha r all thi s with a love Hafiz (a Persia e ft a n e Ev pen hat hap The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right Look w place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. Silence is gold - Dorothy Nevill (British writer 1826-1913) en. Unless yo u have a toddler. Then , silence is ju st suspicious.
Prayer Spaces on C a
Multi-Faith Centre (lo Dhuhr Prayer: Main Accativteityd in the Koffler House) Or Meditation Room (2nd Hall (2nd floor) floor) Emmanuel College of Victo ria University 3rd floor Prayer room (a dja ce or Basement Prayer room nt to the chapel) International Student nt re 3rd Floor(right next toCe the stairs) Bahen Centre for Inform ion Technology Room 1255 (Opposite Mat egabits Café) Leslie Dan Pharmacy Bu ing 2nd Basement Floor (betild we en student lounge and auditorium) Sussex Clubhouse MSA Of fice: Room 508 Ontario Institute for St ies in Education (OISE Room 409, 4th Floor (Mud ulti-Faith Prayer Room) )
Friday (Jumu’ah) Pray Tim ings: Hart House Debates Roerom : 12 Multi-Faith Centre 2nd Flo :20pm Hart House Debates Room or: 12:20pm : 1:20pm
THE MUSLIM VOICE | DECEMBER 2012 | 29
SHEIKH FURQAN JABBAR
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Sat 5th - Sun 6th January 2013
UNIVERSITY LEVEL WEEKEND COURSE
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