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MUSLIMVOICE

WINTTER 20009 VOLUME XV ISSUE 1

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THE

OBAMA PRESIDENCY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR MUSLIMS PAGE 8

THE GLASS BOX THE PERILS OF SOCIAL EXCLUSIVITY PAGE 12

APROFESSIONAL LEADER’S FOUNDATION DEVELOPMENT SERIES PAGE 16 A BRIEF FIRST-YEAR SURVIVAL GUIDE PAGE 15


PLACE AD HERE


PHOTOGRAPH BY CHIP SOMODEVILLA

VOLXV ISSUE1

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CONTENTS 2 3 4 6 8

EDITOR’S NOTE TAUS SHAH

MESSAGES

RICHARD CHAMBERS ILYAS ALLY

SPONSORING HOPE ORPHAN SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM

THE STORY BEHIND HALLOWEEN SARAH GHAZI

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY TAUS SHAH

11 12 14 15 16

MOSQUE MANNERS ZENAIRA ALI

THE GLASS BOX JENNA EVANS

BOOK REVIEW SALMA SHICKH

A BRIEF FIRST-YEAR SURVIVAL GUIDE HORIS MANSURI

A LEADER’S FOUNDATION

HUMAIRAH IRFAN

To identify unmet needs in your community, look around and ask, “Where are the gaps?” Then stand up and take action. You can effect change.

JENNA EVANS | PAGE 14

19 20 21

BLIND, DEAF AND DUMB ZEHRA KAMANI

ASKING

TASNEEM ATCHA

THE STATION OF LONGING ASMAA HUSSEIN

view this issue online at:

www.tmv.uoftmsa.com


EDITOR’S NOTE Changeinisthe air...

THE MUSLIM VOICE WINTER 2009 VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 *

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF TAUS SHAH LAYOUT EDITOR RIFA TAHSINA

an you feel it? I certainly can, and I’m not just referring to Barack Obama’s historic election. There’s a general feeling of change around the world—except perhaps here in Canada, where we re-elected our Conservative government. Nevertheless, the world is looking for a change in 2009 and beyond. The old prejudices of the past could not and will not withstand social progression. The election of Barack Obama, an African-American, marked a new chapter in history—not only American history, but also world history. Old prejudices everywhere are now being questioned, and rightly so.

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The Muslim Voice Magazine itself has certainly gone through many changes over its history. What started off as a newsletter for the Muslim community on campus, has now become a stylish magazine that offers much more than before. It’s not only a forum for discussion and debate, but a medium for artistic expression as well. We’ve also added a new online aspect, by launching our very own website! You can check it out at: www.tmv.uoftmsa.com.

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I hope that our readers enjoy the changes, both in content and style, that we have introduced this year. In this issue, you’ll find a number of interesting articles. You’ll find topics ranging from our cover story on Barack Obama’s presidential election (page 8), to Jenna Evans’ insightful advice on how to counter social exclusion (page 12), and even a helpful guide on surviving the freshman year of university by Horis Mansuri (page 15). I hope that this issue encourages all our readers to get involved and influence change, not only in their communities, but around the globe.

Taus Shah Editor-in-Chief Send your letters to the editor at: tmv@uoftmsa.com

DESIGN TEAM BILAL RAZA UMER IQBAL ANUM MAHMOOD FLORA NASRI

CONTRIBUTORS ASNA KHADIJA AHMAD ZENAIRA ALI TASNEEM ATCHA JENNA EVANS SARAH GHAZI ASMAA HUSSEIN HUMAIRAH IRFAN ZEHRA KAMANI HORIS MANSURI TAUS SHAH SALMA SHICKH SPECIAL THANKS TO ILYAS ALLY RICHARD CHAMBERS COVER PHOTOGRAPHY www.propeller.com VISIT US ONLINE www.tmv.uoftmsa.com CONTACT US

BY E-MAIL tmv@uoftmsa.com BY MAIL The Muslim Voice c/o Muslim Students’ Association 21 Sussex Avenue, Suite 405 Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 1J6

DISCLAIMER

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).


MESS AGES

Tolerance isenough... not

t was a September evening during the month of Ramadan. Over 100 members of the Muslim Students’ Association had gathered in the Main Activity Hall on the second floor of the U of T Multi-Faith Centre for an iftaar. Laughter and good food filled the room. Across the hall the Pagan Society had gathered for a Wiccan ritual. Further down the hall Roman Catholic students were meeting for a Bible study.

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Up the elevator came a young woman in a pleated skirt, and a discreet string of pearls. She stepped into the first room, the Wiccan ritual, but immediately bounced back transported out of the room as if she was on Star Trek. “That’s not the Roman Catholic Bible study, is it?” she asked glancing at students gathering around a table lit with a candle. “No”, I replied, and walked her over to Bible study. As we entered the room, the Roman Catholic leader noted that Muslim students walking in, and though they were welcome, he suspected they were actually looking for food. He asked if a sign could be put up indicating the location of the iftaar.

Richard Chambers Director, U of T Multi-Faith Centre

...and neither are books and labs! ecently, the Toronto Star exposed a man running a fake degree business. You could get a degree that looked just like the real thing for less than a year’s tuition fee. This got me thinking: are my four years of hard work really only equivalent to a $4000 phony degree? After all, let’s face it, we forget most of what we learn within weeks of the final exam. And if a stable career didn’t depend on it, most of us probably wouldn’t be at university.

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But we are here, and for four long years, too. At the end of this journey, will we walk away with nothing more than a piece of paper that helps us get a job? I would hope

Getting involved in extra-curricular activities is also very fulfilling. It’s fulfilling because it makes our lives more complete. Despite the importance of our grades, we risk living a very narrow-minded four years if academic achievement is our only purpose. Truth be told, we can only spend so much time studying, and if we don’t have other purposes to fill the rest of our time, our time will likely be squandered. So, take this as a call to action. With many important upcoming MSA events, like our two Islam Awareness lectures at the end of January, there are plenty of opportunities to make a difference on campus. And as the year approaches its end, consider how you’d like to get involved next year. Whatever you do, remember that you can squeeze a lot more out of your four years than just a piece of paper. Ilyas Ally President, Muslim Students’ Association (University of Toronto)

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As life long scholars and citizens of a global society we are called not only to tolerate other people’s traditions, but develop a capacity to engage one another for the common good. The deepening of one’s own spirituality and the well-being

To find the common good, tolerance is not enough. Frequently we must cross the hall and engage others.

not. We have much more to gain in four years than just a degree. The important thing to remember is that what you can learn in the classroom is only a fraction of what there is to gain from university. This being my third year on the MSA exec, I can attest to learning a great deal outside the classroom. Getting involved in a group like the MSA allows you to learn skills like event-planning, public relations, leadership, teamwork, budgeting and fundraising, networking, and so much more.

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The Multi-Faith Centre was brand new that September and everyone tolerated each other with good humour as schedules for prayer services and meetings were posted. The mission of the University’s Multi-Faith Centre will remain unfulfilled, however, if faith communities have only had their own meeting needs met.

of society and the planet mean we must be engaged from time to time with people and communities that may hold very different beliefs. Often the result is a better understanding and ability to articulate our own views as a result of having to share them with others. We also discover that we agree on far more than we disagree, like anti-poverty programs and peace.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY REBECCA NEUBIE

community

Sponsoring Hope update from the Orphan Sponsorship Program at the University of Toronto

he Orphan Sponsorship Program (OSP) at the University of Toronto in its five years of existence has fundraised over $200,000 - which is unheard of in student fundraising initiatives! Masha’Allah (God has willed it)! Jazakum Allahu Khairan (may God reward you for your efforts) to all our volunteers, donors, and readers for your continued support.

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This is a great initiative organized by volunteer Muslim students and can only continue with your help! This year, our target is to re-sponsor all of our 120 orphans from over 17 countries, spanning 4 continents, for an additional year. We still ne-ed to collect approximately $12,000 since around 30 orphans are still unsponsored and we need your help to aid them. Please donate generously to help those kids who have no one else. If you have already sent in your donations, then Jazak Allahu Khairan

(may God reward you for your efforts) and please spread the word, telling others to donate.

met them at their school located in an underprivileged rural village.

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Mas’ud al-Ansari who said: ... The Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: “One who guides to something good has a reward similar to that of its doer.” [Muslim]

Her first-hand experience of visiting the village and exchanging conversations with the children not only allowed her to further comprehend the obstacles the orphans face on a daily basis but also increased her ambition to continue supporting the needs of orphans worldwide. She added: “It was really amazing to see OSP’s fundraised donations at work, helping the orphans receive their educational needs which helps them acquire the necessary skills for a better life, employment and financial security in their future.”

visiting the orphans Sarah Khan, a Human Physiology student at University of Toronto and currently the OSP’s Treasurer, visited Pakistan during the summer holidays. During her trip, she at her own expense, took out the time to personally visit the orphans that OSP sponsors. She

DID YOU KNOW? In the past academic year alone (2007-2008), the Orphan Sponsorship Program raised more than $60,000 to sponsor orphans worldwide. orldwide. The program has sponsored orphans through registered charities around the globe in numerous countries, such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Pakistan (including Kashmir), Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Kenya. Donate to OSP: www.ospuoft.wordpress.com


a social event for a worthy cause OSP at UofT organizes card signing/letter writing and gift packing events annually to connect with—and show support for— the orphaned children that the OSP sponsors around the world. Such events help open the doors of communication between the orphaned children and OSP, their donors, university students in general, and the community at large, Alhamdulillah (praise be to God). Last year, as well as this summer, we had greeting card socials where attendees designed and signed cards to send to the orphans along with gifts for various occasions, such as Eid. It was a pleasant surprise for the OSP, when we received cards and letters back from a number of orphans, thanking us for the cards, gifts and asking the students to keep corresponding with them! This year, the first ever event in its series, entitled ‘Orphan Eid Card Signing Soirée’, took place in two sessions on Friday, September 5, 2008. The first session, for everyone, took place at the OSP booth during Club’s Day from 10 am to

OSP Treasurer Sarah Khan (far left) with OSP-sponsored orphans in a rural Pakistani village.

2 pm. The second “Ladies Only” session was held from 3 pm to 5:30 pm at the Bahen Centre. Both card signing sessions of this event were, Masha’Allah (God has willed it), successful! Coordinated by OSP, this event provided a unique opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of orphans worldwide for Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr while building unity on campus and in our community. Eighty people in total from various walks of life—students from the downtown campus and other members of the community—gathered together to sign and decorate Eid cards, as well as pack gifts for orphaned

children. The volunteers had designed their very own Eid cards for the orphans. All the Eid cards with gifts for the orphans were signed and packed, Subhan’Allah (glory be to God). During the event, attendees also got a chance to view the profiles and updates on the orphans currently sponsored by OSP. It was a chance for attendees to start new friendships as well. At the end of the event, many people commented that it was pleasure working with people from all backgrounds together for a very good cause.

upcoming osp events at uoft OSP Orphan Awareness Week: A week-long event to fundraise and spread awareness for the orphans worldwide. The event will offer daily information booths with baked goods, bookmarks, and henna application, for attendees. A dynamic guest speaker will also be invited to raise awareness about the situation of orphans during Orphan Awareness Week.

Donations can be made in cash, online via Paypal (check our site) and/or cheques addressed to:

OSP Orphan Letter Writing Event to send letters to the orphans in the upcoming New Year.

March 2009: OSP’s Annual Fundraising Dinner to continue providing necessities for orphans worldwide.

Orphan Sponsorship Program c/o MSA, University of Toronto, St. George campus 21 Sussex Avenue, Suite 405 Toronto, ON M5S 1J6 Note: Tax receipts will be issued upon request.

FOR MORE INFO, PLEASE VISIT:

www.ospuoft.wordpress.com

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For further information to volunteer and/or donate contact: osp.uoft@yahoo.ca

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January 2009:

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opinion

THE STORY BEHIND

HALLOWEEN BY SARAH GHAZI

t is a time for ghosts, skeletons, pumpkins, and of course candy. A holiday generally accepted as secular in nature and a time for partying and harmless fun. But is that all there is to Halloween? There is some concern among today’s Muslim parents whether to allow children to participate in Halloween festivities based on the holiday’s history. So, is Halloween just a commercialized holiday, or is it really a “Celebration of the Dead”? To make an informative decision, one has to look at the relevant history. Halloween can be traced back to a pagan holiday called the “Festival of Samhain”, which was celebrated by the Celts of Great Britain, Ireland, and France. It was believed that on October 31st, Sambain, the Celtic God of the Dead, would allow the souls, evil and good, of those who had died to return to their dwellings. To keep the evil spirits away, the

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ancient Celts would light bon fires and wear masks. The devils, witches and demons were also believed to be moving about at the height of their powers. Later in 7th century AD, Pope Boniface IV established All Saints’ Day on May 13th which was later moved to November 1st to provide a Catholic alternative to the pagan festival. The evening before All Saints’ Day became a “hallowed” (holy) eve, from which we derive the name “Halloween”. Thus, today’s secular holiday started off with religious roots. For early American colonists, the celebration of Halloween was banned, but it was slowly accepted in the 19th century, when there was a large wave of Irish immigrants settling in the United States. By the 20th century, Halloween had become one of the principal state holidays. There are numerous varying opinions among the three major Abrahamic religions when it

comes to celebrating Halloween. The general consensus is that when Halloween is perceived as a religious observance, it should not be observed. As a commercial holiday though, opinions vary. The question remains for Muslims: even though Halloween has turned into a mainly secular observance, should celebrating it be permissible, given its past history? Let’s first look at what others thinks. Opinions vary intra-religiously. Conservative Christians agree that Halloween, given its history, should not be celebrated. As one Christian minister, Albert Dager, stated: “Children should not have anything to do with the celebration that glorifies the power of God’s enemies.” Like their Muslim and Jewish counterparts, conservative Christians believe that celebrating Halloween is a satanic celebration and a way of exposing and attracting children and adults to supernatu-


be followed to better adapt to their new homes. Yet as Muslims we should advise our youth that even though the concept of Halloween seems appealing, we must preserve our own traditions as well. Like the Jewish holidays of Purim and Sukkot, Muslims have their own celebrations filled with fun and rejoice, such as Eidul-Adha and Eid-ul-Fitr. In sum, what is one to do on Halloween? Christians, Jews,

and Muslims alike, agree that one shouldn’t simply blacken the house out on Halloween, but rather take the time to educate their children on the basics of their traditions. [EDITED BY TAUS SHAH]

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?

Comment on this and other articles at our website: www.tmv.uoftmsa.com

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LLBO Y.WORDP RESS.COM WW W. TRO

AK TOSI ATION BY MARK S

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R ILLUST

ral dangers. “Halloween practices open the door to the occult and can introduce forces into people’s lives that they do not understand and often cannot combat,” states Christian psychiatrist David Enoch. Opinions on Halloween with respect to Judaism vary as greatly as the Christian views. In one of his sermons, Rabbi Samuel Stahl mentioned that Shalom Klass, an orthodox Rabbi, had ruled against any involvement of Jews on Halloween, stating that trick or treating is an imitation of the gentiles (non-Jews) that should not be allowed. Other Jewish leaders have added that Jews have Purim, where children can don costumes; hence, they argue, there really is no need for Jews to observe Halloween. Still, other Jews insist that Halloween has become more and more secular, emphasizing that celebrating it is no different from celebrating New Year’s Day. According to Rabbi Stahl, synagogues, Jewish schools and other organizations should not mark Halloween officially, but when it comes to the privacy of one’s own home, celebrating such a day is permissible as long as Jewish ideals are upheld. As Muslims, we should understand that whether Halloween is based primarily on the Celtic or Catholic celebrations, it is based on traditions that are not present in our religious tradition. It is an authentic narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that “whosoever resembles a people is from them.” This prohibits the imitation of non-Muslims in religious matters. Some Muslims state that Halloween is a secular tradition in North America, one that should

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PHOTOGRAPH BY JAE C. HONG

THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY BY TAUS SHAH

what his presidency means for Muslims in America and around the world

oni Morrison, an AfricanAmerican author, once famously remarked that Bill Clinton was America’s “first Black president” because he displayed every trope of “Blackness”. She was not referring to Clinton’s race, but instead to his upbringing in a single-parent, workingclass household and his Southern roots. Of course, many disagreed with such a statement, but some embraced it and thought it would remain true, at least for their lifetimes. However, the 44th President of the United States isn’t metaphorically Black, but is in fact an African-American. Perhaps now Morrison’s statement can finally be retired after the historic election of Barack Obama. In the same spirit, I’d like us to consider President Barack Obama as the first “Muslim” president— not religiously Muslim of course, but metaphorically. Let me say this from the start: I am not promoting any of the nutty conspiracies about

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Barack Obama being a “secret Muslim.” These statements are abhorrible not only because they suggest that Barack Obama is being disingenuous when he speaks about his Christian faith, but also because they use the word “Muslim” pejoratively. The implication is that being a Muslim ought to be a source of shame. Such a bigoted view of Muslims ought to remind us that Islamophobia is still alive in American society, and that perhaps not enough is being done to counter it. What I propose is that President Obama is metaphorically a “Muslim” because he shares many experiences with the Muslim-American community. These are not religious experiences, of

course, but life experiences. Firstly, the manner in which President Obama handled the Islamophobic attacks shows us that he understands what many Muslim-Americans live with daily. Many false rumours were— and continue to be—spread about Obama in a systematic smear campaign by fearmongers. He was relentlessly accused of having ties to radical terrorists, as well as accused of secretly working to promote an “Islamist agenda.” His middle name, Hussein, which he gets from his father, was used to attack him. It was starting to have an effect. “I can’t trust him,” said one elderly woman at a McCain rally, “He’s an Arab.” The explicit racism of such

AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF MUSLIM-AMERICANS VOTED FOR BARACK OBAMA, according to preliminary polls. Survey results by the American Muslim Taskforce for Civil Liberties and Elections show that over 90% of Muslims voted for Obama, while only 2% voted for McCain. Contrastingly, around 78% of Muslims voted for George Bush in 2000, and 51% voted for John Kerry in 2004.


comments is despicable, as is the underlying implication: Arabs and Muslims are not to be trusted, but feared. Ann Coulter, the most famous right-wing fearmonger of all, constantly referred to Obama as “B. Hussein Obama.” When confronted, she defended herself by saying that there’s nothing wrong with using a person’s middle name. It would’ve been okay had she also referred to John McCain as “J. Sidney McCain”—she, of course, did not. Obama was also attacked on his patriotism, as if a person running for the highest office in America would have anything

to raise suspicions about me I think is unfortunate. And it’s not what America is all about.” This same sentiment was echoed by his supporter and former Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, who said on NBC’s Meet the Press, “what if he [Obama] is [a Muslim]? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?” Of course, there should be nothing wrong with that. Because of the Islamophobic smears, Obama

world’s largest Muslim country, has led many Muslims, in America and abroad, to feel some sort of a connection to him. On his election victory night, Indonesian children at Obama’s old elementary school rejoiced and celebrated. In a post-9/11 world, it also seems that Obama is better able to understand that terrorism is not only a threat to the United States, but an evil that continues to plague the lives of Muslims around the world. He also understands the fears that the Muslim-American community harbors after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In his book, The Audacity

Barack Obama shares with the MuslimAmerican community the experience of being a victim of Islamophobia. To this extent, he knows what being a Muslim in America feels like.” of Hope, Obama writes: “In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans … have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific assurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” Knowing how the Muslim community feels is extremely important for the new American administration. The actual story of what happens in Muslim countries is much different from what some

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shares with the Muslim American community the experience of being a victim of Islamophobia. To this extent, he knows what being a Muslim in America feels like. Obama is also the first American president to have actually spent part of his life growing up in a Muslim country. Obama’s step-father, Lolo Soetoro, was an Indonesian Muslim and moved with Obama’s mother to Jakarta, Indonesia, when Barack was just six years old. His mother continued to work and live in Indonesia even after she sent Barack back to live with his grandparents in Hawaii at the age of ten. In an interview with the New York Times, Obama recalled that the adhaan (Islamic call to prayer) was “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.” Obama’s experience of living in Indonesia, the

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but love for his country to be to willing take over the reins of the presidency at a time when America is plagued by two wars, a broken healthcare system and a dwindling economy. Of course, logic and reason are not commonly employed by people who hurl such charges at Obama. Nevertheless, Obama swiftly dealt with these attacks by fighting the smears. He even went a step further. When asked by Larry King what he thought about some Americans believing that he’s a Muslim, Obama replied by saying: “You know, this is actually an insult against Muslim-Americans, something that we don’t spend a lot of time talking about. And sometimes I’ve been derelict in pointing that out … And for this to be used as sort of an insult or

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Israeli conflict, brought to the fore again by the recent events in Gaza, is a contentious issue that is a constant source of Muslim discontent worldwide. America has always been involved in the peace process, but the peace has yet to be realized. In addition, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq need to be dealt with effectively. Representatives from the Iraqi government would like to see a peaceful conclusion to the U.S. presence in Iraq, by having them withdraw in a timely manner. In Afghanistan, more American attention is needed to solve the humanitarian crisis, as well as to provide security for the new Afghan government under threat from the Taliban insurgency. Also, the use of air strikes by the American military will have to stopped, in order to prevent the deaths of innocent Afghans from fuelling

the hatred that terrorists feed on. One hopes that there will be no more Bush-style gung-ho readiness for war. The Obama presidency should mean the end of the Bush doctrine and usher in a new era of diplomacy. Although the expectations are high and the tasks innumerable, America and the world seem to be confident in President Obama. The Obama presidency promises to be a break from the Bush years, during which Muslims around the world were disappointed. Disappointed because they expected more from the standard-bearer of liberty and democracy yet they only experienced war and alienation. Nevertheless, the election of Barack Obama has given hope to Muslims—hope of a new foreign policy and of a new America that will once again be admired worldwide.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JAE C. HONG

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would have you believe. To them, Muslim countries are monolithic, barbaric nations filled with angry, violent, blood-thirsty Muslims hellbent on rampantly killing nonMuslims at every chance. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the importance of an American president understanding this cannot be overstated. Hence, in my opinion, the fact that Obama has been treated as though he was a Muslim candidate, as well as his understanding of the Muslim-American community, makes him the first “Muslim” president of the United States of America. Now that the election season is over and the world has celebrated Barack Obama’s monumental election, we all wait for the president to bring about the change he promised. President Obama will have a lot on his plate in his first term. The Palestinian-


PHOTO COURTESY OF YUSUF AHMAD

religious

OSQU MANNERSS MOSQUE

BY ZENAIRA ALI

here is a place and time for everything. Although this statement is practically a cliché, there is a lot of truth in it, especially when one considers the adaab, or manners, that should be followed when in a place of worship. A masjid (mosque) is a place where people “come to prayer, come to success.” The few moments a week we spend in the mosque are also most often the most tranquil moments of our week. As we line up to pray in salaat (congregation), we momentarily put the matters of this duniya (world) behind us and focus on the hereafter. Jabir ibn Abdullah (may God be pleased with him) narrates,

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Bismi’llāh as-salāmu ‘alā Rasūli’llah (salla’llāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Allāhumma salli ‘alā Muhammadin wa‘ alā āli Muhammadin wa’ghfir lī dhunūbī wa’ftah lī abwāba rahmatik. [In the Name of God. Peace be upon the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) O God, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, and forgive me and my sins, and open for me the gates of Your mercy.]

Salutations should be offered to those present in the mosque, but if no one is there, one should say: As-salāmu ‘ alainā min Rabbinā (‘azza wa jall). [Peace be upon us from our Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He).]

THE LARGEST MOSQUE IN CANADA opened its doors on July 5th, 2008, in Calgary, Alberta. With an approximate total area of 48,438 square feet, the Baitun Nur (literally ‘House of Light’) mosque was inaugurated as the spiritual home of Calgary’s Ahmadiyyah community, which numbers between 2,000 and 3,000. The cost of construction was an estimated $15 million, with roughly $8 million coming from local residents alone.

Bismi’llāh- as-salāmu ‘ alā Rasūli’llah(salla’llāhu ‘ alaihi wa sallam). Allāhumma salli ‘ alā Muhammadin wa ‘ alā āli Muhammad - wa’ghfir lī dhunūbī wa’ftah lī abwāba fadlik. [In the Name of God. Peace be upon the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) O God, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, And forgive me my sins, and open for me the gates of Your grace.]

Essentially, one should not forget the purpose of these architectural beauties and spiritual havens, and should treat them with the momentous respect they deserve.

READ MORE at tmv.uoftmsa.com

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Then, two rakaat (units of prayer)

should be performed. After this, one should continually do dikr (remembrance) of God. It is also important to pray silently so that you don’t disturb anyone else who is praying. Abu Dawood reports in Sahih-al-Jaami that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “All of you are speaking to your Lord, so do not disturb one another, and do not raise your voices above one another when reciting.” It is also important to refrain from discussing worldly affairs. All in all, one should make the most of his or her time in the house of God. When leaving the mosque, step out with your left foot first, reciting:

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“Our houses were situated far away from the masjid; we, therefore, decided to sell our houses so that we may be able to come near the masjid. God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) forbade us to do so and said: ‘There is for every step (towards the masjid) a degree (of reward) for you.’” (Sahih Muslim)

Being as such, there are certain practices that should be followed whenever one enters a mosque, the first of which is to enter with the right foot. As one enters the mosque, he or she should recite:

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advice

THE GLASS BOX BY JENNA EVANS

the perils of social exclusion and the role you can play in building inclusivity

n many Western countries, including England, Canada, and the U.S., Muslims make up a growing minority of residents. Muslims, like other racial, cultural, and religious minorities, may experience hardship in adjusting to their new country. Even long-time residents may face barriers in securing appropriate employment or in accessing needed health and social services. This multifaceted, systematic marginalization of groups within society is referred to as “social exclusion.” The processes of social exclusion are born out of the inability of certain groups to participate fully in their new country due to structural inequalities in access to resources and isolation from key social institutions, including schools, employment, and health care. Race, gender, language, income, disability, immigrant status, religion, and class create intersecting experiences of discrimination and oppression that contribute to overwhelming feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability, despair, and lack of belonging. Unfortunately, indi-

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viduals and families experiencing deprivation in one area of life are more likely to experience deprivation in other areas of life as well. For example, because of their limited resources, low-income families are also more likely to face inadequate housing, low-quality education, and barriers in access to social services. This clustering of disadvantage makes the cycles of poverty and exclusion very difficult to break free from. The systematic exclusion of particular groups leads to numerous adverse social impacts, such as poverty and poor health status. Employment is essential to livelihood; it determines whether or not the material needs of families are met. Material conditions of living include adequate housing, food, income, and social services. Unfortunately, unemployment and underemployment are increasing among visible minorities and immigrants. As a result, these groups are twice as likely to be poor as their white, nonimmigrant counterparts. Diminished living conditions result in direct, physical impacts on health, but the expe-

rience of deprivation can also impact individuals psychologically in the form of chronic stress. Stress is unhealthy because it causes a “fight or flight” reaction that when triggered constantly can weaken the immune system resulting in health problems such as hypertension and behavioral issues including drug use and alcoholism. Health is further influenced by one’s perception of where they stand in the social hierarchy. On a broader scale, these experiences and perceptions of inequality can cause the break down of social cohesion in a community and contribute to the incidence of crime and violence. The “healthy immigrant effect” reveals the extent to which inequality impacts health. Newly arrived immigrants are typically healthier than the general population due to required health screening during the immigration process. However, over time the health of these immigrants diminishes to the point of convergence with the host population. According to Health Canada, the federal department responsible for the health of Canadians, the


poverty and unable to find solace or hope for a better future. Social inclusion is a response to the processes of exclusion; it involves generating the feeling and reality of belonging by ensuring that all individuals are able to participate in the economic, social, cultural, and political dimensions of life in their country of residence. The quality and degree of inclusivity in a society is profoundly influenced by social policy decisions made by governments. Addressing social exclusion thus requires a collaborative response from all levels of government and a commitment to building equality from the ground up. You can be a part of this movement. Here are a few things that we all can do within our own communities to foster inclusivity:

Volunteer to teach a class at your local community centre. Participat-

ing in sports, joining clubs, and taking art lessons are examples of ways in which marginalized individuals and families can participate in their community and socialize beyond their family boundaries. However, membership prices and fees are a significant barrier to participation for low-income families. By volunteering to teach a class, you can reduce the price families pay to participate.

Volunteer as a translator. Lan-

guage can be a major barrier to individuals attempting to access health and social services. Find out if the service providers in your area have

(continued on next page)

* VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 * THE MUSLIM VOICE

Are you a business owner? Maintain a diverse workforce. In order to offer products and services that are inclusive, you must have a diverse workforce that can respond to the needs of all customers. By providing quality employment opportunities to qualified minorities you are combating employment discrimination and contributing to the financial security of families.

WINTER 2009

deterioration in immigrant health status results from “an interaction between personal vulnerability and resettlement stress, as well as lack of services.” The difficulties associated with being a new immigrant not only impact health, but also economic status. Current trends indicate that economic inequality between immigrants and the general population is becoming greater and more permanent even though the level of education among immigrants has been growing. The experience of social exclusion may be particularly pronounced for Muslim women. Women make up 60% of minimum-wage earners and those who have full-time jobs earn only 70% of the pay men earn for the same job. Women are more likely than men to be hospitalized and are more likely to have their health needs go unmet. Finally, because women have less access to employment, make less than men, and have compromised health, they are more dependent on social services. Unfortunately, cultural, racial, economic, geographic and language barriers may prevent women from accessing the very services they need so desperately. Study after study shows that women have different needs and reduced access to appropriate services when compared with men. In fact, the differences between men and women are more acute than the differences between ethnic groups. This highlights a need for further research into women’s health, particularly the health and social needs of women of various backgrounds and circumstances. We often hear about the ‘glass ceiling’ that women and minorities face in the workplace with regards to advancement, but for many the experience of exclusion does not end after the daily 8-hour shift. Marginalized individuals and families find themselves locked in a glass box, unable to escape from the cycle of

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staff members that speak other languages. If not, offer to act as a translator once a week.

Participate in policy-making. Get

involved with advocacy groups in your area that are supporting a cause you feel passionate about. By supporting policies that improve the working and living conditions for people, you can reduce the impact of exclusionary structures and processes on families. Policies that could have a positive impact on marginalized groups include early childhood daycare, social housing, employment insurance, and a guaranteed minimum income.

THE MUSLIM VOICE

* VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 * WINTER 2009

The faces of the excluded are not predefined; social exclusion is a phenomenon that is experienced by many different groups. To identify unmet needs in your community, look around and ask, “Where are the gaps?” Then stand up and take action. You can effect change. After all, to shatter glass all you need is a couple of cracks in the surface paired with consistent force.

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Jenna Evans has a Specialized Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Health Management and is currently a postgraduate in Health Services Research at the University of Toronto.

BOOK

(continued from previous page)

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS REVIEWED BY SALMA SHICKH

The second novel by Khaled Hosseini, “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, dwells into the hardships faced by women in times of hostility, from their perspective. A truly splendid book, it tells the tale of two generations of women brought together by the tragedies and horrors of war. The novel is based in the 1960s and 1970s in Afghanistan, a time when the country was still enjoying relative peace and prosperity. Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the only images of this once flourishing land we have been exposed to are those of death and violence. Photographs of wounded and orphaned children, burning homes and ravaged streets fill television screens and newspapers. Since the invasion, Afghanistan has been only associated with terrorism and war. This story, however, gives us new insight into the country’s beautiful culture and amazing history that many of us are completely ignorant of. “A Thousand Splendid Suns” begins with the life of Mariam, a young girl growing up with a single and bitter mother in the small village outside of Herat. Although Mariam’s father is a wealthy man, he has completely abandoned her, choosing instead to live with his three wives and their children in a lavish home in Herat. Soon, we are introduced to another girl, Laila, who grows up with an open-minded father, and

review

a mother who is barely aware of her existence. Following the Soviet defeat, a civil war breaks out, resulting in Kabul being showered with rockets, destroying its ancient bridges and buildings, and breaking apart many families permanently. Before long, the lives of Laila and Mariam intertwine, friendships form, innocence is lost, and lives are changed forever. This story will

A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

give you moments of laughter, tears, and most of all, a love for the culture of a beautiful country forgotten in war. Overall, it was a great read. The only setback was the unfamiliarity with several terms in the book if you are unfamiliar with the Afghan culture. However, if you enjoyed “The Kite Runner” then you will definitely love this one!

WANT TO REVIEW SOMETHING?

Send us your book, movie, music or restaurant reviews to The Muslim Voice! E-mail your submissions to: tmv@uoftmsa.com


f e i r B

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A FIRST-YEAR SURVIVAL GUIDE elax! Take a deep breath. Really, as simple as it sounds, I think my first year of university would have been easier if I didn’t feel so pressured to do well. The way I see it, if you have a clear and stress-free mind during your first year of university you will pay better attention in class, retain more information and, overall, be a much more successful student. Yes, it will take some time to get used to university: finding your way to classes; waking up in time to make it to class; adjusting to taking notes in lectures; and even getting comfortable being in a class of more than 500 students. But in the midst of all the fast paced change and challenges, do not forget to relax and concentrate on what you need to do.

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Oh! You don’t know what to do, eh? Well, I can suggest some tips and strategies to get you started but ultimately each person will have to figure out what is best for him or herself (and yes, this sometimes means making mistakes and learning the hard way).

BY HORIS MANSURI

Do not cram or leave things to the last minute. Study for tests/exams or finish assignments/essays a few days beforehand so that you leave enough time to review the material and be well prepared and showcase your best work.

1

Talk to someone who has already taken your courses and ask them the best ways to study and prepare for exams, assignments, essays, etc. Many courses at U of T have unique and different ways that one must study if you are going to do well (for example, in Organic Chemistry and Calculus, completing homework and doing practice problems is very important to do well, whereas in Biology memorizing lecture notes is very important).

2

Get a hold of past exams. These will be really useful in helping you narrow down what to study. In addition, for many courses, questions on this year’s exam may be very similar to questions on past exams and sometimes questions are direct repeats from previous exams.

3

Utilize your professor’s office hours. After doing your own review and writing down any questions or problems you are having, visit or make an appointment to see your professor. For instance, discussing questions and problems with your professor will give you an idea of whether you are stressing over something unimportant or maybe he or she will clarify a concept which just might pop up on the exam.

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And there you have it! A couple of tips to help you be prepared for your first year at university!

* VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 * THE MUSLIM VOICE

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WINTER 2009

Join study-groups (optional). Sometimes getting together with some friends and comparing notes and answering each others questions is a good way to study. With study groups, however, you have to be careful because sometimes they can be unproductive. So make sure each person is prepared to contribute something to the study sessions and have questions and review notes ready beforehand so that the study groups can run efficiently.

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TMV Professional Development Series : Part 1

’ A Leaders Foundation BY HUMAIRAH IRFAN

A

leader’s foundation is the trust of his followers. Trust impacts us 24/7, 365 days a year. It undergirds and affects the quality of every effort we are engaged in. Contrary to what most people believe, trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t, rather trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create. In this article, I trace some aspects of the life of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), since he exemplified this trait of trustworthiness in his character. Abu Bakr’s inaugural speech is a remarkable one. Many had immediately become apostates. Many groups wanted the next leader to be from them. Imagine the task of this man: He was to lead and unify the entire Muslim Ummah and he was the first one ever to do this job. And if he failed to follow the footsteps of the Prophet (peace be upon him) he would lose the trust of the people very quickly. In those days, trust was quite volatile with Islam being a new religion. Let’s go through the main parts of his speech.

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Now, it is beyond doubt that I have been elected your Amir, although I am not better than you. Help me, if I am in the right; set me right if I am in the wrong. Truth is a trust; falsehood is treason. The weak among you will be strong with me till, God willing, his rights have been vindicated; and the strong among you shall be weak with me till, if the Lord wills, I have taken what is due from him. Obey me as long as I obey Allah and His Prophet, when I disobey Him and His Prophet, then obey me not. And now rise for prayers; may God have mercy on you.

No doubt today we have crises of leadership in our Ummah. Unprincipled, unscrupulous action has become the order of the day. We do not trust our leaders anymore, and the reasons are obvious. How do we ensure that we become trustable leaders?


One of the favours that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) gives anyone in authority is a good entourage. And one of the ways Allah punishes a servant (leader) is to give him a wicked entourage- small-minded, evil people.

If I Do Good Assist Me One of the favours that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) gives anyone in authority is a good entourage. And one of the ways Allah punishes a servant (leader) is to give him a wicked entourage (small-minded, evil people). Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) is telling his people and

Our Muslim communities today are bogged down with unproductive individuals, not everyone, but there are enough to cripple the societies. We have to encourage people to stand up for their worth. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “search for that which benefits you, and don’t be incompetent” (Muslim).

Honesty is a trust The scholar Raghibul Isfahan said, “Honesty is being consistent in your spoken and unspoken word. The tongue is merely a spokes piece for the heart”. Honesty is that there’s no pollution in your inner faith. There’s no doubt in your belief. It’s firm. And there’s no defect in your action. According to Imam Zaid Shakir, the following four make us say the truth: 1. Shariah: Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) only legislates in the Shariah that which is good. 2. Intellect: A sound intellect recognizes the nature of the mind. 3. Basic human decency: A person’s basic human decency makes him or her stand up and accept responsibilities for their action. 4. Love of good reputation: A person does not want his or her integrity to be questioned. Ibn Qayyim says honesty has 3 manifestations: 1. In the speech: The uprightness of the tongue is like the uprightness of the ears of the corn. 2. In the action: The uprightness of the human act in dealing with the commands of Allah and following the messenger of Allah. This is like the uprightness of the head on the body. 3. In our internal state: Uprightness of the heart. Exerting your utmost and striving towards the Will of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

* VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 * THE MUSLIM VOICE

The address of Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) contains many lesson for Muslim leaders and laity. We will look at the first three:

This invitation from Abu Bakr is also to avoid two extremes. (1) Dependent and weak personalities: those who can not make a contribution to the Ummah; and (2) personalities with destructive criticism: nothing the leader does is correct or worthy of support.

WINTER 2009

Stephen M R Covey defines the 4 cores of credibility in his book The Speed of Trust, that makes you believable, both to yourself and to others. All four are necessary to self trust. (1) Integrity-- Integrity includes honestly, but it’s more than that. It’s having the courage to act in accordance with your values and beliefs. A Muslim should be honest to the point that he never repeats anything he hears or reads until he verifies it, because of the hadith: “It is falsehood enough when a person narrates everything he hears” (Muslim). (2) Intent- The famous hadith, “actions are by intentions” (Bukhari) says it all. Intention deals with our motives, agendas and our resulting behaviour. Both integrity and intent are matters of character. (3) Capabilities- These are the abilities we have that inspire confidence: our talents, attitudes, skills, knowledge and style. They are the means that we use to produce results. Capabilities also deal with our ability to establish, grow, extend and restore trust. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says in the Qur’an, “Let there become of you a nation that shall call for righteousness, enjoin justice and forbid evil. Such men will surely triumph” (3:104). Our abilities also include being able to spread good in this world, and prevent corruption at our hands. (4) Results- Every magnificent and important project not begun with the praise of Allah remains defective (Abu Dawud). Beginning in the name of God makes us mindful of our results. This core refers to our track record, our performance, our getting the right things done. Capabilities and results are matters of competence.

those far, to do good for his sake: “help me”, to be the entourage that does good and not the entourage that brings hardships to the leader. He’s also embodying the hadith, “this religion is sincerity” (Muslim). He was asking people to be sincere to him. Sincerity creates openness so that there’s no apprehension or hesitation, from the leadership to the community or vice-versa. With his gentle treatment of believers, he created an atmosphere of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Seek forgiveness for your followers and consult with them.

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Allah says: “Surely the (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger and then do not doubt, but struggle with their wealth and their selves in the way of Allah. These are the sincere.” [49:15] From the time of Adam (upon him be peace), Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has gives such people a special rank, as-Siddiqoon. And Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was known for his trustworthiness and sincerity.

Defending the Weak Abu Bakr (radhiallahu anhu) addressed the issues of injustice at the first possible instant, which is an important reminder for all of us. This is a spectacular way of winning the trust of his people because they immediately know their rights will be taken care of. He emphasised that it is a responsibility of the state.

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* VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 * WINTER 2009

We’re often in situations, especially in our personal lives, where no one seems to have the courage to bring up something. In the book, The Speed of Trust, “Confront Reality” is the 8th (out of 13) behaviour based on principles that govern trusting relationships. Most people do not want to be bearers of bad news or avoid discomfort. In other cases, they do not want to lose face. All these reasons are why we don’t confront reality. When leaders leave the difficult issues or the bad news for their lieutenants to deliver, people feel their leader is not being honest and ducking from interacting with them on these thought issues, and leaving the “dirty work” for others to do.

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Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, wrote: “In confronting the brutal facts, the good-to-great companies left themselves stronger and more resilient, not weaker and more dispirited.” When you confront reality openly it builds the kind of relationships that facilitate open interaction and fast achievement. Secondly, instead of having to wrestle with all the hard issues on your own while trying to paint a rosy picture for everyone else, you actually engage the creativity, capability and synergy of others in solving those issues. Ideas flow freely. Innovation and collaboration take place. Solutions come much faster and better, and are implemented with the understanding, buy-in, and often the excitement of others involved in the problem-solving process. Trust is not a simple matter, as you have read thus far. There’s a lot of personal accountability behind it. Every time we think about trust, or use that word, we have to ask ourselves if we have the 4 cores of credibility within us, and remember the lessons from Abu Bakr (radhiallahu anhu)’s speech.

trust is not some soft, illusive quality that you either have or you don’t, rather trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create


Blind, Deaf and Dumb

creative

BY ZEHRA KAMANI

Preoccupied with a material life While others cringe in perpetual strife Ambitions have pushed me in a furious race Leaving behind all sense of grace Those parched eyes and desires solemnly wait While mine search fervently, still insatiate Perhaps I am amongst those who succumb To the ways of a people who are blind, deaf and dumb I’ve heard of a place that’s full of despair So distant it seems futile to care I find solace in the world that is mine Heedless of those forgotten faces that pine In a reality trapped and desolate They silently accept their fruitless fate Though I find it strange that I simply succumb To the ways of a people who are blind, deaf and dumb

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My hands outstretched offer something obscure Unwilling to tolerate the injustice they endure In hopes of answering an unheard plea I defy the world’s dishonourable decree These feeble eyes begin to recognize The children of poverty and their resonating cries And amidst this crime I refuse to succumb To the ways of a people who are blind, deaf and dumb

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PHOTOGRAPH BY HANNA BOETTCHER

She forgets those around her... She is talking with Allah and nothing can faze her.

Asking BY TASNEEM ATCHA

hoes and sandals clutter the hallway. It has become an art to weave through the ladies during prayer times at the mosque.

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* VOLUME XV ISSUE 1 * WINTER 2009

She finds a spot, and claims it by plopping down, knowing full well that if she gets up her spot will be gone. As she quietly puts her purse to the side, she stares at the carpet. Wow, the Masjid put in new carpets, she thinks to herself. She hasn’t been to the masjid in months. School and life have taken up all her time. She smiles at the lady next to her, quietly saying salaam. Allah Hu Akabr, Allah Hu Akabr. Ash Hadu Allah Illaha Illallah, Ash Hadu Allah Illaha Illallah. Ash Hadu Ana Mohammad-Rasullah, As Hadu Ana Mohammad-Rasullah. Haya Alas Salah, Haya Alas salah Haya Allal Fallah, Haya Allal Fallah Allah Hu Akabr, Allah Hu Akbar La Illaha Illall Lah!

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The sound of the Adhaan (call to prayer) vibrates through her body. She’s sitting peacefully, yet her mind is completely the Lord’s. Each sentence, each word of the Adhaan runs through her heart, alerting her every sense.

She rises with the others to pray. Simultaneously they perform the actions of prayer, heel to heel, shoulder to shoulder. As the salaat is concluded, a du’a (prayer) is read. She lifts her hands, and the only way she knows how to ask, she asks. Ya Allah (O God), please grant me your favour. Ya Allah, forgive me for my sins. Ya Allah, please know how much I love you. Ya Allah, please know how much I fear you. Ya Allah, please protect me in this life and in the hereafter. Ya Allah! Every word of her du’a pours from her heart. The Imam reads words in Arabic she does not understand, yet somehow her body understands and her face held in her hands releases a tear. She forgets those around her, the way she’s sitting or her neighbour who has pressed her left leg on top of her foot. She is talking with Allah and nothing can faze her. She asks for many things and she promises many things. Her du’as are sincere as she came to the masjid for this, simply this. As she walks out of the masjid into the cold night, she takes off her scarf and walks away into the night.


TheSTATIONofLONGING

There is on this journey a station of longing, an endless longing for He who blew into the zephyr of heaven that removes all distress in one gust. We arrive at the station and slowly build staircases to His mercy, climbing for years until a day where all sadness is removed from our hearts, and any lurking pain of injustice is replaced by contentedness.

It is He who created this endless longing, who made the heart a vessel for the deepest love, to cradle the breadth of living and give birth to beautiful words.

We will not cease singing praises of the One who fashioned an endless longing, who assembled houses of rich brocade, coral and pearls for our outstretched palms.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY TARAH BETINOL

WINTER 2009

BY ASMAA HUSSEIN

There is longing in this heart for You, a mercy that knows no bounds, and for an endless peace by the words of forgiveness You have taught me.

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The Muslim Voice - VOL XV ISSUE 1  

The Winter 2009 issue of The Muslim Voice.

The Muslim Voice - VOL XV ISSUE 1  

The Winter 2009 issue of The Muslim Voice.

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