The Muslim Voice Magazine - Volume 19: Issue 1

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Ontario Institute for Studies in Education 252 Bloor Street West Room 409

Emmanuel College* 75 Queens Park Crescent East, Room 006 (first floor basement)

Robarts Library 130 St. George Street Room 8045 Sussex Clubhouse 21 Sussex Avenue Room 508

Bahen Centre for Information Technology 40 St. George Street Room 1255

Multi-Faith Centre* 14 Bancroft Avenue (second floor Meditation Room) *Ablution facilities available, separate for brothers and sisters

Leslie Dan Pharmacy Building 144 College Street, Room B220 (second floor basement)




4 THE EDITORS’ DESK Asmaa Elhayek & Amina Mohamed



12 POTENT POTENTIAL Massoud Vahedi






13 MIND OVER MATTER Roshaan Wasim


UE I VOLUME XIX ISS Editors Asmaa Elhayek (Chief) Amina Mohamed (Associate) Content Editors Leena Halees (Lead) Nimo Abdulahi Saminah Amin Hirra Sheikh Graphic Designers Azizah Arif (Lead) Zenaira Ali Manal Chowdhury Nilufer Hoque Photographers Yaseen Andrewsen Mouna Ben Hadj Tahar Contributing Writers Elham Ali Zenaira Ali Zerzar Bukhari Rafeya Shami Hirra Sheikh Massoud Vahedi Roshaan Wasim

SPECIAL THANKS Haneef Ghanim Marya Kayyal Noor Kayyal Hayat Mohamed Zaeem Siddiqui MSA at U of T U of T Students’ Union


L SEND SNAIL MAI 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 or the University of Toronto Students’ Union.



Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

would like to first wish you all a belated Eid Mubarak and the best for a new start of the academic year. I am Zerzar Bukhari, your brother in Islam and a servant of the Muslim community on this campus. I serve as the ephemeral president of a perennial organization – an organization that has existed for decades and has been around for almost as long as the first Muslims who roamed the halls of this university. The Muslim Students’ Association started with the mandate of facilitating prayers for Muslims on campus, but soon grew to be an organization that is at the forefront of social justice, community service, faith practices, academic support and campus social life. What sets the MSA apart is not its size, outreach or budget, but rather the intimate environment that the organization serves. With every passing generation, the needs and context of the Muslim community change, as does the role of the MSA. In the early days, our community faced a difficult task of spreading the awareness of Islam and finding solutions to allow Muslims to fulfill their religious obligations freely and conveniently. Now, through the efforts of our predecessors, we are much better equipped to handle those issues. However, with the progression of this community, new challenges have appeared and we must adapt to them. By the grace of Allah, we have been given the opportunity to live and be nurtured in an educated, privileged and open environment. Yet our community today faces the challenge of being targeted, and our youth faces the challenges of identity, cultural relevance and comradeship. As we enter a new era for the Muslim community in


this society, the MSA seeks again to continue its legacy and redefine itself to better serve the community. In the hopes of doing so, we intend to put a particular focus on the cultivation of brotherhood and sisterhood so that students on campus may feel a greater sense of belonging. We intend to foster an environment where it does not suffice to know people by their name, but rather a culture of forming bonds at a deeper level. We reject the notion of commoditizing religious education and search for a way to disperse learning through, not just traditional lectures, but experiences, discussions, and awareness. We believe it is time for our community to step up and establish our Canadian-Muslim identity. By becoming involved in the greater Canadian community and stepping out of our cultural and religious circles, we can begin to create a porous exchange of ideas, efforts and collaborative initiatives which will lead to a more stable and fruitful symbiosis, insha’Allah. Throughout this evolution, we still intend to uphold and improve upon the same foundational values of social justice, community involvement and inclusiveness that have become a cornerstone of the Muslim Students’ Association on this campus. With that, I encourage all of you to get involved and help us achieve this vision. The MSA always prides itself in being supported by a variety of individuals, from excellent planners and thoughtful writers to groundbreaking thinkers and kind-hearted friends. Wherever your interests or passions lie, there is always a place for you in the MSA. I leave you with the beloved breath of our Messenger and Guide, may peace and blessings envelop him. This entire organization and its purpose is summed up succinctly in the words of our beloved Prophet when he said, “None of you [truly] believes until he loves for his brother that which he loves for himself ” [Bukhari].

EDITORS’ DESK the Want to get in touch with the editors? Send us an email!



Asalamu alaykom wa rahmatullah wa barakatu,

herein lies the potential to achieve all things? What is the measure of true success? How far can we push our limits to reach our goals? These are the questions we explore in our first issue of Volume XIX. Whether it is a higher GPA or a career in medicine, our dreams have the potential to come true when we nourish them with patience and ardor. What follows here is not a testament to the abilities of our U of T student community, nor is it a preaching or a teaching. Rather it is what lies in the space between our hearts and yours. We attempt to inspire and enlighten with the only thing that we can offer: our stories – the very stories that have struck encouragement within ourselves. What follows here are the pieces of us we have chosen to share with you. What you do with them is up to you. But I hope you find these pieces to be enriching in your lives at school and whatever you have planned beyond it. I believe potential is the inspiration to be better. It is that abstract thing that fuels my dreams. I find potential at the end of my fingertips when I strap on my guitar. I find potential in the eyes of my baby sister. I find it between the blank lines of a new notebook. Possibilities are endless. Sometimes I wonder where they will lead me. There is only one way to find out.

Asmaa Elhayek, Editor-in-Chief

To be or Not to be? THat is the question


Asalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatu,

his issue focuses primarily on our potential to do things: to help people, to help ourselves and to strive to achieve all our goals. Yet I find the most important aspect of potential is not associated with action, but with being. It is the potential to be the best student, to be the best sister or brother, to be the best version of ourselves, not for the sake of accolades or accomplishments, but for the sake of Allah (swt). Our occasionally beloved university has threatened – and sometimes succeeded – to rid us of any desire to reach for the top. The fear that we may not be the best, that there is always someone better than us pushing the envelope further out of reach has caused the better part of our community to settle for adequacy. The thought that we have succeeded if our GPA is only at a 3.0, if our community involvement is only enough to make our resume seem vaguely well-rounded, or if we pray on campus every once in a while, is the greatestfarce to have ever been internalized by a group so full of potential. Allah (swt) created us with free will, unique capabilities and the task to use them in a way that is pleasing to Him. So the time has come to rearrange our priorities, get our heads out of the library fog and ask ourselves: how can I be the best person I can be?

Amina Mohamed, Associate Editor





lthough she could not see her physical surroundings, the first time Rabia Khedr visited the Ka’ba, she was in tears. “I just started to reflect on where I was and I bawled my eyes out,” Khedr said. “My husband said, ‘Why are you crying? You can’t even see anything.’ It sort of made me laugh, but it was emotional.” Khedr has had Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis since birth, resulting in the gradual deterioration of her vision. “My vision got worse and worse at different points in my life,” she said. “There were obvious signs of change. I could read the blackboard sitting in the front row right up until grade seven when it became a bigger struggle and I couldn’t do so anymore. Because the change is so slow, you don’t notice it until one day you go, ‘Oh, I can’t see that anymore.’” Instead of allowing her disability to become an obstacle, Khedr used it as fuel to create change and improve accessibility for anyone facing a similar fate. “I am a big believer in the fact that Allah does not put anything in my way that I cannot overcome. And if he puts it in my way, He has a very good reason and I have to find a way around it,” she said. “If I wasn’t an optimist, I wouldn’t put one foot in front of the other because I don’t see where I’m putting that foot. Sometimes it’s in a pile of snow and sometimes it’s in a puddle but I’ll get through it.” Growing up, Khedr and her family were outcasts in their Mississauga neighbourhood, as her younger sister also had vision loss and her brothers had intellectual disabilities. “We were the ‘other’ in every respect. We were the ‘other’ with disabilities, the ‘other’ with faith and the ‘other’ with skin colour,” she said. “My peers at school did not understand my vision loss so they found nastier labels. That’s what kids will do.” As she grew older, she used humour to deal with her situation. “People used to label me as visually impaired. I never liked the word, but that’s what it was,” she said. “I would say, ‘If I was visually impaired, I’d be detoxed.’” After graduating from the University of Toronto Mississauga, then known as Erindale College, she became a part of a group that went on to create the Canadian Association of Muslims with Disabilities. “We strongly felt that there was a gap within the Muslim community that we needed to address. That’s what made us come full circle and say Muslims have challenges accessing mainstream services, and they also require more access and inclusion within the Muslim community itself. So we need to do something about this. That’s why we formed the organization.”




Khedr has done a multitude of work in an attempt to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. In 2002, she founded her consulting company, DiversityworX. Prior to that, she worked for Employment ACCESS/Coalition for Persons with Disabilities Peel-HaltonDufferin, where she met Morag Fraser who was a board member. Since then, the two have become close friends. “I just remember being very impressed with someone with a disability being so confident. She knew what she wanted and was a strong advocate for persons with disabilities,” Fraser said. “I think sometimes people don’t appreciate how intelligent she is. They don’t expect it. Often times we go somewhere and because of her disability, people don’t expect her to speak so eloquently and be so knowledgeable in a variety of subjects.” Fraser, who has a daughter with a disability, now works as a consultant for disability issues. “The biggest disability is the attitude of people,” she said. “I think there’s always more that we can do. I think we’ve come a long way in the last twenty to thirty years, but there’s still more room for growth.” Uzma Khan, Khedr’s younger sister who currently works as an IT Project Manager for CIBC, also has experiences involving others that are unaccommodating for disabled people. “You have to pick and choose your battles. Is it worth it or not? Is there another way around it?” Khan said. “You can try to change people’s attitudes, but some people are going to remain ignorant no matter how much you try to educate them.” Like Khedr, Khan has worked on multiple committees to improve access for people with disabilities. This includes helping found the annual Simply People - Disability Celebration held at Nathan Phillips Square. In 2012, both sisters were awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals, which honour Canadians who made significant contributions. “It came as a huge surprise at first. It was very overwhelming and I felt really honoured, especially because I was thirty at that time,” Khan said. “I felt like the work that I had done in raising awareness and giving advice all paid off at that moment. It was all worth it and it encouraged me to do even more.” Khedr’s optimistic words rang true as she overcame the difficulty she faced from her disability. She said, “We should view every obstacle as a wonderful opportunity that gives us the chance to experience something different that’s going to take us to a better place.”


The biggest disability is the attitude of people.



The Muslim Students’ Association at the University of Toronto, St. George is, in our biased opinion, the biggest, baddest MSA around. It organizes events, petitions for more convenient prayer spaces and genuinely cares about the betterment of the student experience. It basically sets up the social scene for Muslims on campus while perpetually advocating for a greater sense of community through deen. And how they do that is by dividing the work up into directorships, with executive members who oversee the work. It’s like a halal mafia. Sort of. (Ok, not really.)

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T HE PRESIDENT Zerzar Bukhari ( is responsible for the overall unity and consistency of the organization. He provides oversight, advice and assistance to all aspects of the organization, from the executive level to the general volunteer and member level. When in doubt, the president is the safest person to consult in all matters pertaining to the MSA.

SECRETARY Noor Baig ( is responsible for all administrative matters in the MSA. All logistical inquiries, or questions related to the resources available to the MSA should be directed to the secretary. She is also very good at booking rooms.



presenting the



Haneef Ghanim ( is responsible for the MSA’s image. He communicates with the directorships that involve the physical and aesthetic representations of the MSA. Nothing like a make-up artist. a. The Muslim Voice Magazine: Asmaa Elhayek, b. Photography: Qurrat Ansari, c. Graphic Design: Aiman Batool, d. Webmaster: Marjan Ahmed,

VICE PRESIDENT EXTERNAL Farhia Farah ( communicates with all external organizations and the U of T Administration to facilitate greater ties between the MSA and other campus groups. Aka our hustler. a. Academic Affairs: Abrar Ahmed Pathan, b. Outreach: Saaliha Khadim,





VICE PRESIDENT FINANCE Shafquat Arefeen ( is responsible for all financial matters of the MSA. He is the go-to person when considering expenses for an event. The Finance Guy. a. Accounts: Maira Khalid, b. Fundraising: Asad Ayaz, c. Orphan Sponsorship Program: Abdul Haseeb Paracha,

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VICE PRESIDENT INTERNAL Saad Mahmmod ( provides religious education programming on campus, including halaqas, lectures and seminars. He is also in charge of Jummah prayers and making sure halal food options are available on campus. Masha’Allah. a. Religious Education: Yaseen Andrewsen, b. Religious Services: Ahmad Marzouk and Massoud Vahedi,

VICE PRESIDENT SOCIAL ADVACEMENT Sara Jabir ( handles all the social justice related directorships. If Ghandi was a group of Muslims… a. Community Affairs: Mohammad Saleh, b. Students for World Justice: Dalia Hashim,

VICE PRESIDENT STUDENT LIFE (TBA; This person is responsible for overseeing the directorships that work to build social connections. Fun times! a. Special Events: Annum Waseem, b. Sisters’ Events: Falak Mughal & Anaa Idress, c. Brothers’ Events: Sajjaad Kamalodeen,





hen I left the examination hall today after taking my last exam of the semester, one of BY HIRRA SHEIKH the last exams of my undergraduate career, I could not contain my happiness. The past few weeks have been rough and there is nothing more I would like than a break from all this studying and stress. My friends walking alongside me could attest to my excitement and were probably a little annoyed by my constant excited exclamation, “I’m done, guys. I’m actually done!” This meant first and foremost a Facebook status update (obviously) and then accepting the fact that I would finally be able to rest and be completely stress-free. No exam anxiety, studying, or assignments to worry about. I could finally take a break from it all. Outside that exam hall, my happiness knew no bounds. However, I soon realized that the tranquility I felt in that moment would not be everlasting. Inevitably, life hurls its challenges at us, even if those challenges are not always academic. We are never completely free of stress and worry. There is always something for which to strive – something we think still needs to be done. There is never a state of absolute rest and comfort. We know challenges are on their way, regardless of whether or not we know what form they will take. We need to move from achieving one goal to the next. Then I thought about these past few weeks when I had pressed the pause button to my life. Everything was held up just so I could get through this exam period. I realized, though, this life itself is supposed to be a test. The reason why we never find complete rest is because this life is not exactly meant for that. We exert ourselves and get tired, but we do not stop and give up because we know exams are only for a limited amount of time. Then comes the amount of happiness that hits us once we realize we made it, we succeeded in our efforts, and we can finally rest. It is an unparalleled experience! I could not help but think about passing the exam of this life. I pray that I may pass the exam Allah has set for me, and if I do (God willing), how would I feel? Knowing that there are no more hurdles to overcome, I would have an eternity of happiness, peace and rest as a reward for passing the limited time exam of this life. In this context, how much am I willing to exert myself? How willing am I to put myself, my desires, my life, my enjoyment, my rest and my sleep on hold for the ultimate and lasting exam – the exam that will determine my final and eternal abode?





I think I lost my control, if I ever had any Got caught up in this madness called dunya I purposely ignored the limits of which I never had any Got drowned in a never ending insomnia I started to dress up to impress the people all around Ignored the boundaries set by religion and culture The sniffers and smokers got me in the rebound In a smoke my identity slipped away from nature I pretended to be a friend to whomever I met My only purpose to gossip behind their backs Being called rude did not make me upset I just wanted to become one of the popular blacks Somewhere along this path, dating came on my list I just wanted to go out with anyone Merely worried about the result if I didn’t resist I was riding a rollercoaster of bored fun

Sunnah, Qur’an, fasting and prayers Were never close to being my priorities Instead I was busy flirting, joining the league of players I guess I was part of those disastrous minorities I didn’t know what it felt like to bow down in Sujood Didn’t know how to bend my knees for and to Him I was aloof from the deen without an interlude Never did or said anything to please Him In a field I saw a group of boys praying In a subway station I saw them bowing down Their love for deen and Him was displaying Without a crease on their forehead nor a frown Then it hit me suddenly, where was I going? What was I doing, why was I disobeying? For the first time in my life, I started bowing Crying my heart out, I started praying I was the creator of my own destruction Almost at the verge of losing hope But then it hit me it was never too late to get His affection I just had to tie and stay firm on my rope I started learning the Qur’an with all sincerity Started to understand the way of life Understood my limits with a clear clarity Never wanting to go back to all that strife Understood that backbiting was highly prohibited That speaking ill of others would boost my sins So the judging and gossiping was all inhibited My journey to Islam now begins I am still striving to become better Because I still sin almost every day But I guess repenting is in the latter And as long as I am doing that and just not for a say Going astray is normal since we are humans But finding a way back is the hard part Once we find it, still surrounded by other men Staying firm on it is then the real art I had to go through all this to find You because, In the midst of this world, I found You. In the chaos of my heart, I found You. In the middle of my sins, I found You. In the process of forgetting, I found You.

PHOTO // Mouna Ben Hadj Tahar

BY Rafeya Shami

a Rollercoaster ride

walked towards the change in my life Seeing a light all the way at the end of the tunnel Little did I know it was going to be a strife Being drawn into the pit through a rusted funnel

Finding You wasn’t hard; I had to look within the depths of my own heart. I had to conquer my desires. I had to let go of that which You didn’t wish for me. I had to forgive myself before I could ask for Your forgiveness. And, In the end, I was forgiven. Forgiven for forgetting You. Forgiven for not trusting in Your time and plan. Forgiven for crossing my limits. Forgiven for my weak faith Forgiven for which I couldn’t forgive myself. THE MUSLIM VOICE | OCTOBER 2013 | 11


struggle, I remember the relief at having finished that essay and the pride at having overcome both the internal and external forces fighting against me, producing a piece of writing that I was actually proud of. I got a D on that paper and barely scraped up a 63 in the course, a stain on my transcript. I am not ashamed to admit it. While it would have been FANTASTIC (and I cannot stress enough HOW fantastic) to have come out of that course with an A+ paper and an 80% average to boot, it was a completely unrealistic dream and I knew that. I knew that while I wrote the paper, and I knew that when I handed it in. I knew it every single time I opened up that file and spent 6 straight hours staring at an empty page wondering why I was too stupid to write a single word. I wanted that A, by God I did, but I also knew that by that point it was out of my reach. So I worked as hard as I could in that state to do the best that I could. When I got that D, I said alhamdulillah that I did not fail, that I had learned from that experience, and that by the mercy of Allah (swt), I could go into a similar situation and insha’Allah, if Hewilled, do better next time. A friend once said to me that we need to rethink our idea of success: success might not necessarily be what we expect or what we want, and more than that, we might not even get it in this life. To reach your full potential does not mean that you are necessarily successful or will come out on top. To overcome an obstacle does not necessarily mean that you have reached your full potential. In that moment, finishing the essay was the most I could do, and in that situation, I pushed myself to reach my full potential in THAT scenario. Whatever one’s fullest potential or idea of success is, it is subjective, relative and situation-based. Moreover, what we need to understand is that these things, like our success and capabilities, are not really up to us. They are in the hands of Allah (swt). Rather than pushing to be on top or holding ourselves to ridiculously high aims, we should push ourselves to be more accepting of the fate that has been written for us. We may not always end up on top or understand that challenges are like storms that we need only to ride out until they have past. But, while a ship may not always come out of a storm intact, what remains is always the strongest part and can always be rebuilt from there.


We need to rethink our idea of success: success might not necessarily be what we expect or what we want




verybody loves a good underdog story. Except me. I hate underdog stories. Despite their popularity and obvious appeal, and the fact that I probably loved them as a kid, I find them ridiculous and unrealistic, meant to fill people’s heads with lies about how we can all be a fantastic success, no matter what life throws at us. It is all garbage, and here is why. The so called “underdog story” thrives on the premise that we can all relate to it, and to a certain extent, we can. I am a firm believer that people connect and relate to each other based on shared experiences, not appearances, and so no matter what the “underdog” looks like, or what species it is, people will be able to connect with the poor thing’s struggle, because we have all felt like the underdog. The underdog is meant to serve as a model and teach us that, with enough hard work, we will always come out on top. But that simply is not the case. The bigger issue that I believe my hatred for the underdog tale translates into is this: the serious need we have for an honest discussion with ourselves, our communities and the future generations of Muslims about what it means to be successful. From a very young age weare told by our parents, more than any TV show or movie, that if we work hard, we can do anything. We are also told by our parents from a very young age that we are all society’s underdogs. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times my dad reminded me during my high school years that, while Canadian society is full of opportunities, it is also full of people who want me to fail, whether it is because I am brown, because my parents are immigrants, because I am Muslim, because I wear a hijab. And it would be ignorant to say that, to a certain extent, these factors do not work against me. It is natural to gravitate towards the success stories as a source of hope and inspiration – stories in which people like me, the disadvantaged, do come out on top. Then I reached the end of my 3rd year, which was a period of great difficulty and struggle for me. Overrun by essays and overcome by stress, I basically shut down. One history essay was a particular source of grief, taking me nearly an entire month to finish. I remember that final day when I sat down at a table in Emmanuel College with a laptop I had borrowed from the library since my own had chosen that very month to die on me. I told myself that no matter what it took, no matter how hard I had to work, I would finish that essay by 6pm – and I did. More than the




Burying the Underdog


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One of the tricks of Shaytan is to engross us into useless matters to ensure the wasting of precious time. If he cannot get us to commit the forbidden actions, then to ensure we are likewise prevented from performing the recommended actions, he encourages us to indulge in morally neutral activities. These are activities which are not forbidden per se but do not yield any benefit or rewards. In such a scenario, although one has avoided a great loss in committing the forbidden, he has still granted Shaytan success because his Pyrrhic victory is no victory at all. Another may object to this reasoning and interject by stating that in fact we are not performing any forbidden action. Although we have not earned a sin, we also have not earned a reward. In order to not appease ourselves with these ad hoc objections, we should be constantly


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he Prophet (peace be upon him) once reprimanded a man by saying “Take benefit of five before five.” Among the five that was mentioned in this hadith is “your free time before you become occupied.” 1 Time is an unstoppable reality; it consists of divisible moments ticking by as we move onward. We cannot stop its progression. Every day contains twenty-four hours. Every hour contains sixty minutes. And every minute contains sixty seconds. That means a day consists of 86,400 seconds. That may seem to be a trivial fact but no matter how we choose to use those seconds, we are shaping our futures. Being cognizant of our purpose of existence can never be stressed enough. In the hectic lifestyle that seems dominant today, we often fail to recognize this principle altogether, and ultimately because of this, we allow precious time to be wasted in some of the most valuable and productive years of our lives.

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asking ourselves whether or not we are making the best use of our time. Time is an untapped resource waiting for its value to be recognized. If we fail to recognize the potential of time’s prowess, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Human beings have been favoured with a level of freedom and intellectual capacity not found in the rest of creation. The potential found within every free individual can never be underestimated. This potential is the freedom ingrained within every one of our bodies. The choices we make result in our actions, and we are and will be responsible for those actions. The efficient use of time is what distinguishes a good test mark from a bad one, a good GPA from an abysmal one. It is almost a self-evident truth, but one which we sometimes seem to forget to remember. We also often forget of a bigger test – a test which we will all face – and the fact that its date for each person varies. It could begin at any time and you are free to study for it during the entirety of your lifetime. No study aids are allowed during this test. The upshot of all of this is that time, or more correctly, the efficient expenditure of time, is a crucial determining factor of our ultimate success and failure. [1] Recorded by Al-Hakim, who authenticated it (as Sahih), and Shu’ayb AlArna’ut concurred with this verdict. Al-Arna’ut notes that this narration also has a Mursal (disconnected) witness. See Al-Arna’ut’s editing and critical review of Al-Hafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali, Jami’ Al-Uloom Wa’l-Hikam (Beirut: Muassasah Ar-Risalah, 1999) vol. 2, p. 387. [2] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, The Value of Time, trans. Yusra alGhannouchi (Swansea: Awakening Publications, 2004). THE MUSLIM VOICE | OCTOBER 2013 | 13

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’ve forgotten what it feels like to not have any pain in my body.” These words, spoken by my mother nonchalantly as we were driving one day, had an impact on me that is hard to describe. Sometimes as you are going about your life on an ordinary day, you suddenly hear something that makes you stop and think. My mother’s words were not meant to be thought-provoking or particularly meaningful; they were spoken carelessly, as if they were a fact of life. But that is exactly why these words were so powerful. Living with constant pain in her body is a casual fact of life for my mother, while I had never even stopped to consider what it must feel like to be in unceasing pain. Eight years ago, my mother was diagnosed simultaneously with thalassemia and spinal degeneration disorder, diseases which result in the death of red blood cells and the degeneration of the spinal cord. As this happens, the nerves in the spinal cord get “pinched to-


size the positive despite her condition has been an eye-opening experience. I have realized that a person truly has the potential to be happy merely by seeing the good in every situation, no matter how hard that may seem. By virtue of being grateful for the life that she is able to enjoy instead of focusing on the negative, my mother has allowed her condition to strengthen her faith. Putting her entire trust in God, she unconditionally believes that every situation in life holds a good side, even if it might appear impossible to immediately discern that good. Having a bright outlook on life has not only improved her individual connection with God, it has also influenced those around her to adopt a similar mindset. I can personally testify to the fact that a positive attitude is undoubtedly contagious. Taking my mother’s lead and choosing to see life in a bright light has truly made me understand that sometimes all you need to be happy is to simply see the glass as half full.




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gether,” making movement extremely painful and resulting in chronic pain. Combined with osteoarthritis, the erosion of joints and bones, it becomes impossible to do tasks requiring even simple lifting, pulling, pushing or any form of strength. This condition is untreatable and gets worse with time, and doctors are only able to try and slow down the progression of the disease. “There are two blessings seriously taken for granted by mankind: health and spare time” [Ibn ‘Abbas]. This hadith spoken by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) accurately reflects how easy it is to overlook the tremendous value of good health. As a person goes through life, running into obstacles is inevitable. Losing one’s health, however, is one of the most difficult obstacles to face because it cannot be overcome in the traditional sense. Rather, it is an obstacle that has to be accepted and accommodated. Acknowledging an obstacle to your health and refusing to let it interfere with your happiness involves considerable mental and emotional strength, a task requiring you to realize your potential in ways you might never have imagined before. No one chooses to get spinal degeneration disorder, cancer, diabetes, or any of the other thousands of illnesses in the world. While it is especially difficult to accept a limitation that arises without any direct action of your own, this is the essential first step in deciding that a physical disadvantage will not control the rest of your life. For my mother, accepting her circumstances was possible only through a deep conviction in the belief that everything happens for the best. Watching my mother always empha-


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ING “Allahum ma infa’n ii bimaa nabiyyen ‘allamtan wa hifzal ii wa’allim mursalee khashyati nii maa n ka. Innak a yanfa’uun a ‘ala ma- l-muqarrabeen. A ii. Allahu tasha’u qa ll mma inii deer wa a ahumma ijal leesa “Oh Alla as’aluka fa n nee ‘aima ta h! Make h a s b hmalu n-allahu n bi dhik useful fo to me. O w rika wa q a r n m a h Allah! e ’m w a h l a w a lbi bi t akeel.” Yo I ask You and those for the u u have taught me nearest to nderstan and teach You. Oh A sciousnes ding o me s of You. Oh Allah llah! Make my ton f the prophets an knowledge that w of aid.” ! You do d the me g ill be use u e full of Y whatever mory of ful our reme th you wish e m Messenge brance an , and You r, d DUA AFTE m y are my av heart wit R STUDYIN ailer and h conG protector and best “Allahum ma inni a staodeek ma-tasha a ma qara ’-u qadee ’tu wama r wa anta hafaz hasbeeya w a na’mal w -tu. Farudduhu ‘a “Oh Alla llaya inda akeel.” h! I entru hajati ela st You wit I am in n hi. Innak h what I eed of it. a ‘ala h a Oh Allah ve read a of aid.” nd I have ! You do whatever studied. O You wish h Allah! , You are DUA WHIL my availe Bring it back to m E STUDYIN r and pro e when G SOMETH tector an ING DIFF d the bes IC t ULT “Allahum ma la sah la illama ja-’altahu sahla anta “Oh Allah taj ‘alu al ! Nothing hazana ez is easy ex a ma shi’ta cept wha sahal.” t Y o DUA FOR u have m ade easy. CONCENTR If You wis ATION h, You ca n make th “Salla-l-la e difficult ahu alaa M easy.” uhamma wa faa’ila d wa aalhu wa-l-a e Muham amimira mad. Alla bihi dhak humma in ir-ni maa “Blessing a ni n saani-his of Allah shaytan.” as’aluka yaa mudh be upon goodness akkira-l k Mu and actua hayr lizes it an hammad and his d comma p nds it, rem rogeny. Oh Allah , I ask Yo ind me o u f that wh ich the sh , the one who me n aytan ma kes me fo tions rget.” THE MUSLIM VOICE | OCTOBER 2013 | 15

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