Thursday, November 30, 2006

Where Are You? Where Am I?

Taken from

It is not easy for me, or for any of us as Muslims, to train ourselves to wake up daily before dawn in order to pray the Fajr prayer. It is also not easy to drag ourselves away from life's hectic schedule so we can always pray the rest of the five prayers on time. Yet, do we ever ask ourselves if Allah has accepted our prayers or not? Do we ever ask ourselves how we might improve the performance of our prayers?

In fact, I had never asked myself any of these questions until after reading the following words of Imam Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullâh). He writes:
Mankind, with regard to the performance of their prayers, are on five levels:

- The First: This is the level of one who is negligent and wrongs his soul. He is the one who falls short in performing wudû' properly, performing the prayer on time and within its specified limits, and in fulfilling its essential pillars.

- The Second: This is the level of one who guards his habit of offering his prayers on time and within their specified limits, who fulfils their essential pillars and performs his wudû' with care. However, his striving (in achieving the above) is wasted due to disturbances in his thoughts during prayer that distract him and turn his attention to other preoccupations and concerns.

-The Third: This is the level of one who guards his prayers within the specified limits, fulfils their essential pillars and strives within himself to repel the disturbances in his thoughts and extraneous concerns. He is busy struggling against his enemy (Satan) so that Satan does not steal from the prayer. Because of this, he is engaged in (both) prayer and struggle (jihad).

- The Fourth: This is the level of one who carries out the prayer, completing and perfecting its due rights and essential pillars, who performs it within its specified limits and with his heart fully engrossed in safeguarding its rights and specified limits, so that nothing of his prayer is wasted. His whole concern is directed towards its performance, its completion and its perfection – as it should be. His heart is immersed in the prayer and in servitude to his Lord, the Exalted.

- The Fifth: This is the level of one who carries out the prayer like the one mentioned above. However, on top of this, he has taken and placed his heart in front of his Lord, looking towards Him with his heart in anticipation, filled with His love and His might, as if he sees and witnesses Allah. The misgivings, thoughts and preoccupations have vanished and the veil between him and his Lord is lifted. The difference between this person and others with respect to the prayer is greater than the distance between the heavens and the Earth. This person is busy with his Lord, delighted with Him.

I am afriad that right now I seem to be stuck in the No 1 category... which is a bad thing because...

The people whose performance of prayer is at the first level will be punished, those at the second will be held to account, those at the third will have their sins and shortcomings expiated, those at the forth fourth will be rewarded, and those at the fifth will be close to their Lord, because they will receive the portion of the one who makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye. Whoever makes his prayer the delight and pleasure of his eye will have the nearness of his Lord made the delight and pleasure of his eye in the Hereafter. He will also be made a pleasure to the eye in this world, since whoever makes Allah the pleasure of his eye in this world, every other eye will become delighted and pleased with him.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Secret Intimate Benefits of Hijab

I once recall telling a non-Muslim woman that Muslim men (who are married and their wife’s wear hijab) appreciate the full beauty of their wives more than men whose wives do not cover because the Muslim men see the hijab as obedience to Allah (which is beautiful in its own right) and a sign of the women sharing their beauty only with them. I was able to convince this woman with strong feminist beliefs that the hijab was more than what meets the eyes – it was a way of furthering the love and intimacy between a husband and a wife.

That conversation was over a year ago, but I think non-Muslim women are starting to realize that as point. I recently read this comment by New York Magazine’s Naomi Wolf:

I will never forget a visit I made to Ilana, an old friend who had become an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem. When I saw her again, she had abandoned her jeans and T-shirts for long skirts and a head scarf. I could not get over it. Ilana has waist-length, wild and curly golden-blonde hair. “Can’t I even see your hair?” I asked, trying to find my old friend in there. “No,” she demurred quietly. “Only my husband,” she said with a calm sexual confidence, “ever gets to see my hair.”

When she showed me her little house in a settlement on a hill, and I saw the bedroom, draped in Middle Eastern embroideries, that she shares only with her husband—the kids are not allowed—the sexual intensity in the air was archaic, overwhelming. It was private. It was a feeling of erotic intensity deeper than any I have ever picked up between secular couples in the liberated West. And I thought: Our husbands see naked women all day—in Times Square if not on the Net. Her husband never even sees another woman’s hair.

She must feel, I thought, so hot.

Compare that steaminess with a conversation I had at Northwestern, after I had talked about the effect of porn on relationships. “Why have sex right away?” a boy with tousled hair and Bambi eyes was explaining. “Things are always a little tense and uncomfortable when you just start seeing someone,” he said. “I prefer to have sex right away just to get it over with. You know it’s going to happen anyway, and it gets rid of the tension.”

“Isn’t the tension kind of fun?” I asked. “Doesn’t that also get rid of the mystery?”

“Mystery?” He looked at me blankly. And then, without hesitating, he replied: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Sex has no mystery.”

I think that the new generation of teenagers and twenty something year olds are all missing out on this secret aspect of intimacy between lovers. Although Naomi Wolf’s friend is a Orthodox Jewish woman who covers and shares her secret love with her husband, we can not readily find many Muslim sisters in the States who cover for the sake of Allah and the added benefit of appreciation from their husbands that their covering is a protection of the intimacy they share. Its sad that this person Wolf interviewed had lost notions of sex being perhaps mysterious.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hijab in Turkey: Another Reason I don't Like "Liberal Muslims"

This is from the BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell talking about hijab in Turkey.

I suspect many, probably most people in Britain would see this as a matter of freedom of choice, but it's not seen like this here. The government's tentative plans to change the law meet fierce opposition. Just last weekend there was a march through Ankara, a crowd of 12,000 people, to protest against the very possibility. It's an interesting twist that people who most probably would be leftie Hampstead liberals in Britain are here supporters of the army - the principal opponents of any weakening of what they see as the secular state.

Bedri Baykam is an artist who clearly loves to shock. He's working on a series called Picasso's women and his studio is covered with photographs of naked women. He says that women who wear the headscarf these days are making a statement that they are warriors for militant Islam. He says their head covering is not like the headscarves worn by his mother or grandmother but have tight elastic so that not one scrap of hair escapes. He says it's ridiculous that people should treat hair as though it's a sexual organ.

When these types of Muslims immigrate to western states, they take on this very liberal guise of espousing freedom of choice, religion, etc rethoric, yet when they are back in their Muslim countries they support suppressive policies targeted towards practicing Muslims.

Death of Muslims

It is a sad moment when a Muslim is wrongly killed.

It is a sadder moment when a Muslim is wrongly killed by a non-Muslim.

It is the saddest moment when a Muslim is wrongly killed by a Muslim.

I know whats happening in Palestine and Iraq and I hear Muslims outraged about whats happening there... Why don't I find the same outrage amongst Muslims of whats happening in Darfur. It seems as much, if not more Muslims are being Killed there.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stranger no more?

Perhaps after this, I will become less of a stranger.

Height: 5’11
Color: Coffee
Some like to call me: "hey"
Piercing: none - doubt i'll get any.
Tattoos: nah.

Right now
Time: 3: 38 pm
Mood: after praying salah - mellow
Taste: spearmint gum
Weather: 64
Bad habit: procrastinator
Current crush: ... none, i guess?
Biggest regret: reading more books when i had the time.
Perfume(s): musk
Thing I want to do: workout at the gym.

TV show: frontline.
Book: Criminal Law in Islam by Mohamed El Awah
Non alcoholic drink: chilled mango juice
Milk drink: straight up milk.
Brand: cotton - pure cotton.
Color: colors of fall
Emblem: ?
Perfume: Romance
Designer: i was into Diesel back in the day... now, i dont really care if it looks good.
Chocolate: snickers

Have I Ever
Broken the law: yea - j walking
Misused credit card: perhaps to order books.
Skipped school: college during Ramadan or when papers were due.
Fell asleep in the shower/bath: how is that possible?
Had children: not yet.
Been in love: no - i dont know if thats a good thing or bad.
Been hurt: never let anyone get to close to me to hurt - once again, not sure if this is a good thing or bad.

Have a job: non-profit
My CD player has what in it right now: i dont have cd player.
If I were a crayon, the color: hazelnut.
What makes me happy: the recitation of Abdul Baset (!)... powerful.

When/What Was the Last
I got a real letter: last week.
Got an email: 5 mins ago.
Thing I purchased: office supplies.
TV program I watched: re-runs of 'living color' on youtube
Movie I saw in the theaters: An Inconvenient Truth
Hugged: mother last week.
Place I was an hour ago: office training.
Song heard: some cowboy song in Wendys.
Phone call: billing company.
Was depressed: Monday night - realizing that Ramadan was gone.

What Comes to Mind When I Hear
Car: dont have one.
Murder: homicide.
Cape: South Africa.
Cell: treo
Fun: non-existant.
Shoe: uptowns.
Crush: i dont know if i every had one.
Music: Gurabah; its a nasheed.
Love: What is love?