Sister Amina on Islam

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Understanding Islam through Poetry

Bismillah ir-rahman ir-raheem

Assalaam alaikum!

Wow. That was my reaction to the video you are about to watch. Masha'Allah, this man's poetry gave me goose bumps and nearly brought me to tears. If you are curious about Islam, watch Boonaa Mohammed's videos on You Tube. Perhaps we should always leave the explaining up to the poets...


Sunday, October 10, 2010

POLL: The Results Are in Again!!!

Bismillah ir-rahman ir-raheem

Assalaam alaikum!

Alrighty, so the results of the September poll are in! 

This month's question was: Which topic(s) would you be interested in reading more about?

This month eleven people answered and here are their responses:

-4 voters (36%) answered The Qur'an
-4 voters (36%) answered Hadith and Sunnah
-Zero voters answered The five pillars
-2 voters (18%) answered Halal slaughter (Zabihah)
-2 voters (18%) answered Marriage in Islam
-3 voters (27%) answered Women's issues
-Zero voters answered The prophets
-4 voters (36%) answered The Prophet Mohammad (SAW) specifically
-1 voter (9%) answered Comparative religion
-1 voter (9%) answered Jinn and magic
-3 voters (27%) answered Islamic hostory
-4 voters (36%) answered Islam and modern thought
-3 voters (27%) answered Nationalism and secularism
-4 voters (36%) answered Current events in Islam
-3 voters (27%) answered Terrorism

In addition, there was one vote for The five pillars, one additional vote for Marriage in Islam, one additional vote for Women's issues, two additional votes for Jinn and magic and one additional vote for Comparative religion.

I would just like to clarify that for in order for me to get accurate results in the poll, I need voters to not vote in the comments and to please vote in the poll itself, which can be found at the bottom of the blog. I have no way of knowing if the additional votes were only in the comments or if they were comments and votes in the poll.

This month's poll is the following:

What have you heard about equality in marriage in Islam?

-The husband has absolute authority over the family and home.
-The wife has absolute authority over the family and home.
-The husband has certain rights over and obligations to his family and the wife has certain rights over and obligations to her family.
-All power and obligations regarding family are shared by husband and wife.

If you have heard more than one of these things, please select the option you believe to be true!

Insha'Allah, I will have another post soon because I have two ideas for posts and it is a long weekend due to Canadian Thanksgiving! 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

September 11, the "Ground Zero Mosque," and Qur'an Burning

Bismillah ir-rahman ir-raheem

Assalaam alaikum!

Well, I'm a terrible blogger. I'm sorry about the lack of posts (for the like two people who read this - my favourite two people!!!), but school is back and life is a wee bit crazy. Please forgive me. I am going to try.

So, there was a lot of stuff going around on the 11th about the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and whatnot and the idea for this post popped into my head. But, alas, school has started, so between my full course load (which includes three French classes, by the way), homework, housework, and taking care of my beautiful son (please see picture at right), my blog is sort of simmering on the back burner. Insha'Allah, I will still update it weekly, though.

Anyhow. September 11 came and went and a lot of people are sad for the lives lost and everything. Don't get me wrong - what happened was terrible and inexcusable and all the loss of life that happened was tragic. I may get some flack for this, but I think it is a little pointless for we Americans to tear off the bandaid every year and reopen the wound. I believe the time has come to quietly, respectfully move on. Those who were lost will be loved and remembered by those who knew them and the rest of the American public will always remember those horrible images that we saw in Newsweek and on TV, but let us mourn the dead in peace.

Moving right along. So, I'm not even going to go into all those conspiracy theories about bombs being planted and the CIA being involved in the attacks and this and that and the other thing. Forget it. I don't care. For the most part (not entirely, of course), Muslims who buy into these theories are probably looking for a desperate way to not have to believe that there are such embarrassing members of our ummah (community). Face it, people. Even if it weren't Muslims behind 9/11, do you really think that all people who call themselves Muslims are good? Do you think the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are completely fabricated? Please, spare me. Accept that there are bad eggs. Accept it, I say!

So, what is with this whole "Ground Zero Mosque" thingy? Why are those darn Moslems building something so close to hallowed ground? Why do they want to "stab Americans in the heart," as it were? They preach peace - so they claim - how can they be so insensitive?

First of all, let's get one thing straight. It isn't a mosque. It is a community centre. It will have a restaurant in it, as well as a prayer space. There is a mosque around there already and it has been there for years. So... what's up with all the hubbub?

Quite frankly, the only explanation I have for it is fear, ignorance, hate, and blindness (or any combination thereof). 

So, has everyone here heard of the First Amendment? Don't worry if your answer is no. I'll give you a bit of background.

In 1787 (not hijiri, obv... because that would be in the future), the Founding Fathers of America - a group of learned and (hopefully...) honourable men - all sat down together and wrote out what is now known as the American Constitution. Which, by the way, is an awesome document!

Now, these Founding Father guys wanted to make sure that everything would be pretty solid in their new Constitution because God forbid we go back to the era of King George what with the badness and such. So after they thought they had finished the Constitution, they went back and looked it over. 

Since these were the days before computers (what??), when they found mistakes or omissions, they couldn't just insert it into where it should go. So they created another document: the Bill of Rights. Within this Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments - changes - to the Constitution. Annnnnd...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So, what does that mean? Well, our focus is the religion part, so I'll explain that bit. Pretty much, it means that there can be no establishment of a national religion and that the government cannot favour one religion over another, or favour religion over irreligion or vice-versa (Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v Grumet, 1994).

This, of course, means that no one can legally stop Muslims from building a community centre in Lower Manhattan simply because they are Muslim. Of course, some people tried to stop them on the grounds that they (the Muslims) were building on a historical site. Nice try.  The Landmarks Preservation Commission ruled unanimously that the site could be demolished. Probably because it is of little or no historical significance.

I have been reading through some Google headlines and apparently Muslims build mosques at places of historical conquest. I mean, there are mosques all over Spain and all over where the Islamic empire once stood! Craziness, right?

Or, not so much. There are almost 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. So yeah, there are probably a lot of mosques on sites of "conquests," as they are saying. But, umm, remember how the Muslim empire extended into Spain and stayed there for hundreds of years? Could it not be that Muslims build mosques where mosques are needed? I know, it's a crazy idea, but it just might be the case. There are Muslims praying in the streets of New York because their mosques are too small! So, don't go around telling me it's unnecessary.

So, what about this hallowed ground business? 

Okay, let's get something straight. It is NOT at Ground Zero. It is blocks away from Ground Zero. And if it is such "hallowed ground" (Sarah Palin's words, btw - this nonsense is not of my invention), then how does one explain the fast food joints, the vendors selling WTC statuettes (thereby directly profiting from the tragedy), the strip club - all of which are an equal distance from Ground Zero as the proposed community centre?

A strip club. A. Strip. Club. THAT, my friends, is not hallowed ground. That is a normal North American community functioning as any other might. And as such, there should be a place for religious practice!

Now, is it insensitive of Muslims to build a community centre there?

Well, is it insensitive to build Cathedrals in Europe? I mean, Hitler was Catholic and believed it was his holy duty to kill the Jews:

"What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and the reproduction of our that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe...Peoples that bastardize themselves, or let themselves be bastardized, sin against the will of eternal Providence."

This is from Mein Kampf, I believe. If you're curious to know more about it, the link above will take you to a Google Books thing. 

Also, for the atrocities committed against Jews and Muslims in the name of Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition, and in South and Central America during Spanish colonization, there should definitely be no Catholic churches or Cathedrals there, right? No Sikh temples in India for the assassination of Indira Ghandi. No Anglican churches in England for King Henry VIII's oppression of Catholics. No Catholic churches in England due to Queen "Bloody" Mary's oppression of Protestants. No Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. No Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. No mosques or Hindu temples in India or Pakistan or Bangladesh. No Catholic churches in Italy. No Protestant or Catholic churches in Germany. No churches, synagogues or mosques in Israel. And don't even get me started on France! In France there should not only be no Catholic or Protestant churches, but no Deist temples, no secular bodies, and no gathering place for atheists. No Catholic or Protestant churches in Ireland. No Anglican churches in Canada (no Catholic churches in Qu├ębec). No atheist places in China.

Please note, that this is not an exhaustive list. My husband says, "This is not even an exhaustive list of things I can name off the top of my head," (also, please note, atheists aren't safe either, so I don't want any of your "down with religion!!" foamy rhetoric).

So, yeah. People should pretty much not exist if we want to use such flawed reasoning. 

Also, I would actually like to say, I think there is no better place to build an Islamic community centre!! 

No, I'm serious!

In the movie Frida (excellent movie about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo), Friday says to Diego about a painting of Lenin he did:

"Whatever happens, you have aroused people. You've made them get passionate about their ideals!"

This incident has inspired a great amount of emotion in American people. While it is often quite an ugly side, as a Muslim, I like to think of it this way:

At least one person, probably more, saw this whole "mosque at Ground Zero" thing happening and thought to themselves "What kind of people would do something like that?" They then went home, researched Islam and discovered the truth about it. They then realized that it is a beautiful religion and all-encompassing way of life. They converted. They became Muslim. Alhamdulillah. 

Furthermore - and my explanation bridges the previous idea and my next statement - I have read somewhere someone saying something along the lines of "Can you guarantee that no Islamic terrorist will come out of this mosque that they are building at Ground Zero?"

Yes. I can. 

Terrorists do not come from mosques. They do not come from learning about their faith. Terrorism arises from ignorance. 

A young Muslim, being led astray, may someday make his way into this community centre and speak to the Imam, hoping that someone will validate his hateful beliefs. He will learn about what the seemingly-violent passages of the Qur'an are actually about. He will learn the proper context of war. He will learn that killing innocents is never ever ever ever allowed. 

Ignorant people like to point to the violent-sounding verses of the Qur'an and say "This is NOT a religion of peace!" 

The explanation of such verses will be for a different entry, insha'Allah, but for now I will say that even just reading the verses before and after those ones puts them into context. The same way you cannot pluck a verse from the Bible and quote it out of context, you cannot do the same to the Qur'an either. 

Uneducated people don't know that. Uneducated Muslims might not know that! Ignorance breeds fear. Fear breeds hate. Education will solve these problems - not the destruction of a community centre or an unwanted war. Just ask Greg Mortonsen - read Three Cups of Tea.

If any attendant of the community centre becomes a terrorist one day, it will be because he didn't go enough!

Okay. Now onto Qur'an burning. 

This one I will only touch on briefly because there isn't much to say.

First of all, the guy didn't do it. I am not one for conspiracy theories, as I said, but I would be willing to bet that a couple of guys in black suits came up to this guy and highly advised him not to go ahead with his plan. That's all I'm saying about that. 

But. In case you were wondering, in Islam, burning is the respectful way of destroying things. If the name of Allah appears on any papers we are to burn them rather than dispose of them in the garbage. Now, this doesn't excuse this preacher guy's proposed actions because it is his intentions that really matter, but I just think that it's a little ironic.

Please. Do not go around burning Qur'ans. The Qur'an is a beautiful book full of God's Words and Commandments. Sunhanallah, it is beautiful just to look at. 

I would just like to point out that a few years ago, a group of Orthodox Jews set fire to a collection of New Testaments. The world media was silent. If this had happened in a Muslim country, I am willing to bet it would be all over the news, especially in light of the Qur'an burning scandal.

Look, everyone. Religious intolerance is wrong. It doesn't matter who is doing it. As Muslims, we believe that we should bring everyone close to Islam, but we should not be violent towards those of different faiths. 

Let's all just hug and make up. Are you ready? I am!

Here are some fun links to sites/videos/blogs regarding the topics I covered:  (<--Subhanallah, a great speech by the mayor of New York City)

And here's a little You Tube video:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

POLL: The results are in!!

Bismillah ir-rahman ir-raheem

Assalaam alaikum!

So. Insha'Allah, I plan to have one poll per month, and it is now September, so here are the poll results:

The question was: How confident are you in your knowledge about Islam?

There were 20 responses to the poll. 

-Zero people answered Alhamdulillah, I know a lot!
-Thirteen people (65%) answered I know a fair amount
-Seven people (35%) answered Not much
-Zero people answered I don't know anything!

So, alhamdulillah, it's good that no one feels they don't know anything. Unfortunately, no one knows a lot either. Insha'Allah, maybe we can change that together. If you answered the poll, please feel free to explain your answer in the comments section.

This month's poll is:

Which topic(s) would you be interested in reading more about?

-The Qur'an
-Hadith and Sunnah
-The five pillars
-Halal slaughter (Zabihah) 
-Marriage in Islam
-Women's issues
-The prophets
-The prophet Mohammad (SAW) specifically
-Comparative religion
-Jinn and magic
-Islamic history
-Islam and modern thought
-Nationalism and secularism
-Current events in Islam
-Other (please explain in comments section)

Please participate and tell your friends to participate too! The more feedback I get, the more motivated I feel to continue updating!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Movie Review: Arranged

Bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim
Assalaam Alaikum

This movie is called Arranged, it is a wonderful movie about the friendship between a Muslim woman (Nasira) and an Orthodox Jewish woman (Rochel). My husband and I liked it so much, when we first saw it, we watched it twice in one week!
Arranged takes place in New York City. It has three main settings: Rochel's world, Nasira's world, and the world they share: a Brooklyn public elementary school, where they meet and become friends. Both women are first-year teachers at the aforementioned school and the movie opens with their being trained to handle the variety of different cultures that their students will come from. The first sign of tension comes from the principal of the school asking teachers to share something "juicy" about themselves to the other teachers in the group. While one woman has something decidedly juicy to say, neither Nasira nor Rochel does.
Outside of the school, both women are going through the process of trying to find a husband. Rochel has a very strict and traditional way in which she can find one, while Nasira is introduced to different men by her family. While Rochel goes through a myriad of different men (each one highly defective in their own hilarious way), Nasira has one bad experience with a friend of her father's who is twenty years older than she and chews with his mouth open.

I don't know about any other sisters out there, but bad table manners would be enough for me to send any suitor packing.

Anyhow, at school Rochel is an assistant to a special needs student who participates in Nasira's grade four class. One day, class is interrupted by some students who were saying to each other that Nasira and Rochel could never be friends because of their different religions ("But I heard the Muslims wanted to push Israel back into the ocean."). They are confronted by the principal about the event, who then goes off on a tirade about how they are beautiful girls, if only they would come out of the dark ages and dress like modern women!

As the movie goes on, tensions within Rochel's family rise (considering her incompatibility with all her suitors), and tensions between the principal and the two women rise as well, while all this time the unlikely friendship between Rochel and Nasira grows. Masha'Allah, it is a wonderful movie that portrays a loving Muslim family very well. And for Muslims who don't know a lot about Jews, the executive producer was Orthodox Jewish, so the portrayal of Rochel's family is probably very accurate as well.

This is a good film to open your eyes to your
neighbours and consider what they are really like, rather than what All Jews are like or All Muslims. Everyone is different. This film is a beautiful example of it. I have posted the trailer below, but it really doesn't do the movie justice. If you go to YouTube and type in "Arranged the movie" into the search thing, you can watch the entire thing, but frankly, I suggest you go out and buy it. It is a wonderful movie!

Enjoy the trailer, but please watch the whole thing!