Category Archives: Islam

Delicious Ramadan Eats from Around the World

Ramadan is once again upon us, and Muslims [VIDEO] are as excited as ever for the festive, holiday season! During the ninth month of the Hijri calendar, several dishes are cooked up around the world in time to break one’s fast. So let’s see what’s cooking!

Read the full article on BlastingNews.com!

It’s been seven years since I observed and celebrated a full month of Ramadan back home in San Francisco. I plan to break fast with my family, kneel in worship with my friends and try to find peace within myself.

May this Ramadan find you breaking fast with family, worshipping with friends and finding peace within yourself… ameen.

Blessed and rewarding Ramadan to one and all.

Ramadan IS Here!!

.يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint” -Quran, 2:183

Ramadan Kareem

As the crescent hasn’t been sighted in this part of the world, the month of Shabaan 1436 is a full 30 days. This means that Insha’Allah Ramadan 1436 begins on the evening of Wednesday, June 17th with the first fasting day being Thursday, June 18th.

From my family and I to yours, may you all have a blessed, rewarding and joyous month… Ameen.

Two Thirds of My Life, Worn Proudly

This week marks 20 years since I’ve taken the decision to don the hijab.

I’m not posting this rant to celebrate, brag or showcase my sense of religiousness because all of that is mine and mine alone. I am posting this rant because I’ve been asked by many of my readers/followers/fans of all faiths alike why I have donned the hijab and how I’ve stuck to it for so long.

I made this decision on my own at a young age when I learned the basic Islamic guidelines of hijab. So of course, there was a few times where I’ve checked the rearview mirror, reevaluated my decision and came to the realization that hijab was a part of whom I am. So much so, that taking it off would not allow me to be myself. Hijab was not a fashion statement of mine -although I am quite fashionable thank you very much- but it’s a part of whom I am as a Muslimah, a part of whom I am as a person.

the high school look
the high school look

Sticking to it as a teenager wasn’t always easy. However, I didn’t mind having to explain why I was always covered up, that I was not hot in that and no, I didn’t shower while wearing that. I did learn during that time that when one believes strongly in something, one does find themselves making every effort every day towards that belief.

My belief was to be myself. It didn’t matter whether anyone else approved of it or not. It didn’t matter the dictated trend or what everyone else looked like. My belief was to be myself.

I’m loud. I’m spontaneous. I’m family oriented. I laugh at almost anything. I’m very highly educated. I’m happily single. I’m 21 years old for the tenth time. I’m bilingual. I’m multicultural. I’m always hungry. I’m living on my own in another country. I’m too cool to be reckoned with. I’m simply amazing. I’m all that and more in my own hijab.

One of the main reasons for hijab in Islam to be seen for your inner beauty, intellect and soul rather than your outter beauty alone. I know that no matter the look I decide to take-on at any given time, it suits my inner beauty, my intellect and my soul perfectly.

This week marks 20 years since I’ve taken the decision to don the hijab. This week marks two thirds of my life, worn proudly.

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Zakat Recommendations

It’s that time of year again, as Ramadan comes to a close and Eid is suddenly upon us. Ramadan is, amongst many things, about purification. With fasting, we purify our bodies, minds, spirits as well as our material things. To do so, we sacrifice a bit of everything to bring in the new for the coming year. Fasting from food to bring in good energy. Fasting from day to day worrisome thoughts to bring in happier thoughts (think meditation). Fasting from earthly things to remind ourselves of the bigger picture through worship and Quran reading.

Zakat ElFitr, or “Fast Breaking Charitable Offering” is a major part of Ramadan. It’s been noted than one must purify their materials by donating at least 2.5% or whatever one can from their assets they’ve held for at least a year. This is calculating any financial accounts, properties, gold, etc. There are helpful online zakat calculators one can use to help determine how much they should give. Remember, that this must be given before Eid ElFitr prayers to make everything you did in Ramadan count Insha’Allah.

Remember, Zakat isn’t only finances, but it’s also your time and energy such as volunteerism and referring others to do the same. With that and reflecting on my post from two years ago, below are some organizations, Zakat approved, that you should continue to support now and throughout the year.

San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS)

The San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS) has truly come a long way in the last several years. They’ve grown with the love and support of the community in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are working tirelessly to start San Francisco’s first full time Islamic faith based school in the coming year and can use all the support they can get. If you can donate financially or volunteer just a couple of hours a week, I urge you to go to their website and learn more!

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

A community can not be called one if it does not have a strong support system. From losing a job because of faith to defending civil rights on a larger scale, Muslims in the US do come across bigotry and backlash on a daily basis. Through it’s many chapters across the country, CAIR has been that support system for the Muslim community at large. Educating the masses to “know your rights” as well as voicing common concerns of the Muslim community on Capital Hill is the tip of iceberg of the great work CAIR does. Your financial and volunteer contribution goes a long way to support the community. Find a chapter near you and ask how your zakat can support the community.

Islamic Relief USA

Islamic Relief USA

With all that is happening in the world, be it natural disasters or man created conflict, you will always find Islamic Relief of USA there. Day after day, I’m impressed by this 4-star organization’s efforts and dedication to serving humanity at large. When other organizations leave an area, Islamic Relief is still there, for the long haul be it locally throughout the US or on a global scale. I’m honored that I know many individuals on a personal level that work and contribute their time and efforts into this organization and I ask you to do the same.

If you know of any organizations that should be on this list, please post their information in the comments or tweet them to me (@ms_hala).

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat (for Ramadan) before Allah. Whoever paid it after Eid Prayer, it is just a charity.” The companion of the Prophet used to pay it a few days earlier. – Bukhari, courtesy of Friday Nasiha

My Public Love Letter To You

My dearest beloved,

I love you. I absolutely love you.

You are in my heart, my thoughts and my prayers daily. As the holiest of days is upon us, I wanted to be sure that you knew how I felt  and this letter is my humble attempt at expressing my love to you.

You are my mother. You are my father. You are my sister. You are my brother. You are my niece. You are my nephew. You are my uncle. You are my aunt. You are my grandmother. You are my grandfather. You are my cousin. You are my sister from another mister. You are my brother from another mother. You are my closest confidant. You are my teacher. You are a student of mine. You are my colleague. You are my agent. You are my client. You are an acquaintance. You are someone I met once, maybe twice.

You are someone I bumped into at a MUNI metro station in San Francisco a few years back. You are the shop keeper that gave me a great deal on a pair of shoes at one of Cairo’s many bazaars in the summer of 2011. You are the smiling officer whom directed traffic at a round about in Doha last month.  You are the barista that made my large mocha just right in the Financial District. You are the Tahrir Square protester that advised me to not join because of my American passport. You are the manager of a restaurant off Airport Road that stated I wasn’t allowed in with my friends “out of respect for my culture.”

You are the person that held the elevator door for me. You are the person that let me go ahead of you at the grocery store because I only had three things. You are the security guard that let me park in the VIP section of the bank for just a few moments. You are the person that complimented my English accent. You are the person that called my phone by mistake. You are the person that smiled at me yesterday.

You are someone that owes me money. I don’t want it back, please donate it. You are someone that speaks ill of me. It’s fine for my actions speak louder than that. You are someone I no longer associate myself with for whatever reason. I hope you are doing well nonetheless. You are someone that “unfriended” me on Facebook. I’m probably still not aware of that. You are someone that retweeted my latest on Twitter. Thanks for the RT. You are a devoted follower of my rants. I followed you back by the way.

You are a beautiful, smart, funny, charming, awesome human being. You are someone I truly do love.

I wanted you to know that every time I raise my hands in supplication, I include you in my prayers.

“Dear God, I pray for all that have asked me for a prayer and for all that may need a prayer.”
“.اللهم ادعي لكل من طلب مني الدعاء و لكل من يحتاج  الدعاء”

I wanted you to know that every time I kneel in salat, I make a prayer for you.

“Dear God, bestow us with ease to our situations, cure for our ill and mercy upon our deceased.”
“.اللهم يسر لنا ظروفنا و أشفي مرضانا و أرحم موتنا”

I wanted you to know that at least once a day, I praise God for you.

“Alhamdulillah for everything bestowed upon my path.”
“.الحمدلله على كل شيءٍ تبعثا في سكتي”

I wanted you to know that no matter the reasons, the distance or the unknown, I harbor no anger, dislike or hate towards you. I truly simply just love you.

Ramadan is upon us and I’ve learned many years ago that harboring any anger, dislike or hate towards another, dissolves one’s prayers and fasts. One’s good deeds are not accepted. You see, we must be of clear minds, pure hearts and good intentions when we enter into a conversation and action for God. So the thought of every supplication, every kneel and every praise that includes you not being accepted is in itself the reason why since then I’ve practiced to enter every conversation and action for God with the clearest of minds, purist of hearts and the best of intentions.

Believe me my beloved when I say, it’s an entire different feeling when one is not harboring anything but love. You end up making a prayer for those whom have hurt you, did you wrong, misjudged you, forgotten you. You end up loving them for the sake of God, with the intention that your love may uplift them from what may have caused them to do such things to you or anyone in the first place.

RamadanMubarak-hadeethI want nothing from you except for three things. The first is to love me back in your own way for the sake of God. This will lead to the second, to forgive me for anything I may have done that offended or hurt you. These two will lead to the third, to include us in at least one of your prayers a day.

If you can’t find it in your heart to love me, know that the first 10 days of Ramadan is God’s mercy upon us. If you can’t find it in your heart to forgive me, know that the second 10 days  of Ramadan is God’s forgiveness upon us. If you can’t find it in your heart to pray for us, know that the third 10 days of Ramadan is God emancipating us from the punishment. I humbly ask you to please make an effort with the knowledge that I love you, forgive you and have you in my prayers. Yesterday, today, tomorrow and always.

May you and yours have a joyous, rewarding and blessed Ramadan.

With love,

Ms. Hala

Disclaimer: My Arabic is not perfect. If there are any errors you find, kindly forward it to me so that I may correct it as I want my love letter to you to be perfect… =)

Closer To The Dream

When I was a young girl, a part of me always wished there was a place where I could be with other young Muslims. Please don’t get me wrong, I loved most of my time in school with extremely diverse surroundings, but I always found myself to be the only Muslim in the room. There was a handful of occasions where I was bullied for being the only Muslim, looking weird and being just plain different.

Thus a part of that young girl always yearned to be in a place where people prayed like her, understood her love for Hijab and helped her learn the Holy Quran. A place where a Muslim girl who looked weird and was just plain different was embraced. That place did not exist in this young girls time.

some of my silly students!
some of my silly students!

I was finishing up grad school when I first came across the San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS) a few years ago. That’s when the young girl within me smiled from ear to ear! It wasn’t long before I joined as a volunteer teacher myself and having one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I looked forward to planning my lesson plans every week, waking up early Sunday mornings and seeing my students gather at Mercy High School where SFIS was welcomed.

This non-profit educational initiative, started by a handful of community members, meet every Sunday in San Francisco where a diverse group of students from all parts of the Bay Area gathered to learn the Arabic Language, the Holy Quran and Islamic studies. From a handful of students to the creation of a waiting list, the demand has grown bigger than ever imagined.

The SFIS Family

As of today, SFIS has become more than a Sunday school with…

  • A weekly structured coursework of the above mentioned areas
  • Multiple field-trips and activities on a regular basis
  • Daily tutoring and mentoring programs for all subjects
  • Adult education courses and seminars focusing on Islam, health and family well-being

Realizing the need for a full-time Islamic faith based school in San Francisco, board members worked tirelessly for years to develop a successful strategic plan. From becoming accredited by the education department to finding a suitable place to call home, the plan is now in motion.

We are now closer to the dream!

An offer on a beautiful facility on the borders of San Francisco and Daly City has been made. This is a prime location making it accessible to students from both within and outside San Francisco. It houses eight decent sized classrooms, offices, a full functioning kitchen, an auditorium, a cafeteria… the works! SFIS’ offer has been accepted and now a down payment is to be made to secure this home for SFIS.

Support the First Full-Time Islamic School in San Francisco TODAY!

Seeing SFIS be closer to the dream while being so far away has been difficult for me on a personal level. What can I do to support the cause aside from catching a glimpse via social media of the amazing work the volunteers have been doing towards this campaign? The best thing I can do to contribute is to reach out to you as I’ve done in the past. Your contribution of any size is not only tax-deductible but counts towards your zakat. Your contributions of both funds and time to help support this campaign and SFIS as an organization makes all the difference in one person’s educational experience!

I urge you to not only donate, but to visit SFIS, talk to the volunteers and see for yourself the work that’s being done. Visit SFIS’ Indiegogo’s page today to  learn more, view pictures, stay informed of the latest announcements of the campaign and of course, to donate. =)

I promise you, your contribution of any form to SFIS will make at least one young girl smile from ear to ear.