May God make our fasts easy, accept our supplications and strengthen our faith… may God heal the ill, protect the most vulnerable and bless all the essential and healthcare workers… may God grant one and all a rewarding and joyous Ramadan… ameen.
The other day, I went out for a walk after staying home for a good week straight. Upper Great Highway by the Ocean Beach Trail was (and still is) closed to traffic. The skies were a bit gloomy, the air was cold and the waves were hushed. I just stood there in the middle of the road for a moment.
As I’m asthmatic, I’m at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 than most. My last major asthma attack was on the night of January 31st. I got tested for the flu and pneumonia, which consisted of an x-ray and a horrid nasal swap. None of which was comfortable, all of which came back negative. I had to go to Urgent Care about a week or so later as my allergy symptoms didn’t elevate since. This took place before I realized that COVID-19 was spreading, fast.
San Francisco and most of the Bay Area have sheltered in place since March 15th but most of my family and co-workers sheltered in place prior to that as a precaution. Life has been different, interesting, amusing, and frustrating. I’ve had to adjust, adapt, postpone and reevaluate my priorities. I’m no parent but I’ve had to help step in and home school my first-grade nephew. It reminded me of why I never continued on the career paths of being a teacher or pediatrician but grateful a million folds for those that are.
As I stood there facing the gloomy skies above the sea, I kept thinking despite it all, this was a reminder of our blessings. We live in a friendly, family-oriented, and supportive community. I’ve been in better touch with family and friends than ever before, just checking in on each other and making sure everyone is OK. I’ve seen neighbors and community members on my walks and even under masks and six feet apart, we see the smiles.
Where our national leadership has failed, our community leaders have risen up to take charge. Our healthcare workers and first responders the world over have been working tirelessly to care for us, even when they themselves need to be cared for. Our grocery stores are stocked, our restaurants are delivering, and even my tiny desk for work was shipped sooner than expected.
The people behind all that goodness remind me of our blessings, much of which we take for granted. They give me hope that we will get through this uncertainty with a bit more faith, gratitude and empathy. The absolute humility that has come out of this pandemic have truly restored my faith in humanity.
And as I stood there in the middle of the road, I saw a small ray of light through the gloomy skies. Seeing it as a good omen, I took out my phone to capture this moment.
I am a firm believer that when God puts us to it, God will pull us through it. So have faith that this too shall pass. Please, if possible, consider volunteering or donating to causes out there supporting our communities, front line and essential angels. Check on your family, friends and neighbors regularly when possible. If you need someone to talk too, know that I’m but a message away. And please, I urge you all to continue to stay home and stay healthy. We will get through this, together!
Here are some resources I hope you find helpful:
- Feeding America
- World Central Kitchen
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates via SF.gov
- California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response via CA.gov
- Coronavirus in the Bay Area via SF Chronicle
- How to Use Khan Academy Kids for Remote Learning via Khan Academy
- Tackling work-from-home like a boss via LinkedIN
- How We Feel
- American Red Cross, Blood Donation
Be Like Shabana. Be a #BeggarForLife.
Yesterday’s funeral services for our sister and friend Shabana Patel was bittersweet. We gathered amongst hundreds from many communities to support her children and honor her life. We hugged, wept, smiled and laughed remembering her warm hugs, tears, smiles and laughter.
Shabana always deemed herself a #BeggarForLife as she constantly raised funds and volunteered for many charitable organizations. Her reach went beyond Sacramento and the Bay Area when many of us learned she helped found the Ihsan Foundation for West Africa. This project supports a school in Sierra Leone and became her passionate mission. We urge you all to help continue her legacy in supporting this amazing foundation for years to come, Insha’Allah.
May she rest in God’s eternal peace and light, may her legacy live beyond our years, ameen. 🤲🏻
If the answer is no, now is the time to do so!
First, what is “zakat”?
Zakat (or Zakah) is an Arabic word now used universally to mean “obligatory charity“. As prescribed to Muslims with means, it’s obligatory to make an annual contribution of 2.5% against all assets one holds for a minimum of one year towards charitable use.
A good example might be one has, after expenses, a $1,000 in the bank, gold or silver worth $5,000 and a car worth $10,000. Their total assets are at $16,000 and they’d pay a minimum of $400 against that.
Have you feared to present before your consultation charities? Then when you do not and Allah has forgiven you, then [at least] establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.The Holy Quran, 58:13
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 forward our renewed selves. 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. To fully complete the month of Ramadan, one must give their zakat before Eid ElFitr (Festival of Breaking Fast), hence the term “Zakat ElFitr” (Zakat of Breaking Fast).
Remember, zakat is also giving your time and reminding others to do their part as well. Many get caught up with work, family gatherings and Eid shopping that a kind reminder is always appreciated. I know I appreciated the one I received yesterday and I hope this post as those I’ve written for the last several years serves as your kind reminder to fulfill your zakat.
Who qualifies to receive zakat?
The idea of zakat is to support those in need. That can be in the form of food, shelter, legal services or any other means to help them live a decent life. What do you have that others may have less of? If you were in a bad situation, what would you need to get out of it. It’s hard to put ourselves in another’s shoes sometimes but one of the main ideas of Ramadan is just that. Living with little food, little energy, but lots of dedication to get through it.
With that said, there are so many organizations, both locally and internationally, out there in need of our zakat to continue the amazing work they do not just in Ramadan but year round. I recommend checking on those that have been highly rated by Charity Navigator, many of which four star rated.
I personally would suggest the following organizations:
- Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) for their amazing efforts to provide medical aid to children across the Middle East. They are currently supporting refugee children in dire need from Palestine, Yemen and Syria.
- Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for their dedication to helping local communities at large with legal services, training and support. They are currently supporting those in need through the disastrous border immigration response and the xenophobic Muslim Ban currently in effect.
- Islamic Relief USA for their excellent disaster relief responses, meal plans across the globe and orphan sponsorship programs. You can select one or multiple programs you want your zakat to go towards.
- Project Feed SF for feeding neighbors in need right here in San Francisco for over 10 years now. This and other amazing campaigns worthy of your zakat are listed under Launch Good.
Insha’Allah this information is helpful to you all. May God accept our fasts, our prayers and our zakat… ameen.
May God bless you all during this holy month with much reward, goodness and joy.
Ramadan Kareem to one and all!
.اللهم بارك لكم في هذا الشهر المبارك بالثوب، والعز و الهنا
!رمضان كريم عليكم جميعاً
Who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, to God we belong and, to Him we shall return.”Quran 2:156
Today, March 15th, 2019 has been deemed a dark day in New Zealand. A group of white supremacists went into two Christchurch masjids (mosques) during Friday prayers and opened fire. More than 50 people have been pronounced dead and over 20 people so far have been reported critically injured. A few of the terrorists are currently in custody, including one that posted a 93 page document online on his ideology and reasons for today’s attack.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave a strong condemnation in her statement earlier, announcing that this was a terrorist attack on the nation. I am grateful for her words and leadership, one that this world needs.
I am truly dumbfounded by today’s attack but for whatever reason, I’m not as surprised as I should be. We have not forgotten the attacks on houses of worship that have taken place here at home and globally in just the past few years. We have not forgotten the people who were hurt or perished in a moment of prayer and meditation in the safety of their sanctuary.
If you are going to Friday prayers today, be cautious of your surroundings. I urge masjids with separate entrances for ladies (which is usually a side or back door) please ensure it’s safe and guarded. If you’re a non Muslim wanting to grace your local masjid with your support, call ahead or go early. Your solidarity is very much needed and appreciated.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl, shared an excellent five step call to action in her recent Twitter thread which I’ve taken the liberty to share here. In the thread, she shares the LaunchGood crowdfunding campaign being spearheaded to help the victims of the attack.
Please keep the people of New Zealand in your thoughts and prayers. May God grant them strength and patience to get through this difficult, sad time… ameen.
This page is where I’ll add any further updates, other ways to give and show support, and other calls of action as deemed fit.
This is truly a holiday week for more than just Thanksgiving! This also happens to be the month of Rabi’ AlAwal in the Hijri calendar, which is considered the birth month of Prophet Muhammed* (pbuh). It is perceived that his birth date is on or between the 12th and the 17th of Rabi’ AlAwal, and thus throughout this week many Muslims across the globe acknowledge and celebrate the blessing that is the birth of Prophet Mahmad (pbuh).
Countries like Egypt, Indonesia, Sudan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Iraq and Fiji will celebrate with the distribution of charity, food, host street carnivals, perform hymns and conduct lectures. These types of festivities are seen as a celebration, respect, admiration and love for Prophet Muhamad (pbuh). Don’t forget that the prophet is revered not only as the last prophet in Islam, but one that cared for his people, fought to defend their right to worship and taught through his practices on the best mannerisms of a Muslim. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) is almost always revered as “the orphan who adopted the world“.
I’m sure many of my readers are asking, “but why is the date conflicted?” The date is conflicted because the Hijri calendar was not established until Prophet Mehmet (pbuh) was in his early fifties, about a decade or so before his death. It’s believed he was born in the year 570 AD and passed in the year 632 AD, at the age of 62. Even then there are some historical evidences of many celebrating the prophet’s birthday.
However, as more scholars studied the teachings of Islam, and mapped out the lunar events -on which the Hijri calendar is based on- differing schools of thought have determined it in the month of Rabi’ AlAwal. Sunni scholars believe it to be the 12th day of the month whilst Shia scholars believe it’s the 17th of Rabi’ AlAwal. True the exact date various but with the few Islamic holidays almost always celebrated for three to five days, rather than one and done, the entire week is used to celebrate.
Other schools of thought don’t believe it is appropriate to celebrate the prophet’s birthday. Countries with majority following the Wahhabi schools of thought do not observe it as a national holiday or host any particular festivities. However during my time in Qatar, I remember during the Friday of the birth week, sermons highlighting the prophet’s migration and struggles as a way of remembering why we as Muslims are to ask God to bring peace and blessings upon the prophet.
Personally, I love celebrating and learning more about the orphan who adopted the world. If he taught anything, it was always be kind, respectful and to be the best version of yourself. With that, I ask you all during this holiday week to do a kind thing for someone out there. Many this week have lost their homes in the California wildfires. I’ve listed ways you can help here.
Here’s to a blessed and joyous celebration of the birth of Prophet Mohamed, peace and blessings be upon him.
*There are many variations of the English/Latin lettered spelling of the prophet’s name and I wanted to showcase that in this post.