Tag Archives: Islam

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.

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 25)

The last ten days of Ramadan has come upon us! Everyone’s busy planning for the festivities of Eid. I do hope that people do not forget to take with them the things they’ve learned and experienced this Ramadan. I know I won’t… and with that I share with you a personally relevant verse and quote…

Verse:

“Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?” 

 -Quran (55:13)

From one of my favorite chapters in the Quran, Surah ElRahman (The Merciful Chapter) is a verse that is repeated almost 20 times. This chapter is a constant reminder of God’s (swt) blessings bestowed upon us. It seems to speak to me on a personal level every time despite the fact that these verses came down onto the Prophet (pbuh) over 1,400 years ago!

It’s a constant reminder of the blessings I’ve enjoyed in the past, the blessings I’m enjoying now and the blessings I’ll enjoy in the future. A simple path that we get to shape, from where it begins, to where it goes and how it’ll end but with God (swt) on our side. Throughout this path, God (swt) continues to bless us. On my current path where it’s been difficult being without my family and close friends on such a festive time of year, it’s verses like these that remind me how far I’ve come with God (swt) on my side.

I realize that it takes being away from my family and friends to appreciate the kindness of others. I was blessed to move into a family friendly neighborhood where everyone has your best interest at heart. I was blessed that upon first meeting new people, they were extremely supportive through my toughest moment. I was blessed to have technology working on my side so I can share my blessings with my family and friends no matter the distance between us. I was blessed… I am blessed and shall not deny His favors upon me, Alhamdulillah (Praise God).

Quote:

Remember when your mother always said, “treat people the way you want to be treated”? I think this quote works along those lines too…

“The Most Merciful (God) shows mercy to those who have mercy on others. Show mercy to those on earth, and the One above the heaven will show mercy to you.” -Prophet Mohamed (pbuh)

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 15)

I was recently having some interesting conversations with friends of mine about the various things that have been bothering us. It got me thinking about forgiveness.

Verse:

“Whether you publicize a good deed or hide it or pardon a (personal) offense (done against you), know that God has the power to pardon (all sins).”

 -Quran (4:149)

From Surah ElNisa’ (The Ladies Chapter), we are reminded that God (swt) is truly the one whom forgives. How can we not be able to be forgiving? Why walk around with this heavy hurt, this negative energy, this sadness? We hold on, unable to forgive thus forgetting that God (swt) may have already forgiven.

Speaking for myself, I was picked on and bullied almost all through elementary school before it weened out in the 8th grade. It caused me to be sensitive, sad, angry and hold extreme grudges for long periods of time. It has taken me years to grow out of that person and be the happy person I’m today. I owe that positive change in my life in part to a lesson I learned years ago.

The lesson was that God (swt) does not accept one’s salat (prayers), seyam (fasts) or zakat (charity) if they hold a heavy heart towards anyone. Why? For God (swt) is the one whom “has the power to pardon”, the all forgiving for He is the generous one. If God (swt) has forgiven them, how can we not? If God (swt) has forgiven us, how can we not?

It took me a long while to reflect upon that message and being honest when I said to myself, “All is forgiven. I forgive me. I forgive them. All is forgiven.” Alhamdulillah (Praise God), today, I’m in a great place in my life by the grace of God (swt), my family’s love, my friend’s support and of course my own hard work and determination.

I urge you all to reflect this Ramadan and find it in your heart to be more forgiving to yourself and to others.

Quote:

Not sure there’s much for me to add here…

Ramadan Verse & Quote (Day 9)

Ramadan Mubarak everyone! It’s already Day 9 for me here in Doha, Qatar. So far, it’s been an interesting experience despite my slight homesickness. I must say, Alhamdulillah (Praises to God) for technology, it’s really makes these many time zones between us all the shorter!

Without further a due, here’s your first (Insha’Allah of many) Ramadan Verse & Quote for 2012/1433!

Verse:

Being that this holy month is in large part a celebration and reflection of the Quran, I thought it was approapriate to start with this verse from Surah AlAalaq. The first verse ever to be revealed to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) being:

“Read! In the name of your Lord Who created.”
 -Quran (96:1)

Personally, this is one of my favorite verses in the Quran. It reminds us of our obligation to be educated, intellectual and a functioning part of society. It also defy’s these stereotypes in our day and age when it comes to Muslimahs and their role in society.

I’d like to remind my readers that the Quran was not revealed for men, but for the people as a whole. This means both men and women have an obligation to be educated, intellectual and a functioning part of society. Remember, half of society can not function without the other. Thus half of society is not superior of the other. The Prophet (pbuh) assuring that by asking us to seek half our faith’s knowledge from Muslimahs (at the time, referring to his daughter Fatima and his wife A’isha).

When this verse and the following were first revealed to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) by the angel Gabriel, he sought refuge in his wife’s arms out of fear. As he grew in his leadership role, he not only championed to educate himself, but the entire community around him. He not only ordered for the Quran to be written in multiple copies and spread, but for it to be memorized so that this knowledge is not lost or distorted. Over 1,433 years later, his championing causes is still going strong.

Quote:

“O Lord, increase my knowledge!” -Prophet Mohamed (pbuh)

Learn more about this verse and Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) from this week’s Friday Nasiha.

Ramadan in Qatar

It’s been a few weeks now since I’ve moved to Doha, Qatar from San Francisco, California. So far, I’m settling in slowly but surely, taking in this diverse atmosphere and doing my best to survive this ridiculous summer heat. I have gone out and about exploring bits and pieces of Doha which I’m sure you’re aware of from my many posts on Twitter and foursquare. Not sure how much of that is going to continue as Ramadan approaches.

My favorite time of year is about two days away. As I sit trying to figure out what I need to know about Ramadan in Qatar, I was reminded by my weekly email subscription from Friday Nasiha that this will be my first Ramadan alone, away from my family. It’s not going to be like when I was in grad school a few years back and working long hours where I only had iftar at home maybe once or twice a week. It’s not going to be like when I was in Egypt last year constantly surrounded by extended family and friends.

Realizing this has officially made me homesick.

I had to appreciate the efforts with some of the tips for spending Ramadan alone away from family which I’ve reposted below. I am blessed that I would be spending Ramadan in Qatar with friends I deem family however I appreciate and will definitely be utilizing tips #3, #4 and #6!

Are you spending Ramadan alone this year? What tips here work for your situation? Do you have other tips to add on? Any tips for spending Ramadan in Qatar?

Cool Tips!

Lonely Ramadan

For most Muslims, Ramadan is family time. You get up together, eat Iftar together, pray together, etc. But what if you don’t have your family near you?

Waking up in a lonely apartment and eating food you’ve sometimes burnt in an effort to catch Suhur in time are some of the realities of being a single Muslim in Ramadan. But there are ways to make Ramadan special when you’re on your own. Here are few ideas.

1. Establish a Suhur telephone tree
Get a couple of friends together and establish a telephone tree to wake each other up for Suhur. Establish a time to call and a schedule of who will call whom. Make it a little exciting by adding some funny phrases every week that will really wake everyone.

2. Invite people over for Iftar
Even if even you couldn’t eat the food the last time you cooked, invite people over for Iftar. Make it a potluck, order pizza or if you can afford it, get it catered. The food isn’t the thing. The blessing is in the company, and you’ll be rewarded for feeding everyone. Make sure to especially invite those who are away from their families.

3. Attend prayers at the local mosque/MSA
Even if the Imam’s recitation isn’t the best and the behavior of other Muslims can be more than annoying, try to attend Tarawih prayers organized by your local mosque or your Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). While praying alone in peace and quiet is great, praying shoulder-to-shoulder with other Muslims with whom you have nothing in common except your faith is a unique and uplifting experience.

4. Keep the Quran playing when you are alone
It’s often tempting to keep the TV or radio on when we’re alone to avoid the silence. This Ramadan, find a Quran reciter you like and play their recitations during those moments when you want to fill your place with some sound. Choose selections you’d like to memorize, like the 30th part of the Quran.

5. Take care of others
Know a new person at the school/office? Is a friend who lives nearby having problems with their spouse? Or is someone you know having money problems? This Ramadan, reach out with an attentive ear, a generous hand, and most importantly, an open heart to others. Don’t let these small opportunities for gaining blessings slip you by.

6. Pick and pursue Ramadan goals 
Choose at least three goals to pursue this Ramadan. Whether it’s curbing a bad habit or starting a good one, doing this will help you focus and work harder this month to change for the better. It takes 21 days to establish a good habit. With Ramadan, we’ve got 30. Why not make the best of it by picking up the good?

Compiled From:
A single Muslim’s guide to Ramadan” – SoundVision.com

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Zakat Recommendations

Ramadan Kareem and Eid Mubarak to all my readers and followers!

It’s that time of year where we Muslims reflect back on ourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. It’s also that time of year where we also need to give back to our communities be with finances, volunteerism or word of mouth. I’d like to take this time to recommend a couple of great organizations that you can offer your Ramadan charitable offerings or “zakat” too.

San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS)

If you are in San Francisco Bay Area, then you’ve heard of the San Francisco Islamic School (SFIS). Starting small, this nonprofit education organization is providing a major source of education, faith and community awareness to our young ones, from pre-K to high school students. SFIS is run on the energy of volunteers (yes, NO ONE gets paid!), with funds going towards the rental of classrooms at Mercy High School, textbooks, materials as well as towards major events like SFIS at the Zoo. As they come to start another school year, they are in dire need of volunteer teachers, teachers assistants and general volunteers. I personally have been with this organization for a couple of years as the 2nd grade Arab Language and Quran Studies teacher. Believe me when I say that I’m always taken back by what I learn from my students every week. Check out SFIS to learn more, volunteer your time and donate today!

Islamic Relief USA

With all that is happening, specifically in Africa, one must remember why zakat is a pillar in our Islamic faith. Where ever you may in the world, there is a good chance the Islamic Relief USA is there! Islamic Relief is a 4-star charity organization that goes over and beyond the duty to support and bring forth support to hard hit places around the world. They were one of the first organizations on the grown in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, one of the few organizations in Pakistan during their most recent floods and now they are in the Horn of Africa as they struggle through this drought and famine. Please check out Islamic Relief‘s website where you can not only read on all their efforts but select which effort you want your donation to go to.

If there is an organization you feel that is worthy of our zakat, please the information in the comments below or via Twitter by mentioning me, @ms_hala.

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever paid it (Zakat al-Fitr) before Eid Prayer, it is acceptable Zakat 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

c/o absarforex.blogspot.com

I ask that God accepts our fasts, our prayers and our zakat! =)

Jazakum Allah Kheer! =)

W.I.S.S. – Muslim Relationships, Gentlemen of Quality

During this holy month, I’ve been following the daily Huffington Post writings of Imam Khalid Latif. Everyday he posts “Ramadan Reflections” where he discusses topics many Muslims and nonMuslims can relate too. His reflection for Day 16, Muslim Relationships and Day 17, Developing Muslim Gentlemen of Quality seemed to be too perfect to not share with my W.I.S.S. readers. He discusses relationships in Islam and what he deemed to be one of the many problems many Muslim Americans are facing in finding compatible partners.

For Day 16, thought this excerpt from his piece was rather interesting…

Religiously speaking, there isn’t a prescribed method for finding a spouse in our tradition. We find a variety of ways in our tradition that people utilized when getting married as well as different types of couples. Younger men marrying older women, intercultural marriages, arranged marriages and love marriages, marriages in which the woman proposed to the man, and many more. What this shows us is not that these ways are the only ways to do it, but there are many ways and no set, defined way to go about it. Permissibility does not equate to normativity — meaning just because it’s allowed to be done in a certain way, doesn’t mean that’s the only way of doing it. In general, this is something that needs to be understood because too many of us give advice based off of our own subjective experiences and understandings, and don’t really think about the reality that the other person is coming from.

Coming from a bi-cultural background, the method of finding a spouse has always been a topic of conflict. Everyone feels their way is the “halal” or permissible way of finding a suitor. If two meet online, they are judged; when two are arranged, it’s considered backwards; when two date (within Islamic manners if that makes any sense), they are seen as too Americanized. No one is satisfied if it’s not  a method they deem “halal”.

Please read both entries as well as his daily entries and post your thoughts in the comments section below. Would love to hear what you all think!

Ramadan Reflection Day 16,Muslim Relationships
Ramadan Reflection Day 17, Developing Muslim Gentlemen of Quality