He said, She said

This excerpt of a blogpost by Sister On a Mission shows us the metaphor in our communal prayer.

“There is wisdom and a primer for society in the way the prayers are performed. Men in front, protecting, serving and leading their families and communities. Women bringing up the rear - disciplining, nurturing and teaching the children, making sure they don't fall out of line or out of love in the community, and protecting them from the back-door dangers of the world - like doubt and negative peer pressure - with unflinching love and care. And the young men and women in the middle - secure and protected from all sides while they learn and grow into mature adults who will take their complimentary places in the community when they come of age.”

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He said, She said

In reference to him not publicly speaking about his choice to be a Muslim, comedian Dave Chapelle said…

“…..I don't want people to associate me and my flaws with this beautiful thing”

(Time Magazine interview May 2005)

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YOUNG Muslims - Role Models

While reading up on linguistics, I happened to come across an interesting article written by a Muslim linguist, Dr. Omar Afzal. The article is entitled “Rethinking America's Muslim Youth” but I believe that the article is relevant beyond the United States. I have seen evidence that the same ills which afflict American Muslim youth are also a significant threat in South Asia. After all, they are exposed to the same TV shows and music. They are both living in societies which increasingly look down upon traditional values.

“The real world of school discipline is a rough and tumble place where students practice newly learned vulgarities, erupt with anger, tease and embarrass each other, share offensive notes, flirt, push and shove in the halls, grab and offend.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice A.M. Kennedy

Dr. Afzal’s article lists “a few tips for the Muslim parents and community elders” but what I especially liked about the article was that he included a list of Muslim role models for our youth to emulate, two of which I have listed below:

Ali (RA) was very young when he accepted Islam. He was assigned the task of arranging for a feast for the elders of the tribe. The strategy was to feed them first and then introduce them to Islam. Ali remained in the forefront all his life despite extreme poverty and lack of resources. He did not worry about his own life in difficult circumstances. When the Messenger (PBUH) asked him to occupy his bed for the night he left Makkah for Medinah, Ali was fully aware of the danger. The enemies had decided to kill the Messenger. Sleeping in his bed meant almost certain death, but he was willing to take the risk.

Mus'ab b. Umair was a handsome young man, son of rich parents, who enjoyed all the comforts of a wealthy life. Islam made so deep an impression on him that he abandoned the advantages of his social position and comforts. Those who saw him in earlier days of his youth could not believe the depth of his commitment to Allah that made him go through the rigors of hunger and poverty. It was he who was deputed by the Messenger (PBUH) to go to Medinah add teach Islam to the newly converts of Aws and Khazraj.

Dr. Afzal listed several young role models, but having included limited information about some of them and because of his use of the word “conquer” I was reluctant to list the last three. I think he should have provided more of a context for their military actions. It is not enough to say they are heroes because they conquered lands or people. Between television, playstation and dysfunctional families, our children see enough violence. They need to learn when violence is acceptable and necessary.

In addition to Ali (RA) and Mus'ab b. Umair, he listed:
• Usama b. Zaid “conquest of Syria”
• Muhammad b. Qasim “led the Muslim army to India’s gateway”
• Musa b. Nusair “conquests in N. Africa. He conquered Spain”

Dr. Afzal also noted that “Rafi’ b. Khudaij was another young kid who tried to look taller and was given the chance to participate in the most crucial battle of Islamic history.”

As a teacher and a mother, I would greatly appreciate links to further information about the last three on the list.

Furthermore, I would like to invite YOU to suggest more young Muslim role models, from our glorious past and from modern times.

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Three Writeous Wanitas _part two

Oops! I said I’d introduce you to them in the order in which I met them, didn’t I? Well, I actually met Zabrina second. Keeping me company while I waited for Zabrina to come back to her booth from the launch was:


I can’t quite remember how we first met online. I had read about her book and later invited her to be a guest speaker at one of my writing workshops. Of the three Writeous Wanitas I met at the fair, she is the one I most identify with. Through Allah’s mercy, we’ve both survived divorce and are working hard to raise our children “alone”.

After a few emails and text messages, I finally met Norma at the fair. She wore the gentlest pink and white and greeted me with a warm smile.

Remember I said that Zarina had offered to showcase other writers’ books in her booth? Well, there beside Zabrina’s book was Norma’s।

I ran into a friend who considered buying the book but wanted to know about the author’s perspective first, to be sure it was not one which deviated from true Islam. Her money would not be spent on words written by a “progressive Muslimah”. Personally, I am not ready to follow those who say Islam needs to be adapted to the modern era. I refuse to say such a thing because it implies that what is written is somehow flawed. I could not answer my friend’s questions as I had not gotten to know Norma and I had not yet read her book. I understood my friend’s concern and quickly introduced her to our sister, the author. I watched as Norma described her stance on facing life’s problems. She was pensive and spoke at a careful pace, choosing just the right words. I was impressed by the fact that she was not trying to sell herself or her book at all. She was sincere. After listening to her response to my friend’s very straightforward question, I was happy to see that the three of us agree on something of utmost importance in our lives. We agree that the jihad we women face, can be fought and won by living truly Islamic lives, as did those who came before us, even as far back as the sahaba because Islam does not need to be fixed or changed.

I now own an autographed copy of Norma’s book. It is entitled

A Walk Through Life: Issues and challenges through the eyes of a Muslim woman.

As the back cover of the book states,
Norma invites readers to
  • revisit their roles through different perspectives
  • be responsible and accountable for their life choices
  • reawaken the need to increase their self esteem and self respect

Critics of Islam would say that Muslim women surely need to do all of the above, but they would never imagine that Muslimahs can do just that, only through Islam.

I challenge them and those who feel that Islam needs a makeover to read Norma’s book and see for themselves what Islam truly offers women.

Norma will be presenting a paper at the upcoming international conference entitled: THE STATUS OF MUSLIM WOMEN IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY: REALITIES AND PROSPECTS. (The venue has been changed to the Renaissance Hotel). I look forward to seeing her there, and of course to getting together with our kids one weekend, inshallah.

As for my blog readers, I encourage you to visit Norma’s blog and also to check out her book. Inshallah it will inspire you in your own walk through life.

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Three Writeous Wanitas _part one

I can’t tell you about the conference (including Brother Yusuf Estes- former Christian Minister, William Rodriguez –last man out of WTC on September 11 th, and Annie Machon –former secret agent), but I can tell you about 3 Malaysian Muslimahs that I had the pleasure of meeting at the exhibitions.

As promised, let me introduce you to them.


Small World

I often surf the net for stories to use in my classes. When I came across hers, I could not resist using them for the children’s class I taught at an Islamic NGO. One day, while scanning posts at a Muslimah writer’s forum I belong to, I discovered that this sister and I had something in common. We belonged to the same yahoo group, but there was more. She had posted a message about the fair. Furthermore, she was offering to show the work of other writers at her booth. This generosity was appreciated by the members of the forum and that is when I first decided to contact her. After having been inspired by her writing for some time, it was ironic to find out that she was in fact living in the same city.

On Saturday afternoon, she launched what Inshallah will be the first in a series of motivational books. Strategically interspersed throughout the text are clues in the form of ayat and hadith, that help to reveal and enhance 18 “secrets” of life. The title of her book is: Life is an Open Secret

As the launch ceremony closed, there were balloons and confetti and photographs, but what touched me the most was when I saw her with a man I knew must be her father. The way they looked at each other and embraced was priceless, mashallah. You could see that there was so much love and support between them and it really touched me deeply. I suppose it reminded me of my relationship with my own father. Though far away, he is with me wherever I go, smiling and supporting me in my dreams.

When I finally met Zabrina, she gave me a really warm hug and a sweet smile that I can see right now if I close my eyes. There I was, finally meeting someone I’d only known briefly through the internet and I found her to be bubbly and cheerful। I was so happy for her on this wonderful occasion. I am now the proud owner of an autographed copy. If you want, you can download these “18 Inspirational Stories From Ordinary Life Experiences”.

I later found out that Zabrina and I have a friend in common and that the two of them are planning to visit the US this month. They will be promoting her book at the ISNA conference and at various venues on the east coast, including my home state. Like the song says: It’s a small world, after all. I hope you’ll get to meet her one day, if not in person, through her inspirational writing.

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