The New Ramadan Era

We both agreed that it didn't feel like Ramadan. Not in the sense of having to fast per se, but rather in how this Ramadan felt different than others. It's really the first month of fasting where we have to create new a reality as a couple in our own home rather than with family.

Don't get me wrong, we were looking forward to Ramadan and the spiritual journey we were about to undertake. And at Day 4 if Ramadan 2012 and our apartment looking more like a home rather than Ikea, we've been afforded more time to focus on this precious month. Which means not worrying about what to cook for Iftar, but rather how we work together to support one another's quest for spiritual, physical, and mental harmony.

I think back to last Ramadan and realize how quickly life has changed. Last summer I was living at home with no marriage hope in sight. I focused on my own spiritual quest and devoted a large amount of time to Muslim community endeavours, including the birth of MSDI. I wa…

Turkey's Untapped Black Sea Coast

It didn't take long to realize that we were pretty much the only tourists on the Turkish Black Sea Coast (Karadeniz in Turkish)! When we were researching the parts of the country to visit, our book identified that the Black Sea was not often visited by tourists, but that its beauty is unparalleled to other parts of the country. With most visitors right away hitting up the Mediterranean Coast, we knew we wanted to explore somewhere that wouldn't be littered with tourists.

We did an insane amount of driving after landing in Ankara, in central Turkey. Well, Asif did, since our rental car was a standard! We drove treacherous winding roads through the mountains to get to our first stop, Amasra, which took around 6 hours with our speed barely hitting over 50 km/hour. Amasra is a beautiful and small seaside village with cute markets and warm hearted people. Our hotel was nestled away from the busy streets and looked shady on the outside! Once we stepped inside to an ultra modern and…

Reality Check People!

Somewhere along the lines, we've decided that it's not our responsibility. We've decided that there's simply too much in life to handle, so we've given up. Smart and strong Muslims have retreated into their private self-study of Islam, forgetting that our religion is one of lived practice. They're ok with not educating themselves about issues, or if they are aware of them, shutting their eyes and moving on. It's not their problem to deal with.

Sisters and brothers, our community has a serious case of apathy. For those who are unaware of what this term means, here's the definition:

Apathy (noun): indifference or lack of interest towards important issues.

Good. Now that we're on the same page, I can hammer out the rest of this entry, since it's been bugging the heck out of me for a while.

Muslims have forgotten that we are human. Either that or Islam apparently defends believers from all the vices in life. But that doesn't explain the myriad o…

A Few Kind Words

I was sitting in a counselling service office while a family I've started working with was meeting with their counsellor. It had taken a lot of work on the school's end to get the family to take action with their child's struggles. But we were here. It was 4:30pm and I had been sitting and waiting on my tush for an hour and a half, checking work email, making to-do lists, and sorting out work tasks in my agenda. A very tattooed gentleman in his 40s sat down and started to fill in some paperwork while I flipped back and forth through my agenda. He handed his paperwork back to the secretary and walked towards me.

"Excuse me" he said. "Please keep doing what you do." And with that he smiled kindly and walked out the door.

Upon hearing his words, I almost started to cry. Did he know how disenchanted I was feeling earlier that day about the impact of my community involvement? Or the number of phone calls I received that morning? Or the fact that it had been…

Muslim Teen Angst

I had a feeling she wanted to talk about something, her body language gave it away. At first, she spoke about random things and then she hit me with the question she had been waiting to ask.

"Well, I actually wanted to ask you that if you break up with someone, can you be friends with them afterwards?"

There we go.

My mind immediately launched back to ISSA's training in Winnipeg. While we didn't cover how to work with Muslim teens in relationships at the conference, I tried to rack my brain for a response that wouldn't push the girl away from me yet somehow would get the message across to her that dating is not a great idea.

So she told me her story and I listened and gave her my insights here and there and then she hit me with another statement. MashaAllah this showed her maturity and how much she had been reflecting on her issue.

"I think I need to forgive him, since there's a Hadith that says if we don't forgive someone then there's a chance …

The Lady Who Fell Asleep on my Shoulder

If you're an avid reader of my blog (HA!), you may recall an entry about an interfaith lecture I attended in November. I sat next to a sweet older lady who kept falling asleep on my shoulder. She later told me she had Parkinson's Disease and had a hard time controlling her core muscles, hence her sideways learning towards me. I told her I didn't mind and we launched into conversation about our careers, family, etc.

'Tis was the night we became friends!

I attended the second interfaith lecture in January and saw her walking up the road towards the Church. It put a huge smile on my face, and we ended up chatting again before the lecture. She jokingly said "I'm going to sit in front of you this time since I have two friends coming and they'll be my pillows this time around." And so she did!

The final lecture was held tonight, and lo and behold, my buddy was there! She came up to me and jokingly said to two fellow Muslim friends "I fell asleep on he…

What Would YOU Say?!

I'll be blunt: Calgary Khutbas (the sermon given during Friday prayer) need a makeover. Far too many are focused on political issues in the Middle East, or are too general in nature about repetitive topics (being a good Muslim, prayer, etc), and most are disorganized and unrelatable to the audience that is listening. I'm not saying that these topics aren't important. What I'm saying is that we need to stop pounding the same nails on the head. And that meticulous preparation is needed to ensure that the Khutbah is well written and impacting.

And what shocks me even more is that social issues are almost never touched upon. And if they are, they are brushed over like taboo words and never delved into using the Quran and Hadith to talk about them in a safe way. Yet here we are sitting at an over 30% divorce rate among Muslims, and with substance abuse and domestic violence being the TOP TWO issues in our community according to a 2009 survey. And let's not mention ment…