Showing posts from August, 2011

R'11 Day Ummm... :(

Bahhhh HUMBUG! Ramadan is over, Eid celebrations are continuing, and like the Sistah Scrooge that I am, I'm a grouch. Bahhhhh HUMBUG!

Ok, I actually don't use the term 'Bah Humbug' but for some reason, I find it quite fitting for this occasion. While the rest of the Muslim Ummah is happily celebrating and downing baklava and umm, shwarmas,  I'm reflecting on the past month, missing it dearly, and wish I could go back and re-live it all over again.

It was when I was standing for Isha prayer on the final day of fasting on Monday, with only two rows of women praying versus a previously jam packed prayer space, that it hit me. Ramadan was over, and women were praying Isha at home so that they could start preparing for the Eid celebrations. And then I was waiting for taraweeh to start and realized...taraweeh was no more! I was home by 10:30pm and didn't know what to do with myself! So I just reflected and blogged and was stunned that the most precious month of the Is…

R'11 Day Thirty: Eid Snapshots

So here we are, the culmination of Ramadan leading to a celebration called Eid ul-Fitr. And Muslims know how to party (HALALLY!) since we rarely get occasions to celebrate. Well, twice a year actually, one after Ramadan and another after the yearly Hajj (pilgrimage). So in essense, we make the party last as long as we can, whether it be with family, meeting up with groups of friends, attending community events, cooking extravagant meals, buying gifts for others (ahem, and sometimes for ourselves!), etc. I'm taking a time-out from the Eid festivities to write this blog, as my Eid day always starts our busy but then winds down as I spend time with family and see friends later in the week.

As celebratory and spiritual as Eid is, there were some moments that were quite shocking to me, and in dire need of blogging about. But let's start with the good first!

The Good!

One of the hallmarks of Eid is the prayer that Muslims attend the morning of, around 9am (RSVP time), but the actual …

R'11 Day Twenty-Nine: The Beginning of the End

The end of Ramadan is upon us, and like many Muslims I've spoken with, I am shocked that the past month has literally flown by. Which isn't surprising since that's how I remember most Ramadans to be, especially once you get into the groove of early mornings, late nights, and less sleep. Yet it seemed like yesterday that my friends and I were talking and predicting how challenging the +17 hours of fasting a day would be. Yet, SubhanAllah, here we all are, on the other end of where we started, and it's with mixed emotions that Ramadan comes to an end.

If I were to sum up the theme of this year's Ramadan, I would say it in four words: THE BEST RAMADAN YET! And if you were to ask me why, there are many reasons, but ultimately, they all came together. First and foremost, this is the first Ramadan during which I was not not working full-time for 95% of it! That helped incredibly although I felt bad for many of my friends who did continue to work during the month, and if i…

R'11 Day Twenty-Eight: The Professional Shortlist

Once upon a time, a new baby girl was born. Her parents were over the moon with excitement about all the amazing prospects that lay ahead in their daughter's future. They were excited about her being a star student, an obedient and respectful daughter, and...a future wife to a rich doctor. 

"Oh, MY beta is going to marry a tall, dark and handsome doctor, and they'll have financial security for the rest of their lives, and live happily ever after in a four bedroom, three-car garage house with a walk-out basement in a nice neighbourhood! I'll be so proud of my beta for marrying a doctor...he'll be swift with a scalpel while flashing a dashing smile!"

So the beta grows up with this misconstrued belief that girls should seek out a doctor to marry, because of course, financial wealth and 'prestige' are THE most important characteristics in a marriage. The beta even refuses other very compatible prospects because they are not doctors...or lawyers...or enginee…

R'11 Day Twenty-Seven: The "Cop Out" Entry

When I wrote my first entry back on Day 1, I promised myself I would NOT write a detailed time log for any day during Ramadan. Well, ahem, I am going to redact that statement because I didn’t realize (a) how zombie like I would actually feel after sacrificing sleep for early morning prayers (Qiyam); and (b) how challenging it would be to think of different topics EVERY day, and since I haven’t repeated any thus far, I’m giving myself a pat on the hijab and allowing this entry’s quality to somewhat slide down the drain. So head’s up!
8:35pm: Broke fast, prayed evening prayer, ate dinner and cleaned up
10:00pm: Departed for NW Musallah for Isha (night) and Taraweeh (special Ramadan prayers)
12:00am: Arrived home later than usual thanks for Taraweeh Intermission Fundraising after 4 rakats. Decided to take a short nap.
1:30am: Woke up, tried to fix Zombie face yet to no avail, and got ready to leave house. Put on scarf in the weirdest, most not ‘stay-put’ way I ever have, thanks to giving up…

R'11 Day Twenty-Six: "Thou Shall Not Judge"

About a year and a half ago, maybe a little more, I decided to head to the SW Mosque to pray Asr on a Saturday. There were no other sisters praying, except for one, and she was huddled over a Quran, reciting quietly to herself. As I approached her to stand for prayer, I noticed she looked visibly upset, and burying her face in her hands as if she crying, sobbing quietly. I thought I'd allow some time to pass before asking her if she was OK, so I prayed Asr and then sat down beside her and asked if she wanted to talk. Without going into details to protect identity and confidentiality, the sister told me her long story of recently being divorced, and the resulting cold shoulder with which the community has treated her with. She spoke of being socially isolated herself, as well as her children having a hard time with the lack of social support. Overall, it was not a pretty story.

For those of you who know me personally (bless you, by the way, HA!), you'll know that my job entails…

R'11 Day Twenty-Five: The Struggle to Understand

Alhamdulillah, I'm blessed and fortunate that despite not having come from an Arab cultural background per se, my parents did teach me how to read Quranic Arabic from a young age. I remember us having these books with the front cover falling off (they were from my parents' day!), and we'd read from them over and over again to try and memorize the Arabic alphabet. And then once we knew all the different intonations of EACH letter then we'd progress to 3-letter long words (THOSE were my favorite, I WHIZZED through them), and then onto short verses and finally (EEEEK! SQUEAL!), we went onto Sura Fatiha (which is recited during prayer and is a must know!). Then my grandparents on my dad's side visited, and suggested we continue on with Sura al-Baqarah, the longest chapter in the Quran.

But it didn't feel long to me at all. Something about how beautifully rhythmic the verses flowed when they were recited (MashaAllah amazing!) and how easily I memorized them really h…

R'11 Day Twenty Four: Down, but not Out

Have you ever heard of the story of a town flooding and a man climbing to his rooftop to stay alive? The man is alone and panicking and starts praying to God to save his life. About a minute later, a man on a jet ski comes by and shouts to the man on the roof to climb down. The man refuses and continues to pray, saying that he's waiting for God to save him. Next, a man in a speed boat comes by and shouts to the "roof man" to come down. Again he refuses, shouts the same response, and prays even more feverishly. Lastly, a helicopter flies right above the man and a rope ladder is dropped down and hovers overhead for a minute or two. The man refuses and five minutes later, he is swept away by the currents and drowns. The man then has the chance to face God and asks Him one question: "God, I prayed so hard for you to come and save me and yet nothing happened. Have I been so horrible of a person that you couldn't answer my prayers?" God replies back to him: "…

R'11 Day Twenty Three: Contemplation

Amy Winehouse. A 27-year old sister from Calgary with three small children. Jack Leyton. A well-known and loving Aunt in the Calgary Muslim community. And hundreds upon thousands upon millions of additional names will be listed here, both known and unknown to us personally.

Our names will someday appear on this list, but we cannot predict when or where or how.

Death within Islam is taught not be a foreign concept or an ending we are supposed to be afraid of. Rather, Muslims are taught to treat this life as if we are travellers, and to prepare for the hereafter which will be our permanent residence. I'm not sure about you, but if this world is meant to be traveled through, I'm going to have to start organizing MANY garage sales. The truth is that not many of us live our lives in this manner.

Hearing about Jack Leyton's death this morning really placed me in a mode of contemplation. While some Muslims claimed it 'wasn't a big deal' and 'he's a non-believer…

R'11 Day Twenty Two: Building an Ummah

In an ideal world, the Muslim Ummah (i.e. community) of Calgary would be united. Yet as much as we strive to be, advertise to be, and try to be...I don't think we are. And it's unfortunate because we have SO MUCH in common with respect to what we're striving to accomplish, yet we seem to all be working in isolated spheres, and allow politics and games to get in the way of unification.

And why do we do this? So that any new Muslim that moves to Calgary has to struggle to figure out the multi-layered and complex nature of what makes this community tick? It's unfortunate.

I truly don't understand why we have multiple organizations representing the Muslim community in this city. Let's take the top three with predominately religious pursuits and goals: Muslim Council of Calgary (MCC), Islamic Information Society of Calgary (IISC), and to a lesser extent, Islamic Circle of North America - Calgary Chapter (ICNA - CC). If I were to ask a non-organization affiliated Mus…

R'11 Day Twenty-One: The "Iftar Nazi"

(Note: Iftar dinner is eaten right after our fasts are broken at sunset)

Last night, I attended a community Iftar dinner in which a large amount of food was laid out in a prayer space (a spread on both the women's and men's side), and anyone was free to attend to break their fast and share a meal together. It's a very lovely concept, being around a large group of Muslims also fasting and praying together, and it can be heartwarming if you're helping serve food to those fasting.

Yet it seems like some people don't know how to apply Iftar etiquette and treat these dinners like the GOLD RUSH at the local "all you can eat" restaurant! Because with a large number of people depending on this food to break their fast, you had better not be on one of those people who enjoys HEAPING food onto their plate or attempting to fill up extra plates to take home for tomorrow's Iftar dinner.

The following are some sure-fire trends that you WILL come across at community…

R'11 Day Twenty: Looking Back and Moving Forward

For some reason, I was feeling a little nostalgic yesterday. Well actually, I know the reason why...I was extremely thankful that this is my first Ramadan that I'm feeling THIS connected to the community. Despite having lived in Calgary for 12 years, and having met an amazing network of friends, this was the year that Ramadan really seemed to click for me in many different ways. I'll expand on this later ;)

So of course, nostalgia led to a trip down memory lane and wonderful long term memories stored in my hippocampus were activated by my limbic system and brought back to life. So logically, I have to now share them in this entry, because as you'll see, my Ramadan connectedness really did progress over time to reach its pinnacle this year :)

Early Childhood (0 years - 10 years): Denton, Manchester

After I was born in Scotland, my parents relocated to Ashton, and then after a couple of years, to Denton, a very small town just outside of Manchester. We lived in a small white …

R'11 Day Nineteen: The Others

Dr. Phil said it best when he remarked a few years back "You teach people how to treat you".

And OH BOY, have Muslims ever mastered this little number, to a point in which we've become stereotyped and labeled as loud, inconsiderate, ignorant, and just...foreign.

Slow clap to my Muslim brethren! In case you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about, allow me to explain!

Slow Clap and Cringe Worthy #1: Mosque Mayhem

As I've mentioned in other blog entries, Muslims pray a set of night prayers called 'Taraweeh', which take place at all the mosques around the city. The prayers start around 10:45pm, and the first set are done in under 30 minutes, while the extended version can go until close to midnight. The mosques around the city are conveniently located within very non-Muslim neighbourhoods. Since there are more mosque attendees than usual during Ramadan, parking overflow occurs outside of designated parking lots, and most often in front of peoples'…

R'11 Day Eighteen: The Great Zakat Debate

Yes sisters and brothers, it's that time again! The closer we get to Eid ul-Fitr (the day of celebration following the final day of fasting), the more we are thinking about who to give our 2.5% Zakat (i.e. alms/charity) to. And since Zakat is mandatory and MUST be given to someone in need prior to Eid prayers, time is a tickin'!!!

Organizations are taking advantage of this time to send a constant stream of emails with enticing tag lines to persuade their fellow Muslim brethren to donate to their cause!
"Donate and buy a plot of land for the NEW MOSQUE, and you're guaranteed a plot of land in Jannah (heaven)!!!" (in that case, can I get a corner plot, I tend to always attract noisy neighbours?!)
"Give generously to our charity and we will ensure that 100% of your Zakat reaches those in need, because OUR organization has no administration budget!"
Ya Allah! 
To complicate things further, scholars have differing views on what is permissible for Zakat and what i…

R'11 Day Seventeen: Isha IMs and Taraweeh Texts

"...As-Salaamu Alaikum Waramatullah"

Tap tap tap tap tap tap smiley tap tap tap tap smiley heart tap tap tap

OMG lol r u serious? tap tap tap tap tap send tap tap send tap tap tap tap tap

Heart heart smiley wink wink Iftar tap tap dinner like heart flower unicorn rainbow giggle giggle


You're probably wondering what the heck that was about!! But I'm sure some of you have a sense of what the above is about. I'll give you a hint:

Cell Phones + 10 second breaks during Isha and Taraweeh = SISTERS TEXT MESSAGING THEIR FRIENDS SITTING TWO ROWS BEHIND THEM!!!

I kid you not.

As Ramadan has progressed, I've noticed an alarming young sister social trend booming at the NW Musallah. And I don't just mean the standard salaams, hugs, smiles shared among friends PRIOR to prayer starting, which I admit to being involved in. I mean the constant IM and text messaging that occurs during prayer, the looks back at friends, and the giggles...and discussions a…