Showing posts from August, 2013

The Auntie who Dropped the "H" Word

My co-worker and I were presenting together on the topic of "cultural perspectives". We were defining culture as more than the superficial "dress, diet, dialect and dance" aspects that we see. To us, culture is our worldview, it's how we define our values and beliefs, and may or may not include a guiding religion. This definition is a departure from what the typical view of culture is (i.e. you look different, therefore you must not be from here), and especially when religion and heritage work together to define how we each view the world and live our lives.
So I took this presentation as a chance to speak about cultural stereotypes and how the media mistakingly mixes up culture with religion. With regards to Islam, there's too many people who overlay the religion with cultural (i.e. Arab) stereotypes that exist. Furthermore, too many people use unreliable sources to learn about Islam rather than going back to the source (i.e. Quran) and having someone with …

The Anatomy of My Blog

This is not my typical blog entry, but it needs to be written.

A friend recently pointed out that not many people tend to comment on or "Like" my blog post. This is a trend I've noticed and while I have some theories, I don't have all the answers. I've been blogging for a few years now and occasionally receive online feedback that someone really resonated with a post or "hey, you have a good sense of humour." Which is OK, but too general. Besides, I try to blog about topics (and in such a way) that pushes typical boundaries and gives other perspectives that may not be considered. And it's hard to know the impact you're making or how it's taken if there's pretty much no feedback given.

For those who are interested in seeing how much traffic my blog receives, the following are recent statistics:

Pageviews today 30 Pageviews yesterday 59 Pageviews last month

Finding Your Passion

I sometimes wonder if I am living out the dreams I have for my life. While I am blessed with an amazing job in a field that I love, I often wonder if there's something more or different I could be doing. It's been six years that I've been working with this mental health project and schools and the third year I'm coordinating it. While each year is new and different, and we have a lot of leeway to determine programming, I'm starting to feel that I'm getting into somewhat of a rut. This could be perceived or real, since when I do look back over even 3 years, our program has come a long way. But perhaps for myself, it's either not as challenging anymore or I don't feel like I'm doing enough or going big enough. I've come to learn that I enjoy pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo, especially within our Muslim community. But I think that the time has come for something different.

After an enlightening conversion with my boss today (and …

Jokers, Doubters, and Everything In-Between

After spending some time mulling over things, I still don't understand what's so funny or wrong about an in-person Muslim marriage event. Yet these two ends of the "WHAT?!" spectrum seem to be where most of those in opposition to or misunderstanding of such events stand. And now that there will be two such events in Calgary within a span of 20 days, the jokers and doubters have come out into the open. I'd like to explore both personality types in some detail.

The Jokers

There's certainly been so shortage of "LOLs" posted with regards to the two marriage events being marketed, as well as some insensitive comments that make Muslims out to seem like anti-social, awkward and unable to communicate with members of the opposite sex. First of all, this is quite stereotypical and most Muslims in their 20s and 30s raised in the West HAVE grown up communicating with the opposite sex. And sure, while they haven't perhaps spoken for the purpose of marriage, n…

Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 29 and Eid ul-Fitr: The Final Iftar

I was reading an article by an Imam, I can't remember who (perhaps Suhaib Webb), who addressed this notion of Muslims saying they're not "feeling" like it's Ramadan. Luckily, the author said, we don't receive rewards during Ramadan based on how we feel and if we have that "Ramadan glow"... we receive it based on our intentions and actions. This is an incredibly important point for so many of us to remember, since I too thought I had to reclaim that "feeling" from two Ramadans ago when everything seemed perfect. This Ramadan taught me that intention and focus on the task at hand are more important than anything. And that prayer, reading the Quran, and saying dua are not the only forms of worship during Ramadan, as acts of kindness or time spent in other positive ways also counts towards our rewards (InshaAllah!). I need to remember this point for the future and be ever more thankful that our relationship with Allah is not based on feelings…

Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 28: Taraweeh Troubleshooting

I've decided that I've complained enough about Taraweeh and that it's time to come up with sensible solutions to address the issues that come up in a crammed prayer space. Taraweeh prayer is unique to Ramadan, and takes a lot of patience and endurance, since you're up late and praying more than one would normally pray. Oh, and you're having to battle these issues while you're at it. From the Taraweeh prayers I've attended, I could group issues I'm seeing into four general categories. The following is my take on how to solve these issues for next year's Ramadan!

Problem: Head to butt collisions and concussions
Solution: Arrange congregation by height

Ok, so yes, we've all encountered the head to butt collisions that occur during the various phases of prayer. Some of these collisions are enough to leave one seeing stars, which can be highly distracting and painful during prayer. So here's a solution that I credit Asif with coming up. Mosque atte…

Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 26: Dogs, Dupattas, and Muslim Standard Time

I looked down at my watch again, for the zillionth time, and wondered why 15 minutes after the start of the supposed event that only a handful of people registered were in their seats. The speaker was waiting with a bemused smile on his face, almost knowingly that this is typical among "our people". Yet for me, after dealing with this issue for a few years, I still cannot wrap my head around it and accept the status quo.

I've come to realize that I don't quite operate on the same time zone as some Calgary Muslims. I operate on Mountain Standard Time...many seem to go with Muslim Standard Time. Despite both having the same 'MST' acronym, they are nowhere close to one another.

Muslim Standard Time is a phenomenon I've observed not only socially and during community events, but also while at work within Muslim populated schools. You plan a parent session to start at 6:00pm, yet you have most people arrive around 6:45pm. The whole event becomes rushed and you…

Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 25: Is Eid a Beauty Pageant?

The day following the final fasting day of Ramadan, called Eid, is one of the two celebrations Muslims have. Eid al-Fitr marks a day with community prayer, visiting family and friends, an overload of food (well, for some people), followed be an afternoon nap from all the festivities before yet again more food is consumed for dinner. It's ironic how less than 24 hours after completing the final fast, people are hoarding food down. But I digress! Back to the topic.
Most families invest time and effort (and lots of money) into making sure that themselves and their children are decked out in their best for the Eid festivities. And I mean, really, Muslims really don't have many occasions to dress up all fancy and swag around (apart from weddings!), so we take advantage of the festivities. Women don cultural dress that blings and blinds fellow worshippers while men wear sharp suits or cultural attire with less bling but nonetheless is crisp and clean. Children are the same, girls d…

Ramadan Reflections '13, Day 24: The Real Islam

We've got it all wrong.

As I've been reading the Quran over Ramadan, I've come to the stark realization that we, the Muslim community, are focusing on the wrong things. Our talks and dealings around Islam have been reduced to fear perpetration and making followers feel guilty if they don't follow every single little detail of what they "should" be doing (i.e. in our eyes) related to their practice of Islam.

I've heard too many khutbas (Friday sermons) that are fear-inflicting and not too many that left me feeling good about where I'm at. Lectures that I've attended mention the word hell more than heaven, and provide warnings rather than a gentle push to improve. Fear of Allah is fostered more than the love we should have for Allah. As if the shock and awe method is what will make us better Muslims.

Nowhere in the Quran does it state that a women will go to hell for not wearing the hijab. Nowhere in the Quran does it state that men are punished fo…