Monday, October 03, 2005

Pre-Ramadan Musings

Reading through the last few chapters of Qur’an, trying to finish before Ramadan so that I can start a new round of Qur’an reading with the first day of the beloved month, I came across Surat Annajem (the star) and I remembered the story of the prophet (SAW) surprising the non-believers, one day, by reciting this Surah out load around the Ka'abah. Taken by surprise they just listened and at the end of the Surah when he recited: "Do ye then wonder at this recital. And will ye laugh and not weep. Wasting your time in vanities. But fall ye down in prostration to God and adore (Him)." They literally prostrated. Yes all of them, even those who were the worst enemies of the new message. Yet somehow when they listened, it touched their heart and couldn't afford but to do what Allah ordered them to; prostrate. I remembered this story and wondered; why is it that despite I believe in this message that I don't feel this strong urge to prostrate every single time I read the Surah. I believe that I read but I don't listen. Allah talks to us through his book but do we really listen. Do we give him our undivided attention? Those non-believers listened and thus Allah's words touched their hearts. Still reflecting, I remembered that scholars of Sufism said that the sense with the most access to the heart is listening. We need to listen to Allah, to our heart and our intuition. Unless we take the time to listen we won't ever do what Allah wants us to be doing even if we know it and we won't address our soul's needs even if we complain about it all the time. We need to listen to each other to open the gates of our hearts to what others feel and may fail to say. Otherwise, we won't be able to love each other.

As I sailed through, I came across this verse “Has not the time arrived for the Believers that their hearts in all humility should engage in the remembrance of Allah and of the Truth which has been revealed (to them), and that they should not become like those to whom was given Revelation aforetime, but long ages passed over them and their hearts grew hard? For many among them are rebellious transgressors.” 57:16. When this verse was revealed the companions cried and instantly replied “O Allah; Indeed it is time”. Still, I wasn’t moved as much as I should. Feeling how dead my heart is, I jumped to the next verse “Know ye (all) that Allah giveth life to the earth after its death! already have We shown the Signs plainly to you, that ye may learn wisdom.” 57:17. I read this chapter (Surah) several times but I was never able to make the connection between the two verses. This time I got it, Allah is telling me that there’s hope for me. I can be alive again. My heart that wasn’t moved by his call as much as the companions’ hearts is like the dead earth before it regains life when the rain falls. He who can bring life to earth after its death can bring life back to my soul and my heart. I just need to expose myself to His “rain”. The prophet (SAW) said “In the days of your Lord there are “breezes” (gifts), expose yourselves to them”. The days of Ramadan are some of those breezes, gifts or the “rain” that can bring life back to my heart. Will I expose myself to them? I am determined to and I ask Allah to help me. Ameen.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It is the Matrix, Stupid!

When I was in Egypt way before the US boycott movements started, I used to boycott US products. I started it to avoid a certain life style and culture. It was not the American Culture that I hated because I believed, and still do, there was a lot of good in it and it was not to take a political stance because I didn't believe boycott was that effective. When I moved to the US I just took a strong stance against impulsive shopping and going with the flow. I still didn't know what, exactly, I was avoiding. It wasn't until a couple of days ago when someone pointed it out to me so cleverly. It is the Matrix. I always hated the matrix and wanted to be real. Just keep it real. When I keep it real I feel free and I feel more connected spiritually and happy.

Oprah: Your life is altered

Everyone watches, used to watch or is addictive to Oprah. To tell you the truth today was my first time to watch more than five minutes of Operah. I don't think I will have the time to do it again but hey, I learned something very important.
One day someone dear to me had a big problem and told me: "my life is over" I tried to reassure but couldn't find the right words. Oprah said it today: " Your life is altered not over" That's very true and sometimes what we think is bad for us turns to be good but we will never know it until later. We just need to have faith and look at others experiences. How many had their lives altered because of their own mistakes and it turned out to be better for them?

Drive ins are fun

So every week I receive few emails from CAMP. For those of you who don't know what CAMP stands for, it is the Council of Muslim American Professionals. I always thought that these guys plan fun events. I always wanted to go but for some reason I didn't, which made me feel like a loser. Then I received an email about a drive in movie night with Biryani. I don't like Biryani and can't stand spicy food but a drive in sounds like a lot of fun. The CAMP people were so nice and I had such a great time. We had our chairs and we sat in the open air outside the cars. We could talk without disturbing anyone and we could move around freely. It was beautiful that day. Although it was my first time, but I found something I was missing, community. What is better than hanging out with fellow Muslims not worrying about being judged.

What does progressive really mean?

As I was completing my Naseeb's profile I had to answer few questions about my "Islamic" values and Naseeb's assessment was that I am "Progressive". What does that really mean? My Progressive friends think that I am so traditional and my traditional friends think that I am progressive. It is really confusing. What is more confusing is that I answered the questions following the opinions and fatwas of typical traditional scholars. Hmm, so if following the opinions of traditional scholars makes you progressive so what makes you traditional?
I was always under the impression that Traditional is an academic term for following scholars who studied and implement the methodologies of the traditional schools of thought. Obviously Naseeb has a different set of definitions. Anyway, the label doesn't really tell much about the person. There is another classification of values that is more important, like classifying people according to their rigidity and acceptance of others beliefs and values. That's more important to know. I won't mind to have friends having any values or beliefs but I would really avoid knowing people who would want to pressure me to endorse their values no matter how progressive or traditional their values are.