Tag Archives: spirituality

Making up for a whole month

“I’m making up for a month of fasting,” she said, humorously.

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Eeeek. :/

 

The day of Eid arrived, signifying the end of a month of daytime fasting. Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims who spend it (primarily) by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise until sunset (among other nitty gritties). But from sunset until sunrise, all (halal) food is allowed. So when people are stunned at the ‘no eating for a WHOLE MONTH?!’ thing, I’m kind of confused. Like, huh? You missed the part in the memo about ‘from sunrise until sunset’? It’s not thirty (or twenty-nine, depending on the moon) straight days of no eating.

(SIDE NOTE: That link for ‘Ramadan’ provides a nice exploration into what Ramadan is, if you are unfamiliar with it, though it still has that from-the-outside-looking-in feel to it, with some minor inaccuracies. But a fair read nonetheless.)

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True for many Muslims.

And that brings me here. The narrative that started this.

So Eid soon arrived. And Muslim women (yep, no men at work here) the world over began the sacred ritual of preparing feasts for their families to eat. Eid, after all, quite literally means ‘feast’.

The feasting is great. I love the feast. I love my mom’s pie (which in recent years, with mom getting older, have instead become a collaborative effort between my sister and me — she does the filling, I do the pastry and the baking bit). I love home-baked bread. I love soutvleis. I love my momma’s fruit cake. I love puddings.

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Hmm. All that yum.

But I don’t love the frivolous idea that one needs to eat all that good stuff to ‘make up’ for the month-long fast that preceded Eid day.

Eid is not about making up for any lack of eating. Eid is not about celebrating the end of not being able to eat, like: ‘Shoo, hallelujah, that’s finally over! Let’s celebrate and eat until we can’t breathe.’

Everything that you eat on Eid day could have been eaten on any day night during Ramadan. You weren’t deprived. Rather, you were gifted. We were gifted. We were gifted with opportunities for redemption. A multitude of opportunities. We were gifted with opportunities for forgiveness, with showers of Mercy, with visions of love and kindness, with inspirations of generosity and compassion. We were gifted by having food taken away from us so that we took focus off our bodies and tummies and paid attention to our hearts, our souls, and our minds. We were gifted with closeness to our God, with time in His company and that of His angels.

I don’t mean to berate the person who said that line about ‘making up for a month of fasting’; this post is not intended to preach. The purpose for this post is that her flippant statement saddened me. And because it was to an audience of non-Muslims who would consequently also have the wrong idea of what fasting and Eid is all about. This post is because I was reminded of a time when I, too, didn’t quite grasp the gift of Ramadan. It was merely something to get through. That is a sad place to be in. It is lonely there. In that place, we don’t get to have conversations with Allah. In that place, our hearts don’t have the opportunity to feast on the love and the mercy that surrounds us. We don’t get to read His Love Letter to us (i.e. the Quran) and be moved by it. In that place of ritualised ‘starvation’ we don’t get to truly celebrate Eid for all that it is.

Far more than a grand feast, Eid is supposed to be a day of celebration of all the energy we exerted in worship. And a celebration of the hope we have in the Mercy of Allah, our hope that He will accept our worship and attempts to know Him and Love Him better. It’s also a celebration of togetherness and family. A celebration of love and goodness.

All that is so much more than the food we get to eat.

So no, on Eid day we do not eat to make up for a month of fasting. Just like on my birthday I do not eat cake to make up for a year of not having had birthday cake. The cake is merely a symbol of the celebration of life — hopefully one that will show love, goodness, success. (Or if you do not celebrate birthdays with birthday cakes because, like my sister, you’re not into the self-servingness of it all, and the lack of any basis in religious practice, then please feel free to insert your own appropriate analogy here. 😁)

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How do you celebrate Eid in your neck of the woods? What does Eid mean to you?

 

Blog sign-off

Image in My Head

So, if you’ve followed my blog posts recently, you’ll know what’s been foremost on my mind over the past couple of months. Can you guess it? Can you?? There’s a special prize to the first reader to get it right. Come on, you can do it!! (Uhm… just give me some time to figure out what the prize is going to be.)

So, the answer is ‘change’, and in the spirit of change, I wrote a poem a while ago. The poem is about who I want to be, in-shaa-Allah (Allah-willing), since I am constantly a work in progress. It is an incomplete poem, I am still working on the second half (There is actually an unintended pun in that 😛 When you eventually see the second half of the poem you’ll probably get the pun :D). Please read it and share your thoughts with me.

Image in My Head

I have an image in my head

Of the type of woman I want it to be said

I was.

The type of woman who,

To good deeds and righteousness,

Had sped.

The type of woman who,

For fear and love of her Lord,

Tears she had shed.

I have an image in my head

Of a woman who is so well-bred

That she doesn’t allow herself to be misled

By the evil one whom we all dread.

She is a woman who wouldn’t dare tread

The sins of the poisonous arrowhead.

She wouldn’t allow

The goodness of her soul to be shred,

Nor the love in her heart to be bled.

She is a woman well-read

In the verses that her Lord had said.

A woman whose arms are outspread

To the orphans and the poor,

The ones her Prophet

SallAllahi ‘alayhi wa Sallam*

Had told her to hold near.

I have an image in my head

Of a woman—

Chaste

And with grace.

One who has never, before marriage, been embraced.

A woman who does not, her own value, misplace.

-Ruqaiyah Davids

* SallAllahi ‘alayhi wa Sallam – May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him

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What image do you have in your head about the person you want to be? Or are you already that person? Tell me a bit about this person.

Where’s Your Head At?

My head is filled with too many things right now. Least of them all should be my blog, but I just can’t allow myself to disappoint my hundreds of loyal followers waiting with bated breath for my next post (ha!). I mean, it is Sunday after all, right? Which means New Post Day! Yay! No. Not yay. Because after Sunday comes Monday. And Mondays are slowly–but very surely–making its way riiiiight down to the bottom of my list of Reasons to Wake Up on a Monday Morning. I’m not liking you very much right now, Monday. Not very much at all. And, high school exams are nigh, which means set exam papers with memorandums need to be submitted to the office. Tomorrow. Who has time for a lengthy (but seriously entertaining) blog post with all that going on? Certainly not me. So this is what I’ll give you (my throng of loyal and devoted readers); a peek into where my head is at right now. So picture this:

Yep, that’s what it looks like up in here. More or less. Now, because there’s currently very little room in my brain for much real words to grow, I will give you some pictures, to further elaborate on the many ‘stuffs’ wheedling through my brain, in between the yucky exam stuff.

Are you noticing the pattern here? Both last week’s post and the week before that was about being a stranger in this world, or referring to the Strangers Tour that happened here in Cape Town two weeks ago. It is who I want to be–a stranger in this world–so that I may be a companion in the next world, the real world. A companion to who? To my Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and his family), and all the righteous people who lived in this world, ameen.

I read a beautiful line in an article a bit earlier, and I think it complements this picture beautifully:

“The hijab is only a brush stroke on the canvas within a much bigger picture. Without it the work is incomplete, but it is not the sole element that makes the painting. And my own canvas is incomplete and riddled with mistakes.” – Azlin Ahmed, It’s a Hijab, Not a Halo

And lastly, one of my new favourites…

So, kids, it would seem that the theme running in my brain for this month is ‘change’. And, in the words of the great American president, Barack Obama (that’s sarcasm right there), “Yes, we can!” And we will, in-shaa-Allah. And may we (or I, or whoever cares to join me in this change–whatever it might be that you are changing to, for the sake of Allah) be more successful than the lousy president–oh, oops, did I say ‘lousy’? I meant loser. Nooo! I meant… well, who cares what I meant? May we be more successful in our quest for change, and may we never lose sight of the goal. Ameen.

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Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Glad Tidings to the Strangers

The Messenger of Allah (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

Islam initiated as something strange, and it will revert to its (old position) of being strange. So, glad tidings to the stranger!” [Muslim]

Glad tidings to us, indeed–all of us who will be attending the long-awaited, much-anticipated, internationally celebrated Strangers Tour!

This event (befitting adjectives for which I cannot even think of) will feature three amazing people (and when I say ‘amazing’, you must know that I mean AMAZING. Maa-shaa-Allah.). They’ve hosted this event in twenty other cities worldwide (source: all the advertising I’ve seen), and it’s been awesome, inspiring and sold out in all of them. Now, I won’t go on to explain in much more detail what this event entails, you can check out the trailer (the video above) for that. I am way too wired right now to explain it coherently–I mean, in just over an hour, I am going to be experiencing some of this awesomeness right in front of my face while I have previously only experienced it through my laptop screen via YouTube. Can you imagine the excitement? This whole city is buzzing with it! Alhamdulillah.

On a less hyped up note, allow me to more appropriately explain the narration quoted above, so that it is understood in its proper context, and not the context in which I have used it (which wouldn’t be entirely wrong, I think, since it is definitely a blessing from Allah that we are able to attend this event, and it will, Allah willing, be a means of us attaining nearness to Him and His Pleasure). When Islam began centuries ago, it was a strange religion to the people of the land. This religion preached the Oneness of an All Mighty, All Powerful God to a people who worshipped stone idols which they had made themselves. The created were worshipping the created. But Islam proposed that, rather, we should worship the Creator, the One who made us, the One who never sleeps, never eats, and never dies. And this was strange. The people who followed this way were strangers in their own land, to their own people, their own family. Eventually, as time passed, the message of Islam spread. People’s hearts began to recognise their Lord. They feared, worshipped and loved only One God. Muslims reigned, because they knew the One who reigned over all the worlds. However, as even more time passed, the words of our Prophet (may Peace be upon him) were proved true: Islam began its return to being strange to people, even its own people. The world fears a religion about which they know little. They fear a people who are different to them, who have different values. Unfamiliarity can be a dangerous thing. And now, even Muslims find their own religion strange; they find their own family and friends strange when they try to be the best Muslims they can be. That is why, to the one who practices and strives for her deen in this world, even when she is looked upon as a stranger by everyone she knows, she will be presented with glad tidings. So, glad tidings to the stranger.

Ultimately, that is what this event is all about. It’s fun and it’s awesome and there’s a lot of hype around it, but, ultimately, it’s just about reminding us that it’s okay to be a stranger in a world full of strange things. We just have to know what it’s worth being a stranger for, and Allah is more than worth it. Paradise is more than worth it.

So I’ll be off now to have a strangely wonderful time with my stranger friends and many other strangers, listening to some other inspiring strangers doing their thing. Before I leave, however, let me leave you with this, so that you can get a taste of what I’ll be sitting through a bit later on. You have to watch it, okay? You just, absolutely have to! It is pure brilliance, maa-shaa-Allah.

Watch it!

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UPDATE [07-05-2012]: Most-amazing-show-ever! Maa-shaa-Allah. All three of them were beyond awesome. What word can I use that is awesomer than awesome? In my next blog post (13-05-2012), I will highlight some of the lessons, words and laughs that stood out to me–or, rather, jumped out at me and slapped me in the face. An awakening it was, indeed.

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Share your thoughts with me below. I love reading them.