Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Global Pink Hijab Day October 27th

Global pink hijab day is scheduled for October 27, 2010 in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Muslims all over the world are invited to participate by wearing pink hijab scarves and pink ribbons on the 27th and by donating to cancer foundations throughout the month. Global pink hijab day was designed to encourage Muslim women and men to participate in breast cancer awareness activities and as a way of encouraging others to inquire about the hijab; the headscarf that many Muslim women wear as an outward demonstration of their faith.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 by AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical and Biologics Company that manufactures breast cancer drugs, and is celebrating 25 years of promoting awareness, education and empowerment of women and families this year. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization partners with AstraZeneca and several other corporate and government sponsors and has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues. NBCAM is a year round resource for breast cancer patients, survivors, supporters, caregivers and the general public.

Locally, The Pink Ribbons Project is a Houston area organization that uses the arts to improve the quality of life for those touched by breast cancer. A calendar of their events for this month can be found here.

For information about or to participate in Global Pink Hijab Day 2010 click here.

Some Houston area restaurants are offering pink discounts and deals in honor of breast cancer awareness month. Some participating restaurants are Crave Cupcakes, Baker Street Pub and Grill, Flemings Steakhouse and Sullivan's Steakhouse.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ramadan Mubarek!

Muslims around the world have developed numerous traditions for celebrating the month of Ramadan, but the constant truth that transcends each tradition and all cultures is the practice of abstaining from food and drink daily from sunrise to sunset for the entire month.

The Holy Qur'an reads in Surah 2:185:

Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind also clear signs for guidance and for judgement between right and wrong. So everyone who is present at his home during that month should spend it in fasting but if anyone is ill or on a journey the prescribed period shold be made up by days later.

Fasting during the month of Ramdan is one of the Five Pillars of Belief in Islam. The Five Pillars are: 1. Iman or Faith in the form of the Shahada or declaration that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, 2. Salaat and establishing the five obligatory daily prayers, 3. Zakat which means giving in charity, 4. Sawm which means fasting for the month of Ramadan and 5. Hajj which is the obligatory pilgrimage required by all Muslims before the end of their life.

Although fasting is required by all Muslims, male and female, as a means of obeying the commands of Allah the Almighty, it is also as a way to glorify Allah and to show our gratitude for His having sent the Holy Qur'an to mankind. It is believed that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, would receite the Qur'an every Ramadan and that it was during the month of Ramadan when the first revelations began.

Read more here on my page!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Green living, green Muslims

Six hundred trees and a two acre native garden were recently planted in Houston as part of the Keep Houston Beautiful and Great American Cleanup initiatives; initiatives designed to reverse and/or reduce harmful effects to the environment. Although the roots of the modern environmentalist movement can be traced back as far as nineteenth century Europe and North America, it is important to point out that the scriptures of the Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam promote many of the green living values that are espoused today.

Many Jewish laws concerning farming and thriving on the earth's surface support environmentally friendly values that promote care and sensitivity for resources. For example, in the book of Leviticus 25:3-4 it reads:

Six years thou shalt sow thy fields, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field nor prune thy vineyard.

And Jesus the Messiah, peace be upon him, a Hebrew and therefore an adherent to the laws of Moses, peace be upon him, imparted words of immense wisdom when he said that the meek shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 reads:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Islam also supports green living values and there are several scriptures in the Holy Quran that advise and admonish believers towards being grateful for the bounties that God bestows in the form of rain, clean rivers and the blessings of green, healthy trees and plant life. A few such scriptures are:

Quran 2:164: Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.

Quran 20:52-53: He replied: "The knowledge of that is with my Lord, duly recorded: my Lord never errs, nor forgets,- "He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky." With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others.

Quran 27:60: Or, Who has created the heavens and the earth, and Who sends you down rain from the sky? Yea, with it We cause to grow well-planted orchards full of beauty of delight: it is not in your power to cause the growth of the trees in them. (Can there be another) god besides Allah? Nay, they are a people who swerve from justice.

Islamic and Judaic traditions also go as far as to provide instruction during times of war and admonish believers not to destroy trees or to burn the land in war times. In the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him it is written in Malik's Muwatta book 23:3:10:

"I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly."

Judaic laws repeat a similar admonition in Deuteronomy 20:19-20 when it reads:

When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them:

Read more here . . .

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jesus In Islam

Many Christians this week will be celebrating Consider Christianity Week as a means of equipping Christians with facts and evidence in support of Christianity for effective communication of Christian values with others. Christianity is considered the second of the three Abrahamic religions, the first being Judaism and the third Islam and should be understood within the construct of history and from it's position as part of a gradual process of revelation, however, it is not always understood as such. On account of this, there have unfortunately been numerous occasions throughout history where war and violence have erupted amongst believers of the Abrahamic religions with many such eruptions still reverberating today.

The Institute of Interfaith Dialog here in Houston recently held a panel discussion posing the theory that there is potential for a clash of civilizations between Christianity and Islam as a means of addressing some of the fears and misunderstandings between the two religions. And as realized during the panel discussion, there are as many points, if not more, that can be made in support of the numerous similarities bewteen Christianity and Islam as can be made in support of a potential clash.

One fact that Christians may not be well aware of is that Muslims also believe in Jesus, peace be upon him, and recognize him as one of those nearest to God. The Holy Quran, the Holy Book of scripture within the tradition of Islam reads in Surah 3 Ayat 45:

Behold! The angels said: "Oh Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of the company of those nearest to Allah;

Read More here

Saturday, February 13, 2010

In Honor of Purple Hijab Day for Aasiya Hassan

My Sister
My sister is a confidant
My sister is a friend
My sister is the one I trust
To trust me till the end
My sister is a mirror
Who reflects my every flaw
And still she doesn’t judge me
And loves me even more
My sister is a looking glass
I see her beauty there
And yet there is no envy
There is no jealous glare
My sister is a muse
She inspires me to praise
My sister is a guide
She chastens all my ways
My sister is a jewel
A rare and precious stone
That I wear around my neck so that I never walk alone

Text copyright © 2001, 2010 Janette Grant

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Islam and Black History Month

2010 marks the 34th year officially celebrating Black History Month. For generations, people have been celebrating and learning about the contributions of African Americans to American society since 1976 when Carter G. Woodson, the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, initiated the celebration of Black History Month as an extension to Negro History Week which he had established in 1926 as a means of documenting and researching the contributions of Africans to civilization. Woodson had seen first hand the lack of knowledge presented about African Americans while attending Harvard University, one of the top universities in the United States, and went about the task of rectifying the situation.

In effect, Black History Month became more than just a holiday; it became a way of rebuilding the psyche of American culture by reminding its citizens of teh great contributions that Africans and African Americans have made to the advancement of all aspects of society. Throughout the United States communities annually commemorate Black History Month with special events, concerts, lectures, plays, exhibits and various other forums to educate, inform and remind its citizens of African American achievements and discoveries.
In Houston, events like the Buffalo Soldiers display at local libraries and the Children's Express Theatre's presentation of the play, "The Freedom Train" at the African American Library at the Gregory School are just two examples of keeping our communities informed and thus more tolerant and better educated.

In light of that, a little known fact about the Islamic religion is that Islam was also rising to prominence among blacks iin the U.S. around the time that Negro History Week was being implemented by Carter G. Woodson.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Sparkle of Islam, A Converts Perspective

Remembering can be beautiful. Miraculous. And as I remember the first weeks and months after taking the oath of shahadah, La ilah ilalah. Muhammad al Rasululah, I remember my enthusiasm and the way every word I read from the Quran resonated with wisdom and truth. I remember the excitement of discovery and the coolness of the morning air on my face after exiting the Mosque following my shahadah. I remember my eagerness to learn and how everything about Islam was a bright, new revelation. I remember how the mornings shimmered with hope and praise after completing the pre-dawn Fajr prayer. It was a beautiful, miraculous time.

And since then, although the sparkle of my youth has dimmed a bit, the tug at my heart towards Islam has not waivered. There is a beauty in the religion that not everyone has the patience to discover but that is always there, ready to be revealed; ready to shine upon those who would seek it’s treasures. Each and every of the five daily prayers still leaves me grateful and humbled to have been guided unto Islam and each and every surah of Al Quran still speaks into every aspect of my life with deeper and deeper insight.

I realize now in retrospect that there is a type of movement that exists amongst the ummah and that a current has swept through my life and quickened my spirit. In college we would watch and listen to VHS tapes of Islamic debates and lectures featuring intellectuals like Ahmed Deedat and Hamza Yusef and would be inspired to learn more and to hold debates of our own. As a young, stay-at-home mother, the numerous Muslimah websites and online resources that had become available provided access to Islamic texts and increased numbers of Muslim women willing to impart their advice and knowledge which helped to keep me motivated and active.

For me, this movement has reminded me of my duty and responsibility to first myself and then to others and with it comes the understanding that, in addition to witnessing and experiencing the beauty and glory that is and belongs to God, I must do more than be the change I want to see in the world. I must also want for others that which I want for myself. I must live knowing that my life is not only my own but part of the collective life of mankind. And although I can rehearse this and have heard others rehearse it, it is the living it that tends to slip out of our grasp. Islam has helped me to hold fast to the ideal with a strong handhold that does not, or shall I say, has not, failed me.

As a convert to Islam, there was much that I had to learn and much that I am still learning about Islam. Two of the things that I have learned and that I consider to be extremely important are the fulfilling of salaat and reading or listening to the recitation of Al Quran regularly. And two of the things that I am still learning and that I also consider important for converts is the Arabic language and reading of hadith.

Salaat has kept me grounded in faith and I have found that striving to complete the daily prayers keeps me humble. For me, prayer is a constant reminder that I have not reached a place where I can lay back and be confident that I am going to paradise. The fact that the prayer has been enjoined upon us for the duration of our lives is a sign that we must continually strive to improve ourselves.

Reading and listening to Al Quran keeps the words of God active in my mind and life. When situations arise that could frustrate, misguide or discourage me, having verses of Al Quran quick on my lips and in my heart is a comfort and security. Now that my son is becoming a teenager, I do not know what I would do if I did not have the light of the Quran to guide me as I help my son to navigate his way through adolescence.

Learning Arabic is challenging but an effort that I believe is important. The Quran says in surah 20:113: Thus have We sent this down - an Arabic Qur'an - and explained therein in detail some of the warnings, in order that they may fear Allah, or that it may cause their remembrance (of Him). Although the English translations of the Quran are a blessing and a help hearing Al Quran recited in Arabic always fills me with peace and I have often been brought to tears by the beauty of the recitation. As a believer, I think that it is important to be able to read the Quran in the language in which it was delivered.

And my final piece of advice for converts is the importance of reading the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). I have found the wealth of information and guidance contained within the volumes of hadith to be immeasurable, especially as a convert living in the United States where Islam is often regarded as foreign and different. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did indeed exhibit a beautiful pattern of conduct as we are told in Al Quran and the hadith does well in preserving many aspects it. Not only have I been able to walk tall with my practice of Islam because of the guidance contained within the hadith, but I have also been able to invite others gently to Islam and to live Islam by example.

Life Reminders

Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is Gracious and Merciful
The Lord is Gracious and Merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His Compassion is over all that He has made.

Matthew 11:28 Gentleness and Humility
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Surah 33:21 Beautiful Pattern of Conduct
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern of conduct for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.

Sahih Muslim, Book Unknown: Changing an Evil Action
“Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart; and that is the weakest of faith.”

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