Friday, August 19, 2011

Ramadan Musings

Ramadan Musings

No matter how many times I read the Quran it is beautiful to me

And although I cannot fluently speak Arabic

When I hear its recital, so clear and musical in its original form

my eyes well with tears

and I know again

I am reminded

Of the Sovereignty and Mercy of Our Lord, Allah

So it is hard when I watch a news segment about Islam where the truth is twisted

Or when I notice someone retract with apprehension as they see me in my hijab

Because I know that if more people could see what I see in Islam and learn what I’ve learned of Islam there would be no room for fear

But Allah is the All-Knowing, the All-Aware

And He is the Best of Planners

So I offer a dua for peace and guidance

Or smile my brightest smile and keep faith that everything happens by Allah’s leave

Believing that Allah’s Mercy shall overshadow His Wrath

And loving life gratefully

For the opportunity to return to Allah

To return . . .

Copyright © 2011 Janette Grant

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Poem: Ramadan Moon

Original Poem: Ramadan Moon
written by Isahah Janette Grant

O Ramadan Moon
perched upon a midnight sky
shine your light upon me
bear witness as I recite Quran this night

O Ramadan Moon
shimmering majestically as you obey Allah's command
mark our days of fasting upon the heavens
keep watch as we pursue Laylat al Qadir

O Ramadan Moon
receding as the sun embarks upon its morning journey
make haste in your return to us tomorrow
illuminate our paths as we strive this Ramadan

Copyright © 2011 Janette Grant

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Shahadah Story

I was a Pentecostal Christian when I was first introduced to Islam. Pentecostalism is a movement within Christianity that places special emphasis upon a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit and my particular church was based strongly upon reading the Bible and understanding the Word of God. So at that point in my life, I had been reading the Bible regularly and was familiar with what the Bible says concerning faith and righteousness. I had stopped eating pork because the Bible said that it was forbidden in Leviticus 11:7, I had begun praying every day, usually three times a day and I had even begun experimenting with covering my hair based on my interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:5.

I was first formally told a little bit about Islam after I had taken a leave from college to birth my son when my husband, who was still in school at the time and also a Pentecostal Christian, had come home one day and told me that he wanted to embrace Islam. Up until then, the most I knew about Islam was from what I had learned by reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I had not really formed an opinion. My husband began by explaining that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was not opposed to Christianity and then gave me a copy of the Quran to read for myself before forming an opinion or making a decision.

I accepted the copy and began reading right away. I discovered that much of what was written in the Quran corresponded with what I was reading in the Bible which was heartening, but I also discovered a beauty and depth to the Quran that I had not ever encountered in anything that I had ever read before that moment or since. Several verses brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face; it was truly amazing and enlightening. A few weeks later when my husband informed me that he wanted to make the shahadah and that he wanted me and our 1 year old son to go to the mosque with him I was excited. We re-married Islamically at the mosque and I took my shahadah as well. That was more than thirteen years ago and life has only gotten better and brighter since then, alhamdulilah.

And 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 it is always there, ready to be revealed; ready to shine upon those who would seek it’s treasures.

I realize now in retrospect that there is a movement or rather, a current that has swept through my reality and quickened my spirit. When we are young and adventuring out into life on our own for the first time, we feel it, we sense it and are buoyed by it. Throughout recent history you can see the evidence of it: the student movements and civil rights changes of the 50’s and 60’s, the Rock the Vote movement of the late 90’s and early 21st Century.

For me, the 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 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 my brethren that which I want for myself. I must live knowing that my life is not only mine but part of the collective life of mankind. And although I can rehearse this and have heard others rehearse it, it is the living of it that tends to slip out of our grasp. Islam helps me to hold fast to this ideal with a strong handhold that does not, or shall I say, has not, failed me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Breaking the cycle of abuse with Latifah Hameen

Latifah Hameen is an author and speaker from Irving Texas who has written extensively about the patterns and effects of relationship abuse. Although her writing is geared primarily towards teens and young adults, the counsel and advice can be used by men and women of all ages. She has been a practicing Muslim for 32 years and is a member of the Muslimah Writers Alliance, an internationally based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions of members of the Muslim community.

Sister Latifah was inspired to write about abuse after having been in abusive relationships with Muslim men throughout a 20 year period and says that Islam has influenced her writing through the strength that Allah (swt)*has given her to be able to tell her story of abuse; Allah is the Arabic word for God and is used in Islam. After attending a seminar on abuse, she noticed how difficult it was for her to sit through the seminar and decided to take the steps necessary to confront the abuse that she had experienced and the effect that the abuse had had upon her.

Her first book, Suffering in Silence: Breaking the Cycle of Abuse, was published by Spencer-Majeed Publishing in 2006 and is a self-help book in which Sister Latifah shares her experiences with abuse and seeks to educate on the abusive relationship cycle. In a radio program with Kingdom Ambassadors Worldwide Network (KAW), Sister Latifah explained the five different types of abuse and how to recognize the red flags of an abusive relationship. There is physical abuse, mental/emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, social abuse and financial abuse.

Physical abuse is the most obvious and encompasses physical violence in the form of hitting, pushing and shaking, etc. Mental/emotional abuse involves name calling and humiliation as well as manipulation and ignoring someone as a means of inflicting mental or emotional harm. Spiritual abuse can take the form of using religion to control another or withholding religious freedoms from someone. Social abuse involves keeping someone isolated and separating them from friends and family and financial abuse is comprised of withholding money and/or accountability for finances.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Islam for Children at Creative Education and Publishing

The increase of Muslim citizens within the United States has prompted a surge in the creation of Muslim based businesses and islamic resources for English speaking Muslims. There are now dozens of Islamic shops and websites where American Muslims can find quality local goods and resources that are aligned with the standards of Islam and easily accessible without having to experience the added expense of having items shipped from overseas.
This is a welcome enterprise, especially in the form of Islamic Children's books and Arabic Language studies for children and the next generation of little Muslims growing up in the U.S.
One such enterprise has been led by Alameddine Kaddoura of Creative Education and Publishing. Creative Education and Publishing (CEP) is an Islamic children's books publishing company that has been based in Falls Church, Virginia since its beginnig over two years ago. CEP publishes children's books and a wide array of learning/teaching materials about Islam from Islamic board games to posters of the Arabic Alphabet.
His main mission at CEP is that children have fun as they learn.
When asked what had inspired Mr. Kaddoura to start such a business his reply was, "I browsed many publications in the Muslim Bookshops and I thought I can bring something new for our kids in the U.S. as most of the material is coming from overseas."
Mr. Kaddoura is trying to fill a gap. Although there are many Islamic children's books and several dozen Islamic publishers that exist because most of them are based in other countries they are not easily accessible for many parents and teachers. As a result of his efforts, Mr. Kaddoura has seen firsthand how the books and resources that he provides are welcomed by students, parents and teachers and he is always amazed by the positive feedback.

Mr. Kaddoura sees Creative Education and Publishing as pioneering in providing stories, posters and games that reflect the local circumstances of Muslims in the U.S. and in the West. Some examples are reflected in the story books that CEP publishes. One story published is about kindness to neighbors and the name of the neighbor is Charlie; he is not named Hassan or Tareq which are names normally associated with other Muslims. Another story addresses diversity and describes how a girl from Yemen copes as a Muslim with other students in the public school system.
For more information and to review some of the products available at CEP click here.

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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