Thursday, January 29, 2009


Assalamu Alaikum,
'Deen Tight' trailer-ht to MuslimahLocs for the link.

So I've been thinking about the music thing. First, I went to visit UmmLayth (yes, she of, may Allah bless her); as it turns out, she doesn't live that far from Conservopolis. Since I'd left my laptop at her house I went to retrieve it and stayed the night. It was so good to see her!
We got to talking about many different things, and music was one of them. Alhamdulillah I'm not going to talk about her house here, except to say that she doesn't have a television, and the stereos I saw were not on once. Ya'll say mashaAllah.

She asked me if I listened to music... and then added that she doesn't judge on it. I guess she understood the look on my face.

See, whenever the subject of music and Islam, and living with or without it comes up, I feel pushed. I'd already converted when one of the sisters in MSA, I think she was a vp at the time, made some remark about how a certain person was so extreme, that they put all the pictures in the house face-down, and 'didn't even listen to music!'. And I immediately asked her, "Wait- music isn't allowed in Islam?" She refused to answer, and quickly changed the subject.

So even then I understood this to be something that involved a definite difference of opinions.

Fast forward a couple years, past the MSA East Zone convention where I started wearing hijab, to living in Puerto Rico. By then I was in full immersion mode, and riding in the car with my friend Abeer.

I love Abeer for many reasons, not least of which is that during one lonely Ramadhan after learning that I was fasting by myself, she piled her kids into her rusty blue'89 Chevy wagon, came to my house and bullied me into the car, and did not leave me alone henceforth. I truly believe she not only saved my sanity, but she maintained my link to Islam. This was shortly before I got my first laptop and started this blog.

Anyway, so we were winding through the streets of Guayama, and Abeer asked me:" Pues, cuando mueres, quieres musica, o quieres Qur'an?"- did I want music, or Qur'an playing at my funeral? I forget what brought that on, I think maybe someone famous had died in PR recently.
"Qur'an," I replied firmly.
My brainwashing was nearly complete.

Something brought me back from the brink, though.

It's because of the extremity of actively avoiding music. Not only is it everywhere, but I operated for the longest in a world that moved to its direction. And, I can't see evil just in the existence of melody and harmony. I'm sorry- the Qur'an has too much of those beautiful sisters for me to dislike them for their own sake.

I fully understand the reasons for the dislike of music, really. It takes away from study of Qur'an, it occupies the mind with other things- and certain of these things can be undesirable. There's a hadith involved.

But I also know that I've been brought closer to understanding how to love Rasulullah (saws) and his example through music. Native Deen, Sami Yusuf, and Outlandish have all inspired me to learn more about certain hadiths and ayahs. I still feel the transcendance when music and a deft lyric can say more than all the speeches anyone could write.

And beyond that? As they said in the video, this is something that my mother does, that my grandmother did, that her father did. I know the songs used to tune the hoes in the fields. I know the weariness on my mother's shoulders by the tune she chooses while she scrubs a dish. I can tell you what grade I was in when given hip-hop tunes came out, and who was my friend, and who was my teacher, and what happened to make I was taught as a child that music was something we used to praise God. What do you mean, God doesn't like it? This hit me about as much as not wearing shoes inside peoples' houses- my father insisted that we wear shoes inside the house if we were awake. It's that kind of training. I'm a classically trained musician, and my siblings have won gold medals in performance. How do I turn away? I just don't see first that it's wrong, and second, how to fight it.

I do know that the way forward is through strengthening faith. The more I memorize Qur'an, the more I want to learn more, the less time I do spend with music. I do miss composing though, and spoken word. So that's the part of hip-hop I feel connected to. As it is, I rarely listen to music unless I'm working out.

Gotta go- just one more point. As part of the Practimate training, we're invited to express our opinions on marriage and potential partners in a variety of ways. One brother expressed his disdain for a sister who- among other things- listened to music. I really wonder how many of these brothers listen to absolutely no music (I mean, no anasheed? Sami Yusuf but without strings? What?) and how to portray the fact that I'm okay with filtered music right now, though inshaAllah I'm definitely open to decreasing my usage. How intolerant are we as an ummah to something where there is a known difference of opinion?

Okay, I'm off my soapbox. Salaamu Alaikum.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

When a dream is awesome

Assalamu Alaikum,

Man, it's cold. I only mention it because it was so cold I got off work yesterday. Yes, the schools closed for a COLD DAY.

Mind you we're talking minus 15 wind chill, so it was kinda expected.

It gave me much needed time to rest...

... and to do my Practimate work. Go on, check it out, it's a new initiative by Sheikh Yaser Birjas, of Marriage Revolution fame.

I like the program because it offers training for people before they marry... and even before you meet 'The One'. Training of the sort I've been bugging Bro. Leader about for a while, but he's got bigger better things to do. So I'm in the first batch of people to go through the program, and I like- not because it's asking me to think about things that I've never thought about before. I've actually thought about marriage enough that my answers are substantial. I like the exercises because they're forcing me to focus and clarify my thinking, and my expectations for marriage. And this is just Step One of eight in the program.

My only (teeny weeny) detraction is that I think we need to do more! Faster! Both because I really (really) want to get married already, and because I'm an action oriented person, I need something going on in order to keep working on the program. We discuss a new module every 3-5 days (it's supposed to be 2-4, but 3-5 is more like what I've noticed).

So, yeah. Practimate rocks.

In related but different matters, I had the most awesomest dream yesterday. This was after going out to eat with my family, on my sister's birthday. Happy Birthday Toto! But anyway, so I came home and went to sleep and... dreamt. Of a person I won't name. And I was mad happy when I woke up (before Fajr!).

Because dreams can be suggestive of the future, I don't want to tell the details. But I do have a question. When a dream is awesome, how do you follow it? Do you just wait and see what happens? Or do you act on what you saw? I feel a very strong urge to do a particular thing based on this dream. I mean, I woke up and prayed the urge to go do this was so strong. MashaAllah.

And when is a dream just, you know, a dream?


Sunday, January 04, 2009

My Fairy Tales

Assalamu Alaikum,

Most of my friends- I mean, a good deal- are married (or coupled and nearly married up... lookin' at you, Meke). And all of the women will tell you that the first thing I ask about is how they got together. I call those stories my 'fairy tales'- even if they're no happily ever after story, they're always good for a sigh and a smile.

The story of Michelle Obama is no exception:

My friend A. has warned me, 'Don't go talking about this to everyone! This is private!' And I took her nasiha at first, because she was right in that not all ears are attached to those who are looking out for my best interest. But at the same time, it's just hard for me NOT to talk about the things that interest me; so when you're around me you hear about preschool learning activities, microbiology and midwifery, and marriage. And alhamdulillah, I think that especially in this cuture, in the US, the pot that squeals gets poured. If I don't put it out there that I love my students, that nursing and the whole process of birth interest me, and that I want to get married, how will opportunities make themselves known?

Today at halaqa we talked about Hasad, and jealousy, and the evil eye, and how nothing that happens to us happens, except by permission and will of Allah. And that just as we are working within time with our tools of free will, good deeds, and dua'a to ask Allah to give us good, we can't understand just how fully Allah is outside of time, and created free will, and wants us to ask for what he already gave. It was deep.

And since I was sitting close to Bro. Leader, I looked down at my behennaed hands while he talked. I've found that the American respect of looking people in the eye when they're talking doesn't always translate well into intimate Islamic study circles... and when I looked up, Farhan was sitting across from me. I was startled. And got flustered... could this be the beginning of my own fairy tale? I gazed at my hands again, and made dua'a that Allah's will be made clear. When I looked up again, Farhan was gone. And Bro. Leader had returned to the topic of the goodness of Allah's rizq, in that he has written not only what he willed, but what we ask for.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Against pity parties

Assalamu Alaikum,

(There's a plea for your help for a certain group at the bottom of this entry- scroll down if you want your ajr the quick way.)

For reasons I don't care to remember, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself yesterday. I mean, I had the blues, those weepy whiny unshakeable doldrums. Not a happy place, you know?

Then, I talked to my mama. Still blue.

Then, I ate some food. Still blue.

Then I missed juma'a. Now REALLY blue (I forgot they changed the time since the last time I could go. Boo, hiss, daylight saving time!).

So I asked myself, when it is that I feel at my best- and the answer is when I'm helping someone else's need. There's really nothing that feels better than that, sometimes. Maybe that's something that Allah put in all of us- or maybe He requires us to give Zakah in order to make sure that we feel it once in a while. Wa Allahu Alim.

And then I started thinking that I needed to be actively thinking about other people. So I went ahead and made dhuhr and asr and made dua'a for some other people I know who really need adiyat to Allah. I mean, wow. I had the blues about some pretty insignificant stuff, compared to the worry they're facing.

Then, I got dressed and put on a little lip gloss (I was ACTIVELY kicking out the pity party, I needed some glimmer), and I went to Conservopolis's rally for Gaza. Again, just making dua'a for the people of Gaza while I was driving. If you've been on my FB, you know how I feel about the situation.
In order to get to the rally site I had to park my car at the masjid, and then walk, alone, for about 10 minutes. That was amazing, that walk. It was right after maghrib, the sky was amazing colors, but the street was dark enough to encourage thought. I'd forgotten about how crucial physical exercise can be. I got a chance to think things out.

We all stood on the corner with lights. I saw to my pleasure some unexpected friends there, from MAS. And some of my students, to hold my hand. We all said Surah al Fatiha, those of us who knew it, and then walked down the street, silently, with lights, to the masjid.

I was really feeling better at that point.

Anyway, I ended the day at MAS's Friday Social, and had a great time laughing with the women there, some excellent people. I really cut up, making people laugh. And to put a cherry on the great end to a horrible day, UmFarhan and Marya showed up (they said at the rally they'd probably be going home). And I went to sleep with that sense of release that only serious laughter in seriously good company can bring.

That day, with it's relatively light horrible beginning, had an excellent ending alHamdulillah. If I hadn't gone through that, I don't think I'd've been able to post about it, and so I wouldn't have posted below. SubhanAllah.

After I woke, I read this entry. Last week pretty much everyone in the country heard about the massacre in Southern California, where an ex-husband of a daughter at her parent's party on Dec. 24th dressed in a Santa suit and opened fire on the party. He later set the house on fire. Sylvia Ortega was killed as were eight of her relatives. As a result of that night, thirteen children were left totally orphaned, and two others lost one parent.

Remember that our prophet, my Allah bless him and give him peace, was an orphan. Imagine one of your children orphaned. Please give what you can. And if you absolutely cannot give (are you positive? Do you know the rewards of giving to orphans?), then please make dua'a for this family, the families of those lost and injured and under duress in Gaza, the West Bank, and Isra'il.

fimanillah (with faith in God),

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Feliz Año 1430... o 2009

Assalamu Alaikum,

So lately I've been thinking about this whole thing of not celebrating anything but Eid. I like it and in reality that's how I roll; but it complicates my life. Because I live with my parents and all. So, for example, this year 1430 and 2009 began relatively closely to each other- which led to this scenario:

Me: Hi, I finally brought back the books! Made it just in time!
Holden the librarian: Oh! Happy New Year!
Me: Oh! Thanks! You know?
Holden: Know what?
Me: Oh, the Islamic New Year began yesterday. But Happy New Year to you, too. (totally embarrassed by that slip)

To add to it I got my own henna powder (and didn't have to sift it, can you believe that?) and so went about the past three days with henna patterns on both hands. I mixed it myself because I was trying to come up with a good recipe (psst... sifted powder, fresh squeezed and strained lemon juice, a little sugar, honey, and my secret ingredients- clove oil {substitute lavender oil for kids and preg. mamas) and eucalyptus oil... my henna is still BLACK looking, yo, it's excellent!) and so now JW is freaking out. "It wierds me out to hand you something when your hand looks like that... does it hurt?" I keep forgetting my hands look weird to other people. MashaAllah, my little islamically enclosed world is well insulated. I don't leave it except to go home and go to class.

I'm making dua'a for those we know aren't beginning this year well- I got into such a 'discussion' over on my FB over Gaza. I happen to have studied this in school, it makes me so sad and angry on so many levels. May Allah help the oppressed, and help the Muslims to be on the side of the righteous, may He continue to guide everyone to a resolution of this violence, and may He give comfort and solace to ALL of the grieving families and grant Jennah al Firdous, the highest heaven, to those killed injustly in His time, amin.

Please make dua'a for me. May this be the year that truly increases my iman, and keeps us all on the straight path. A year full of revealed goodness, of blessings and strength and success in all good things.