Islam 101, Uncategorized

Islam 101: Halal & Haram

We see these two words a lot online and in books but what do they mean exactly? For all of my new Muslims who aren’t familiar, it’s pretty straight forward. Halal means permissible and haram means forbidden. Doing something haram is committing a sin while doing something halal or more commonly referred to as fard (obligatory) or sunnah (recommended) is doing what we’re allowed or required to do. If something is fard it is basically the standard and what is required of us, so we don’t necessarily get any extra rewards for doing it. Doing something that is Sunnah or mustahabb is doing something that is highly recommended and you can receive reward for it.

Common examples of something haram would be drinking alcohol, eating pork, gossip, and zina. Things that are fard would be eating halal-certified meat (meat slaughtered according to the will of Allah and in His name; more on that here), keeping one’s gaze down around the opposite sex, dressing modestly, praying five times a day and paying zakat.

Sunnah directly means “The way of the Prophet (SAW)”. So the things that he did consistently are considered sunnah such as praying the extra rakats of prayer or starting on the right side of the body when getting dressed. Sunnah actions can also be referred to as mustahabb or naafil. There is also another category called makrooh which means something is disliked and not encouraged. Eating shrimp is considered makrooh as well as giving to someone with your left hand. These are actions that are best left undone but if you do them, it’s not a sin.

When we take an even deeper look into each action that falls under these categories we can see why they have been allowed or forbidden. Alcohol is forbidden because it is toxic to our bodies and also causes us to lose our inhibitions, do bad things, and get ourselves into bad situations. Lowering one’s gaze around the opposite sex is obligatory because it keeps our minds from wandering and prevents us from potentially lusting after someone and acting on that feeling. This is good to keep in mind if we begin to miss doing certain things or if we question why we have to avoid these things. And remember that Allah has only forbidden what is harmful and what will lead us to wrongdoing. This means that there is so much more to a fun life that Islam allows us to explore!

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

Lonely?

Assalaamu Alaikum.

Today I want to address a more emotional topic: loneliness. As a revert you experience this in a way that is so completely different from any other. I’ve lived alone in a new city, so I feel like I have a pretty solid foundation to compare this feeling to. Loneliness as a revert Muslim can isolate you even when you are surrounded by loved ones. It can be scary and frustrating, it can eat away at you and threaten to take you down. Being alone in this way most commonly means that you find yourself living in an Islamophobic area with very few, if any, fellow brothers and sisters in Islam.

It’s an isolation that is all-pervading and can be almost impossible to explain to anyone who was blessed to grow up in a Muslim family and/or in a strong Muslim community. How do you even begin? It’s as simple as this: it’s just you and Allah (SWT) and it can make or break your iman (faith). When you are lonely like that, the only One you can rely on is Allah (SWT). Your family may not understand you, you may lose friends, you may receive dirty looks in public, you may face harassment, and you may know no other Muslims in your area. You are tempted at every turn and it is easy to lose control of doing the right thing. Often times I find it far too easy to slip up with very little positive influence in my life. If I am not making a conscious and self-disciplined decision to study Quran and Hadith and practice what I learn, I don’t stand a chance. I HAVE to pray five times a day or it won’t happen at all. I have to structure my life in a way that pleases Allah (SWT) in every way, or temptation will take control.

Alhamdulillah, I have an amazing husband and family in London who I can talk to at any time and who have already taught me so much. I just joined a writing group called Hijabies Hood that I am so blessed to write with and learn from as well. And I was born in the age of the internet so I have almost unlimited access to information on Islam. When you are feeling this loneliness creep up, look at what and who you do have. Check with your local masjid to see if there any women’s groups or classes you can join. Look for ways to give back to the community that will also bring you in contact with potential friends. And above all else, cling to your iman! Dedicate yourself to sincere prayer and study. Don’t let up even when it gets difficult. I can promise you that it will get difficult and you will question everything, but that is only a sign that you are going in the right direction and you must keep pressing on. And if you have no one else to talk to and you desperately need someone to listen, drop me a message. Your sisters in Islam are not going to let you down, we’ve got you.

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Islam 101

Islam 101: Sutrah

Sutrah: “an object used by a person performing salat as a barrier between himself and one passing in front of him.” (Wikipedia)

“Abu Juhaym said, โ€œThe Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, โ€˜If the one who passes in front of a man praying knew what he was bringing upon himself it would be better for him to stop for forty than to pass in front of him.โ€™ โ€ย Abuโ€™n-Nadr said, โ€œI do not know whether he said forty days or months or years.โ€ (Muwatta, Malik, Shortening the Prayer, Arabic Ref. Book 9, Hadith 366; Sunan Abi-Dawud, Prayer , Arabic Ref. 701)”

“It was narrated from โ€˜Abdur-Rahman bin Abu Saโ€™eed that his father said: โ€œThe Messenger of Allah (๏ทบ) said: โ€˜When anyone of you performs prayer, let him pray facing towards a sutrah, and let him get close to it, and not let anyone pass in front of him. If someone comes and wants to pass in front of him, let him fight him, for he is a devil (satan).โ€™โ€(Sunan Ibn Majah, Establishing the Prayer and the Sunnah Regarding Them, Arabic Ref. Book 5, Hadith 1007)”*

I wish I had known this before I thoughtlessly stepped in front of my husband in sujood whilst attempting to get to the bathroom. In my defense, he had planted himself right beside the bathroom door, but it was a mistake and I knew as soon as I did it. Alhamdulillah, I have been blessed with a husband who is sweet and gentle. He kindly and promptly informed me that I should never walk in front of someone in prayer as it is haram (not permitted, forbidden). Doing this disturbs them and distracts them from their prayer. The Prophet (SAW) would drive a stick or spear into the ground whilst travelling or out in the dessert and pray before it. He recommended others to do the same with a similar object or by praying facing a wall. This is the best way to ensure that the prayer is not interrupted.

*Hadith and sources courtesy of islamandquran.org.

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