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Why the Yearly Request ‘Forgive me if I’ve done Something Wrong Knowingly’ Bothers Me a Little 

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2016 by amanisma


Every Ramadan social media is flooded with request for forgiveness. We ask others to forgive us if we have done something wrong knowingly and unknowingly. Now the unknowingly part I get. Sometimes we do things that hurt others and we are unaware. In these cases we, the “wrongdoer”, aren’t given a chance to apologize or correct the mistake because we simply are not aware we have done something wrong. It’s completely understandable to cover that base and seek forgiveness because it’s unknown. 

Now for the knowingly part, why can’t we apologize to the people we have wronged? We know when we backbite or slander each other. We know if we have divorced and left children behind and refuse to take care of them. We know if we cut family ties, i.e. preventing a father from seeing his children. We know know if we have fought with a Muslim. We know when we lie on someone to make ourselves look good. We know if we run a business and hurt the communities by selling alcohol and synthetic drugs. We know when we are profiting from cheap unfinished products. We know if we have instigated an issue and caused problems for our sister. We know! We know! We know! 

In these instances we are aware of the wrong, so why wait until Ramadhan (or traveling) to toss out the request for forgiveness? It seems it’s become more of a ritual to ask in this manner. It’s become expected that before Ramadan and during Hajj season there is an influx of such request. I’m sorry but I’m truly giving the side eye to the “knowingly” part. Let’s make this year we accept the wrong we do to others and give our Muslim brothers and sisters their rights. Apologies are much more sincere when we accept what we’ve done and make necessary changes. 
Here are some alternative solutions to seeking forgiveness for the knowingly examples of wrongs mentioned above: 

1. If we backbite/slander a Muslim, go to the person and apologize. If you don’t have the guts to do that then speak good of them in the same company in which you tarnished their name. If you can’t do that, then get them a gift.  If can’t do that then stay quiet. 

2. If you have a child you do not  take care of then change your life. Get a job. Support your children. There are no excuses for not taking care of your children. Asking for forgiveness only works when you stop doing the wrong that you are apologizing for. Asking for forgiveness yearly as your child suffers seems a bit fake. 

3. Cutting family ties specifically between children and their fathers. Sometimes marriages don’t last but that doesn’t mean the children must suffer. Honestly, if there wasn’t abuse involved then there really isn’t any good reason to keep a child away from their father. Reconnect the child with their parents. Allow them to figure out how they feel on their own. 

4. Fighting with Muslims. Does this really need an explanation??? We know when there is either a verbal or physical altercation but rarely offer an apology. In fact, the dispute doesn’t end there. Too many times we quarrel and the first thing we do is call a friend and discuss what “just went down” ultimately inviting others to backbite. We could handle the issue in a more mature manner. Accept that anger has momentarily taken over and follow the sunnah when it comes to removing the anger. 

5. Telling lies on others to make ourselves look good. All I can suggest is stay calm and speak the truth. May Allah protect us all from hypocrisy and telling lies. Ameen

6. Can this be the year the Muslims stop selling alcohol and synthetic drugs? Aside from the clear evidence from the Quran telling us its wrong, statistics prove drunk driving is the cause many deadly accidents. Also there are many videos online showing reactions to the harmful synthetic marijuana K2. Now, I’m not saying selling real marijuana is any better but I mention the K2 because it is legally sold in many convenient stores along with alcohol. This is knowingly harming others. There isn’t any good that can come from either of these substances. 

7. Profiting from cheap products. If I purchase a pricey abaya from a Muslim business there is no reason I should have to literally retrace every single stitch because it’s falling apart. That shouldn’t happen after the first wear. On top of that having a “no return” policy. Come on! This is not right and if we sell any type of product then we should charge according to the quality. High quality should be high priced. Enough said. 

8. Instigating problems between Muslims. This goes along with backbiting but I’ll just say this, we should not be going back and forth with the “he said she said”. Such a mentality should have ended in grade school. Let’s solve our issues with each other and leave it at that. Let Islam make adults mature again. Ya Allah, Ameen! 

I know we all make mistakes. This is what makes us human. All I am trying to get across is that we refrain from being of those who act out certain rituals depending on the times of year. Let’s try to be better people for the sake of being good and pleasing our Creator. We all do things that unknowingly hurt others and for that I ask forgiveness for as well. As for the pain we knowingly cause let’s try to correct those faults instead of throwing yearly requests that feel a little phony. Especially if we don’t change our ways. May Allah make us all more sincere and courageous…Ameen 

Dear Respected Imams; An Open Letter concerning Domestic Violence

Posted in human issues with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2015 by amanisma

Dear Respected Imams and Community Leaders,
I am a survivor of domestic violence. It took me years to finally speak up. Now that I have it is my intentions to assist in bringing about change in the way abuse in the home is addressed within the Muslim community. I have heard many times how well the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) treated his wives. I’ve heard it said many times during the Friday prayer that “the best of you is he who is best to his family”. Praise be to God, Muslims have the best example of how one should treat the spouse yet cases of domestic violence seem to be on the rise.

I am aware that some Imams are giving exceptional advice (Masha’Allah) when it comes to domestic violence. Just the other day I came across a video on YouTube by Sheikh Omar Suleiman addressing abuse. I found the advice very uplifting and encouraging but many sisters who have been abused are not getting the same advice when they seek help from an Imam. Some sisters are being told to “be patient”. It’s important to note that once a woman actually opens up about the abuse taking place in her home she has passed the phase of being patient. It’s not likely that she was hit once and decided to seek counsel. Many have gone through the cycle of abuse time after time and had to build up courage to ask for help. Telling her to be patient sounds like this: You’ve done something to deserve this so just be patient while he chokes you, stay quiet while he punches you, forget that he just dragged you to the ground and kicked you in the face. Be patient and in the meantime endure the physical trauma. Domestic violence can be emotional or physical, and frequently ends in death. It is possible that the advice to “be patient” is sending a victim of abuse to their grave.

I have a few suggestions that may assist in bringing about change:

1. Organize classes/workshops on domestic violence. Many times the advice given to victims of abuse reflect that there is no knowledge of what abuse is. Spreading this knowledge whether it be to Imams, teachers, or Shurah members will help in assisting the community and especially those going through abuse.
2. Document Cases of abuse. There are women in the Muslim community who are survivors of abuse but can not get assistance to obtain legal aid for a divorce because the abuse was not documented. What’s worse is that the abusers are given custody and unsupervised visitation rights when there are children involved. The children are not safe in a home with an abuser. Many times these women have gone to an Imam and complained about abuse in the home but there was no documentation.

3. Offer Unbiased Counseling. It’s a complaint amongst victims of domestic violence that some Imams give counsel in favor of the abuser. The victim is blamed for the abuse and told to behave differently in order for the abuse to stop. The community commonly adds to this type of counsel by making claims “to know” the abuser and “know they would never do something like that”. Just because one prays next to a person or sees them frequently at the Masjid does not mean it’s known how they treat their family. Victims of domestic violence should not be made to feel like they are liars and or to blame for the abuse they endure. Abusers are commonly charming individuals in the public eye and quite different in the home.

4. Encourage victims to dial 911. When in extreme danger and the victim fears for their life they should be encouraged to call the police. Muslim women are made to feel as though calling for help is frowned upon. Abusive spouses are threatening their lives and because there is this fear of shaming the community and their families they are suffering in silence. They should feel encouraged to get help if they feel their lives are in danger.

5. Encourage anonymous reporting. We must get away from the thinking of “it’s not my business” when we KNOW a person is being abused. Whether it’s an adult or child if we are aware of the abuse we should all feel compelled to get them the help they deserve. A victim of abuse lives in constant fear lacking courage to speak up and ask for help. It is necessary for the rest of us to be strong where they are weak. I also would like to add that in some states Clergy are mandated reporters in cases where children are exposed to domestic violence.

6. Provide and support shelter for victims. Since this is a problem that affects the Muslim community it is very necessary to have a safe haven for the victims of abuse. In the case that one must up and leave their abuser a shelter would help immensely. Alhamdulillah for the operational shelters but unfortunately more are needed.

I would like to point out that in no way am I accusing ALL imams of not taking a stance on domestic violence. As mentioned before, I have heard many reminders for spouses to be good to each other. Still, we have cases where family members, specifically wives, are being abused. The woman is the one who spends the majority of her time raising the children. We can not expect the Ummah to rise when the spirit of the woman is broken. May Allah reward you for all of your efforts,
Sincerely,

A Survivor

Celebrate the living.

Posted in Inspiration with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2014 by amanisma

Once while going through an extremely difficult time in college I felt like giving up. I was overwhelmed and stressed by the day to day demands of driving back and forth to school, working, parenting, etc. I just didn’t want to do anything anymore. A friend of mine came over and was sitting at my computer desk while I worked on an assignment. We’d previously discussed the hardships I was experiencing. When she left I noticed a letter addressed to me sitting on my desk. I opened it and read all these kind words she had written. It was very encouraging and helped me get through that rough patch.

Many times we wait until someone is not around to appreciate them. While they are present we may not necessarily mistreat them but we have a hard time letting our loved ones know what their presence means. Often an unexpected departure, either temporarily by relocating or permanently by death, moves us to speak highly of others. Why must it be that way? I’d bet that there would be less ill feelings and negativity if we could celebrate life by letting others know what they mean to us. So from now on I would like to challenge myself and everyone reading this to praise our loved ones by telling them what they mean. Don’t wait until the unexpected happens to tell the whole world that your best friend was the coolest person or that so and so was amazing. Do it now. You never know what affect your words may have.
There are many ways you can get this message across. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Write letter. These days everyone sends text, Facebook, or email messages. Writing a letter has become a thing of the past but I think it shows that one has put more of an effort and thought into what they wish to convey.

2. Send a card. Cards aren’t just for birthdays or special occasions. You can add to a message already printed in the card. Show someone they are deserving of such kindness whether they are right up the street or far away.

3. Status update. I saw this on Facebook just yesterday. A friend of mine tagged a few people in a status update to tell them about their unique qualities. I thought this was amazing because I see more status updates about qualities disliked rather than admired traits.

4. Random text messages. In my opinion it takes the least amount of effort to send a text message but it’s always nice to receive one.

This is just a reminder to myself and others to celebrate those who are in our lives. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Everyone needs a word of encouragement and to hear they are appreciated every now and then. Just because a smile is worn assuming all is well is still an assumption. Peace and blessing.

The Problem with Muslim Parents

Posted in Sisters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2013 by amanisma

 Recently the youth group I’ve coordinated hosted a Black and White Gala in our small town. Working with the youth with little to no help from parents is a task in itself but I see the need so I am extremely committed to the youth. A decision was made that it would be appropriate for our guest speaker to address the audience about the issues that plague the Muslim youth. The evening went on as planned. Hujrah Wahhaj came to the Gala and spoke briefly about some of the issues that are facing our youth. In my opinion she only scratched the surface but I felt it was perfect for our community because I have counseled girls with similar to worse issues. 

 

After the event I spoke to some women who attended and asked their opinion about the speech. The responses I received left me totally perplexed. I was told that the event was nice, but “Arabs don’t want their children hearing about boyfriends”. This almost knocked me off my feet. Besides the fact that the overall message was clearly lost by many, I was a little disturbed by the feedback. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but “Arab kids” already know about “boyfriends”. Herein lies the problem with Muslims (or “Arabs” since the term is used interchangeably). When it comes to the youth we think there are no problems. I’m certain if more adults knew the issues that go on with the youth they would be more dedicated to solving the problems. I’ve had girls tell me they were hanging out with boys, got drunk, and were raped. I’ve taken girls to clinics to get tested for HIV. In our little community there have been situations where young brides have gotten married only to find out their spouses are homosexual. Not only are girls having boyfriends, but they are involved with guys who are destructive criminals dealing with drugs and other harmful substances. Girls are getting pregnant and having abortions. Teens are doing extremely shameful things so that they won’t be labeled as “losing their virginity”. The youth are pressured by their peers into doing things that are not in line with Islamic teachings. 

 

Many of these issues are taking place and instead of the Muslim community as a whole coming together and developing solutions we tend to act like there are no problems. Sometimes I hear people talking and saying things like “American teens do this or do that”. As if teens who are from other countries aren’t effected by the same issues. No! We can not continue to label these problems as “American” problems. These are issues that many teens, no matter the race or religion, are going through.

 

I spoke with another parent and I can’t help but appreciate her honesty. I was told many parents just do not want to believe it’s their daughters who are going through these issues. Still I have to say, pretending there isn’t a problem only makes it worse. Some of the girls are crying out for help and there is no one there. Eventually they become sucked into a life of false promises. They are controlled by a society that is pretty much Godless. Their friends become people who couldn’t care less if they used to practice Islam, wear hijab, or Pray 5 times a day. Our girls become numbers and we are all watching them leave one by one.

 

Parents, you can’t just sit back and call it a “phase”. As adults we should be eager to work with the youth as mentors and make an attempt to prevent them from falling into error. No doubt, the world is appealing as it is. So what impression do you think the world will leave on your young child’s brain?? A brain that has yet to fully develop?? This is the time when the youth can not be left alone to figure things out on their own. I pray Allah gives me the strength to continue working with the youth and raise my children to be righteous and to make moral decisions when they are faced with these very issues. 

 

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