The Latino Muslim Voice
The October-December 2007 newsletter features:
Quotes of the Month
Guest of the Beneficent (Hajj)
By Safi Abdi
Guest of the Beneficent
Copyright 2004, Safi Abdi.
Hajj Journal: Heading to Hajj
By Su'ad Abdul-Khabeer
A recent college grad shares her thoughts on the beginning of the journey.
It's been confirmed. I'm on my way to Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the holiest city of Islam. All Muslims are required to perform Hajj at least once in their lives, if they can afford to. It is one of the Five Pillars of Islam--devotional acts required of all Muslims.
I was beginning to wonder if this Hajj journal would ever get written. The Saudi embassy was reluctant to grant me a visa because I would be traveling as a single woman. According to Saudi laws, Muslim women are supposed to travel with a mahram (an uncle, brother, or father) for safety considerations, but I think their interpretation only serves a certain class of Muslim women--which I find to be un-Islamic. After much frustration, I finally received the visa. I had truly been invited by God.
On Hajj, one visits the Ka'bah, the cube-shaped structure Muslims call the house of God. A hajja/hajji (pilgrim) has been invited on this journey by God, the Ultimate. Therefore, a hajja is literally a guest of God. Imagine that.
The pilgrimage started for me as soon as I got to the airport terminal at JFK. I felt a luggage cart biting into my ankles. I turned my head and an Egyptian woman was motioning for me to hurry up, as if there was anyplace I could move. I gave her the common Egyptian signal for patience and thought to myself, "I am still in America, but it's started already!"
"It" is the chaos and disorder of traveling in Arabic-speaking Africa and the Middle East. The Egypt Air boarding area was already like I'd entered a foreign country: the clamor of colloquial Egyptian Arabic, people pushing and shoving, cutting the line, trying to convince the agents to let them check just one more box, even though they had already checked eight pieces. Slight annoyances, but ones I was determined wouldn't annoy me; if I can't deal with a hundred people in an airport, how will I ever deal with millions of people on the Hajj?
As my mother and I boarded the plane, well-wishers, some of whom I've known since I was young, began chanting the Hajj supplication: "Labbayka Allahuma Labbayk, Labbayka la shareeka laka Labbayk, Inna al-hamd wa an-ni'mata laka wa al-mulk, La shareeka lak!" (O my Lord, Here I am at Your service, Here I am, There is no partner with You, Truly, the praise and the blessing are Yours, and so is the dominion, There is no partner with you.) As we went through the gate, the crowd continued waving good-bye and chanting, "Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest)!"
We were off first to Cairo, where we'd catch another plane to Saudi Arabia. There are several stages of the Hajj, including a ritual cleansing and the circling of the Ka'bah. But the most important stage occurs on Mt. Arafat, or Mount Mercy. Arafat is a sacred site for several reasons: Adam and Eve are said to have reunited there, Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael there, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) gave his last sermon there, and Allah descends to the lowest heaven to hear the prayers of His servants who gather on the mountain. If you can't make it there to pray yourself, you definitely want someone else to appeal to God on your behalf.
In my luggage, I have quite a few index cards with prayers to say while on Arafat. I am carrying them for those who aren't able to make the trip with us. For most, the Hajj is something you do after 40, at the earliest. Most people have bills, families, jobs, and debt--responsibilities that are not easily taken care of or put on hold for the three weeks or so it takes to make the Hajj. Yet at 22, I am making the trip. It's a thought that really humbles me. Allah has basically said, "Su'ad, come to My house," and I replied, with tears streaming down my face, "Labbayka Allahuma Labbayk!"
Su'ad Abdul-Khabeer, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Georgetown University, performed the Hajj, a pilgrimage that all Muslims are required to do, in early March. She is the daughter of Shaykh AbdulKhabeer Muhammad.
Copyright © 2007 Beliefnet, Inc. All rights reserved.
MAMI AND PAPI
By Raheel Rojas
I like many of you have Christian parents. I have given them dawah but they are not Muslim yet. I have given up the verbal dawah and I am now working on refining my Islamic manners. As Muslims we are to be totally respectful and mainly obedient to our parents even though they are not believers. Ever since I started on the refinement I have seen a change in my parents receptiveness in Islam.
DON'T GIVE UP ON YOUR PARENTS
RESPECT FOR MAMI AND PAPI
MAKE THEM FEEL GREAT FOR HAVING A MUSLIM CHILD
THEY WILL SEE A CHANGE
WHEN TO QUIT
Identity of a Muslim Woman and Maintaining it
By Samantha Sanchez
A Muslim is someone who submits his/herself to Allah (God). A person who believes that there is only one God and Muhammad (pbuh) is His Prophet. Who believes in the Day of the Judgment, the Books, the Angels...
But what is a Muslim woman... something far beyond this definition. A Muslim woman is unique in that she wears her Islam on her sleeve or her head and not just in her heart. Why? Well we can debate all day from both standpoints the feminist and the REALIST about whether or not it is an infringement of her rights, or a blame on her sexuality. We might also say we wear it because we are modest and we fear God who states in the scripture that it is required of us. In verses 24:31 and 33:59 of the Qur'an women are instructed to cover and are given several reasons for this. First, to guard their modesty (as a protection for themselves), second not to display their ornaments (not to objectify themselves), and third so they be recognized and not molested.
The truth remains when a woman wears her Islam on her head or her sleeve, I identify her as Muslim, and if she doesn't cover, she becomes as obscure as the men (sort of blends in to the crowd). How many of us are not sure unless we know that she is Muslim, whether or not we should say salaam. It is an honor, a right, a privilege and a liberation to be a Muslim woman and be seen as just that. We all know that people regardless of the phrase, judge a book by its cover. Certainly this has drawbacks. But that all depends on what the person judging believes it symbolizes. Oppression or liberation?
I assure you my Muslim sisters and I are not oppressed. Muslim women are the most "progressive", educated, intelligent, active, happy, spiritually centered people I know. No this doesn't come from covering the head. But covering the head doesn't hinder any of these qualities either.
I always think of the Muslim Woman this way:
Mothers (of the)
Does this sound to you like an oppressed individual? The ignorant outsider sees Muslim women as a piece of history in the here and now, her backward ways, her cultural preoccupations. But if we look at examples of women even in the beginning of Islam we can be sure that even then they were not oppressed.
May Allah be pleased with them. These are just some of the women in Islamic history who epitomize what it is to be a Muslim woman. Strong, intelligent, independent women who are willing to believe and have faith, to fight for a cause despite the consequences, and to ensure that Islam lives on.
We are rebels with a cause. The cause is Islam. Why does Turkey fear women's covering? Will they be too strong?
Being a woman in the world means having to decide whether you should be judged by your looks and charms or by your intelligence. Women often sway at the border between a subject and an object. The Western world talks about feminism and a woman's right to choose what to wear what job to have etc.. But this type of feminism leads women to either strive to be something they are not...i.e. MEN...or it tells them that the only way they can get respect or attention is to become an object. TRUE FEMINISM says yes a woman has the right to choose what to wear. The right choice, however, should be that which frees her to be seen for her mind and not her body as a subject to be respected and not an object to be projected.
The Muslim woman can be or do anything she wants. Despite misconceptions about how they do not have a voice and cannot be leaders, Muslim women have and will lead nations as prime ministers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, and last but certainly not least, mothers. She has rights given to her 1400 years ago that other women only gained in the last century.
Now that we know the true identity of the Muslim woman, how can we maintain it? First, regardless of your level of faith at present, you should remember that comporting yourself as a Muslim woman means dressing modestly but it also means not being complacent in speech. This does NOT mean that women should not talk it means they should not flirt. If you have something to say, say it, like you mean business, especially when talking to the opposite sex.
Second, the issues of other Muslim women should tug at your heartstrings. By involving yourself in the cause of other fellow sisters, we empower ourselves and maintain the identity that throughout history Muslim women have always had...as defenders of the faith, loyal to the ummah.
Third, we should become as educated as possible not only in the secular but in the sacred. What good is hijab if you don't know what it stands for. I urge all of you to strive to the top of your given field, become lawyers, doctors, professor, engineers, etc. Look to Khadijah (ra) a successful businesswoman.. But also, become scholars of Islam. Part of being a Muslim woman is being able to impart your knowledge of Islam to others. Look to Aisha and Hafsah (ra) the women who narrated so many ahadith (sayings of the Prophet) and guarded the Qur'an so that our generation could have the unchanged truth.
These women are known as the Mothers of the Believers, respected and held in high regard.
Fourth, we have rights and responsibilities and part of maintaining our identity is exercising those rights and fulfilling those responsibilities. We have a duty to our families. One day all of you will be married and have families of your own. Remember my acronym. Muslim woman are the mothers of the future Muslim community and the makers of a nation. There is a saying, "the first university is the mother's lap." We should be educated not only for ourselves but as part of our duty to our children. We would not want to place the burden on them of drifting along wandering to find what is Islam is. We should be the best resources for them.
Fifth, maintaining a Muslim woman's identity in the western world, even in Muslim countries (i.e. Turkey, Kosovo) can be a daunting task. There is a famous quote, "Ignorance is bliss." I suppose it rings true for those who are ignorant. They can be happy with their present situations. It is quite a task here and in so-called Muslim countries to separate fact from fiction. Many authors who claim to be Muslim tell us that what I have defined as the Muslim identity is antiquated and needs to be revised. They believe that they are doing us a favor but it is a disservice. The first step to maintaining a Muslim woman's identity is to know what it really means and what it does not. It does not mean that in order to be a Muslim woman in the present time I have to alter the meaning of the scripture to suit my needs. Fatima Mernissi and others want us to do that. This is a destruction of the true Muslim woman's identity. If I comply with their wishes and reinterpret as they call it, the scriptures of God then I am no longer a Muslim. How can I tell God what He means in a verse if I am supposed to be submitting to Him? Certainly there are opinions in Islam. Scholars have debated many things. But when there are interpretations that are agreed upon based on evidence, how can I oppose them. Perhaps if these women studied as much Islam as they did secular works, they would not have this misinterpretation.
In closing, being a Muslim woman is not always easy. But the easy path is not always right one and the right path is sometimes the one with obstacles. People may stare, tell you how backward you are, claim that you are oppressed. Remember, ignorance is bliss, then, enlighten them. Exude the confidence, the grace, and the intelligence, that the true Muslim woman possesses.
Developing Ideas on the Parenting Program
By Rebecca Abuqaoud
First of all, I would like to say thanks to the sisters and brothers who have emailed me recently and in the past regarding the programs and acitivities that they would like to travel to travel to Illinois to attend. Potential programs are coming too inshaAllah, for families; and of course, this includes programs for brothers. Programs that are organized by Latino brothers in Illinois. You can visit latinomuslims.com for more information.
I would like for you to consider this an informal conversation. As you may know, I recently posted information a few days ago inviting mothers to attend a program that would discuss this interesting topic: Parenting in the West. I know some of you, especially you sisters, would like to come for this topic but you cannot come because you live out of Illinois.
So, I was thinking about taking some questions that you would like to ask the speaker but it is also too late to take your questions. However, inshaAllah I'll do my best to share with you part of the topic. I really consider this to be a very important topic that Muslim parents should consider seriously.
I was born into a Christian family and my parents were pastors. Believe it or not, they had a lot of influence in shaping my personality, character, my behavior, and moral values. My mother influenced the way I'm now. She used to say: "Education starts before a child is born." And, she explained to me why. She used to read the Bible before breakfast time every day. Believe it or not, I still remember the verses from the Bible, of course; I was a child. The mind of a child is fresh and absorbs new concepts fast. I attended Sunday school church where teachers make sure you know the verses by heart.
Now, I'm Muslim and a mother of two small children. Ready to apply to my children what my mother thought me when I was a little girl. But I'm not going to read the Bible, instead I'll read the Quran before breakfast time inshaAllah. Before bedtime, my mother used to tell me biblical stories, instead of that I read or tell my children stories from the Quran and the great teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Probably, you are comfortable because your children are attending private Islamic schools. However, teachers alone cannot provide everything that you are expecting from your child. However, if your children attends public schools, your concerns are double. I'm sharing with you some ideas that I learned from my mother but let's do them in the Islamic way. Certainly, we learn from each other, and I learn from you, too.
If you have
thoughts, or something valuable, don't hesitate to
share. Before I
close this informal conversation, I would like to
leave you with a few
questions to consider:
Forum de las Culturas Monterrey 2007
By Mauricio Amin Moncada
As salam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
Forum of the Monterrey Cultures 2007
By Mauricio Amin Moncada
As salam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
A great part of that success was derived from the presence in Monterrey of Sheikh Suhail Assad (an Argentine of Lebanese parents) who showed how to handle everything with professionalism, especially in dealing with such delicate subjects as terrorism.
My Conversion Story
By Ali Melena
My name is Ali. I'm a 27 year old Mexican American or as some would say a Chicano. I thought I would write my story to tell how I became a Muslim. I think it will Insha'Allah, God-willing, help people understand Islam and why it attracted me. People have a wrong perception about Islam and Muslims, what little they know is usually from movies and television, which is almost all the time false. I think that Islam is the answer for the problems of the youth and society in general. I hope my story Insha'Allah will attract more Latinos and people of all races to the light of Islam.
My life before was bad I had no direction in life. I was wasting my life away by dropping out of school in the 11th grade. I would hang out in the streets with my friends "partying", getting high, drinking, and selling marijuana. Most of my friends were gang members. I myself was never in a gang. I knew most of them before they were criminals and drug dealers so it was not a problem. I slowly began to use harder drugs. I had dreams but they seemed too far away for me to make them reality. The more I became depressed the more I turned to drugs as a temporary escape.
One day a friend of mine told me that he knew where to get some good marijuana. I was eager to sample and buy some, so I agreed to go check it out. We arrived and went inside this apartment. There were a couple of people inside. We sat around and talked for a while and "sampled" the weed. My friend and I bought some, and we were getting ready to leave when my friend said one of the guys there invited us to his apartment to give him a book.
We left for this guy's apartment when we got there. He gave my friend a book and asked him to read it. He said that it might help him out with his problems in life. On the way home I asked my friend to show me the book that the guy gave him. It was the Qur'an. I had never in my life heard of "The Holy Qur'an." I began to briefly read some pages. While I was reading, I knew that what I was reading was true. It was like a slap in the face, a wake up call. The Qur'an is so clear and easy to understand. I was really impressed and wanted to know more about Islam and Muslims.
The strangest thing is that I was not looking for a new religion. I used to laugh at people that went to church and sometimes said that there was no God. Although deep down, I knew there was. I decided to go to the library a couple of days later and check out the Qur'an. I began to read it and study it. I learned about Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the true story of Jesus son of Mary (Peace be upon him). The Qur'an stressed the fact that God was one and had no partners or a son. This was most interesting to me since I never understood the concept of the trinity. The Qur'an describes the birth of Prophet Jesus (P.B.U.H) and his mission. There is also a Surah, or Chapter, called Mary and tells her story as well.
As a child I always went to church, my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist and took my sister and me every Saturday. I never was really religious and stopped going to church when I was about 14 or 15.The rest of my family is Catholic. I always wondered why we were Seventh day Adventist, but the rest of my family was Catholic. When we would go visit my family back in Mexico, we went to a Catholic Church for weddings and Quencenira's, a sweet 15 celebration.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Messenger of God sent to all mankind. The Qur'an tells the story's of all the Prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Noah, Isaac, David, Moses, Jesus (Peace be upon them all) told in a clear and understandable manner. I did months of research on Islam. I bought a Holy Qur'an at a bookstore and studied about World History and Islam's contributions to Medicine and Science.
After months of study and research I could not deny the truth anymore, I had put it off too long, but was still living the life I was before and knew that if I became Muslim I had to give all that up. One day while reading the Quran, I began to cry and fell to my knees and thanked Allah for guiding me to the truth. I found out that there was a mosque by my house, and so I went one Friday to see how Muslims prayed and conducted their service. I saw that people from all races and colors attended the mosque. I saw that they took off their shoes when entering and sat on the carpeted floor. A man got up and began to call the Adthan, or call to prayer. When I heard it my eyes filled up with tears. It sounded so beautiful. It was all so strange at first but seemed so right at the same time. Islam is not just a religion but a way of life.
After attending the mosque for a couple of Fridays, I was ready to be a Muslim and say my Shahada, or declaration of faith. I told the Khatib, the person giving the lecture, that I wanted to be a Muslim. The following Friday in front of the community I said my Shahada first in Arabic then in English. I bear witness that there is no other God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is His Messenger.
When I finished a brother shouted, "Takbir!" Then, all the community said, "Allah O Akbar!" (God is great!) a few times, then all the Brothers came and hugged me. I never received so many hugs in one day. I will never forget that day; it was great. I have been Muslim since 1997. I'm at peace with myself and clear in religion. Being Muslim has really changed my life for the better thanks to Almighty God. I have received my G.E.D. and work in the computer field. I had the blessing of being able to perform Hajj, or Pilgrimage, to the Holy city of Mecca. It was an experience of a lifetime. About three million people from every race and color in one place worshiping one God. Islam is amazing!
The 5th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day
Date and Time: