Monday, November 29, 2010


 The Warning of the Qur'ân
"O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from the fire.."(Quran-Surah 66 -6)

An Earnest Appeal to Parents

 The post exam is a period of care-free relaxation and indulgence. It is the common practice of students during this interim to indulge in frivolous pursuits not to mention haraam and abominable actions. It is un-Islamic to get involved in those activities which attract the wrath of Allah. It is extreme foolishness and utter dimwittedness to indulge in things which Allah has, explicitly through the Qur'aan Majeed and Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam, forbade us from.

 It is the objective of shaytaan, the accursed, to deviate the Muslimeen from the obedience of Allah and Nabi sallallahu alayhi wasallam, by means of false promises and the notion that such - and - such an activity is wide-spread and therefore acceptable. 0 parents, take heed of the warning given by Allah and inculcate this awareness in our youth, for whom Allah has made us responsible.

"Lo! All of you are leaders and shall be questioned on the day of Judgement in respect of your trust. So, the king is head unto his subjects and shall be question in respect of them, the husband is a head unto his wife and shall be questioned in respect of her, the wife is a head unto her husband's house and the children, and shall be questioned in respect of them all; the slave is-a watchman unto his master's effects and shall be questioned in respect of those. So you all shepherds and you shall be questioned in respect of that entrusted to you." (Bhukhari - Muslim)

 Parents, Are you Prepared to see your Beloved Burning ?
 If a child is set alight, flailing his arms and screaming in agony, will any respected human being, forget a parent, be able to witness such horror without it affecting the heart and forcing the body into action, to extinguish such fire? It is not possible for any person to be a passive spectator in such an event. Therefore, how is it possible for us as parents to allow our children to engage in activities which only paves the way to ultimate destruction, i.e. Jahannam, not to mention, the Jahannam we light in our hearts right here in this earthly life when we suddenly realize that our dear children have become involved in some destructive addiction or haraam relationship. By then it is too late. Let us act now and secure our youths future.

 Parents! Allah's commandments are being broken without any fear of causing the anger of Allah, thus leading them to the fire of Jahannam. What are we doing to save our dear and beloved ones?A man's daughter, sister and wife are all over the world held in very high esteem by the family members, and as such, regarded sacred, so much so that if a stranger happens to molest them, it is almost synonymous to death to the families of these people. History bears witness to the fact that, in order to preserve one's honour and dignity, a dignified person leaves no stone unturned even if he has to spend every cent he possesses to achieve this end. Today, despite widespread permissiveness, this inherent attitude in man still prevails very strongly, yet we Muslims show indifference and continue recklessly along the path of degradation and destruction. History bears witness that no nation on the earth was able to retain its power, glory and strength when it chose to disregard the law of Allah that governed it. Obedience to and respect for the law of Allah is the only means wherewith a nation can retain its dignity, power and glory. Flagrant disobedience of Allah's law leads to certain destruction. Shall we then go on to aid and abet the un-Islamic order of society and way of life, and thereby cause Muslims to be annihilated?  

On the other hand, every Islamically respectful manner and dignified attitude has been abandoned and jettisoned by Muslims countrywide. It is hurtful and repugnant to see that Muslims regard permissiveness and everything that Allah abhors as lawful and dignified, thus inviting the wrath and anger of Allah.They care not, and remain unmindful of crossing the boundaries set out by Allah for the preservation of human dignity and instead they indulge freely and willfully in the taking of intoxicants which is declared by Allah to be the storehouse and mother of all sins, which are abominable to Allah.


Some Despicable Activities commonly engaged in by the Youth:

1.  Parties

2.  Time being spent at evil places

3.  Associating with friends who have evil habits

4.  Alcohol and drugs

5.  Gang fights

6.  Pornography

7.  Cellphone/mobile/internet chatrooms [such as Mix it etc]

8.  Returning home in the early parts of the morning[especially during christmas and new years eve]

9.  Intermingling of sexes

10. Zina (adultery, fornication) 

The Solution

Ø      Do not send them to school after exams unless proper control and supervsion is present.

Ø      To keep them busy.Explore contructive deeni ways to keep them occupied.

Ø      Encourage reading of good Islamic Books.

Ø      To send the males in the path of Allah

Ø      Females to participate in taleemi programmes and da'wah activities held in the neighbourhood.

Ø      To assist widows and the sick

Ø      Males to participate in volunteer work e.g. any Islamic activities supported and supervised by Ulema.

Ø      Visiting patients in hospital

Ø      And if your children wish to go on any outings then accompany them to such places, if such places are Islamically acceptable, otherwise prohibit them from going.

Ø      Try and engage in ISLAMIC ACTIVITIES like memorization of Qur'an and the Zikr of Allah.

Ø      Make available some good Islamic cd's such as lectures, nasheeds,quran,zikr etc

Ø      Ensure punctuality in Prayers at its FIXED times.

*SPEND AS MUCH TIME AS POSSIBLE WITH YOUR KIDS!!!!!...There is NO substitute to Parental Guidance & Supervision!!!!

IMPORTANT: Don't forget to ask Allah for Protection & Help as Nothing can be achieved without the help of Allah!


The Messenger of Allah Muhammad Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has informed us that the Dua of a father in favour of his child is definitely accepted by Allah! (Timidhi, Ibne Majah)-Hadith

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another year gone....

Another year gone....


Staring at the calendar it's impossible not to notice that there are just two pages left on the calendar and November is almost over. Where did the time go? Where did the year go? What did we do with the time? Questions without answers, but there are answers. The answers are in how we spend our time. Every one of us is given the same 24hours in a day, the same 86'400 minutes for the year. What we choose to do with it is entirely up to us. As the adage goes:

            Bad News is that time flies. The good news is that you are the pilot.

More than the time lost are the lost moments. Opportunities to share precious moments lost when we focussed on 'more important' things. Events and objects that we have attached importance to and given them a valuable space in a major part of our lives – our jobs, careers, enjoyment are all important but not as important as the people around us. To date no one has been recorded as saying while on his deathbed "I should have spent more time at the office."  This touching story brings the point home with stark reality:

While at the park one day, a woman sat down next to a lady on a bench near a playground. "That's my son over there," she said, pointing to a little boy in a red sweater who was gliding down the slide.

"He's a fine looking boy" the lady said. "That's my daughter on the bike in the white dress." Then, looking at her watch, she called to her daughter. "What do you say we go, Melissa?"

Melissa pleaded, "Just five more minutes, Mum Please? Just five more minutes."

The lady nodded and Melissa continued to ride her bike to her heart's content. Minutes passed and the mother stood and called again to her daughter. "Time to go now?"

Again Melissa pleaded, "Five more minutes, Mum. Just five more minutes."

The lady smiled and said, "OK."

"My, you certainly are a patient mother," the woman responded.

The lady smiled and then said, "Her older brother Tommy was killed by a drunk driver last year while he was riding his bike near here. I never spent much time with Tommy and now I'd give anything for just five more minutes with him. I've vowed not to make the same mistake with Melissa. She thinks she has five more minutes to ride her bike. The truth is, I get five more minutes to watch her play."

Life is all about making priorities, what are your priorities?
Give someone you love 5 more minutes of your time today. So drop the pens, pots, money and just make the time to give someone you love a call or a hug just for the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala That opportunity may not arise again so grab it and make it a moment to remember. . And give thanks to Allah that He granted us such special people in our lives – people without whom life would be constrained and devoid of pleasure.

Time is not about counting the moments but about making the moments count.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Holidays Can be Real Fun!!!

Holidays Can

be Real Fun!!!


Some ways of

making your kids

vacation more




During the vacation there is a good opportunity to recharge our kids spiritual batteries and start afresh in daily activities. It is a joyous period and a unique break from our busy schedules. Most of us welcome vacations for its fun. It is good to have fun but this must always be done by not compromising the Islamic way of life!!!

By the same token, it is not a bad idea to take time out during these pressure-free holidays to reflect and possibly change our positions and life for the better.

There is an area that is largely ignored by parents when they go on holidays and that is how to guide their children and teenagers to a sin-free vacation. Very often, the newer generations of Muslims growing up in the West have little guidance and sometimes even less knowledge of the Islamic rules that govern our Islamic way of life and they often end up imitating the free unislamic western lifestyle that surrounds them.

 No doubt, if we don't take a proactive approach to maintaining our iman (faith), we might really lose it. The vacation represents an ideal opportunity to boost one's deen (religion). However if it's spent inappropriately, it can lead to disastrous consequences. If we truly value our faith, it is imperative that we use this opportunity to its fullest extent.
Parents have a great responsibility to guide their children to an Islamic lifestyle and to provide a vice-free environment. They should use all available strategies to carry out this responsibility effectively and successfully. This can be achieved by attempting to implement the following tips:

PRAYER Parents should ensure that prayers are performed punctually and be keen to pray on time, especially when their children are with them. This will help the children learn the importance of prayer and the value of time. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as said, "Refresh yourselves with Prayer…" (Hadith Al-Bukhari).Men should perform prayer at the Masjid.However if on vacation a Masjid is not close by then pray together as a family. Prayer in Jamaat is better than praying alone. Children love to call azan. Make the youngest one the salaat manager, taking care of prayer rugs, timing, and inviting everyone to salaat.

 ENVIRONMENT- Always remain within an environment that is free from sin. Psychologist emphasize that environment has a great effect on the upbringing of kids. Plan visits to places that do not in any way encroach on our Islamic way of life. Parents should try to keep their children and teenagers away from the immoral scenes that people usually see in holiday resorts during vacations. The free intermingling of sexes is totally prohibited in Islam. Children are vulnerable and very easily succumb to peer pressure. Parents need to be diplomatically assertive in emphasizing Islamic values.

INTERACT- Regular interaction with your children is vital. Teach them through cool behaviour. Trying to appear "cool" in front of their peers during adolescence brings tremendous pressure on children. "Children often don't feel that their parents know what's cool and what's happening, so they turn to their peer group for the answers by trying to imitate them. By starting regular interaction while your children are young, parents can ensure that their kids will use them as their role models and not their peer groups. Time spent with children enhances the parent-child relationship, so that in their later life children will emulate their parents' values and attitudes and that makes the gift of time the greatest gift of all.
TEACH- Vacations are an excellent opportunity to teach our kids in an interactive way. Plan tasks, projects, games which have an Islamic flavour to it. Parents should take the vacations as an opportunity to indirectly set good examples to their children for cooperation, kindness, and truthfulness. Learn and teach the rules of Islam in a interactive way. Encourage the reading of Qurán and Hadith. Encourage the kids to have Taalim.[Islamic education] Better still, the parents should join in Taalimi programs. Competitions in memorizing the Qur'an and learning the hadith should be encouraged to help inculcate real commitment to the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

READ- Kids have loads of time and will become easily bored if not kept occupied. Introduce them to good Islamic books. Reading material should be carefully selected as you don't want your kids to be adversely affected by unislamic literature. Parents should seize the opportunity of their free time in the holidays to tell their children stories from the Qur'an that impart good morals, enhance spirituality and help build an upright character. Tell or read to your children stories on some nights before bed. There are lots of excellent Islamic stories and books available that you can use or you can make up your own. At the same time, you will be helping your children develop Islamic character.

CO-OPERATION -Muslim parents should help disseminate the cooperative spirit among their sons and daughters during the holidays. This can be achieved by teaching the children the benefits of working together and learning to be patient in achieving their goals, in an attempt to make them realize the importance of teamwork. Reward them where necessary. The family unit is the basis of a good society.

SPORTS- Sports can be a great contributor to building the kids physically and spiritually. Choose such activities that support an Islamic spirit and identity. Ensure that these activities do not encroach on their deen. For example when the time of prayer approaches, let them pray first and then resume their sporting activities. Teach them to use Islamic words in their activities. Instead of saying WOW! Let them say ALLAHU AKBAR[Allah is the Greatest], let them start by saying Bismillah[I begin in the name of Allah] etc. In this way they will be making zikr[remembering Allah]. To be physically fit is part of deen. Swimming, Archery , Horse Riding, Athletics are strongly recommended. The Messenger of Allah(pbuh) even raced with his beloved wife Aisha(RA).

HOUSEHOLD ACTIVITIES- Parents can motivate their kids to bake, clean the garage, re-organize their rooms, help set the table for guests etc. If necessary a roster can be drawn up.

ZIKR[remembering Allah]- Let them spend time making Zikr, Reciting Quran, Making dua etc Get a book on the virtues of good deeds and read it to them. Fazaile Amaal [Virtues of Good Deeds] is an excellent book. Then let them practically do it so they get accustomed to making zikr. The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] informed us that we will not regret about anything in this life accept the time spent without zikr. Verily, in the Zikr of Allah do hearts find peace." (Surah Ra'd) ... "Verily, the remembrance of Allah is the greatest." (Surah Ahzaab) [Qurán]

PLAN AN EVENT- Try organising one weekly treat that you all do together. Bring your kids in on the act and ask them where they want to go this weekend. It may be the zoo, it may be an outing or it may just be going shopping. But it is a great idea to go on an outing with them on a regular basis. These little treats will be exciting for your kids and will remind you that it can be fun to be a parent. Organise a family gathering, Go as a family out in the Path of Allah, a picnic, a sightseeing tour, a day to the zoo, stop off for ice cream or to feed the birds in the park, visit the local orphanage, a visit to the kiddies section in the local hospital etc. Be innovative within the confinements of Sharia.

GARDENING- Gardening is an excelling way to keep them occupied and bring them closer to Allah. Let them have their own vegetable patches, let them plant flowers etc. Explain to them about Beauty of Allah in His creation

PLAY- Play with your children. You could play ball, colour pictures, build toy houses from blocks, or do whatever they like. Let your children help you with simple tasks. Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh) was especially fond of children and used to get into the spirit of childish games in their company. He would have fun with the children who had come back from Abyssinia and tried to speak in Abyssinian with them. It was his practice to give lifts on his camel to children when he returned from journeys. (Bukhari).

LOVE- Show your children in simple ways that you love them. Some parents try to appeal to their children by showering them with gifts rather than giving of themselves. This may cause more harm than good. The simple example of Prophet Muhammad[pbuh].When his daughter Fatima (May Allah be pleased with her) would come to him, the Prophet[pbuh] used to stand up, kiss her, take her hand, and give her his seat. Later in life, this personal type of affection will be much more memorable to children than receiving a gift that anyone could have given them. Don't buy their love- Win it!!!

SIN: Ensure a sin free vacation. Cinemas, Movies, Immoral PC games, Discos, etc will harm their Imaan. Instead of playing haraam music rather buy some good Islamic CD's for them.

FRIENDS-The most important element of a successful vacation from an Islamic perspective is the company that our kids keep. Friends will either make or break our deen (religion). If a kid finds himself hanging out with non-Muslim classmates who are doing haraam it will have a negative bearing on his Imaan. Company of deeni[pious] and knowledgeable people is a great boon. For boys going out with other youth in the Path of Allah is an excellent way to be in good company. The Family could also go out together. In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look at whom you befriend." Tactfully persuade them to choose such friends who will be positively and islamically influence their character. The company our kids keep will have a profound effect on their imaan and personality!

Vacations can be spiritually enriching for both parents and kids PROVIDED we do things Islamically correct. It is an excellent opportunity to develop our kids character and uplift their Imaan!

The Messenger of Allah [pbuh] said:"The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character." (Hadith-Sahih Bukhari)

Sunday, November 21, 2010






The Noble Messenger of Allah Muhammad [Peace be upon him said]:


"Whoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah would conceal his faults in this world and in the hereafter." Allah helps His servant as long as His servant is helps his brother" [Hadith- Muslim]


"Whoever conceals the wrong-doings of a brother Muslim. Allah will conceal his wrong-doings on the Day of Judgement. and whoever will publicise the wrong-doings of a brother Muslim. Allah will disclose his wong-doings to the people, so much so that he will be disgraced sitting in his own house." (Hadith-Targheeb)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wisdom from the Qur'an

Wisdom from the Qur'an
"Indeed successful are those believers who are humble in their prayers, who avoid vain talk, who are active in deeds of charity, and who are mindful of their chastity."

The Holy Quran, 23:1-5

Sunday, November 14, 2010



It is related that a noted Muslim scholHajjar Abdullah bin Mubarak, had a dream while he was sleeping near the Kaaba. Abdullah bin Mubarak saw two angels' descend from the sky, and start talking to each other.

One of the angels asked the other: "Do you know how many people have come for Hajj this year?" The other angel replied: "Six hundred thousand have come for Hajj." Abdullah bin Mubarak had also gone for Hajj that year.
The first angel asked: "How many people's Hajj has been accepted?"

The second replied: "I wonder if anyone's Hajj has been accepted at all." Abdullah bin Mubarak was grieved to hear that. He thought, "So many people have come from all over the world, crossing so many obstacles like rivers, jungles, mountains, suffered so many hardships, and meeting so many expenses. Would their effort be wasted? Allah does not let anyone's effort go to waste".

He had thought only so far when he heard the other angel speak: "There is a cobbler in Damascus. His name is Ali bin al-Mufiq. He could not come for Hajj, but Allah has accepted his intention of Hajj. Not only will he get the reward for Hajj, but because of him, all the Hajjis will be rewarded.

When Abdullah bin Mubarak woke up, he decided he would go to Damascus and meet that cobbler whose Hajj intentions carried such a lot of weight.

On reaching Damascus, Abdullah bin Mubarak inquired if anyone knew a cobbler named Ali bin al-Mufiq. The town people directed him to a house. When a man appeared from the house Abdullah bin Mubarak greeted him and asked his name. The man replied "Ali bin al-Mufiq".

Abdullah bin Mubarak asked: "What do you do for a living?"

Ali replied: "I am a cobbler". Then Ali asked the stranger's name that had come looking for him.

Abdullah bin Mubarak was a very well-known scholar of Islam, when Abdullah bin
Mubarak introduced him self, the cobbler was anxious to find out why such a well known scholar was seeking him out.

When Abdullah bin Mubarak asked Ali to tell him if he had made any plans to go for Hajj. Ali replied "For thirty years I have lived in the hope of performing the Hajj. This year I had saved enough to go for Hajj, but Allah did not will it, so I couldn't make my intention translate into action.

Abdullah bin Mubarak was eager to find out how could this man's Hajj be accepted and blessed for all the people who went for Hajj that year when he didn't go for Hajj in the first place. While talking to the cobbler he could feel a certain purity in his heart. Islam regards greatness not in wealth or in power, but in civility, in good manners and the goodness of heart.

Abdullah bin Mubarak further asked: "why could you not go on Hajj?". In order not to disclose the reason, Ali again replied "it was Allah's will".

When Abdullah bin Mubarak persisted, Ali revealed: "Once I went to see my neighbour's house. His family was just sitting down for dinner. Although I was not hungry I thought my neighbour would invite me to sit down for dinner out of courtesy but I could see that my neighbour was grieved about something and wanted to avoid inviting me for dinner.

After some hesitation the neighbour told me: "I am sorry I cannot invite you for food. We were without food for three days and I could not bear to see the pain of hunger of my children. I went out looking for food today and found a dead donkey. In my desperation I cut out some meat from the dead animal, and brought it home so that my wife could cook this meat. It is halal (lawful or permitted) for us because of our extreme condition of hunger, but I cannot offer it to you."

Ali continued: "On hearing this, my heart bled with tears. I got up and went home, collected the three thousand dinars I had saved for Hajj, and gave my neighbour the money. I too had to go hungry but that was to save money for Hajj, but I thought helping my neighbour during his difficult times was more important. Although I still desire to go for Hajj if Allah wills."

Abdullah bin Mubarak was greatly inspired by the cobbler's story and told the cobbler of his dream.

God is merciful and shows mercy to those who do likewise to his creatures. This act of compassion on the part of the cobbler was so pleasing to God that it not only earned him the reward of Hajj but was extended to all the people who came for Hajj.

Hajj is a journey that can ignite the soul to be reminded of the time it was created and takes it beyond the dimensions of this life to the time it will meet the creator.

The sincere performance of Hajj can transcend a person's day to day life into a spiritual awakening of the highest magnitude. A successful Hajj experience connects us to our creator and the greater compassion of humanity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010






"And pilgrimage to the House is incumbent upon men for the sake of Allah,upon everyone who is able to undertake the journey to it"–[ 3:96 Quran]


Hazrat Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah Muhammad [Peace be upon him] said,: 

"Whoever performs the Hajj and commits no lustful act during it nor disobeys Allah (in any other way) shall return from it as pure and sinless as he was at the time of his birth." Bukhari & Muslim 

"From one Umra to another (i.e. the two Umras) become an atonement for the sins committed during the period intervening between them and the reward on Hajj-e-Mabroor (i.e. pure and untainted Haj) is paradise itself and nothing less." Bukhari & Muslim 

"Those who make the pilgrimage for the Hajj or Umra are the guests of Allah. The petitions[duas] they make will be granted and if they seek deliverance from sins, their sins will be forgiven." Ibn-Maja 


It is related by Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah Muhammad [Peace be upon him] said,: 

 "Any one who Allah has given enough to perform the Haj, and he also has a conveyance which can take him to the House of Allah. If he still fails to do so then it does not matter whether he dies a Jew or Christian, and it is so because Allah has said: Pilgrimage to the House (of Allah) is a duty men owe to Allah – those who can afford the journey." Hadith-Tirmizi 


DEATH may occur at any time, so if HAJ is compulsory on you ……PERFORM IT!...DONT DELAY!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Undercover’ in hijab

'Undercover' in hijab: unveiling one month later

Column by Cassidy Herrington.

Hilton Als, says our worldview and sense of "otherness" is created in our mother's lap.

Mother's lap is protective and familiar. Leaving this worldview can be uncomfortable, but I can assure you, the rewards are much greater.

Last month, I climbed out of my "lap" and wore a hijab, the Muslim headscarf.  I thought this temporary modification of my appearance would bring me closer to an understanding of the Muslim community, but in retrospect, I learned more about my place in the world.

Simplified, one piece of fabric is all it takes to turn perspectives upside-down.

The hijab is a contested, sacred and sometimes controversial symbol, but it is just a symbol. It is a symbol of Islam, a misconstrued, misunderstood religion that represents the most diverse population of people in the world — a population of more than one billion people.

I realized the best way to identify with Muslims was to take a walk in their shoes. On Oct. 1, I covered my head with a gauze scarf and grappled with the perceptions of strangers, peers and even my own family.

Because of perceptions, I even struggled to write this column. My experience with the hijab was personal, but I hope sharing what I saw will open a critical conversation.

My hijab silenced, but simultaneously, my hijab brought unforgettable words.

In the first column I wrote this semester, I compared college to an alarm clock saying, "we see the face of a clock, but rarely do we see what operates behind it." At the time, I did not realize how seriously I needed to act on my own words — as a journalist, a woman and a human.

A few weeks after I wrote that piece, a guest columnist addressed Islamophobic sentiments regarding the proposed "ground zero" mosque. The writer was Muslim, and she received a flurry of feedback.

The comments online accumulated like a swarm of mindless pests. The collective opinion equated Islam to violence and terrorism.

In response to her column, one comment said, "[The writer] asks us to trust Islam. Given our collective experience, and given Islam's history I have to wonder what planet she thinks we are on."

Although I did not know the voices behind these anonymous posts, I felt involuntarily linked to them — because I am not Muslim. I wanted to connect people, and almost instinctively, I decided that a hijab was necessary. A hijab could help me use my affiliation with "white," non-Muslims to build rapport with the Islamic community and at the same time, show non-Muslims the truth from an unheard voice. Above all, I wanted to see and feel the standard lifestyle for so many women around the world — because I'm curious, and that's why I'm a journalist.

Before I took this step, I decided to propose my idea to the women who wear headscarves every day. Little did I know, a room full of strangers would quickly become my greatest source of encouragement and would make this project more attainable.

The handshake
Initially, I worried about how the Muslim community would perceive a non-Muslim in a hijab, so I needed its approval before I would start trying on scarves. On Sept. 16, I went to a Muslim Student Association meeting to introduce myself.

When I opened the door to the meeting room, I was incredibly nervous. To erase any sign of uncertainty, I interjected to a girl seated across the room, "meeting starts at 7, right?"  The girl, it turns out, was Heba Suleiman of the MSAt. After I explained my plan, her face lit up.

"That is an amazing idea," she said.

I felt my tension and built-up anxiety melt away. In the minutes following, I introduced myself to the whole group with an "asalaam alaykum," and although I was half-prepared for it, I was alarmed to hear dozens of "wa aylaykum asalam" in response.

Before I left, several girls approached me. I will not forget what one girl said, "this gives me hope." Another girl said, "I'm Muslim, and I couldn't even do that." It did not hit me until then, that this project would be more than covering my hair. I would be representing a community and a faith, and consequentially, I needed to be fully conscious of my actions while in hijab.

First steps "undercover"

Two weeks later, I met Heba and her friend Leanna for coffee, and they showed me how to wrap a hijab. The girls were incredibly helpful, more than they probably realized. Although this project was my personal undertaking, I knew I wouldn't be alone — this thought helped me later when I felt like ripping off the hijab and quitting.

Responses to my hijab were subtle or nonexistent. I noticed passing glances diverted to the ground, but overall, everything felt the same. Near the end of the month, a classmate pointed out that a boy had been staring at me, much to my oblivion. The hijab became a part of me, and until I turned my head and felt a gentle tug, I forgot it was there.

For the most part, I carried out life as usual while in hijab. I rode my bike and felt the sensation of wind whipping under my headscarf. I walked past storefront windows, caught a glimpse of a foreign reflection and had to frequently remind myself that the girl was me. Hijab became part of my morning routine, and on one morning I biked to class and turned around because I realized I left without it. At the end of the day, I laughed at my "hijab hair" pressed flat against my scalp.

The hijab sometimes made me uneasy. I went to the grocery store and felt people dodge me in the aisles — or was that just my imagination?

I recognize every exchange I had and every occurrence I report may be an assumption or over analysis because few of my encounters were transparent. The truth is, however, very few of my peers said anything about the hijab. My classmates
I've sat next to for more than a year, my professors and my friends from high school — no one addressed the obvious, and it hurt. I felt separated from the people who know me best — or so I thought.

A gap in the conversation exists, and it's not just surrounding my situation.

Just over a week ago, I turned on the news to see Juan Williams, a former NPR news analyst fired for commentary about Islam. Williams said, "If I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

His statement revealed an internalized fear. And I saw this fear when my colleagues dodged the topic. When I went back to ask "why?," several said it was too "touchy"or insensitive to bring up.

A hijab is a just symbol, like a cross, a star or an American flag. I am still the same Cassidy Herrington — I didn't change my identity, but I was treated like a separate entity.

Talk is not cheap
When someone mentioned my hijab without my provocation, I immediately felt at ease. A barista at my usual coffee stop politely asked, "Are you veiling?" A friend in the newsroom asked, "Are your ears cold?"

My favorite account involves a back-story.

I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and I garnered an appetite when I was young. My childhood home neighbored my "third grandmother," the most loving second-generation Lebanese woman and exceptional cook (not an exaggeration, she could get me to eat leafy vegetables when I was a child zealot of noodles and cheese). I remember knocking on her back door when I was five, asking for Tupperware brimming with tabouleh.

When King Tut's opened on Limestone, my school year swiftly improved to a fabulously garlicky degree. At least once a week, I stopped by to pick up the tabouleh, hummos or falafel to medicate my case of the newsroom munchies.

On Oct. 21, the owner, Ashraf Yousef, stopped me before I went inside.

"I heard about your project, and I like it, It looks beautiful" he said.

This encounter was by far the best. And it made my shawarma sandwich taste particularly delicious. I went back on my last day to thank him, and Yousef said, "I'm just giving my honest opinion."

Yousef asked if I would wear the hijab to his restaurant when the project was over. I nodded, smiled and took a crunchy mouthful of fattoush.

False patriotism
I did not receive intentional, flagrant anti-Muslim responses. I did, however, receive an e-mail allegedly "intended" for another reader. The e-mail was titled "My new ringtone." When I opened the audio file, the Muslim prayer to Mecca was abruptly silenced by three gunshots and the U.S. national anthem.

I spoke to the sender of the e-mail, and he said, "It was just a joke." Here lies a problem with phobias and intolerance — joking about it doesn't make it less of an issue. When was it ever okay to joke about hatred and persecution? Was it acceptable when Jews were grotesquely drawn in Nazi cartoons? Or when Emmet Till was brutally murdered?

The e-mail is unfortunate evidence that many people inaccurately perceive Islam as violent or as "the other." A Gallup poll taken last November found 43 percent of Americans feel at least a "little" prejudice against Muslims. And if you need further confirmation that Islamophobia exists, consult Ann Coulter or Newt Gingrich.

I've been asked, "Will you wear the hijab when it's over?" and initially, I didn't think I would — because I'm not Muslim, I don't personally believe in hijab. Now that I see it hanging on my wall and I am able to reflect on the strength it gave me, I think, yes, when I need the headscarf, I might wear it.

Ashraf said, "A non-Muslim woman who wears a hijab is just wearing a headscarf." (and apparently, my face "looks better.") Appearances aside, when I wore the hijab, I felt confident and focused. I wore the hijab to a news conference for Rand Paul, and although an event coordinator stopped me (just me, except for one elusive blogger) to check my credentials, I felt I accurately represented myself as an intelligent, determined journalist — I was not concerned with how I looked, but rather, I was focused on gathering the story.

So now, I return to my first column of the year. I've asked the questions, and I've reached across the circles. Now, it's your turn. You don't have to wear a hijab for a month to change someone's life or yours. The Masjid Bilial Islamic Center will host a "get to know your neighbors" on Nov. 7, and UK's Muslim Student Association is having "The Hajj" on Nov. 8. These are opportunities for non-Muslims to be better informed and make meaningful connections.

I want to thank Heba for being a friend and a resource for help. Thank you to Ashraf Yousef and King Tut for the delicious food and the inspiration. Finally, I apologize to the individuals who feel I have "lied" to them about my identity or who do not agree with this project. I hope this page clears things up — you have the truth now, and I hope you find use for it.

Why are we so afraid to talk about this? We are not at war with Islam. In fact, Muslim soldiers are defending this country. Making jokes about terrorism is not going to make the situation less serious. Simply "tolerating" someone's presence is not enough.

If you turn on the news, you will inevitably hear the prefix, "extremist," when describing Islam. What you see and hear from the media is fallible — if you want the truth, talk to a Muslim.

Cassidy Herrington is a journalism and international studies junior.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


 That time of year....

Courtesy : Dr S Ebrahim

For many when we hear the phrase "It's that time of year again..." we think of year-end holidays and another year gone. For others it's the dreaded time of exams. Again! A time of fear and anxiety, a time of wishing we had done more during the year, but there's no getting away from it. It's that time of year again....

And as we grow older the exams seem to get more difficult and the brain more reluctant to yield the information we crammed into it. At junior grade the answers are simple, such as the teacher who asked Albie to come to the map and show the class where is America, Albie did so correctly and then the teacher asked: "Now class, who discovered America?" "Albie!!" was the prompt and proud answer.

 As we grow older we can no longer get away hiding behind childhood innocence but have to demonstrate our learning ability and answer the questions about intricate subjects that often have a multitude of odd sounding phrases that difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to learn. But without learning there can be no progress. "The more knowledgeable the man, the more valuable the man" said Hazrat Ali (RA)

With the limited time to cram a year's worth of information we often seek extraordinary solutions, but there are few except the tried and tested method of prayer, hard work and lots more hard work. But here some practical tips to help you:

1.      Pray - Before any study session spend a few moments praying. Sometimes teens think that Allah is only in the most spiritual parts of their lives, but Allah is in every aspect of your life. He wants you to succeed. Praying can bring you closer to Allah and make you feel a little stronger and relaxed going into test time. Ask others to also pray for you. We can never underestimate the power of prayer.

2.      Study SMART – more time doesn't mean more effective studying. Ideally study for 50 minutes then spend 10 minutes reviewing the material just covered. Then take a 5minute break to soak it all in.

3.      Establish a study timetable – many students loose hours of study time deciding what to study and the mind will always gravitate to those subjects we enjoy ignoring the ones that we dislike and really need attention.

4.      Lose the Excuses - It can be easy to put off studying until the last minute. The things going on around you can be tempting ways to procrastinate. Exams are overwhelming. They do test your limits, but you can learn. You need to keep your pace reasonable and learn what you can.

5.      Eat Well – while many teenagers are convinced that chocolate slabs and crisps are packed with sufficient sugar and carbohydrates to nourish the brain – in reality, they only satisfy the taste-buds and are very poor brain food. High sugar foods may give you energy at first, but then it plummets pretty quickly. So drop some of the 'snacks' for a real good meal at least twice a day.


6.      Get Your Rest - Sleep is one of the most important tools you have in studying for exams. You may feel stressed and like you don't know everything you need to know, but a good night sleep can help relieve that stress. A lack of sleep can end up clouding your judgement or increase your number of mistakes. Get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night, especially the night before your exam.


7.      Take a Breather - Breaks are a good thing. Even the test preparers of major tests like the ACT and SAT know the importance of taking a breather, as they schedule them into the test time. Studying can take its toll on you, and after a while the words and information can just seem like a jumbled mess. Step away from what you are studying and just clear your head with something different. It will help make you fresh to continue.


8.      Have Some Fun - Yes, exam time is stressful, and you may feel like you have to devote all your time to studying. However, if you develop a good plan you should have some time to spend with friends and family. Make some time to do some things with your youth group that week to just blow off steam. Taking an hour or two to get away from the stress is a good thing. It will make your head a bit clearer when you back to studying and you will feel reenergized.


When all else fails then you could pray a lot more and come up with some imaginative excuses like:

Father: Why are your exam marks so low?
SON: Because I sit at the desk at the back, Dad.
Father: What difference does that make?
SON: Well, there are so many of us in the class that when it's my turn for marks there aren't any left.

   We pray that Allah Ta'ala grant all the students success in their exams and use their knowledge for the sake of promoting his Deen. And we also ask Allah to assist us all in our FINAL exam and allow us all to pass this difficult assessment. Aameen!