Rest-stop (or life so far)
BismilLlah Al Rahman Al Rahim
Life is a series of events that seem so random to us at first, but to take a look at from a different perspective are indeed extremely well calculated. That haphazardness is due to the fact that it is so intricate, like a master calligrapher, when observed at work, makes it seem so simple when it is not. At all.
One of the –now- most significant events is reading “A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World” by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, published by Islamic Texts Society back in 2008. Even though most of the content has dissipated, the feeling of it remains.
As most who have received a western education and lived abroad, reconnecting to one’s roots is very confusing: am I Western? Am I an Arab? Am I Muslim? Do I consider myself a Muslim before an Arab? Or an Arab before a Western?
Islam has always been part of our household: my parents would pray, fast, perform their zakat. In other words, complete their daily obligations.Their children would fast because of the excitement of the whole month of Ramadan, occasionally pray, learn one or two surats (chapters) along with the Fatihah,… and basta. Of course, we had other obligations to attend to: watching Cartoon Network, munching on Captain Chock’s cupcakes (how yummy they were!), and playing “Barbie and Ken go to a Safari”.
It is only, in another country and years later, through a death of a dear friend’s mother, that we came to the sudden realization, so often repeated by our parents, that our time will come too one day. Was it fear of death? Of God? Or was it anxiety that got us back on track?It was rather an extreme wonderment of life that was the wake-up call.It is amazing how the book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius was my favourite book at the time. Stoicism, accepting that death is out of one’s hands, self-control have all been preparing me for this event.
I had realized the fact that Islam spoke to my heart. Like a rebirth.
Going back to the homeland, I was faced with cultural Islam.Being Muslim here was natural, more like old news. Mosques around every corner, religious books available in nearly every store, a joy for those who are deprived of such things in western countries but taken for granted for those living in Muslim ones. You could be a Muslim and lie, cheat, backbite… it was just a badge (kindly read previous post). Follows a pursuit of identity, a time of confusion and sadness… is that all there is to Islam?
Setting on a long trip abroad, a friend gave us a book called “Muhammad, Islam and the Quran” by Roshdy Badrawy. No matter its abundant typos, its cheap cover and printing, I learned to read the Quran more frequently. Go back to the root: your heart, establish a relationship with the book of Allah.
It was a new rebirth. Again. Sobhanna Allah.
Islam would be my expression, no matter what other Muslims do wrong. Focus on myself.
But the question remained, how? How do we implement Islam in our lives? How do we wear our culture according to the Islamic requirements?
Months later, I wanted to copy some music from a friend’s computer (different from the one who gave me the book), so the logical thing she did was this: select all, copy, paste, and burn to disc. Back at home, browsing through them I come across a name I never heard before: Hamza Yusuf. From then on, the road of living, breathing, thinking Islam has begun. Books like “A Young Muslim’s…” to Shaykh Ali Gomaa and other innumerable scholars illuminate us from time to time. But we are also faced to periods of laziness, and nonchalance (we are all human). A road that is sinusoidal but slowly and I pray surely straightening its shape as we go along.
The aim behind my contribution to this blog is to construct a way to express Islam through culture. The latter entails art, music, movies, architecture, literature, etc. We will try, God willing, to review, analyze and observe the art scene but also to try from our side to put into actions ideas that would represent Islam in the Media. Because as we all know, Media plays a huge part in shaping our opinions and if we don’t speak with our voice, others will. Among the subjects we’d like to discuss, there will be:
– movie and music reviews
– an art section: Muslim artists contributing to the image of Islam, art commentaries and so on.
-random thoughts that invite us to meditate on common yet fascinating aspects of life
A thought by Imam Suhaib Webb:
You don’t have to choose whether you’re Egyptian or Muslim, in fact Islam came to polish your culture.
Beautifying our culture and identity through Islam.