Raising Real Muslim Men: Podcast ep. 6

podcasted by Kaighla Um Dayo

In this episode of the islamwich podcast, Kaighla talks with Eva Abdullah, a convert of 22 years and mother of six, 3 of whom are teenage boys. They discuss how she has managed to raise good Muslim men. 

Raising real muslim men

Eva and Kaighla discuss intercultural marriage to her Kurdish husband, gender roles and household chores in their family, ways to inculcate love for Allah and Islam at a young age, how Eva handles issues of faith and doubt, and they tackle the really hard topics of girls, porn, and sexuality.

Enjoy and please don’t forget to give us a rating on iTunes!

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Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.


How Meditation Feeds My Muslim Faith

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo

There is a rather common misunderstanding among the Muslim community that meditation is haraam (a sin). The word itself is taboo.

One thinks of gongs, Tibetan prayer flags, maybe a smiling Buddha statue, and Sanskrit chants. But these things are a commercialized picture of a very healthy, very widespread practice that millions of people from all walks of faith—and lack thereof—have enjoyed from the beginning of humankind.

How Meditation Feeds My Muslim Faith


In this day and age when we are almost never alone, truly alone, without a device to keep us company and distract us from our innermost thoughts, it’s almost impossible to shut our brains down, creating an epidemic of sleep deprivation, stress, and anxiety.

I have always had a very busy, very distracted mind, and my emotions take hold of me easily. But one day in 2015, shortly after my divorce and iddah (waiting period) had begun, I suddenly saw the ways in which my new meditation practice was helping me.

In the midst of an emotional meltdown after yet another argument, I felt the same inner drive to do something about the pain and rage I felt. Suddenly, and totally unexpectedly, I felt a calm come over me and I felt myself tell myself, “Actually, Kaighla, you don’t have to do anything. You could sit and let this pain pass over you.”

And I was hooked.

What is Meditation?

What do I mean when I say “meditation”? For starters, it doesn’t (always) include chants, Sanskrit, or otherwise. The National Institute of Health says that meditation involves a combination of four things:

1.) a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; Read more


Have I Become a Cultural Muslim?

written by Kaighla Um Dayo


When I converted to Islam nearly 8 years ago, I had no idea there were literally millions of Muslims in the world who are Muslim only in name.

Some one who calls themselves Muslim, but has no connection to their creator can be called a “Cultural Muslim”. Cultural Muslims wear hijab, for example, only because it’s a cultural demand in their family/society; they only pray at Eid prayers and only because it’s a family/cultural obligation. They fast one day of Ramadan to feel like they are part of the festivities, but otherwise have no connection with God on a deeper level.

The cultural Muslim is not unlike the “Christian” who my former pastor lovingly called part of the “CEM crowd”, or those who only attend church only on Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day.

Turns out, there are millions of Muslims who are only called such because their parents’ parents’ parents were practicing. “Muslim” has become synonymous with “good, kind person of Arab/Indian/Pakistani/Indo/Malay origin” in much the same way as “Christian” has become synonymous with “good, kind person who is American”.

New Muslims cannot imagine that a day will come that they themselves could become a Cultural Muslim. And yet, I am here to say: it can happen to anyone.

I realized I had become a Cultural Muslim when the day came that I had more fear and trepidation at the idea of removing my hijab than I did about skipping prayers.

The idea of removing my outer religious identity was more crippling than the idea of actually not being Muslim anymore. If faced with the choice to maintain my hijab but neglect my prayers, or remove my hijab for safety reasons in America (Trump), but maintain my prayers, I searched my heart and realized that I preferred the first option.

This, my friends, is a severe disease of the heart.

But why do I openly admit this to you, dear reader? Because too many converts come into Islam—and too many heritage Muslims start practicing Islam—with such zeal and fervor that they do not adequately prepare themselves for the day when the fervor flares out. I know because it happened to me. 

It’s kind of like being in a formerly passionate marriage: when that passion has fizzled out, there must be something under the passion to keep the marriage alive and healthy, something deeper and more reliable than passion, lust, and infatuation.

Likewise, the day will come for all those who feel the zeal when, because of this reason or that reason, they will burn out and begin to question if they are still on the right path, and they will need to have something deeper than zeal to keep them going. 

When this realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I took some time and really investigated the deeper issues inside. Ultimately, I came to understand these things, and maybe they will help you, too:

  • People cannot save me when I face Allah. My dearest friends and spouse and children and parents will not even think of me on that day. “Allah will talk to everyone directly, without a translator. The person will look to his right, and will not see anything but his deeds. Then the person, will look in front of himself and will see nothing but the hellfire facing him. So protect yourself from Hellfire even by giving a charity of half a date.” (Reported by Imam Bukhari)
  • On that day, {their tongues, their hands, and their feet will bear witness against them as to their actions.} (Surat An-Nur, verse 24). {And they will say to their skin: ‘Why did you bear witness against us?’ They will say: ‘Allah has caused us to speak, as He cause all things to speak.’} (Surat Al-Fussillat, verse 21) I can just imagine my hijab, for example, speaking against me, saying “She wore me because it pleased her friends.” “She wore me because it pleased her husband.” “She wore me because it made her seem more pious.”
  • The first thing Allah will ask me is about my prayer. Not my hijab. Not my education. Not my loyalty to my country or friends or family or tribe. First, my prayer“The first thing the people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer, Allah will say to His angels (even though he already knows) : “Look at my servants prayers. Were they complete or not?” […]” -Prophet Muhammad (Reported by Imams Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nisa’i, and Al-Hakim)
  • God will only accept my good deeds if I have a pure heart: {And disgrace me not on the Day when (all the creatures) will be resurrected; The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, except him who brings to Allah a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifaq (hypocrisy)].} (Surah ash-Shu’ara, verses 87-89)

At the end of all things, it will only be my heart that saves me (or not), and what good will my struggling because of hijab or striving for my religion be if I did it to seem pious, or to please my family, or because I had finally found an identity to cling to and didn’t want to give it up?

I cannot willingly give up my soul while clinging tightly to my hijab and other outward shows of Islam. I cannot willingly toss aside all the work I have done on my heart by working to impress people around me rather than working to please Allah. 

Follow us (upper right of the page). Email us ( Like our face with your face on Facebook ( Tumble with us on Tumblr ( Pin with us ( Follow us on twitter (@islamwich).

Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.


Life as an American Muslim in Indonesia: Podcast ep. 5



In this episode of the islamwich podcast, Kaighla interviews her friend Alta, an American convert living in Java, Indonesia.

We talk about:

  • Her journey to Islam (up until about minute 10:00)
  • Some of the ways culture and Islam are mixed in her world (around minute 15:00-24:00)
  • The differences between the experiences of converts among Arabs vs. that of converts among Asians (starting minute 26:00)
  • The astonishing fact that many Indonesian cultures are still matriarchal, giving women a leadership status in families and society, so the ole “Muslim women should silently obey their husbands” doesn’t really create any conflict in her marriage to a Sumatran Muslim
  • Around minute 27:00, and again at minute 34:00, we talk about the prevailing notion that Arab culture= Islam, and how Arabs actually make up a very small percentage of total Muslim population, while Indonesians alone make up more than 13% of all Muslims.
  • Her struggle to assimilate and become an active member of her community because of the language and cultural barriers, despite the overwhelming kindness of her Indonesian sisters (around minute 31:00)
  • And her invitation to American Muslims to come to Indonesia and see a whole other way Islam is practiced than what they are accustomed to in the states or in Middle Eastern countries.




7 Things Mosques Can Learn from Churches in America

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo


I’ll just say this out loud: I miss church.

When I say “church”, I mean the evangelical, Protestant Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night gatherings at the church building with people to worship God.

(side note: Former Catholics, we understand church probably was far less fun and lively, and Theresa doesn’t miss Mass ONE BIT.)

Many converts who come to Islam from a Protestant, and specifically evangelical background, are terribly disappointed upon entering the fold of Islam and finding attendance at the masjid (mosque) … well, it just doesn’t compare.

Although some of the reasons the experience can’t be duplicated are practical ones (e.g. not mixing with the opposite sex, music being a point of debate, etc.), we would like to put forth the idea that Muslims in charge of the running of masajid (mosques) could really learn a lot if they ever attended a church.

DISCLAIMER: WE ARE NOT TELLING YOU TO WORSHIP JESUS. Calm down. Also, we understand that not all churches are inclusive, welcoming, etc. and not all masajid are guilty of the opposite. 

Read more


Interview with A SheFighter: Podcast ep. 4



In this episode of the islamwich Podcast, Kaighla interviews Sarah Barakah, one of the head trainers at SheFighter, a women’s-only gym in Amman, Jordan.

It’s no surprise that Muslim women are more in danger in this country than at any other time. Since San Bernardino and Paris, violent attacks against Muslims has more than tripled, and most of those victims are women.

Also, let’s not blind ourselves to the reality that Muslim women suffer violent abuse at the hands of their husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, and other relatives within and outside of this country, regardless of the fact that abuse is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN in Islam. Call any Muslim women’s shelter in America and the first thing they will tell you is that if you are not suffering from domestic abuse, they literally have no room for you.

Read more


Interview with My Halal Kitchen founder, Yvonne Maffei: Podcast ep. 3

In this episode of the islamwich Podcast, Kaighla interviews the founder of My Halal Kitchen, sister Yvonne Maffei.

We discuss her journey to Islam, how MHK was conceived, the state of halal food marketing among American consumers, how MHK is a dawah effort, and some tips she has for healthy, delicious eating in Ramadan.



My Halal Kitchen

…is a website dedicated to spreading love and understanding of the beauty of halal food. MHK aims “to provide home cooks with the tools to prepare completely halal meals, including those with the necessary substitutions to make every dish halal and without having to filter a recipe for non-halal ingredients. It aims to make the lives of readers better by expanding the list of available recipes that are wholesome, healthy, delicious, economical and halal.”

Without further ado, we present to you our interview with Yvonne.



  • We talk about a few popular halal restaurants, the huge one among them being The Halal Guys, a food cart in NYC that’s insanely popular among all New Yorkers, regardless of religion.
  • Yvonne’s two cookbooks are My Halal Kitchen and Summer Ramadan Cooking. Her cleaning book is called Clean Your Kitchen Green.
  • Check out Yvonne’s favorite halal food companies,  Saffron Road and Crescent Foods.
  • Yvonne mentions some “halal food myths” she works to debunk.
  • Yvonne uses some Arabic words, like halal, tayyib, & zabiha. Check out our extensive glossary.
  • It happens that Yvonne was one of the people who helped guide me (Kaighla) to Islam back in 2009!

Read more