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Ramadan Explained

written by Theresa Corbin

It is that time of year again. Ramadan!

When the moon begins its new phase and the snow fa … err … the trees are in bloo … errr … the crisp smell of autu … errrr … Wait a minute. None of the seasonal sights or smells can be applied to Ramadan. What’s up with that?

ramadan

Well, if you don’t already know, it is because the Islamic calendar does not follow the same fixed calendar that we are used to in The West, where all the seasons occur in the same ‘ole months. Kinda boring, Greg of the Gregorians didn’t know how to keep it fresh, but whatever.

Every year the month of Ramadan starts when the new moon is sighted for the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Each month is 29-30 days long depending on the lunar cycle followed by Muslims. This means that each year the month of Ramadan moves up 10 days in relation to the Gregorian calendar. Time to break out the calculator and do some math.

Just joking, I don’t do math.

This tracking of the moon and measuring the calendar by it is how some non-Muslims spread the lie that Muslims worship a moon god. FALSE in a major way.

Muslims worship the creator of all things known as God or Allah in Arabic. In fact, if a “Muslim” were to worship the moon, this would take him out of Islam, i.e. he would no longer be a Muslim because the first article of faith is to worship God alone. You know, the first commandment.

Anyway, I can get side tracked from time to time. Eh hem, Ramadan. The ninth month in the Lunar Islamic calendar. I am sure you have come across someone, somewhere that is excited or at least talking about the coming of Ramadan. So you do a quick search on the Google, and find out that it is the month in which the Quran was first revealed, and it is a month of fasting for all healthy, adult Muslims.
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A Greener Ramadan: A Brighter Future

written by Theresa Corbin for Al Jumuah

Many People Associate the color green with Islam. The flags of Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia all include the color green. According to the Quran, the people of paradise will wear garments of green silk. And some say the Prophet’s (PBUH) favorite color was green. I have yet to find a reliable hadith to support this favorite color claim. But I think it is safe to think of Islam as a green hued faith for another reason: The Environment.

Embedded in the tenets of Islam is an ecological imperative. “The Earth is a mosque, and everything in it is sacred. I learned this basic tenet of Islam from my father,” notes Ibrahim Abdul-Matîn, environmentalist and author, who begins his book Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet with these wise words.

We as human beings were placed on this earth as caretakers of it, as stewards.

Now, behold! Your Lord said to the angels: I am placing upon the earth a human successor to steward it. [Sûrat Al-Baqarah, 2:30]

As stewards on this earth, we have been entrusted with its care, and we will be held accountable for our actions towards it.

We will register “in the book” what they have done and what footprints they have left, and everything we have accounted for in great details in a detailed book. [Sûrah Yâ-Sîn, 36:12] (emphasis added)

Ramadan is a time for self-examination, a time to come nearer to Allah, and to become better versions of ourselves. So as we contemplate how we can become better to ourselves and to each other, let us also contemplate how we can become better stewards to our home. Let us take this opportunity to be more cognizant of the footprint we leave, and have a greener Ramadan.
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Practical Ramadan Tips for New Muslims

written by Theresa Corbin for Al Jumuah

Entering into my 15th [now 16th] Ramadan, I feel an excitement building. I am looking forward to the fast of Ramadan and all the amazing things that come with it: growing spiritually, strengthening community ties, coming nearer to Allah, and much more.

However, it wasn’t always this way. I converted during the month of Ramadan and jumped straight into fasting even before I knew how to pray correctly. I want to be honest here. Those first fasts were hard. Very hard. Coming from a Catholic and American background, I had never experienced real fasting. The most I knew about fasting was eating less to fit in a smaller size and not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

So my first Ramadan was a shock to my system. And as my second Ramadan approached, I was very nervous about my ability to endure. I feared the pains of hunger, the thirst that left me dehydrated, and the fatigue that comes along with fasting. I felt like this was something no one ever talked about and for good reason. Complaining about hunger, thirst, and fatigue defeats the purpose of fasting.

I realized a couple things during my struggle to acclimate to fasting.

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Muslim Converts Wrestle with Isolation, Seek Support

by Hana Baba producer of KALW’s Crosscurrents  

Listen here.

About 20% of American Muslims are converts — people who didn’t grow up with the religion and often don’t have any cultural ties.

In some faiths, there’s a clear path for prospective converts. Catholicism, for example, has an official course of rites, rituals, and classes for those entering the Church. Islam doesn’t have a formal conversion process like that. To become a Muslim, you declare your new belief with conviction in front of a Muslim witness, and that’s it. 

For this reason, many converts say they need help and support — but it can be surprisingly hard to find. One place it can be found is the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara, which has been offering post-conversion support classes for the last seven years.

Twenty-six-year-old Nathalia Costa is in the women’s prayer hall at the mosque. She’s here for the midday Saturday prayer. Wearing a baby blue headscarf, she stands in a straight line with her hands folded above her heart, moving in unison with about 20 other women. They kneel, then prostrate, then sit, and stand back up again, all in silence. Through the corner of her eye, head bowed, Costa follows the women closely.

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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

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Politicians, Prophets, and Pathetic Excuses

written by Stephanie Siam 

Recently, the internet was set ablaze (again) when US Vice President Mike Pence declared that he doesn’t eat alone with women other than his wife.

Many people spoke up in defense of women’s rights. How dare this man in such a privileged, public position require all of his personal assistants be male?

What did he mean when he said he wouldn’t attend events where alcohol was served if his wife couldn’t be there to chaperone him?

How could such a sexist, misogynistic, clueless individual attain such an important political position?

Oh, that’s right … Well, I suppose we should be thankful Pence doesn’t want to be alone with women. It could be worse. He could want to grab them wherever, whenever he gets a chance.

But I digress.

Truly, at first, it does seem a bit offensive – as a woman – to hear that I won’t be eligible for a one-on-one session with the Veep. Am I not good enough? Are my ideas, education, and theories not valid enough for this man?
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Pink Mosques

written by Theresa Corbin

Here on islamwich, we talk a lot about how too many mosques are not what they are meant to be.

Mostly mosques around the world are cultural clubs who marginalize or even do disservice to converts, or they make women feel unwelcome by only providing dingy closets for us pray in, or they have banned women entirely, or they are openly racist towards any arbitrary group they choose, or they don’t welcome non-Muslims, or all of the above … and more.

All of this mess is not from Islam. The mosque is meant to be for all: women, men, young, old, and people from all cultures, countries, colors. It is supposed to be a place to learn, to hang out, to enjoy each other’s company, to share meals, to pray, to supplicate to God, to foster volunteer and outreach programs, to build interfaith bridges, and more.
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