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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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Islam + Emoji = Islamoji

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Time to Talk Ramadan

written by Theresa Corbin

Hello boys and girls of islamwich. In case you didn’t know, Ramadan is right around the corner. Err, maybe a little ways down the street and then a right at the corner.

Talking about Ramadan

Whatever distance it is from us, I am getting ready. This year, I want to share your Ramadan traditions with the world, like literally because I am writing an article for Al Jumuah magazine about you. That’s right, you. 🙂

So, this week’s post is interactive. Let me know how you as a Latino, African, Russian, American, Middle Eastern, or Australian, etc. Muslim celebrate the month of Ramadan.

What special dishes do you make? How do you share the month with the community? How do you celebrate the sighting of the new moon at the beginning of the month? What cultural garments are purchased or made and worn for Eid? What is your unique cultural take?  

Let’s not simply prepare for and celebrate the holy month, let’s get to know each other, as God said in the Quran:

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another […]. (Quran 49:13)

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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”.

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Review of Revive Your Heart by Nouman Ali Khan

written by Theresa Corbin

Brother Nouman Ali Khan has a new book coming out. Are you exited? I know I am. It’s currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Go, put in your order now. The release is set for May, but I have a strong feeling this one will sell out fast. Also it is available now in some Islamic book retailers in the US. 

Revive your heart

You might be wondering, who is Nouman Ali Khan?

If you aren’t familiar with his work, then you can send me a thank you letter once you find out. According to a bio on goodreads (that I lazily copied and passed here) he is

recognized as one of the world’s most influential Muslims, not only in the West. His deep and profound bond with the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, is at the heart of his work and the focus of his teachings, which manage to reach out to millions of Muslims from many different countries. 

Over the years, I have learned so much from Brother Nouman’s YouTube lectures and Bayyinah TV’s Arabic classes.

Nouman, in Revive Your Heart, takes short mentions from the Quran and blows them up to poster size so we can see the scene clearly. You think at first, we couldn’t possibly have such a large scope of understanding of such small mentions in the Quran.

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