September 10, 2008

Jar of Raisins

On the upcoming election: I love how in Canada, an election can be announced, campaigned, and settled within seven weeks, whereas our neighbours to the south have been in election mode for over a year and will continue to be for another few months. And the worst "scandals" in Canadian politics wouldn't even raise an eyebrow down there, amid all the prevailing stupidity.

Canadian politics are terribly boring, which is something we should all be thankful for.

On hockey and deciding: What on earth is Mats Sundin waiting for? If only he knew about istikhara.

On praying: When praying for something, one shouldn't ask for the means to an end; rather, ask for the end itself. If you are having financial difficulties, don't ask for lots of money; that money won't necessarily provide your solution, and may in fact bring about more difficulties. Simply ask for relief from your financial woes, and let Allah decide the means. If you're feeling sick or lonely, don't ask for a specific medicine or a specific companion; instead ask for relief from these afflictions, and insha-Allah, you will find what you need even if it is not what you expected.

Pompous uncles: This was supposed to be a post in itself, but just a few things have been on my mind of late. Often, Muslim scholars are often the subject of ridicule by uncles who think they know better. I have observed that, whenever an uncle begins to mock one of these scholars, he will switch over to English, as if speaking a Western language gives him more legitimacy in his tantrums. It is a sad reality that those scholars living in the West who are not well versed in English often get a bad rap, and are not taken seriously.

I understand the importance of speaking the local language, in order to be able to relate to the youth and the greater society. However, the inability to speak English should not detract from all the studies these scholars have pursued; what they have spent their lives learning is far more valuable than any basic language. It might take some time for them to integrate, but if we bear patiently and help them out, the community as a whole will prosper. Our 'ulema have a very high status according to many hadith, and we should appreciate that in its own right irrespective of language or background.

Furthermore, Muslim scholars are, by default, very studious individuals, and learning a simple language like English should not be a huge challenge for them. Many complained about a recent decision by a prominent local mosque to have an Arab government appoint their imam; the new imam speaks very little English right now, and I was among those who thought it was a poor decision. In retrospect, I realize that we should give him and all imported scholars a chance, and not let our pride in language get in the way of appreciating what they have accomplished; the language skills will come with time. I still find it bizarre that the decision came from a government, but that is a topic in itself.

On ignorance: Avoid it if you can.


  1. I like your points, especially the one on praying...making your duas unspecific as to acknowledge the wisdom of Allah (swt) in whatever He provides.


  2. Asalamualeikum,
    Good points, MashAllah
    I was reminded of this quote:
    "The wise man in the storm prays to God, not from safety from danger, but deliverance from fear"
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Here is a handy article on Etiquette for making dua


  3. Asmaa: Yeah ... I've heard this advice from a few scholars, and thought to share it. Alhamdulillah, I avoided a near-disaster with lost keys the day after I posted this, thanks to an open-ended du'a of mine being accepted in a way I didn't expect.

    Syra: Wa'alaykum assalam. I like RWE, and jazakAllah-khair for the article!

  4. Thank you for sharing your "Jar of Raisins"!!!

  5. Anonymous: Thank you for sharing your "comment"!!!

  6. @ pompous uncles and non-English-speaking scholars

    Two things: It's not only pompous uncles who are mocking our scholars... it's young punks too! It's an extremely disturbing trend in our community, which can only have negative effects on us.

    At the same time, though, I kind of see where they're coming from... it's hard to expect someone who hasn't grown up in this society, or who hasn't spent a signifcant amount of time here, let alone can't speak the language, to understand the social issues and dynamics of the community.
    So, I think that there are 2 sides to this and both need to be addressed.

  7. Assalaamu'alaykum

    After reading this post for the first time, I thought about what you said about criticisms against imams who don't speak English, the language barrier, etc. AnonyMouse introduced a bit more of a complexity in the matter...

    And then I thought to myself, "Why can't we just be nice?" Irrespective of him being an imam (though it does necessitate even more respect from us).. why does it have to be so complicated as to have to make a conscious effort to have patience with a person (as opposed to the patience being a natural characteristic of one with good intentions), and why do we need to remind ourselves of his level of intelligence and ability learn the language quickly, etc. in trying to legitimize the value of his presence. The fact is that he is there to fulfill a noble role and with a noble purpose, according to Allah's ultimate will. It doesn't get anymore legit than that. And the reality is that he has a life to lead, a job to fulfill, and struggles and challanges to face. A basic element of our deen is to ease the difficulties of others, especially so those who are considered people of the shahadah. It's not easy being a stranger in a new land, and worse so when one finds that people of one's new community are sipping their tea while talking smack and doing nothing to help the community's situation.

    Unconstructive criticms need to either stop (and that's not likely to ever happen) or need to be put into perspective, as you've attempted to do.

    Perhaps it's a vain struggle to try to simplify the issues of a complicated, selfishness, and mean world. And we ask Allah to guide us to good works and to facilitate our humble and well-intended efforts for His sake, and to unite us in our servitude and submission to Him, ameen.

    Your du'as please.

  8. AnonyMouse and Farzeen: That part about pompous uncles really didn't turn out as I intended. In fact, I wrote about a completely different topic than what I originally had in mind, conflating some earlier thoughts about the new imam in Ottawa with some rants I heard from some uncles during a lengthy post-wedding gheeba-fest.

    I don't disagree with either of you, I don't think I expressed myself well at all there. I think there were just too many things on my mind and I was just trying to write something, without enough effort to make it coherent or even in line with my own feelings. Perhaps I'll explain myself better some other time.