Eid al-Adha 101: All You Need To Know About The Muslim Holiday

Here is all you need to know about Eid al-Adha.

Eid al-Adha 101: All You Need To Know About The Muslim Holiday

Here is all you need to know about Eid al-Adha.

By

Mareena Emran
Art - Shayma Al-Shiri

On the night of July 30th, Muslims worldwide will celebrate Eid al-Adha, the most important holiday celebrated in the Islamic calendar. Although the celebration will be a little unconventional this year due to the ongoing pandemic, many still hope to give back to their communities, spend time with loved ones while also devoting their time to commemorating the meaning of the holiday.

The Story Behind Eid al-Adha

Eid al-Adha, or the “Festival of Sacrifice” is an Islamic holiday honoring the story of Ibrahim’s (Abraham) act of obedience to Allah’s command of sacrificing his own son, Ismael. Although Ibrahim was hesitant at first, Ismael reassured his father to obey Allah’s request. 

Shaytan (the Devil) made many attempts to stray Ibrahim away from his task, but Ibrahim stayed on track by pelting stones at Shaytan, an action that was adopted into the holy pilgrimage of Hajj. 

Before Ibrahim had the chance to slaughter his son, Allah replaced the body of Ismael with a sheep, pleased with Ibrahim’s devotion and dedication to following his command. 

What happens leading up to Eid al-Adha?

Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar, Dhul Hijjah. Dhul Hijjah is also the month in which Muslims perform the holy pilgrimage of Hajj.

 

 

Millions of Muslims travel to Mecca to complete specific rituals over the course of three days, which include circumambulating the Kaaba, praying together at Mount Arafat, and stoning pillars that symbolize the devil.

This year, due to the pandemic, the Hajj has been scaled down to only around 1,000 pilgrims, compared to the roughly 2.5 million pilgrims of recent years. Reports from Saudi Arabia also state that, in order to minimise any potential health risks, and alongside stricter hygiene protocols, the decision has been made to prevent pilgrims over the age of 65 and foreign nationals to partake in the Hajj – it is understood that these unprecedented steps would be a first in the Kingdom’s history. 

However, Dhul Hijjah isn’t only significant for the Hajj. The first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are also said to be the most important days of the entire year, as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said, “there are no days on which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than on these 10 days.” Muslims who are not performing Hajj are advised to take advantage of this special time by reading and reciting the Quran, performing dhikr, donating to charity, and most importantly, praying all five daily prayers.

 

 

How is Eid al-Adha Celebrated?

Eid al-Adha is celebrated similarly to Eid Al-Fitr, with families attending prayer together, dressing in new clothes and with the giving of gifts – but what differs between the two celebrations is the act of qurbani.

Qurbani is the symbolic act of slaughtering a goat or sheep in commemoration of Ibrahim’s sacrifice. The meat is then divided into three – the first part goes to the needy, the second part is kept for the house, and the third part is given to extended family and close friends.

Due to this year’s social distancing guidelines, many families will be streaming Eid prayers live from their local mosques, but may still have the opportunity to perform qurbani if their area allows.

From the @Muslim family to yours, we wish you a safe and blessed Eid ul-Adha!

Plant-Based Diet, Islam And Eid: What’s The Deal?

What does Islam say about a plant-based diet as a life choice? We explore how Muslims with a plant-based diet navigate Eid celebration.

Plant-Based Diet, Islam And Eid: What’s The Deal?

What does Islam say about a plant-based diet as a life choice? We explore how Muslims with a plant-based diet navigate Eid celebration.

By

Mohamed Alagteaa
Art - Shayma Al-Shiri

Disclaimer: every article expressed in our opinions section is that of the writer.

If there’s a word that could describe the world right now, it might be “conscious.”
We are living through a cultural shift of how we, as humans collectively, aspire to live and be. This means a reexamination of how we work, travel, communicate, eat and all social pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that builds the picture of the society we aspire to live in. 

As usual, driving these winds of change are millennial and Gen-Z Muslims who are pushing towards a more comprehensively sustainable lifestyle – and one that might include a plant-based diet. 

Debates around changing our food habits are intense, but what’s undeniable are the overall benefits that switching to plant-based can have on our health and wellbeing, as well as for planet Earth – a winning combination of some of the most pressing concerns of young people today

Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, may lower blood pressure, decrease cholesterol levels and help treat chronic diseases. These are just some of the reasons that pushed Sara Zayed, a writer and medical assistant, to change her lifestyle after her father passed away.

“My father passed away several years ago of a heart attack, and as a plant-based diet is the only diet that has been shown to reverse heart disease, it’s more important to me than ever to prioritize quality nutrition,” she said. 

Zayed uses Instagram to educate her followers on plant-based nutrition and what she calls “lifestyle medicine.” She also emphasizes how abandoning her old eating behaviors is rooted in upholding her commitment to Allah saying, “ Our bodies are an amanah (trust)… It’s our responsibility to take care of our bodies and treat them with respect so that we can live up to our potential as Muslims. I don’t believe it is Islamic to live a lifestyle that encourages the development of chronic disease.”


 

Islam and a plant-based lifestyle

So, what does Islam say about a plant-based diet as a life choice? Seemingly, nothing.

There are no apparent mentions in the Quran or Sunnah regarding  a solely plant-based lifestyle. According to many scholars, it is neither forbidden nor advised, and since it does not harm you or others, it is your choice.

However, it is one thing to not eat a specific food because of your preferences, or because you disagree with its production practices, and another to believe it is actually unislamic or haraam (forbidden). 

As societies move forward and people become more vigilant about how and what they eat,  the future of food could drastically change, and legislation would need to adapt. There might be a law that prohibits the production and consumption of meat, on health and environmental grounds. Here, a predicament is presented, because the Quran permits the consumption of meat as Surah al-Naḥl, verse 5 suggest:

 

“And cattle has He created for you, in which there is warmth and [other] uses, and whereof you eat.” – Quran 16:5

 

 

Most might imagine the prospect of a legalized ban on the consumption of meat as  impossible, but it opens a space of discussion on nuanced perspectives regarding our way of living as a Muslim society now and in the future.

Some people maybe conflicted with Islam and its permissibility with eating meat knowing that the Quran and Hadiths reveal many examples that paint a picture of mercy and compassion to animals. 

In a Hadith, Abu Umama said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, will be shown mercy by Allah on the Day of Rising.”

It is important to understand that while meat consumption is allowed in Islam, animal welfare is demanded. There are guidelines that must be followed to consider meat halal, which also tend to inflict minimal pain such as the need for the slaughter to be quick and made in one attempt.  The animal must also be fed, watered and comforted as well.

The meat we find in shops and supermarkets is not produced in such a way. We know of the cruel and inhumane practices the food and beverage industry use to provide the demand for meat and animal related products. So, can we as Muslims consciously eat meat and other products with total disregard to their production methods? 


What about Eid?

These types of discussions also involve one of the holiest occasions Muslims celebrate – Eid al-Adha. Each year, Muslims across the globe commemorate Prophet Ibrahim’s  willingness to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismael, in obedience to Allah’s command, by sacrificing an animal. Most scholars believe the practice is a Sunnah, a tradition that should be observed by those who are able, while others deem it as obligatory.

Muslim who wish to follow a plant-based or environmentally conscious diet are faced with the challenge of navigateing a special event engraved in the Muslim identity. Some call for abandoning the sacrifice entirely and focusing instead on the festive celebration, giving of charity and spiritual reflection. 

In his essayAn Islamic Perspective Against Animal Sacrifice,” Shahid ‘Ali Muttaqi describes the purpose of Eid as an inner spiritual state that does not involve animal sacrifice, stressing the need to contextualize the event. Muttaqi argues that the sacrifice was not established by Allah but was adopted by Muslims at that time in an attempt to transform the slaughter of animals for food, which was a survival necessity back then, into a spiritual ceremony. 

Muttaqi believes that since meat is not a necessity for survival for most people in our time, neither is the Eid sacrifice. Others, however, call for a different approach to deal with this problem. Zayed, for example, believes we need to determine what an appropriate equivalent would be for the community, and how to implement it, but “this is not to say to abolish the practice,” she affirms.

 

Not Our Culture

Beyond the religious lens, there is also apprehension towards the change presented by the concept of refraining from certain traditional foods, which is the idea that vegetarianism, veganism and plant-based diets are a western construct that must be fought to uphold our cultural identity.  

Shahed Ezaydi, believes there is some truth to that, saying “I do think the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles have definitely been co-opted by the West, so other cultures may be reluctant to buy into it.” 

Ezaydi has been a vegetarian for over a year and didn’t face many difficulties in changing her lifestyle as her friends were supportive of her choice, mainly because of the widely known environmental impact meat production and consumption has on the planet. Just last year, a United Nations report suggested  that adhering to a plant-based diet could help fight global climate change. 

The real challenge for Ezaydi was at home. “My parents straight up laughed at me… I think they thought I was going through some phase.”

Elaf Alsharif,  a 21-year old vegan from Libya, shares a similar experience when facing her family about the decision to remove animal products from her diet. “My mom hated me going vegan, she would tell me every day that I would die of a vitamin deficiency,” she says. The two, however, stayed true to their own convictions and learned to adapt to each other.   When describing her mother’s stance now, Alsharif says, “She’s actually supportive now and has started making vegan meals. She even looks up new recipes and gets excited to try them on me.”

More than ever, our personal choices hold so much power in introducing new ways of living. It is  evident that we are moving towards uncharted territories with unprecedented possibilities. These possibilities demand our examination with new ideas and fresh perspectives, but also with firm beliefs and strong convictions. The balance between the two, and the respect required to have unconventional conversations is the key to exploring new realities where the Muslim identity might reside.

READ MORE: What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like

5 Verses On Justice In The Quran

It’s in troublesome times like these that we must turn back to our main source of comfort, happiness and joy: the Quran.

5 Verses On Justice In The Quran

It’s in troublesome times like these that we must turn back to our main source of comfort, happiness and joy: the Quran.

By

Maryam Zaynah
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

2020 continues to be a year of exposed injustice, racism and heartache, to name a few of the major themes of this year. 

We are now halfway through the year, with 2020 being an absolute world wind of events.

At times it’s hard to feel hopeful for the future when our people suffer so much heartache and pain. The little justice left in the world is quickly slipping away as powerful governments continue to secretly abuse innocents. 

It’s in troublesome times like these that we must turn back to our main source of comfort, happiness and joy: the Quran. After all, isn’t it the solution to everything? Our religion and Prophet teach us to serve justice in the absolute way – behind all of the hashtags, protests and, we must be just in our way of thinking.

 

READ MORE: Here’s What Muslim Therapists Have To Say On Mental Health

 

Here are 5 verses from the Qur’an which clearly condemn unjust acts, and teach us to what justice really means:

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. (4:135)

This ayah I find particularly applies to the hidden racism from the older generation towards our Black brothers and sisters within the Muslim community. It’s important to remember that the same way our beloved Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) did not stay quiet when someone was being wronged, we must also raise our voices and follow in his footsteps

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded. (16:90)

Always keep in mind that whatever injustice is going on today was condemned by our religion first, before all of the laws and movements. The Quran came at a time when injustice was rife in the Arabian society; with daughters being buried alive.

That is for what your hands have put forth and because Allah is not ever unjust to [His] servants. (22:10)

Never forget, while people may be unjust to one another, Allah is never unjust. His plan may not be as you expected, and He may take a different route than you were hoping, but always remember his Divine wisdom supersedes man’s limited perspective. We have a pixel, Allah has the picture.

And among those We created is a community which guides by truth and thereby establishes justice. (7:181)

As the Ummah of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) we are expected to continue his legacy and display his values of putting your brother’s needs before your own. Stand up for those who are being wronged, whether that’s publicly or behind closed doors. 

Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom’s weight; while if there is a good deed, He multiplies it and gives from Himself a great reward. (4:40)

While it’s sometimes difficult to comprehend why there is so much suffering and injustice in this temporary world, know that serving justice isn’t only the right thing to do, but also something you will be rewarded for from your Lord in abundance.

The last bit of inspiration I leave you with is a Hadith from our Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) who said: “O my slaves, I have forbidden injustice for myself and forbade it for you also. So avoid being unjust to one another.’ (Muslim)

What Does Islam Say About Astrology?

Kaiser Aslam, the Muslim Chaplain at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in New Jersey, tells us about astrology in Islam.

What Does Islam Say About Astrology?

Kaiser Aslam, the Muslim Chaplain at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in New Jersey, tells us about astrology in Islam.

By

Syeda Khaula Saad

 

From apps like Co-Star and The Pattern that tell you about your personality based on the time you were born, to daily horoscopes in your favorite publication that dictate “what Gossip Girl character you are” based on your zodiac sign, astrology seems to be everywhere. And whether or not you believe in the validity of the practice, it can be a lot of fun to take part in. 

But oftentimes, Muslims who are even slightly interested in astrology or what their horoscope might be are scolded by older generations for participating in something they deem is completely incompatible with Islam. You might have even heard an elder go as far as to say that it was Shirk. But Kaiser Aslam, the Muslim Chaplain at Rutgers University–New Brunswick in New Jersey, doesn’t completely agree.

He says that one of the first things that needs to be recognized is that in the past, astrology and astronomy were actually the same field. 

“We have so many scholars of our past that actually wrote books on astrology, but they were commenting just as much on astronomy as they were on astrology,” Chaplain Aslam tells Muslim. “It’s not until maybe like 400 or 500 years ago that these two fields shift. So almost no one is in disagreement that Islam has a lot to do with astronomy.” 

Think about the very core of Islamic traditions and how we determine our holidays and prayer times.  “So much of our tradition has to do with looking at the moon, right?” Chaplain Aslam jokingly refers to the “moon wars” Muslims get into every Eid as one of the only setbacks of following a lunar calendar. At its foundation, though, the lunar calendar is unique because it does not require a central government or authority figure. This, in turn, empowers the idea of a local community coming together to make sense of it, as we see happens every Eid. “I think that’s a lot to do with the ideas of astrology … it takes away governmental or human authority figures and places it literally to the universe,” Chaplain Aslam says. “And who’s the one who made the universe? Allah SWT.”

 

Astronomy plays a very important role in Islam and spirituality in general, as it usually meant looking at celestial objects and how amazing they are and relating it to the grandeur of God, Chaplain Aslam explains. “Eventually that started getting into ‘So well, what can we do with them?’ That’s where the big debate is,” he says. “It’s not whether it’s an appropriate field in and of itself [but rather], ‘what are they used to do?’”

This is where astrology comes in and thus, the biggest controversy with the practice. 

While some people look at horoscopes as a fun way to see how close your personality traits match up with their zodiac signs, other people attempt to use this as a way of determining their life decisions. But so long as we don’t give too much power to our horoscopes in our decision-making, we should be fine. 

“We can appreciate things sometimes without seeing them as sources of guidance, where if you start going, … ‘My friends can only be the same Zodiac sign as me’ or like, ‘It’ll determine whether I say yes or no to having a relationship with someone or marrying someone,’ I think we’ve crossed the boundary.” Chaplain Aslam says. When you start subjugating all of your life’s choices to your star sign, that’s when you get into some really questionable territory. “Because at the end of the day, you’re actually supplanting a basic Islamic principle, which is that the people are based on their character,” he says. 

But this doesn’t mean you should denounce astrology completely. 

“We’re living in a weird moment within Islamic discourse, it’s a reactionary movement that we see, where things like horoscopes have [come] and we’re like, ‘that’s not Islam in any way, shape or form’,” Chaplain Aslam says. “But when we do that, when we turn the other way completely, we actually take away the nuance [of texts].” Whether people realize it or not, there are many traditions within Islam that play into a similar line of thinking as astrology. 

READ MORE: This Scholar Made A Twitter Thread On Jinn And Muslims Are Shook

Ilm-al-Nujum, or “science of the stars” is an older Islamic school of thought that encouraged believers to think about signs within nature and the universe as having a higher spiritual purpose. And these beliefs have spilled out into Islamic practices that you don’t even have to check smaller sects to find. Muslims believe Ramadan to be the most virtuous month. This has everything to do with the phases of the moon. When there is an eclipse, Muslims congregate for the Salat-ul-Kusuf prayer, which is essentially an appreciation of an astrological phenomenon. Muslims also look for signs around them for life decisions more often than one might think. The entire basis of the Istikhara is to ask Allah to give you guidance on a decision, and to provide that guidance by providing the Istishara, or the signs that may lead you to the right path. This isn’t far off from people looking to stars for guidance. 

“When you do just look up at the stars …they point you towards God,” Chaplain Aslam says. “I think that can be said about astrology in general … because astrology has that … same idea that you’re not as in control as you think you are.” He explains that one of the basic premises of astrology is that there are things that are beyond your control that end up determining things about you like your personality traits. This doesn’t drift far from the “nurture/nature” debate. 

Astrology just seems to suggest a very huge nature component. Chaplain Aslam says that we as Muslims can appreciate that there are many aspects of who we are that we didn’t have any way of controlling — but that shouldn’t paralyze us. Instead, it should just make us focus more on the aspects of our personalities we can control. 

“I think that’s that balanced approach where we appreciate it up until it rubs up against one of our religious traditions, which is when we start measuring people’s worth based on their astrological sign,” Chaplain Aslam says. “But if we use it to be like, ‘Can I understand myself a little bit better so that I can focus on the things I can and cannot change?’ that might be a positive thing because you’re learning to understand yourself more.”

Performing Janaza In The Time Of Coronavirus

The Muslim community has found itself in a dilemma over performing Janaza (funeral rights) during the pandemic.

Performing Janaza In The Time Of Coronavirus

The Muslim community has found itself in a dilemma over performing Janaza (funeral rights) during the pandemic.

By

Najaha Nauf
Photo -

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) global death toll reaching high death tolls, the Muslim community has found itself in a dilemma over the Janaza (funeral rights) to be performed on those who have passed away during this time. 

Janaza includes bathing the body of the deceased, shrouding them with white cloth as they are not to be buried in their casual clothing, praying Janaza prayer and eventual burial within 24 hours of passing. However, the amount of deaths per day and safety measures to take into consideration have made this ritual difficult to carry out and many Muslims around the world have voiced out their concerns. 

Countries like the U.S., who have a record number of most deaths reported daily due to COVID-19, have been given strict guidelines to adhere to with regards to the funeral, including minimal contact with the deceased and limitation for members in a gathering. Families of the deceased have been urged to speak with their community religious leaders concerning alteration to rituals. 

While this is a breath of relief for the U.S. Muslim community, certain countries are not given as much freedom to practice this ceremony. For instance, in Sri Lanka, those who have died from COVID-19 are subjected to cremation instead of burial despite the World Health Organization (WHO) releasing a statement that includes guidelines stating burial as a possible means of disposal. The government of Sri Lanka has released a gazette containing guidelines of their own, which state that those who have passed on due to the virus are to be cremated, regardless of religious beliefs. This has upset the Muslim community due to the blatant rigidity with which they have treated their own people and the lack of scientific back-up to their claims. While several community and religious leaders have formed petitions against the violation of rights, it goes to show that not all parts of the world are able to implement the same rituals.  

Several fatwas have been issued by various Islamic councils around the world with regards to Janaza during a pandemic as loved ones of those who have passed on have had a difficult time coping with not only the passing but also the guilt of not having fulfilled their rights. Scholars who were asked have mentioned that the Fardh Kifaya (communal obligation) such as washing, shrouding, conducting the funeral prayer and burial can be implemented as long as no safety protocols are violated. 

READ MORE: Here’s How COVID-19 Affects Muslims During Ramadan

 

It’s recommended that washing is to be done by an individual wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) who would be willing to self-quarantine afterwards, to ward off any chances of infection. In the case of complications with regard to use of water, Tayammum (dry ablution) can be considered. 

As for shrouding, most scholars believe that as the minimum requirement of shrouding is for the awrah (private parts) to be covered, if sealed bags are used, then shrouding can take place before sealing. If sealing has already taken place and cannot be undone, the body is to be shrouded over the bag. 

Because those who have died as a result of a plague are considered martyrs in Islam, one view states that it is acceptable for the above rights to not be fulfilled, with regards to heavily infectious cases where both washing and shrouding are not recommended by health professionals. 

Due to inability to perform congregational prayers, it is considered valid even if the funeral prayer is performed by a single person away from the graveyard. With regards to broadcasting of the funeral for loved ones who may not be able to attend, it’s allowed as long as decorum in the face of a funeral is retained. 

Burial is a way of honoring the dead. Burial in an enclosed box or a body bag is considered acceptable as it is better for the community as a whole. Cremation, however, is where Islam draws the line: it is forbidden for a Muslim to be cremated as it is considered a form of mutilation. However, in the case of the government forcing cremation on the community, the bereaved family is to be assured that they are not sinful, nor is this to be considered a sin on the part of the deceased as our lives have been planned by the Best of Planners. Being patient in times of oppression is considered better for you than to be distraught by the fate presented to you. 

The Janaza is followed by a period of mourning where condolences are to be given to the grieving family. Limitations on social gathering and non-essential visits to homes should not restrict you from reaching out, especially not when we live in a time of digital closeness. Give the family a call or drop them a text: let them know that you are thinking of them during these trying times and if possible, extend a helping hand to them. Remember the deceased in your duaas and pray for those who are suffering in silence in the midst of this pandemic.

READ MORE: Here Are Prayers For When You’re Feeling Low On Faith

Here’s What Muslim Therapists Have To Say On Mental Health

Mental health is a widely important topic that is not discussed thoroughly within the Muslim community, so we interviewed specialists.

Here’s What Muslim Therapists Have To Say on Mental Health​

Mental health is a widely important topic that is not discussed thoroughly within the Muslim community, so we interviewed specialists.

By

Aishah Goumaneh

Mental health is a widely important topic that is not talked about much in the Muslim community. One of the most common ways that people take care of their mental health is through therapy. I spoke with Fahad Khan, Abdulaziz Syed, Saaudiah Muhammad, and Afshan Mohamedali, four professional psychologists. I asked these psychologists, why is therapy important for Muslims? How should one seek therapy? Can therapy help with issues revolving around gender, age, and toxic cultures?

Afshan Mohamedali, PhD

“Anyone can benefit from therapy given that it’s a safe space for self-reflection and growth.”

Therapy is a place for identifying obstacles and solutions in your life. Muslims are not superheroes they are everyday people who also deal with mental health issues. Mental health issues are just as prevalent to Muslims as they are to the general public. Therapy is a holistic approach to healing.

To begin seeking therapy one must identify what kind of help they need first. When you contact therapists be sure to ask about their different helping methods to help you decide what works best for you. “Feel free to schedule first sessions with a few  different providers before choosing one you’re comfortable with and be sure to communicate any concerns you might have about treatment to your therapist.”

“Therapy can absolutely help with issues relating to gender, age, toxic environments, and much more. I find it helpful to explore the ways in which these factors are impactful on mood and anxiety, while also identifying and employing agency in difficult situations. A therapist can help with developing adaptive coping skills, identifying unhelpful behavioral patterns, tolerating uncomfortable emotions, and more.”

Saaudiah Muhammad

Therapy is important for anyone that needs “an impartial and nonjudgmental perspective.” Therapy gives people the opportunity to discuss things that may be harder to discuss with the people closest to you. Therapists do not “fix” clients or tell them how to live their lives. Therapy is a way to get suggestions and different perspectives on difficult issues. However, it is important to remember that therapy is not a replacement for spiritual guidance.

“Our relationship with Allah should be personal and private.”

There are various websites and sources to find therapists. “I have listings in several sites, however, the bulk of my clients find me from my Psychology Today profile.”

Profile pages are comprehensive and can be very detailed. I include on my professional profile pages that I have client focus in faith for Islam so that Muslims in my area can find me if they use filters such as Muslim, Islam or specific gender or ethnicity for instance when searching for therapists. Also, word of mouth is also a viable means to find a therapist. I have gotten many new clients based on referrals from other clients. It is extremely important for clients to feel comfortable in seeking therapy.

Therapy can help with a multitude of issues. Many people fall into the “perfect reality trap” on social media. This leads to people developing low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, etc.

“Areas such as gender, age, and toxic cultures are highlighted in social media in particular.”

Abdulaziz Syed, Therapist Khalil Center

“First, I think it is important to define therapy. While you may get different answers, the American Psychological Association defines it as the following: ‘Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a psychologist. A psychologist provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who is objective, neutral and nonjudgmental.'”

Modern-day Muslims get so many mixed messages and face several sources of stress from personal to political. So seeking therapy to ensure the wellbeing of their mental health is essential.

The easiest way to seek therapy is to “look online and see someone who you feel would be a good match. You can look online for Muslim therapists if you feel they can understand your situation better”. Khalil Center is one organization out of many more services. Psychology Today is a good place as well. “More and more states are allowing for web therapy so even if you do not have anyone locally, you can find people online.”

Seeking therapy can be difficult when related to “addictions or one’s relationship with parents or seeking a spouse or getting over childhood trauma/neglect or performance anxiety etc.. The list goes on.”

No matter how hard it gets therapists can always help and guide you.

Dr. Fahad Khan

Besides the obvious fact that if you are not okay mentally you should seek help, therapy is essential for Muslims because it allows a person to become more self-aware and gain more insights into their actions and behaviors, which they are required to do as Muslims.”

It is a saying in Islam that whoever becomes aware of themselves can become more aware of their Lord. Knowing yourself is a blessing that everyone should want to gain.

People should go about seeking therapy depending on what works for them, what is more affordable, what or who is more, comfortable for you? You need someone to bring you back to the right path, this could even be a Sheikh. Whatever is most accessible to you, there are even online therapists. There are countless resources for people to gain access to therapy.

Therapy can help with whatever issue in the metaphysical issue. For example if you have a broken leg you would obviously need to seek out physical help such as surgery.

However, you could get therapy to help you deal with the fact that you have a broken leg. Poor family dynamics can definitely be helped with counseling.

Essentially therapy is a basic tool for your mental health. There are countless resources for people to seek out therapy, begin with what you find is comfortable. Issues relating to gender, age, and culture, may not be able to change, however, therapy can help you deal with them. For example, let’s say your culture has disparities between ages or gender – therapy can you help you deal with that.

Therapy is not, or should not, be a luxury. It should be a blessing to ensure that your mental health is in the best quality.

How To Ensure You Don’t Slip Up After Ramadan

You manage to build a strong system in fixing your spirituality during Ramadan, but how can we maintain it?

How To Ensure You Don’t Slip Up After Ramadan

You manage to build a strong system in fixing your spirituality during Ramadan, but how can we maintain it?

By

Sarah Lashuel
Art - Hafsa Khan (@hafandhaf on IG)

Has the high worn off yet? The spiritual high of Ramadan that is. 

Let me guess, you waited all year for Ramadan to come around so you could get your spirit right, and just like that it was over in a flash. I’m going to also go out on a limb and guess that now you’re trying to promise yourself you’ll keep up all the good work you’ve done, while in the back of your head you know you’ll have to wait until the next Ramadan to do better? 

If that’s you, then I know exactly how it feels. At some point in the year, the previous Ramadan and all the promises you made fade away like a dream. That’s part of what makes the holy month so special right? 

But the feats we accomplish and the lessons we learn are too precious to turn our backs on. Whatever your experience is during the fasting month, if you’ve felt the light of Ramadan and want to keep it shining, or you want to use this as a benchmark for a better you, here’s how.

 

 

Reflecting On Ramadan’s Past

It’s been over a week since Ramadan ended. We may be getting back into our normal routines, but before we get too far along, now is the time to reflect on how the month transpired for you. Not only can this act as a personal send-off for the holy month, but it will also make what you take away more concrete and memorable. 

When we reflect on Ramadan’s past, consider these questions:

  • What was different during Ramadan?
  • What brought me joy?
  • What brought me closer to my faith?
  • What were the challenges I faced? How did I overcome them?
  • How did I prepare for the month? 
  • What could I have done better? 

Using a pen and paper to take notes as you think will help you put words to feelings and even dig up some things you weren’t aware of. Clarity is essential before we can even get into intention or action. Focus on what is important to you. There’s no point in beating yourself up over expectations that don’t align with your needs, circumstances, or goals.

Getting Your Motivation Right 

There’s a reason why Ramadan makes it easier to start and maintain healthier habits and mindsets. The expectations are clear ahead of time. You know what’s going to go down, and you have time to prepare. Everyone’s in this together, your family, friends, and Muslims all over the world. Not to mention, everyone is also doing their best to adjust their schedules and lifestyles to accommodate during the month. With that said, does that mean it ends there? It doesn’t have to. Use the motivations of Ramadan to your advantage to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive all year round. 

Motivation is a lot simpler than we realize. If we like doing something, if it makes us feel good, then we’ll do it, even if it’s not what’s best for us. If something is easy to do, if it’s convenient, if it doesn’t need much effort, we’re more likely to do it right? You can see how true this is in any aspect of your life, like school, work, entertainment, and even friendships. Understanding how motivation works for you is a must if you want to keep yourself from getting stuck in a rut. 

Make things easy for yourself, make them fun. Give yourself the chance to learn about and practice the positive changes you want to make. Give yourself the chance to make them your own!

Set your intentions and then create your game plan. It should be realistic, and it should work with your life! Planning out the steps you need to take means you’re less likely to get overwhelmed by an overbearing feeling of what you “should” be doing.  

Be sure to prepare. Whatever you do, you want to be setting yourself up for success. Simple steps, like pre-downloading books, favoriting podcast episodes, or compiling screenshots of dua into a dedicated album, can make a world of difference that your future self will thank you for. 

Once you start, check in with yourself on the progress you’ve made. Is your plan working? Are you on the right track? Is there something you want to adjust?

As long as you want to make a change, you’re already half-way there. 

Fasting

The act of fasting is the central focus of Ramadan and it is an act that can put us in a different physical, mental, and spiritual state. Many people consider it a reset. From proven health advantages to mental clarity, to spiritual cleansing, there are many reasons why so many of us cherish the opportunity our faith gives us in prescribing we fast for the duration of a  month. 

Fasting throughout the year can bring great benefits, if you are able and well enough to do so. If you aren’t able to fast from food, use the spirit of fasting to mentally detox and gain some perspective. Think about the things in your life you assume you can’t live without, whether it’s social media, or spending on things you don’t need, or even vulgar language: challenge yourself to abstain from them and see what you can learn. 

If it’s safe enough for you to physically fast, then set your intentions early and make sure to prepare. Do it alone, or do it with friends or family. Decide what it is that you’ll look forward to if you accomplish the fast. Prepare by making sure you’re nourished and hydrated the day before you fast. While you may find it more difficult to fast any other time, just remember that if you can do it during Ramadan, you can do it period. Keep your momentum by building trust and confidence in yourself through accomplishment. 

Another way to channel that Ramadan energy is to learn more about intuitive eating. With all the iftar gatherings and incredible food it’s no wonder we got caught up in indulgence once the sun sets. After Ramadan is still a good time to continue being mindful about what we eat and how we eat, and it’s something we can do alongside our everyday routines. Intuitive eating challenges you to learn about your own body’s rhythms and needs, that way you can make lifestyle choices that support you in the best way possible, while considering all the things you don’t need. 

Persistence, Not Perfection

Holidays, festivals, and days of observance can be points in the year that inspire an extra surge of energy and passion. You’ll notice that every faith has fasting as a part of their practice. Allowing yourself to be conscious of this reality can keep the inspiration and reflection going. 

Don’t forget that you’re not alone in this. Reaching out to others may be a great way to spread goodwill and get farther together. Those friends or family who were isolated, or going through hardships during ramadan, their hardships may not end once Eid hits. Check up on them, plan days to have dinner together, find ways to connect. This is where prioritizing your time comes into play – if you could make time for it during Ramadan, see what you can do throughout the year.

If we were meant to become perfect during Ramadan, we’d only ever experience one Ramadan, but that’s not the case. Human beings forget, and struggle, but we also never stop learning. There’s no such thing as taking steps back, every experience you have is moving you forward in one way or another.

READ MORE: What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like

Here Is What To Bring When Going Out To Protest For Black Lives Matter

Here is advice for anyone wanting to safely and conscientiously join the fight.

Here Is What To Bring When Going Out To Protest For Black Lives Matter

Here is advice for anyone wanting to safely and conscientiously join the fight.

By

Amirah Ahmed
Photo - Samer (@waladshami)

The tragic string of recently publicized deaths by police brutality have, once again, brought the United States to the brink of a revolution. And whilst sadly not a new issue by any means, the shocking murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd have ignited protests across the country, and around the world; most of which have been largely peaceful, and in the context of centuries of violence against black men and women, might even be considered mild. 

Many social media users have subsequently taken to their feeds to document official and unofficial police responses to the uprising, with significant numbers of protestors being tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and assaulted by police. 

As such, it is important now more than ever to stand with the black community, to amplify their voices and struggle. On top of the dangers outlined above, however, the coronavirus pandemic poses new challenges to collective protest. .  Here is some advice for anyone wanting to safely and conscientiously join the fight:


 

1. Wear a mask and bring hand sanitizer. These are necessary precautions against COVID-19, as protests will leave you mostly unable to socially distance. Use sanitizer often and especially if you come into physical contact with others. Your mask may also come in handy if tear gas is deployed. You can even purchase a Black Lives Matter mask here

2. Wear some form of eye protection. As mentioned earlier, law enforcement have been using rubber bullets and tear gas, which have sadly led to several protestors permanently losing their sight. While the kind of eyewear that will protect you from rubber bullets are on the pricey side, any goggles will help in the event that tear gas or pepper spray is used.

3. Bring plenty of water and snacks. Protests can last for hours and the increasing temperatures accompanied by the physical exhaustion that will come with walking and raising your voice for several hours will leave your body and mind tired. It’s important to keep sustenance nearby to give your body the nutrition it needs to protest to your fullest ability. This is especially important due to the number of stores in and around protest routes that will have been closed due to COVID-19 and/or the protest itself.

4. Bring a list of emergency contact numbers and your ID. Whether you write them down on your arm or on a slip of paper that you can keep in your pocket, make sure you write down your personal emergency contacts (parents, spouse or close friend.) as well as numbers for your local emergency legal counsel, and keep them directly on your person. If you are in a group of protesters that are arrested, you will need these in case you aren’t given access to your belongings. 

5. Lastly, wear comfortable clothes and a compact bag to hold your belongings. Carrying a ton of unnecessary things will weigh you down. Therefore, keep it to essentials and pack as light as possible. That being said, do bring protest signs! Use some leftover cardboard from your last online order and get creative to deliver a powerful message.

These are just some of the essentials that will come in handy when out protesting for Black Lives Matter, but experienced protesters have shared tips and advice on their social media that are helpful too. Stay safe and alert and remember to continue sharing resources with your followers for those that aren’t able to protest in person.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter Is Not A ‘Feel-Good’ Instagram Challenge

What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like

Truth be told – I was expecting it to be a very difficult day full of sadness.

What Celebrating Eid Under Quarantine Looks Like

Truth be told – I was expecting it to be a very difficult day full of sadness.

By

Zainab Damji
Art - Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh

 

Eid is the time of year when the masses come together to celebrate. The sheer spirit of Eid is visible in the streets –  people praying on the pavements because the mosque has reached capacity, swarms of cars parked outside houses indicating a huge family gathering taking place, and so on and so forth.  It is always a joyous, interpersonal occasion.

With the coronavirus pandemic however, much of our lives have changed – our routines have been uprooted, ‘normal’ is no longer normal and life is not as carefree. Naturally, as Eid rolled around and we all did our best to stay safe and follow precautionary measures; Eid in quarantine was inevitable.

Truth be told – I was expecting it to be a very difficult day full of sadness and longing, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that wasn’t the case. While I’ve tried to look at this whole pandemic from a positive perspective; I didn’t have to try very hard on Eid – it seemed to work out all on its own.

Eid prayers were held on Zoom and so our living rooms became masjids. Family gatherings still happened, they were just virtual, and you know what? Now that aunt that lives abroad didn’t feel so left out! Instead of taking your Mom’s signature baklava to an Eid party, you shared the recipe with all your friends, and they got to make it for their families in their kitchens!

This Eid, we’ve realized more than ever that it isn’t about food, or parties or even seeing each other; it’s about love and effort. So despite being in the same city as my cousins and not being able to visit them, I felt their love over our late night Zoom calls where we stressed every 20 minutes about losing sleep before having to wake for Eid prayers. Despite my brother being in a different continent, as he cooked up a storm of my mother’s traditional recipes in his LA kitchen,  it felt like he was with us at home. And while I couldn’t take any baked goods to Eid parties, I made sure to make a batch anyway and (safely) hand-deliver them to loved ones!

However, while we had the privilege of spending hours on Zoom calls, staying up late with those we share our homes with, enjoying their company – it’s important to remember that not everyone has those opportunities. Many Muslims live alone, some have gotten stuck abroad unexpectedly this year, and others may be in homes where they are not safe or comfortable. 

And let us not forget our Muslim healthcare workers who are working tirelessly on the frontlines, and while we may be saddened by our inability to visit extended family and friends, their daily reality is much worse.

Their personal sacrifice, dedication, and commitment to keeping us safe are testament to the values Islam has instilled in us, and on Eid, their service is a reminder of that. 

So today, if you’re reading this article from the comfort of your happy, safe and loving home – say a prayer for those who are not, and continue taking precautionary measures and staying safe for them. This year, Eid may have been different, but I am thankful for the experience as it has made me more gracious, self-aware, and humble. Eid Mubarak; may this coming year be filled with prosperity, success, and good health for us all.

READ MORE: Muslim Women Reflect On Ramadan Under Quarantine Through Art

Let’s Talk About Body Dysmorphia In Muslim Communities

Getting ready and having to look at my body became an uncomfortably gross intimacy.

Let’s Talk About Body Dysmorphia In Muslim Communities

Getting ready and having to look at my body became an uncomfortably gross intimacy.

By

Rania Rizvi
Art - WikiPedia; Body Dysmorphia

Dear Aunties: Keep your comments about my weight to yourself 

Once, I was the chubby, “happy-go-lucky” kid with full cheeks and a rosy glow. I ate unapologetically and wholeheartedly. I drank two Capri-Suns and ate popsicles daily with my friends after school. 

But then reality hit. 

It was time for middle school and that cute Aero top that once fit like a glove was now a bit too tight in all the wrong places. My grandma would call worried from Pakistan, saying she didn’t want her eldest, “prettiest granddaughter” to be fat. 

Dinner parties turned into auntie-commentaries about how I would look “better” if I slimmed down. Familiar faces turned into inspecting eyes, judging me up and down before saying “Salaam!” 

Instagram became an agonizing reminder that my frame was societally subpar and that I was practically obese compared to the tan California girls with 10,000 likes and invisible waists. 

The weight of my weight never felt heavier. 

I became incredibly self-conscious and started researching diets. I learned how to only eat 1,200 calories a day, how to have a cup of coffee for breakfast and be full, how to channel my self-hatred into fuel for my no-pain-no-gain workouts. 

When I was 16, my grandma came to visit me from Pakistan and was stunned by how thin I had become: She soon started mixing butter into my rice so that I would gain weight. 

The commenting aunties suddenly came up to me asking to give them dieting tips. Some were even worried that I might “go anorexic.” 

But overall, they thought I was a success story. 

What they didn’t know was that I woke up each and every day with a torturous mental battle to fight. 

Getting ready and having to look at my body became an uncomfortably gross intimacy. The whispers of “you should lose more weight” inside my head were louder than the ten alarms I set for school. No amount of lighting, weight loss or filters could fix the million, microscopic errors my eyes could miraculously find. 

The weight of never feeling good enough feels the heaviest. 

I didn’t know the words for it then, but my ritualistic dieting, fixation on metrics, and obsession with mirrors was not just vanity or wanting to look good. 

They were symptoms of Body Dysmorphia. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a mental health disorder in which one obsesses over perceived or minor flaws that are oftentimes not noticeable to others. 

As a result, individuals may avoid or feel anxious in social situations and can spiral into depression. 

Symptoms include: obsession with appearance, believing that one is ugly or deformed because of the perceived flaw, and frequently seeking reassurance from others. 

Older generations accuse us of being “self-obsessed” and that we ought to just grit our teeth and “deal with it.” 

“Allah has given you so much and you dare to be ungrateful?” they say. “This is what happens when we miss salah.” 

This indifference towards mental health is especially prevalent in South Asian or Arab muslim communities that not only cater to traditional ideals of beauty but also weaponize religion to shame those who struggle mentally. 

This is only compounded by the fact that the muslim youth of today live in a society that subsists upon the Eurocentric body imagel, and rewards people based on their looks. It is virtually impossible to not feel bad about oneself. 

But how do we combat this issue? 

Let me offer you some pragmatic perspective. 

We live in a society that profits from insecurity – the cosmetic surgery industry alone accounts for around $20 billion globally. Therefore, it only makes sense that we are bombarded with content that makes us want to look like someone else. People are willing to spend anything to feel loved and accepted. 

We ought to step back from ourselves and take a critical look at the media and what it is selling us, why people fat-shame and make the comments that they do. If we can take back our power and understand that beauty is a subjective term that is based on what sells in that particular time, perhaps we might not feel as bad anymore. 

There was a point in time when your body was the ideal. Trends do not determine your worth. People will always be afraid of what is different. There will always be someone who is skinnier or has more likes, and even those people aren’t “happy.” 

Most of all, we ought to remember to look at the grand scheme of things, beyond the material world’s obsession with unattainable perfection. Even if we perceive our body as a flaw, these are based on human standards, but in the eyes of Allah (swt), we are all equal, regardless of how we might appear.

Remember that our Creator made no mistakes when making you. He has crafted us each with unique imperfections to not only remind us of our humanity, but to teach us where our worth really comes from in this life and the hereafter: the heart inside the body, not the body itself.

Being truly comfortable in one’s body cannot be achieved by joining the crowd, but by authentically embracing our diversity and working on our self-worth from the inside out. 

At the age of 19, I no longer use calorie counting apps and workout for the purpose of feeling good. I have gained weight since my unhealthy high school days, and I am grateful for it. 

While there are still days when I feel insecure about my body, I remind myself that only I get to decide how I feel about my body, not my family, not oppressive standards, and certainly not the aunties. 

To all the aunties who ever had a comment to make about mine or anyone else’s weight: stop. Stop making impressionable kids feel ashamed about their bodies. Keep the generational trauma to yourself because my generation is just trying to love themselves. 

 

READ MORE: The Double Standard Between Billie Eilish And Muslim Women