How Deep is Our Multiculturalism?

Jordanian Folklore
My experience as an Arab, and a hijab-donning Muslim woman tells me that not everyone really understands how multiculturalism works. Not everyone gets it.

From what I have seen, embracing multiculturalism is often celebrated with food and dance and clothing displays of the “other”. That’s a good place to start, sure… the eye craves visual flavours. What is agreed by all as important, is the differences in spices, famous dishes tastes, and traditional clothing styles.

And yet, how is this same level of urgency not inclusive to understand the life values, and most importantly, the experiences of the “other”? To understand what brings them pain, and what brings them joy? To understand how multidimensional identity aspects of their being can play out in their day to day world?

These more important matters that concern a human being’s soul, their thoughts, their feelings – that is not touched. As long as the physical outer appearance is embraced, and what’s on top of their bodies is acknowledged, there is no need to delve deeper into the messy things that actually make us human.

Except, I think there is.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, I’ll say this: lots of people just aren’t aware that there are unaddressed issues because they don’t have to deal with them on a constant basis. I’m not writing this post to point fingers of blame at anyone – that’s not what I do. Much of what I say might equally apply to me; I’m just thinking out loud here. I’m hoping to shed some light on shadows the mainstream narrative prefers to keep hidden… because if revealed, it challenges the dominant narrative, the status quo.

“Multicultural tolerance and the settler narrative suggest that even though Canada is open to all comers, the recognition of difference is limited to that which does not threaten white settler domination.” ( Carol Schick, White Resentment in Settler Society)

So, as long as multiculturalism doesn’t threaten the benevolent, open, tolerant image of the multicultural country… it’s allowed. As soon as it starts to reveal cracks in the system, intolerant behaviour ensues. It’s slyly disguised as “we are so tolerant, why are these people being so ungrateful now!”

Perhaps an example would help make sense of what I’m writing; just look at Aboriginal people in the West.

“Multiculturalism has been used to defend schools against the need for education for and about aboriginal peoples, in spite of ‘racism and colonialism.’ Ironically, ‘multiculturalism’ operates as a talisman that further relegates aboriginal peoples, along with their culture and history, to a museum-worthy site.” (Carol Schick)

Museum-worthy, eh… Yeah, this strikes a bell. Sure, do let us celebrate clothing, food and music. (No sarcasm, I mean it. Really, let’s!) But if it has to include listening to how racism still exists around us, and if it includes facing the impacts of colonialism that are ever still present…. why, it becomes too controversial for conversation. So controversial, in fact, to even include in educational curricula. While the winds are slowly changing on that front, there is a tremendously long way to go.

Many people will justify their decisions to not take a stance in matters of colonialism or occupation, as “I am neutral.”

Neutral? NEUTRAL?

Woman,

Man,

There is no such thing as a neutral stance in matters of oppression. When you’re silent about defending those stolen from, you are automatically validating the thief.

Hey. I get it. Talking about matters of diversity and lack-of, white privilege, sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination… it’s not easy. It’s not always pleasant. I get that, okay? I’m a person of colour, a visible religious young woman, but that doesn’t mean that I am always in the mood to talk about how terribly insensitive people can be to one another.

But when the conversation is opened, it shouldn’t be shut down on grounds of “neutrality” or “well, I don’t see colour.” That’s a pathetic non-excuse to excuse yourself out of a potentially awkward conversation.

In Nayyirah Waheed’s crystal-clear resonating words:

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As a Palestinian, I have had to live with similar sensations my whole life. I have grown up in environments where my cultural food is celebrated, my Arabic music is enjoyed, our dancing is admired, our fashion is welcomed –  but our hearts, our minds, our experiences, are not worthy enough.

Spotlight

Our history is silenced. Our ghosts are in our heads. In the name of “neutrality”, I have been shunned instead, ignored, silently told “your suffering is not worthy.”

Of course this would be the message: in a land that has yet to fully reconcile with its Aboriginal peoples, who am I to expect that they’d care about the Indigenous peoples of another faraway land? This narrative only causes resentment.

“Anxiety and ambivalence rise in the conflicting desires to be the good, non-racist citizen/subject while maintaining one’s way of living as entitled and superior. The inability to resolve the contradictory and destabilizing stories that have to be told – about racial stereotypes and putative white innocence– are also grist for resentment.”

If you feel like you have to prove your self-worth to someone, then know their company is not worth yours. It shouldn’t be your burden to carry the guilt off of guilty shoulders – even if they don’t know what they are guilty of. Instead, be patient and kind with them until they realise the invisible weight they’re carrying. Whatever you do… don’t haul it onto your shoulders instead. Your mental comfort matters, too.

“it’s not about making you uncomfortable. it’s about making me comfortable.” (“reparations” by Nayyirah Waheed, salt.)

There are so many people and initiatives out there sincerely trying to make the world a better place for all. When I meet these people I am overwhelmed with gratitude to find such goodness. I just pray that more and more of us can fall into this wonderful group – myself included. It is not enough to be a person of colour to absolve blame of blameworthy traits like judgment, discrimination, other forms of privilege… I hold myself accountable just as much.

All praise to the One who puts sakeena and inner tranquillity in hearts. May He put it in yours, whoever you are that is reading this.

Baby Steps

And God knows Best.
-A.S.

Identity: It’s Not About You

This extremely long [long, long, long!] blog post is dedicated to myself; lest I forget who I am, how I came to be and where I hope to go. Been meaning to write this for a long, long, long time, and now was the absolute perfect timing because, you know, it’s exam period and naturally my brain cares more for blogging than physics. [I am so going to regret this when I wake up.] 

 

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“It’s not about you. It’s about God.”
 
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Those words were said very passionately by Imam Afroz Ali in a Seeker’s Circle session last year. The statement seemed obvious enough, easy to understand, simple to apply. I thought I knew exactly what he meant. 
 
But it’s only recently I’ve been absorbing what those words really mean… 
 
You know what the absolutely wonderful thing about keeping bits and pieces of your writings here and there is? It’s that you discover things about yourself you never knew were a part of you. Not knowing what you’re made of makes it very difficult to fix your flaws when they appear to be non-existent because no one seems to see them- probably because you’re surrounding yourself with people who have the same thing and thus can’t, or don’t want, to spot it. But I have about 15 Aya-ish genre short stories typed up, and it was inevitable that, with time and honest self-analysis, eventually I would come to learn the truth about myself through their characters.
 
Here’s an amusing fact– I never feel like I’ve changed at all. (Honestly!) I still have the same identical smile from a photograph of my three-year old self, and my favorite color has not changed since then. I seem to recall the ground being the same distance away from my nose for as long as I can remember; have I really gotten taller since I was five? My favorite pair of jeans from grade 9 still fit me now, a decade later, and my sense of humor from then has barely changed.
 
Sometimes I think to myself– am I still a 13-year old in an adult’s body or was I a 23-year old in a teenager’s body all along?
 
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Here’s the thing: I don’t know. (I know one thing, though: I know what you’re thinking): 
 
Aya, you’re making no sense, as usual– where are you going with this? Can you quit blabbering and get to the point?
 
Just trust me, I’m getting there. 😉
 
OK, so the other day I chose to procrastinate (regrettably so *sigh*) and opened up the most recent short story I’d typed up a couple of years ago. It was written during exam time then (*Surprise! Past procrastination during exams! History repeats itself*). In 2010 of December, I’d just had this explosively weird plot in my head that absolutely needed to be pulled out of my distracted brain and projected onto a Microsoft Word document at any means possible. I simply was not able to focus on studies with so many characters and names and colors in my mind– so in two days I wrote some really bizarre but comical, humorous Muslim love story that consisted of an alien invasion somewhere in between. (You don’t want to live in my brain, trust me.) 
 
This was only two years ago; I couldn’t have been a very different person back then. I read it carefully now, surprised at oh-so-subtle things the characters thought and did that I would not think or do now.  But, of course, if the protagonists thought a certain way, it was usually because I did back then, too. I decided to look through some older short stories– ones I’d written back in high school and CEGEP days, before I turned a fifth of a century old– and was almost horrified at what I came across. 
 
Damn, I thought. I still found the plots hilarious and they still fell into the same genre of Aya-randomness, but something was not right. The most obviously disturbing factor that stood out was this: my so-called “good”,”ideal”, “religious”, “righteous” characters were more like the “religious jerks” I vehemently speak out against quite often these days. For example: the “good” characters tended to get very impatient with those of lesser practicing degree, as though anyone and everyone who did not follow every aspect of the Sunnah was doing it deliberately out of rebellion and not so out of ignorance or forgetfulness. My “open-minded” characters had very little tolerance to new ideas. Alright, granted these “new ideas” tended to be very obvious deviant things, but it wasn’t the content that bothered me, it was they way that they reacted to them– devoid of wisdom. My “good Muslim” characters would put down someone they thought was not working to their potential, and this was done more out of a sense of pride being injured/ conceit/ arrogance, than out of a genuine concern of another’s well-being.
 
 
These characters were not proud Muslims because of their belief in God, but rather because it was an integral part of their identity.
An attack on Islamic values thus was seen to be an attack on them. Their pride came from their vain love of themselves and what they represented, not from their unconditional love for God and what represented them. 
 
There is no denial that these characters are a representation of who I was. It made me pause, and wonder: how did I become that way, and when did I change? 
 
Here is my theory: Islam is a major theme in all my stories, as it has always been my main driving force for my entire life. I can accurately say that growing up in Canada and attending schools from kindergarten to high school graduation in English sectors where there were very little Muslims (and almost zero Arabs) had a major impact on how I related to Islam. 
 
You know, before high school, everyone thinks everything is great, regardless of where they’re from and what nationality you are. You can tell someone your name ‘Ayah’ means a ‘verse of the Quran’ (actually, my 7-year old self mistakenly told the entire class it was equivalent to the word ‘Quran’ itself… woops!) and everyone will think you are the most positively unique person ever. You could have zaatar sandwiches every day for lunch and it didn’t matter that your white pita bread had dark green suspicious filling inside– if she says it’s yummy, why wouldn’t it be?
 
You can tell the world you’re Muslim and Arab
 
and these things are simply words to innocent children ears,
 
they mean nothing bad…
 
Yet.
 
Come high school and I find myself the only Muslim, and the only Arab girl in my classes. It was in grade seven that I began really exploring what it was to be a Muslim. I cannot speak for teenager experiences in other parts of the globe, but in the West, identity is the most important thing in a teenager’s life. Everyone wants to establish who they are and feel comfortable in their own skin. For me, this meant embracing not only the values I was raised with but to understand why I was doing what I was doing and to be honest with myself, if I wanted to continue doing them. With me being the one of the youngest (12-years old) attendee of a new halaqa filled mainly of 17 and 18 year old girls, I really began to love my faith. In addition, my extensive research on resourceful (but no longer existing) websites like IslamOnline with all their convert stories, news updates and Ask The Scholar sections, were my essential foundations in my knowledge. I was convinced I was on the right path, I knew more than many people my age, and I was proud to be me.
 
Did you see what I did there? I was proud to be “ME”. Keep this in mind, because it is going to be a very, very important in a couple of paragraphs…
 
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OK, so I was happy with my identity. How about everyone else at school? Ask any teenager and you’ll find her primary concern is to be accepted– not by God (because barely anyone reaches pure taqwa at the tender age of 12) but by people, friends at the least. I wanted people to embrace me the way I was, all the while ironically expecting to blend in (ha!). However, I soon came to realize, being Arab was something to be wary of or pitied, always associated with newly attacked Iraq… being Muslim was seen as “oh… but I thought you were Italian Christian or Jewish?” (in pre-hijab era) and “you mean your parents didn’t force you to wear it?” (post hijab era). The whole can’t-wear-shorts-to-gym-class, and can’t-go-to-the-school-dance, and sorry-I-can’t-hug-you-because-you’re-a-guy, and can’t-drink-or-smoke-or-attend-your-parties were not the biggest deals as some might assume; I thank God the school environment was generally tolerant and it was pretty multicultural. 
 
But yet, despite the multiculturalism, I still always somehow found myself being expected to be the spokesperson for entire populations, as though I had any idea what the millions of Muslims in the world experienced or as if there was a one precise “Muslim worldview” set in stone. Do you know what pressure that is for a teenager? I remember taking it on like a champ, but now I come to think of it, how did I accept such a silent challenge so confidently? My goodness, I barely know anything now enough and yet back then, I thought I knew it all. While everyone around me was concerned about what movie to go see with their friends, who they should date, what lip gloss shined the most– I found myself continuously (with the best of intentions on the part of others, though) bracing myself to defend the religion or the Arab population. When a teacher said something ignorant about Muslims or Arabs, heads would automatically sort of turn to me and without a pause, expecting the one hijabi to know all the answers related to anything in the Middle East. Once a well-meaning student who clearly didn’t know what Islam was and clearly did not corrolate my hijab with Islam, spoke to the class about some forward chain email he received stating that verse 9:11 foreshadowed the crumbling of the Twin Towers. Heads swivelled to me and I burst out how preposterous that was, and vowed to bring the real verse 9:11 to the class the next day. (Luckily, it was a verse on forgiveness and mercy. No one dared ever contradict me when I told them their facts were wrong ever since then.) 
 
It was always me that had to put my foot down and speak out. I got so used to speaking out, so used to “knowing so much”, that somehow my ego convinced me I was the best of the best Muslims there are. When I went to Palestine after 13 years of not visiting, my relatives were pleasantly surprised that my siblings and I could read tajweed Quran, speak Arabic, and knew more about fiqhi issues than a lot of people there. I am ashamed to admit it, but this got to my secretly swollen head. I was convinced I knew so much, and felt obliged to share my knowledge… although I cannot recall if I wanted to share because I cared or simply to show I knew…
 
You see, I was vainly proud to have found my identity at such a young age and I attributed this to my own digging and soul-searching, instead of acknowledging the fact it was the Lord who opened my heart to it in the first place. “It’s all about me!” It had nothing (alright, it had something, but not completely) to do with God. Yes, I sought Him and yes, I yearned to be with Him, but at the same time, I wanted to let the world know this is who I am. Not this is what I represent! Or why I am! But just simply, this is me because it’s my identity and without my identity I am nobody. So naturally, it was difficult to accept that some people led drastically different lifestyles and could still be “right”, because this challenged the secret notion deep in my chest that I knew better.
 
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Now, after all that thinking, it makes sense to me:
 
“It’s not about you. It’s about God.”
 
Imagine standing before your Lord on the day of Judgment… only to receive your Book of deeds in your left hand… because it appears all your deeds were meaningless and only done to soothe your own ego and make you feel good about yourself… it had never been about the deen, about the truth, or about God– it had only been about feeling like you had a place, a presence and an impression in the world.
 
“It’s not about you. It’s about God.”
 
It’s really scary to be put in this situation. I tried to not admit this to myself, but if I don’t, how can I get out of it, if I am indeed an arrogant person? I pray every day never to fall back into it. I’m still not sure how deep I I ever was into, but my writings are evidence of a crime I was unconsciously committing against my soul. 
 
They say college time is the best years of your life. I agree college was a blast– I finally knew what it meant to be a part of an MSA, to see and speak and relate to Muslims who have been through similar experiences; I didn’t have to keep justifying myself and explaining why I can’t eat gelatin or McDonald’s- it was nice to relate, but we were all on the same level, more or less. It was really during my days at McGill, surrounded by people from all over the world, with unique experiences and wisdom, that I was really exposed to vastly different thinking (usually think-outside-the-box-while-keeping-it-halal) and in the beginning, I was intimidated to even approach such great minds; for the first time ever, I felt very ignorant, stupid and clueless. I knew so little in comparison… The more I learned, the less I realized I knew and at this point, I’m not sure where to start seeking knowledge because it seems I know virtually nothing, so where do I start?
 
But I realized that the more profoundly inspiring that individual was, the more humble (and yet he/she will claim not to be anywhere near humility) they were. I made it my mission to surround myself with people that were better than me in all areas– knowledge, life experiences, virtues, interesting personalities– I wanted to always be among a group of people that inspired me to go beyond what I was and never be satisfied with my limitations.
 
The ironic thing is, I got less and less selective of who these noble and great people were; the only criteria was that they had to be better than me.
 
Lately everyone I meet is better than me. I have yet to meet one person who is “below”. For instance, If I have more knowledge, they have more deeds; if I have more deeds, they have more difficult life trials they’ve handled with unbelievable patience; if I have patience, they have wisdom; if I have any wisdom, they have the gift of gratitude that overwhelms; if I am grateful, they are probably the reason I am grateful. It’s an endless cycle that never ends.
 
God is too good to me. I must never forget that I am blessed. And indeed, I must never forget that who I am is important not because it defines my identity– my identity need not be more than a servant of Allah. It is important because it reminds me of my place in the world, and my life’s purpose.
 
Remember, Aya: always remember until your last dying breath:
 
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“It’s not about you. It’s about God.”
 
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~ And Allah knows best.
 
-A.S.

A Drop From An Ocean Of Ink

*This post is inspired by several verses of Surat Al-Kahf. Hence, I am dedicating this to all you enlightened souls who continue to authentically inspire me without realizing they are ever doing so. (Nafisah, you’re one of them.)*
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The amount of thoughts that go on in your mind, the amount of feelings that rollercoaster in you, the amount of STUFF going on inside– it can never be expressed well enough. Any form of expression like writing or speaking is only a drop from the ocean within you. And this is just you.
So how can anyone claim to ‘know’ God well enough?
I am specifically referring to those people who think they’re so pious and are guaranteed heaven so they can sit around, judge all and stop growing spiritually.
The majority of us, however, are aware we do not know God as much as we should. We know we could be better people, better siblings and sons and daughters and friends and helpers… we know we could be better in faith and there is always room for improvement. We know we’re not perfect and we know life is not perfect but that He alone is.
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It’s all nice and flowery, theoretically speaking– to say “this life is temporary and nothing to give yourself a stressful breakdown over, let’s smile because we have faith and who needs anything else?”– and yet, when those hard moments come, practically speaking, we often forget.
(Interesting fact: ‘human being = ‘insan’ = has same Arabic root as word that means ‘to forget’.) 
Often, we get frustrated, sad, upset or angry because our current circumstances do not make sense to us. Why did this happen to me when I put in so much effort? Why does so much ‘bad’ stuff happen to good people? And sometimes, unfortunately, when a dear one reminds you it is just a test, you might even cry out: A test in what? How am I supposed to pass a test that I don’t know what it’s testing me on?
The thing is, you do know. Every exam that has any form of hardship is most definitely, among other things, testing your patience. And this, my friends, is the hardest test of all.
The problematic thing is, it is difficult to be patient with what you don’t understand. You lack in understanding when you lack in knowledge.
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He said, “Indeed, with me you will never be able to have patience.
And how can you have patience for what you do not encompass in knowledge?” (18:67-68)
Even Moses, peace be upon him, who was lacking in the knowledge of the wise man whose words are in the Quran, wasn’t be patient enough in that moment because he did not understand. (But once he did, he readily accepted.)
This is why having unshakeable faith in Al-Hakeem, Al-’Aleem is essential. You may not know, but He does. You may be confused, but He is most definitely not; in fact, every little thing is just a tiny part of a big plan for you, perfectly scripted in a chapter of the book of your life.
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I’ve had moments in my life where something happened that I couldn’t fathom, couldn’t understand why it had to be me. It was maybe a year or two later that the reason was made clear to me.
But sometimes you’ll never know why something happened. And does it matter that you absolutely need to know? Is the test of the afterlife the same as the standard typical tests in school– knowing the answers?
Of course not. You’re not sure why something was but you knew it had to be. You might have done it one way but Allah did it the other. What’s your passing grade? The moment you feel at peace with it, knowing He knows best and so you be patient.Patience is priceless. May Allah bless us all with it, because it’s not only hard moments that require it– so do the good.

If you’re a doer of good in the community and you’re always bombarded with criticisms and both positive and negative reactions (life has both types of people in it), it takes patience to not do how instinct tells you to react. Rather, self-control, character strength and especially humility are needed in such cases. It isn’t easy having to patiently listen to someone’s words that you already know isn’t going to be to your liking. Likewise, it takes self-restraint not to let that compliment get to your head and swell it up.

Speaking of doing good, how much good are you really doing?

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Say, [O Muhammad], “Shall we [believers] inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.” (18:103-104)
These verses are an interesting example of the incredible emotions the Quran affects on us. The first verse puts you in that moment of suspense, the climax, as you wait to hear the answer; the second verse sinks you below the earth in fear, for you just wonder if everything you’re doing is a lie and will not be accepted… And then God sends your heart soaring as you read the next verse:
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Those are the ones who disbelieve in the verses of their Lord and in [their] meeting Him, so their deeds have become worthless; and We will not assign to them on the Day of Resurrection any importance. (18:106)
(PHEW!)
And yet, we must never get too comfortable with the fact that we are believers. Not everything we do is always for the sake of God. The word “Muslim” means one who has submitted to God; if what you do is not being done for His sake, then the effort has been lost in the worldly life.
The balance a Muslim must strive to keep is that of a dove; one wing of hope for God’s mercy, and one wing of fear (that the deeds weren’t sincere and may not be accepted.)
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Finally, there is one more verse I would like to share with you. This verse is so beautiful I don’t know where to start. I can’t really pinpoint what it is that really gets to my heart– it’s more the way it makes me feel.
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Say, “If the sea were ink for [writing] the words of my Lord, the sea would be exhausted before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even if We brought the like of it as a supplement.”(18:109)
“The words of the Lord.” How beautiful is that?
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A tiny part of us (which is the only part that really matters) is that of our soul, and it yearns to be connected with Him. His words are a means to connect with Him, to communicate with, to develop a deep relationship like no other.
Subhanallah, every time you open the Quran, the same verse could add a whole new dimension of significance than the last time you read it. If you read surat Al-Kahf every week, ask yourself this: do you find new meanings, new awe, every time you read it, or has it become a routine in which you pay no thought or heed to?
Unfortunately, many of us have lost touch with His words. Perhaps not always, but at moments– and this is still a great loss. That one second that passed in which He was telling you something and you weren’t listening is now gone and was worth more than all the gold in this world. Those twenty minutes you spent reading a chapter of the Quran but didn’t really tune in to every letter because you assumed you knew it in and out, is a wasted twenty minutes.
God’s words are infinite, endless, diverse and meaningfully timeless.
Picture this: You’re standing by an inky black ocean, with a feather, and dip it in the ink. Write a book with that ink; will the ocean’s ink decrease?
Now think of the Quran, and the ink it took to write that. If this ink were written from an ocean of it, never could that ocean’s ink decrease; likewise, if you spent eternity getting to know God, never could His word’s meanings and depth decrease.
And know this: If you spent your entire life studying the Quran, all the knowledge you can accumulate about Allah would probably be a drop from His ocean of knowledge.
(I am about to get off topic. I should conclude before I write a novel by accident.)
Okay, so who exactly am I writing this blog post for? There’s no sense in pretending to be a macho scholar; I am reminding myself before anyone else. It’s dedicated to people like me, who might find themselves zoning out during al-Fatiha in prayer. It’s dedicated to people like me, who find themselves very elated at some verses and sort of neutral in others. (The problem is, there’s no such thing as a “neutral” verse.)
Every word, every letter, every message, written or felt, of His has its purpose. And our purpose is to reflect and act upon them.
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Have a blessed day!
A.S.

FOOD (Literally) For Thought

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It’s a wonderful sunny day, the air smells great, the grass is deliciously green, the birds are chirping, the wind is soothing– Can you imagine this?

Do you tire of this?

These things are especially appreciated here because in Canada we are faced with so much rain and cold, that when refreshing summer days (that actually look like summer) occur, we actually take notice.

It’s a blessing, a gift, a mere sprinkle of His Mercy on us. We notice.

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But the question isn’t to only notice what’s rare or uncommon. What about the blessings we get on a daily basis multiple times a day? It’s fascinating to note that even a grateful person won’t notice how ingrateful they’ve been until they realize something else that is worth noticing. Like myself here.

Here I am eating a normal plate of food, very simply made–

A plate of rice, with vegetables heated up from a bag bought from a grocery store already containing corn, carrots and green peas. It’s not very difficult to make; make some rice and heat up some vegetables; mix them together; add some olive oil for extra flavour.

I often say “bismilleh” (in the name of God) before I eat. I thank Him for giving me food to eat. But I never deeply wondered about how the food came to me from Him.

Looking at my plate, it struck me: how long did it take for hard-working farmers to grow my rice? How long did it take for the bag of vegetables to be prepared? I thought of the corn that was planted, cooked, removed from the cob… I thought of the peas that grew from nothing but a seed… I thought of all the carrots and wondered who took the time to patiently cut them up into such neat tiny squares… how many olives were squeezed to allow this plate of healthy food to taste so delicious…

All praise is due to God; but as our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ told us: “He who does not thank people does not thank Allah.”

And it made me think that we don’t usually thank those who brought the food together for us. It’s easy to buy a bag of frozen vegetables at your local grocery store but who thanks those that put the frozen vegetables together? We may not be able to personally thank them but why not do that via a prayer? So many people need pure souls to pray for them, often times especially those working in the fields under difficult conditions. (Yes, I know your soul and mine isn’t the purest but we’re trying, we’re trying… inshallah with sincere intentions.)

Let’s make duaa for all those who make our life comfortable possible. They don’t have to be Muslim to be eligible to receive such prayers like “May God make their lives easy”, “May God reward them” or “May God bring light in their lives”.

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Next time you have a plate of food, or a sandwich in hand– stop and think about it.

Let’s turn food for eating into something more profound– food for thought.

May Allah bless whoever is reading this and bring sakeena (serene tranquility) in your hearts.

Peace,

–A.S.