Thirty Days to Change

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People prepare for Ramadan in different ways. Some people put more TV ads marketing new Khaliji series, and others rush to supermarkets and load multiple shopping carts in preparation for the month of fasting, while others reflect on their lives and decide what religious goals they would like to achieve in this Holy month.

They say it takes thirty days to develop a good habit, while it takes the same amount of time to remove a bad habit. So instead of seeing Ramadan as a temporary pause from one’s daily routine, maybe it’s time for us to start seeking new habits to permanently add to our routine.

We all have twenty four hours every day. In Ramadan, we tend to spend these hours differently. So when it’s not Ramadan someone might sit and watch TV after dinner, while during Ramadan, they get up to pray Isha’a and Taraweeh in the masjid. And instead of scrolling through one’s twitter timeline the moment one wakes up, they could spend the time reading Quraan. But when Ramadan ends, old habits start kicking in. That’s because mentally, we think that what happens during Ramadan should stay in Ramadan. However, religious good deeds like giving in charity, reading Quraan, praying Sunnah prayers are rewarded throughout the year.

The sad thing is some people might refrain from being more religious during the month of Ramadan because they tend to judge others and claim, “At least I am not fake and I’m not pretending to be good for one month only.” Yet the truth is Ramadan had been a turning point for many people. So this year, make it yours.

Hadeeth of the Day:

1.عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : ( إذا جاء رمضان فُتّحت أبواب الجنة ، وغُلّقت أبواب النار ، وصُفّدت الشياطين ) رواه  مسلم

Narrated by Abu Huraira that the prophet (PBUH) said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” 

 2.عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( من صام رمضان إيمانا واحتسابا ، غُفر له ما تقدم من ذنبه)  رواه البخاري ومسلم

Narrated by Abu Huraira(r.a): The Prophet said: “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven” 

(c) T. Galvez
(c) T. Galvez

The Blessing of Islam

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So recently I came across this article “Islam offers student new life in the UAE” that talks about how a student called Luis Garcia reverted to Islam while he was studying in University of Houston, then his parents cut him off and stopped sending him money. As the reporter wrote, “Just as he was beginning to despair, a friend called him and told him to meet an Emirati man at the local mosque. One week later, the Emirati told him everything had been arranged for him to move to the American University of Sharjah, where he would be fully sponsored by a sheikh.”

Reading such stories always make me think about how we take this religion for granted. We take it for granted that growing up, our parents might knock on the door every day, calling, “Salaah, Salaah.” We take it for granted that we live in a place where we don’t have to worry about the food that we eat. We take it for granted that when we go out, we don’t have to worry about where we’re going to pray. Even Mawaqif, the parking company who gave me a parking ticket as Eidiya this year,  and who are known for being brutal when it comes to illegal parking cut you some slack during prayer time.

So I guess today’s reminder is to take the time to truly appreciate being a born Muslim in a Muslim country, and saying alhamdullilah for the blessing of Islam. A lot of self-help books flood bookstores nowadays because people suffer this void in their lives which they cannot fill using the materialistic things they have gained. This void is what we would call “a hungry soul”. By inundating themselves with materialistic things, people tend to starve their spiritual side, and that’s when the sales for Prozac start hitting the roof; the same roof that some people might decide to jump off.

Also, the way the opportunity came to Luis to come to AUS reminded me of how whenever the concept of wasta (was6a) comes up, like when someone says, “I can’t find a job because I don’t have was6a,” my parents would always say that you may not have was6a but you do have the power of duaa and that’s more powerful.

So I would conclude with a message from Luis Garcia (now known as Luis Abd Al-Rahman) to the Muslim youth, “I find really sad that many Muslims forget their values and principles as they actually want to stay as far as possible from them. Many young Muslims nowadays are anxious to live the life Hollywood has promoted for so many years, forgetting who they are, where they come from, and where they should be heading. Now, it isn’t my intentions to judge anyone. In fact, I’m totally against judging people’s behavior or decisions. The relationship between a Muslim and Allah is totally personal. However, I would like those people to remember that, unfortunately, every time they call themselves Muslims, they don’t only represent themselves, but Muslims in general. Very often, people who have no idea what Islam is, only have two sources to understand it from: what media shows, and what we, Muslims, show. So, would they like to show their religion?”

You can visit his website at

Syrian Children are Children Too

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When a gunman entered the school and shot dead 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut, the breaking news was a heart-breaking news. We were all saddened by the story, parents of six year old children hugged them tighter, and people asked one question over and over again, “Why?” Why would anyone want to hurt six year old children? Innocent children who didn’t understand evil until the day they experienced it firsthand that day? To find six-year-olds with multiple shot wounds was so devastating, that the Medical Examiner commented,  “I’ve been at this for a third of a century … but this probably is the worst I have seen or the worst that I know of any of my colleagues having seen,” he said.

But in Syria every news is heart-breaking news. Yesterday, dozens of people have been killed and many more wounded in a Syrian government air strike that hit a bakery where a crowd was queuing for bread. Many of the victims were women and children. Just because there aren’t reporters lurking all over Syria, taking interviews about the children’s favorite color, hobbies, or cartoon characters doesn’t make them any less important.  Their mothers suffered the back aches associated with carrying them around for nine months. Some of them watched their children say the first words, and curl their tiny fingers around an adult hand, and smile for no particular reason. And some of them watched their children die from gun wounds and disappear under the rubble of collapsed buildings, forever gone.

And it’s not just Syria.

19 November 2012: one of the top stories from Gaza was , “Four children killed in single Israeli air strike.”

17 December 2012: 10 Afghan children killed in bomb explosion in eastern province.

And that’s just the stuff that happened in the last one and a half month.

But the thing is , in in Syria, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, th0se children are grouped into numbers to reduce airwaves and sound bytes, and any resulting shockwaves that could reverberate across the world. We don’t get to hear their names, and their favorite holiday events, whether they liked to color with crayons or preferred paint. Some of them lose their parents and siblings in the same attacks, and so their names would just remain on the birth and death certificates, if those even existed.

So Syrian children are children too. They are not collateral damage. Palestinian children are children too. They are not future terrorists. In other words, Muslim children are children too. They are not a threat to anybody, especially when they’re carrying their pacifiers. So let’s not forget them.

I wanted an image of a child from Syria and many of them showed dead bodies that were too disturbing. (Image from
I wanted an image of a child from Syria and many of them showed dead bodies that were too disturbing. (Image from