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Rachael Ray & Dunkin Donuts: 30 Minute Meals for Terrorists

Omar Usman



donut.jpg *Quick disclaimer, most of the links in this article contain pictures that are not consistent with the Islamic view of Hijab

YUM-O! By now you have probably heard that a Rachael Ray ad has been pulled because it featured her wearing a distinctive black/white Palestinian headdress. Kind of hard to miss as it was all over Digg and at some point yesterday on the front page of CNN. Before getting to my own comments, let me recap some of what is being said in the blogosphere:

Let me start by expressing my anger at Michelle Malkin, not for being a biased neocon hack creating fictional drama and passing it off as relevant social news (that’s to be expected), but for ripping off my coinage of the term “Rolled up Couture” for her own “hate couture.”

The actual story here, to me, is ridiculous. I’m not sure why everyone is getting on Rachael Ray’s case. Many people wear this, or scarves similar to it. I remember seeing an And1 streetballer wearing the same thing during a game, but he was never accused of supporting terrorism. The Dunkin Donuts official statement even says the scarf was just picked out by the stylist. Based on negative reactions to the commercial, you might assume that Rachel Ray had the scarf wrapped around her head and face, while reading the script from a piece of paper and shaking her finger.

While the debate of whether Dunkin’ Donuts should have pulled the ad or not has been hashed out in the blogosphere, one thing that many people are ignoring is the potential fall out from this disaster. I have, therefore, taken it upon myself to outline for America just a few ways how this milestone event in our history may affect our future.

  1. Everytime Rachael Ray says “EVOO” on the Food Network, the CIA will need to investigate it to make sure its not a hidden message to Al-Qaeda.
  2. Urban Outfitters will notice a sudden drop in their quarterly profit outlook.
  3. .. So will White House | Black Market, a place famous for “for its sleek lines, and its focus on white, black, and other variants of the two colors” (Let’s just hope they don’t incorporate red).
  4. A reverse endorsement war will break out between Nike and Adidas to prove they are not the official tennis-shoe for terrorists.
  5. Economic crisis as a result of the inevitable American boycott on rice – a signature food of terrorists (and communists too).

While the Dunkin Donuts debate may rage on, one thing is for sure: America is one black and white piece of cloth closer to defeating terrorism, and with people like Michelle Malkin hard at work, it is only a matter of time before we take down one more scarf, and maybe this time we can get Emeril, Mario Batali, or Bobby Flay (have you seen his hair?? I think he has IRA ties).

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at



  1. Avatar


    May 31, 2008 at 4:12 AM

    Ya know what’s funny about it…the scarf shows how Palestinians and Jews are related. Look at how similar it is to the Jewish tallit prayer shawl:

    I think someone could possibly mistake a Jewish shawl as a Palestinian one–let’s see what happens then! :D

  2. Avatar

    True Virtues

    May 31, 2008 at 11:19 AM

    They should be paying more attention to how Dunkin Donuts is raising healthcare costs and giving people diabetes and heart disease, as well as increasing obesity, instead of what the scarf seems to resemble… absolute paranoia…

  3. Avatar

    Umm 'Uthmaan

    May 31, 2008 at 11:22 AM

  4. Avatar


    May 31, 2008 at 12:06 PM

    I saw this on CNN’s front page news yesterday! Simply hilarious.

  5. Avatar


    May 31, 2008 at 12:31 PM

    Why dont we get a Dunkin DOnuts boycott going in response to dunkin donuts succumbing to such xenhophobic and islamophobic paranoia?

  6. Amad


    May 31, 2008 at 1:06 PM

    I am with haseeb… start a campaign of at least emailing dunking to register our disgust.. and then go from there… maybe we can encourage a boycott in the muslim world… Dunkin needs to hear from us!

  7. ibnabeeomar


    May 31, 2008 at 3:04 PM

    we wont stop until they have a new ad with rachael ray in niqab! ;)

  8. Avatar

    Derelict of Dialect

    May 31, 2008 at 4:02 PM

    Contrary to what you have stated, the scarf was actually paisley as was mentioned in an article and if you look closely enough you can see it.

  9. Avatar

    Ibn Masood

    May 31, 2008 at 5:08 PM

    Derelict old boy, we know that, Rachel Ray’s designer clearly said it was a Paisley scarf. It’s Dunkin Donuts who went to far by getting all paranoid thinking it was a Palestinian scarf – and even if it was… so what? That’s what we find crazy.

  10. Avatar


    May 31, 2008 at 9:02 PM

    I posted an event on Facebook that I encourage everyone to join (even those not on Facebook):

    Wear Your Kaffiyeh with Pride Day

    It’s quite simple: on Friday June 6th, make sure to wear a kaffiyeh wherever you happen to be (standing outside a Dunkin’ Donuts would be good *wink*) as a visual protest against this kind of blatant racism.

    Invite all your Arab, non-Arab, Muslim and non-Muslim friends… the more variety the better, insha’Allah, to really highlight that the kaffiyeh is a simple piece of patterned cloth, designed for everyone to wear.

  11. Avatar


    May 31, 2008 at 9:18 PM

    It’s funny because the keffayah is in style these days…I’ve seen more non muslims wearing it than muslims! outrageous. Talk about boredom.

  12. Pingback: Wear Your Kaffiyeh With Pride Day « iMuslim

  13. Avatar

    Nihal Khan

    May 31, 2008 at 11:29 PM

    funny stuff

  14. Avatar


    May 31, 2008 at 11:45 PM

    I’m quite pleased that Dunkin Donuts was run out of the country by the proud and noble institution that is Tim Hortons. Those Coffee Koolata’s and Iced Lattes can’t hold a candle against Tim Hortons ice caps.

    While it’s much too warm for a scarf these days, I’ll wear mine on Friday insha-Allah.

  15. Avatar


    June 1, 2008 at 1:44 AM

    as salamualaykum

    the more they act this way, the more stupid they look. Sooner or later inshaAllah, the general population will realize the insanity of these right wingers..wallahu `alam

    btw, Omar, that Donut looks yummy :P


  16. Avatar


    June 1, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    It is too bad that this story was all over the place on the same day as something with a lot more significance for palestinians to detract attention from the unfairness they are made to suffer. If I believed in conspiracy theories, this one would go something like, “Let’s get muslims riled up about something symbolic and superficial, as opposed to a real issue with societal ramifications”.
    If we’re gonna collectively spend energy speaking out, how about on this? This made me, and a bunch of my (non-muslim as well) friends extremely angry because of the injustice it shows openly.

    Also, everyday on my way to work, along with my morning latte, I also almost always get an ‘as-salaam-walaikum sister’ in any of the three dunkin donuts that I frequent. I’m not sure I want to boycott that, unless I know for sure what real good that will achieve as opposed to taking away from the already paltry tip earnings from muslim brothers and sisters who for all we know don’t have any other means of income.

  17. Amad


    June 1, 2008 at 11:32 AM

  18. Avatar


    June 1, 2008 at 12:11 PM

    This is extreme, showing the mentality of the populace.
    Increasingly we are finding ourselves in the same place where jews used to be in 1930s/1940s. But who will play the Nazi role?

  19. Avatar

    Your mom

    June 1, 2008 at 3:33 PM

    Forever 21, Abercrombie and Fitch, Hollister, Wet seal, Charollette Russe and many more sell these scarfs….

  20. Avatar

    Bint Bashir

    June 2, 2008 at 11:38 AM

    This is rediculous… in the UK it has become almost fashionable to wear this scarf, it has no meaning behind it for most people it is simply a nice scarf….. just shows how paranoid people are becoming…………if a scarf causes this much concern!!!!

  21. Avatar


    June 2, 2008 at 4:49 PM

    I don’t think they’re becoming “paranoid”. They’re making a statement, “we won’t tolerate a piece of cloth let alone a land where you muslims can live”

  22. Avatar

    Olivia Kompier

    June 3, 2008 at 12:17 AM

    I just saw one for sale at Marshall’s–apparently there’s no rush to pull them off the shelves!

  23. Avatar


    June 3, 2008 at 12:09 PM

    This whole thing is ridiculuos!! It should be a real wake up call for all of us who need to work much harder on our dawah skills!! Obviously they have it all wrong!! And who is to correct them?? I like the idea of wearing the scarf on June 6th..make sure to explain to ppl why u did so too.

  24. Avatar


    June 3, 2008 at 6:49 PM

    Lets take a quick at Michele Magalang Malkin shall we? Besides being a Fliipino version of Ann Coulter, married to jewish extremist Jesse Malkin(unemployed but runs her “website” last I checked) she has no real acheivements other then being a colored mascot for the extreme Right and co. Since she’s so opposed to immigration, perhaps her immigrant parents should be the first to placed in internment camps(which she supports for us). Forget the scarf, good luck getting the falafel banned.
    Shabbos Goyism is a lot of work :

  25. Avatar


    June 3, 2008 at 7:17 PM

    You think Malkin is a handful? She is a tame little kitten compared to Schlussel. They are both required reading for me to start my day off. It is helping me beat my caffeine addiction. I let those two get my blood flowing instead of the coffee.

  26. Avatar

    Boston Bob

    June 4, 2008 at 10:23 AM

    Well, well, now. While all of the useless bloviating about “protecting” Middle Eastern culture has been wasting bandwith, Dunkin’ Donuts has actually been DOING SOMETHING to invest in the lives of actual Middle Eastern people. Let us not forget that 100% of Dunkin’ Donuts shops are owned by independent franchisees, not a giant corporation. Many of these family franchises are owned by people of Middle Eastern descent. Gee—I wonder how they feel about your boycotting their business and taking food from their childrens mouths to “protect” them?
    Dunkin’ has invested BIG TIME in Arab and other eastern countries to create wealth and jobs for people there. What have you done, aside from try to take away the livelihood of thousands of Middle Eastern families and that of North Americans of Middle Eastern descent with a mindless boycott?

    Here is just ONE example:
    Dunkin’ Donuts opens biggest kitchen complex in Sharjah
    Sharjah: Tue, 3 Jun 2008

    Dunkin’ Donuts has opened the company’s largest commercial kitchen and warehouse complex in the Middle East region in Sharjah. The complex, built on an area of 30,000 sq ft, is the company’s biggest facility of its kind outside the US.
    Sheikh Mohammed Saud Sultan Al Qasimi, chairman of the government of Sharjah Finance Department and proprietor of Continental Foods, owners of the Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise in the UAE, inaugurated the new facility.
    Addressing a large gathering present at the opening ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed said Sharjah’s new Dh19 million ($5.17 million) Dunkin Donuts kitchen and warehouse complex will produce the full range of donuts in 50 different varieties and currently has the capacity to produce 50 million donuts per year.
    He said that twice daily deliveries are made to the outlets around the country to ensure that customers receive their donuts absolutely fresh.
    David Rodgers, Dunkin’ Donuts general manager noted that Dunkin’ Donuts had grown from one outlet in 1997 to 45 now covering the entire UAE. “This stupendous growth has necessitated the need for a much larger commercial kitchen facility,” he said.
    “We have risen to be the most popular coffee & baked goods chain in the UAE serving high quality hot and cold beverages and fresh donuts,” remarked Rodgers.
    Citing a recent customer survey, Rodgers stated that nearly half (47 per cent) of its clientele in the UAE comprised UAE nationals and Arab expatriates while Asians accounted for around 23 per cent of its customer base.
    “Suitable for breakfast or as a snack at mid-morning or afternoon, our donuts are popular even among the Western expatriate population in the UAE as also the Filipino community,” he observed.
    Today, Dunkin’ Donuts is the world’s largest coffee and baked goods chain, serving more than three million customers per day. Dunkin’ Donuts sells 52 varieties of donuts and more than a dozen coffee beverages as well as other baked goods.
    “Dunkin’ Donuts outlets are conveniently situated in all the major Shopping Malls. Outlining the popularity of the food chain worldwide,” Rodgers added.
    “We plan to expand extensively throughout the UAE to ensure that our stores are conveniently located and within reach of everyone in the country,” he stressed.-TradeArabia News Service

  27. Avatar


    June 4, 2008 at 2:17 PM

    Its obvious you’re clueless, Boston Bob. Dunkin Donuts “investing in the lives of Middle Eastern people”? LOL As if we need another third rate American franchise to pollute the air. We got plenty of wealth and opportunities so don’t think we’re waiting for some heart clogging filler material. It doesn’t matter whether it has Middle Eastern investment or not, its a matter of principle not to do business with lily livered cowards who give in to paranoid racists.

    As for Debbie Schlussel, check this out :

  28. Pingback: Kaffiyeh Day: What It’s Really All About |

  29. Avatar


    June 4, 2008 at 10:48 PM

    I’ve seen so many at UCSD wearing them.

    first off–oooh, are we bad to support the innocent Palestinians? Being killed for political/lame reasons?
    second–this is a ridiculous joke of an attempt to make Muslims look bad and is crossing the line.

    Support Palestine with all your heart! It doesn’t matter what they say, as long as we KNOW we are right in our hearts!!!!!!

    Viva Palestina. Peace

  30. Pingback: An Investigation into the Effects of Kaffiyeh Adornment « iMuslim

  31. Avatar

    Stormoak Lonewind

    August 1, 2008 at 3:44 PM

    I’d buy a donut from her even if she was wearing a birka and toting a machine gun. I’m interested in the pastry not some hidden message or her religious/political beliefs. If anything I thought the headdress was quite attractive on her. Maybe in sympathy toward all muslims americans should wear something middle-eastern while ordering. The media frenzy on that would be hilarious to watch. Personally, I wonder if donuts are halal or haram. I live in a very ethnically diverse city and love all the different peoples and cultures. I’m American by birth, spiritual in nature (non-muslim) and appreciative of all Allah’s creations. Including donuts sold by an italian-american wearing a suspiciously arab headdress. :-)

  32. Avatar


    January 20, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    Riiiight, “Dr”M. You go, motor mouth. If the buinesses survive, and they have flourished since my last posting, it proves your approach of ranting instead of actually doing constructive things, is mindless as I originally posited.

    BTW–do some research before posting next time. I know that it takes away time from spittle forming at the corners of your always opening mouth in a good long rant, but please try. Dunkin’ Donuts sells more COFFEE than anything else by a wide margin. Most of its customers do not eat doughnuts.

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When Faith Hurts Inside Out, You Don’t Have To Like It

Loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way- even if it hurts. It is a time to learn.

Zeba Khan



hurts, hardship. Allah, test, why Allah is testing me

The Messenger of Allahṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that the faith in our hearts wears out the way our clothes wear out. Deterioration, maintenance, and renewal are part of the cycle.  That’s life with all that hurts. That’s normal.

But what happens when that’s life, but life is not your normal? What happens when it feels like life isn’t normal, hasn’t been normal, and won’t be normal for a foreseeably long time?  For some of us, refreshing faith becomes secondary to just keeping it.

It’s easier to say Alhamdulillah when you are happy. It’s harder when you’re not. That’s human nature though. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with what we teach about faith that can leave us unprepared for when Allah tests it. I believe that our discussions about faith tend to be overly simplistic. They revolve around a few basic concepts, and are more or less summed up with:

Faith = Happiness

Righteousness = Ease

Prayer = Problem Solved

Good Deeds Equals Good Life?

Basically, the TLDR is Good Deeds = The Good Life. None of these statements are technically untrue. The sweetness of faith is a joy that is beyond any other gratitude, for any other thing in this world. Righteousness in the sight of Allah will put you on the path to the good life in the afterlife. Making dua can be the solution to your problems. But when we say these things to people who have true faith but not happiness, or righteous behavior yet distressing hardship, we’re kind of implying that that either Islam is broken (because their prayers seem unanswered), or they are broken (because their prayers are undeserving of answers.) And neither of those is true either.

Allow me to elaborate. I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single parent who has not begged Allah to make their sick or disabled child well again. Yet, our Ummah still has sick and disabled children. Through history, people have begged Allah for a loved one’s life, and then buried them – so is prayer not equal to problem solved?

Many righteous people stand up, and are then ostracized for their faith. Many people speak truth in the face of a tyrant only to be punished for it. Many of us live with complete conviction, with unshakeable belief in the existence and wisdom and mercy of Allah, and still find ourselves unhappy and afraid of what He has willed for us.

Are We Broken?

No, but our spiritual education is. In order to fix it, we have to be upfront with each other. We have to admit that we can be happy with Allah and still find ourselves devastated by the tests He ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) puts before us, because faith is not a protection from struggle.

Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever said this to anyone else?

No one ever told me. It was hard for me to learn that lesson on my own, when I pleaded with Allah to make my son’s autism go away, and it didn’t. Everyone told me –Make dua! The prayer of a mother for her child is special! Allah will never turn you down!

It was hard trying to make sense of what seemed like conflicting messages- that Allah knows best, but a mother’s prayer is always answered. It was even harder facing people who tried to reassure me of that, even when it obviously wasn’t working.

“Just make dua! Allah will respond!”

I’m sure people mean well. But it’s hard not to be offended. Either they assume I have never bothered to pray for my son, or they imply that there must be good reason why Allah’s not granting to my prayers. What they don’t consider is that allowing my test to persist – even if I don’t want it to- is also a valid response from Allah.

I have been told to think back in my life, and try to determine what sin caused my child’s disability, as if the only reason why Allah wouldn’t give me what I asked for was because I was so bad I didn’t deserve it. As if good deeds equaled the good life, and if my life wasn’t good, it’s because I hadn’t been good either.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

You can assume whatever you like about my character, but bad things do happen to good people, even when they pray. You can try your hardest and still fall short. You can pray your whole life for something that will never come to you. And strength of faith in that circumstance doesn’t mean living in a state of unfulfilled hope, it means accepting the wisdom in the test that Allah has decreed for you.

That’s a bit uncomfortable, isn’t it.  When we talk about prayer and hope, we prefer to talk about Zakraiyyah 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – who begged Allah for a child and was gifted with one long after anyone thought it even possible. But we also need to talk about Abu Talib.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, and in his mission to preach Islam he was protected by Abu Talib.  But Abu Talib died without accepting Islam, was there something wrong with the Prophet, that Allah did not give him what he asked for? Was he not good enough? Did he not pray hard enough? Astaghfirullah, no. So if Prophets of God can ask for things and still not get them, why are we assuming otherwise for ourselves?

Making a Bargain with Allah

If we can understand that faith is not a contract for which we trade prayers for services, then maybe we can cope better when fate cannot be bargained with. Maybe it won’t have to hurt so bad – on spiritual level – when Allah withholds what we ask for, even when we asked for the “right” things in the right way and at all the right times.

Life is not simple. Faith is not simple. The will of Allah is not simple, no matter how much we want it to be, and when oversimplify it, we create a Muslim version of Prosperity Gospel without meaning to.

If you’ve never heard of it, prosperity gospel is a religious belief among some Christians that health and wealth and success are the will of God, and therefore faith, good deeds and charity increase one’s wellbeing. Have faith, and God will reward you in this life and the next. That’s nice. But it’s too simple. Because the belief that Good Deeds = The Good Life doesn’t explain how Ibraheem 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s father tried to have him burnt alive.

Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s brothers left him for dead in the bottom of a well. He grew up a slave and spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Aasiya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – the wife of the Pharoah – one of the four best women in the history of womankind – died from her husband’s torture.

Good people are not guaranteed good lives. Islam is what we need, not a system of practices that we use to fulfill our needs.

When we limit our understanding of faith to a simplistic, almost contractual relationship with Allah, then we can’t even explain the things that Allah Tested His own prophets with.

Nor can we understand, or even begin to cope with- what He Tests the rest of us with either. We have to be real in our talk about faith, because otherwise we set each other up for unrealistic expectations and lack of preparation for when we face hardship. Faith is not protection from hardship. Faith is part of hardship. And hardship is part of faith.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) asks us in the opening of Surah ‘Ankabut,

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And ˹in this way˺ Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah says in Surah Baqarah, ayah 155: “And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of the fruits of your labor. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity.

tests, hurts, faith , hardship

Allah Tests Everyone Differently

Allah tests each of us differently, but in every single case – every single time – a test is an invitation to success. Hardship is the process through which we prove ourselves. Experiencing it– and then drawing closer to Allah through it –is how faith is tested as well as strengthened.

If we can change how we perceive hardship, then we can also change how we perceive each other. On our cultural subconscious, we still see worldly failure as being equivalent to spiritual failure. So when we see people who are homeless, we assume fault. When we see people facing depression or divorce, we assume fault. We even look at refugees and victims and special needs children and we look for fault. Cuz if it’s that bad then it’s gotta be someone’s fault, right?

Fault is how we place blame. Blame is how we know whose mistake it is. But the will of Allah is never a mistake, it’s a test.  Instead of faulting each other for what Allah tests us with, we could respect each other for the struggles we all endure. We could see each other with more compassion for our challenges, and less aversion when Allah tests us with dealing each other.

So when you’ve done things the right way, but the right things aren’t happening. Or you’ve been charitable to others, and they’re being evil towards you. Or you’ve earned only halal, but haram- it’s been taken away from you, remember this- your faith is being tested. Allah tests those that He loves. When He raises the difficulty level, Allah is extending a direct invitation for you to climb higher.

So How Do We Succeed When Faced With Failure?

The first thing to do is redefine failure. There is only one true failure in this life, and that is dying on the wrong side of Siraat ul Mustaqeem, because if close your eyes and wake up in Jahannam, no success in this life can compensate for that.

I find that helpful to remember, when I fail to stay fit because I can’t exercise without hurting myself, when I fail to fast in Ramadan because it’s dangerous for me to do so- when I fail to discover a cure for my family’s personal assortment of medical issues through rigorous internet “research,” none of that is my failure either. And I can feel a lot of different ways about these situations, but I do not feel guilty- because it’s not my fault. And I do not feel bitter, because my test is my honor. Even when I do feel scared.

Being scared in not a failure either. Neither is being unemployed. Being unmarried is not a failure. Being childless is not a failure. Being divorced is not a failure. Nothing unpleasant or miserable or unexpected is a failure. It’s all just a test, and seeing it as a test means you have the state of mind to look for the correct answers.

Not even sin is failure, because as long as you are alive, your sin stands as an invitation to forgiveness. The bigger the sin, the greater the blessings of repenting from it.  Everything that goes bad is the opening of the door for good. A major sin can be the first step on a journey that starts with repentance and moves you closer to Allah every day thereafter. Sin only becomes failure when it takes you farther away from Allah, rather than closer to him.

Jahannam is the Only Failure

Addiction is not a failure. Depression is not a failure. Poverty is not a failure. Jahannam is the only failure. Everything else is a gap in expectations.

You assumed you would have something, but it’s not written for you. You assumed you’d ask Allah for something and He’d give it to you, but what is that assumption based on again? That good deeds are the guarantee to the good life, and that prayer equals problem solved?

Allah has all the knowledge, Allah has the wisdom, Allah is the best of Planners – how are you assuming that your wishes supersede His will? Even when you put your wishes in the form of a prayer?

They don’t. It is absolutely true that Allah may choose to rewrite Qadr itself based on your prayers – but that’s still His choice. Allah has always, and will always be in control of this world. And that means your world too. If you still think you’re in control, you will find it really, really hard to cope the first time you realize you’re not.

When we understand that we don’t get to control what happens and what doesn’t, we can then release ourselves from the misplaced guilt of things going wrong.  Lots of special needs parents struggle with guilt. I meet them often – and every single parent has asked the question- directly or indirectly-

What did I do for my child to deserve this?

Can you hear the presumption in there? That the parents were good, so why did something bad happen? They were expecting for good deeds to equal the good life.

There’s a second presumption in there too, that their life choices were a determining factor of what happened to their child. That is a presumption of control. And as long as you try to hold on to that presumption of control, there is the constant feeling of failure when it just doesn’t work the way you think it will.

I am not proposing that we lose hope in Allah and despair of His mercy. I am in no way insinuating that Allah doesn’t hear every prayer, hasn’t counted every tear, and isn’t intimately aware of your pain and your challenges. Allah hears your prayers, and in His wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we want. In His Wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we need.

Even if we don’t see it.

Even if it scares us.

Even if it hurts us – because Allah has promised that He will never, ever break us.

hurts, hardship, special needs

Allah Tests Us in His Mercy

I am proposing that we put trust in the wisdom of Allah, and understand that when He tests us, that is part of his mercy, not a deviation from it. When he grants something to us, that is part of His mercy, and when he withholds something from us, that too is part of His Mercy, even if we don’t like it. Even when we ask Him to take it away.

The third thing I would like to propose, is that we correct our understanding of – Fa Inna Ma’Al usri yusraa, Inna Ma’al usri yusra.

So verily, definitely, for sure- with hardship there is ease. Again, Inna – for sure, with hardship there is ease.

I’m sure lots of you have said this to people you loved, or to yourself when you’re struggling with something and you’re just trying to get through it. But did you mean that this hardship will end, and then things will be good again? Like as soon as things have been hard for a while, Allah will make them easy again?

Would you believe that’s not really what that means? Ma’a means with, not after. With this hardship, there is ease. And maybe you’re like aww man, but I wanted the ease! I want the hardship to go away and Allah I’m ready for my ease now!

But that hardship, will bring you ease. Allah does not tell us what the ease will be, or when it will be- but He says it’s there, so trust Him. Even if you can’t see it right away, or in this life –it will become apparent.

I can tell you some of the ease I found with mine.

Learning When It Hurts

When my son was diagnosed with autism, my husband and I had to drop everything. We dropped our plans to save, to travel, and to live the charmed life of neurotypical parents whose only fears are that their children may grow up and NOT become Muslim doctors. We spent our earnings and our savings and our time and our nights and our tears and Alhamdulillah, we learned patience. We learned perspective. We learned compassion.

We really learned what we thought we already knew – about unconditional love and acceptance. We learned to be bigger than our fears, and smaller than our own egos. We learned to give and take help. We learn to accept what wisdom our cultures could offer us, and respectfully decline what did not. We learn to set boundaries and make rules that did justice by our children and our family, regardless of whether they were popular. With hardship comes ease.

When we couldn’t afford therapy for my son, my husband and I founded a not for profit organization in the UAE that provided it for my son and dozens of other people’s sons and daughters. Three and a half years ago I left that organization to seek better educational opportunities for my son here in the US, but it’s still running. The seed that our challenges planted has grown into something beyond us. With our hardship came ease for ourselves and others as well.

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, my health issues were upgraded from challenging to permanent. I had to rethink how I lived, how I planned, how I dressed, and even – my relationship with Allah. But if I had never been sick, I would never have started writing. When it hurt, I wrote. When I was scared, I wrote. When I was lonely, I wrote. And by and by the grindstone of fear and sickness and frustration sharpened my skills. Where I am today both spiritually and professionally – is actually a direct result of both autism and chronic illness. With hardship comes ease.

I don’t like my hardships, but I don’t have to. You don’t have to either. Being a good Muslim doesn’t always mean being a happy Muslim. It just means being Muslim, no matter the circumstances.

That means loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way – even if not loving everything He throws your way. You may hate your circumstances, and you may not be able to do anything about them, but as long as you trust Allah and use your hardships to come closer to him, you cannot fail, even if this life, you feel as if you never really succeeded.

hurts, depression, faith , hardship

Faith Wears Out In Our hearts, The Way Our Cothes Wear Out on Our Bodies

The hardship that damages and stains us is Allah’s invitation to repair, renew, and refresh ourselves. Our test are an invitation, an opportunity, an obstacle – but not a punishment or divine cruelty. And when we know that those tests will come, and some may even stay, then we can be better prepared for it.

Trust Allah when He says that He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. He told us so in Surah Baqarah Ayah 286. Remember that when you are afraid, and Allah will never cause your fear to destroy you. Take your fear to Allah, and He will strengthen you, and reward you for your bravery.

Remember that when you are in pain. Allah will never cause your pain to destroy you. Take your pain to Him, and He will soothe you and reward you for your patience. Take it all to Allah – the loneliness, the anxiety, the confusion. Do not assume that the only emotions a “good Muslim” takes to Allah are gratitude and happiness and awe. Take them all to Allah, uncertainty, disappointment, anger — and He will bless you in all of those states, and guide you to what is better for you in this life, and the next, even if it’s not what you expected.

The struggles in your life are a test, and whether you pass or fail is not determined on whether you conquer them, only on whether you endure them. Expect that they will come, because having faith is not protection from struggle. Faith is protection from being broken by the struggle.

I ask Allah to protect us all from hardship, but protect us in our hardships as well. I ask Allah to grant us peace from His peace, and strength from His strength, to patiently endure and grow through our endurance.


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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh



The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

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The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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#Current Affairs

Sri Lankan Muslims To Fast In Solidarity With Fellow Christians

Raashid Riza



On Sunday morning Sri Lankan Christians went to their local churches for Easter services, as they have done for centuries. Easter is a special occasion for Christian families in ethnically diverse Sri Lanka. A time for families to gather to worship in their churches, and then to enjoy their festivities. Many went to their local church on Sunday morning to be followed by a traditional family breakfast at home or a local restaurant.

It would have been like any other Easter Sunday for prominent mother-daughter television duo, Shanthaa Mayadunne and Nisanga Mayadunne. Except that it wasn’t.

Nisanga Mayadunne posted a family photograph on Facebook at 8.47 AM with the title “Easter breakfast with family” and had tagged the location, the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo. Little would she have known that hitting ‘post’ would be among the last things she would do in this earthly abode. Minutes later a bomb exploded at the Shangri-La, killing her and her mother.

In more than a half a dozen coordinated bomb blasts on Sunday, 360 people have been confirmed dead, with the number expected to most likely rise. Among the dead are children who have lost parents and mothers & fathers whose families will never be together again.

Many could not get past the church service. A friend remembers the service is usually so long that the men sometimes go outside to get some fresh air, with women and children remaining inside – painting a vivid and harrowing picture of the children who may have been within the hall.

Perpetrators of these heinous crimes against their own faith, and against humanity have been identified as radicalised Muslim youth, claiming to be part of a hitherto little-known organisation. Community leaders claim with much pain of how authorities were alerted years ago to the criminal intent of these specific youth.

Mainstream Muslims have in fact been at the forefront not just locally, but also internationally in the fight against extremism within Muslim communities. This is why Sri Lankan Muslims are especially shaken by what has taken place when men who have stolen their identity commit acts of terror in their name. Sri Lankan Muslims and Catholics have not been in conflict in the past, adding to a palimpsest of reasons that make this attack all the more puzzling to experts. Many here are bewildered as to what strategic objective these terrorists sought to achieve.

Sri Lankan Muslims Take Lead

Sri Lankan Muslims, a numerical minority, though a well-integrated native community in Sri Lanka’s colourful social fabric, seek to take lead in helping to alleviate the suffering currently plaguing our nation.

Promoting love alone will not foster good sustainable communal relationships – unless it is accompanied by tangible systemic interventions that address communal trigger points that could contribute to ethnic or religious tensions. Terror in all its forms must be tackled in due measure by law enforcement authorities.

However, showing love, empathy and kindness is as good a starting point in a national crisis as any.

Sri Lankan Muslims have called to fast tomorrow (Thursday) in solidarity with their fellow Christian and non-Christian friends who have died or are undergoing unbearable pain, trauma, and suffering.  Terror at its heart seeks to divide, to create phases of grief that ferments to anger, and for this anger to unleash cycles of violence that usurps the lives of innocent men, women, and children. Instead of letting terror take its course, Sri Lankans are aspiring to come together, to not let terror have its way.

Together with my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims, I will be fasting tomorrow from dawn to dusk. I will be foregoing any food and drink during this period.

It occurs to many of us that it is unconscientious to have regular days on these painful days when we know of so many other Sri Lankans who have had their lives obliterated by the despicable atrocities committed by terrorists last Sunday. Fasting is a special act of worship done by Muslims, it is a time and state in which prayers are answered. It is a state in which it is incumbent upon us to be more charitable, with our time, warmth and whatever we could share.

I will be fasting and praying tomorrow, to ease the pain and suffering of those affected.

I will be praying for a peaceful Sri Lanka, where our children – all our children, of all faiths – can walk the streets without fear and have the freedom to worship in peace.

I will be fasting tomorrow for my Sri Lanka. I urge you to do the same.

Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ. Surah Maidah

Raashid Riza is a Sri Lankan Muslim, the Politics & Society Editor of The Platform. He blogs here and tweets on @aufidius.


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