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He Taught Me as He Limped: Reflection from Sa’i (Part I)

As we approached the green lights in the Sa’i between Safa and Marwa, my husband and I prepared to split up so that he could fulfill his obligation of jogging for a portion of the Sa’i. We had worked out a system in which he would run ahead and wait for me on the side as I caught up to him at a normal walking pace. It was amazing to me that although we were commemorating Haajar’s actions, the men were supposed to run this stretch (according to our Hajj leader), but not the women. It was hard to fight the urge to join my husband and also run, but when I had asked my Hajj leader about this in anticipation of my feelings, he had discouraged me from doing so. If Haajar could have run between Safa and Marwa, then so could I! It took some time and concerted effort for me to come to terms with this rule, but I reminded myself that the reason I chose the Hajj package I did was so that I could be under a scholar that I trusted to the extent that I could follow without hesitation anything he said when I had a question related to the fiqh of Hajj.

So I simply forced myself to walk alone when my husband ran. It was very peaceful this time we were making Sa’i. Although Hajj was the first time I had ever visited Makkah, this particular Sa’i wasn’t the first Sa’i I had performed on my journey. I was comfortable with the rules of Sa’i and knew what to expect by now, so I felt internally settled in a way that was much different from the first time I had performed Sa’i. On top of that, the crowds were very light for some reason this time around and there was plenty of breathing room, even enough space for the cool air’s respite to reach and revive me. But then I noticed it–a jagged motion in the corner of my eye that caught my attention and disrupted the calm.

It was a man, another Hajji. The jagged motion was the way in which he was moving, exerting all of the effort he could to run. But he wasn’t really running. As a matter of fact, I was moving faster than him at my normal walking pace. This older man, whoever he was, from wherever part of the earth he was from, was limping as he ran. His body moved diagonally up and down at a sharp angle every step that he took. It was clear to me that he must have had some sort of chronic condition that he dealt with on a daily basis, not just that something transient, like a twisted ankle. His face was screwed up in a mixture of what I thought was determination and pain. This man looked relatively alone–there was no one with him and from his dress I couldn’t tell much about him besides the fact that he appeared to be from the Indian Subcontinent. The greatest thing about Hajj is that, in many cases, it is very difficult to deduce information about how rich people are; he appeared like many of the Hujjaj do at this point in the journey: tired, dusty, and worn out from being away from home for so long.

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Before I could turn my attention back towards myself, tears were streaming down my face. Seeing this man so determined to fulfill his obligation albeit the pain was so humbling to me. Here was a man seemingly incapable of running, but doing his best to run or “rush.” Whether or not he should have been exerting himself so fully is a question I hope he had a chance to ask a qualified scholar about because I am not sure if my Hajj leader would have encouraged or discouraged him to try to run. But all that considered, the more I think about him now, the more I realize that it is not my place to guess  how severely his running impacted him physically and whether or not he was correctly informed or misinformed when it came to this specific requirement. All I knew is what I saw, and what I saw was a man whose love for His Creator in that moment surpassed the physical world, his body, the people around him, time and space altogether. It was as if he was limping along in his own universe, aware only of the fact that he was directly in the sight of His Master.

And in my case specifically, the men had to perform the Sa’i in a more rigorous manner than the women did.  That’s when the obligation of Hajj as a whole felt right to me.

Seeing this man striving and struggling during Sa’i helped me realize the representation of the entire family at the core of the rituals of Hajj–the Prophet Ibrahim, Haajar, and Ismael–the most important to me as a woman, Haajar. And not just having Sa’i be for women to perform only, but for everyone to perform regardless of their sex.  And in my case specifically, the men had to perform the Sa’i in a more rigorous manner than the women did.  That’s when the obligation of Hajj as a whole felt right to me.  When I started to learn more about Islam on my own during high school, I decided that I would study what Hajj is and what the rules are only when I was finally going to Hajj. I don’t know if that this was the best idea, but it was a practical one. When I finally was planning on going for Hajj, I began to study all of those places and all of the complicated logistics. It was stressful and hard to connect to because it seemed so detailed and remote, as I had never been to Makkah or Madinah.  I was so worried about the itinerary of the trip and trying to memorize all of the rules and steps that I had been only considering how to perform Hajj while neglecting what Hajj meant in Islam. What was the significance of Hajj? Why did it change so many people’s lives? Those are the questions that I found answers to in Makkah and Madinah.

One of the most important things to me as an individual is my identity as a woman and how I feel so marginalized, underrepresented, and shut out of nearly every institution I interact with–the United States government, the university, the local masjid, everything. The frustration inside my heart eased when I saw that man–I felt honored, acknowledged, and (at the most basic level) truly included–not just as a token woman–within this huge Islamic obligation. As I realized this walking between Safa and Marwa, I felt free and could fully commit myself to this beautiful ritual within Hajj.

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Meena is a high school English teacher, DIY enthusiast, wife, and new mom. She loves working with Muslim youth and is interested in literature, arts, and culture. She studied Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine, briefly dabbled in Classical Arabic studies in the US, and has a Master’s in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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    Khandker Salahuddin

    May 15, 2018 at 1:00 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    This morning I saw your web MM and I began to read it and, to my utter amazement, I found it to be so interesting & inspiring that I will continue to read all your postings.
    May Allah bless you. Ameen!

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 10: The Dua’ of Umm Salama

Now that we have learnt about a good word, let’s talk about the dua’ of Umm Salama.

Today I’m going to share with you a story of a very important woman in Islamic history named Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her). She was a female companion, which means she was a sahaabiya (female companion)

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was one of the first people to embrace Islam and she was one of the few Muslims who actually performed the hijrah twice. 

Question: Who can tell me what a hijrah is?

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A hijrah is when someone leaves a place they are in for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The first hijrah was to Ethiopia, where a just Christian ruler named Najashi took in a group of Muslims and took good care of them. 

So Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went to Ethiopia. After some time living there, they really wanted to go back to Mecca so that they could be next to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and learn everything about Islam. As they waited patiently, news traveled all the way to Africa saying that the Muslims were no longer getting persecuted because Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the uncle of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), had embraced Islam. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) decided to return back to Mecca, and when they did, they realized that it was only a rumor and that the Muslims were still being tortured by Quraysh. So, when the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed all of the Muslims of Mecca to leave to Madina for the second hijrah, they wasted no time getting ready. 

Question: Do you see how they were so active and didn’t take their Islam for granted?

As Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was about to mount her camel, her tribe, the Banu Makhzum, came and told Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that they would not allow him to take Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) to Madina. Then Abu Salama’s tribe, the Banu Asad, takes Salama, his child, away.  Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) could not defend himself against all of these men, so he sets off to Madina.

In just one day Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) lost her husband and her child, and she suffers so much because of it. She is in a lot of pain. After some time her cousin starts to feel sorry for her and speaks to the tribes on her behalf. He is then able to reunite her with her son. Then after a year of waiting, Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is finally able to meet her husband in Madina. 

Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was known to be a very caring husband and courageous man. He fought in the Battle of Badr as well as in the Battle of Uhud. In Uhud, he received a wound that he wasn’t able to recover from. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was so sad the day Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) died, but the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught her to recite a beautiful dua’:

إِنَّا لله وإنا إليه راجعون اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي وأخلف لي خيرا منها 

“We belong to Allah and to Allah is our return. Oh Allah, reward me for my calamity, and replace my loss with something better.”

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) recited this dua’, but in her mind she thought, “Who can be better than Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)?” 

After a few months passed, Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but she said no. 

Then, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but again she said no. 

Then, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and she accepted. So now, she was not only the mother of Salama, but the mother of all of the believers until the end of time! 

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This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 9: A Good Word

Now that we have learnt about the life of this world, let’s talk about a good word.

I want you all to close your eyes and think of a beautiful tree. 

Question: Who can tell me what their tree looks like? Is the tree big and strong? Does it have lots of branches and leaves? Does it have fruit?

Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something really nice to you.

Question:  What are some of the nice statements you remember people telling you?

Question: How did those statements make you feel?

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Yes, they fill us up with a warm feeling. We may have felt proud of ourselves and we may have felt loved. Do you know that Allah [wt] describes a good word to a good tree? 

In Surah Ibrahim, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ 

تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا ۗ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ 

Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? [Surah Ibrahim; 24]

It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. [Surah Ibrahim; 25]

Question: Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something mean to you. How did that make you feel?

It’s not fun to remember the mean stuff right? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) continues in Surah Ibrahim and says:

وَمَثَلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِن فَوْقِ الْأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِن قَرَارٍ

And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. [Surah Ibrahim; 26] 

Question: What do you think are good words we can use to build strong, firmly rooted trees?

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