Saturday, January 31, 2009

Islamic Names-do I have to change mine?

After you convert/revert to Islam you may meet some who pressure you to change your name to an Islamic name. This is not a practice that comes from the sunnah (the actions of the Prophet Mohammed as he guided the early Muslims) so if you wish, you may keep the name you were given by your parents. To change your name to an "Islamic one" is not required unless your name is of something un-Islamic, like the name of a god (Zeus or Diana) or contrary to the teachings of Islam. My birth name is a feminine variant of Christopher, which means Christ-bearer. As a Muslim, I believe in Jesus, and love Isa, but I do not refer to him as Christ (the son of God, or part of the shirk of the trinity) so I changed my name to Intisar (which means Triumph---as I wish to battle all my personal naffs and beat them to become a better Muslimah). Some choose to take on an Islamic name and some do not to symbolize their rebirth or reversion to God's path. If you choose to do so, it doesn't have to legally change, but Muslims should call you by your new name, since it's written that God will call you by that name on Judgement Day. For a dictionary of Muslim names check out this link for muslim names and meanings

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Convert vs Revert... What Am I?

A much needed clarification for new sisters and non-muslims who don't understand our terminology: Someone who becomes a Muslim (but was not raised as one) is called a revert, since it is believed in Islam that everyone is born a Muslim. If you were born a Muslim but were not practicing, then when you make your shahada you technically come back to Islam [reversion], you don't convert to it. That is why Muslims call new muslims "reverts". This is usually too much to explain to non-muslims so I usually just tell them I am a convert to Islam, but among Muslims I am a revert.

Cool fact: all the first followers of the Prophet Mohammed S.A.W (the sahabiyiat) were reverts.


How to Make Your Shahada/how to become a Muslim

To become a Muslim you must first make your shahada. Shahada is an arabic word which means "witnessing/to testify" . Muslims believe everyone is born muslim until they worship a false god or associate partners with Allah (by giving traits of God to a person or thing that is not God). If you have not continued as a Muslim all your life, and have failed in practising the principle of the Oneness of God, it is necessary for you to reaffirm your faith by testifying/witnessing to the Oneness of God. This is where it becomes necessary to take one's shahada in Islam.

When you make your shahada you testify belief in one true God [Allah] that has no partners/equals, and in Allah's angels, books, and Prophets, and that Mohammed is the last messenger of Allah. Before you do this, you should make sure that you want to be a Muslim: read the Qu'ran, and make sure you understand the core values of the religion. You should become a Muslim with conviction and knowledge for it should be your religion for the rest of your life---there's greater punishment in willingly leaving Islam than there is for failing to be perfect in all of its principles. As a Muslim, you must obey all the laws of Allah, such as learning daily prayers and giving chairty, as well as no adultery and no eating of pork, but those seem minor once you truly understand the more important concepts of submission to God. As soon as you believe in Allah S.W.T as being the One God worthy of worship, and that the Qu'ran is the final message of Allah, and the Prophet Mohammed was sent to explain the Qu'ran with guidance from his Creator [and feel secure in the knowledge that you will always believe this] , than you may make your shahada. You don't have to be perfect in the practice of the faith to make your shahada (but by making your shahada you are making the intention to aspire to be as the faithful described in the Qu'ran) simply understanding and belief in it. For instance, something I personally am not proud of, but when I first made my shahada, I had not kicked my drinking habit, but I knew it was something a Muslim shouldn't do. The most important thing to me though, was becoming a Muslim first, and then I would work on being a better Muslim.

Once you're all set, and ready to make the lifelong commitment you may say these simple words (it is suggested that you have two Muslim witnesses to honor your protection in Islam but this is not necessary only recommended): "Ashadu an la illah ill Allah, wa ashadu anna Muhammadar rasoolullah." This translates to: "I testify that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." You can say it in english, but all the people who converted in the time of Mohammad, peace be upon him, said it in Arabic. You can acknowledge the Oneness of God in english, but saying it in arabic is recommended.
I will try to find a better video, but here is a youtube clip of a few girls making their shahada. You may say the words along with these girls, if you need help pronouncing the Arabic.
Once you have taken shahadah, congratulations! You have upheld the first pillar of Islam.
MashaAllah, you are now a Muslimah, a woman who submits to God, and are now part of the Ummah (the faithful to Allah S.W.T). Your country is now the faith of Islam, and your race/family is Allah S.W.T's Ummah, along with the 1.5 Billion others in this world.
After making your shahada it is recommended that you taken a bath or a shower, as was the practice of the first Muslims, so that you can pray to God with a clean body as well as soul; a person who takes shahadah in total honesty will have all his/her sins up to that point forgiven (but all of his prior good deeds will still count), since God is granting you the chance to start over now that you've turned back to Him.

It should be noted that one cannot be forced to convert to Islam/make the shahada because the Qu'ran states "Let there be no compulsion in religion..."(2:256)

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What Is Islam

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم Bismillahi rahman raheem [in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful]:

Asalaam alaykom [Islamic "hello" litterally translating to "May the peace of God be upon you"] all my lovely lady readers. Boys and brothers: those of you who happen to stumble onto this, or any other sister's blog, please respect that this is a place for muslim women and women interested in learning about Islam, and we feel more comfortable without your attendance. Jazzakallah kheir [islamic "thank-you"].

WHAT IS ISLAM- and under that header, who is Allah, can one practice any other faith than Islam and still believe in one God?

Islam is the belief in One God, and of worshipping that One God ALONE. The word "Islam" litterally means "surrender" or "submission" and in the context of Islam it means surrender or submission through complete worship and obedience of the will of Allah [alone, and not through others before Allah]. That means that no bishop, Imam, priest, human being such as a Prophet (the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus as Christ, Ali...) angel, Saint, or physical object (such as a Church, Mosque, relic, or the Ka'bah) can grant us or aid us- before -or-on-the-behalf-of Allah (S.W.T.). Allah has said "God is one, the only one. Allah helps and does not need help. He begat none (had no children), nor was He begotten (was not born of anyone). None is equal to Him." -Surah Ikhlas (from the Qu'ran).

So who/what is Allah? Allah is simply the Arabic and Islamic word for God, meaning, the One God, the only God, and thus it is a better word to describe God than just plain old "god" which could mean anything. All other gods or attempts at faith are pale imitations of making physical just one wondrous character of the one God, Allah (S.W.T)., or a great devised falsehood with a selfish historical purpose behind it. There are so many "gods" in this world, and the word "God" can be used to decribe any number of them, so it is simply safer to use the Arabic word "Allah" if one is speaking of the True God, the Only God. A great misconception of Islam is that "Allah" is a different God than the God of the Christians and the Jews, when in fact, Allah (S.W.T) is the exact SAME Creator who spoke to Abraham, Issaac, Ishmael, Moses, and Jesus (of the Torah and the Bible), trying to inform mankind about the importance of worshipping and obeying only "One God".
Adam= Adam
Alyasa'= Elisha
Ayyub= Job
Dawud= David
Dhul-Kifl= Dhul-kifl
Harun= Aaron
Hud= Hud
Ibrahim= Abraham
Idris= Enoch
Iliyas= Elias
Ishaq= Isaac
Ismail= Ishmael
Lut= Lot
Mohammed= Mohammed or Ahmed
Musa= Moses
Nuh= Noah
Salih= Salih
Shu'aib= Shu'aib
Sulaiman= Soloman
Ya'qub= Jacob
Yahya= John
Yunis= Jonah
Yusef= Joseph
Zakariyya= Zechariah
"...We believe in the faith of Abraham, the upright one. He was no idolater. ...We believe in Allah and that which has been revealed to Abraham, Ishamael, Issac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and to Him [Allah] we submit." -Surah Al Bakara 2:136 (from the Qu'ran). Of course, we, mankind, are not very good at this, and we like to put up selfish idols before Allah, or lift up men and false "gods" for our own fame or political gain, since Allah requests of us, that we help one another, refrain from that which harms the world we have been entrusted with and distribute the goods we have been bestowed upon those who need it most. Also, that we humble ourselves, which is so very hard to do, when one refuses to look up and beyond one's self.

So, if we believe in Allah, do we have to follow Islam? Can we not say, be Christian or practice Judaism, and still believe in "Allah"? Allah (S.W.T) calls Christians and Jews "People of the Book" for to them is was revealed, the Torah, and the Bible. Those who practice Islam follow the Qu'ran. Of the People of the Book Allah (S.W.T) says: "They Declare: 'None shall enter Heaven but Jews and Christians.' Such are their wishful fancies [the same applies to so-called followers of Islam] Say: 'Let us have your proof, if what you say be true.' Indeed, those that submit to God and do good works shall be recompensed by their Lord: they shall have nothing to fear or regret." "Believers, Jews, Sabaeans and Christians- whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right- shall have nothing to fear or regret." -Surah Al Bakara 5:69.
So obviously, any person of the book who practices their religion as it was revealed by Allah (S.W.T) [not a corrupted, falsified document as both the new testament of the bible, and the Torah of today have become through translation, and falsification for political and historical reasons] believing in One God, and obeying One God, would actually be practicing Islam. Unfortunately, to believe Jesus is the son of God and could forgive the sins of mankind is an act of idolatry, to associate partners with Allah (S.W.T) and to give a human being a power belonging only to Allah (S.W.T). So if you are Christian, you do not believe in One God. You are an idolater, as Allah laid done in law before Moses and Jesus. As for those who practice Judaism, worshipping false Gods has been forbidden to you as you had been done in the time of the Jewish King Herod (who built a pagan temple for the Romans) and before him, when you slaughtered the calf in Egypt. You are committing an act of setting up a false idol in yourselves when you say none can come to Allah unless they be born of the Jewish race, they marry a Jewish man and have Jewish children, or they be circumsized. None of these things have anything to do with believing in only one God!!!!! Thus says Allah(S.W.T) : "And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him" -3:85.

Islam is so beautiful because it is not a religion named after a tribe of people or an individual, as Judaism is named after the tribe of Judah, Christianity after Christ, or Buddhism after Buddha. Islam is a global faith, not of East or West "To Allah belongs the east and west. Whichever way you face there is Allah" -Surah 2:115. It is a complete way of life, with guidance from Allah on every issue one could possibly face. It was not Mohammed (S.A.W) but Adam, who first brought Islam to humanity. Then each prophet and messenger came to exhort peoples to a clear understanding of God`s commandments. The last (and only) perfectly preserved revelation (in its original wording and translation) is the holy Qu`ran. Belief in the Qu`ran, and following the guidance of the Prophet (S.A.W) who the Qu`ran was revealed to is part of belief in, and adhereing to in practice, Islam.

Why do we have to believe in what the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) says about Islam? Why can`t one just follow what the Qu`ran says? Following the actions of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) is actually submitting to a commandment within the Qu`ran, which states "And whatsoever the Messenger [Mohammed (S.A.W)] gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain [from it], and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is severe in punishment." -Surah 59:7. And so, it is to the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) I look to for a clear understanding of what Islam is, and what it requires of me, a believer in Allah (S.W.T).

"When asked `what is Islam? ` the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) said: "Islam is based on the following five pillars:

1.) To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Mohammed is Allah`s messenger.
2.) To offer the [five fard] prayers dutifully and perfectly.
3.) To pay zakat [obligatory] charity
4.) To preform Hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca to the Ka`bah] if one can afford it or has the health to make the journey.
5.) To fast during the month of Ramadan." -Sahih Al-Bukhari, [Eng. Trans. vol. 1 /7 ]

Anyone who intentionally strives their outmost to uphold and fulfull these five pillars of Islam due to belief in Allah as the One God is one who practices Islam. One who practices Islam freely and of their own will is called a "Muslim". "Muslimah" is the word for a female muslim, a woman who practices and believes in Islam. "Muslim" is not a religion seperate from Islam, but the person practicing Islam.


Converticitus and other Islamic Terminology: A Prescription from Dr. Aalia

by Aalia aka Pink Pochahontas

Do you/or does someone you know suffer from converticitus? If you think you/they might, take a brief look at the symptoms mentioned below, as Dr. Aalia rambles off on her prescription pad:

Sudden loss of friends and family; caused by purposely isolating yourself from the "infidels"?

Treatment: Unless your family are being openly hostile to you and preventing you from doing your religious obligations, do not cause the first rift. Islam gives parents (Muslim or not) high priority, so try to restrain yourself from calling them "kaffirs". As for friends, they probably weren't your friends to begin with if they have started being mean to you now.

Frequent trips to any Middle Eastern market; due to the un-controllable desire to purchase anything that has to do with the Arabic culture?

Treatment: Hey now, save some of those dollars for your zakat! Becoming a Muslim doesn't mean you have to immerse yourself in the Arabic way of life (such as food & clothing), but the Islamic one. Trust me, it's better. The biggest barrier in the way of Islam right now is people confusing culture with the religion. Arab doesn't equal Muslim.

Sensing a heavy or over-heated feeling, especially after getting all dressed to go out?

Treatment: Most likely attributed to the 5 layers of black clothing you have just put on. Remember, just because someone at the mosque told you that all women need to be covered head to toe in black Saudi abayas, doesn't mean you have to! Yes, khimar (the headscarf commonly referred to as hijab) and jilbab (the overgarment) is obligatory and the face-veil is wonderful (and who doesn't love spoiling herself with a beautiful abaya) but take it step by step. You should be able to understand the meaning of your clothing and answer questions about why you wear it before you wear it on a full-time basis.

Experiencing moodswings and a tightening in your chest? Usually brought on by not knowing what you follow or how to handle the new life as a Muslim.

Treatment: Relax, take a deep breath. Becoming Muslim makes life easy, not hard. Read the Book of Allah, learn how to pray & get aquainted with the 5 Pillars of Faith, then find reliable information regarding anything you might be wondering. No need to memorize every single book someone hands you right away, thinking you MUST do it now or be sinned.

As for women who encounter a sudden rush of marriage proposals: Can be easily treated by a declaration of "NO THANK-YOU".

All of the above symptoms can be easily cured by taking it easy, learning at your own pace and making supplications to Allah. Learning how to pray as soon possible guarantees maximum comfort and eases feelings of conflict.

Warning: Failure to follow the prescribed treatment may lead to a dangerous level of Converticitus. Outcomes include depression, major headaches, gut-aches and the worst of all, leaving Islam. Do not mix with alcohal, drugs or any other harmful , haraam & forbidden substances.
***This post is meant to be funny and might not make sense to some (as many things from my brain do not), but if you find you really are suffering from Converticitus, please speak to a trusted source, preferably someone from the Muslim community. Also, I am in no way making fun of the ladies who wear niqab, the illustration is just showing a new Muslimah who suddenly covers everything without getting to know the reason behind it. I'll let Intisar go back to her purple dua-tang of notes I made for her when I heard she first reverted on Islamic Terminology. __________________________________________________
As a newbie/baby Muslimah you probably feel like you're on overload. Islamic Terminology I feel you've gotta understand at this point so you can make sense of what we're saying on A Girl's Guide:

Allah= God (without equal or offspring)

Tauhid=faith in one God
Aqueedah=The firm creed that one's heart is fixed upon without any wavering or doubt. It excludes any supposition, doubt or suspicion. It is Iman in Tauhid.
Ahkam= Legal status in Islamic Law
The five kinds of legal status in Islam
1.) Wajib or Fard= Cumpulsory requirement
2.) Mustahabb= Recommended but not cumpulsory (often a sunnah/sunnan)
3.) Makruh= Disliked but not forbidden
4.) Muharram or more simply, Harram=forbidden
5.) Halal= lawful and allowed

Qu'ran= the literal word of Allah taught to Mohammed His Prophet through the angel Jibreel (Gabriel)

Shirk=to associate partners with Allah---to practice shirk is to remove one's self from Islam and the mercy of Allah
S.W.T= When writing the name of Allah, Muslims often follow it with the abbreviation "SWT." These letters stand for the Arabic words "Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala," which translates to "Glory to Him, the Exalted." Muslims use these or similar words to glorify God when mentioning His name. Pronunciation: sub-han'-a-hoo wa ta a la

Mohammed= the last Prophet of Allah SWT from a long line of Prophets such as Jesus, Abraham, and Moses.

S.A.W= When writing the name of the Prophet Mohammed, Muslims often follow it with the abbreviation "SAW". These letters stand for the Arabic words "salla Allah alaihi wa sallam", meaning "may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him." It is a standard Muslim expression of love and respect for the Prophet. "May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him" is usually said whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is mentioned or read

Bid'a= an innovation to the practice of Islam, always haraam.

Daleel= Islamic evidence from either the Qu'ran or sahih ahadith.

Sahih= authentic, usually in reference to hadith. It means the hadith has a direct chain of narration to the one who is said to be speaking.

Hadith= a collected saying or action of the Prophet Mohammed S.A.W that has been recorded. If it is Sahih it is a form of daleel.

Ahadith= plural of hadith.

Kuffar= those who practice polyethism and reject the idea of one God.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful"

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem "In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful":

As salaam alaykom ramatullah wa barakto "May the peace of Allah be upon you, and His mercy and blessings"

Don't worry! We've consulted the experts, but this blog is a guide written by a group of crazy cool convert/revert girls [and badly compiled and edited by one of several]- who've been there-done that- for new muslimahs out there facing the same thing. These are things we wish we had known, or that we wish somebody would have told us, or that we know you will WANT to know. Insha'Allah [that's Arabic for "God Willing"] we hope this book will be both a comprehensive and simple guide for the following groups of people:

1.) The new muslimah, the suddenly-practicing-but-always-muslim-muslimah, and the stylish-likes-to-read muslimah. Jazakallakheir girls! [a formal Islamic thank-you], may Allah make it easy on you, Ameen.
2.) The individual who is open to learning more about Islam. If you want a REAL glimpse BEHIND THE VEIL (ya ukti [my sisters] not another one) then this book is for you, and any other who wants an intimate veiw into the lives of muslim women.
3.) A concerned parent who wants to know what his/her crazy daughter has got themselves into. God bless you. I wish more parents were as concerned for the well-being of their children as you are. I hope the following pages will reassure you that we muslim women are:
a. not terrorists
b. not going to be kidnapped to Saudi Arabia (yeah Dad-remember this one?)
c. in control of our own lives (no one makes our decisions for us)
d. not the sex objects of men
e. worship the same God as the Christians and the Jews (Allah means the one God)and last but not least
f. not going to be stoned for writing this book or having opinions of our own

Islam is an easy religion. Every Chapter in the Qu'ran begins:"In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful..." بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم Let us begin that way.

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