Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Guided BACK to Islam!


This short documentary and lecture by sister Roya Shokatford shares her experience of finding Islam despite being a born Muslim who was living the life of riches, beauty and material success. It is followed by a discussion on the challenges for women who choose to juggle both motherhood AND a career.

It is a very inspiring journey that reminds us of the power of the Quran followed by wise words of advice for the working mothers Mashallah.

If I find the clearer full version of her documentary I will post it Inshallah. Likewise, if you find it first, please let me know!

About Raya:
"Former mini skirt wearing model, real estate mogul, and now Islam activist, Raya Shokatfard is many things. Judgmental and assuming, she is not. With a warm smile, she recounted the successes and deterrences of her life to a group of American students.
“If I had to do it all again, I would do it a million times,” Raya said.
What Raya is referring to is her life–a life of searching for her personal belief, shifting from one religion to another, finding her way through two divorces and accepting a strict muslim lifestyle, outlined by her second husband. In her words,  though she was obeying her husband, covering herself with the hijab (veil), and completely switching to a conservative lifestyle despite her secular upbringing, she was doing it all to ultimately please Allah.
This is a woman who has achieved an Associates of Arts degree (California), a Bachelors of Science in communication and journalsim (Oregon), a Master’s degree in journalism from American University of Cairo, and from the same university a Master’s diploma in TV journalism. Despite her avid academic accomplishments, it is her personal story that is the most riveting aspect of her personhood, and the amount of experiences she has had in her 62 years.
Taking a hiatus from Islam, Raya found that although she had everything she could ever want (money, career, connections) she somehow still felt lacking in something, empty though the world was literally at her fingertips. This is something we hear people say so often. This “emptiness” is frequently expressed, but just dealt with, and many people never go deep enough, or never search themselves fully to discover what exactly is happening.
Raya is the first person I have ever encountered who has felt the pull of emptiness and actually broke away from her comfort and security to find out what could satisfy her.
First, Raya dappled in Hinduism. “I couldn’t do reincarnation, there were too many gods too,” she said of the religion.
Next, Raya turned to Buddhism, identifying with the Zen aspect of the religion, but again, having certain reservations about worshiping Buddha among others.
Christianity was something of a resting spot for Raya. She immersed herself in Christianity for about seven years where she joined a Seventh Day Adventist church and even studied theology. Yet again, she encountered problems, not only understanding the Trinity, but trying to make sense of three supposed gods that acted as one. Complexity seemed to be the name of the game, no matter what.
Raya ended up coming full circle back to Islam. She read the Qur’an.
“It was so plain and clear, I felt I found God here,” she said.
Allah is the only god and the rest of the religion felt clarified and accessible to Raya. Her second husband was an accomplished Suni scholar and guided her in texts and spiritual understanding. For that she is forever grateful.
“If I did not marry him, I would have none of this,” Raya said. “I believe he was sent to me by Allah.”
Raya is not an overzealous muslim. She is not preachy and has no intention to push what she has found on anyone else. She has found a peace that is evident in her countenance and the manner in which she speaks. She is gentle and understanding, a brilliant speaker with an even more brilliant mind. You cannot help but gravitate toward her.
Recounting her choice to obey her Egyptian husband in his desire for her to wear the hijab, she admits it was very difficult, but worth every moment.
“It was a test, to please God,” she said. “There are many layers [to the veil] and you can’t breathe. But, these women will never complain because they are doing it for God.”
Similarly, another sort of test for Raya and other muslim women is the practice of polygamy.

Raya’s second husband had two other wives living in different countries when she was married to him. She never felt jealousy or anxiety, knowing that her husband was the best man for these other women, that he would help and guide them no matter what.
“Polygamy is jihad for women–we give up rights for Allah,” she said trying to paint a picture of her sacrifice so that our Westernized minds could better understand. In brief, jihad is designated informally as the six th obligation of Islam, in addition to the five pillars of Islam that are expected to be carried out in the lifetime of each muslim. Loosely translated it means “struggle.” Jihad includes a struggle against the self or of an enemy. In Western media, the word has grown to solely infer an act of war with a strong connotation of violence.

This is not the meaning that Raya intends to use.
Raya sees polygamy as a struggle of her self. “It’s like fighting the desire to have a husband all for yourself,” she said. But, you can see no fight, no struggle, no internal conflict present when you speak with Raya.
And, to be clear, I am not epitomizing or glorifying Raya. This is who she is and what she believes. It is as simple as that.
On Tuesday (May 19th) she starts her position as editor of the “Reading Islam” section of Islam Online. She has materialized her years of public speaking and outreach through this position with the one goal of allowing people (muslim and non) to fully grasp and understand the religion. She is not biased and comes with no soap box for her opinion. She professes the truth about Islam and only wishes for eyes to be opened.
Raya is a unique figure. Within Islam she is an open book, hindered by nothing and open to everything. Aside from religion, she is a mother, an advocate, and a resource with arms extended and a willingness that surpasses my understanding."

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Beauty of Difference is....


This is a poem I wrote as a guest post on the wonderful Reflections From a Redhead blog.


The Beauty of Difference is......

The beauty of difference is that we were not all created the same,
We are different in our looks, cultures, personality and name.
If we were all alike, what a boring world it would be,
I would be like you and you would be just like me.
When we are all different, we can learn many things about each other,
And with the insight gained we can respect one another.
God made us all unique, we are original on our own,
Our individual beauty is found within us alone.
From the specks of colour in our eyes,
to the curves of our nose,
to our one and only fingerprint
And shape and size of our toes.
We all have may differences, but it really shouldn’t matter,
We should be protecting each other’s hearts rather than causing them to shatter.
God made us into many nations, races and tribes*
So that we’d get to know each other all throughout our lives.
Not one human being in existence ever chose their looks or race,
What we have was decreed by God, who is indeed so full of Grace.
You see everything we are and were born to be is all with thanks to Him,
We’ve got to resist pressures from society and dissatisfaction from within.
The same thing goes for anyone you know who might be different from you,
Whilst they may look, act or speak very foreign, remember they are human beings too.
God doesn’t judge your outer appearances, rather He judges what’s in your heart.**
Don’t worry about looks, focus on character and you’re off to a great start.
The truest of beauty is the goodness that resides within us all,
And if we put aside all of our differences, this goodness will unite us all.
When you next look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What do you see?”
Say, “Indeed I see someone truly beautiful, I can see goodness residing in me.”

You can also read another guest post by brother Abdul Mateen on the same topic here.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Eid Mubarak 2012 (Fitr)

Bismillah Ar Rahmaan Ar Raheem


All Praise is due to Allah.

Assalaamu'alaykum Sisters in Islam

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all

Eid Mubarak!

May Allah accept all your efforts for His sake during this honourable month.

May He forgive all our sins and accept our duaa.

Please forgive me for anything I may have said or done to you, with or without your knowledge.

Please forgive me if I haven't fulfilled your rights as a Muslim sister.

I pray that we leave this Ramadhaan with renewed faith and a newly found strength and steadfastness in our belief.

I ask Allah to aid us in becoming the best Muslim women possible and that He rewards us all with the highest of Paradise.

May He grant us the best of spouses, the best of children, the best of families and the best of companions.

May he unite and strengthen our community and bless all the organisations and individuals who give support, da'wah, education,services and more to our community.

As we enjoy our festivities and treats, we remember and make duaa for those less fortunate than us. We remember the forgotten, the prisoners, the oppressed, the freedom fighters, the poor, the hungry, the disabled and others. We ask Allah to give them patience, ease and relief.

Allahumma Ameen.

Love you all for the sake of Allah,

Assalaamu'alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh!

Calisha and Family.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Quran by Heart


The Koran by Heart is a heart warming documentary that follows young Muslim children from across the world as they compete in the yearly Quran Recitation Competition that is held in Cairo during the month of Ramadan.

Their recitation is absolutely beautiful and you will be amazed at their unique ability to recite almost perfectly when tested. This is truly a miracle from the Almighty!

Watch it with your family!

If you aspire to memorise the Quran have a read of this great article.






The Forgotten Believers


This short film is about prisoners who have converted to Islam whilst in jail (in the US) and have tried to reach out into the Muslim community for support and education. The story follows brother Yusef Wiley who, after 21 years in prison and many years of letters and phone calls to a Shaykh on the outside who was teaching him, is released and they meet for the first time.

A really inspiring story and a reminder for us to NOT FORGET the forgotten ones and to appreciate our every day freedoms, the beauty of our surrounds (as you will see!)!

If you have Muslims in a prison in your locality, take the initiative to organise regular visits, phone calls, or letters. Perhaps it may even be possible to organise for a Shaykh in your community to teach there. Make the effort and you will be rewarded inshallah.

"Alhamdulillah The ugliness of this prison and my imprisonment is balanced by my ties of Iman and Islam to you and other Mu'minoon. The harshness of my existence is softened by Allah's mercy manifesting itself through you and the Mu'minoon. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah." Yusef Wiley

The Muslim Jesus


This is a great documentary about Jesus (AS) in Islam in comparison to Christianity.

It is very interesting and has helped me to greater acknowledge and appreciate this noble Prophet and Messenger of Allah (SWT). Inshallah it will increase your love for him and his righteous mother Mary (AS) as well as give you a greater appreciation for the truth and accuracy with which the Quran describes them both.

To read more about Jesus Christ (Isa AS) in Islam click here.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Get to Know Allah Through Nature



Mashallah what a wonderful, peaceful, loving sister giving a priceless bundle of advices!

Her lecture contains absolutely profound lessons about who Allah is, how precious our Islam is and how we have SO much potential to become the very best human beings we can be!

You will LOVE every minute of it!

Please watch it with your families!

Getting to Know Allah Through Nature - By Aminah Assilmi (R)


Aminah Assilmi
By Samana Siddiqui

Aminah Assilmi (nee Janice Huff, 1945-March 5, 2010) was an American Muslim activist, Emmy-award winning broadcaster, speaker and director of the International Union of Muslim Women. She was named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world in 2009 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre based in Amman, Jordan.
Apart from her international speaking engagements, where she would usually discuss the status of women in Islam, she played a major role in the United States Postal Service issuing an Eid stamp in September 2001. This is the first stamp commemorating an Islamic holiday in American history.
Assilmi was an advocate for women’s rights based on the primary sources of Islamic law. In a conversation with Nadiah Beekun, secretary treasurer of the International Union of Muslim women, a week before she died, Assilmi said, “I’m not a feminist. I know my Islam”.

Early life and conversion

Little is known about Assilmi’s life before her acceptance of Islam on May 21, 1977 in Colorado except that she was born in Oklahoma, raised a Southern Baptist and was also part of the American feminist movement. She also held degrees in education, broadcasting and communications and did a brief stint as a model in advertisements for some family cars in the late 1960s or early 70s.
Assilmi first encountered Muslims in 1975 while attending a theater class in college, where a number of Muslim students were enrolled as well. She initially did not want to continue attending the course with what she called “heathens”, but upon her husband’s encouragement, decided to return. Her aim was to convert the Muslim students to Christianity.
Despite numerous attempts, including one in which she approached the students wearing “hot pants and holding a glass of wine”, according to one of her lectures, she was politely rebuffed. In frustration, she asked the students for a copy of their holy book, which they provided. After reading the Quran as well as other books about Islam, she decided to accept the faith.


Assilmi adopted the Hijab quickly after converting. This was despite the fact that when she accepted Islam, she said "I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger but, I will never cover my hair and if my husband takes another wife, I will castrate him.”
As a result of donning the headscarf, she immediately lost her job as a radio broadcaster. She attempted to wear the Niqab (face-covering) as well but stopped after she found the experience too difficult. At one point, a guard at a bank pointed a gun at her when she tried to cash a check with her face covered.
In her lectures, she often talked of this harassment and misunderstanding about women’s Islamic dress.

Activism in Muslim community

Assilmi is best known as a passionate speaker and advocate for Muslim women’s rights. She has given lectures on college campuses, at Muslim youth events in the United States and around the world. She spoke at the 2004 conference of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions in Barcelona, Spain.
She helped establish the American branch of the International Union of Muslim Women in 1980. Other branches, one of which was in Pakistan, and a few other Muslim countries, closed down either due to government bans or pressure. At the time of her death, the American chapter was the only remaining representative body of the IUMW.
In 1993, she was instrumental in involving the National Organization of Women (NOW) in a successful effort initiated by Bosnia Task Force USA to designate rape a war crime. The UN Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution on December 20, 1993 affirming this. It also called for an international tribunal to prosecute these crimes.
As a broadcaster, media activism was something she remained interested in even after becoming Muslim. She was involved with various Muslim media endeavors including Sound Vision, Radio Islam and ISNAVision in the early 1990s.

Eid postage stamp

Assilmi played a major role in the United States Postal Service issuing a stamp commemorating the Eid holiday in September 2001. She helped Muhib Beekun, the elementary school student from Nevada who came up with the idea, launch a nationwide campaign through letters, emails, phone calls, a petition and postcards addressed to the Post Master General .
The Eid stamp is the first in American history to recognize an Islamic holiday. Designed by American Muslim calligrapher Muhammad Zakariya, it features a Turkish style of calligraphy in gold letters on a royal-blue background. On top Eid Mubarak in Arabic is written in gold. The words "EID GREETINGS" run above and below the calligraphy.

Marriage and children

Assilmi was married four times, twice before accepting Islam and twice after. Her daughter Amber was born from her first marriage, her son Whittney from her second and her son Mohammed from her third.

Illness and death

Assilmi survived a terminal diagnosis of bone cancer as well as advanced stage melanoma. At one point she became wheelchair-bound. However, she later recovered and was able to walk again. Assilmi performed Hajj twice, once on  a wheelchair. On one of the pilgrimages, she was the special guest of the King of Saudi Arabia and stayed at his palace near the Kaba.
Aminah Assilmi was killed in a car accident at about 3:30 a.m. on Friday March 5, 2010 outside Newport, Tennessee, where she had been living for about a year. Assilmi was returning from a speaking engagement in New York when she died. Her son, Mohammed, was also in the car with her. He was injured but survived.
Her funeral was held the following day at the Islamic Center of Knoxville, Tennessee and attended by about 100 Muslims. All of her children and one of her grandchildren were present as well.
At the time of her death, she was working on a project to establish a Muslim women’s center that would focus on educating Muslim women of their Islamic rights, as well as host retreats and camps for youth.
Assilmi is survived by her daughter Amber and her sons Whittney and Mohammed, as well as a number of grandchildren.

Some of Aminah Assilmi’s Works

New Stamps Celebrates ‘Id
Sound Vision interview with Nadiah Beekun, close friend and Secretary Treasurer of the International Union of Muslim women, March 8, 2010.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ramadhaan for Busy Mums!


Here are a few handy tips and advices to assist busy mums during the month of Ramadhan.

How Can Busy Moms Manage their time During Ramadhan?

This is a helpful interview about Ramadhaan for busy mums with sister Khafayah who is the founder of
Ummuka.com. Sister Khafayah shares some really great tips and ideas for getting the kids involved in the spirit of the month and how sisters can utilise their time effectively.

Khafayah Abdulsalam, a single mother of four, works as a full time payroll manager, but is more known for her great achievements as a DiscoverU LifeCoach certified coach – trained by Muhammad Alshareef of DiscoverU Life Ltd. Her motto is “Empowering Muslim moms across the globe.”

My Dear Ramadhaan Mum, I Salute You!
This is a lovely article by Yaser Birjas for the mothers who are dedicated to their children and their homes and he gives words of encouragement for their efforts in striving to worship in their busy homes during Ramadhan.

How to be Productive with your Family During Ramadhan

An interview with Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda about spending time with family during Ramadhaan and how playing together and eating together can be forms of worship to Allah SWT!

Maximizing the Last 10 Days of Ramadhan

A list of 16 things to focus on during the last 10 days of this blessed month!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Diamonds of Islam Poem


Mashallah one of the many talented members of the Diamonds of Islam Youth Group has written a lovely poem dedicated to the group! Her name is Hadiyah Stephens and she is a 16 year old aspiring author. You can read more of her work here.

The Diamonds of Islam
The youth of today;
So troublesome, so worrisome,
So full of mischief,
So addicted to 'freedom'.

They walk like they own the world,
And everyone else is their slaves.
Not caring for anyone; anything,
But the outdoor interaction they crave.

However, there are those who actually pay attention,
To the evils of the modern day.
They instead, stand straight and proud,
To be on the clear, shining way.

The true youth of Islam
Are the devoted children
Who love and adore,
The religion that brightens.

The darkest room,
The coldest heart,
The word of Islam,
Does not fail to outsmart.

You ask who they are,
These people who want to do right,
These people of youth,
Who, in Islam, they delight.

They are the diamonds,
So pure and clear,
Hidden by screens of Iman,
Protected from ignorant jeers.

They are the diamonds,
Smart and bright
Drawing close their families,
In a soft, warming light.

They are the diamonds,
In the very way they laugh and sparkle;
Trying every day to be their best,
Yet when they fail they don't act sorrowful

They are the diamonds,
That will lend a hand to those moving on,
The next children's mothers
The carers of those too far gone.

They are the diamonds,
The communities treasures;
The strong, precious gems,
That can't ever be tarnished.

They are the diamonds,
The Diamonds of Islam,
Today's tomorrow,
The future's calm.

They stand to teach,
To learn and spread,
The knowledge of the world
The importance of what's left unsaid.

The mark of the individual,
Is formed by the person,
The young woman of today's youth,
Have certainly amazed us.

For they are the diamonds,
The Diamonds of Islam;
And a diamond's echo
Last forever, in the right hands.