I don't know that I've ever made such a major life decision with so little anxiety. The ease of the decision-making process is yet another surprising benefit of Islam. Perhaps I should not have been surprised, but I did not expect to feel such peace after choosing between these two potential next steps. I have been learning over the past couple of years about Salaat Al-Istikhara, the prayer which the Prophet Muhammad ( صـلى الله علـيه و سـلم ) taught Muslims to pray whenever they are making a significant choice. I appreciate the incredibly informative and accessible lesson on Salaat Al-Istikhara presented by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda of the Al-Qalam Institute. Muslims do not pray for guidance about a decision without thinking through the decision logically and seeking sound counsel. Actually, the Muslim is strongly encouraged to learn as much as possible about their options, and to seek counsel from anyone who may provide insight and knowledge that will further inform the decision.
I truly cannot remember a time that I made a major decision without feeling one bit of anxiety about the choice. Even when I made choices that proved good for me, I still second-guessed my choice incessantly, almost always to the point that I nearly turned back. Now, I feel calm, and excitement. Again I say, all praise and thanks be to Allah (الحمد لله) for the peace I feel about where I am going next ان ساء الله.
Ramadan is upon us. I've been practising this month, according to the example of the Prophet Muhammad ( صـلى الله علـيه و سـلم ). Every worry I had about teaching all day, speaking for six or more hours at work without a sip of water, has dissipated. I have fasted several consecutive days in advance, in hopes that both my body and spirit will be more prepared for the month-long fast.
|This clever image combines two loves of mine: 1) Reminders of Ramadan and 2) Reminders of London, England|
I passed through Grand Central Station on Sunday afternoon, and stopped to buy bread at a small shop inside. The manager began to ask me where I am from - often Muslims from Muslim countries cannot accept "I'm American" as an answer, without convincing. But once I had answered him briefly about why I chose to become Muslim, he became quite happy. It's refreshing to hear about new Muslims; I know that already. In the end, he insisted on giving me a discount on the bread that I bought. Of course I am grateful to him, along with the fruit vendor around the corner from my school, who also discounts my fruit and vegetables because of our common faith. Allah teaches in Al-Quran and Hadith that Muslims will be rewarded for our generosity, for feeding each other, for sharing with each other. Obedience through generosity brings joy to the Muslim's heart, because there's a strong sense that in addition to showing kindness to another person, we've also come closer to earning the favor of Allah سبحانه و تعالى (pure and exalted is Allah).
I feel happy speaking about Al-Quran, and I remain in awe. I think that I always will be. Nouman Ali Khan provides a brief, yet profound, set of examples of the Linguistic Miracles of the Quran that is geared toward non-Muslims. He mentions the significance of the Quran being revealed to and preserved by an oral society, and how this reality compounds the miraculous reality of the Quran. Nouman Ali Khan provides examples of the intentionality and profound depth of every word and its place in the Quran. Through proper study of the Quran and Arabic, one can discover incredible depth of meaning that is lost many times in translation.