Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ramadan is Rehab

Many people would think that rehab is for alcoholics or drug addicts, but the truth of the matter is...we all need rehab. On a daily basis we each often give into the drug more commonly known as the nafs (I think the closest translation would probably be the id - animalistic, non-rational side). We give into our id because its what feels good. Similarly, drug addicts and alcoholics engage in their risky behavior because doing so makes them feel good. Drinking takes there pain away as eating often times takes our pain away (my ticket to pain-free depression is mac and cheese).

In medicine, we often put a patient through rehab by taking them away from the thing that is harming them. At first, we completely isolate them from the drug, be it alcohol or any other recreational intoxicant. We do this to rid the body of the toxin. Its often a painful process resulting in hallucinations, delusions and pain.

In Ramadan we abstain from food and other things as well (swearing, lying, cheating, backbiting, sleeping, having intimate relations, and everything else that can be detrimental to our self). Like drug detoxification the first fast is probably the hardest, the most painful...I mean we are STARVING. This is the detox phase - please note that scientifically the act of fasting is actually a physical means of detoxifying the body, it allows the liver, kidneys, skin, etc to rid themselves and the body of toxins - go figure!

After the detox phase, we often place the addict in programs that teach behavioral modification. We teach him to completely stay away from bars, change his group of friends, even take a different route to work or home. We teach him to eat certain foods to help curb his cravings, etc. This can serve as a very influential, provided the addict takes it seriously and actually tries to modify his behavior. (Notice the similarities?)

In Ramadan, we often find ourselves attending the masjid more often than we do at any other time of our lives. We sit through long lectures, pray qiyam ul layl, give sadaqa, read Quran. We turn of our TVs, put our Tupac CDs away and pull out CDs with Quranic recitations of Shuyukh like Shaykh Al-Effasy or Shaykh Sudais. When someone tries our patience, instead of lashing out like we normally would, we try to refrain. We try to abstain from backbiting. And the list goes on.

There is no benefit to rehab unless the rehabilitation process continues. In medicine we say, "Once and addict, always an addict." Intoxicants are intoxicating, they take over your thoughts, they debilitate you and the truth of the matter is for as long as you live, you will always be in rehab. People don't say that they are Recovered Alcoholics or that they used to be alcoholics. When you go to an AA meeting people introduce themselves by saying, "Hi, my name is HB and I am an Alcoholic." And they proceed to tell you how many decades its been since they're last drink.

Likewise, we as Muslims are a constant work in progress. None of us is immune from the waswasa of Shaytan. Each of us is susceptible to fall into the trap of our desires. So while we go through an intensive one-month rehab session every year, it is up to us to remain in check, to take what we learn in this blessed month and apply it into our lives every day with out fail.

May each and every single one of you have a blessed Ramadan. Please remember me and the entire Muslim Ummah in your dua.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Muslim, 2 Christians and an Atheist this isn't a joke....seriously.

I worked last night. Nurses are human, we get sleepy during our shifts, especially when we work nights because the truth is, no matter how used to working nights you are, sleeping in the day and working at night is unnatural!

Anyways...around 4 am when us nurses start to get sleepy, we either take a quick break (which is really nap time) or we engage in some sort of discussion. So last night as we are hanging out at the station one of the nurses (a Christian) asks this other nurse (an Atheist who happens to be Indian) what religion he follows. Knowing that this nurse happens to be pretty religious, he kind of refrains, but after much pestering, he gives in.. "I don't believe in God, I'm Atheist"

She now looks at me, "HB, what religion does he follow?" I answer "He's Atheist." This Atheist nurse and I have been 'friends' for a while now, I know his story.

She continues, "Are you serious??" I answer, "Yes, that's what he told me when we met." You see, everyone seems to take my hijaab as a green light to discuss religion...and I welcome it with open arms as long as the discussion doesn't turn into something hateful toward Islam or Muslims.

The Atheist and I thought that that was pretty much the end of the discussion. I mean, you ask a question, its answered and that's that, but she continues after a brief silence, "you know, I'm going to say something and I hope it doesn't offend you, but I'm gonna say it: The fact that you don't believe in God makes me uncomfortable, I feel like you bring a negative force around me and I don't like to have people like that around me."

Now, as a Muslim, I believe in God. I believe that nothing is possible without Him and that everything is possible only because He makes it possible. I cannot fathom disbelief in the existence of God, but I feel that that comment completely crossed all lines.

So in comes the second Christian: "So wait, it makes you uncomfortable that he doesn't believe in God? What does his disbelief in God do to effect you?"

"It brings negative energy and I don't associate myself with people that bring negative energy around me, I distance myself from them."

I'm sitting here trying to conjure up a response. Here it is: "He's a human being, there is no compulsion in religion. God doesn't need people to worship him, people need to have a superior being to worship. His choice to believe or not to believe in God is a personal choice, but it doesn't necessarily make him a bad person in general."

I don't even know her response, the other Christian was nodding his head in agreement with me.

She then proceeded to place this Atheist in the same soup as Gays and Lesbians by saying that they are an abomination (which I completely agree with) and that she doesn't associate with them and that she doesn't care for them.

I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion. And I can't say that I don't think similar (not the same).

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. You see I strongly oppose homosexuality, it grosses me out, I think its unnatural and it could very well be the cause of our demise as it was the cause of demise for the people of Ad and Thamud. I believe that saying that there is no God is being stupid and ungrateful. BUT (and a big BUT it is) I strongly believe in hating the sin and not the sinner.

One of the reasons of I love Islam so much is that it teaches us to be kind and compassionate towards others and it teaches us to lead by example. To be the best person you can be, to emulate the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) so as to attract the right attention.

I believe Shirk is an unforgivable sin, I also believe that being an Atheist is like committing shirk in that you saying that Science is responsible for the creation of the universe as opposed to Allah (SWT). But at the same time, I don't think that telling an Atheist that he's going to Hell and that he is an Abomination is the best way to bring him to your side.

I also think that as Humans as a whole, we need to realize that while Atheism and Homosexuality are major sins, we are in no position to judge anyone as the sad truth is we are all sinners.

May Allah SWT guide us all and protect us...ameen.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Ramadan is fast approaching and I feel I am completely behind on preparing for it.

I've got so much to do and so little time to do it in. Nevertheless, I hope this month arrives soon as i do miss it very dearly.