Sunday, 3 July 2011

100 Things to do Before I Die

    1. Get on TV
    2. Learn to ice skate
    3. Put a message in a bottle and throw it into the ocean
    4. Skydive
    5. Give a lot of money to someone in a poor country
    6. Write a book
    7. Eat something weird and exotic
    8. Spend a night at a "haunted house"
    9. Go on a pilgrimage
    10. Teach someone how to speak French
    11. Teach someone how to read
    12. Start a school in a foreign country
    13. Visit a country by myself without speaking a single word of the language
    14. Be lost in a forest
    15. Go on a year-long tour of America
    16. Sleep inside a tent
    17. Give a speech to more than 1,000 people about Islam
    18. Help someone convert to Islam
    19. Stay up all night talking to someone
    20. Learn to juggle
    21. Travel to Antarctica
    22. Climb a mountain
    23. Swim in the middle of an ocean
    24. Spend a night with a tribe in the Amazon
    25. Live in poverty for a month to know what it's like
    26. Ride an elephant
    27. Ride a horse
    28. Speak Arabic fluently
    29. Speak Japanese fluently
    30. Dive with a whale shark
    31. Go snorkling
    32. Visit an active volcano
    33. Own a parrot
    34. Spend a whole day in a jungle alone
    35. Teach English in a foreign country
    36. Stand at the north or south pole
    37. Go hiking in a desert
    38. Learn to speak in a funny accent
    39. Hug a random person off the street
    40. Give lots of money to a homeless person
    41. Go skiing
    42. Eat and drink only chocolate for a whole day
    43. Bungee jump
    44. Zipline
    45. Learn to drive
    46. Be alone on a beach
    47. Own a horse
    48. Own a giraffe
    49. Live in a flat
    50. Adopt a child
    51. Write a meaningful letter to someone
    52. Build a treehouse
    53. Go camping
    54. Live in a foreign country for a month
    55. Own a golden retriever dog
    56. Teach a dog tricks
    57. Read the Qur'an in Arabic
    58. Memorise the Qur'an
    59. Teach someone to speak Filipino
    60. Save a life
    61. Talk someone out of suicide
    62. Be published in the newspaper
    63. Be famous for something good
    64. Talk to a prisoner and change their life
    65. Learn to be a happier person
    66. Learn to say all the prayers correctly
    67. Sponsor a child in Africa
    68. Get married
    69. Shave my hair off for charity
    70. Have at least two children (make sure one is a girl)
    71. Adopt a child
    72. Write a bunch of confessions in a book then burn it
    73. Become an active goer of the mosque
    74. Tell my parents I'm Muslim
    75. Get contact lenses
    76. Get through Ramadan and actually fast correctly
    77. Have a wikipedia page about me
    78. Be famous as a blogger
    79. Learn to cook
    80. Be an examiner and give away free marks to students
    81. Read a foreign language novel
    82. Write an autobiography
    83. Start a social revolution
    84. Take pictures of me every day for a year and see the difference
    85. Learn to forgive
    86. Learn to speak Italian fluently
    87. Learn to make the perfect pizza
    88. Learn to make the perfect pasta
    89. Live in Italy
    90. Live in Canada
    91. Make a snow angel
    92. Be in a film/play/TV programme
    93. Go on a MASSIVE rollercoaster ride
    94. Visit a zoo
    95. Spend a night at the beach
    96. Memorise many hadiths
    97. Lie down in the middle of a field on a sunny day
    98. Get licked in the face by a dog
    99. Climb a tree to get a cat
    100. Become a better Muslim

    What are your list of things to do before you die? :)

    Saturday, 4 June 2011

    Another Shahadah Poem!

    Assalamu Alaykum.

    I love poetry so much, here's another poem about my shahada!

    A new born baby boy is brought unto the glorious world,
    a bundle of joy, a bag of tears, a jar of laughter.
    Unblemished - pure - innocent.

    In such a way is a revert brought unto to the glorious community,
    a new life with challenges to encounter,
    epic quests to accomplish,
    journeys to undertake,
    and smiles to make.
    Piece of cake.

    Officially Taken Shahada!

    Assalamu Alaykum.

    I consider myself to have three birthdays. Three, why? I have my real birthday (as in when I was born), the day I decided I was going to be Muslim, and the day I actually went to the mosque and took shahada.

    Ever since the day I decided I was going to be Muslim, in my heart, I was already Muslim - I was already a revert. But I only made it official last week. Masha'Allah it was an amazing experience, not only because I reverted, but also because it was my first time at a mosque.

    It was a fun day.

    To get an excuse of leaving the house, I told my parents that I was going to watch a film in Burton (which I did, after taking shahada) with some friends. (It's true!)

    I went to Burton on the bus with my friend Ed, an agnostic who wants to learn more about Islam. On arriving to Burton, as with most voracious teens, we set off to find somewhere to eat. Subway!

    I very nearly decided to get the Subway Melt (my favourite sandwich from subway); unfortunately, it contains bacon, and I chose otherwise. Much later, with a lot of help (basically a 20 minute conversation) from TheSisterWhoSmiles who was on Google Maps at her house, while Ed and I were being guided by her via phone. JazaakAllah kheir, TheSisterWhoSmiles, for your excellent navigational skills!

    Then we found the mosque. It was around 2pm.

    I was very scared to enter because I thought it was prayer time, and we did not want to cause  any disruptions to the prayer. So I asked TheSisterWhoSmiles when the prayers would start. I believe I must have said "the asr prayer" which is obviously later in the afternoon. I thought she said that the prayers won't start until the afternoon, but what I did not realise that the zuhr prayer was why there were a lot of people coming into the mosque!

    So Ed and I walked in, thinking that there were no prayers happening. I got in to the place where you take the shoes off - but there was no one there. Then someone walked in. I asked where the imam was, explained why I was there, etc. Then suddenly he took me into the wudhu room, and began to instruct me to perform wudhu, which I gladly did. It turns out that he was the junior imam at the mosque.

    What a blessing... to walk in the mosque just before the imam does. Allah subhana wa ta'ala does work in wonderful ways! SUBHAN ALLAH!

    Then Imam Zia led me to the prayer room, and I followed the actions of the brothers there, praying the zuhr prayers. It was beautiful, very peaceful... and very awkward! I wasn't totally sure whether I was doing the right actions, etc. but it went well.

    Later on, after a length sermon in Arabic (which I could not understand, to my dismay), the head imam called me to the front of the congregation, and he asked some questions, and then I took shahada.

    After lots of talking, and many of the congregation leaving, I had a chat with the imams and they gave me lots of books about Islam, and they also gave me a copy of the Holy Qur'an! :)

    So grateful...

    Anyway, I wrote a poem about the day's proceedings:

    A beam of light shines, blinds
    stirs me from my sleep.
    The rusty mind creaks, bends,
    unravels mysteries, upon mysteries.
    All my life waited for this...

    one moment
    one chance
    one time

    to break out, step out of line,
    and into a new one,
    the line leading to the circle of the...

    one life
    one cause
    one God.

    The path of truth begins...


    and the truth quest for...


    commences. The ship of life beckons
    and I must embark on a journey;
    I depart.
    Take the plunge.


    Saturday, 28 May 2011

    Islam and Homosexuality

    Assalamu Alaykum.

    As much as I love Islam, even before I reverted, I knew there were certain concepts that I was not going to readily agree with. Being the insistent, inquisitive and obstinate teenager that I am, I usually need an explanation of something before I accept it happily. Of course, when I got into Islam, the issue about Homosexuality (and indeed, other LGBT sexualities) never popped into my mind - I was too busy learning how to pronounce words in Arabic!

    It's a bitter topic. And it's one I do not want to talk about, as it seems to be a facet of Islam that non-Muslims do not like. However, it is one that we must discuss, rather than placing a taboo on it.
    In Islam, it is indeed true, that homosexuality is a sin.
    The reason and the punishments for such a sin raise many questions, however.

    Most Muslims would look towards the Qur'an, and refer to God punishing (by killing) the people of Lot (alaihi salaam) for committing the sin of homosexuality.
    "And We sent Lut when he said to his people: What! do you commit an indecency which any one in the world has not done before you? Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people... And We rained upon them a rain; consider then what was the end of the guilty." (Surah 7:80-84)
    Of the Muslims who refer to this quote, some would say that it means that homosexuality is a sin, therefore homosexuals must be killed just like God killed the people of Lut, pbuh.

    Other Muslims may see this Hadith: "Muslim blood can only be spilled for adultery, apostasy and homicide." They may say that this means that homosexuality must not be punishable by death, whereas others will treat homosexual intercourse as adultery, and therefore must be punishable by death.

    Muslim scholars differ in opinion too. Some Muslim scholars recommend the death penalty, others recommend whipping, basing their opinions on several hadiths. Other Muslim scholars believe that those hadiths are not genuine, and that only God has the right to punish homosexuals, based on the Qur'an.

    But you can see the picture - there is no single, united view. However, I believe that there should be, if we are going to get anywhere; the problem is that there are many schools of Fiqh (religious law), and those schools should get together, and decide on one view - otherwise we'll end up being like Christians with denominations that one can pick and match according to one's views, and, obviously, sexuality.
    I don't want that for Islam.
    Here is my take on the issue. The first question that popped into my head when I read about the issue is whether it is the state of being homosexual that is the sin, or whether the sin lies in the homosexual intercourse. Yet again, there seems to be no clear-cut definition. Most people seem to conflate one with the other, and it is obvious that there is a difference.

    But let's talk about the two possible answers. If, say, the sin lies with the sexual intercourse, then it makes perfect sense. God made humans who could be gay so that they are tested their whole life, and it's an opportunity for their iman, their faith, to grow. Makes sense to me!

    However, if the sin lies with being gay, then I have a problem with this reasoning. I read from an article, which does not sound scholarly, that being gay is a choice made by people, and that it is a sin to be gay, because we, as humans, have the free will and ability to choose what we want to think, and who we desire to love.

    Well, I can tell you right now - no one ever chooses who they fall in love with. Whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, lesbian or transsexual, no one picks and chooses who they love.

    Furthermore, many hundreds of species of animals have been documented to show homosexuality. Animals do not have free will, and so the author of the above argument is clearly wrong. God would not allow someone to be gay, only to say that being gay is a sin - that is similar to the Christian view saying that people are all born with a sin (which is refuted in Islam). There is also plentiful evidence that gay people are born gay, or developed in early childhood, from MRI images, that show a similarity in the brains of gay men, and straight women. Brains don't just change in adulthood, especially something as significant as the brain structure and how it works.

    Having friends who are gay, I hate it when I hear Muslims (or somebody who believes that homosexuality is a sin) say that they pity gay people, and that they should be treated with tolerance. I hate it because gay people are just people. People should never be defined for who they love, but rather, their actions.

    Pitying gay people shows that those people feel that they stand on a morally higher ground simply because they love the opposite sex. Treating gay people with tolerance shows that those people do not treat people EQUALLY.

    When it comes to issues like these where there is a lot of discordance, I believe that we should look to texts that are specifically the word of God, in this case - The Holy Qur'an. I think the Qur'an's references to homosexuality mean that only God should be able to punish gay people, and that we should not punish them, either through death or prison or whipping. I'm sure gay people get enough trouble through prejudice, never mind being dropped off the top of a building and stoned to death.

    My view is that we will all be judged individually on Judgement Day, and there should be no need to punish, especially kill, someone who still has a chance to show, through their actions, that they deserve to be in heaven in the afterlife, especially if they are Muslim.

    I am not condoning homosexuality - but I do believe that a unity in Islam's belief in the issues should be realised, and that Muslim homosexuals should be equally treated and helped by brothers and sisters in our ummah to be on the straight path (forgive the pun!).

    Allah Hafiz!

    PS: Please let me know what you think - post a comment below!

    Friday, 27 May 2011


    Assalamu Alaykum.

    The dear Qur'an asks us,
    "Do they not look at the sky above them? How We have made it and adorned it, and there are no flaws in it?" (Surah 50:6)

    ...and so I looked up at the sky, remembered the picture above made by TheSisterWhoSmiles, and wrote:

    An all-encompassing blanket rages
    tonight. Its silken texture belies
    its fury. Sometimes, it stands still, and ponders
    the story of life, then falls.
    Other times, it wavers - and a quick blow
    drags its own life away...
    f a d e s
    into clearer, azure skies.


    Friday, 20 May 2011

    A Letter to All Christians Out There...

    Dear Christian,

    I used to be Christian a long time ago, but as everyone knows, a lot can change in such a small space of time. And so can you too! When you've been in something like Christianity for so long, you begin to see flaws and discrepancies that make you realise that the good in something isn't actually that good at all.

    My pet hate with Christianity is that the Bible is written by men (or possibly women!).

    We, the human race, are not perfect - it even says that in the Bible. Over time, throughout history, the Bible has been changed: bits have been cut out, bits have been added in, and bits have been rewritten and now, it's been translated in hundreds of languages, and the many different styles of English that we have today. Some Christians take the Bible literally, others pick and choose what they like, interpreting it how they like, disregarding what they like - so called "Burger King Religion," because its followers have their way.

    This can only mean one thing. The Bible is inherently flawed, and that what people are following is not necessarily God's word, and basically, they're fitting religion into their lives, not fitting their lives into religion.

    "Ask not what religion can do for you - ask what you can do for religion."

    If you said to your boss, "I'm going to do things my way, and you're going to have to fit in to my schedule, but I still want to get paid, and I want a two-hour lunch, and I want Monday mornings off." What would your boss say?

    Similarly, why are Christians reading the Bible, and applying only some of it to their lives, or if they follow it literally, why are they applying something written by flawed men. Besides, its meaning would be diluted due to the many translations.

    In contrast, the Holy Qur'an (in Arabic, of course) has not change since it was revealed to Prophet Muhammad, pbuh. Because the Qur'an should only be read in Arabic, its meaning would not change, and so you can apply all of it to your life as the infallible word of God.

    Another thing I don't like about Christianity, is the Bible quote:

    If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

    Basically, this is saying, kill anyone who doesn't worship God.
    Whereas in the Qur'an, it says:
    "There shall be no compulsion in religion." (Surah 2:256)
    Of course, Christians would say that this quote should be taken in the context in which it was written. So, does that mean I can completely disregard all the rules that is said in the Bible because they're 2,000 years old?

    The fact that the Qur'an specifically disallows killing people, believer or disbeliever also says a lot about Muslims. In the Qur'an, it says that if you kill someone, God will look upon you as though you have killed the whole human race, whereas if you save someone's life, God will look upon you as though you have saved the whole human race. Obviously, the Muslim terrorists extremists have got the completely idea of defending the faith.

    Even Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said that the best way of defending the faith is through words and NOT violent actions. The Qur'an does state that as a last resort, if a Muslim cannot leave a land that is oppressed by non-Muslims and Islamophobes, then BUT ONLY AS A LAST RESORT, can one defend himself. But only to escape persecution. This doesn't mean hijacking a plane and killing INNOCENT people.

    The biggest argument against Christianity, paradoxically, is the trinity and Jesus "Christ". The trinity is, as you probably know, the three "sides" of God: God the Father (in heaven), God the Son (Jesus, who also happens to be his son, but also himself - wonder what genes he has?) and God the Holy Spirit (God in spirit form who comes to Christians, and gives them faith, strength, etc.). There is only one God. That is something both Christians and Muslims agree on. But why three sides? God does not need three sides of him to express himself, and surely that would be polytheism? God would not have a son because God is not human - God is God.

    The Muslim prophet "Isa," pbuh, is the one that Christians call "Jesus," and it makes sense that he is a prophet, not God. Even the Bible doesn't say that Jesus is God.

    But my point is that, if we Muslims and Christians believe in the same God, per se, why can't we just have the standard of the one book with the word from God that is written as God wanted it to be written, and not a book written by people?

    Why have the trinity of God the Father, God the Son and the Holy Spirit? God is all-powerful: he does not need to be three things at once to fill his duty.

    Why follow a religion which commands you to kill those who do not believe? Why?

    So if you have seen these "flaws" in Christianity, and think that Islam is a better way of life and will lead you onto the straight path, or if you're just interested in learning more, then read about Islam! I'm sure you'll find a lot of sense in Islam, and so explore, discover and search for the truth, just like I did, my dear Christian.

    I hope that God leads you onto the straight path. :) If you take one step towards ALLAH he will take two steps towards you, and if you walk towards Him he will run towards you.

    So SPRINT towards Him! ;)

    Yours in faith,

    Nasir Al-Din

    PS: If you are Muslim, do pass this letter onto your Christian friends! :) Allah Hafiz!

    Saturday, 14 May 2011


    Assalamu Alaykum.
    With the pressure of exams building up, and arguments with parents sparking off every now and then, each day becomes such a struggle. It becomes harder to worship Allah swt, and to thank him for the good things in life, when every day feels like there are only bad things. Then I read this story. I hope you find something from it:

    Abdullah would say Alhamdulillah to everything that would happen to him, whether good or bad. One day, while hunting, the King accidently shot his finger and Abdullah responded with his normal, "Alhamdulillah." This upset the King he jailed Abdullah to which Abdullah again responded "Alhamdulillah." Soon thereafter, the King went out hunting again by himself. He strayed into tribal enemy grounds and was captured. The tribe was about to sacrifice him before they realized he was missing a finger. Knowing well that they should not sacrifice an incomplete human being, they released the King. Ecstatic, the King knew that his misfiring the other day saved his life. He went back home and freed Abdullah. Afterwards, he asked Abdullah, “I understand now why the loss of my finger was something worth saying "Alhamdulillah" over, but why did you say it when I jailed you?” Abdullah responded, “Had I been with you that one day instead of in jail, I would have been sacrificed, since I have all of my fingers!"
    Bad things never really happen. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: "The affair of the believer is amazing! The whole of his life is beneficial, and that is only in the case of the believer. When good times come to him, he is thankful and it is good for him, and when bad times befall him, he is patient and it is also good for him." We can all learn from our bad times, and at the same time, because of our perseverance amidst suffering, our sins will be forgiven insha'Allah.
    Allah, subhanahu wa ta'aala, says in the Qur'an “But it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not” (The Holy Qur'an, 2:216). Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, always be optimistic and respond with "Alhamdulillah" and remember that everything happens with you is for GOOD. It's About sabr (patience) and sukr (gratitude). Remember, always smile and say Alhamdulillah.

    So right now, say Alhamdullilah and SMILE! It's a sunnah! ;D

    Prophet Muhammad, sal allahu alaihi wa salaam, said: "And your smiling in the face of your brother is charity, your removing of stones, thorns, and bones from people's paths is charity, and your guiding a man gone astray in the world is charity for you."

    Wherever you are, whether you're suffering or not, remember, Allah knows.

    Allah Hafiz!