Stories about God

Why our mosque culture needs to change: An open letter to Masjid Aunties

Dear Masjid Aunties, It’s common for you to undermine people who don’t meet your religious standards, especially in a place of worship. Converts get pulled out of prayer by the arm for not praying with an abaya. Women are publicly shamed and bashed for not wearing the hijab correctly. If someone doesn’t regularly go to the mosque, they’re looked down upon. It’s sad, but it’s a rampant issue in the women’s section of the masjid (mosque). Informing someone about something advised against is fine, but please, do so respectfully. Women at the mosque judge and gossip amongst themselves. This mentality can be ...

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“Are you a Muslim of Ramazan?”

The Holy month of Ramazan has been shadowing the heads of Muslims for a while now. This is the month of spirituality, in which Muslims have the chance to build their characters, renew their faith further, strengthen their relationship with Allah (swt), and truly follow the teachings of their faith. This month is believed to be the “spring season of good deeds”, for even small deeds done with a good intention carry a lot of weight. This is why during this month, Muslims try their level best to gain more and more rewards. One can only hope that our good deeds not ...

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This Ramazan, let’s make sure that converts are as much part of the faith as us

Ramazan and I are old friends. From a young age, mother would always let me stay up well into the night to fold samosas (fried dish with savoury filling) and fatayer (Middle Eastern meat pie) for the next day. For me, Ramazan means sleepy eyes, knowing smiles, and a month of eating on the floor with my family and praying with friends at the mosque I grew up in. More than anything, Ramazan means coming home – back to my community, back to my mama’s kitchen, and back to the One who sustains me. We are the lucky ones, those of us who have those deep traditions to fall ...

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Why I’m not fasting this Ramazan

According to family legend, I first fasted—for a day—at the age of four. I have no clear memory of this fast, although I do have the vague recollection of walking into the kitchen while my mom prepared iftar and her asking, “If you’re fasting, why are you sucking on a lollipop?” Ramazan in our house was a big deal. Ramazan meant we could—at least for a month—pretend we were adults. I insisted on fasting the entire month starting at the age of seven.  My parents agreed, but with three stipulations: I had to wake up for sehri, eat whatever was served during sehri (generally, ...

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Religion and feminism: Why women in India are fighting for a place in temples

It’s time we remove the decadent practices that discriminate against people belonging to marginalised sections of society, especially women, from entering religious places of worship. On January 26, while most Indians celebrated the participation of an all-women’s contingent during India’s Republic Day Parade, 400 strong women activists did what has never been done before: they forcefully tried to enter the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra to break an age old custom that prevents women from entering the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. The attempt was a symbolic act to assert women’s rights and fight patriarchy. Indian women have for long struggled to attain gender equality, and ...

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I was not allowed to enter Memon Mosque in Karachi, because I am a woman

A beautiful combination of chaos and serenity: yes, you are now in the most picturesque area of Karachi. An extension of Saddar town escalates towards the lighthouse, a grandiose Memon Mosque situated along the way. I had always seen this huge structure of reds while passing my route to college. I found myself thoroughly intrigued by the long bearded men who would come out of the high floral grilled gate in flocks of white kurtas and shalwars rolled up. A knack for photography has always had me attracted towards architecture that has history attached to it. One fine summer afternoon, following the hues of ...

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Muslims and Christians are more similar than you think

Recently, a professor at Wheaton College in the US was put on ‘administrative leave’ after she donned a hijab to show her solidarity with Muslims and expressed that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Wheaton College is an Evangelical Christian institution which holds firmly to fundamentals of the Evangelical church. The Statement of Faith of Wheaton College defines Evangelical belief in God as, “WE BELIEVE in one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons: the everlasting Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the giver of life; and we believe that God created the Heavens and the ...

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Are my Islamic beliefs different from what is taught in the Quran?

I believe we as believers pass through different stages of consciousness on our journey towards God. I have long thought about this, and today, I wish to share my journey with all of you. So, it started off as an unexpected interest in Islam. As I started reading the Holy Quran, I was hooked. Perhaps this is what you can call the first stage of my journey. Once I actually started reading, I came to know about the stark differences between what God says in the Holy Quran, and what is widely believed by our community and religious peers. Ignorance drives us to ...

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The winged sculptor and his little fairy, a story of immortal love

There once lived a winged sculptor who pledged to devote his entire life to his only masterpiece. He worked on her every single day. She was all he had, she was all that mattered. And every day he worked on his masterpiece, taking care of the minutest details, breathing life into every limb. Every day he would look at her and fall in love all over again. One blessed morning, she stood in front of him with all her perfection, innocence, and ethereal charm. He smiled and smiled. Love erupted from him like a fountain from deep within. He picked the little ...

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“That crazy starving Muslim!” Why do Muslims fast, anyway?

When my Lithuanian classmate who sat next to me asked whether I wanted to have lunch one day, I explained to her that I was fasting as it was the month of Ramazan. She gave me a sarcastic smile and said, “Well, you crazy people can starve all you want!” On my way back home, I started thinking of how ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’ fasting could seem to some people, especially those whose lifestyle and culture are not familiar with this practice. While trying to scrutinise my knowledge and trying to understand this further, I came to a painful realisation: I was not at ...

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