Animals in Islam

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.(Quran 6:38)

Unmosqued

If I am good enough to marry a Muslim man, and raise Muslim children then I am good enough to sit a modest distance behind those same men and obtain the same information, in the same fashion as they do.

Islam FAQ

Coming Soon!

I Love Pigs

Allah created pigs, he created them from the same dust and breathe as he created you and I. Try telling that to these hardline wack jobs and they nearly pass out at the thought! I also love telling them that pig flesh is the closest thing to human flesh on this planet and that you can take a pigs heart and put it in a human being and it will work just as well. At that point they are usually gasping for air, muttering a long line of curses and protective proverbs to keep my pig worship from affecting them.

This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" ~The new Colossus by Emma Lazarus~

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day 3 - Cats (30 Day Ramadan Gratitude Challenge)


Cats. Felis catus. 

I have no human children. I do, however, have furry children. I have 3 to be exact: Bella, Nephtet & Bilkis Queen Sheba, Sheba for short. I love these cats from my soul. They are a part of me. Life without them would be empty, lonely and boring. People love to say that cats are aloof and cold, but that cannot be further from the truth! My cats are affectionate, loving, needy, playful, intelligent and unique. The 3 of them are very different. 

Bella went through horrible abuse early in her life and it shaped how she takes on the world. She can be skittish, fearful and chooses to retreat in the face of anything she does not understand. I deal with her accordingly. Bella does not do anything except sit in the window and sleep. This is the life she wants. She has no interest in playing with toys. Once in a while she finds me and meows at me for some petting or she finds a lizard and chasing it becomes her life’s work. Sadly she always brings the dead lizards head to me.  Bella likes to sit on the bottom shelf in the kitchen and watch me cook or clean. This is the extent of our interaction. I am OK with that because she is safe, clean, fed, and happy and that means the world to me. Those brief moments when she seeks me out for some love are few and far between but they are a treasure and often bring tears to my eyes. There is no greater honor. 


Nephtet AKA Nephi (neffie) is a princess. She is spoiled. She is a baby. This is my fault. I adopted her and her brother, Amun Ra (Muni), together. Muni was sick and I had to let him go when he was about 8 months old. That was a sad, dark time for me and Nephi. She searched for him for days. I was hurting for my own loss but also for hers. She would sit awake all night long and just howl. I would take her under the covers with me and we would comfort each other with snuggles. Animals do know love. They bond with each other. They long for each other.  Nephi has no concept of evil or any idea that bad things can happen. She floats through life on a cloud of happiness and optimism. Her only source of agony is that I have to leave the house to go to work. Nephi is dainty, small and has the smallest little paws. She is so easy going. I can literally shove my fingers down her throat, get a fecal sample, take her blood, clean her teeth or ears and she just lays there. When she sees or hears the ear flush she gets excited. She loves ear cleanings. Nephi gives amazing hugs. When I pick her up she pushes herself against me and purrs so hard and head butts me then licks my nose. Sometimes I pick her up and we just hug like this for a few minutes. I have never been hugged so deeply in my entire life. 


Sheba is a dominant beauty queen. Sheba is arrogant and full of herself; she is beautiful and she knows it. She loves to stand up tall and arch her back up and forward and put her nose in the air in a “look how fabulous I am” kind of pose. Sheba has impeccable manners. Since she was a tiny kitten she just had manners. When she wants attention she comes to me, sits down, taps me with her paw and waits. If I do not answer her she eventually just walks away. If I do answer her she jumps up on my lap. She never jumps in the middle of what I am doing. Sheba has her own pillow and sleeps right next to my face. I often wake up lying on her chubby fluffy butt. We get all tangled up when we sleep. I love that. She follows me around and does not leave my side. If I call her name she comes running even if she was sound asleep. 


I have the honor of an animal choosing to love me. Just because they are in my home does not mean they have to love me, they will get fed anyway. The fact that I can sit down and within seconds have 2 sometimes 3 cats automatically wander over and curl up on or next to me is mind blowing. Stop and think about that for a moment …. Another species is attached to you, loves you, misses you, and depends on you. 

There was one time that I was deep cleaning my bed room and had taken my bed apart to move it out and clean the floors. In the process I feel spectacularly and loudly. I landed on my wrist and for a second thought I broke it. I cried out. I panicked. Sheba came running. Sheba howled like a banshee. Sheba ran from me to windows to the front door and back to me. Sheba nudged me and howled and howled and howled. She was legit worried. She was desperately trying to get me help. I picked myself up and grabbed her and held her and cried. I have never had any living thing show that much concern for me in my entire life! Her mama was down and she was going to get me help!  That is loyalty!

When I was sick with a kidney stone and writhing in pain all 3 cats came and lay on top of my stomach, purring as hard as they could. They knew something was wrong and they knew the vibrations from their purrs would comfort me … and it did. 


Cats are also hilarious. That is just a fact. Click here to see a few reason why. 

Allah as blessed us with companions in this life. The prophet himself has many pets. He mourned for 3 days when his camel died. He had a Turkish Angora cat (like Sheba) named Muezza that he adored.  One day when Muezza was asleep on his robe he had to get up and he cut the robe around where the cat was asleep so as to not awaken and disturb the cat. I love my cats but if they are on me and I need to get up I often just move them and I remember this every single time and I feel so bad! They deserve better! 

Allah has said that whomever we love for his sake we will be with in heaven. The Quran also tells us in 6:38 that animals have souls and will be gathered to him on the last day.  We also know that any act of kindness or evil done to an animal is the exact same as doing it to a human being, there is absolutely no distinctions between the two. Animals will testify for or against us on judgment day according to how we treated them. I just hope that the animals I come into contact with have only great things to say about me. I do my very best to treat them how I would want to be treated. 


 I am proud to be part of a long history of cat lovers. One of the greatest companions of Prophet Muhammad was Abu Hurayrah, a nickname which means 'father of kittens'. Abu Hurayrah was the first feral cat caregiver! He was given the name because he was known to always have a kitten in my hands caring for it. He fed and cared for many cats that thrived around the mosque. It is very common overseas to walk into a mosque and see cats lounging in the mosque. That is a practice is sadly forsaken in most American mosques. Islam even pioneered the anti breeder movement! Islam forbids the buying or selling of cats. They should be given and accepted but not a business option. Why? Because when you make a living being with a soul into a business it is forbidden. All living things have value.

Allah’s Apostle (SAW) said, ‘A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.’ Allah’s Apostle (SAW) further said ‘(Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), you neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth.’ –Buhari, Volume 3, Book 40, Number 553.

Prophet (SAW) prayed the eclipse prayer, and then said, ‘Hell was displayed so close that I said: O my Lord! Am I going to be one of its inhabitants?’ Suddenly he saw a woman. I think he said, who was being scratched by a cat. He said, ‘What is wrong with her?’ He was told, ‘She had imprisoned the cat till it died of hunger.’ – Buhari, Volume 3, Book 40, Number 552


>^..^<
 

Day 2 –Coffee (30 Day Ramadan Gratitude Challenge)


Day 2 –Coffee (30 Day Ramadan Gratitude Challenge)
Coffee: sweet elixir.
Coffee is just good. It smells good. It tastes good in a thousand ways. I love coffee hot, warm, iced, froze, room temperature, left over, fresh roasted, fresh brewed, poured over, percolated, dripped, pressed, shaken and stirred.  


While I may take my coffee anyway I can get it; I am picky about what kind of coffee I consume.  I try my best to only consume shade grown, fair trade coffee. That sounds fancy but it isn’t. It is actually the most simplistic, regular coffee there is. It is the way coffee has always been grown until the last few decades.  In the name of expediency coffee was bastardized into freeze dried concoctions, put into pods and made ‘instant’. I shiver at the thought … Coffee should be fresh, thick, dark, rich, bitter, sweet and creamy all at the same time. If the coffee you are drinking is something you cannot stomach to drink black then the coffee is crap or you do not understand coffee. Do not get me wrong I love all the potions and notions in my coffee too but I start with a coffee I would not mind drinking black as the night, otherwise what is the point?  Going without coffee all day during Ramadan is quite a feat. Yes I drink a ton before sunrise but that does not compare to having it on tap all day long. I break my fast every single day with coffee; counting down the seconds until I can taste that beloved brew.

I feel a special pride in coffee.  After all it is my people, my culture and my religion that brought coffee to the world. For centuries Europe called coffee the devils brew because it was a “Muslim” drink. That is just fine, more for us! A Muslim goat herder in Ethiopia (or Yemen depending on who tells the story) noticed that his goats would consume the berries (yes coffee is a fruit, a berry to be exact) of a bush and become intoxicated. They seemed to be having a fantastic time so he decided to try it himself. That sounds logical to me.  Muslims would drink it to keep themselves awake at night to perform prayers and study. Eventually Europe came to their senses and decided coffee was not satanic and somehow, as Europe does with many things, it became a “European” drink.  

If you have never had real, honest to goodness, shade grown, Ethiopian coffee then you are missing   
out. It is divine. There is something so magical in it. Real Arabic coffee is best thick and strong with a ton of sugar. This is known in Egypt as ‘qahwa mazboot’ …walk into any cafĂ© in Egypt and ask for that and you will rarely be disappointed. Coffee is a ritual. I love the ceremony of coffee. I love the process of brewing something and pouring it into a specific vessel in a particular way and drinking it among friends or as you read a good book. Starting my day without coffee is unimaginable. I have been known to put actual food items back on the shelf so I can afford coffee, gladly and shamelessly.



 “Excuse me ma’am could you take the toilet paper, bread, rice and eggs off and ring up the coffee” 

Why shade grown coffee? 
Well coffee is a ground plant. It is meant to grown on the forest
floor under the protection and fertile support of the upper canopy. This creates a sweeter coffee. In the last few decades forests have been decimated to plant huge coffee plantations so that corporations can plant more coffee plants and harvest more. This creates a product that is low quality and a does a disservice to the eco system that these forests support. One forest growing coffee supports around 300 species of migratory birds every year. These birds have layovers in these lush forests to graze and refuel then continue on their journey to the four corners of the planet to breed. Birds need a coffee break too! These forests also support various mammals and an immeasurable number of insects and smaller animals as well as supply oxygen and a filtration system for the planet.  (click here for more info)



Some of my favorite coffees are:  

Any coffee from La Colombe (click here) ... The owner chooses coffees himself and only chooses the
best beans from sustainable farms

Birds and Beans (click here) carries the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center seal of approval, and mine. They have fantastic coffees, anything that has this seal is a decent coffee. They now sell bird friendly coffee at Whole Foods and it is spectacular!

Caribou Coffee  (click here) is the first Coffee house to exclusively serve Rain Forest Alliance coffees!

Counter Culture Coffee (click here) has great sustainability ethics!

Grounds for Change (click here) has been a long time favorite of mine.

Starbucks Organic Shade Grown Mexico (click here) helps sustain the last remaining cloud forest in Mexico. Also: It is a fantastic coffee!




A haiku I wrote




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 1 - My Mother (30 Days of Gratitude Ramadan Challenge)


When I started to think of things I am most grateful for the first thing I thought of was 'MY MOM'. She could be nowhere on this list except as #1, that is for sure. Moms... According to Islam Heaven is under the feet of mothers. Mothers are revered in Islam, as they should be. However, mothers come in all types. I have never bore and birthed a child. I came close once but that is for another post. I have never actually cared for a human being in a motherly capacity aside from raising my sister when I was just a baby myself and babysitting nieces, nephews and the children of friends. I have, however, felt the torment of maternal love. I love my niece and nephew with a fierce, protective love, much like the way I loved their mother, my sister. I say it is a torment because there is nothing pleasant about your entire existence being consumed with this desperate love for someone. It is scary, it is borderline insanity. That is a mother’s love. It makes no sense, it is unconditional, it is fire, it is truth, and it is the one real thing any of us have in this life. A mother’s love is maybe the closest living example of God’s love for us. Allah is the most forgiving, the most merciful, the most compassionate, the most giving, the most beautiful etc ... I could use those adjectives to describe all good mothers. Mothers are so forgiving...is there anyone else that knows that much about you yet still forgives, forgets and loves you anyway?

I did not have the fortune of having a good mother for the first 11 years of my life. I had a downright horrible one. She gave me life, even though she did not want to. She was forced to carry me to term, she attempted an abortion twice. My father stopped her. To this day I am not sure how I feel about that. I am happy I am here, most of the time. On one hand I wish my father had let her make the choice for herself, like all women should. On the other hand I am proud of my father that he took a stand for his rights and his child. My birth mother endured mental illness and abuse everyday of her life until she had me and the mental illness spiked to unimaginable heights. She ended up taking me and leaving the one person in my life that did love and care for me: my father. Time went on as time does. She was not capable of basic functions let alone raising a child, or two. She met someone else and along came a sister.  My sister, she wanted. She planned my sister and she loved my sister with a passion that only a mother can muster. I was the bane of her existence. She reminded me of this every day in the form of mental, emotional, and physical abuse. She reminded me of this by leaving me in random places with random people where unmentionable things happened to me. We were taken away from her at a young age and surrendered to the state. I was now just another kid in the system, through no fault of my own yet everyday it seemed like it was my fault. I was separated from my sister; she was adopted by another family. We remained close. I spent 4 years in and out of foster care and an orphanage. I was so frequent at the orphanage that the staff there became a pseudo family. "Oh, you are back" became a common greeting. Every time a foster home did not work out or it was just time to leave I ended up right back at the orphanage. (They do not allow foster kids to stay too long in one family to prevent attachments)
Watch this video until the end, its a surprise!

I was in a foster home that was beyond unstable. I was experiencing unholy abuse, their older child, a teenage girl, was pregnant and it was later discovered that the father was her father, my foster father. The family was in turmoil; they fought constantly and treated me horribly. I wanted out. I spent every night in my room, crying myself to sleep wondering why some kids get families and some don't, why do some kids get family dinners and mothers who brush their hair and fathers who teach them that there are good men in this world. What was so wrong with me that no one found me lovable?
Me and Mitzie Christmas 1992
Then one day my life changed. It was common that potential adoptive families would come to visit and I would go with them for an overnight or weekend visit. It was like a weird blind date. This woman showed up. She was single, never married and had no kids. I had specific demands. I wanted a married couple with two older kids, a very specific kind of dog and a black cat. This woman did not meet my criteria. I remember thinking she was "too fancy" because she had long red fingernails. Mothers who take their kids to Girl Scout camp do not have fancy, long, red fingernails. (Boy was I wrong!) I refused to go with her. Not because I did not like her, but because I was tired. I was exhausted from life, from visits, from trying. I had given up. My god awful foster mother said to me "oh, you are going. Look little girl we have family plans this weekend, FAMILY, and you are not family, you have got to go" as she threw clothes in a bag. I often tested these potential families to see what they would allow, how compassionate they were, what their discipline style was. I demanded we have tacos and pizza for dinner and she obliged. That had never happened before. Surely she was trying to lure me in with food. We got to her house and there was this yappy fat poodle. That is not the very specific kind of dog I had agreed to. I wanted a German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Chocolate Lab kind of dog, not this fat poodle. Mitzie quickly took to me and was licking me and ended up licking her way into my heart. That dog became my family until we had to let her go 6 years later. We went to my (future) aunt and uncle’s home to see the new infant they had just adopted. He would become my cousin Eric and quite honestly he was my best, and often only, friend for the next several years.

I quickly learned her discipline style. She grounded me to my room for the rest of the day. I sat in there thinking "What in the hell is happening here, how did she get the upper hand? Am I losing my touch?" That is when I knew she was a mother. She was not just some random person. She was trying to teach me a life lesson whether I was going to be hers or not. I loved that. I will deny it to my grave, but I loved it. A few days later I ended up being removed from that foster home and sent back to the orphanage. I came home from school the next day to find her their waiting for me. She said that she would like for me to come live with her and that if I did not want to I would never have to come back to this place. I went home. I woke up the next day to the smell of cake and there were balloons all over. I was utterly confused. She reminded me that the next day was my birthday and that the family was coming over for dinner to celebrate. I never had a family celebration of anything before. I had a mother. I had a mother who was making me a cake, blowing up balloons and had gifts for me. I had a mother who found the day I was born to be a cause for celebration, not the worse day in her life.  The years that followed were filled with holidays, traditions, cooking and etiquette classes, church, Girl Scout camp, gardening, visits to the grandparents.... family stuff.
I eventually found my amazing father and my new mother allowed me to remain close with him and with my sister. She encouraged this. She fought for this in the case of my sister. It has been 23 years since that day. We have been through hell and back. We had a lot of kinks to work out, but we got here. There were periods of silence, rage, hatred, anger, but we got through it. I love her more than anything in this world. I remember when she used to drop me off at the babysitters in the morning. She would leave and I would cry. I would cry because I missed her and I was so scared that she would never come back. She always came back, but I still cry when I leave her. I am 34 years old and when I get on a plane to leave her I cry... every single time. The thought of someday being in this world without her leaves me breathless and sweaty. It is unimaginable cruelty. She is my mom, my mother. The only mother I have ever known or ever will know. She is my example, my hero, and I owe her more gratitude than I will ever be capable of conveying. I am a mere human being and am unable to express the kind of lofty emotional, honest, raw gratitude an angel like her deserves.


The prophet Mohammed (SAS) was an orphan. His father died before he was born and his mother shortly after. In a tribal society being an orphan was a death sentence. He was adopted by his uncle and cared for. He went on to adopt Ali and Zayd. There are many ignorant of Islam who claim that Islam does not allow adoption. This cannot be further from the truth. There is nothing honored more than motherhood except adoption. Caring for orphans is something regarded with so much honor, the rewards for this charity are immense. The prophet said that anyone who cares for an orphan are 'like this' with him in heaven, and he placed his first two fingers side by side. Adopting and caring for an orphan places you at the same level as the beloved prophet in heaven! There are several verses in the Quran that mention adoption and caring for orphans. What Islam does forbid is to change the identity of the child. The child is to retain their family name unless that name is utterly unknown then the child should be given an Islamic name like Abdullah. (Slave of Allah) This applies to family name, last name. First names can be changed and it was then and is now common for tribal societies that a person’s first name changes as they age and reach certain milestones or achieve certain things or become well known for something. There is a lady in Palestine known as Umm Qahwa because she is a master at roasting and brewing coffee. (The name means mother of coffee)
There have been many times in my life that I have found myself lost, alone, wandering and wondering and Allah has found me, guided me, clarified and brought me back. I relate so strongly to the prophet Mohammed, as an orphan. I know the pain of not belonging, of never being wanted. That deep loneliness never leaves you, even in adulthood, even when you have friends and family; there is a part of it that never goes away. So this Ramadan pay special attention to your mothers. If you are blessed enough to have your parents in your life, be thankful, love them, honor them, and care for them. Your mother is your ticket to heaven, literally, so why mess that up? There is no one in this life that will upset you as much, love you as much, and make you as happy as your mother. Even better volunteer at various organizations and spend time with kids who have no one. Give your zakat to organizations that care for orphans, there are hundreds. I can think of no better way to spend your time and money. You will become a better person because of it and so will the children whose lives you affect. I have had no contact with my birth mother and probably never will. I pray for her well being every day. The mother who loved me, educated me, fought for me and with me to mold me into the awesome young lady that I am, that is the woman I honor today.
My mom rocks my world! I love you mama!
One of my favorite portions of the Quran: Did he not find you an orphan and give your refuge?