Chicago

Born Wisdom

Tomorrow is September 2. September- the 9th month. 9=Born. 2=Wisdom (or Woman) according to the Five Percenter’s Supreme Mathematics.

Tomorrow I begin a new chapter in my life working as an assistant teacher at a pre-school. I see the significance of the Supreme Mathematics in relation to this day. (1) Born… I am going through a rebirth, not just as a new career path or even the beginning of the school year but rather a spiritual rebirth. In these past 2 months I have learned and built on more knowledge than I have in the past two years.

Since August 1, I have travelled from the west coast in the Bay Area where I sat with Rastafari brothers, Black Panthers, and other revolutionary Muslims, over to the east coast to build with the Ahmadiyya community,  and finally down south to Texas for a Shia Conference where I met a tattooed gun-owning Sufi  and laughed about how our lives were like a Michael Muhammad Knight novel- and back to my home base, Chicago where I’ve been building with my neighbor who grew up in the NGE/Five Percenter community.

(2) Wisdom. All the wisdom I have gained and began to wish to gain- the thirst for knowledge… ilm… Imam Jafir al-Sadiq (AS) has said,

One who does not use his intelligence will not succeed and one who does not use his knowledge will have no intellect. One who understands will attain nobility and excellence, and one who is tolerant will triumph. Knowledge is a shield (against evil), truth begets honour and ignorance disgrace, understanding is distinction, generosity is salvation and good manners command love and respect. (Muhammad Kulayni, Usūl al-Kāfī – The Book of Intellect and Ignorance.)

I plan to learn much more from the children I will be teaching at the pre-school. These infants, between the ages of 6 and 18 months have so much to offer, life lessons that go beyond any university lecture hall. I envy their innocence and also their strength, to be brought back to such a state of mind even by virtue of sitting and working with them will be an immense honor.

I have seen the beginning of new movements, people struggling together and making beautiful strides towards liberation. I have said goodbye to close friends who are moving across oceans, state lines, or imaginaries. I have seen a part of myself that I don’t ever want to go back to.. and now I am Born again.

This is today’s Supreme Mathematics.

Ramadan Reflections: Day 1

After reading Kazim Ali’s, Fasting For Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice, I decided to start my own Ramadan journal.

For a while, I was debating whether or not to make a public Ramadan blog. What is the purpose of this blog? What is my intention? It certainly is not to show the world how pious or spiritual I am, because I think I am far from it. My intention with this blog is twofold- one, to help get out of the frustrations and anxieties I have of my first Ramadan as a Muslim, and the other- to hopefully show others that they are not alone in their struggles.
A few days ago, I shared this blog post I had written about two years ago about “why I haven’t converted to Islam yet”. In this post, I discuss my love and affinity for a lot of the ritual and spiritual practices of Catholicism, which I was not prepared to leave- at the time. After sharing this post, I received a message from a (non Muslim) friend who told me this post resonated with them in many ways. They later asked for some book suggestions that I read on my journey to eventually accepting Islam. I found this to be one of the best pieces of news I had received in a long time. Was this the correct way of doing dawah, I wondered? In what ways can I help others understand my faith, without making it feel like I am trying to convert them or being arrogant about my beliefs?

I remember this video featuring Ta’aleef Collective founder Usama Cannon, who discusses “Revisiting Dawah”. One verse in  from the Holy Quran is mentioned (among others),

3:104

And let there be [arising] from you a nation inviting to [all that is] good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful. (Surat ‘Āli `Imrām, 3:104)

In this verse, we are forced to think on a few key points (which Cannon mentions in his reflection), 1) How do we “do” da’wah? 2) what is the purpose of this da’wah?

I begin to think immediately about why I began this journey to Islam in the first place, several years ago.

The real reason I finally decided to take shahada (to “bear witness” and say “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger”) and become Muslim is the example I saw in a few amazing Muslims I got to know during my years at university. Between sharing spaces in political protest, to expressing our true feelings about what “Interfaith” means to us, this community really exposed to me the truth behind the veil of mass-media produced image of what “Islam” really is.

It was through the good deeds and passions of this group of people that I was forced to ask myself, maybe their faith has something to do with the way they do activism? maybe Islam has some qualities in it that allow people to have this sort of worldview? 

SubhanAllah ( Glorious is God), whether or not it is faith that drove all of these individuals to do what they did, the idea and force of Islam brought me closer to the deen on my own. I feel so incredibly humbled to be Muslim, to be loved by God and to try every day, to stay on the straight path. I am nowhere near the perfect Muslim, I have so much more to learn, and I hope this Ramadan will be a time of seeking knowledge, of meeting new people in the many communities I am blessed to be a part of, and of self-reflection.