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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Seven Things I love about Islam

I wasn't really introduced to Islam until I moved from Illinois to Minneapolis at the age of 19. I always loved languages and cultures, but grew up in a small city where the options were very limited. There were a few muslims there, but more of them were African-American rather than foreign-born. There was also very little in the way of dawah, and I would say that most of them didn't know their religion very well.

I went to Minneapolis to study Biblical Languages at a Christian school, and ended up falling in love with the Muslim Somalis who lived in my neighborhood. I really started to understand and appreciate the beauty of Islam when I got a job where most of my co-workers were Muslim. Many of them were Somali, but there were also Moroccans, Egyptians, Ethiopians and Algerians. I am still friends with many of these people, and my husband and I also stayed with Sherif and his family when we visited Egypt.

For me, I really began to appreciate the religion as it is lived out in community. I saw this in action when visiting my friends houses in the city, and also when I stayed with my friends after they moved back to San Diego. The Omar family has basically adopted me as their 10th daughter. I even have some of them as my relatives on facebook. (Hi Khadija and Amina!) They showed my family true hospitality and what it means to have your religion affect every aspect of life.

I definitely don't feel like I have a complete grasp on Islam, but I have seen things that I like about the religion, and also some things that I have problems with. My reason for this post is to create discussion so that Muslims and non-Muslims can share knowledge.

Seven things I love about Islam:
1. Tawheed=Simple monotheism

2. Timed prayers= As Christians we say that we can remember God at any time, but how easy is it to get busy with life. The tradition of Judaism before the time of Jesus was timed prayer, but the church fell away from this as it was Romanized. See Acts 1:14. In the Greek it says the the apostles devoted themselves to "the prayers." Prayer was done in the Temple at 3 set times per day.

3. The concept of haya, or modesty.=This applies to the whole of society. European society used to have more of a sense of decorum and modesty in both dress and behavior, which has now been lost. I wish more people would learn to cover and to lower their gaze.

4. Beautiful Quran=Some passages that come to mind are Ayat al kursi, Al fatiha, 2:115, 2:163. They are even more beautiful in Arabic MashaAllah.

5. Memorization of Quran=I like that this is a focus. I have memorized Al fatiha, al ikhlas, and an-naas myself. I wish that a tradition like this to memorize that Bible in Greek and Hebrew and been kept alive. Some Jewish sects do chant Torah in Hebrew, but the tradition is not as melodic and beautiful as the Arabic in my opinion

6. Arabic language=I love the way things are expressed in Arabic. It is a language that is simple yet profound. Hebrew is similar in that the language is built upon a system of common roots that make it easier to learn. I also love that salah is done in Arabic so that a Muslim can pray with others anywhere in the world.

7. Concept of Ummah=The brotherhood of Muslims still amazes me at times. Unfortunately, I have also seen that the ummah is far from its ideal. There's still a lot of work to do guys.

I would love to have some comments here discussing how these topics have influenced some who did decide to revert to Islam, and how they may be affecting other followers of Messiah who have been blessed by Muslim friends.

My next post will be on some of the problems I have with Islam. I just have to look through my resources again and clarify some of them so that I can get some answers on them.

God bless.


Lisa said...

I think the best things are the prayers, the ease of worship and beauty of the simple khutbas which feel nice and solitary, and the modesty element. Also, the lack of original sin and pathway to salvation are my favorite things as well.

When I started my favorite was always the fact that there was no such thing as race. I had never seen this in any other religion and found it amazing. My only wish is that this could be practiced more and then we'd have a better Ummah.

This is such a nice post sister. Love you and can't wait to read more!

Umm Omar said...

Nice list. I've always wondered about your background/how you came into contact with Islam, so thanks for sharing!

NeverEver said...

Uhm... all of the above I suppose!!! It's just so... comfortable. And comprehensive! If I have a question for my life, I have an answer. This was SOOO important to me after struggling with Christianity for so long.

GRRREAT post Stacy, can't wait for the next!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Great post :) I'm not a revert but the things I love the most about Islam are the timed prayers, the beauty of the Qur'an and the fact that Islam is a thinking man's religion. Everything is logical and nothing has been proven wrong until today, mashallah.

Lisa said...

I just awarded you at my public blog! Love you lots!

miseducation of the cushitic girl said...

Mashallah. Thanks again for the award sis.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Lisa- I think that the Ummah is a beautiful concept that should have been practiced in Christianity as well. The NT teaches some of the same concepts. i.e.-There is no longer Gentile or Jew, male or female, all are the same in Messiah. Paul said it, but I'm too lazy to look up the reference at the moment.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Umm Omar-It just goes to show you that someone from a small town background doesn't have to be closed-minded. It just means that I had to wait until I was older to start learning about cultures and religions. My favorite magazine as a kid was National Geographic. I think that the beautiful images of people from around the world were imprinted into my mind from a young age.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@NeverEver-Islam is more analytical I guess. The system of fiqh is similar to the way the Talmud sets out to explain the Torah in Judaism, but the Quran includes more detail on more aspects of law than the Torah does to begin with. I would say that it has less "grey areas," which leaves less for individuals and communities to figure out for themselves.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Cairo, lusaka, amsterdam-I guess that's something we have in common. We are both people who have been attracted to Islam and its community, but still have questions about some things as well. I think its ok as a human to not have everything figured out.
I can see and appreciate the truth found in Islam while not necessarily embracing every aspect of Islamic jurisprudence or theology. As it has been wisely stated, only God knows best.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Miseducation of the cushitic girl-I really like your understanding of Islam sister. You are a person who can understand your deen with your intellect and your heart at the same time.

Susanne said...

Oh, I was wondering how you got interested in Somalis and Islam and I found this post. I'm so glad I kept reading. :) I thought maybe you were part Somali or something. It's so nice to read more about you and your story. Did you meet your husband at your college? Is he interested in Islam as well?

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

@Susanne, I wish I was part Somali! Maybe if you go back 100 generations. My husband and I met in school. I was in 1st year Hebrew, and he was in 2nd year. He was a slacker and I used to do his translation homework for him :)
He is not as interested in Islam and Arabic as I am at this point, although we both want Layla to be fluent in Arabic.