MUMSA: My unexpected journey

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Hannah El-Gashingi

Everyone knows that I tend to write essays all the time. But this is by far the hardest piece I have ever had to write. It has actually taken me a couple of weeks to write this because no words truly captured how I feel.

Bismililah,

I walked down the ramp into the central courtyard  to see a sea of people, colours and stalls. It was my first official day at University. The excitement buzzed through me, along with the nerves.  The voices of my brother and sister in law echoed in my head from the previous weekend “ find the MUMSA stall and sign up”. So I walked around looking for the MUMSA stall. I approached to see two people at the stall, a sister wearing hijab and a brother. The sister gave me a friendly smile, greeted me and  asked if I wished to sign up. So I filled in the form and I was handed a bag of goodies.( Still remember it was a orange MSA bag) I thanked her and walked off. I didnt’ t think much of what I just did and what it would mean to me in coming years. 

The excitement of the first day wore off as I started settling into Uni, I began hating it.  It was not what I expected and my units were not engaging.  Although I had my best friend was with me at the same Uni (who also started that every same year), we weren’t always there on the same days. So there were days where I would sit in my car during my breaks and hang there until my next class ( how sad lol).  Just before the semester I made du’a to Allah to grant me muslim friends, as I didn’t have this luxury during school. My mum kept reassuring me over and over again “ Things are going to get better hannah!”. I just didn’t know how and when.  I was convinced that Macquarie was not meant to be for me, and seriously considered transferring. I called UWS to see if they would accept Nursing applications during the Mid year, and they told me they don’t but to apply at the end of the year. So I told myself, Hannah just stick it out for another Semester then transfer. The condition of the human being is that our vision is limited. We think something is really bad for us little do we know that actually there is something honestly really amazing around the corner. I needed to go through this period where I hated Uni, in order to appreciate what was to come. I needed to hate Uni and not be satisfied with the work MUMSA was doing in order to make some positive changes, not just for  me but for others.

   Semester two came around, and my best friend ( Nadia) and I decided to do the same subject( Myth in the Ancient world) . We attended the first lecture for the unit and we almost feel asleep literally out of boredom. I am Ancient history student and the fact I found it boring says something about that lecture, or actually says something about me as an ancient history student.  The following week, Nadia receives an email from a Brother called Hisham ( a very pumped and keen brother who took over MUMSA/Who would become her husband  3 years down the track) asking if she wishes to be part of the Islamic Awareness Week planning team. She accepted and the meeting happened to fall on the same time and day as our lecture together. Nadia, being the amazing friend she is, didn’t want to abandon me and asked if I wanted to come along. I agreed and tagged along. It was a meeting held outside E7B, it was meeting with about 10 people.  There was something about that meeting that really pulled me in and grabbed my heart, all I knew was that I really wanted to be part of this . And so the next week, the meeting was the same time and day, and again Nadia did not want to leave me alone. So she asked brother Hisham if I come along. Brother Hisham was hesitant at first since as this was going to be an important meeting. So I  rocked up to the meeting, keen to show what I have got. And so yeh, I pulled out my whiteboard markers and start writing on the board. I worked my way into MUMSA. Through the help of Allah and with that amazing team we pulled off the best Islamic Awareness Week across the MSAs for that year , and changed the scale in which Islamic Awareness Weeks occur. It was an incredible experience SubhanaAllah. It awakened a love and passion for the deen. And so, I found my baby; MUMSA.

The following four years were just as incredible and so humbling. Yes during MUMSA their was a lot of fun and happy moments. But I am not going to lie, it is not as easy as it looks. It requires time, dedication and most importantly love. Not just that but it also requires Blood, sweat and lots lots of tears and duas. One person who really understood this with me, is my partner in crime ( aka my partner in kheir). This girl has been my right hand for MUMSA and was ALWAYS willing to engage is the most tedious tasks with me. She has gone above and beyond what has been asked of her and has brought a lot of creativity and love into MUMSA. MUMSA has allowed us to grow closer as best friends and as sisters. This is no other than Yasmeen Hamad. MUMSA is losing one of its biggest assets and will take a lot to fill her shoes.

Through each experience, it taught me a life long lesson. MUMSA helped me grow and help support me as I was developing into an adult. I learnt so much about myself that never knew existed and have developed skills that have been so beneficial in other areas of my life. In the most fragile and difficult moments of my life, MUMSA kept me sane and connected to Allah. I have met people, unlike others. People who stood beside me, supported me, taught me, nurtured me, believed in me, and put up with me.This is something I can never ever be grateful enough for.

Not only that I have seen people come and go. I have welcomed people as they come into MUMSA and I have had to farewell people as they left MUMSA. I have had the honour of witnessing people go through some incredible transformations. I have seen people come to Islam, get closer to their deen, put the hijab, get married, have children, move onto their professions and pass from this world . I have seen tears on people as they went through hardships, and have seen laughs in the happy moments.

I honestly have never understood why people would fight to get high positions of authority on the MSA. It is a huge responsibility and has always weighed heavily on my shoulders.  MUMSA throughout the years has felt like a big burden on my shoulders, because it is a position of responsibility and one that I know I will be accountable to Allah for. I know there are many mistakes I have made, and I know there are many things that I could have done better. Naturally with being in this position, people start to see you as role model. While this may sound nice. It is actually terribly terrifying because my words and actions if not correct can lead people astray when they are deluded to thinking this is the right way. Leadership is an extremely big test and carries much responsibility. I honestly make sincere dua for Allah to aid the upcoming leaders of MUMSA in this heavy burden in which they are about to embark on.  I sincerely ask everyone who is reading this to forgive me for my shortcomings and  to please ask that Allah SWT gives me an easy reckoning in regards to my dealings in MUMSA.

There are so many people I wish to thank for everything. Firstly, my family. My mum and dad have had to put up with so much . If it wasn’t for their support emotionally, mentally, financially and spiritually I would not have been able to part of MUMSA. They lived the MUMSA experience with me and supported me the whole way through. Just the fact they cared and believed in the work I was doing for MUMSA, means a lot.   If it was not for my brother and my sister in law, I would not be in MUMSA to begin with. They are the ones who encouraged me to join up to the MSA and have supported me the whole way through my MUMSA journey, always keen to know what new project I was involved in.


Next the amazing people I have worked with. These people have not only transformed who I am but have believed in me and inspired me. Each person has taught a valuable life lesson. These are my MUMSA role models.

Shura teams 2010- 14:Nadia Abdel-Fatah, Sahar Sakalaki, Syera Rehmani, Yasmin Salem, Halla Salem, Mariam Shaheed, Yasmeen Hamad, Azizah Kurdi, Ilma Anasreen, Rawand Al-Hinti, Semaa Abdul Wali, Sharfah Mohamed, Rayyana Amin, Radia Amin, Samia Saud, Nadine Shokry, Naveen Rehmani, Ayesha Ardati, Basma Al-Mohamad

Hisham Krayem, Mohamed Najem, Shadab Khan, Kamal Saleh, Sobhi Jamal, Walid Jamal-Eddine, Khaled Ajam, Tarek Jidah, Yama Rased, Mohamed Omran, Ramzy Alamudi, Ehsan Lutfi, Abdul Samad Kilic, Nabil Haris, Abdullah Al Ghamdi, Ramet Khan

And my beautiful MUMSA girls and the whole MUMSA community from 2010 to 2014.

I have no doubt that the upcoming shura will make MUMSA even more amazing and will take the responsibility seriously. I thank Allah SWT abundantly for blessing me with such an amazing Nimah – MUMSA. As a shura member once said: just because one leaves MUMSA it does not mean you are leaving Daw’ah work altogether. In fact I should not be sad about leaving MUMSA because just as Allah as taken care of me my entire life, and provided me with MUMSA when I needed it most.  I know that He will provide me with another baby similar and EVEN better than  MUMSA, that I can hold , love and grow with inshaAllah.

The Day They Saw a Niqabi

Radia Amin
A perfectly ordinary day. The scorching sun is shining high and bright in the sky, burning anyone who stands without shade for too long. Every now and then, a bird chirps weakly somewhere in the distance. Cars on the street zoom past each other, impatient. Over here, a toddler manages to escape the desperate clutches of his mother. Over there, two teenagers giggle at their phones, while an elderly woman lugs her grocery shopping behind her as she makes her way home. It is a perfectly ordinary day. You take a deep breath, inhaling the suburban air of the place you call home. People are going about their own business as usual. It is a perfectly ordinary day. Everything is fine, and nothing is out of place. As you bring your cup of coffee to your lips, your eyes continue to scan the ordinary image laid out before you…and you do a double take. You freeze. You stare at them, and you can’t believe it. The mother grips her child, unsure of what to do. The elderly woman is weary, and watches from the corner of her eye. Suddenly, the two teenagers seem to forget the amusing piece of technology in their hands. Everyone is uncertain, insecure, as two women enter the once-ordinary scene: a hijabi and a niqabi.

(more…)

My hijab is not my choice

By Naveen Rehmani
Recently, Britain has been swept with a wave of nationalism… in the form of poppy hijabs. Sounds exotic doesn’t it. Well. It isn’t.

***

Poppy hijabs? What could that possibly mean?

Literally just that. Muslim women in Britain have been encouraged to wear hijabs with poppies on them as a way to mark Remembrance Day and symbolize their patriotism for all things British. Hashtag Team Britain. In other words, it is a way for them to say, “We love Britain! We’re not terrorists. We support your soldiers. Please believe us. Look we have poppy’s on our hijabs to prove it!”

Did you just cringe? Don’t worry I did too.

This poppy invasion has allowed the hijab to be manifested into a symbolic materialization (literally) of British patriotism and now reflects, not an adherence to Islamic values, but rather British values. By allowing Western motifs to have a place on something that is religiously significant, no longer makes it an expression of faith, but rather one of nationalism.

The problem lies in this phrase: “It’s my choice!” A common response we automatically spew when someone questions us about why we dress as we do. I admit I myself have used it on numerous occasions.

No. It is something greater than that. It is an expression of loyalty, of conviction, and of compliance to the One who created me. It is a complete submission to the commands of my Lord. It is a manifestation of ‘la illaha illallah’ and an adherence to a Divine revelation that was sent to all of mankind. It is an honour that I was born with. An honour that was given to me personally by God. To merely reduce it to a choice is to insult myself.

My life is dictated by a moral code that was established for me even before I was born into this world. You see, my submission is to something greater than the people who regulate power and control in the world today. I was created for a better purpose than to be a mere commodity in increasingly material societies. I am not a woman that is to be physically molded by mere laymen around me in ways that pertain to their interests. Nor is the reason behind the way I dress open to change by those who believe their values are superior to my own.

So it is not simply a choice. Because if it were really just a ‘choice’, one would be open to argue that it is capable of being subject to scrutiny and criticism. By merely becoming a choice, this honour, this expression of liberation that was bestowed upon me by my Lord, becomes vulnerable to the influences of people who seek to manipulate the ‘choice’ in ways that conveniently suit their agendas. Poppy’s today, the Union Jack tomorrow. Next it’ll be a picture of David Cameron’s face, or even worse George Brandis or Tony Abbott (God forbid) appearing on our scarf. Where does one draw the line?

As Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) once said:

“We were the most humiliated people on earth and God gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, God will humiliate us again.”

***

Choice is susceptible to change. Submission to the decree of my Lord is not. Allah created me with honour, who am I to seek it anywhere else but with Him?

I didn’t ‘choose’ this. I was given it. I accepted it. I love it.

And I won’t be letting go of it anytime soon.

How to turn your failure into success

The Muslim Life Hackers Team – Hidayah Yuswirahim
For the original article http://muslimlifehackers.com/how-to-turn-your-failure-into-a-success/

Ramadan 2014 – the year in which I learnt how to turn my failures into moments of success.

Earlier this month, my end of semester exam results had come out and I had the fortunate experience of failing a core subject that would definitely create many drastic changes in the future pathway to the rest of my degree. To be honest, I couldn’t really pinpoint what it was that I was feeling or what it was that I was thinking after seeing the big block words, ‘FAIL’. I was on the train home as I checked my results and with that, my mind just wandered off into an array of different emotions, reflections and basically overdrive mode.

The thing that really struck me was the question of ‘why did this actually bother me?’
Was this a sign? A metaphor of the current state of my life? Am I a really a failure?  Was it a sin I had committed? Was I going to let affect and ruin my Ramadan? We all know the harsh and dark question we tend to overthink when we begin to doubt ourselves that essentially become self-destructive. However, if there were any answers that I could possible muster up to the overflowing questions, it was one.

What was I going to do?! 

I was going to take a deep breath and say Alhamdulillah – all praise and gratitude belongs to Allah. 

Sufyan ibn Thawri says, Whoever fixes his secret affairs (at night), Allah will fix his public affairs. Whoever fixes that which is between him and Allah, Allah will fix what is between him and people. Whoever works for his akhirah, Allah will be enough for his dunya.’
SubhanaAllah.

Whilst failure and success seem to be two separate concepts that may appear to contradict each other, failure and success can be seen as two sides of the same coin and thus complimenting each other. They say that you will never really taste the sweetness of success until you’ve tasted the bitterness of failure – to a great extent, I definitely agree with this.

In any obstacle or hardship you may face, it is your reaction and your attitude that determines how the situation will play out. In the grand scheme of things, yes I was making a big deal out of something relatively small.

It was all in the past. There was nothing I could to change it now. There is only so long that one can dwell on to the past if you genuinely wish to live in the present in hopes of making a better future for yourself. And to do that, we need to extract all the possible lessons we can attain in making this better or rather, a successful future for you.

After much contemplation, reflection and supplication, I thought up of all the lessons I could muster from this ‘failure’:

Remembering the importance of patience and Tawaqul during times of uncertainty and challenging obstacles. In doing so, we are also being rewarded!

“And whosever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” (Quran 65:3)

Every obstacle and challenge is a test from Allah and He only tests us with something that we can bare and every test is a means of purification for us: mentally, physically and most importantly, spiritually. So if you ever feel cornered in your situation, we are stuck there because we can actually handle it. Allah is giving us the opportunity to rise to the occasion because we have that capability and strength within us to do so. Have faith in yourself!

Gratitude.

Let’s be real. It could be a lot worse.

The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).

We can plan but Allah’s plan is always better as He is the Best of Planners and He is the All Wise. There is always a hikmah (wisdom) or a silver lining in everything Allah has planned for us. Looking back at our rich Islamic history, we see that many victories came after defeats such as the Battle of Uhud and the conquest of Makkah!

Always try to reflect on the positive aspects of the situation and taking lesson from the negative – failure is one of life’s greatest teachers! There is ALWAYS a lesson to be learnt.

Failure can determine you as person ONLY as much as you allow it to –  giving shape to your character and personality. However, it does NOT determine your situation. Accept failure as something you will definitely have to experience at some point in your life.

Think of the progress in your life with something as simple as walking. As a baby, if were to sit and cry for every time for time we tried to stand, you wouldn’t have learn balance in walking. It is a self-reflecting journey into your own life and soul. Your strongest point is only as strong as your weakest point. Accept that you are human and that you were made weak, so get to know yourself by facing your fears or always trying to challenge yourself in the betterment of your own self.

It is always important to remind ourselves that the world we live in now will come to an end. Our life and our time on this earth is limited and we should not burden ourselves down with the ‘failures’ and ‘success’ of the world. Our goal is the hereafter and thus, if we are to be worried over failure and success, it is of the success of the hereafter, ie the entrance to Paradise.

And Allah knows best.

Against the tide

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Written by Hannah El-Gashingi

I have always been used to stares. There has actually reached a point where I no longer noticed stares of people.On Friday I purposely went out to the shops in my area, just to see if people were going to stare at me or look at me differently. What I found is because I was expecting people to stare at me, I noticed more stares. Some dear sisters to me have expressed how stares and comments towards them have increased over the past couple of days due to all that is happening.

Stares is not something new. We as Hijabs have always got them and we will continue to do so. It just comes part of the Hijab package. It’s not something to be taken a back from, rather when someone stares at you, you are actually given a chance to do something amazing. You have the chance to reach to them at this point either via dua or via a smile which can lead into a conversation. (Please note, I am not encouraging to smile at all people, as this may cause harm in some circumstances).

So my beautiful and dear sisters, don’t let them make you feel victimised by being a Hijabi. Rather the Hijab is something that honours you. Yes, via the Hijab we stand out. Yes, via the hijab we are different. But by standing out it only helps you shine more brilliantly.
By the Hijab you are a walking billboard of Islam, and that is what is so beautiful. Allah is Ash Shakoor ( The Most Appreciative ) so the moment you walk out of your house each day to the moment you return home, you are being rewarded each minute because Allah knows how hard it is for you because you are going against the tide to in order to uphold His commands.
Alhamdiuililah I was not chosen to be a male.

My beautiful sisters, please remember to make your protection duas each morning and as you are leaving your house. My beautiful sisters, make sure you don’t go to dodgie places by yourself and that you have access to a phone at all times. My beautiful sisters, may Allah keep us safe and always remember Allah is with us. ❤

CONCEPTION DAY

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Written by a MUMSA member

Have you got your ticket for conception day?
 A class mate of mine asks. Excitedly I respond ” OFFCOURSE hasn’t everyone?”.
A day of music dance and other shenanigans, what students at Macquaire look forward to every year.
I had my ticket, my shirt, and even planned my outfit, how I was getting there and who I was picking up on the way.
I was PUMPED.
Amongst the Sea of students, I was there.
The dancing, I was there
The music, I was there.
Engrossed Mindless behavior, I was there
The conception day approaches..
Have you got your ticket to conception day yet?
I smiled
I had planned my outfit, organized my transport and who I would be picking up on the way.
A day of music dance and other shenanigans, what students at Macquaire look forward to every year.
But there was something different this year.
I was somewhere else, my heart was taken to a different place, my mind and soul was enveloped in tranquility… Is this even conception day? I hung out in the musallah, enjoied a meal with fellow Muslims .
I traded the pumping music for Quran.
I traded my dancing for salah.
What a beautiful trade.
I looked on the crowd as the drove into the Uni like sheep. And thought to my self.
12 months ago I was there.
My message to you is this:
You never know which dua Allah will answer and if it’s YOUR dua that is the catalyst for just one persons hidayah, know that all their good deeds you shall share, and you won’t even know it. And it will surprise you on the day of judgment, do you really want to miss out on that?
Allah is Al mujeeb, the responder, the the caller.
Be sure He will answer, but are you sure you will call?
Even from conception day we can learn many lessons. Even though outwardly it’s a day of heedlessness. Make it the conception day of someone’s hidaya.
The next time I see someone dressed a bit more immodestly than my self
I remind my self
I was there.
The next time I see someone drowning in what appears to be sin.
I remind my self
I was there
So this Friday when the commuters for conception day arrives instead of scoffing at thier ignorance I will make sincere dua for them In Shaa’ Allah  because
I . Was . There

Those who Radiate Noor

This article was runner’s up for the 2014 MUMSA Blog Competition
I saunter towards the bathroom sink
And twist open the tap.
As water splashes onto my limbs
I plummet headlong into shaytan’s trap.

I go through the motions
Whilst in a daze.
Hands then mouth,
Nostrils then face.

Before I know it
My feet are wet.
Yet I failed to reflect,
Contemplate,
Realise.

My minor sins were being washed away
While I was busy mentally planning my day.
Or maybe whilst preparing to meet my Maker
I was too busy wondering what to eat for dinner.

If this seems all too familiar to you
And you can spare a minute or two
I request that you read on.

It was one of the first nights of the blessed month of Ramadan when I sat in the masjid listening to the ustadh convey to us the importance of wudu. I  began to wonder how, for so many years, I allowed wudu to become reduced to a mechanical action I would carry out mindlessly before performing salah. After the initial feelings of shame and regret subsided, I felt a sense of resolve swell inside of me. It was time to make a change. It was time to get back to basics and redirect my efforts towards the fundamental aspects of worship. It was time to focus on transforming the state of my wudu. An act of worship that many of us absent-mindedly perform and I was no exception to this. Until,  that is,  I received the profound reminder which I’ve summarised below.

Allah tells us in surah Al-Mu’minun that successful indeed are the true believers, those who have khushu in their prayer. In order to attain khushu during salah (roughly translated as concentration and humility before Allah), it is crucial that we are mindful about Allah during wudu. We must clear our minds of the dunya and stop day-dreaming whilst making wudu. As we perform wudu, we are preparing to stand before the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, the Lord of the Worlds. True comprehension and contemplation of this awe-inspiring reality should be enough to make our hearts quiver and send shivers down our spines.

The following tear-jerking hadith (happy tears of course) exemplifies just how important this act of external and internal purification is.  The messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “I wish that I could meet my brothers.” The companions asked: “Aren’t we your brothers?” He ﷺ replied: “You are my companions, but my brothers are those who will believe in me without having seen me.” This begs the question, how will the Prophet ﷺ recognise us on the Day of Judgement when he has never met us?  Fortunately, the companions enquired about this very matter.  The unbelievably lofty status of the act of wudu is demonstrated by the response of the Prophet ﷺ. He ﷺ replied by saying that he will recognise the Muslims from his Ummah by the whiteness emanating from their limbs, namely the visible traces of  wudu which they performed during their lives. Our faces, arms and feet which we washed for wudu will radiate noor (light). What I’m trying to say is that on the Day of Judgement, our Nabi ﷺ will recognise us by our wudu. SubhanAllah! Upon learning this, I was speechless.  

Just in case everything mentioned above is not enough reason to work towards perfect our wudu, consider the following. It was narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said:  “None of you perfects his wudu, then says:

أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ

(I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allaah, alone, without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger)

except that the eight gates of paradise open for him, and for him is to enter it from wherever he wants.” [Muslim].

Not just one, but all eight gates of paradise! Allahu Akbar. Allah is truly Al-Karim. We’d be foolish to let such an astounding opportunity slip by.

In order to perfect our wudu, we must take adequate care to ensure water reaches our limbs including our ankles, elbows and foreheads. Whilst making wudu, we must also strive to detox our mind from the dunya and reflect on our Creator and the akhirah.  Now that we have said farewell to our beautiful guest, Ramadan, I remain fixated on this action of perfecting my wudu and following it up with the supplication recommended by our beloved Prophet ﷺ. I pray that Allah keeps both me and you sincere and steadfast in upholding the righteous actions we established during this blessed month.