One of the most wonderful things happened to me on Monday. I received an email from a lovely young woman named Brittany, who is studying Religion in Queensland, Australia.
The assignment we have been given is about religion in Australia, so we have to pick any religion and talk about how rituals are carried out in smaller communities. So I was wondering if by any chance you wouldn’t mind answering some questions for me?
I have no idea how Brittany found me, but I was thrilled to be able to be a resources for her. I responded Yes!
The next email from Brittany included her questions. Some of them are redundant, and most of the questions seem like they are formatted from her assignment paperwork. :-) I took some time last night to answer her questions, but then I realized that we don’t observe all of the holidays and/or rituals that she is asking about, and I might get some information wrong, so I asked Brittany if I could ask you. She said yes.
Here are the questions and my own answers. Please make comments. Please. Tell me what you do, tell me if I got something wrong. Let’s help Brittany with her research paper. Its due in 2 weeks.
What are the main rituals carried out daily and throughout your life as a Muslim?
The main rituals of daily life are 1. Making Wudu, 2. 5 Daily Prayers, 3. Abstaining from Pork and Alcohol.
Do certain people have to have authority to perform such practices and rituals or can each ritual involved with Muslims be performed in an adherent’s home?
Anyone who is a Muslim can perform these rituals.
In a small community were there might not be a Mosque, how can adherents of Islam continue to practice the rituals (such as funerals, weddings, birthdays, Akikah, Shadada, Ramadan, Id ul-Adha, Al-Isra Wal Miraj, Maulid al-Nabi and rituals such as these) that are required?
The presence of a Mosque is not a necessary element in Islam. 1. Burying the deceased can be performed by a mortuary and the loved one can be buried in a cemetery. 2. Weddings can be performed by a legal representative of the government. It is not necessary to have Muslims present during marriage. 3. Birthdays are celebrated in the home, according to the family traditions. 4. Akikah is not something I am familiar with. 5. Shahada can be performed by yourself. You do not need witnesses to become a Muslim. The only necessity is for converts who wish to travel to Mecca. Travel into Mecca needs special documentation of your religion and at that time, someone would need to seek outside assistance. 6. Ramadan can be observed without a formal religious space. Everything can be done inside a person’s home or even outside. 7. Eid al Adha/Eid ul Fitr – Holidays that can be observed in a person’s home or even outside. If a person is not able to perform the sacrifice for Eid al Adha, there are national charity organizations that will sacrifice on your behalf and distribute the food to the needy. 8. Isra wal Miraj & Maulid al-Nabi are not holidays and are not celebrated. If one chooses to acknowledge these days, they follow the prophet’s example and fast that day.
Are daily and annual rituals required by adherents of Islamic faith in order to stay on their journey as a Muslim? If so how do people in smaller towns with fewer resources perform these rituals?
The only daily and annual rituals are the 5 pillars. 1. Shahada 2. Pray 5 times a day 3. Give Charity 4. Fast during Ramadan 5. Make the Hajj to Mecca. Of these, only the Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca is dependent on another person.
As adherents of the Islamic faith do you have a person who is believed to have the authority to perform each ritual? Or can any adherents conduct and perform these rituals?
Any adherents can conduct the rituals.
Have certain rituals, had to be adapted for adherents living in smaller towns so they can still perform the practices? No
If changes and adaptations have occurred to make it possible for each of these adherents to continue living a Islamic lifestyle, has the original meaning of each ritual diverged from what it was made for – due to living conditions, lifestyle, over time, and people not being able to attend a mosque in their local town?
Is it necessary for a Muslim to attend a mosque regularly to call them self-Islamic?
Islam is the religion; one who follows Islam is a Muslim. Islamic may refer to a book, a painting, architecture or clothing, but not people. If there is a Mosque within reasonable distance and it does not cause the follower hardship, attending the Mosque on Fridays for prayer is mandatory for Men. If it causes hardship, then Friday prayer can be performed by a group of men in a house or in an outside space.
Do adherents of the Islamic faith have to attend a Muslim school? If so what do they do if there is not a school within their local area?
No, Muslim children are not required to attend any special school.
Do you have a mosque in your local area?
Yes, in my city, we have 3 predominant mosques and 2 or 3 smaller prayer spaces.
How do you perform rituals in your everyday life such as praying and how do you perform special rituals such as funerals, weddings, birthdays, Akikah, Shadada, Ramadan, Id ul-Adha, Al-Isra Wal Miraj, Maulid al-Nabi and rituals such as these?
Rituals surrounding Funerals, Weddings and Birthdays are more cultural in nature than religious.
We do not observe Akikah, Isra wal Miraj and Maulid al Nabi.
Ramadan observing is waking for breakfast, fasting all day long, and breaking the fast in the evening. Anything in addition to that is cultural in nature and not specific to Islam.
What is the significance about the marriage, death and the five pillars ritual? Can each of these rituals be carried out by any Muslim if they are living in a town without a Mosque?
The 5 pillars are not a ritual. The 5 pillars are the tenants of faith. These are the hard and fast rules of being a Muslim. Anything else is negligible.
Is the significance of marriage ceremony lost if any Muslim carries out the ritual? If so what is the significance that an Imam or mosque brings to this ritual? And if any Muslim cannot perform this ritual do they have to get someone to come in who has authority?
I was not married in a Mosque. My marriage was performed in a space that was not religious in nature.
Is the significance of departed ceremony lost if any Muslim carries out the ritual? If so what is the significance that an Imam or mosque brings to this ritual? And if any Muslim cannot perform this ritual do they have to get someone to come in who has authority?
No. There is no hierarchy of religious persons in Islam. Any Muslim can perform the rituals.
Is the significance of five pillars lost if any Muslim carries out the ritual? If so what is the significance that an Imam or mosque brings to this ritual? And if any Muslim cannot perform this ritual do they have to get someone to come in who has authority?
Adherents living in rural towns where there is no mosque or Imam can they still practice the rituals Islam? If they can practice this ritual is there a divergence from the original meaning of the ritual in order to adapt the ritual to the facilities and area the adherent (where there is no mosque or Imam due to having a smaller community and smaller town)?
A few weeks ago, I received a private message on the My Islamic Life FB page. This customer was looking for an Origami Owl locket and some custom plates for her locket. She had many questions about the locket size, what the plates looked like, how many charms could each locket hold, and what she could have written on the plates.
I do not sell Origami Owl Lockets. Luckily, I’ve got a friend who does. Nina and I have worked together for a few years now, fulfilling the wishes of her many customers. So, I referred Amina to my friend, Nina’s O2 page*.
Then we got to work designing Amina’s plates. She said that she wanted her locket to be a celebration of her Shahada. She was giving herself a Shahadaversary gift. Isn’t that a great idea? We discussed plate sizes, and I shared with her pictures of another plate sets that I had done.
Then I shared with her a picture of my own locket with a few charms inside.
Then, I shared with her a little known charm. There is actually a Crescent Star charm available from Origami Owl, but its not under religion.
It’s under “The Great Outdoors” section. (Which I personally thing they should cross list it into the Keep The Faith section. They would sell many more, don’t you think?)
Then, we discussed my locket story.
It depends on the story you want to tell. Is this the story of only your shahada? Or are you going to put things about before your shahada?For example, I have my mantra words (from 2013) on my plate, I have a birth crystal for each of my children and my husband, then I have a Daisy because it reminds me that God wants joy in my life and I have a Fleur de Lys because it’s a secret cross and I’m a Francophile, and I have a butterfly to remind me to spread my wings and I have the crescent/star because I live my life Islamically. It’s a lot, but its me.
I love shopping for school supplies. I do. I love new paper, new folders, cute binder clips, gel pens, colored pencils and the perfect #2 pencil. I love new lunch boxes and new locker locks. I love it all, just as long as I can shop when no one is in the store, and by myself. This year school shopping was a GIANT headache. I took the children to the store without Khaled this time because I knew it was going to take several days to get everything. We had 3 different schools, 2 different school lists and a guesstimation of what the third list might contain…but if you want the supplies when they are available and at a good price, you guess and buy a bunch of stuff and then return what you don’t need.
I need to figure out a different way to do this. Kate has a specific way of shopping, Pea wants her own choices and Mr. Fox could care less. The problem is that they love to choose without paying attention to what things cost. They took their lists and started chucking stuff into the cart without any consultation. Mr. Fox was enjoying the free WiFi. I had to rein them in and make sure we weren’t paying full price for anything while getting all the stuff on their long lists.
Next year, I think I will take them out individually. Kate gets her day for shopping and Pea gets her day.
Last year, we came across a Groupon for custom Agendas from May Designs. I love Custom. I loved that we could choose the color and pattern of the cover, I loved that we could decide to put our name on the front or something else. I loved that we could make the inside with a Student Agenda, A yearly Calender or a Notebook. Each one of us chose the perfect design for us. I especially loved the part where we could put our names on them.
This is what my design looked like. I loved that there was a design that incorporated the Islamic Star and a Cross motif. So Interfaith. Plus, I could choose color that compliment my logo. The one thing I did not love about the May Designs agenda was that I couldn’t specify what holidays I wanted to appear inside. The only holidays that were included were US Customary holidays, Christian and Jewish holidays. I contacted customer service and requested that they offer the option to include holidays of other religions. I thought that since the outside cover was customizable, the inside should be also. Not so much. I placed my order anyway because it was much more custom than anything I could find at an office supply store and it was so cute.
I used the agenda to track my work orders for VianneFere and MyIslamicLife. It worked very well, for a year. When I went shopping for school supplies this year, I knew it was time to replace my agenda.
I immediately went to the May Designs website and searched the new patterns and colors. I got all the way through the design process to choosing what the inside of my agenda would include. There wasn’t any place for holiday options. I searched the website and could not find any answers. So, I went to twitter and found @MayDesigns there. I asked them about including Islamic Holidays.
I was so disappointed that they did not include the Islamic holidays again this year that I decided not to purchase.
I went online and started to search around. Every option I found didn’t include Islamic holidays. Even on Etsy.
I went to my online community and asked them if they knew of a place where I could find a fully custom agenda.
They had many suggestions, but what it all came down to was that to get the type of agenda I was looking for, I’d have to design one myself.
So, I searched for some templates for the software I already own and couldn’t find what I wanted.
Then I looked for other programs.
And then I decided that creating my own agenda did not solve the immediate problem of needing a way to track my orders and my work schedule. I needed to figure out something now.
Then I came across the Vera Bradley Agenda. It is pretty. It is colorful. It is not customizable, but it does recognize the beginning of Ramadan.
That’s a start. Right? Its pretty. Its Colorful. It includes Christian, Jewish, African, US Customary, Silly, AND Islamic Holidays. This is as close to perfect as I could find. Until I create the PERFECT Calender, this will do.
When the girls started praying, I started making them prayer outfits. In the beginning, we had one outfit for each girl and a bag to store them in.
I didn’t have to put too much thought into the storage options because they had just one outfit a piece. I would make them a new one each year and we would store the old ones away.
Then, they started wearing hijabs with their Eid outfits and for school. So, I thought we’d get a cute drawer unit to put in their closets for organized storage.
And it worked, for a while. But as you can see, its not currently working. The first drawer was for the few 2 piece hijabs they had, the middle drawer was for the prayer hijabs (long, finger tip length) and the bottom was for skirts. These days, the prayer hijabs look like this:
In a big heap in the corner of the living room. No matter how often I fold them and tuck them away in the bag I have set aside for their containment…this is what ends up happening.
And the drawer unit is stuffed to the brim.
Because not only do we need to buy new hijabs for each Eid outfit, but when we go to the shop, we collect new hijabs in the colors that coordinate with their favorite outfits. So, when we go to the mosque for whatever reason, they will be fashionably coordinated.
I’m no better. The only scarves I grew up with were the ones you wore around your neck in the winter. When I started working (before children) I owned a few scarves that were easily contained in my delicates drawer. Now, I’ve collected a modest number of scarves and hijab-like items for when they are necessary, but I just stuff them into this closet organizer.
It works, somewhat. It is fine for my knitted head warmer hijabs, but for the long scarves…they come out wrinkly.
What do you do? How do you store your scarves? Send me photos of your storage options! (Share them on twitter @MyIslamicLife, on Instagram or email them to me MyIslamicLife *At* Yahoo.com I want to see what works and what isn’t working. I need some ideas on how to fix this.
One year ago today started the year of mourning. In Islam, we are permitted 3 days of mourning outwardly. Privately, the mourning never ends.
An Egyptian doctor who was shot and killed by security forces while volunteering at a field hospital during the Aug. 14 massacre in Cairo was remembered as a quiet hero by friends and relatives, including a brother in Toledo. - Aya Khalil, ToledoFavs.com
The fighting continues on even today in Egypt as the world looks elsewhere. Families are destroyed every day, and the occupation continues. Egyptians continue to have hope that democracy will prevail, but with so many countries giving money to support the oppression and violence that violates Egypt and its people, it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We will never forget. We miss you brother.
There are times that I question my reasoning for writing this blog. I wonder if anyone reads? I wonder if it is serving a purpose? I wonder if I’m being vain …who do I think I am? Who cares about my life? Am I tempting fate by telling you about it?
Then, I received this email. I’ve gotten similar emails before, and they usually arrive just when I’ve started to second guess myself.
This time, I asked the writer’s permission to share her letter with you.
I wanted to tell you how refreshing it is to see something on the internet that isn’t automatically against Muslim men, the Muslim community, or anything like that in general.
I had terrible relationships in the past. All with men who treated me just as a prize to be won – and hated myself for it. Now I’ve found this amazing man, who happens to be Muslim. No one has ever treated me the way he treats me, no one has ever made me feel the way he does.
But of course, as a non-Muslim raised in America, you have your wonders. So when I googled, EVERYTHING was designed to convince a non-Muslim that the man they were seeing was a devil – often times, it seems, basing it on a terrible relationship in the first place, but using the religion as the fault. So I stopped googling. Sure that the people that have successful relationships just don’t share. That maybe there’s not a community. And then, on chance, I found you this morning!
I haven’t read much of your blog yet. Just a few entries, as I’ve only just stumbled across it. But I will definitely be reading more, whether it be for advice, a sense that someone out there was in a similar boat and that it CAN work, or just to enjoy your writing. - Coda C.
Its been just under 2 weeks since Ramadan ended. School supply lists have arrived, calendars are being updated, extra-curriculars are being arranged and I need to wrap up last month before I can focus on looking ahead.
We need to talk about the stuff. Right? How did it go for you? New this year was that Kate now joined us for suhoor. She’s still learning and practicing. Last year she did a more abbreviated fast, from lunchtime to iftar and this year she decided to attempt full days. I gave her suggestions from time to time, but she was in the driver’s seat and she did so well. She didn’t skip any full days, and only did a handful of abbreviated days. This was a big step for her to take and while I’m so proud of her, its another reminder that she is growing so fast.
This was Pea’s second year waking for suhoor and she was such a role model for Kate. Helping her decide what to eat, reminding her that protein was important for the whole day and spending many hours together playing and keeping each other occupied. Pea was excited to be able to fast. She takes immense pride in her fasting and loved the schedule of waking early in the morning…and listening to The Quran throughout the house.
I watched the two of them together and wished that Khaled’s mother was able to see them. She was always soo delighted to talk to them and listen to their stories. It was very important to me that she see my girls growing up to be good Muslims. It is a constant worry of mine that I’m going to miss something that they should know. Something a Muslim mother would know that I don’t. Something that is essential…I wanted her to be proud of the job I’m doing with them.
The long month was difficult on Mr. Fox. Not soo much because of the fasting, because he’s been doing full days for a few years now, but because a lot of his friends had busy schedules and they didn’t coincide with his energy level. Many of them were volunteering; working or playing sports and I didn’t want to put him in the position of using up all of his energy, tasking himself too much or getting sick, so I didn’t sign him up for any activities. His closest Muslim friend was travelling overseas this summer. They sent random messages but that did little to occupy the long hours. I tried to keep him busy, but quite a lot of his time was spent alone. I have so few years with him home left…I feel like any time not spent engaging him is wasted.
Next year, I’ll do better.
Prior to the start of Ramadan, I was working on tearing down wallpaper and washing down walls so I could paint. I wanted to have the foyer painted so I could invite a few families over for Iftar. My idea was this: each one of us could choose a friend we wanted to invite, so every weekend we would have guests. I had asked JJ and her family, I thought we might invite some Christian friends to join us this year…Khaled’s friend, friends of the ladies.
I talked to my people about those plans in anticipation of them giving me names, building the excitement. They didn’t want to invite any non-Muslims. They said it would be too weird and they wouldn’t understand. The friend that Kate wanted to invite, well, I never got around to asking…and the friend that Pea wanted to invite was away visiting family. We did have Aunty Anne over and JJ. We made plans with Khaled’s friend but they ended up cancelling. The neighbors that have lived behind us for so many years were not home during Ramadan this year, so we didn’t exchange many plates with them. When they returned, there were new people in the house. I don’t know what happened to our friends.
We attended every community iftar at our home mosque. After the first success of the month, we thought that maybe it would be okay this year. After that first time, the Aunties and the nieces recognized me and didn’t question if I belonged. They just gave me jobs to do and let me help set up the tables. Each Saturday night, more people I knew were there and we ended up saving seats for friends to eat together. To be honest, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept my eyes open for something to go sideways. I kept my guard so just in case, I’d be ready. But nothing really happened.
One weekend after the tables had been cleaned up and we were passing out cupcakes to the children, one Aunty from Saudi Arabia cornered me with her two daughters. Inquiring where I was from…and telling me that her son was studying engineering at the university. No sooner did that leave her lips and I pointed out to her my husband, and my children.
She quickly moved away.
I also got the ‘when did you become Muslim?’ question. I’m sure it is because I wear my hair mostly covered when I’m inside the mosque. I dodged the question. I didn’t want to go there. It would only have led to more questions and I just didn’t want to make myself an outsider when I was finally being included.
We took the family on a short trip last weekend for Eid, and they had gifts to open after we returned from the Eid prayer. We are trying to get back to a normal sleeping schedule, but often I find myself reminding the children to eat during the day. They forget that they can eat freely again.
And now that I’ve shared with you my Ramadan, I can focus on the weeks ahead. I can start preparing for new schools and riding buses. I can focus on new schedules and work assignments. I can begin preparing for Hajj Day Outfits and the next holiday.