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2 November 2021

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

In the origin story of Japan, it is written that the sun goddess Amaterasu was once found hiding in a cave, refusing to come out. Avoiding the potential disaster of having no sunlight, no sun rise, and no sun set, the deity Ishikoridome placed a mirror at the cave’s entrance to distract her. Upon seeing this new shiny object, Amaterasu was intrigued and slowly emerged from the darkness following the shiny reflections in the mirror. When Amaterasu was ultimately sent by her family to rule over Japan (literally the land of the rising sun), she was given three objects to serve as a sign of her power and authority: the mirror symbolizing truth, a jewel symbolizing benevolence, and a sword symbolizing virtue. These three objects, collectively referred to as the Imperial regalia of Japan [LINK], are considered the most sacred objects to the Japanese people and a sign of the both the legitimacy and continuity of the Chrysanthemum throne: the oldest, continually running monarchy on earth. These objects are so important to the Japanese people that they have never been seen, not even by the emperor himself! They are always presented at imperial coronations [LINK] in boxes covered with beautiful Japanese silk as a sign of authority and Imperial rule. They are also kept in three different locations throughout the country to provide maximum protection. As long as these three objects exist and remain safe, so too is Japan her people.

4 October 2021

Towards Islamic Mindfulness

It was a perfect spring afternoon in Kyoto, Japan. The light rain of the morning subsided, and the sun began to shine through the droplets on the leaves and trees. I entered a local Buddhist temple with great anticipation as I was eager to meet one of the head monks to learn about Zen practices in mindfulness. We took our seats on comfortable cushions provided by the temple and the monk guided us through a meditation session. As I closed my eyes, settled my breath, and took in the sounds and smells of my surroundings, a great calm swelled inside me. I was at ease, happy, grateful, and most importantly completely content with the here and now. I don’t get many picturesque moments in my life, but that day was certainly one of them. It left a mark I carry till this day because it was at that temple and in conversation with the monk afterwards over a warm cup of matcha that a light of inspiration struck and from whence was born the Making Sense of Islam platform.

21 June 2021

7 Keys to a 20 Year Marriage

When I got married on June 23, 2001, I had no idea or concept that my marriage could/would last for twenty years (alhamdulilah!). Of course, I didn’t get married with the thought that it would end, I just never actively conceptualized what 20 years of marriage would look like. And now that I am about to celebrate this unbelievably awesome milestone with the love of my life, I want to pass on to you some of the lessons that helped make our marriage last and keeps the love and passion burning bright.

7 April 2021

Islamology and the Making of Fake Islam, Part 4: The Political Activist

A citizen of a Western republic or commonwealth nation is familiar with the concept of having their voice count. From a young age it is ingrained into us that without having our voices heard, our rights will be trampled upon and that we have a civic obligation to vote and actively participate in the political process. This type of rhetoric might be even more common if, like me, you are part of a minority community. However, this concept is not 100% accurate. In fact, it’s a common misconception that Westerners, both minorities and majorities alike, have regarding their government. Our individual voices really don’t count for much because there are existing political superstructures that control the political process. Maybe our voices can count within these superstructures if they are numerous enough. However, to get to that point you have to compromise so much that by the time you have a critical mass of voices within an existing superstructure, your individual opinion is lost in the new majority. If you don’t believe me, read this Princeton study that demonstrates that the Unites States is no longer, by definition, a democracy.

3 April 2021

Advice for all Seasons by Sayyid Muhammad Siddiq al-Ghumari (d. 1354/1936)

Of all the types of Islamologists that I will cover in this series, this type is perhaps the most numerous, making their damage the greatest and most threatening. The danger of the untrained person is not in the lack of training and study. In fact, many of them have undergone a degree of training. The danger, rather, is that their training is not complete and comprehensive. They know a little about a little, and since they were touched by the experience of learning, even if incomplete, they mistake this feeling with a notion that they can handle most aspects thrown their way. Specialists in the Islamic sciences are few, especially in the English-speaking world, and it is easy for these untrained Islamologists to parade themselves as the real Mckoy and be taken by the general population as experts (this is essentially a lengthy restating of the hadith quoted above).

23 March 2021

Islamology and the Making of Fake Islam, Part 3: The Untrained

Of all the types of Islamologists that I will cover in this series, this type is perhaps the most numerous, making their damage the greatest and most threatening. The danger of the untrained person is not in the lack of training and study. In fact, many of them have undergone a degree of training. The danger, rather, is that their training is not complete and comprehensive. They know a little about a little, and since they were touched by the experience of learning, even if incomplete, they mistake this feeling with a notion that they can handle most aspects thrown their way. Specialists in the Islamic sciences are few, especially in the English-speaking world, and it is easy for these untrained Islamologists to parade themselves as the real Mckoy and be taken by the general population as experts (this is essentially a lengthy restating of the hadith quoted above).

1 March 2021

Six Books that Introduce Islam

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am asked a lot about what the best books are to read about Islam. To be honest, this question is a lot harder than it might seem to answer. People have different interests and what might be good for one, is not necessarily good for another. That being said, I do make an effort to make recommendations that I feel offer a fair 360-degree view of the tradition.

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