Is Islamic Sunday School Worth It?

A Real Education
HijabMan’s Note:  This article was previously published at Patheos. 

At the age of 12, my father decided to put me in Islamic Sunday School at our local mosque. Since I was new to Sunday School, the teachers put me in the kindergarten class. Within one year, I was skipped to second grade and then to fourth grade, before I was ultimately promoted to instructor in an alternative Saturday school. Can you say, “lowered expectations?”

It is not uncommon for mosque Sunday Schools to be staffed by volunteers as young as 13 who just parrot what they’ve heard. As for the content, I learned about how birthdays are prohibited in Islam, that only prostitutes pluck their eyebrows, and how a one-eyed monster will come and get me on the Day of Judgment. In short, I left Islamic Sunday School with the perception that God was a big scary being that was going to throw me into hell.

The experience, however depressing, did inspire me to read the Quran for myself. It was only then that I realized that the vast majority of fairy tales they teach you in Sunday school are not in the Quran—which, by the way, is what Muslims believe is God’s message to humankind. In fact, the lessons taught in my Sunday School growing up didn’t come close to capturing the spirit of the holy book.
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Falafel, Ta’amiya, Whatever You Call It, Here’s A Recipe!

Last week, I shared Amer‘s recipe for hummus and it got such a great response that I’m posting this falafel recipe a little bit early.  I’m gradually cutting more and more meat out of my diet, and as a result I have to come up with vegetarian dishes for dinner.   While deep frying isn’t exactly the healthiest thing in the world, it’s definitely a nice treat every now and then!  Just like the hummus recipe, this involves throwing everything in a food processor– the only extra step is frying.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of dry chick peas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup Italian (It’s the flat-leaf kind) parsley
  • 1 table spoon coriander powder (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder (freshly ground if possible)
  •  ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon (kosher or sea salt)
  • pinch of baking soda
  • oil to deep fry

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Friday Khutba (Sermon) 1: Be A Farmer For Your Soul

Happy Friday!  Inner peace… in the Qur’an?

Afterthoughts: 1. Good farmers are also consistent. 2. This does not refer to just people who label themselves Muslim— it refers to everyone. God made a covenant with each community– grow your own soul by following that promise.

Related verses from the Qur’an:

91:7-10 (Qur’an) By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;- Truly s/he succeeds that purifies it, And s/he fails that corrupts it!

2:155-156 (Qur’an) And most certainly shall We try you by means [of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labour’s] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity -who, when calamity befalls them, say, “Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto God we shall return.”

89:27 (Qur’an) [But unto the righteous God will say,] “O thou human being that hast attained to inner peace!

89:30 (Qur’an) yea, enter thou My paradise!”

5:105 (Qur’an) O you who have attained to faith! It is [but] for your own selves that you are responsible: those who go astray can do you no harm if you [yourselves] are on the right path. Unto God you all must return: and then He will make you [truly] understand all that you were doing [in life].

2:286 (Qur’an) God does not burden any human being with more than s/he is well able to bear….

59:18 (Qur’an) O YOU who believe! Remain conscious of God; and let every human being look to what s/he sends ahead for the morrow! And [once again]: Remain conscious of God, for God is fully aware of all that you do;

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Three Beautiful Things Thursday: Revelation & Home-Made Food Edition

Happy Beautiful Thursday y’all.  I’m allowed to say y’all now that I live in the South.  Okay, y’all?  Here you go, three beautiful things!

1.  Revelation.  The Books revealed to the prophets and messengers of God.  Sure, some people pick out verses from them that seem unjust.  But if you look at them as a whole, if you look at the message, they are beautiful.  Believe.  Do Good.  There Will Be A Day When You Will Be Judged.  Today I was gifted a Bible by Stan, a friend of mine who is also a United Methodist pastor.   We meet [almost] every Thursday for breakfast, and I’m honored to speak with him about revelation and the followers of revelation.  It’s always an inspiring conversation and it gets my brain churning– both informing me of my own faith tradition (and covenant) as well as other peoples’ covenants.

Today, we spoke a bit about the description of Judgment Day in the New Testament (what Muslims refer to as the Injeel, and also considered a revelation of God)…   it echoes a similar description in the Qur’an…

I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.  – New Testament, Revelations 20:12-13

And [on that Day] you will see all people kneeling down [in humility]: all people will be called upon to [face] their record: “Today you shall be requited for all that you ever did! This Our record speaks of you in all truth: for, verily, We have caused to be recorded all that you ever did! – Qur’an, The Kneeling, 34:28

2.  Home-made food.  Before I got married and gained daddy status with WarriorPrincess, I talked the talk about eating healthy but rarely walked the walk.  Having a family forced me to be consistent, and so I began to use as many local, organic, and unprocessed foods that I could. I avoid additives like the plague.  When I looked at the list of ingredients on a package of butter, I noticed that one of them was “natural flavoring,” and I wanted to puke.  How do you add flavoring to butter?  I want to taste butter! Not what some chemist thinks butter tastes like! Read more

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“This Is The Best Hummus I’ve Ever Had.”

Lots of people say that about my hummus, but I’ll let you in on a little secret– I stole it from my friend Amer. This hummus is a regular staple at the Friday Prayers we hold at my house, and all I get are rave reviews. So thanks Amer, for making me a super popular guy in Blacksburg, VA.

Sure, it tastes absolutely amazing, but the best part is it’s really easy to make. See all that stuff up there ? Throw it all in a food processor. (shh! the garlic is hiding!)

1 can chick peas. Rinsed and drained.
3 cloves of garlic (mash into paste w/ salt) (I never mash it into a paste, I just throw all this stuff in)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup of yogurt (can add more or less if you like)
pinch of cumin powder 1/4 tsp or less (I go for a full 1/4 tsp)
cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp or less (depends if you like to add a kick…)
1.5 lemons of juice
4-5 tbsp tahini (I do 5)

Flip the switch or push the button… and leave your processor running for a full minute.

Now, dump it all in a round plate or glass pie pan. Make pretty circular design with a spatula by turning the plate.

Top with lots of olive oil and a bunch of sumac.

Enjoy!

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Why I Dress My Daughter In “Boy” Jeans.

Back when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts, I took several women’s studies classes and worked/interned at the Media Education Foundation. I have to say that throughout all my coursework and learning, one of the things that struck me the most was the blatant hyper-sexualization of women and girls in media. Sure, it made me want to puke back then, but as a single man, I never had to deal with that sort of thing.

It’s also been about a decade since then, and I haven’t ever owned my own television… so I’ve been kind of out of the loop.

Then, the other day, I read an article that got my wheels spinning again: The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women’s Clothing.

Now that I’m the father of an almost 6 year old WarriorPrincess, this stuff is back in my face. When buying jeans for her, I noticed that they didn’t feel right. They felt stretchy. And when she put them on, they hugged her bottom and her thighs and flared past her knee. I must’ve not been thinking straight, because I didn’t stop to check the label (like I do with all of our food) or question the cut of the jeans (riding low, accentuating curves she doesn’t/shouldn’t have). Against all signs from the universe, I bought them.
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What Would You Do If She Said You Could Be A Househusband?

Note: This is the 5th part in a series about how I met my wife (and daughter). Just joining us? Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.  Update:  Many of you wanted to read from the perspective of EyeDot aka MrsHM and now you can.  Her version of our story can be found in Love InshaAllah: The Secret Love Lives Of American Muslim Women.

Part 5 is going to skip around a bit, covering the time between our engagement to just after our civil ceremony in the U.S.

After our engagement party, EyeDot flew back to Singapore. The original plan was that she and WarriorPrincess (3 years old at the time) would move to the U.S., so I could finish nursing school.  But you know what they say… we plan and God laughs.  Hard.

EyeDot ended up landing a great job in Penang, Malaysia and asked me if I would consider quitting nursing school to become a househusband there.

Scenario: You are a 27 years old male that sells t-shirts and does some photography on the side. You are currently about to finish your first semester of nursing school, and while it’s ‘something to do,’ your heart isn’t in it. Your fiance lands an awesome job on a tropical [overdeveloped] island in Southeast Asia, and suggests you quit nursing school and become a househusband in Malaysia for a while. You would have *LOTS* of time on your hands and no other stress except maybe culture shock while you get used to being a husband and a father. The downside? You’d have to quit nursing school.  What do you do?

If you’ve read my blog for long, you’ll know that I often like to fly by the seat of my pants. Read more

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