Allah Owns the World (part I)

I have yet to update the glossary section and I apologize.

The plan is to include all the vocab and terms that are Islamic and/or Arabic so every person that drops by is welcomed and can interact with everything that is noted in this blog.

This blog is created for every person to participate in so again, I will update that particular section asap so our dialogue does not exclude anyone who would like to join in.

I sincerely thank every single person who has taken the time to drop by here.

Whether you are following, commenting, “liking,” passing the notes, just stopping by every now and then, well…

Thank you.

Image courtesy of Nora Elgalad

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REFLECTION: Do we sometimes go too far and think that we are independent, so much so that we forget that there is a Higher power?  What do you think?

Originally published in IFN June 2011

by Mariam Al-Kalby

We do not own this world.  Nor have we created it.  But we spread our feathers and strut our arrogance around, as though, we, the clay creations that we are, are the masters of the universe.

Our behavior emanates the idea that we run the world by ourselves without anyone’s help.

But we forget that just a slight touch from the fire burns, a simple hug makes us feel warm, a sick heart that aches illustrates how weak we succumb to different feelings and emotions as human beings.

That is nothing wrong but what is wrong is to contemplate that there is no higher power.

Our place in this life is forgotten as we get swept up by the winds of this dunya (world) and need to be reminded that there is a higher power and higher form.

Allah is the Exalted and the Mighty One. 

We are creations that roam the earth with Allah’s purpose embedded in our fitrah (instinct) but we have to unleash this identity with supplication and deeds.

As human beings, we can detach ourselves from everything except when it comes to Allah because we have been created to be dependent to Him.

In Surah Al-Alaq, it discusses how we have been created and how Allah is the One who bestows knowledge on us.

We did not create ourselves but Allah has and He wants us to find and finish creating ourselves by being His servants:

1. Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists),

2. Has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).

3. Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous,

4. Who has taught (the writing) by the pen,

5. Has taught man that which he knew not.

6. Nay! Verily, man does transgress all bounds (in disbelief and evil deed, etc.).

7. Because he considers himself self-sufficient.

8. Surely! Unto your Lord is the return.

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Where Children Sleep

Images courtesy of James Mollison

I know this isn’t new but James Mollison and his stunning photography in regards to children just gets me thinking everytime.  He was so objective, and clean with his work…I admired that restraint.

The way he took his subjects and separated them from their environments was creative.

As an artist, he made you make your own judgements and observations about what you saw and didn’t see.

He just took the time to go around and capture what we would not have known…like the details of these children’s lives.

This is a great book to have on your children’s book shelf; not only should children have textbooks, stories, fairytales, and comics, but real images of children like them who live in different environments.

You know how we used to always hear from our parents or say now to kids, “Oh the kids are starving in China” or “Some kids in Africa have no proper bed to sleep on”…well just hand over the book to them and it will do all the work for you.

It’s an excellent reference book to the “reality” of this world.  This also would be an awesome coffee table book as well.

What do you think…should every child have this on their bookshelf?  Why or why not?

Here are some of the photos that are just amazing:

Photography 101 (lighting)

I love photography and the many ways you can create beautiful images and unique pictures.  But, alas, I am not knowledgeable in that area so I invited someone to come share with us photography tips.

Meet Carlie!  She takes lovely photographs and is going to share some tips and the importance of lighting when it comes to photography…

Oh!  Don’t forget to check out her lovely blog!  Welcome Carlie!

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Photography has been a passion of mine since childhood, but I didn’t just pick up a camera and become a photographer.

It takes time, patience, and many mistakes.

When I took my first photography course in college we only shot with natural light.

Natural light is known as available light, most commonly, the sun. By not allowing us to use a flash, my professor taught us how to be prepared for any lighting situation. To this day I still do not use flash even when it’s pitch black out.

For any beginning photographers out there, my advice would be to experiment, experiment, experiment!

Once you have mastered shooting with natural light, the possibilities are endless. Lighting can be used to create intense and dramatic photo effects.

Here are a couple pointers, I wish someone had told me when I was first starting out.

  • The best time to shoot is known as the ‘golden’ hour, which is just before sunset or sunrise.
  • Pay close attention to which direction the light is coming from.
  • Let’s say you are shooting a woman in front of a tree. If the sun is shining upon her face (direct sunlight), you will get a warm, light, and detailed photo.
  • If the sun is coming from behind her, which is known as ‘backlighting’, it would create a hard, vivid and contrasted image.
  •  Both lighting situations can work to your advantage; I love to use direct sunlight for portraits to bring out the details in my subjects’ faces and to get a beautiful glow.

I like to use backlighting to create artsy and contrasted silhouettes. Shooting in shade also makes for a beautiful, softer image, but make sure there aren’t shadows being cast on your subjects.

I hope this article was helpful. Remember to experiment and learn from your mistakes : )

A backlit image. You will notice that the image is darker, contrasty, and you lose detail in the subject’s face.

Now I’ve turned him around and he has direct sunlight hitting his face. We can now see more and a beautiful glow upon his face.

In this image I used backlighting to create a contrasted and colorful silhouette of this little boy running along the beach.

Children are our Mirror

Sometimes I think we forget how our daily actions affect our children.

We know about it, we discuss it, but often times, we naturally forget about what we do and say throughout the day until our children mirror our behaviours.  It is then we realize how every small detail is ingrained in their little brains.

Children are truly at a stage in their lives where they have been created to retain every information their minds can consume.  This is to form their identity as future adults and sometimes I wish I would tread this path carefully, you know, to be ever aware of what I do or say, or sometimes what I don’t say or do.

Children are sensitive to everything around them because they are open-minded.

Whereas adults we turn away or disregard information that does not pertain to our own interests, the child’s brain sucks in everything in its path without filtering any information.

It is amazing and scary all at the same time.

I think if we do the best we can and be aware of our actions, we will be blessed with little surprises from our children.

Here is a piece I composed reflecting how joyful I was to receive a gift from my daughter.  Hope you enjoy it as well.

What are some “little surprises” your children have given you?  Or seen from other people that have children?

Image courtesy of Gwen Toomalatai

The Little Moon’s Reflection

Written by Mariam Al-Kalby

Mariam is the founder of Maktoob, a place for Muslims to “donate” their literary masterpieces for a good cause.  For more information, please visit createmaktoob.com.  You could also email mariam@createmaktoob.com.

Maimuna stood there quietly memorizing me as I pinned my hijab beneath my chin and wrapped a piece of the blue material around my neck and tied it into a knot on the side.  She left the room while I gathered diapers and sweaters to put in the diaper bag; we were getting ready to go visit a friend that evening.

She came back with a bright pink Turkish hijab with polka dots scattered all over and lifted it to my face and said in a slow voice, “Heedaab.”  I stood there stunned and realized she was saying hijab for the first time.  And she wanted to wear one right before we left.  I had just fixed her hair into a little ponytail on top of her head and looked at the hijab dangling from her hands and thought, uh, this hijab doesn’t even match her dress.

Then I stopped my irrelevant thoughts and realized how silly I was being.  I should have been proud and excited that my two and a half year old daughter wanted to go out and wear hijab…hello!  No one was even forcing or persuading her, she was doing it all on her own…how could I say no to that!  She would randomly wear the hijab in the house or wear her outfit for prayer and join me sometimes but she never actually initiated wanting to wear one when we went out.

I exclaimed, “Hijab!  Come here and let me wrap it for you.”  As I fixed the hijab onto her round head, trying to push back the stubborn locks of curls peeking out of the material, I felt the pride and happiness rising into Maimuna’s face.  Her cheeks were rosier, her brown eyes sparkled, and I knew exactly what she was feeling at that moment: complete warmth and satisfaction.

It was the feeling you get when someone compliments you on your smile; it was the tingling when you knew you were going to your best friend’s house, and it was that “butterflies fluttering” inside your stomach feeling when you were with the people you loved.  It was that maternal stroke when your mother swept her hand across your head as she put you to sleep.  This was what Maimuna was feeling.  Interestingly enough, I was feeling the same way.

As I was tying her hijab, she stood there patiently and calmly, unusual since I am more acquainted with her much more wilder and untamed side when it came time to go out. To change Maimuna’s clothes or to get her to put on her shoes, I would have to go through all types of hurdles just to grab her and get her to follow directions-jumping on couches, racing through curtains, knocking over dining chairs, rolling through mountains of pillows, and springing atop beds.

But there was a sense of serenity and maturity emanating from Maimuna that seemed so magical while I was donning on the hijab for her.  Usually I tie the hijab pieces behind her head but instead wrapped it around her neck and tied it at the side.  Just like mine.  Maimuna noticed this specific action and squealed in delight because she knew I was taking her seriously.  I was not just carelessly tying the hijab for her but she knew I was taking the time to fix and adjust the hijab as if I were wearing it.  She appreciated this because she looked at me with pride and happiness that glowed from her little moon face.

When I finished adorning her attire, she turned around and looked at the full-length mirror before her.  She smoothed her dress down and lifted her small hands and caressed the hijab.  Maimuna turned to the side and looked at her reflection.  Then a slow, proud smile radiated her face.