Embracing Those Who Have Embraced Islam

Islam is the fastest growing religious group in the United States and people are embracing Islam at a faster rate than any other religion. Many of us have even been fortunate enough to witness someone taking their shahada (Muslim profession of faith). But what happens after someone has taken that leap of faith and professed their belief  in Allah and His Messenger (pbuh)? This new Muslim is now in a new chapter of their lives that presents its own challenges. Their family and friends may question their decision or not understand why they cannot participate in certain activities anymore. They also face challenges within the faith, such as being unsure how to perform prayer correctly. These new members of our community need solid, consistent support. The following are 6 key points to ensure that we embrace those who have embraced Islam. Avoid Assumptions. People make a lot of assumptions upon meeting a person who has embraced Islam. Some common assumptions are: they don’t know anything about the religion, their family was against their conversion/reversion, they only want to meet other reverts from their same race, they already have a support group, they are ok with being called a “convert”.  Let us remember that making assumptions about anyone can be hurtful. Instead, let each individual tell their own story and express their own preferences about how they think of themselves. Be a Friend. Sometimes, we may be concerned that we are not knowledgeable enough about Islam to teach someone else the basics. However, most people are not necessarily looking for a teacher, they are more likely looking for connection with other Muslims. Build relationships... read more

MakeSpace Post-Ramadan Vision

August 7, 2015 [email protected] WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over the past three years, MakeSpace has grown at a remarkable pace and has successfully served as an inclusive, relevant and transformative hub for the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area Muslim community. After a fulfilling and highly-energized month of Ramadan, MakeSpace is excited to continue its regular programming with multiple new classes, events and seminars to be unveiled in the coming weeks. In addition, new efforts are underway to find a physical space that MakeSpace can call home. For months, we were honored to have Imam Suhaib Webb serve as MakeSpace’s Resident Scholar. During that time, despite his busy schedule traveling domestically and internationally, Imam Webb shared his knowledge and expertise acquired from years of study, perseverance and service with our community. MakeSpace wholeheartedly thanks and sends its well wishes to Imam Webb and his entire team for their efforts and dedication and looks forward to continuing to work on our shared goals of strengthening and empowering our communities. Moving forward, MakeSpace and Imam Webb will continue to concentrate on their respective areas of focus. MakeSpace will continue to concentrate on building the local community, offering more relevant and uplifting programming and finding a home for MakeSpace whereas Imam Webb will focus his efforts on Ella Collins Institute, working with other communities in the DMV area and collaborating with institutions around the country. MakeSpace stands in firm support of Imam Webb and his endeavors as we all continue to work on our shared goal of serving our communities and elevating the image and perception of Islam in America.... read more

5 Ways to Keep a Heightened State of Spirituality After Ramadan

We hope this Ramadan has been a spiritual renewal for you and that you have benefited from one or more of MakeSpace’s events, social media posts and/or blogs. Many Muslims feel a sense of loss at the end of the holy month. This feeling is usually related to missing the elevated sense of spirituality and community which comes with Ramadan. However, the end of Ramadan does not necessarily mean an end to the hard work you’ve put in this month. The following are 5 ways to keep a heightened state of spirituality after Ramadan. Do as our beloved Prophet (pbuh) did. Many people will read or listen to lectures during Ramadan which talk about the life of our beloved Prophet (pbuh). From these talks, we learn about his (pbuh) amazing character and personality. Target a characteristic that you wish to emulate and make a conscious effort to practice it regularly. For example, a beautiful thing we know about the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) is that when someone spoke to him, he would turn his entire body in the direction of the person speaking. By doing so, he showed that he was paying undivided attention to that individual. How often do we even look up from our smartphone when someone is speaking to us? Making the effort to give people our full attention when they speak to us not only makes us more connected to each other, but also lessens the chance that we might miss something that is being said to us due to lack of attention. Also, following the Prophet’s (pbuh) behavior will bring you closer to him, inshAllah... read more

5 Non-Traditional Ways to Give Back

How often do you find yourself sitting at work wondering if you could be doing something more fulfilling? How about sitting in class contemplating if the job you get after earning your degree will help you make a difference in the world? Ever attend a religious lecture and wish you could do more to help the organization, knowing that you are really limited in time to spare? If so, then know that many others feel the same way. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the negativity we are bombarded with on a daily basis. So much so that when we do see an act of kindness occur, maybe next door, or maybe halfway around the world, naturally, we think, “I want to be part of that light.” So how can you go about doing your part without having to become a scholar or commit to joining a non-profit? Here are 5 out-of-the-box ways you can give back: Create Balance Through Your Occupation: It used to be commonplace that doctors and lawyers with independent practices would regularly open two practices each; one where they charge full/regular pricing to clients, and the other being for those who cannot afford full pricing for these services. At the latter, for a nominal fee, low/no-income clients could see a doctor or get legal services from quality professionals. Let’s bring this tradition back and reap the rewards of helping the poor with your specialized skill! The Prophet (pbuh) said: ““The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 604. Share Your Skills: Volunteer your skills to your local mosque/Islamic organization. Are you a clinician?... read more

Focus: Connections During Ramadan

The following a recap of a beautiful khutba (Friday sermon) given by Brother Haris Tarin regarding connections during Ramadan: In the Prophetic tradition, Ramadan is described as a guest upon the believers. In the Islamic tradition, we welcome guests with open arms, being generous in honor of them. So the analogy of Ramadan being like a guest is made to help believers look upon Ramadan, not as a burden, but as something we welcome like we might welcome a loved one into our home. How do we prepare for guests in our home? We anticipate and organize, washing the linens and prepping their favorite foods. We try to get these things out of the way so that, when the guest finally arrives, we can spend the most amount of time with them. How do we prepare for Ramadan? Some people focus primarily on the physical; weening oneself off of caffeine and Googling high protein foods for suhoor (pre-dawn meal). Others may prepare their refreshers on the fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) of fasting. Both of these things are important. In addition, there are 5 things one can do to get the most of out their Ramadan on a spiritual level… 5 Connections to Focus on During Ramadan 1. Connection to Quran Ramadan is when Allah chose to connect the divine message, his final message, to all of humanity through the Quran. Connecting to the Quran begins with reflection; when one reflects on their connection with the Holy Book, they must reflect on the revelations within it. 2. Connection to Self This world is moving so fast, especially with the internet and social-media. We... read more

Ramadan: Connecting with Ourselves, the Community & Allah

Today is the first day of Ramadan. Over the past few weeks, American-Muslim community has been buzzing with conversations ranging from how to get kids excited, to how many hours we’ll be fasting, and what are the most protein-packed foods to eat in suhoor (pre-dawn meal). On a deeper level, Ramadan is also a time of reflection and reconnection. This weekend, Imam Suhaib Webb and Imam Zia focused on these two points during the halaqa titled, Ramadan: Connecting with Ourselves, the Community & Allah. The following is a recap of the event. Allah gives us signs, both in the Quran and all around us. Sometimes we cannot see the signs, but that is because a dust has gathered on our hearts, not because the signs are no longer there. Thankfully, Ramadan cleanses our hearts and we get this opportunity every year It is important to understand the great opportunity we are given during the month of Ramadan. For example, shaytan (satan) is locked up, reward for good deeds are multiplied, we are cleansed through the fast, etc The belief we have [in Islam] comes with responsibility; we must feel challenge. The Prophet (pbuh) said that sometimes holding on to your deen (religion) is like holding on to a hot iron. This doesn’t mean that there is something wrong if one is not experiencing a challenge. It simply means that, at times, staying true to your faith will be very difficult (especially the internal challenge) Being upright in our faith is hard and sometimes we need a boost; that boost is Ramadan The Prophet (pbuh) said that fasting is like... read more

Halaqa: A New Spiritual Dawn with Quran & Ramadan

This week’s halaqa, A New Spiritual Dawn with Quran & Ramadan, was a light and refreshing conversation preparing us for the beautiful month of Ramadan which will begin around the 17th of this month. Imam Zia began the halaqa by mentioning that these events are about everyone learning, not just having a speaker and an audience. Simply having a speaker talk and an audience listen, implies that the speaker knows everything. This is not the case. He proceeded in discussing our relationship with the Quran, particularly in Ramadan, and dedicated the last quarter of the halaqa to breakout sessions where several important questions were addressed by the groups. The following is a recap of this week’s halaqa: “We are meant to try to connect with the Quran…we MUST connect with the Quran right now” –Imam Zia There will be an upcoming event where Imam Zia will review 200 words which constitute 62% of the Quran (“like” the MakeSpace Facebook page and/or sign up for the weekly newsletter via the website so you will be notified about this event) There are two lists; one contains words that are repeated verbatim many times in the Quran, the second being a list of verbs which are repeated many times in the Quran in their many derivatives There is a class that Imam Zia teaches called “Learn to Read the Quran in 16 Hours” and the fact that non-Arabic speakers can learn the basics and read the Quran within 16-40 hours (with practice between classes) is truly amazing- he’s in awe every time he teaches the class, subhanAllah There are cultures that say people... read more

Halaqa: Responding to Hate with Love

In light of increasing negativity towards Muslims in the United States, MakeSpace focused this weekend’s halaqa on Responding to Hate with Love. Two recent incidents were still fresh in attendee’s minds this Sunday. First, a female Muslims chaplain by the name of Tahera Ahmad claimed discrimination when a United Airlines flight attendant refused to give her a closed can of soda because she “might use the can as a weapon”. The flight attendant then handed a closed can of beer to the passenger next to Tahera, therefor treating Ms. Ahmad differently from her fellow passenger. When Ms. Ahmad looked around the cabin, hoping someone would stand up for her, she was met with silence from most and a nasty order to “shut the F*** up” from another passenger. Read more here. The second incident, also occurring this week, was when a man named Jon Ritzheimer organized an “Anti-Islam” rally at a Phoenix Mosque. He called for protestors to bring weapons to the protests and was open about intending for the rally to be intimidating to the mosque’s congregation. Fortunately, the Muslim community began a #NotMyAmerica campaign in support of the residents in Phoenix, and several hundred people (Muslim and non-Muslim) also appeared in person at the rally to combat the negativity with messages of love. Read more here. This is a scary time for Muslims in the west, particularly women who abide by the Islamic dress called “hijab” (modest dress, including a head scarf) and therefore are visibly Muslim. It can be overwhelming, but there are also a lot of people who are against prejudice and hate., such as... read more

Halaqa: Maintaining Balance in an Imbalanced World Part III

This Sunday we continued to dive into the importance of maintaining balance in times of imbalance. On May 10th, the focus of the discussion was related to the individual. This week we concentrated on the family aspect of the same topic. We were joined by Susie Sharaf and Farhad Chowdhury in an animated halaqa which urged audience members to evaluate their definitions of family values, masculinity, and more. Below is a recap of the halaqa titled Maintaining Balance in Times of Imbalance Part III: Comparison Culture Susie is a high school teacher in Fairfax County, Virginia. She shared with us a regularly occurring scenario; students have down time and, rather than talk with friends, they scroll through their phones. Down time ends and the students look up from their phone, but they look unhappy. Susie began asking her students about this, saying, “I know what you are looking at, but what are you looking at?”. The students would reply, “Pictures”. She made the connection that all the focus on pictures was giving teenagers the feeling that they were lacking in looks, talent, popularity, etc. Authentic or Ambiguous Hyper individualism has been a topic of conversation in earlier halaqas. Susie wanted to make clear that hyper-individualism should not be confused with narcissism. In fact, most people become hyper aware of their individual flaws, resulting in overcompensation for what they feel they lack. This overcompensation requires a lot of energy and Susie stressed, “It is exhausting when you are unauthentic…not real.” The idea that one cannot be themselves because of a fear of rejection is toxic. “Pain and loneliness doesn’t come... read more

Sponsor a Ramadan Night

Great opportunity to earn countless blessings! Each night of taraweeh during Ramadan at Dunya will cost MakeSpace $1310 (rent only, other costs are additional). If you would like to sponsor one of the 28 Ramadan nights (June 17 to July 27, 2015), please contact [email protected] Click here to see all events that are available for you to... read more

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