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In the Name of God بسم الله

rachel

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  1. Thanks so much for your advice. I'm coming south from NJ, so I think the Idara is the closest of the DC-area centers. I'll try it, insha'Allah.
  2. Salaams, Since there isn't much English-language Muharram programming where I live, I'm thinking of driving 4 hours to Idara-e Jaferiya in Burtonsville MD, just for the last night's majlis and the a'amal of Ashura day. I see that they have some sort of English program. Can anybody here comment on the quality of that program? (esp. any converts, esp. esp. convert sisters?) I mean, is it aimed primarily at children/young teenagers? is it so small that everyone will be staring at me suspiciously? i'm hoping for something like the programs at the islamic center in dearborn, where there are lots of converts and lots of born muslims who mainly speak english, so you don't feel like a total fish out of water if you don't always know what's going on or what you're supposed to do next.
  3. Assalaamu alaikum, sisters, Do any of you have any experience with fasting in (relatively) late pregnancy? I know it's allowable not to fast, but I would really like not to miss it and have to make it up again later. I am 7 months into a so-far low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy (alhamdulillah!). I'm thinking that the only serious issue at this stage would be dehydration, which I plan to avoid by keeping cool and relatively inactive during the days and eating regular meals and drinking lots through the night. Has anyone out there done something similar? If so, how did it feel?
  4. Alsala, alikum,

    how are you , dear sister?

  5. Salaams, I thought the initial question was quite interesting and timely, though the later discussion has gone in a somewhat unhelpful direction. So let me have a go at answering, in hopes that other converts will chime in to share their experiences. When i first attended the Ashura commemorations, I was a bit put off by the chest-thumping, but not too shocked. My masjid doesn't go in for the more extreme stuff, though I've seen pictures of it happening in other countries (heck, I'm sure it happens in Dearborn, I've just never been there to witness it)... and oddly, it bothers me less, because it is very far away/ no one expects me to do it/ it seems "cultural" and therefore excusable. But actually my larger problem was something more fundamental. The whole idea that we gather in majlis to be told very calculatedly tear-jerking stories seemed so emotionally manipulative, so like the political-rally-cum-brainwashing scene in a dystopian novel, that I didn't know how to square it with the qualities that had already drawn me to Shi'ism (which I saw as more rational, more reflective, more tolerant of inquiry, somehow more "genuine" than the Islam my Sunni acquaintances had exposed me to-- which is totally a comment about those people, not Sunni Islam generally). I really didn't know how to react. It's not that I don't respond to the tragedy of Kerbala, it's just that I want to think about it-- there are lessons to be learned from every minute of Imam Hussein's and his companions' actions in those days-- and recounting those events in a way that the audience's only reaction was weeping seemed to me to cheapen them. I should probably say that I'm the kind of person who cries rather easily at sentimental movies, but then walks away feeling vaguely dirty that my emotions have been hijacked so readily. As with a lot of the "hard parts" of being Muslim, I basically told myself. "I've converted now, I'm sure it was the right thing to do, and if these things seem to go against my nature, I have to just be patient and see if it all feels different once some time has passed." I still went to majalis. But I focused on the lecture part and then just cringed through the sad story/crying/ chest thumping part. And with time I find that I can listen to the sad stories and cry and not feel that I'm being manipulated quite as much. Probably age has something to do with it. Now that I have children, I feel a connection to certain events that I didn't before... and, well, it's much easier to cry when you're picturing your own child dying of thirst or pierced by an arrow. I guess ultimately I've decided that a religion as dispassionate as I'd first imagined Shia Islam to be probably would not have survived the test of time, because emotionality is also part of spiritual experience, even though my own nature seems to revolt against it. Anybody else (converts, I mean) feel similarly?
  6. I appreciate your comment, Ya Baqiyatullah, particularly the quote from Imam Ali, but one phrase of yours raises questions for me: " I am blessed to have the internet today to make this possible, I am blessed to have the resources to check their fatwas against hadith of the Masoomeen." Now, I was under the impression that in choosing a marja, one should not be concerned with the factual content of their rulings, per se... because if I were really able to assess the quality of their work, tracing the steps of how they evaluate sources, how they relate a general concept to a specific case, etc., etc.... then I wouldn't *need* a marja.
  7. While I agree that it *shouldn't *matter, it seems a bit naive to call it "a non-issue" when you're supposed to be giving money to these people. The US government may not care too much whose religious teachings I follow, but they sure as heck notice which charities I support!
  8. Salaams, everyone. The passing of Ayatollah Fadlallah (may Allah have mercy upon him) has me thinking back several years to when I took shehadah and chose a marja. Although i'm not displeased with my choice, I've never been very proud of the process-- it seemed to come down more than anything else to convenience (whose opinions were most readily available in English, who was widely followed in the community I was living in at the time... stuff that really shouldn't be revelant, or at least shouldn't outweigh a lot of other factors). But then again, it seems almost crazy to think that a recent revert could do the research and come up with a truly meaningful decision. So I'm curious to hear: how did you choose your marja? if some time has passed since then, how do you feel about your choice today and the process you went through in choosing?
  9. Salams, Seyyed Kerbala, I worry that you're approaching this question a bit unrealistically (first of all, by asking random people on shiachat!). Don't think you will choose among the top 20 universities. Don't even think you'll choose a region of the country. You will need to look hard for a university that will accept you and give you a full scholarship (because no one can afford to pay full tuition). This will very likely mean accepting a place at a less prestigious school in an obscure part of the country. The good news is that once you've been here a year or two and have settled comfortably into academic life, you are in a much better position to transfer to a place more to your liking. But that first year will be hard-- and doubly so for your wife, especially if she is not a student, as well, and spends her days in isolation. I'm saying this as an American PhD student (in the humanities, admittedly) who met her international student husband in grad school and has watched from the sidelines as his compatriots arrived, struggled, shed their illusions, and adjusted to american academia. Insha'Allah you will find a place that's right for you-- not the ideal place, maybe, but someplace tolerable, someplace that you can learn from. Fi aminillah
  10. Salaams, I just have to respond to Maryaam's comment about women in tight revealing clothing always having to adjust it. That's me in hijab! It seems like I'm constantly messing w/ my scarf, readjusting this and that... it drives me nuts. Granted, I haven't worn hijab all my life, but it's been quite a few years now and this weird insecurity is not getting any better. My sisters-in-law look so serene and poised in their hijab, and I feel like I'm one step away from a "wardrobe malfunction!" (Actually, it's getting worse now that I have a two-year old who loves nothing better than to try to yank my scarf off at the playground. Hasn't happened yet, but it's only a matter of time :))
  11. Salaams, sisters, Thanks so much for your suggestions and sympathy! I think I'll try to work on the duas/ziyarat-for-days-of-the-week thing: it seems the most manageable for now. I hope to be moving soon to an area with a more active Shi'a center, so insha'Allah there will be ways to get involved there, too. (I'm probably being over-optimistic about that, but we'll see :) Sr. Bint al Hoda, your "invite people once a year for a celebration" idea is my impossible dream! When I first became Muslim, I was sort of on the fringes of a community where people did that-- I was actually invited to such a gathering only once, for Eid ul Ghadeer-- but it made such a strong impression on me, all those sisters gathered just for the pure joy of remembering Ahlul Bayt together. It seemed so fun and uncomplicated and energizing (of course when you're a new convert, everything's magical). I imagined that those moments would always be part of my life from then on. Unfortunately, to even attempt to replicate the experience now, I would have to 1) know a number of Shi'a folks well enough to invite them, or 2) invite random Muslim acquaintances (most of them Sunni), or 3) cajole my non-Muslim friends into coming over with promises of food and "learning something about another culture." The sad part of all this is that, while options 2 and 3 sound at least possible, #1 scares the pants off me. Sigh. Anyway. I'm not sure where that digression came from-- just had to vent, I guess. Thanks again for your ideas-- Rachel
  12. Salaams, everyone. A question for the reverts out there: which Islamic holidays/events/occasions do you commemorate in some way? and where have you learned when/how to do it? Do you just observe the biggies-- ramadan, eid ul adha, ashuraa-- or do you do something for birth and death days of the masumeen, other historical occasions, not-exactly-religious holidays that are nonetheless tolerated in Islam (I'm thinking of Nowruz, probably there are other things out there as well)? How about the idea that particular du'as and actions are appropriate on particular days of the week? Do you do any of those things? The reason I ask is this. One of the things I find I miss most as a revert is the sense of a liturgical calendar. Not that I was even religious at all before I became Muslim, but still my sense of the passage of time has always been connected to a march of "special days", big and small, throughout the year. Obviously, people who are born and raised in Muslim communities have this-- or at least they have access to it if they want or need it. But for reverts, the onus is really on us to "reset our clocks" and somehow insert ourselves into Muslim time. When I first became Muslim, eight years ago, I thought this was a problem that would sort of solve itself. I would get married, maybe have kids, develop some kind of organic attachment to an ethnic community, and that would be it. Now I'm married, have a child, still no "ethnic" community... and the lack of a Muslim time sense is staring to bother me more and more. So I'm really curious to hear: have any of you felt this? and how have you dealt with it? (and just to preempt a certain kind of unhelpful reply: yes, I can look at a calendar. the issue is not finding out when things occur (though sometimes that's not so easy, either!) it's finding out on an everday level, what do born Muslims make of the minor holidays/sad days/etc. that tide them through the year? and how do I start to feel natural about doing those things myself?) Thanks for your thoughts--
  13. assalaamu alaikum, does anyone know of any revert groups that meet in the ny/nj area? i'm new in town (though not all that new to islam) and would love to meet some sisters.
  14. Umm... anybody? Long Island? New Jersey? Connecticut? I'm willing to drive, even stupidly long distances. Please, somebody save me from weeks of fruitless and embarrassing searching! Wasalaam, rachel
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