Islam’s Open Door Policy

Come, come whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow a hundred times.
Come, yet again, come, come.

         -Jalal-ud-din Rumi, 13th-century Persia

Rumi’s words, translated into countless languages, constitute one of the most profound vehicles through which Muslims and non-Muslims alike have understood Islam. This particular quote captures the forgiveness, mercy, and compassion of God, all foundational principles within Islam. Continue reading

Can Someone “Convert” to Islam?

British professor, artist, and barber, Faisal Abdu'Allah is a revert to Islam. Photo: triennial.ee

In past posts, Reem and I have discussed men and women who have embraced Islam later on in their lives. As I mentioned in a recent piece, by some estimates, as many as one fourth of all Muslim Americans identify as Muslims not by birth. This awkward word arrangement, “Muslims not by birth” is usually shortened to “convert,” however not everyone agrees. Others prefer to use the word “revert.” Depending on whom you ask and what you’re looking to find out, one word may be more useful than the other. And especially since spirituality, religion, and identity are some of the most intimate of topics, you may even offend someone if you don’t ask which terminology they prefer.

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Pillars of Islam: Giving Zakat

I have written in previous posts about the first three pillars of Islam: shahadah (the proclamation of faith), salah (prayer), and saum Ramadan (fasting the month of Ramadan). In this post, I will focus on giving zakat, or almsgiving. The word zakat comes from the Arabic root “to purify.” Muslims purify their wealth by giving around 2.5% of standing wealth, wealth that they have not needed to use during the year, to those in need. Zakat is different from voluntary charity called sadaqah because it is required of all able Muslims. Continue reading

Pillars of Islam: The Proclamation of Faith

Proclamation of Faith

Islam is founded on the five pillars. These pillars anchor a Muslim’s belief and establish the rituals that they must perform to demonstrate that belief. The first pillar of Islam is the shahadah, the proclamation of faith. The proclamation of faith comprises two statements, shahadatan, which encompass the core ideas of Islam. In Arabic, the proclamation of faith is ashhadu an laa illaha illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammad rasul Allah. This translates as “I bear witness that there is no god but God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Prophet of God.” Continue reading