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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Islam and the Value of Time

time

Time is the most precious gift that humankind possesses and can be taken from us at any given moment.

What is time, what causes it? Is it a dimension, can you slow it down or speed it up?

When we think of time we tend to think of the ways in which we measure the passing of time, a clock or watch, or we think of a measured interval of time such as an hour or minute. Humankind has always been concerned with time, the passage of time, the measurement of time, and the scientific qualities of time. We talk about time travel, the relativity of time, the direction of time and wheel of time.

There are theories and concepts of time and it is studied in religion, philosophy and science. Time even has economic value. Time is money. Time has social and personal importance; we use our concept of time to place events appointments and milestones in sequence. We order our lives around time, in Islam lives are structured around the daily prayers.

In the 11th century, Avicenna doubted the existence of physical time, arguing that time exists only in the mind due to memory and expectation. Islamic and Christian theologians adopted the idea that time is linear. Verses from the Bible tell us there is a time for everything: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Time has an intrinsic value that is recognized even in motivational rhymes for adults and nursery rhymes for children.  To realize the value of one year, ask a student who has failed that year. To realize the value of one month, ask the mother of a premature baby, and to realize the value of one second ask the survivor of an accident.

Both the Qur’an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) make it clear that Islam considers time to a very valuable resource. Believers are encouraged to be conscious of time, to recognize its importance and to organize it wisely. If human beings do not waste or abuse time, but rather think of it as a blessing from God then they have every reason to hope for success both in this life and in the hereafter.

By Al-`Asr (the time). Verily, man is in loss. Except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth and recommend one another to patience. (Al-`Asr 103:1-3)

Prophet Muhammad instructed his followers and thus the believers to know and value the importance of time in the following traditions.

Humankind will remain standing on the Day of Resurrection until he is asked about four things: his life and how he spent it, his youth and how he used it up, his property and how he acquired and managed it and his knowledge and how he utilized it.

There are two of God’s favors that are forgotten by many people; health and free time. (Al-Bukhari)

Islam teaches us that time passes quickly and can never return, it is irretrievable. It is also the most precious gift that humankind possesses and can be taken from us at any given moment. God is the Giver but He is also the Withholder. Time passes swiftly and God reminds us in the Qur’an that the months and years pass but when we are standing before Him on the Day of Judgment our time on earth will seem as though we had lived, dreamed and worshipped for less than a day.

A speaker from among them said, “How long have you stayed (here)?” They said, “We have stayed (perhaps) a day or part of a day.” They said, “Your Lord (alone) knows best how long you have stayed (here)”. (Al-Kahf 18:19)

They will say: “We stayed a day or part of a day. Ask of those who keep account.” (Al-Mu’minun 23:113)

A believer should not waste precious time on things that will not bring him closer to his Creator. Actions that do not contain a benefit for himself, his society or humankind in general are usually wasted actions, wasted time. Islam categorized things according to their level of importance. The first Muslims used to capture and use every single second of their time.

Thabit Al-Bunany said: “When my father was on his deathbed, I went to assist him in pronouncing the testimony that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, but he said, ‘Son! Leave me alone, for I have recited all my supplications five times and I’m on my sixth cycle now.”

Prophet Muhammad  also told his followers: “Do not curse time (ad-dahr), for God is the one who crafted time.” (Muslim)

Imam An Nawawi commented on this by saying: “The meaning of the phrase “for God  is the One Who crafted time” means that He is the One Who causes those events and accidents to happen, and He is the Creator of all that happens.”

Those who understand the value of time should make an effort to organize their time and make realistic plans. The entire life of a believer can be considered worship when that person is conscious of doing only what is pleasing to God. Religious obligations must be a first priority, however God is generous and time that seems so fleeting when we are flittering it becomes filled with blessing when we are using it to please our Creator.

The words of God in the Qur’an and the message of Prophet Muhammad to the believers are clear; we, humankind, are told to be conscious of time. God reminds us that life in this world is but temporary and we do not know our appointed time of death.

As believers we must never waste or abuse time, rather we must value it as a blessing from God. We must all understand that wasting even a single moment is an opportunity gone, never to return. When our time in this world is up, there is no going back and we will be held accountable for all that we do. Time is indeed precious!

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Source: islamreligion.com.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

On the Path to God

path in nature

When goals are desirable, the process of aspiring to, working towards and achieving them also become desirable.

The path to God is only illuminated when a person recognizes the central place of God in his life and strives to develop his self accordingly. The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) said:

“If someone wants to know what position he enjoys in the eyes of God, he has only to look at what place he gives to God (in his heart and life).” (Al-Hakim)

The term nearest in meaning to self-development in the Qur’anic vocabulary is tazkiyah. Tazkiyah means purification and refers to the cleansing of the human self from all that is unwholesome, undesirable and unwelcome.

It also refers to the nurturing and strengthening of all the qualities within the human self that are essential for growth and development, for blossoming and flowering.

The Goal in Life

Success and happiness in this world and the Hereafter depend on tazkiyah, the purification and nurturing of our personality. The Qur’an states that true success is only reserved for those who seek to purify themselves:

Successful indeed is the one who purifies his whole self. (Ash-Shams 91:9)

Our personality comprises not only the physical body but also the mind and the heart, feelings and attitudes, character and behaviour. Proper nurturing and development of these elements of the personality will achieve desirable goals. When goals are desirable, the process of aspiring to, working towards and achieving them also become desirable.

This is part of human nature. It is critical, therefore, that we recognize and understand the true nature of our ultimate goal in life.

For the believer, the most coveted goal in life is to seek the good pleasure of Allah and Janna or Paradise. Our Creator has set this goal for us: “And surely Paradise – it is the goal” (An-Nazi`at 79:41); “Indeed the Next abode – it is truly the life!” (Al-`Ankabut 29:64); “The companions of Paradise – they are the triumphant ones” (Al-Hashr 59:20).

Way to Paradise

Know, however, that attaining the pleasure of Allah takes precedence over seeking Jannah but the two are closely connected. Paradise can only be attained through seeking Allah’s pleasure, and when Allah’s pleasure is gained, we will indeed be granted Paradise. Reflect upon the following two verses in the Qur’an:

And there is a kind of person who would willingly give up personal interests, seeking Allah’s pleasure; and God is Most Compassionate towards His servants. (Al-Baqarah 2:207)

Indeed Allah has purchased from the Believers their lives and their possessions, promising them Paradise, in return. (At-Tawbah 9:111)

The alternative to attaining Paradise in the Hereafter is to be placed in Jahannam or Hellfire and to receive its punishments. The Quran states: “But in the life to come: (it is either) severe suffering, or God’s forgiveness and His goodly acceptance.” (Al-Hadid 57:20). What is it that makes a person deserving of such a suffering?

The answer is to be found in the second part of the same verse: “for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion” (Al-Hadid 57:20). Jahannam therefore, is for those who seek as their ultimate goal in life, not the pleasure of Allah or Paradise, but the enjoyment of worldly gains.

The pursuit of worldly gain is but a mirage. All worldly gains are left behind when you die. All that is on earth is bound to perish while Allah and His good favour will remain forever. It is for this reason that the Qur’an advises:

Vie with one another in seeking to attain to your Sustainer’s forgiveness; and to a Paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which has been readied for those who have attained to faith in God and His messengers: such is the bounty of Allah which He grants unto whomever He wills -for Allah is limitless in His great bounty. (Al-Hadid 57:21)

All your efforts in this world should therefore be focused only on seeking Paradise. It is the promise of the Almighty that:

You will only be rewarded fully for all your good deeds on the Day of Resurrection, and (on that Day) whoever will be drawn away from Hellfire, and admitted into Paradise, will indeed have triumphed. (Aal `Imran 3:185)

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The article is excepted from the author’s book “In the Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development”.

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Life’s True Joy and Major Assets

In Allah’s Hands

 

beautiful nature

Man should realize that life is temporary and that it is solely at Allah’s command.

The life of this world is one of Allah’s major bounties. Life flourishes at Allah’s command. As rain revives the dead land, filling it with thick foliage and pleasant vegetation, in the same measure Allah makes life full of charms and joys.

Life must, therefore, be led only in the manner that its Master, Allah, asks us to do. Notwithstanding its great attraction, the greenery around us should not blind us to its short life. Allah Who causes life to appear in its innumerable forms does and can reduce it to nothing in no time. The dense vegetation withering and decaying into dry, ugly stubble is a common sight.

From this everyday occurrence man must learn the striking truth that all life is mortal, as brief as seasonal vegetative growth is.

Equally significant is the truth that Allah being All-Powerful causes life to appear in its countless splendid manifestations and again, it is Allah Who ends it suddenly. Man should not therefore be carried away by the outward beauty of life. Rather, he should realise that life is temporary and that it is solely at Allah’s command.

True Joy

To illustrate the point further, the Qur’an cites the concrete examples of wealth and sons who are extremely dear to man in this life. They are, no doubt, precious assets and a source of much joy. Yet they too, are as impermanent as seasonal vegetation is.

Wealth and sons are adorments of the life of this world: But the things that endure, good deeds, are best in the sight of your Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes. (Al-Kahf 18:46)

Man cannot turn wholly indifferent to worldly objects. He is dependent upon them in leading his life. And precisely for the same reason has Allah blessed man with the basic necessities, especially wealth and children, sources of immense physical and emotional support and comfort. However, man should not be engrossed in these.

Wealth and sons often distract man from strictly and consistently following Allah’s way. Out of his love of wealth and children man is liable to do things which are not desirable in Allah’s sight. The Qur’an therefore, cautions man against this pitfall. Wealth and sons are not evil in themselves. For their outright rejection implies monasticism as the preferred way of life.

Islam does not banish economic pursuits from the sphere of man’s life. The Qur’anic note of caution, nonetheless, is that man should not be given wholly to this world which might misdirect him away from Allah’s path.

Good Deeds

In Islam these are rather the favours which Allah showers on man, and which render his life joyful and meaningful.

Man should, therefore, set his eyes firmly on the performance of good deeds which bring him Allah’s pleasure. Wealth and sons may be deployed for achieving the same end. Significantly enough, Allah promises eternal reward and hope for deliverance for every good deed.

Any particular deed is not specified on this count. It is evident from several hadiths that every good deed, permeated with the belief in the One True God, brings man nearer to Allah.

This is what man’s chief preoccupation in life should be. Although man and life itself are mortal, good deeds have a lasting effect, which may brighten man’s prospects and exalt his rank in the Afterlife.

Man should, therefore, realise this truth notwithstanding all the distractions and temptations in life.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s The Qur’an: Essential Teachings, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Make Your Way to Jannah

nature-green fields

Islam is a state of becoming not a state of being. Each day strive to improve and better yourself, and you will.

The first step in self development is to concentrate single-mindedly on Paradise. Indeed, the one who is unsure of his destiny in life, torn between this world and the Next, like one standing with his feet in two separate boats, will be thrown off balance.

Many of the difficulties that we face are due to this lack of commitment and inability to focus on the real and ultimate goal. If you can keep your focus on Jannah, then everything else will be possible.

Journey to the True Goal

The selection of the ultimate goal of Paradise must be made consciously and may involve an absolute break with the past. To choose this new goal as the ultimate goal in one’s life is in fact to choose a new life, to begin a new journey.

Embark on this new journey by refreshing your wudu’ (ablution) and offering two rak`ahs (units) of salah or prayer reminding yourself of all the punishment of Hellfire you have just resolved to avoid at all costs and all the rewards of Paradise that you will strive to achieve.

Remind yourself also of the important stations and landmarks on the journey; imagine death as near; imagine the moment when the Angel of Death will declare, ’your time is over, now you must follow me’; imagine that moment when you will be made to stand in the presence of Allah, Most High, so that the final judgment of life may be passed on you and imagine the consequences of that judgment.

When you have completed the two rak`ahs then resolve once more that all efforts will be directed towards achieving Paradise, beseech Allah and pray with humility:

‘O Allah, I ask for Your mercy and whatever brings me closer to it, in word and deed.’

‘O Allah, I ask for a faith that will never vanish, a blessing that will never diminish, a pleasure that will never abate, and the most elevated position in Paradise distinguished by the Companionship of Your Messenger, Muhammad.’

While improvement in your habits and actions is a life-long process, the desire to achieve it can thus be sparked in a moment. This desire will provide the momentum for attaining your goal – the good pleasure of Allah and Paradise.

Your Mission

Having taken the fast step and resolved to attain Paradise, you may ask yourself, ‘what does Allah require from me in order for me to succeed?’

What Allah requires of you, in Qur’anic vocabulary, is for you to be a mu’min (believer) and mujahid (striver). A mu’min is one who is true and firm in his faith in God. A mujahid is one who strives his utmost, with all the means at his disposal, to gain God’s pleasure.

If you are a mu’min and a mujahid, Allah (the Most Exalted in Power and yet the Most Compassionate) will assist you to rise to higher stations both in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah has promised this to those who possess the qualities of iman (faith) and the active resolve for jihad or struggle. The Qur’an states:

The believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Apostle then they doubt not and struggle hard with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah; they are the truthful ones.(Al-Hujurat 49:15)

You now have a mission: to become a mu’min and mujahid. As you embark upon this mission you may come to feel that your knowledge of Islam is somewhat limited or perhaps that you are unable to attain those heights of submission and purification that you desire or others expect of you. This is only natural.

You must not, however, allow these feelings of personal shortcomings to undermine your efforts to practice Islam. Remember that Islam is a state of becoming not a state of being. Each day you must strive to improve and better yourself – and you will improve.

Gradually

Tazkiyah (purification) or this new program for self-improvement that you now find yourself in, is a process that unfolds itself step by step. You cannot expect to change all at once. This is against the laws of nature.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was always aware of this when he was dealing with his Companions. Whenever someone embraced Islam, the Prophet would not ask that person to do everything immediately. Instead, he would teach and expect that person to start fulfilling his obligations only as much as he could bear at a time. This gradual process of change is also clearly reflected in the manner in which the Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years.

In all your efforts towards becoming a better Believer, you must bear in mind this principle of gradualism, otherwise you may try to attain the impossible, and when you do not achieve it, you may become frustrated.

At this stage, what matters most is that your bargain with Allah, iman, remains sound and firm. This definition of iman is perhaps a little different from the definition you usually hear. It is, however, a definition that we find in the Qur’an definitely in Surat At-Tawbah 9. Furthermore, attainment of such iman, allows you to be counted among the true and sincere servants in the eyes of your Lord:

Behold, God has bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them Paradise in return, they fight in God’s cause, and slay, and are slain: a promise which in truth He has willed upon Himself in the Tawra, and the Injil, and the Quran. And who could be more faithful to his covenant than God? (At-Tawbah 9:111)

Once you have committed yourself to Allah, all that you have must be spent in His way. This is the ideal. Ideals, however, are always difficult to achieve – and this you must understand and accept.

Ideals are always to be pursued; if they are easily and always achievable, they can hardly remain as ideals. Keeping to your side of the bargain then, is an ideal that you must always seek to maintain.

It is this seeking and this striving to spend all that we have in the way of Allah that is known as jihad and alternatively, in this instance, as tazkiyah.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s In the Early Hours: Reflections on Spiritual and Self-Development.

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New Muslims Reflections

This Is What I Love the Most about Islam…

What thing do you know by heart and mind, believe in, and fascinated by in Islam?

What is your favorite thing about Islam? What thing do you love most about this religion? And why do you love it?

This Is What I Love the Most in Islam… What is yours?

Below is an episodes of IBN’s “100 Muslims, 1 Question” where some fellow American Muslims were asked about their favorite thing in Islam, and here are their responses…

Share your opinions and thoughts here…

 

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Source: ibn.net

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New Muslims Reflections

This One Surah Is Mine…What Is Yours?

Given that every single human has a unique nature, each and every one of us connect with God in their own way, from their own perspective.

We all get in touch with God through the Qur’an, the message for all and for each one of us. Still, the Qur’an addresses each one of us individually.

Is it the first surah you learned or memorized?

What is your favorite surah of the Qur’an, and why? Is it the first surah you learned, recited or memorized?

What is the first thing you think about when you hear or read that surah? In what way does it impact or affect you on a personal level?

Some fellow American Muslims were asked about their favorite surah of the Qur’an, and why they are attached to it, and here are their responses…

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Source: ibn.net

 

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Life: Its Meaning and Purpose

How do you live your life; in what way, by what means and for what purpose? How do you prioritize it? How do you define it? Do you live the life true to yourself? How would I know?

Have you ever asked yourself questions about God, belief, this life, the Hereafter, and etc.? If yes, what answers have you got?

And if no, why? Why haven’t you stopped to consider such matters? Are they irrelevant? Do you on purpose keep yourself away from it , or are you just preoccupied with other important things?

Why should we ask such questions? Besides, do we need faith at all to be able to define our life and find answers to such “philosophical” questions?

Factually and even shockingly the video here traces and outlines such rarely discussed matters, and the meaning of life accordingly …

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Source: dawahskills.com

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Between Religion and Daily Life in Islam

Between Religion and Daily Life in Islam..

Islam does not recognize any kind of separation between soul and body, spirit and matter, religion and life.

Faith without action and practice is a dead end, as far as Islam is concerned. Faith by nature is very sensitive and can be most effective.

When it is out of practice or out of use, it quickly loses its liveliness and motivating power. The only way to enliven faith and make it serve its purpose is practice.

Meaningfulness

Practice provides faith with nourishment, survival and effectiveness. In return, faith inspires man to be constant in his devotion, and persistent in his practice. This is because the interrelationship between faith and practice is very strong, and their interdependence is readily understandable.

A person without faith has no real source of inspiration and, consequently, has no worthy objectives to attain or even aspire to. The life of such a person is meaningless, and he lives from day to day, which is no life at all.

On the other hand, the person who confesses faith but does not practice it is self-deceiving person, and in fact has no faith, in which case he is no more than a helpless straying wanderer

The interrelationship between faith and practice in Islam has vivid reflections on the entire setup of the religion and manifests the deep philosophy of its teachings.

Islam does not recognize any kind of separation between soul and body, spirit and matter, religion and life. It accepts man the way God has created him and recognizes his nature as composed of soul and body. It does not neglect his spiritual nature; else he would be like any animal. Nor does it underestimate his physical needs; else he would be an angel, which he is not and cannot be.

According to Islam, man stands in center of the stream of creation. He is not purely spiritual because the purely spiritual beings are the angels, nor is he beyond that, because the Only Being beyond that is God alone. He is not entirely material or physical, because the only beings of this class are the animals and other irrational creatures.

So being of such a complementary nature, man has parallel demands and parallel needs: spiritual and material, moral and physical.

The religion which can help man and bring him close to God is the religion which takes into consideration all these demands and needs, the religion which elevates the spiritual status and disciplines the physical desires. And this is the religion of Islam. To oppress either side of human nature, or upset the balance, or lean to one direction only, would be an abusive contradiction to human nature as well as an irresponsible defiance of the very nature in which God has created man.

Because Islam grants complete recognition of human nature as it is, and takes deep interest in the spiritual as well as the material well-being of man, it does not consider religion a personal affair or a separate entity from the current general course of life.

In other words, religion has no value unless its teachings have effective imprints on the personal and public course of life. On the other hand, life is meaningless, if it is not organized and conducted according to the divine law.

Between Religion and Daily Life in Islam..

Islam penetrates into all walks of life to conduct all human activities in a sound and wholesome manner.

This explains why Islam extends its sense of organization to all walks of life: individual and social behavior, labor and industry, economics and politics, national and international relations, and so on. It also demonstrates why Islam does not recognize “secularism” or separation of religion from man’ s daily transactions.

Wholeness

The interaction between true religion and meaningful life is vital. And this is why Islam penetrates into all walks of life to conduct all human activities in a sound and wholesome manner, acceptable to God and benevolent to man

As a result of this necessary correspondence between true religion and daily life, Islam does not attend to the doctrine of “six days for me or the world and one day for the Lord” . This doctrine amounts to nothing in the long run, and makes the liveliness of religion turn pale and faint.

Besides, it shows serious injustice to God on man’s part and afflicts detrimental injuries on the latter’ s soul. It is a serious negligence of the spiritual and moral needs which are as important as, if not greater than, the material desires. It is a dangerous disruption of the nature of man, and any such imbalance is a symptom of degeneration.

Similarly, if man earmarks six days for monkery (monastic practices) or exclusive meditation and one day for himself, he would be better in no way. The balance would still be upset. The natural and logical course, then, is the course which Islam has offered.

Being of a complementary nature and standing in the center of the stream of creation, man will plunge into serious troubles, if he neglects either his soul or his body, or if he lets either one outweigh the other.

To nourish both, to foster both in a well-balanced and sound manner is the hardest test of man’ s sense of justice and integrity as well as of his willpower and truthfulness. And to help man to pass this test, Islam has come to his rescue with the regular exercises of faith.

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Source: The article is excerpted from the author’s Islam in Focus.

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How to Find Allah in Your Life

Allah tells us to search for Him. Where should we search for Him? What tools and equipment do we need to find Allah?

Allah says in the Qur’an:

Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and lying on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord! You has not created this in vain! Glory be to You; save us then from the chastisement of the fire.

Our Lord! surely whomsoever You make enter the fire, him You has indeed brought to disgrace, and there shall be no helpers for the unjust

Our Lord! surely we have heard a preacher calling to the faith, saying: Believe in your Lord, so we did believe; Our Lord! forgive us therefore our faults, and cover our evil deeds and make us die with the righteous. (Aal `Imran 3:191-193)

So, there’s search, and that search begins with knowledge. And whatever knowledge one has, they never know enough. In your search for God one always feel thirst.

The enlightening video below explores the issue of finding Allah in our life and how not to lose our way to Him…

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Source:  TheProphetsPath  Youtube Channel

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New Muslims Society

What Does Hijab Mean to Yasmin Mogahed?

Yasmin Mogahed is an instructor for  AlMaghrib Institute, a writer for the Huffington Post, an international speaker, and author, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development.

Mogahed wore the hijab when she was between thirteen and fourteen years old.

What did motivate Mogahed to wear the hijab at that age? What change did hijab bring to her life? How did it impact her view of the world, her Islamic identity, and her identity as a Muslim “woman”? How did it impact other acts of worship?

What does hijab mean to her? How has the meaning of hijab evolved for her over time? How did she find her path to God through the hijab?

What challenges has she faced with hijab? What is her advice for women regarding the hijab?

Watch the interview her with Yasmin Mogahed by AlMaghrib Institute

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