By: Aamina Ali
As the days of August quickly approach, so do the days of forgiveness, mercy, and emancipation from the hellfire.
Ramadan is finally here again —are you ready for it? Ramadan is more than just a month of fasting and praying; it’s a month of change. We change our bad habits and turn them into good habits. We perfect our good habits and make them a part of our lifestyles. But the change doesn’t have to start on the first day. In fact, the best time to change is now. How can we prepare for Ramadan and ensure that we will benefit the most from this blessed month? Start now.
The best thing you can do before Ramadan starts is to make a list of things you would like to accomplish or change about yourself. This can be a mental list, or you can write it down, but either way, having a list will get you one step closer to your goal. During the days before Ramadan begins, start to keep track of things you need to improve on, or some aspect of your lifestyle you’d like to change. For example, you might notice that you aren’t very patient with others, or that you find it difficult to wake up for Fajr. Now that you’ve identified a problem, you can work on fixing it. Before Ramadan starts, ask yourself, “what can I do to fix this problem?” Keeping this in mind, you can start to work on the problem even before Ramadan arrives.
Experts say it takes 30 days for something to become a habit. Once Ramadan starts, it’s time to turn those goals into habits. If waking up for Fajr is your problem, try to go to sleep earlier during Ramadan. If being impatient is what you want to fix, then in addition to keeping your fast, try to keep your goal in mind. No matter what it is you want to fix, if you make an honest effort with the intention to fix the problem, nothing is impossible. But the changes shouldn’t stop once Eid-al-Fitr has passed. After Ramadan ends, it’s time to make those habits a permanent part of your lifestyle. Among the many things we gain from the month, one thing we can gain from Ramadan is the betterment of ourselves as Muslims. If we don’t continue to carry on these changes and break our bad habits after Ramadan has passed, then all our efforts have gone to waste. It is important to remember that Ramadan is a blessed month, but unless you learn something from it, you won’t truly receive all the benefits.
Many of us often have trouble thinking of goals or habits during this month, but even the smallest change in your lifestyle will be advantageous for you in this life and in the Hereafter. Try to read more Quran, pray Sunnah, go to the Masjid for Salah, or even simply try to do a good deed everyday. Practicing these habits before, during, and after the month of Ramadan is the key to becoming a better Muslim, and ultimately the path which will lead to the door of Jannah.
By: Aamina Ali
Information Courtesy of the Metropolitan Police Service
Always take a small magnet with you when you go on vacation, it will come in handy at the end of the trip. Ever wonder what is on your hotel magnetic key card? Is it just the access code for your hotel room?
You may think so, but in reality, it contains much more than that. That little magnetic strip can contain information such as the customer’s name, address, hotel room number, check-in/check-out dates, and even customer’s credit card number and expiration date!
When you turn your card in to the front desk, you’re also turning in your personal information for anyone to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner. An employee can take a hand full of cards home, and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your expense.
Simply put, hotels do not erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest’s information is electronically 'overwritten' on the card and the guest's information is erased in the overwriting process. But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with your information on it!
The bottom line is this: Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them. NEVER leave them behind in the room or room wastebasket, and NEVER turn them into the front desk when you check out of a room. They will not charge you for the card (it's illegal) and you'll be sure you are not leaving a lot of valuable personal information on it that could be easily lifted off with any simple scanning device card reader. For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip! If you have a small magnet, pass it across the magnetic strip several times. You will find that if you try it in the door, it will not work anymore. The magnet erases everything on the card, including all your personal information.
So the next time you go on vacation, remember to carry a small magnet on you, and don’t forget to keep your key!
By – Aamina Ali- Canton, MI
If you’re a teenager who’s looking for a place to hang out and have a good time, then the MCWS Youth Lounge is the place to be.
The Youth Lounge, which opened in early July, is a lounge in the basement of MCWS where the youth of the community can hang out and have fun.
In addition to the several couches and tables, the lounge has an X-Box system with a TV, a projector screen, chairs, and a white board. And when the kids aren’t playing X-Box or relaxing on the comfy couches, they can be found playing with one of the lounge’s many other attractions, including a pool table, a ping-pong table, a foosball table, and an air-hockey table. The tables in the lounge also provide a place for teens to eat, drink, or study. There is a membership fee for the lounge which is intended to provide the money to maintain and take care of it. The fee is $10 a month, or $100 for the entire year.
Rami El-Bkaily, a high school student from the Canton area, said, “I think that the youth lounge is a brilliant idea because it not only gives the youth a place to play...but it gives them a place to chill and study when the time comes. It was very well thought out, and we raise the money for maintain it by paying a membership fee. Overall, it is a very good idea from both sides of the coin.”
Another high school student, who wishes to remain anonymous, has a slightly different opinion. “Well it’s very nice place, and it’s fun to go there and chill with your friends, but I personally don’t like it too much, it’s kind of overrated” the student said.
So there you have it from two different angles. Maybe the lounge isn’t as great as it seems, and maybe it’s a cool place to hang out, but there’s only one way to find out for sure—go see for yourself, and decide whether the MCWS Youth Lounge is overrated, or the place to be!
By – Aamina Ali
Salem High School
Food, fun, and fundraising. That’s what the MCWS Dinner was all about on Friday, July 23rd, 2010. The purpose of the dinner was to support the funding of a Female Assistant Youth Director at MCWS (Canton Masjid). Currently, the Male Youth Director is Br. Mohammed Tayssir Safi, and due to the limitations on interactions with the sisters, the community is in need of a Female Youth Director. But this was no ordinary fundraising dinner. In addition to dinner and a speech, there was also a baking contest and an activity targeted at parents and their kids.
The night started off with the recitation of Quran, followed by translation of an Ayah in Surah Luqman.
Then the attendees were asked to participate in a game that intended to bridge the gap between the parents and their children. A series of questions regarding the child’s interests would be asked, and the child would write down their answer, while the parent would write down what they thought was the correct answer. Then questions about the parents were asked, and the same procedure followed.
Finally, answers were compared to see how well the parents knew the kids, and vice versa. As some answers were shared aloud, we learned that parents and children might not know as much about each other as we think!
Following the game was a speech given by Dr. Sameera Ahmed, Ph.D in Clinical Psychology, on the topic of family, and struggles of the youth today.
Dr. Ahmed gave many startling statistics about the Muslim Youth, including statistics on drug use, alcohol use, and physical intimacy with the opposite gender. She then went on to explain what parents can do to help ensure that their children do not fall into these risk factors, and what they can do to connect to the youth and give them a good environment to live in.
Br. Tayssir then gave a short talk on what’s going on with the youth currently in our community, mentioning a few programs and the recent opening of the MCWS Youth Lounge in the Basement.
After the speeches was Maghrib prayer followed by dinner and the fundraising.
The goal was to raise $50,000, and from the fundraising alone, $20,000 was raised (not including ticket prices and donations).
To wrap up the night the winners of the baking contest were announced. There were 13 entries total, and three categories in the contest; middle school, high school, and adult. Judges judged cakes based on looks, taste, and creativity. In addition to this, attendees could place change in a cup next to the cake to vote for their favorite cake. Prizes were awarded to first place only in each category, as well as to the cake which raised the most money (all proceeds went to the funding for the female youth director).
In the middle school category, Nader Sabri won first place for his creative “never stand alone” cake. Among the high schoolers, Farah Louzan and Naseem Bokhari won the heart of the judges with their unique Ka’ba cake. Among the adults, a crescent and moon cake was awarded first place.
The cake which raised the most money was a world cake with doves, made by Nisreen and Lena Huraibi. The prize for each winner was a $50 gift card.
The evening was fun, and the fundraising was a success, and inshaAllah with the money raised, MCWS will be able to fulfill their goal in hiring a Female Youth Director. May Allah bless and reward all those who attended, contributed, or helped the cause in any other way.
By – Aamina Ali
MCWS recently held a family picnic on Sunday, July 25, 2010, at Kensington Park from 11:30am-4:30 pm. The picnic is an annual tradition for the community, and many families attended.
The highlight of the picnic, like any other picnic, was the delicious food that was served, notably the barbecue chicken and the burgers. Both items were freshly cooked on a barbeque grill, ready to be eaten by food lovers. The location of the picnic was a nice, shady area of the park, not too far from the beach, which created the perfect setting for a Sunday Picnic.
The weather also seemed to cooperate, providing sunny skies with just the right temperature. All throughout the day, kids could be seen running and playing, teens could be spotted hanging out with friends, and adults could be found socializing amongst themselves. And no matter what age, everyone could be found enjoying the delicious food that defines the MCWS picnic for many.
For those who arrived later in the afternoon, they would soon find that parking was a major issue. Many cars resorted to parking on the curb, while a few even went to extremes to park directly on the island divider separating the two-way traffic! Overall, the picnic was a fun, sociable gathering, enjoyable for anyone who just wanted to eat, talk, or have a good time.
By Aamina Ali – Canton, MI
What is it in a leader that separates him or her from a follower? Is it just the ability to stand around and tell people what to do? To me, this is what I considered leadership until last year. I learned the true meaning of the word when I took charge of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA)’s involvement in the PCEP Diversity Show of 2009.
At the time, MSA was not a hugely popular or well known club. It was always the same people attending meetings and organizing events. I had hoped that by becoming involved with the diversity show, MSA would gain popularity among the Muslim students, as well as publicity among the non-Muslim students.
My sophomore year, I was elected on board to MSA as Public Relations Officer. One of the first things I suggested to the club was that we get involved with the diversity show that year. Everyone agreed with this, and from then on, we depended on the president to take action and begin brainstorming ideas. However, the president, being the busy senior he was, seemed to put the idea on hold for a while and forget about it.
Since our president wasn’t doing or saying anything, neither was anyone else. In early December, I noticed that my friends from other clubs had already begun rehearsing for the show, which was in January. MSA, on the other hand, did not have even the slightest idea of what to do for the show. Something needed to be done, and I was tired of waiting around for someone else to do it.
At the next board meeting, I brought up this issue. I announced that a meeting was going to be held for anyone wishing to participate in the show to brainstorm ideas. Thus, the first planning meeting was held, lead by me. After an hour of brainstorming, the club as a whole decided on performing a skit. ‘Good, mission accomplished’, I thought to myself.
As the weeks of winter arrived, I realized that the mission, in fact, was not accomplished. No script had been written, and everyone seemed to be waiting around for it to write itself. I organized a second meeting shortly before break to write the skit, and for the duration of break, I made sure we were getting in a few rehearsals every few days. With time and practice, soon MSA was ready to take part in the show.
Before we knew it, it was the big night. As we got up on stage to perform, I knew that all our hard work and perseverance had paid off well. After the show, we received many compliments, and inside, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment for MSA.
MSA’s experience in the diversity show that year finally accomplished what I had wanted to see since I joined the club-the organization had become closer as a group, its popularity rose, and students at our school finally knew who we were. That year, I learned that if you want to see something get done, you can’t just sit around waiting for someone else to do it. The only way to be fully satisfied with something is if you become a part of it.
In the absence of order, a leader can always be found amidst the followers. It is that leader’s responsibility to step up and take charge. This is what separates the leaders from the followers. Leadership is about much more than just leading; it is about leading and learning from the experience.
I learned from this experience that sometimes, you just have to take charge if you want to see something get done. Being elected formally to an executive board doesn’t necessarily make someone a leader. Being a leader means seeing something that needs to get done and taking initiative to get it done. A follower can always learn to be a leader, and once leadership is learned, it will stay stick with you for the rest of your life.