“Are you thinking about getting married?” That was the first question I was asked after I said my shahâda. It took a whole two seconds for the witness of my testament of faith to ask me the question about matrimony. I was nowhere near thinking about getting married and responded with a resounding, “No!” And then several more No’s as the witness persisted with more well-intended marital questions.
“Being modern by definition is a pretty broad and vague concept. It can mean many things to many people. And it should. Because isn’t that what we are striving for in modern times: the acceptance of everyone’s narrative? The representation and validation of many different experiences? No one style of dress, way to think, or mode of expression has a monopoly on modernity. Modern is not exclusively Western. Being modern is not just for the young.
But also being modern is more than what it is not. Recognizing and dealing head on with the problems of the day while striving for a better future is modern. Self-expression in many ways and in many platforms is as modern as rejecting the over exposure of the self. Accepting others’ experiences and making room for them in the human tapestry is modern. Being technologically savvy doesn’t necessitate modernity, but being connected does. Being modern is sifting through culture and finding what has actual value while holding little respect for the illogicality of thoughtless tradition.”
“The fifth pillar of Islam conjures up mixed feelings. And for me these feelings have produced a level of obsession that pushes me to dissect, analyze, and intimately understand the Hajj before I undertake the journey. But reading about the rituals alone is a lot like looking at a palate of paint before the brilliant colors are used to create a masterpiece.
Therefore, I have employed another investigative technique to understand the pilgrimage better. I have taken to talking to Hajji’s themselves. I have spoken with many different people from different parts of the world: I have read accounts by many of those who came before us: I have pestered friends in faith about what they saw, felt, and brought back all in hopes of finding out exactly what to expect. This is what I found”