Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Women in His Life

        Dearest M, Where do we go from here? For the last year I have been writing you these letters like a distant admirer. But I don’t want to stay at a remove any longer. I want to be as close to you as I possibly can. And more than that: I [Read More…]

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and His Battles, Then and Now

Dearest M, My heart is heavy as I write this. Not because of anything between us: I feel my longing for you only deepening with the passage of time, the green dome of your mosque in Medina becoming a beacon of certainty before my mind’s eye. No, my heart is not heavy with doubt. It [Read More…]

Before the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Became the Messenger

Dearest M, I’ve been thinking about something you said: “Islam began as something strange and it will go back to being strange, so give greetings to the strangers.” To try to understand this for myself, I’m imagining the time before you became The Messenger. When you were still just an ordinary resident of Mecca, the [Read More…]

On Animal Companions

  Dearest M, Before I came to Islam, the only story I’d ever heard about you was about your cat. The story goes that she was sleeping on your prayer robe, and you cut off one of the sleeves rather than disturb her. I wish I could say that anecdote is an example of you [Read More…]

Feminine Symbols in Islam

    Islam and the Divine Feminine? Really? Yes, as improbable as it may seem, really. In our times we have become so accustomed to a male-dominated, authoritarian and repressive interpretation of Islam that has all but eliminated the feminine dimension from our spiritual life causing serious imbalances in our lives, our communities and our [Read More…]

Coming home to the heart

Dearest M, Expatriates are supposed to fall into one of three categories: missionary, mercenary or misfit. When it comes to my own repeated moves overseas, I would say I’ve mostly been a misfit. Here’s the paradox: while I feel inwardly out of place in America, I can relax into the identity of being a foreigner [Read More…]

Finding Guidance in Dreams

  My dearest M, There’s the Hadith that says, “Anyone who sees me in a dream, it is as if he has truly seen me, for Satan cannot take my form.” Still, I want to ask you about a particular dream I had – whether it was really you in it. I am in a [Read More…]

A smile’s worth

He smiled at me, revealing a row of impeccable pearly white teeth. I’m not normally moved by a grin to stop in my tracks, but on this occasion a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, God grant him peace and blessings, flashed in my mind on how smiling at a fellow human being is an act [Read More…]

Turning to the Quran: Reflections on Learning to Whirl

  When we think of a whirling dervish, we might automatically think of somebody in a joyous state of ecstasy. Whilst this may be the reality for mature dervishes, my experience so far has taught me that first and foremost whirling is a discipline, and a difficult one at that. Simultaneously self-expression and a journey [Read More…]

The night of a thousand months

In the name of God, the Infinitely Compassionate, the Infinitely Merciful We sent it (the Quran) down on the Night of Destiny And what will make you comprehend what the Night of Destiny is? The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months On that night, the angels and the Spirit come down by [Read More…]