Disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts and musings. The following should not be seen as any kind of religious ruling.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you are “unclean.”
So often when I’ve been invited to perform for Muslim audiences, I meet amazing young and SUPER accomplished Muslim women and they all have the same inferiority complex- more on this in a minute. Usually I prefer to spend the night at their homes rather than in hotels even though it’s not always the most convenient or luxurious accommodation but this is definitely my preference and I’ll tell you why….
We stay up late talking about issues only other Muslim women have dealt with or understand. It’s a rare opportunity for “real talk” where we can all be candid and open. Things often come out in these conversations…deep dark secrets, guilty pleasures, guilt in general and what have you.
One of the things that always comes up is the question of why girls cannot read/hold the Quran while bleeding. These girls often feel bad and are raised to believe that they are less than and are incapable of connection during their menses. Now I am not a scholar of any sort; nor am I divinely inspired by God and have visions or revelations so everything I say here is purely my opinion based on the saying of the prophet Muhamad, prayers and peace be upon him, “Seek the counsel of your heart, even if/when advised by people.”
I believe that women can and should hold and read Quran while bleeding.
I know what you’re thinking….”Where are you getting this from, Mona? You’ve studied Shafi’i fiqh. How can you go against something that is generally agreed upon by the 4 schools of thought?”
Let’s keep in mind that in the time of Prophet Muhamad, there was no written, compiled Quran. This notion is based on the idea that a woman is cannot be ritually cleansed while on her period and thus should not touch the Quran. It is based on the verse “None shall touch it but the purified ones.” 56:79
It is my understanding that this verse refers to the tablet(lawh) and the angels. This verse was assurance that Allah sent the words of the Quran with purified beings who had no will of their own and thus would not alter, affect or change the message. The “touch” mentioned is an altering and not a physical touch. This verse does not indicate that we must be in a state of ritual purity while “touching” the physical book. While it is recommended that one be in a state of wudu while reading, as this increases the reward, it is not haram to touch or read while not in this state.
Don’t be fooled, ladies; When you’re bleeding, you are in a constant state of prayer and thus are exempt from needing to enter into a physical state of prayer. Your heart is torn open by the One who made it and made you bleed during this time. Are you not more emotional when you bleed? Your emotions are deepened and your openings are heightened. Tears are closer to the surface during these days. Hearts are more tender. God has ennobled us with this time of deeper connection. Call it hormones or call it a spiritual experience, our periods are a way to connect with our Creator. God has gifted us in this spiritually open time, a week of each month where we are majthubīn, we are pulled to the One by a force or event that we do not have to choose to engage. It is simply the way we were created. Perfectly.
In my personal experience, some of my favorite and most cherished moments with my Creator happen while I am bleeding. This blood connects me to my mothers: Hawa, Maryam, Amina, Khadija, and Aisha, my ancestors and made it possible for my beloved RasulAllah to be born into this world.
It isn’t a hatred for men or any such thing that causes me to say that those who have interpreted much of Islam are generally men from patriarchal societies. This is a historical fact. Their readings and interpretations are often misogynistic and patriarchal. They are not infallible beings. While we respect their opinions and interpretations, we can also approach these matters from the feminine perspective with respect and true critical thinking.
Would Allah command a woman to cease interaction with the words sent down with the precise expectation that she would and should interact with them? Would Allah deny a woman a week of every month of her childbearing years in which she was not allowed to interact with the Divine word? Would Allah put a woman in the position of distance and separation when connection to Creator is the mission of our lives?
My heart has a “no” to these questions.
Our mother, Aisha (God be pleased with her) said, “The Messenger of God, prayers and peace be upon him said to me,
‘Get me the prayer mat from the prayer area.’ I replied, ‘I am menstruating.’ He said, ‘Verily, your menstruation is not in your hand.’
I don’t feel the need to go deeper into the matter than RasulAllah did in the above narration.
And Allah knows best.
Clear sky, blue.
Evergreens snow capped peaks.
White mimics sky cloud white.
Wiped clean of thoughts.
Only God. Here I am.
Moses to Jesus to Muhamad.
Here I am.
Buddha inside Rio Grande gorge.
Ripping open delicious desire
Here I am.
Birdsongs beckoning heartsongs sung.
Here is where Presence presents herself.
Here is when there is only God. only now.
Crisp light, sunny warmth.
Dripping melting moisture into Earth.
Here I am.
Feeding the feeding. feeling the fullness.
Here I am.
Mother of dirt, blackness, rich soil.
Puddles, pebbles. Clean green scented.
Streaming down mountainside.
Exposing sparkle. musty musk.
Here I am.
A month or two ago, I was entering the masjid to teach sunday school and as always said the duaa:
اَللَّهمَّ افتحْ لي أَبوَابَ رَحمتِكَ
“God, Open for me the doors of your mercy.”
It struck me. deeply. That morning, after praying fajr I thought about my womb and the One who made it. I thought about the One who called himself the most merciful, by connecting mercy to maternity. In Arabic, the name of God “AL-RAHMAN” means “The Merciful” and the root of the word mercy- is “RHM” which means “womb.” As I entered the masjid, I was overwhelmed by receiving the glad tidings of the prayer that would get me through labor. “God, Open for me the doors of your mercy.” Open this mercy to the world. I prayed- Let me remember these words as I am in the pains of birthing. Let me breathe Mercy through this prayer as my body opens to deliver mercy. Let this child be mercy to the world, in the tradition of his teacher and master, Muhammad alayhisalaam.
I found it to be such an obvious prayer for a woman in labor, but have never heard of it used in this way. I know I will be calling on my Lord in many of His Divine attributes through that time- but Ya Rahman just seems like….the right one. Doesn’t it? Salawat on the Prophet bring such ease to the heart and so much so that I feel it will be a time of great repetition of those beautiful salutations and prayers. I pray that my heart and lips will find the right words to make this time in my life gentle, sweet, safe and fruitful…full of mercy and grace!
I’d love to hear of prayers that helped you through a time in your life. There are so many duaas for so many different parts of life that are encouraged as they are from the tradition and life of the Prophet. I would however like to hear of the prayers that came to you through your own inspiration….
So this is a story all about how my life got flipped turned upside down and I’d like to take a minute- just sit right there – let me tell you all about how I got my Lama flair. I used to love The fresh prince of bell air. still do actually. Anyhow…
I came to this place called Lama Foundation on May 18th(my birthday!) 2012. I’ve basically been living here since. SubhanAllah how life presents itself and lays itself out when you least expect it. Long story short:
I fell in love with Lama Mountain. I fell in love with Lama Foundation. I fell in love with my husband who was the first person I met when I arrived here. We’re now expecting our first child inshaAllah (duaas please!) We both live and work here full time.
What a shift in direction my life has taken! SubhanAllah. Had someone told me a year and a half ago that this is what my life looked like, I probably would have told you that you were sooo “trippin.” I was too busy traveling, performing- being an obnoxious artist. Not that I’m any less obnoxious now. I’ve just settled down a bit!
Life here isn’t as glamorous as it looks on my instagram….(@radayhanom on insta). Needless to say “living close to the Earth” in a sustaianable way, is beautiful- but it certainly hasn’t been easy. The little luxuries of having a bathroom let alone running water in your home are things I don’t take for granted anymore. It gets bitter cold up here on the mountain. Making my way from my little house to Lama central for morning meditation every morning is like gearing up for the arctic (not really… but it’s cold as a mug!) We have wood burning stoves for heat in our little homes here. For bathrooms, we have outhouses. But if you have to pee…don’t even think about peeing in the outhouse buddy. We pee straight on the Earth. The nitrogen in urine is good for trees and plants. I figure if the Prophet Muhammad, alayhisalaam- did his business in the wildreness- who am I to be too good for it!? It was hard to get used to, that is not something I can sugar coat. It was really hard early on to convince myself to squat outside in the middle of God’s Earth. But alas, I got used to it and now can’t really understand why in God’s gorgeous names, as a culture/society we pee and poop into perfectly good drinking water?! Anyhow, living off the grid- in houses that run on the Sun’s energy and not propane is me kind of living out my dreams in many weird ways. Composting, permaculture, solar power, alternative lifestyles, off the grid, far from bustling city life, deep in nature, sacred mountain spring water, etc etc etc. Too many things to list but God knows…I am grateful for these blessings!
So far, I’ve loved community life. It’s been kind to me. Someone does my laundry. There’s a designated person to cook each evening. We share our spiritual practices with one another each morning. There are countless reasons this place has been a huge teacher on my path. More on the lessons later. I just thought I’d share a little bit about my life lately.
I’m inspired to write about my life but feel unworthy of the words.
the only sentiment that doesn’t sentence me to guilt.
My life is full bodied flavor but insipid and insolent
at the crisis inside and outside
Torn between the goodness and content with the misery.
Dear God, I’m done with me.
It’s been a while since I wrote here. There are many reasons for that. My life has been full, but that’s no excuse. My real heart reason is that I’m tired of my own words because they break my heart. All I can seem to write about in the last 2 years is Syria. My sweet Cham. How I long to be there…to smell the scent of the jasmine lining the streets…to watch children play barefoot soccer in the street….
These are the only words that come to me now- the longing for peace and sweetness in Syria- the mourning for martyrs- and the destruction of my most favorite place on God’s Earth (after Madina.)
I hope you will forgive my absence. It was not ignorant neglect that kept me from writing here- but heart break and the deep belly nausea caused by seeing too many pictures of bloody bodies strewn across the streets of my beloved Syria.
I fear for my people that this world will only watch them burn. I fear for the world that they will only watch my people burn. I fear for the souls of those who do nothing. I fear for love. We cannot be love unless we give love. My heart is broken.
Allah, Our hearts are broken for you. You’ve promised that you are with the hearts broken for your sake. Heal our broken hearts. Uplift our broken spirits. Bring victory to the oppressed. Give us sweet love, Allah. Our hearts need sweet love.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::أنا عند المنكسرة قلوبهم من أجلي:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
She turns on the water-
First too hot. too cold. good and warm.
She washes her worn hands at the kitchen sink.
The dirt of the day, down the drain.
Her hands tremble momentarily.
But she knows what stills them.
Her hands soiled with the blood of a boy.
Her spirit sullied watching his soul breathe out of his little body.
She tried to save his life.
But He died.
She thinks of his dark brown eyes.
Full of life. Then, not.
The water washes over her hands.
Violent water rushing out over her aches.
The only massage she’ll get.
She has running water, still. That’s a blessing. She thinks.
She passes her hands, one over the other.
The blood stains around her fingernails are stubborn.
The little boy.
All curly hair. Big ears. Small nose. Sweet lips. Missing teeth.
Hasbi Allah wa ni’malwakeel.
Over and over and over.
She repeats it.
It’s all that stills the tremble in her hands.
The tremble in her throat when he tells his mother that there was nothing more she could do.
Over and over.
The tightness in her heart.
The fullness in her throat.
She cleans each hand, methodically.
Under this fingernail. Then the next.
Ah. This is why Muhammad ordered them to have short nails.
Because her people would be persecuted.
They would bleed.
And blood stains.
Hands clean now. She starts to scrub the sink.
One more time with the soap and her hands.
How many more nights like this.
How much more caked on blood
blood stained hands
hands that tremble,
She turns the water off.
I’ve stopped posting things. Imam Suhaib wanted to read a poem on Syria so I thought to post it. Pray for Syria. Pray for the hurt and the hurting. Pray for health and healing. Pray for progress and peace. Pray for freedom and fortitude. Pray for courage and commitment and conviction. Pray for prayer. Pray that God accepts it all in His name, for His sake, in His way and on the path to Him. Shahada.
The opener of what was closed
opens me up
In a London flat with beloveds-
listening to qasa’id and
passing cars, crashing through puddles
visiting the righteous and
committing to get right
in my own life.
The hype in my potential is ripe.
I need only to stand tall
inside my 5ft frame
and remain steadfast
repeating His names.
Ya Latif Ya Kafy Ya Rahman Ya Wadud
Ya Ghafur Ya Samee’ Ya Shafee’ Ya Qudoos
Ya Malik Ya Salaam Ya ‘Aziz Ya Haqq
Ya Haqq Ya Haqq Ya Shaheeeeeed Ya Hayy
Ya Awwal Ya Tawwab Ya Wahid Ya Ahad Ya Noor!
There is no me
I swear it by You.
You know you
and I know no me.
You You You
Hu Hu Hu
Anta Ya Allah
I whisper into my pillow
the secrets of my sorrow
the losses and gains of
gnosis and not knowing
Pressed palms to face
closing prayers of London longing
with the praise of the Prophet
the jewel of perfection
in the cup called dunya
Love overflows in the love called Sunnah
love overcomes the one called mona
beyond names and naming
taming the torrents of this rapture
go slowly my sweet
breathe easy my beloved
swim softly and surrender
let the water take me under…
drowning in the depths of this deep-
eyes open -
hoping i’ll only sink sooner.
London is lovely-
in the whirl of singing cities-
turning out tunes like
Rabbuna Allah Allah Allah!
above pubs and clubs
in Leicester Square-
doing the work of the world
in a little room full of
hearts dancing in the Presence of God.
I love London.
and the heat of its heart.
I love London for opening
what was closed…
in the way of the Opener
of what was closed.
Upon him be prayers, praise and peace!
I tried not to write this.
I tried so hard not to write this.
Denial of destruction
that daemon haunting me.
Denial of death
that devil on tv.
I tried so hard
but I’m writing this-
it’s coming from this womb-
to this death.
I am giving in to this
giving up to this
I am being this.
I am this destruction.
I am this desperation
I am martyr
made insane with rage
clenched between my knuckles and fingers
grinding teeth – bearing into a fist
slamming full force into freedom.
I will tear open the hours of time
between milliseconds and minutes
between milk and malt liquor
between barely alive and barzakh
between physics and broken psyches
between deciding to drown in God and martyrdom
I will tear open heaven for the floods of my family
as they flee from the 7imma of Hama into heaven with their himma in Him.
I am the body of my people-
like rag doll
like my people and our story-
where is the world
how are you watching
as we fall through the strainer of this dictator straight into our graves,
being shaken out of life by a monster whose name would sear my tongue to say
They bury our bloodied bodies and when there is no more land to dig
they burn us deep into this living land.
We will not quiet down
we will not stand still.
even when burned to ash and smoke-
we will send signals into sky
prayers like gun powder in the power of The Powerful
we fight for honor
with God given valor
under this 3 starred banner
For the babies. their mothers.
their spirits dwell inside me
inside this dimashqiya
and the road to damascus
is drowning in rubble and blood.
I will climb the shrapnel mountains
to be with you.
I will swim the blood channel to
stand among you.
I am with you
I am with you
I am you.
the victory of God is near.
may the victory of God be near
I don’t know how my belly can bear to swell with any more
Victory- come close
so I can whisper my prayer in your ear
hear me now
carry my Midani men in your heart
raise the dar3awi dream -
be Homs’s friend
be Hama’s healing
be Halab’s lover
hold Idlib high in hand
victory, carry our flag
I cringe each time one of us falls
a piece of my spirit ascends to heaven
with every cry of Allahu Akbar.
My soul is trying to leave my body
with the ascension of every one of the martyred.
My heart beats coincide with the last breath
of the martyred.
They are all dead or gone-
or dead and gone-
and so I volunteer as voice-
Pray for us. Pray.
We are with you. by you. in you. By God- we are you.
ma3akum. ma3akum. ma3akum. fiddinye walakhra.