This blog is published for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and the thousands of Muslims raised or reverts, or even non-Muslis, who might be living in areas where they are not able to experience Ramadan in a Muslim community; so we, at MWA, invite you to be a part of our community in Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong) Al-Baqarah 2:185

Established in 2006, Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) is an internationally-based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working together to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions regarding members of the Muslim community and the Islamic faith.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

On Kinship and Quran: a journal entry by MWA's Aishah Schwartz

16th Century Quran.
I think it was like two years ago that I passed through a familiar local souvenir shop whose management has been somewhat of a heart-adopted family to me during my time here in Egypt. As with many friends these days (especially if they're not online in one way or another), we don't see or hear from each other often, but that doesn't diminish the sense of Muslim kinship we share when I make one of my impromptu visits to their shop.

I'm not the sort to be able to make plans, as it seems my destiny that they almost always come undone, so with me it's like, if Aishah walks in the door, just smile and say, "Assalamu Alaikum!"

On that particular evening I found the shop had received a bit of redecorating and there was at the back, behind the shop keeper's desk, a newly installed sofa. After perfunctory greetings I hear the familiar words, "Aishah, sit." To be honest I have to fight the urge to bark. lol Thereafter, I am always asked what I would like to drink and one of the shop boys is tasked with retrieving my order.

"How are you, Aishah? It's long time we didn't see you." We exchange updates and I surprise them now and then by using a new Arabic word, to which they laughingly respond, "Masha'Allah, your Arabic has improved!" At the rate of one word per year, we all get a hearty laugh out of my inadequacy, but it's clear they love me as much as I appreciate them. I always leave the shop feeling blessed; fully recognizing that the very thing that has drawn me for a return visit is a sense of loneliness. Al-hamdulillah.

So on this particular visit my attention was drawn to the Quran recitation playing in the background from the shop's audio system. I commented on the beauty of the recitation and that I did not recall the name of the Imam, but that his version was my favorite.

The shop owner, Mohammed, rose instantly from his seat and walked over to remove the CD from its playing station. He then walked over to where I was sitting and without hesitation handed the CD to me. Subhan'Allah. I tried to refuse (it was not my intention to abscond with his copy!), but Mohammed insisted I keep it as a gift.

Most of the time when I listen to Quran it is either from mp3/4's on my laptop or videos on YouTube, so I also didn't want to take the CD because I knew it was not likely I would use it, so my thinking was that it was better off being listened to in the shop, right?

Anyways, do you know what? Wow. Two years later, in Ramadan 2013/1434, I came across that CD again when I was scrounging through the disaster otherwise known as my bedroom, looking for a misplaced external hard drive from which I needed to retrieve a set of January 2012 photos I took, for a magazine editor in Berlin who contacted me requesting permission to use them for an article he is publishing in August. I was motivated by the editor's email, as one of the photos requested for use happens to be a favorite of mine.

I set the re-discovered CD on top of my dresser - at first not sure it was the Quran CD Mohammed had given me -  but intending to check to see if it was the same one, particularly since this is Ramadan, and I remembered why Mohammed had given it to me in the first place; because I liked it!

This morning as I was sitting here after fajr and consciously reminding myself that there was absolutely nothing I needed to watch on TV, the CD came back to my mind again. I went to retrieve it from the bedroom and inserted it into the CD player on my laptop, plugged the external speaker jack into the other side, opened the CD, and clicked on the first track.

Suddenly I was back in the home of another heart-adopted Muslim family that I came to know during the time I spent living in Saudi Arabia (2004-2005). My mind drifted back to sitting on the floor with mom as she shelled a variety of fresh walnuts, cashews, pistachios and almonds, depositing them into a dish beside me for grinding. We were compiling ingredients for a favorite Ramadan treat called Qatayef, a cooked-on-one-side small pancake, filled with nuts or cheese or both, then deep fried to a light gold color and dipped in a sugar and corn syrup mixture, sometimes accentuated by a touch of orange blossom or rose water.

And always, always, playing from the wide-screen TV over our shoulder to the right, was the Mecca channel. No words were needed between mom and I as we sat busy with our chore and listening to the very same recitation of Quran that I am listening to now; the memory granting me a moment of serenity that actually prompted me to write!

Suddenly I felt, as sometimes happens when I am listening to Quran (even though I cannot understand what is being said), a flush rising to my face and tears welling up in my eyes. The thought of Ramadan winding down to its eventual end overwhelming me with a sense of grief.

And it occurred to me that, if listening to this CD was something that made me feel so connected, why did I have to lose that connection just because Ramadan would end? So now what I must do is identify the name of the Imam reciting, and either download from the internet or purchase by CD, his complete recitation of the Quran, so that I can continue listening to this amazing sound that moves a heart to tears without even being able to understand the words.

My post-Ramadan dua for you. If there was even one thing you did in this Holy month of Ramadan to increase your imaan, your deen, my dua for you is that this one thing carries with you beyond Ramadan and uplifts you through to the next.


  1. Subhana'Allah, I really loved this, sis, and it was exactly what I needed to hear, masha'Allah. Allah is Great

    1. I love you for the sake of Allâh subhanahu wa ta'ala. <3


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