Sharing is (really) caring
This entry might be a tough one to write. Basically I just wanted to share some of the online resources I’ve discovered and learned via and borrowed from, in terms of increasing my knowledge of Islam as a way of life. Because one of the things that many Muslims realise after being in a Western (or at least non-Muslim-majority) country, is the beauty of our own faith and the fact that we haven’t been appreciating it back home. The tendency of religion to mix into culture, and “traditionalised” and “text-book-ised”, also led some of us to be very passive, almost laid-back regarding improving oneself as a Muslim, seeking the truth with certain issues, or just knowing more about the Qur’an and the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) sunnah.
I must mention that although this stuff is about Islam, I have no intention of shunning or neglecting my non-Muslim friends and readers. I always have this fear that writing anything about religion will cause negativity (eg. sounding preachy or holier-than-thou, or offending anyone regarding sensitive issues), but truly, in this case my goal is just to share links and invite others to share as well. Because I know, and I hope, that there are other youths (or youths-at-heart ) out there looking to discover, read, and listen about Islam.
Very useful for listening to recitations (hint: better alternative to listening to music, I feel, because I easily get earworms), and quickly looking up translations for a particular verse.
There are many Qur’an websites and Flash tools around, but my favourites seem to be tanzil.net and quranexplorer.com.
It's so easy to jump straight to a verse if you know the number and chapter number. This address refers to surah 41, ayat 33.
ILuvIslam.com has always been popular among Malaysian students, perhaps because it was founded by students too. There is an English version of the site, and many little sub-sites for all sorts of interesting things (recipes, wallpapers, photos, …). The submissions are from various writers / designers / just people. I particularly like to read blog-style short stories there.
Malay version of ILuvIslam.com
SuhaibWebb.com is a fairly recent discovery. I’m pretty sure I’ve come across Imam Suhaib Webb‘s talks before, but his website is such a treasure trove, mashaAllah. From there I discovered Yasmin Mogahed, such a talented writer and speaker. The articles cover many topics too.
I like the website design too.
The rest of these are the ones I subscribe to in Google Reader:
- Friday Nasiha — newsletter-style editions published every Friday
- Owh So Muslim — super adorable graphics alongside simple articles. Pity that it hasn’t been updated in awhile, due to the artist becoming busy with her new life, I suppose.
- I Got It Covered — although their description is “Online Hijab Community”, their content goes beyond the issues of modesty. The articles are well-written and are about things that Muslimahs and women in general can relate to.
- (Malay language) Saifulislam.Com — Ustaz Hasrizal is somewhat a celebrity already, having written several books (some travel/history-related, which I find interesting). I like his writing style: honest and somewhat casual, about everyday life.
- (Malay language) Haruman Mawar — I can’t remember how I came across this blog, but Insyirah’s writings have been quite widespread through Facebook and e-mails. She is younger than me, but so full of wisdom.
- (Malay language) It’s Life… Wake up from the past — Also don’t know this person in real life, but very pointed reminders that I can relate to.
Online Radio & Nasheeds
My new favourite online channel is now ILuvIslam Radio. They have English songs now and then, but the main medium of communication is Malay. Lots of lovely nasheeds from various artistes. There are many areas for improvement though, considering they are quite new.
The current website, with various formats for streaming.
One Legacy Radio is more well-established, with lots of live shows and snippets of lectures, and a bit less of music. I love the fact that the shows are archived as podcasts. The DJs are fun and cool too.
Bayyinah Institute has recorded podcasts/lectures of surah tafseers (commentary / translation of chapters in the Qur’an) by Nouman Ali Khan (one of my favourite speakers ever) and Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda.
The actual institute is in the US, and they organise some very cool Arabic learning programmes.
These two are websites that stream nasheed songs:
- halaltunes.org — I recommend Benammi, Dawud Wharnsby, Maher Zain, Muslim Belal, Native Deen, Yusuf Islam, and Zain Bhikha.
- guidedways.com — Irfan Makki has an amazing voice, IMHO.
- Bayyinah Institute — just ’cause I’m jealous of the events and courses they have.
- iERAuk — iERA is fairly new, but I attended one of their conferences recently, and the effort they are putting into da’wah (spreading the message) is admirable, mashaAllah. They have lecture videos and interviews relating to their programmes on the channel. If you’re going to watch only one video, I have to recommend Hamza Tzortzis.
- aimanazlan90 — okay, so this is a vlog channel, but his videos are not merely funny entertainment. Watch and you’ll know.
- khalifahklothing — pretty much the main channel that I watch Islamic lectures from. Besides Nouman Ali Khan, I also enjoy Belal Assaad’s talks. I truly admire their humility and wisdom. Oh, and definitely follow The Deen Show.
- nur-ramadhan — this is on ustream, not youtube, and I think all of the content is in Malay, but this channel has archived many of the online lectures that overseas Malaysian students have organised over the years. It is quite fascinating, this live online lecture thing. I’ve attended a few using different platforms/software, and it does seem like a convenient alternative to the oldskool, physically live seminars that we’re used to attending.
Facebook and Tumblr
Now, the obvious function of these two social networks/publishing platforms is to share the various links/articles/vids/snippets with your friends. Just be rational and don’t post too many things in too short a time. And I find that with videos or long articles, it’s useful to type out a quote in the link description to at least give an idea of what the topic is. Some people also tag others in links to make sure they notice the update, but I rarely do this unless it’s tagging my stubborn brothers.
Another purpose of Facebook and Tumblr is actually as a source of information and knowledge, as others share their discoveries too. With Facebook, I use the News Feed filters to hide a lot of people whose updates I don’t necessarily find beneficial to myself (not that I don’t care about them, of course). Also after awhile, you will notice those who actually use Facebook as a medium of sharing useful things, and so you can keep track of their posts.
Advice: always credit the original source, and try to credit the person whom you got the link from (if they are on FB). It is just common courtesy.
There are also Pages on FB that you can Like and receive updates from, eg. Islam Voice, Hadith of the Day, ProductiveMuslimah and Productive Muslim (brilliant articles) and other local public figures. If you are feeling courageous, you could also post links on their walls, hence reaching a larger audience (ie. whoever else Liked that page, no matter whether they are your friends or not) when sharing the link.
There are many Tumblogs that post specifically Islamic content, but I find that most of them post very, very frequently, and so I haven’t really been able to follow a lot of the main big names because I can’t keep up. But again, like Facebook, filter / pick & choose your friends. I also find that I prefer following people whom I know in real life rather than the popular “celebrities” of Tumbworld. (I don’t think that’s the proper term…)
Personally, I tend to post quotes on Tumblr, and then paste the link to the full article or video as the source, so people could access the whole thing if they choose to. Quotes are very digestable and attention-grabbing, which very much suits Tumblr, I feel. I also link my Tumblr to my Facebook, so my Tumblr updates show up on my Wall too, hence (inshaAllah) benefiting those who aren’t on Tumblr.
I hope that wasn’t too long, I’m sure there were more stuff I wanted to say, but maybe next time, when I remember. I mainly share content that I actually enjoyed reading/listening to. With Islamic content it is very easy to be theoretical and self-indulgent and lengthy and not-easily-relatable, but Alhamdulillah I am finding more and more speakers and writers who are one of the people, and know what it is really like to be living as a Muslim in this day and age.
And of course if you live in a Muslim country or at least an area where there are many Muslims and active organisations, nothing beats attending a real life lecture or course or halaqah, and meeting new people and all that. It’s just that we don’t have these things where I currently live.
One of the key things that I’ve learned, and try to keep in mind, is how every thought, action and speech of a Muslim should actually be that of a Muslim, because we represent Islam and also just because that is who we are! Also, I relate to this quote a lot:
Our da’wah doesn’t have to be given with our tongues, all the time. Some of us are not good with our tongues. But maybe in our character and attitude; which we lack so much today.
— Belal Assaad
And: tiny, small, continuous steps are the way to go. If there are any benefits from this small effort of mine, they are all from Allah. Thanks for reading and please let me know of any cool stuff you’ve come across too! Salaams.