Archive for the 'Reflections' Category

08
Jul
10

Are You There God? It’s me, Khalid…..

If you make intense supplication
and the timing of the answer is delayed,
do not despair of it.

His reply to you is guaranteed
but in the way He chooses,
not in the way you choose,
and at the moment He desires,
not the moment you desire

~al-Hikam of  ibn Ata’illah

_____________

https://i0.wp.com/www.usagiyojimbo.com/intro/uytv.jpgAs a child, I used to collect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures and would always be excited when my mother would take me to Toys R Us to get one. From Rocksteady and Bebop to Usagi Yojimbo and Casey Jones with sports equipment arsenal included, I had every one that you could imagine.  Whenever my mother bought me one, I was really happy.  But on those days when she told me I already had enough, I got really upset with her.   How could she possibly say no to something that would make me happy?

(These days my Ninja Turtles collection, along with my Transformers, Thundercats, Star Wars, and GI Joe collections, is somewhere in Pakistan being played with by kids who probably don’t know that they are worth as collectibles. Twenty years later, I’m over it.  Kind of 🙂 Alhamdulillah.  and I love my mom more than I can imagine.  May Allah preserve her inshallah and grant her the best in this world and the best in the next.)

https://i0.wp.com/cdn0.sbnation.com/imported_assets/98996/pp_baby_20photo_20gallery_1152305917514_431365d.jpgIn retrospect, I had done two things that were problematic. The more obvious of the two is that I would get upset when I didn’t get what I wanted.  The seemingly less obvious was not being appreciative when I did get what I wanted.  I would never really say thanks.  I felt happy, but I left it at that.   (I was also 7 years old so give me a break please 🙂 )

A lot of us do this in our respective relationships with Allah.  We assess the worth of our relationships with the Divine not necessarily through what we have been given, but through our perception of the response we receive when we explicitly ask for something we want.   If I ask for something and I get it, then I must be doing well.  If I don’t get it, then something must be wrong.   Aside from the pain of being denied something that I really want, I also feel a pain because I subconsciously need a sense validation of my efforts.   I need to know that I am good and that how I am living my life is also good.  But I can’t always tell that right away if I am being denied what I am asking for.   In the absence of some tangible way of measuring my relationship, how do I really know that I am doing ok, or that my relationship with Him is sound?

In a nutshell, the question of “Why” becomes hard to deal with.   Why didn’t I get what I asked for?  Why did this happen to me?  Why does everyone else get what they want, but I don’t?

Ibrahim ibn Adham, rahimahullah, was asked about the verse in the Qur’an that very definitively states that if one was to call upon Allah, regardless of their background, their call would be answered.

And your Lord says Call upon Me, I will respond to you…” Surat Al Mumin, verse 60.

The people asked him if this was the case, then why do our prayers go unanswered.

Ibrahim ibn Adham responds with ten potential reasons:

You know Allah, yet you do not obey Him,
You recite the Qur’an, yet you do not act according to it,
You know Shaytan, yet you have agreed with him,
You proclaim that you love the Messenger of Allah, yet you abandon his Sunnah,
You proclaim your love for Paradise, yet you do not act to gain it,
You proclaim your fear for the Fire, yet you do not prevent yourselves from sins,
You say “Indeed death is true”, yet you have not prepared for it,
You busy yourselves with finding faults with others, yet you do not look at your own faults,
You eat that which Allah has provided for you, yet you do not thank Him,
You bury your dead, yet you do not take a lesson from it.

https://i1.wp.com/www.positivityblog.com/_images/080711_think.jpgA very insightful set of considerations that help us to examine at what we might be doing that’s problematic and in turn preventative of things going the way we want them to. Realistically through, there’s not really too much else we can look towards.   It’s not possible for us to begin to put definitive answers as to why Allah has decided what He has.  Ultimately when the question of why is asked, we can really ultimately only say “I don’t know” and then be reliant.

So how do I know that I am ok?  That I am a good person?  That my actions are being accepted?  I don’t.  I just have to try my best and keep trying my best and allow for that to build into an ever-lasting satisfaction that gets me through times that are tough and helps me appreciate times that are not.  I might not have gotten the girl, or the car, or the job.  But I was still given a lot of other things. And I shouldn’t forget that.   My relationship with Allah has to in fact be a relationship, not just something that exists on an abstract level.  Just like any friendship would allow for me to go above and beyond in understanding my friend, so too I have to work at developing a close relationship with the Divine that allows for me to really trust His responses to my requests because I know He wouldn’t do anything to hurt me.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala accept all of our prayers and secret wishes, as there are no secrets from Him. He is the All-Knowing, the Merciful. Ameen.

01
Jul
10

Making Moves: CNN op-ed and some other recent press

I had an op-ed piece go up today on CNN.  It’s the first time I’ve written something like this so I’d appreciate some feedback.  It’d be great if you all could share the link to it with your networks and repost, retweet, and whatever else can be done.

Some other (relatively) recent stuff you can check out as well:

Italian Magazine ilsole24ore Article link 1 link 2 (I can’t read Italian so I don’t know what this says actually 🙂 )

CNN Interview
Towards a Younger, Hipper Islamclick here

Altmuslimah Interview on Domestic Violence You Are No Longer A Blessing in His Life click here

Salon.com Article A Troubling Cultural Gap. If today’s young American Muslims can’t relate to their imams, where will they turn? click here
_____________________________________________

Editor’s note: Imam Khalid Latif is a chaplain for New York University and Executive Director of the school’s Islamic Center.

By Khalid Latif, Special to CNN

I was recently eating dinner at a restaurant with a friend near Times Square when it became time for me to pray. Muslims pray five times a day and this particular prayer, called Maghrib, is performed at sunset.

Having lived in New York City for decades, I’ve become comfortable praying pretty much anywhere. It also doesn’t hurt that there are stranger things happening on the streets here than a young guy bowing and kneeling for a few minutes.

After I started to pray, a tour bus parked in front of me and a large group of people proceeded to spill out.

While I continued, a woman from the group came closer to where I was praying. She removed a scarf from her neck, placed it on the ground so that I would be praying on something clean, then walked away before I finished….

To continue reading, please click here.

A child at a recent rally for Muslim holidays to be observed by New York city schools.

10
Oct
09

Real Men Don’t Hit Women

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last few years of my life speaking to different communities both in the United States and abroad.  In at least the last two years of my travels, there hasn’t been a lecture or event that I’ve participated in that hasn’t introduced me to at least one young woman (and usually more) that has been abused in some way during her life and, subsequently, doesn’t know what to do about it.

Rape, molestation, beatings, verbal abuse, emotional distress, the issues continue on end.   In most instances, the hardest part of it all seemingly stems from the young woman being unable to find someone to speak to about it.    And so she will follow suit unknowingly to those who came before her and experienced similar abuses, left to talk only to herself.    Critical questions of why it happened to her in the first place now take on the form of self criticism, and in most instances the young girl will begin to blame herself for everything that has happened.    Why did my husband hit me?  Why did my uncle take advantage of me?  Why did my husband cheat on me?  Why did that boy end up not marrying me after having an intimate relationship with me?  Perhaps it is my fault and I deserve it.

As a Muslim man, I can say its already difficult enough to understand how to be Muslim in the context of the United States.   I think its also important for us to acknowledge that most of us haven’t grown up being taught how to be men.   If you are a man and you are reading this, at no point in time should you ever think its ok to hit a woman.

I spoke at the University of Pennsylvania on the topic of Dealing with Domestic Violence in the Muslim Community a couple of weeks ago.   You can hear some of my thoughts on the subject matter in the videos below.  Please do share with others if you think its worth it.   I’ll write something more in depth in the future.

25
Aug
09

Ramdan Survival Guide: I Am Not A Cow

I was asked by Elan Magazine to do a three-part piece for Ramadan.  My first piece went up today online and is excerpted below.  You can check out the entire piece by clicking here

elan’s Ramadan Survival Guide: I Am Not a Cow

By Imam Khalid Latif
August 24, 2009

In honor of Ramadan 2009, elan presents a three-part series reflecting on how young Muslims can approach the holy month from Imam Khalid Latif. Imam Khalid is the Executive Director of The Islamic Center at New York University (NYU), and one of the most notable and influential young Muslims in the United States.

I think that the month of Ramadan is about honesty.

In this judgmental world of ours, it’s unfortunately easy for one to find a Muslim who is critical of another Muslim’s lifestyle.  Even more unfortunate, it’s easy for us to respond to those criticisms quite mechanically by saying “You don’t know what my intentions are,” and then walking away, more annoyed than advised, but not ever really productively asking ourselves what our intentions were.

During Ramadan, we get to see who we in fact really are.  It becomes ingrained in the psyche of every Muslim that from the first day of Ramadan through the last, it’s just you taking on yourself.  But for whatever reason, it’s not ingrained within us that the opportunity to understand ourselves a little bit better is there for the taking.

What sets human beings apart from other creatures in this world is our intellect – those animals whose lives revolve solely around eating, drinking, and having sex.  But do we really use our conscious mind as best as we can?  Or do habits run our lives?

This Ramadan, we should try to understand a little bit better our own respective habits and then take on those that we deem are not good for us.  When dissecting a habit, it’s important to make note of a few things.

Primarily, one would want to identify the habit itself.  Anything from nail-biting to backbiting, eating unhealthy foods to not eating at all, sleep deprivation to sleeping through Fajr, the list could go on and on.  But breaking a habit entails acknowledging that it exists.

Secondly….to continue reading click here

12
Aug
09

Sweet Georgia Brown – Being Muslim In Augusta, Georgia

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Islamic Society of Augusta in Georgia. I had wanted to try something different in conveying my thoughts so I took a camera along with me and tried to video tape as much as I could.   What I came up with is below.  It’s my first attempt at putting together and editing something like this so I would very much appreciate feedback on it.   But don’t be too harsh though since I don’t really know what I am doing 🙂

The idea is that everyone of has a story to tell, and everyone of us can learn from hearing someone else’s story.  Our own lives and experiences can very much be shaped by the experiences of others, yet we regularly pass up on the opportunity for self development by not letting ourselves learn about someone different from us.   I personally believe that those individuals who will shape what Islam means in the American context exist in huge numbers – they just need to be pushed a bit to share their experiences with the rest of the world.

*as a disclaimer, there is some music in this

**as a second disclaimer, I made this with a hand held video camera.   So again, please don’t be too harsh 🙂

For those of you who like the video and/or enjoy the blog, please do share it via your own social networking circles (facebook, twitter, etc)

For those of you who would rather not watch a movie,  I’ll probably write something up about my trip in a couple of days inshallah.




Who is doing the thinking


My name is Khalid Latif. I work as the Executive Director and Chaplain for the Islamic Center at New York University as well as a Chaplain for the NYPD, New York City Police Department.

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