By Anisa Kissoon
Summer is a time to feel a bit free and to have a chance to do all the things you didn’t have time to do during the year. For many people it is a time for sea, sun, and surf, or for bushwhacking, mountain climbing, canoeing, or hiking. But as a new Muslim woman what can you do in the summer?
New Muslims are going through many changes. They are making the transition from old habits to new, from old friends to new ones, and to old ways of enjoying their times to new ways.
Depending on where you live, there may be places you can go to enjoy swimming. For Muslim women, as long as they are dressed modestly they can swim with other women. In many countries Muslim women can organize the local swimming pool to make a women-only day. In other countries there are beaches you can visit with your family where you can enjoy your privacy.
Hiking and bushwhacking, camping and canoeing are fine as long as the Muslim woman dresses in long, loose clothes. There are many styles of Islamic clothing and you can find one to suit the activity you want to do. The other factor you have to keep in mind in such activities is safety. It is better to go in an organized group and take your husband, brother, uncle, or father along with you just in case. There was even a group of Iranian Muslim women who climbed Mount Everest! The sky is the limit!
But life for a Muslim is not just having fun and playing games. There is a time for everything, and a Muslim’s life should be balanced. The Muslim should always have a goal in mind for any activity in life. So if we keep the fundamental goal of life itself — to worship Allah the Almighty — then everything we do, with the intention to please Allah, is a form of worship and is rewarded.
Learn, Learn, Learn … and Then Teach!
Spend some time gaining knowledge. The first thing for a new Muslim to do is to memorize some Qur’an and the Prayers in Arabic. Find a place that teaches Arabic for beginners, or get a cassette or book to learn Arabic. Where there is a will there is a way, so be wise and use some of your time to learn. I met a sister from a European country who had been very poor as a child and had never gone to school. She couldn’t read or write even in her own native language. However, she was able to memorize one juz’ (section) of the Qur’an simply by listening to a cassette over and over again.
There are many books available that provide information on the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), the meaning of Prayer, Islamic dress, the family structure in Islam, how people should deal with each other, among other things. Get a hold of such books and enjoy the bounty of learning. There are also a lot of magazines and journals. In addition, the Internet has become a tool for learning as well as a way of meeting people and sharing experiences.
Make up your mind to learn something new or develop a skill you already have. Afterwards, give back to your community by teaching others. Try to find a way to help the people around you and learn to empathize with others. Allah has given all human beings skills and abilities, so find what yours are and share them with others. There is so much satisfaction in helping others when we do this for the sake of Allah and not to be thanked or acknowledged by people.
Gardening and Exercise
If you like gardening, there is a blessing in this too. If you plant a tree or something that benefits an animal or human being, you will continue to receive the blessing for that as long as the benefit remains.
The strong Muslim is better than the weak Muslim, so find ways to exercise and keep a healthy diet so your body will be strong and healthy. To keep a healthy mind you must have a positive attitude toward life. Such an attitude comes about after you learn to surrender to Allah and trust in Him, being ever-hopeful and ever optimistic. Whenever a calamity strikes turns to Allah, ask for guidance and relief and trust in Him.
Reach Out and Help Others
Try to be charitable and hospitable. During the summer invite other new Muslims to your home and have a meal together. This does not have to be an elaborate meal, but just something simple. This is the way of the Prophet who shared all he had. Try to inculcate the spirit of sisterhood, love, and kindness between the people you bring to your home. Be the one who makes the first move to introduce people to each other. Discuss problems in the community in a way to find solutions. Encourage the others to be active in the community and to help each other and thereby foster feelings of love and friendship. Bring along someone who is knowledgeable so you can have a short and meaningful lesson. In every gathering we should remember Allah so we do not waste our time.
Therefore, there are basically two ways of looking at your free time in the summer. You can either have fun and enjoy yourself and make this your supreme goal, or you can use all the things you do as ways and means of obtaining blessings from Allah. Even going mountain climbing can be a way of receiving Allah’s blessings if we thank and praise Him for all we see and enjoy.
Whatever you do this summer, let it be a source of reward, a way of drawing close to Allah, a way of learning, sharing, and getting to know other Muslims.