Living With The “Unimaginable”

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
Then push away the unimaginable…

These powerful words begin the song, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” in the amazing musical “Hamilton.” I must admit: at first, I was “too cool to like Hamilton.” But after seeing the musical here in Chicago, I was an instant fan…and quickly proceeded to download all of the songs.

Spoiler Alert: I can’t help but reveal some details about what happens…

The part when Hamilton’s son Philip died was extremely powerful for me, for I understand the pain: my eldest daughter past away from cancer in 2009. On December 30, she would have turned 20.

Then comes the song above, and I am instantly captivated. Losing a child is truly, truly a “suffering too terrible to name.” I also “held [my child] as tight you can” as she passed away, but I couldn’t “push away the unimaginable” because it was happening to me right then and there.

Sometimes, Lord,

I get tired of being strong.

Ever since then, I have been living with that “unimaginable.” Ever since then, the pain of her loss has continued to plague my heart. Most definitely, I have been blessed with so much goodness, so much ease, so much blessings. I truly cannot thank the Beloved enough.

And at the same time, the words of the song are so very true:

The moments when you’re in so deep
Feels easier to just swim down

Living with the pain of losing your child is indeed like constantly having to swim up. What’s more, because I don’t want my wife and kids to feel bad, I am always trying to be strong for them. Because I don’t want my wife and kids to feel sad over our daughter’s loss, I am always trying to be strong for them. Because I don’t want my daughter’s death to be a constant dark cloud over their lives, I am always trying to be strong for them.

But, you know what? Sometimes, Lord, I get tired of being strong. Sometimes, Lord, I don’t want to be strong any more.

It hurts. It hurts so much. And as the months and years since her death have passed, her memory becomes more and more distant. That hurts as well.

But when I take myself back there; when I take myself back to those hours before she died, the memory is overwhelming; the pain comes back full force, and it is suffocating. In those moments, it definitely “feels easier to just swim down.”

But, when I feel that way, I “push away the unimaginable,” because I need to be here for my wife and kids. I need to be strong.

Yet, whatever strength and value the lyrics of this song have for me, there is one thing in it for which I am so grateful did not apply to me:

And I pray
That never used to happen before

Thank God, that does not apply to me. Before she passed away and ever since, I have prayed to the Lord, and I continue to pray to Him. This is because:

There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name

I have been living in that grace. If it wasn’t for that grace, I would not be here right now. If it wasn’t for that grace, I could have easily strayed away from my Beloved. If it wasn’t for that grace, I probably would have gone mad.

But, thank God, I am still standing, albeit in terrible pain. That “grace too powerful to name” has kept me breathing, kept me going, and it has kept me from choosing to “just swim down.”

And I can’t thank the Lord enough for that grace, and I pray that He never, ever takes it away from me.

And, my beautiful, beloved Booboo: Happy Birthday. What a beautiful 20-year-old you would have made. Baba loves you so very much.


The “Fitna” of Donald Trump – Part 2 

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

REUTERS/David Becker

In the Islamic Monthly, I was blessed to pen a piece entitled, “The ‘Fitna’ of Donald Trump.” I wrote about how the candidacy of Donald J. Trump was a way to make our country even greater than she already is and a test for the American Muslim community. And I ended the piece this way:


This election has been unprecedented in so many ways, and the fitna of the candidacy of Donald Trump has tested the true mettle of our country and our people. But if I know anything about our people, I know that they are fundamentally good. And this fitna will only make our country and her people even greater than it already is.

I must fully admit: I wrote it before the election thinking – for certain – Donald Trump would lose and lose big.

Well, it is a new dawn in America and a scary one at that. Donald J. Trump will be our next President. And there are several worrying signs that his Administration will be hostile towards Islam and Muslims. Now, the “fitna” of Donald Trump takes on an even greater significance.

As I said in the piece, the word “fitna” has several meanings:

In classical Arabic, the word “fitna” — as found in Lane’s classical Arabic Lexicon — means “a burning with fire” and “the melting of gold and of silver to separate, or distinguish, the bad from the good.”


Coming out of the original meaning of “burning with fire,” a very common translation of the word “fitna” is trial or tribulation. Indeed, this is how “fitna” is used in multiple instances in the Quran. This is the fitna of Donald Trump for the American Muslim community. He is a test for American Muslims: How will they respond to his candidacy?

That is the question we must ask ourselves: how will we respond?  Those who have sought to marginalize our community feel emboldened by the election of Trump. They want us to be scared. They want us to cower in fear and retreat into our homes, disappearing from public life in America.

And I have to admit, I do feel a great degree of fear over our future in this country. And I’m born and raised here; I have no other land or people to call my own. I can only imagine the fear of newly arrived immigrants or refugees.

I shared my fears with Nathan Lean, author of The Islamophobia Industry. This is what he said:

First let me tell you this. I stand with you. And I always will. There are millions of people that understand the grave danger that a Trump presidency poses to American Muslims.

That made me feel much better. It’s comforting to know that there are good people in America willing to stand by us in times of distress.

Yet, with all due respect to Nathan and the millions of other great allies and friends we have, I got the most comfort from the Word of God:

Those to whom some people said, “Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said, “God is sufficient for us, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.” So they returned with favor and bounty from God, no harm having touched them. And they pursued the pleasure of God, and God is the possessor of great bounty. (3:173-174)

God is still in charge. He is more powerful than anyone or anything in this world. If we turn to Him, if we stand on His side, He will stand with us. Our challenge is to be worthy of His company; our challenge is to step up to the plate and be worthy of God’s help.

Which brings me to the other thing Nathan Lean told me:

This is not a time for fear of the worst to suppress social mobilization, coalition building, and activism. Those things are needed now more than ever, and I encourage American Muslims to assert their rights to equal treatment under the law in a vocal and confident way. They will find, I am sure, that others will rally with them and take up those causes as their own.

I also posed the question of what Muslims need to do now to Ahmed Rehab, long-time Muslim activist and Executive Director of the Chicago chapter of CAIR (full disclosure: I serve on its Board). He said:

The last thing we do is cower in fear and sit this out. We prepare. And we fight back by doubling down on supporting our civil rights organizations, by building stronger alliances, and standing with other communities who will also be victimized by bigotry and hate.

That is our challenge. That is the gauntlet that has been thrown at our feet. The “fitna” of Donald Trump places a clear choice before us: step up or get stepped upon. If we step up and fight for, not only our justice, but the justice of all people, then – God willing – we will be worthy of God’s company and His unbeatable strength. We cannot afford to fail in this task.

Yet, further, the “fitna” of Trump is more than just a call to action. Nathan Lean also said to me:

If there is a silver lining in what is assuredly a dark storm cloud, it is the possibility of getting this virus of prejudice out of our collective American system and restoring a sense of decency and moral uprightness with the American electorate.

Amen, brother. Amen.

Just as gold or silver undergoes “fitna” to become more brilliant and beautiful, it is my hope and prayer that, just as I wrote in the Islamic Monthly piece above, our country will rid herself of the ugliness of hatred and bigotry and become even greater and more beautiful than she already is.

Join me on Twitter (@GodFaithPen).

It’s looking more and more like Orlando shooting had nothing to do with ISIS

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

While it really doesn’t make it any better, knowing something about why the monster Omar Mateen did what he did is still important. And as investigators continue their search for answers, one thing seems to be becoming increasingly clear: 

…intelligence officials and investigators say they’re “becoming increasingly convinced that the motive for this attack had very little — or maybe nothing — to do with ISIS.

Read the rest at

In the Wake of Brussels: My Perpetual Condemnation – Again

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

I leave aside the fact that no other community is expected to condemn the actions of its criminal fringe. I leave aside the fact that the perverse logic of assigning blame to the whole for the actions of a few tends to be applied to Muslims preferentially. I leave aside the fact that most of the victims of “Islamic terror” are other Muslims themselves. I leave aside the fact the attention of the world to acts of terror in Western countries is much more than that in Muslims countries (see recent attacks in Turkey and compare for yourself).

I put all of that aside today. I put all that aside and condemn what happened in Brussels – which took the lives of 34 people – with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind.

It’s very true that such terror is being rained on scores of innocent Muslim populations by their own governments on a daily basis. It’s very true that terror has no religion or ethnic group or nationality. It’s true that Western governments have supported brutal dictatorships in the Muslim majority world to serve geopolitical interests. That is all true.

That’s does not even begin to justify, however, attacking innocent people anywhere in the world. And just as the double standards with respect to Muslims and Islam must be called out every time, terror in the name of Islam must also be called out and condemned for what it is: pure unadulterated evil.

Read the rest here:

The Man Who Has Played Role of God Sets Out To Study Him

In the Name of God: The Eternally and Extremely Loving and Caring

“I have always been fascinated by God.”

So says Morgan Freeman, the Academy Award-winning actor known, among many other things, for playing the role of God in films such as Bruce Almighty. Now, he sets out on an amazing journey to study God and how He is worshiped all across the globe.

Premiering Sunday April 3 on National Geographic Channel, “The Story of God”:

seeks to understand how religion has evolved throughout the course of civilization, and in turn how religion has shaped the evolution of society. Although in our current geopolitical landscape, religion is often seen as something that divides, the series illuminates the remarkable similarities among different faiths, even those that seem to be in staunch contrast. This is a quest for God: to shed light on the questions that have puzzled, terrified and inspired mankind, not to mention Freeman himself.

Said Morgan Freeman himself about the series:

Over the past few months, I’ve traveled to nearly 20 cities in seven different countries on a personal journey to find answers to the big mysteries of faith. I’ve sung the call to prayer at a mosque in Cairo, taken meditation lessons from the Buddhist leader of the oldest line of reincarnating Lamas, discussed Galileo with the head of the Papal Academy of Sciences and explored the first instructions for the afterlife rendered in hieroglyphs inside the pyramids. In some places I found answers, and others led to more questions. The constant through it all is that we’re all looking to be part of something bigger than us. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we certainly are.

Read the rest and see the trailer at

Pillar of “Native Deen” Goes Out On His Own

In the Name of God: The Everlastingly and Extremely Loving and Caring

Native Deen is one of the oldest and most popular American Muslim hip hop groups. It is my absolute favorite, and I have grown up listening to their songs. In fact, way back in the 1980s group member Joshua Salaam and I went to the same religious summer school, and I remember listening to him drop hip hop rhymes with effortless mastery way back then. Their songs are at once educational, inspirational, and consoling, all the while treating listeners with amazing hip hop beats and lyrics. If you haven’t heard of them, do yourself a favor and check them out.

Yet, it is natural to wonder: what are their musical talents individually? What would they do if they broke up?
Read the rest at

Join Me on “The Doc Is In”

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I am grateful to our Lord to announce my new blog, “The Doc Is In.” I have been wanting to write a blog that focuses mainly on medicine and the practice of medicine today for a long time now. By the grace of God, I have finally done so.

The blog is at:

It will mainly be about health and medicine, and I plan to share some of my perspective as a medical professional.

Of course, I will still maintain this blog (and my column at Beliefnet). But, make sure to check out my stuff there too.

My first post is: “Tragedy’s Silver Lining.”

Look forward to seeing you there and all my blogs and columns.

God bless you and all of us. Amen.