Relieve back pain through prayer

Praying five times a day is good for your spine.

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Praying five times a day is more effective than any painkiller

Back pain is the bane of my life, both personally and professionally. As a GP, close to 25% of my consultations are related to back pain but treating it well is difficult. Pain killers are not that effective, especially in the long-term, physiotherapy requires patient motivation (which is often lacking), and surgery is often fraught with complications without any guarantee of success.

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Out of respect, ‘Allah’ should be spelled with a capital ‘A’

Throughout this blog I refer to Allah with a capital ‘A’, but not for the same reason that Christians refer to God with a capital ‘G’. I was always taught at school that God (the Christian deity) was capitalised out of reverence, whilst ‘god’ lower case referred to any of the others, like the Egyptian and Greek ones.

Allah is not capitalised in the original language of Islam, Arabic, because in Arabic there are no capital letters. The only reason that I choose to write it with an ‘A’ is that, in English, Allah is a proper noun, and proper nouns should be written with a capital letter; it is just convention.

So if you write ‘allah’, I won’t be offended by your lack of respect for my god, but I will be annoyed by your disregard for the traditions of my language.

Do you capitalise Allah when you write English? Your comment will be deleted if you don’t…

The blood moon reminds me of Allah

Last night lots of people saw the longest blood moon of the century (BBC News).

This happens when the Earth casts a shadow over the moon and the only light reaching it has had all the blue sieved out of it by the Earth’s atmosphere, making it glow a deep red-orange.

The fact that this happens is incredible, and it should cause all of us to take a moment to think about our place in the universe, and to consider how much about it we truly understand.

Seeing the blood moon was a yet another reminder to me that Allah is all powerful.

I didn’t convert to Islam

I have not yet written about how I became a Muslim, but when I do you will recognise all the hallmarks of the classic conversion story: a time of crisis followed by deep personal reflection, and the final, glorious revelation. I swear the stars aligned and I felt myself change on a molecular level at moment I decided to convert.

Except, I didn’t convert.

When I went to the mosque to say shahada (the declaration of faith), I got speaking to an old man; one of those who you know has a deep understanding of Islam, and life in general, as soon as they start to speak. You could tell he was happy to see me there. He shook my hand vigorously, grinning broadly as he congratulated me on my reversion.

“Reversion”?

He explained that conversion meant a change to Islam, whist reversion meant a change back to Islam, the implication being that everyone is born a Muslim, but that not everyone is taught Islam. Depending on your point of view this will make complete sense, or it will insult your very being.

I still refer to myself as a convert because it is a term that is widely understood and that most non-Muslims are familiar with, but I have no problem seeing myself as a revert, in fact, I think it describes my journey into Islam very well: I have not had to change who I am; I am still the same person, with the same family, the same past experiences, the same thoughts, hopes and fears.

What has changed is what I do: I pray, and I read the Quran and I fast during Ramadan, or at least I try to. After all, being a Muslim is as much about what you do as what you believe, isn’t it?

I am interested to know what other people think about the use of “convert” and “revert”. Which do you use and why? And where do you stand on intentions vs actions? Do you think that it is possible to be good Muslim without following all the rules?