ORONO, Maine — Author and blogger Yasmin Mogahed will speak at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Islamic Center of Maine.
Mogahed, 32, of California is the author of “Reclaim Your Heart: Finding the Road Back to God.” It is a collection of essays written over the past decade.
Her visit to Maine is sponsored by the University of Maine Muslim Students Association.
Mogahed is an Egyptian-born American. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in psychology and her master’s degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic studies and worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wis.
Currently she’s an international speaker and a writer for the Huffington Post. She also hosts Serenity, her show on One Legacy Radio, and maintains her website, which includes her writings and videos of her lectures.
Mogahed writes about Muslim spirituality, relationships and Islamic matters such as fasting and Ramadan and the Quran. She is one of the few female Muslim speakers who is not an academic. She has advocated for a less traditional approach to how the tenets of the faith are taught to children and converts.
“I think in teaching Islam, there’s a point where we went wrong,” she wrote. “I think, somewhere along the line we turned Islam into a list of dos and don’ts. Into ‘harams and halals.’ We teach our children about Hell fire, before they can even say ‘AlRahman-ur Raheem’ (the most gracious, the most merciful). Sunday school has become a place to teach you all the things that are ‘haram’ to do and all the punishments that you’ll be dealt if you do them. When someone converts, the first thing they’re told is that they need to change their name and stop celebrating Valentine’s Day.
“Somewhere along the line I think we started going about Islam from the outside in, instead of the inside, out,” Mogahed concluded.
Mogahed covers her head with a hajib, a large scarf that covers the head and neck, and wears an abaya, a long-sleeved, full-length garment similar to a caftan. She told Omar Shahid, a freelance journalist in the United Kingdom who maintains a blog, in December that “her ‘hajib’ is a ‘statement’ that she loves God more than ‘society’s standards of beauty and fashion.’”
“My submission is to something higher than those things. And in so doing, I’m forcing society to look at me for who I am, my heart and soul, because they can’t judge me by my body because it’s hidden,” she told Shahid in an interview posted on his blog.
Mogahed has said on her own blog that Allah is in control and that God should be held in the heart. The world should be seen as having been created in his reflection, she wrote.
“Once you begin to see everything beautiful as only a reflection of God’s beauty, you will learn to love in the right way: for his sake,” she wrote. “Everything and everyone you love will be for, through and because of him. The foundation of such love is God.
“So what you hold onto will no longer be just an unstable feeling, a fleeting emotion,” Mogahed continued. “And what you chase will no longer be just a temporary high. What you hold, what you chase, what you love, will be God: the only thing stable and constant.”
For information about Mogahed, visit yasminmogahed.com. For information about the Islamic Center of Maine, call 866-3410 or visit www.theicmo.com.