Here’s why spirituality is activism

Hello my lovelies!

Join me in welcoming a world where Palestine will be free. Take a deep breath and feel the peace of achieving freedom and justice for all and feel gratitude that just as how systems of oppression are all interconnected, so are liberation movements; as we work for the freedom of one, we’re working for the freedom of all.

Before dedicating the last few years to my spiritual journey after a very sudden awakening, I was committed to political activism. I knew that there was more to the world, but I saw it as something that is outside of my personal scope. Then as I became spiritual and immersed myself in seeking knowledge of the divine, it became separate to my passion for freedom and justice and all — almost like a break from the emotionally charged space of activism.

Until I realised there is no separation.

The material world has a lot to do with unity — for example, trying to be an ethical consume. However, in the spiritual world, there is a plane of activism that we can tap into through our own connection to ourselves and the Divine. You can even embrace the two as one: what earthly hobbies feed your soul? How can you use your talents to serve?

Don’t underestimate your gifts and passions as vehicles for change. When you create, you balance your energy centres, bookmarking your energy on your product. This is why art, poetry, music, etc are so impactful in activism. Creating with love transfers love to others, which collectively energises the cause.

Sure, it’s not all roses. There will be tears, anxiety and a loss of inspiration. You’re human and dealing with some very heavy work. But when you do find that creative force within you, know you’re creating a better world with your world by expressing yourself from your deepest passions and God-given gifts.

A karmic cycle of love

The concept of self-care and spirituality being separate from radical politics is actually a very modern phenomenon. If we look at the theories, philosophies and religions that have inspired New Age thought, we see that humanity is a collective. We are able to manifest our personal desires because we are not separate from them. We just need to tap into that specific vibration to attract the reality in which we wish to live.

Just as we are not separate from our desires for ourselves, we aren’t separate from our desires for others. This includes justice, freedom and liberation. Just as how we are connected in a way in which we can sense when someone is about to call us, we are connected in a way through our spiritual energies to aspire for better for each other.

Call it dua, quantum theory, higher self, or even the belief that we are all one soul, material separation is an illusion and our individual energies mix with each other. Because of this, we are able to influence spaces that are not materialistically ours.

This is why I try to feel love and compassion for people whose situation I want to see improve, as opposed to sympathy. I do what I can to help when I have the means, but I do it coming from a place gratitude that they are getting help they need. With gratitude comes more abundance for ourselves and others. Sympathy reinforces whereas gratitude catalyses.

I’ve spoken to a plethora of Palestinians inside Palestine and in the diaspora, along with non-Palestinian pro-Palestine activists. Every single one of us have felt a shift in the mood. There’s hope, there’s love, there’s still anger (justifiably), but it’s coming with an emergence of calling for freedom from a space of conviction that it’s near.

Because of the power of social media, people are using their creativity to partake in activism and they are getting shared far and wide. From music, to poetry, to infographics, to blog posts. This isn’t only the tangible production of awareness and activism material, but the creative energy that comes out of this, which is through a domino effect, creating more and more. This is all happening on a subconscious level.

When we raise our vibration with the intention of coming from a space for pure love, we are sending this love out to the rest of the world. So when we take care of ourselves, we’re taking care of the rest of the world.

Minus the encounter of an energy vampire, have you noticed how your positive or negative energy rubs off on others? When you feel good, everything else feels good. Inconveniences matter less. This isn’t because your head is in the clouds and you’re ignoring things, but because your energy is affecting others around you.

This is exactly why energy vampires are able to make you feel bad when you feel good, even without speaking to you. Without a healthy energetic boundary (let me know in my DMs or comments if you want me to write a post on establishing this), certain places and people can suck the life out of you by being in the same room as you, or even when you think about them.

Taking the same principle and relating it back to yourself, when you fill your cup with remembrance of the Divine and come from a space fo connection, your cup naturally overflows to whoever you intend to send such good energy to. As you take care of yourself, you take care of others. This happens very subtly and subconsciously.

But just because we can’t see the immediate material side of this, it doesn’t mean we should dismiss it as a form of activism.

I’ve been lacking with protesting, but I’ve been praying over the protests. There was even a global tajjahud for Palestine that took place. Many souls coming and praying together for Palestine before the sun rises — one of the most blessed times in Islam.

In order to be able to operate on this level, self care is needed. Audre Lorde, the woman who coined the term self care, describes it as “not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Do not be ashamed to fill your cup and relax.

Burnout is the opposite of productivity, which means self care is the champion of productivity. If the illusion of separation keeps us disconnected (note the divide and conquer tactic of the British empire), connection creates a better world for ourselves and everyone else.

Just as how all systems of oppression feed off each other, all systems of liberation are connected to each other. When you fight for one cause, you’re fighting for others.

When we start from self, we foster a healthy connection with every other atom that God has created. We fill our cups and end up communicating through the higher/more spiritual self via each other’s electromagnetic energy fields. And even if you don’t believe in all of this, taking care of yourself makes you more productive.

Choose freedom, choose creativity and choose love. Set these standards for yourself and trust that you are raising the collective vibration for others to choose the same standard for themselves and the liberation movements they are working towards.

Our souls were once one soul and when God created Adam, he breathed his spirit into him — meaning we all have the spirit of God within us. There is no separation.

“Allah created you from one soul. Then He made from it its mate, and He produced for you from the grazing livestock eight mates. He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, within three darknesses. That is Allah , your Lord; to Him belongs dominion. There is no deity except Him, so how are you averted?” — (39:6).

I love you all.

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh
Learn more about my distance reiki healing sessions via Zoom

The controversy behind sage and how to smudge properly and ethically

From appropriation to extinction, there are many controversies behind sage. Here’s a guide on how to be ethical when smudging, alternatives to sage and a step-by step!

Today, I took my friend to a spiritual shop for the first time and we saw sage sitting on the counter, so I started to explain how to use it. The lady behind the till started laughing and she told me that the moment the shop re-opened after lockdown, people were running in for sage. I love sage because it’s something that is prominent in my Palestinian culture, but I’ve been reading a lot of content written by Native Americans on cultural appropriation and the inflation of sage.

Sage is a very healing herb. In Arabic, we call it meramiya (مرامية) has a root in Virgin Mary’s Arabic name – Mariyam.

According to Palestinian folklore. In my culture, we drink it with the belief that it will cure anything. Funnily enough, a whole campaign had to be orchestrated at the start of coronavirus because many believed that all you need to cure the deadly disease was a few glasses of sage or camomile tea (or both, as my grandma used to make whenever I got sick). We don’t drink white sage, the sage we drink is called common sage in English.

In my culture, we also smudge. But instead of smudging sage, we use scented wood chips (bukhoor and oud). In the Gulf, my dad grew up on using incense sticks and would often find them in Mosques. I didn’t know this until I saw him buy some recently and he told me this! These traditions have been with us for thousands of years, but I’ve heard a lot of Islamic controversy on it with people thinking bukhoor (smudging) is bida’h (an innovation that deviates Islam) or shirk (to associate anything with God and the only sin to take you out of the fold of Islam).

I personally don’t understand why this is shirk because in order to associate anything with God or to declare polytheism, you need to intentionally do so. Also, bukhoor is something the Prophet Mohammed (SAW) used to use bukhoor for healing purposes and because it smells amazing. In fact, here’s a hadith by the Prophet himself:

Hadhrat Umm Qais Bint Mihsan narrates that “I heard the Prophet (sallallahu aleihi wa sallam) saying, “Treat with the Indian incense, for it has healing for seven diseases; it is to be sniffed by one having throat trouble, and to be put into one side of the mouth of one suffering from pleurisy.” (Saheeh al-Bukhari, Hadith # 5368, Kitab al-Tibb)

I did not know all of this when I looked into sage. I didn’t even make the connection between Native American spiritual healing and Palestinian physical healing of the herb! To me, I just read about it “clearing your space” and was initially taken aback. And then I found out that sage actually clears out up to 94% of bacteria in the air, improves your mood and helps to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety through aromatherapy, kills off lingering scents from cooking without chemical air fresheners, releases negative ions in the air which neutralise the positive ions and so forth.

So on a somewhat scientific basis, I tried it out and loved it. From an Islamic perspective, it didn’t seem any difference to using bukhoor. Until I started to read about it the cultural appropriation and environmental element of it. My conclusion on this is that we should be mindful where this spiritual practice originates, but also understand that sage is famous for its healing processes in different parts of the world.

Sustainable sage and alternatives

Contrary to popular belief, sage as a whole is not endangered. White sage is the type of sage that is most commonly used for smudging and it is not yet on the Endangered Species List but conservationists are still concerned about the future survival because of overproduction. So yes, we do need to be careful. If we are going to use sage, we need to be mindful of how we use it, not erase its identity and make sure we do not ruin the environment, the local economy and lives!

This means, don’t buy sage from Urban Outfitters and try to buy from sustainable sources that actually help the economies that plant the sage. It’s also best to come up with alternatives to burning sage.

Some could be:

Oud

Rosemary

Yerba santa

Palo Santo

Sandalwood

Lavender

Pine

If you don’t want to burn anything, you could make sprays out of water essential oils of healing herbs, or use a himalayan salt lamp. Sound healing is one of my favourite ways to uplift the energy in my room as well!

How to smudge

Now, this is where we can differ because really, it’s an intuitive process. But we need to ensure safety so make sure your windows are open and you’re being careful around anything flammable. The sage is not supposed to be on fire, but you’re supposed to light it so that there is smoke coming out of it. Make sure you have something to fan the sage to keep the smoke going so you don’t have to keep lighting the sage. Traditionally, a feather is used (if you use one, make sure it’s responsibly sourced!!!!) but I just use any piece of paper around me.

The way I learned is to sage is to first sage myself before saging the room, objects or other people. This way, you’re energetically clean. It all starts from within, right? I do this through hovering the sage over my head so my crown chakra is cleansed and work down my chakra line, which is from the top of your head down to your pubic bone. I do this at the front and back and then do my arms and legs and I make sure I sage my hands and feet, because those are where you’re absorbing a lot of energy from outside.

If you choose to smudge another person, you repeat the process with the strong intention to heal the other. If you intend to smudge a room, you start by smudging outside the room and the door, then the door from the inside of the room. You do all corners of the room and places you sit/lay on because they absorb energy. It’s very important to sage your bed and inside drawers and cupboards.

You could also just leave the sage to burn in a well ventilated room and let it do its thing! Give thanks and trust it will clean the air, literally.

When you’re done, you can extinguish it with water, or what I do is I just leave it in a jar and close it so it doesn’t react to oxygen anymore and it will naturally extinguish.

I tend to sage once a month, but I’d recommend that you use your intuition. When you feel like you need an energetic pick-me-up, when you absorbed some negative energy from outside, or maybe you just want to sage for the sake of it. As long as you’re being safe, there’s no harm. What I also do is I mix up my energy cleaning. I use my salt lamp before I sleep so I can relax better. I also play my singing bowl when I feel like it, put on some Qur’an, or listen to healing sounds. If it makes you feel good, it’s valid!

I remember when we were younger and my dad used to smudge us with bukhoor, he used to smudge over his head and recite Qur’an and allow the bukhoor to travel. Then he used to smudge us the same way, reciting protective verses and chapters of the Qur’an.

PS: I am not an Islamic scholar so don’t take anything I say as an authoritative opinion

Love you all!

Instagram: @flowerknafeh
Twitter: @superknafeh

Learn more about my distance reiki healing sessions via Zoom