Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saying goodbye....

Its all apart of the growing up process, but lately I've been thinking, the past couple of years of my life have been nothing but saying goodbye.

First off, someone who I consider to be a good friend and role model left school in pursuit of a long held dream and while I was completely happy for them, life was rather empty when they were no longer a part of its daily happenings.

Soon after, a childhood friend moved away to the UK after marrying this wonderful man. I remember this night like it was just yesterday, because when I think about it, even today, my eyes start to tear up. Its funny how it works. When a friend is getting married you often know months, if not a year in advance and its almost like this mental preparation that goes on where you are busy telling yourself that all good things come to an end and Insha'Allah the two of you remain in touch despite the perils of such great distances. Alhamdulilah with this friend, I have.

After this childhood friend moved away, my favorite cousin moved away. This cousin of mine was more like a sister to me, the one that I went to with my problems, questions, etc. She was the one who's company I was just happy to be with even if neither of us said a word. She was my heart and my soul, my everything, my sister. And her children were my pride and joy - I saw them as I believe I would my own children. Oh, what I would give to hold these little munchkins in my arms one more time.

Between then and now I have lost a number of friends. Well, not really lost, because I would like to think that they are still my friends despite the distance, but just been distanced from.

Finally....I hope finally, although this is a loss that I am dreading very much to suffer. One of my best friends is moving to some remote country in the middle of World (I know where, but we'll try and keep some anonymity) after she marries her high school sweetheart this weekend...well, they weren't dating nor did they go to high school together but since high school the thought of marriage to each other has been on their minds. This friend of mine is the holder of my secrets, while I could talk to my cousin (the one who is like my sister) there are certain things you keep for your best friend, there are certain memories that you share with this friend of yours, jokes, laughs, stories from when we were dorks in high school, the dumb things we used to do, the ways in which we twisted the truth to make our parents think that we were being good girls (and while its not something to joke about, we do and it makes us happy). I wonder how I am going to survive this separation. How is my life going to be when my best friend of forever leaves? Who's house will I run to early in the morning, before breakfast, when my heart is broken, who's shoulder will I cry on? Who is going to tell me everything will be okay, even though its not okay? While I am certain that we will keep in touch through emails, phone calls, snail mail, etc. its not the same...because sometimes I need her tight bear hugs, the kind that make me feel like I can't breath, but in a good way. Sometimes I need her to try funky facial masks that she concocted in her head (even though they don't work) on me. Sometimes all I need is for her to make fun of me when I am being my regular goofy self. Sometimes I need to see her do a wacky dance like she does when she's cooking in the kitchen. The bottom line is, I need her. And it is true, you never know what you have until you have to give it up.

If saying goodbye is part of growing up, then growing up STINKS!

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who told me about a brother she had in mind for me, after agreeing with the idea of marriage in the near future her next question was "do mind if you would have relocate?" My answer was "no", although I have never lived in another country or state for that matter. I have never been away from my parents for more than two months and although there are times that I wish I could trade my family in, for the most part they are tolerable. Of course, I have no intention of geographically restricting myself as I have said that finding a good spouse is quite the challenge these days. I just can't help but think how difficult it is to pack up your life for someone that you know for about a couple of months to live with this person and leave behind your love ones. Alhamdulilah, these days the task is not as hard as it has been in the past as we have wonderful modes of technology (I mean, planes can take you anywhere in the world in a matter of one to two days). And then I think about my grandmother and how she married a stranger and moved to another country for him and how she left behind her family in the days when the means of traveling cross country was by ship and when making an international phone call was very expensive. I think we are still spoiled.

I find that since we are young (especially sisters) we are trained to think as if one day we will find our prince charming and that we will marry him and no longer live in our mother's home. I suppose that's life, but I cannot imagine not seeing my mother for 20 years on end. I cannot imagine what life would be like if I couldn't just pop into my parent's room on a weekend to laugh, talk and have tickle fights (my parents are 50 year old teenagers). I just can't picture what life would be like in such a situation, I guess we will just have to wait and see.

As for now, I am kind of like an empty nester. I used to be a social butterfly who had plans every weekend, who was out late at night having a laugh with her friends and now my calendars are empty and I am left to myself. I imagine my day to finally be the one being told goodbye is somewhere in the near future, until then I'll be here, in my empty nest with my empty calendar

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Why are so many young Muslims leaving Islam?

Alhamdulilah my group of friends are pretty Muslim (whatever that means)and over the past year a few of my non-Muslim friends have become Muslim also. For the most part, I am among people who appreciate the beauty of Islam and immerse themselves in it. However, for every up there is a down and while I am among very dedicated Muslim youth, I am also among troubled youth that ultimately leave Islam. I suppose as someone who believes so strongly in Islam, I find it impossible to come up with a reason as to why anyone would ever want to leave such a perfect religion. Nonetheless I'd like to discuss it and perhaps someone could help shine light on the topic as well.

Last year I was sad to hear that someone very dear to my family left Islam. It was rather hard to believe as she came from a very religious family and was a good Muslim as well. Apparently, she was studying philosophy at University and soon started to question Islam. I for one have witnessed the dangers of Philosophy while I was studying for my undergrad as it was one of the classes offered in order to fulfill the general education requirement. I only took one class in this subject and began thinking slightly differently (Shukr Allah that I had made the Masjid my sanctuary and the Quran my guidance or I don't know where I would be today). This girl went so far as to study Philosophy as her major. I happen to think of all the subjects, Philosophy is the most detrimental to its learner's faith in that it poses questions that the Human mind doesn't naturally think. This particular person (we'll call her Alice) looks at things from an existential point of view. While I cannot remember much about existentialism besides what I have learned in my 12th grade English class, I know that it can lead to atheism. It prompts people to ask questions such as "How do I know God exists if I cannot see him?" In order for something to exist it must be tangible, for example "If a tree 'fell' in the forest 10 miles from my house, how do I know that the tree really existed if I did not hear it fall?" Naturally the human mind does not think this way. Philosophy poses such questions and Shaytan runs with them making people doubt their faith. If your are reading this and were considering studying Philosophy, please do so under a Muslim scholar and please study Islamic Philosophy - its safer.

Alice's sister is also no longer Muslim, possibly through the influence she gets from her elder sister. Alice's mother refuses to talk to her because when she does so shaytan starts whispering in her ears. Alice often asks questions like "How do I know there is a life after death?" I have pondered that question a few times in an attempt to explain it to her, but I haven't come up with an answer that pleases her, because to me it is just part of my faith and the belief in life after death makes me Muslim.

Someone else I know is no longer Muslim because her boyfriend is not Muslim and she knows that she cannot be with him if she is Muslim and he is not. May Allah (SWT) protect us, our families, and the entire Muslim Ummah (ameen).

My mind cannot fathom how anyone could believe in Allah one day and then the next denounce His existence all together. My studies have revolved around science and everything that I have ever learned in my years as a student has confirmed the existence of a higher being from chemistry and the binding of atoms to Human Anatomy and Physiology. Subhan'Allah the human body is so intricate and its function is so amazing almost machine-like that there is no way that any of this was an accident. Salt water and fresh water didn't just randomly decide not to mix. Its not mere coincidence that when a person goes for abdominal surgery and their intestines are moved out of the abdominal cavity and then place back again in a bunch after surgery that they automatically move back into the correct position. Or how about your eyes start to secrete tears in order to wash our a foreign object that has entered it? I could go into the secretion of hormones in response to different signals of the body, but it will take a while. My point is, it absolutely cannot be a fluke or a mistake, someone is behind it all, and that someone is Allah (SWT).

Although my family is not very religious (my immediate family) there are certain things that they have been rather strict about. My parents have done a good job of implementing the idea of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to wear in public, even when I wasn't a hijaabi, they would be strict about tight clothing and enforced that I wore pants or long skirts (mind you my mom is not even a hijaabi), we only ate zabiha, we never touched alcohol, we fasted in Ramadan, we wore "proper hijaab" to the masjid and boys were never allowed at home and they also were not allowed to call home. I guess the reason I am saying this is that with all this conditioning throughout life (an I am using conditioning in a positive tone)I couldn't understand being anything but Muslim. While my parents were strict, they never were extremely tough. I know that the parents of some rebellious youth are extremely tough on their kids.

I feel that there needs to be a degree of being strict, however I find that extreme strict behavior is a mistaken on the parents' part in that it often is the extra nudge in pushing a child away. Adolescents are like children, if you tell them not to something they want to do it even more. I am not advocating not telling your children to stay away from certain things (as a matter of fact I encourage it) rather I am saying don't be too harsh. If you keep your child as a prisoner and yell at them at the drop of the hat you are building a ticking time bomb.

I am not a mother, however my belief is that there needs to be a degree of exposure to the outside world in order to balance everything out. Of course you wouldn't want your teenage child out late at night without your presence, but don't completely band him/her from going out, instead let them go out with friends you approve of and pick them up at a time you feel is decent. Be your child's friend. be the person your child wants to talk to, the one he/she asks questions when confused. I find that in our societies especially among parents who come from non-western countries we find that parents desire to build up this wall to distinguish the Parent-child relationship but the reality of the matter is we no longer live back home. Here, there are bigger fitnas to deal with. So what if your daughter dropped a glass of milk - calm down - just ask her to pick it up, there is no need to yell and call names. This is just one example.

I have seen over the top strict parents, but I have also seen the "who cares" parent. These parents don't ask questions, they don't place curfews, they just don't care. They are under the impression that just because their kid is hanging around Muslims everything is good. The truth is: It's not! I have family in England where the population of Muslims is large and parents have the "who cares" mentality.My last visit to England was in my late teen years and I was shocked to see what was happening (drinking, smoking, dating), of course this doesn't only happen in England it happens everywhere...this is just where I saw it. Teens are like babies, they are curious, they want to try different things even if they know it is bad for them, they want to try it anyway: Alcohol, drugs, sex and before they know it they are in way too deep.

I have also found that while we are all trying to live the American dream, family life has jumped out the window and committed suicide. There is no quality family time, technology doesn't help either. I mean in the living room we see everyone's eyes glued to the TV (in my case my ears are plugged to some lecture as my laptop sits on my lap), on road trips everyone has their ears busy with their ipods, there is no longer any discussion. Seriously, be your child's friend.

I have heard that women have no rights from ex-Muslim sisters. What kind of example are we putting forth in our dealings with our daughters and sisters? How are we treating them that it makes them believe that Islam has made them second class citizens? The answer "Its because you're a girl" to the question "Why not?" is ridiculous and it is an injustice to that person and the religion of Islam. When you answer a question in that manner you are saying "Because you are a woman I can treat you differently." Frankly, I think that's unjust. Don't get me wrong, there are certain roles in society a woman is meant to play and certain rules a man is meant to play, what I fail to understand is why do people make performing these roles and other roles so complicated? Why can't your daughter go out with a group of sisters? Why can't you daughter travel abroad as your son did?

I can go on and on, but its late and I'm tired.

Would anyone like to shine light on this?

They make me happy

I could not resist posting this...its amazing.

I'll be back shortly with more.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I'm rather confused....

I'm supposed to be attending a wedding somewhere in the really near future of a friend who may as well be family. The wedding is what my close friends and some family have given the coined name "mixed gathering" meaning men and women, including the bride and the groom, will be celebrating the wedding festivities together in the same ballroom. Seems fair enough to me, but there are people that I know that are planning on boycotting the festivities because in their minds eye being in the same vicinity of a man (regardless of whether you're covered or not or with your husband or other mehram family member) is just much too haraam. I suppose each individual is entitled to their own opinion. But my question is what is the true ruling regarding this matter? Brother Quest asked a similar question early this week, so seriously, what's the answer?

I mean, I have attended some masajid where men and women pray in the same prayer hall (unless there is no room in which case the women pray in a hall which is usually located upstairs). I have also attended Islamic functions, fundraisers, lectures, etc. where men and women are in the same area perhaps sitting at different tables, standing in different buffet lines, entering from different entrances, women in the back and men in the front, but nonetheless in the same area. On the flip side, I have attended gatherings where the "fitnah police's" security is at the red level and if you're a sister there won't be a brother in sight and the opposite goes for the brothers. As you can see, I am a bit confused.

I must admit, there are times where I actually want strict security. For example when certain masajid hold late night qiyaams and the majority of attendees are youngsters who are at the masjid for the purpose of scoping out other youngsters of the opposite gender (where is the fitnah police then?). So I agree that there are times that the partitions should be drawn and times when there should never be a member of the opposite gender in sight, but most of the time I don't get it. It doesn't logically make sense (ok, it does in a way, but in other ways I don't understand). I'll explain...

A attend a public university, I have boys in my classes and my professors are males, I cannot build a partition around me every time I attend a class where there's a male in the room (every class). And what am I to do if that non-Muslim boy decides to sit next to me because the chair next to me is the only chair available? What about the cashier at the super market? I could go on, but I'm sure the reader gets what I am saying. Despite the impossibility of not being in the presence on a non-mehram man, its lacks logic. How is one to find someone to marry?

Ok, I know people do find spouses even though they are the no "mixed gathering" type of people. But in all honesty, I know a lot of young people who complain "How am I supposed to find a wife if every even I go to people are hiding the sisters?" I can't say that I don't agree. My father and brother are Jummuah only masjid attendees, my brother is not into the "Muslim scene" (MSA) as he calls it and the only males of marriagable age that my father knows are my cousins, who might I add, are not husband material as far as I am concerned. So what is a girl like me to do? My only options are word of mouth, being active in the Masjid/MSA, or randomly being seen by an interested brother at one of these Muslim events. Of course there is always the arranged marriage route that I am not too fond of as my mother would likely hook me up with some kind of Bollywood movie star who is also a Jummuah only masjid attendee. Do I sound stupid?

Let me clarify, my views do not only relate to marriage issues, it relates to them all...student organizations also. In the past I have played a major role in my MSA and have even carried a leadership role, only to be ridiculed by certain "draw a curtain in front of the sister so we can't see her" brothers who are okay with a woman holding a leadership position in order to have her do all the work and planning, but God forbid she decides to open her mouth and speak her mind! This sister must be a loose sister, surely shes got her morals are all mixed up after all her voice is her awrah. I can accept that my voice is my awrah, but I have news for you brother...I'M NOT SINGING! and I am dressed conservatively, I'm not wearing make-up and since when did and abaya become provocative clothing. And I'm no sheikah, I am far from it (see the previous post) but if my memory and education serves me correctly the physical curtain to be drawn between a woman and the man she is speaking to rule applies only to the Ummahaat ul Mumineen (correct me if I am wrong).

I am of the belief that there should be no "free mixing" as we see in western societies and some more "chill" masajid, I am completely against it. Nonetheless, I feel like in order to have a healthy society there should be SOME mixing. Of course I am totally against a brother and a sister sitting in chairs that are right next to each other or even at the same table, but why can't men and women be at the same wedding in the same ballroom? Surely families can sit at the same table or if you want to make it a little stricter why can't one side of the room be reserved for the male guests and the other side for female guests?

What if at this wedding people start dancing? I'll tell you, I'd be the first person to leave the ballroom at that point! But if I can sit in a restaurant with my family and eat dinner or sit in a lecture hall where I am absolutely okay with the non-Muslim boy sitting right next to me or almost accidentally touching the cashiers hand at the super market as he hands me my change, then surely having a nice dinner with my family and other families at my friends wedding should not be a problem as long as I have done everything necessary to protect myself from committing sin.

If you think I am completely wrong, by all means feel free to correct me and it would be great if you could do so with examples from the Quran and Sunnah.

Jazak'Allah khair.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What do you look for in a husband?

It seems like my posts are more love and marriage related than I would have liked, but khair, it is what it is. I'm at that age and well the blog title is "A glimpse into my mind" and this is what's on my mind.

A friend of mine asked me today "What are you looking for in a husband?" after mentioning that she might have someone in mind for me. My fear is that I gave her this generic answer, an answer that any Muslim girl would give. My other fear is that what I want is so far out of my reach as I do not have some Egyptian Islamic education and my knowledge of Islam today is what I have learned from the few Al-Maghrib classes that I have attended, the many lectures that I have listened to and the numerous books that I have glanced through. So do I really deserve the brother that I truly want to be with? I guess that is for Allah (SWT) to decide...

Here is my attempt to answer that question so that next time it is asked I can answer it properly. Its not that I don't know what I want, because I do, I've gone over this numerous times in my mind, I even made a long list and emailed it to a brother friend who offered to be a nice brother and find me a man, its just that I think I should refresh my thoughts. So here goes....criticism is welcome :) .

  1. He must be a practicing Muslim - by practicing I do not mean just the 5-pillar practicing Muslim, I mean a brother who makes Islam his life. Someone who spends as much free time as possible at the masjid engaging in resourceful dialogue with shuyookh, someone who instead of partying on Friday night is at the masjid in a halaqa. (you get the gist)
  2. He must eat Zabiha only - I know that there are many opinions on the issue, but Allah (SWT) says in the Quran (6:118-119) "Then eat of that on which the name of Allah has been pronounced, if you believe in His signs. And what happened to you that you should not eat out of that on which the name of Allah has been pronounced. He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you, but when you be compelled to it? And undoubtedly, many mislead by their own desires without knowing. Undoubtedly, your Lord knows well the transgressors."And I feel that if there is Zabiha meat, then why not. Is it so hard to give up that burger at In-N-Out? Make one at home, its not that hard.
  3. He must be family oriented - I find that now a days a lot of young practicing Muslim brothers abandon their families in a way. While its great that you're spending all of your time at the masjid with the brothers in this amazing halaqa, have some consideration for you mother who is at home. Come home at a decent hour, spend some time with her, ask her if she needs any help. Afterall, heaven does lie beneath her feet. If you're out enriching yourself with knowlege of the deen and your family is at home watching TV and what not, where is the benefit in that?
  4. He has to absolutely love children - I am in love with children and the thought of insha'Allah having my own one day. My future Mister must share this same passion. I see having children as an opportunity to do things for the Ummah that my parents were not able to do through me for whatever reason. Afterall children are the future of this Ummah and the most precious gift of this dunya.
  5. He has to be "with it" - That is, he has to be cool, to me. Underneath that abaya and hijaab is a girl straight from the hood - a girl who until she discovered hayah used to ball it up on the court with the guys. I love, basketball, pool (even though I don't know the rules), football -if its a sport and it's competative, I like it, that being said he's going to have to be willing to play with me. My dream is to play a game of basketball with my on one.
  6. While I want a strict man, he also has to be chill. My family dynamic doesn't really settle well with the big sheikh mentality. And while I would appreciate the lowering of gazes when he is around women he is not related to (including my cousins as many of them are very good looking) I would also appreciate it if he would become a PART of my family. He would have to be okay to converse with my entire family, joke around with them etc, within limits of course and with me present of course.
  7. He has to be flexible and open-minded. A closed mind will not work in my family. My family is not very religious, many of them are practicing and some try but are completely and utterly confused (of no fault of their own). My family is also very religiously diverse hense the need for open-mindedness. I see it as a dawah over the guys in my family and insha'Allah we got ourselves a revolution.
  8. No music, No TV. As I said earlier, I am against TV and Music and while from time to time I glance over at the TV I would love to not expose my children to such fitnah. I enjoy watching sports and perhaps that is all I would use a TV for if I ever had one in my house, but that too causes and issue with cheerleaders and fitnah in every we'll see. I might just do what my cousin does with her children - that is not allow them to watch commercials. And of coures, there will be absolutley no music.
  9. He can't be all wrapped up in culture. Don't get me wrong, I love culture, as long as it doesn't interfere with religion. I have found that my family has these weird views on religion and weird ways of doing things. Alhamdulilah I am working slowly and surely to eliminate these practices, but it would be nice to have a little support.
  10. He must be okay with my line of work. I am a nurse, so my job requires me to work closely with men, even touch them if necessary (but they are my patients). I chose this line because to me it is the most self-less job I could think of. It also leaves the door of opportunity for me to fulfill my dream of providing medical help to those in less fortunate parts of the world (Africa, India, Pakistan, War-torn parts of the Middle East).
  11. He has to be willing to at least consider the option of studying Islam abroad and perhaps even Arabic. These are things that I have wanted to do for the longest but my parents would never allow me.
  12. It would be wonderful if he loved cats or at least tolerated them. I actually have a cat now that I would have a hard time parting with, we have three in my house (one that my parents are too attached too, one that I think is really retarded and then the one I want to take with me - my love).
  13. I want him to be my best friend - my go-to guy. I want him to be someone that I am comfortable talking to and just bumming around with. And if he's romantic that would be amazing!
  14. Anger management - I have had issues with this in the past...I have anger management and stress management issues. There are times that I do and/or say things that I do not mean to do or say out of anger or stress. Alhamdulilah, I have done a good job trying to ween myself off of this destructive kind of behavior, but in order for my self-rehab to work, I need a man who is calm. A man that knows how to walk away from an argument, a man who stays silent when he's angry. Basically, I need him to be calm so that I too can be calm.
I think this is all I can think of as of now. Lemme know what you think.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Children these days have no patience!"

Its a comment that I have heard all too often by the elders in my community when it comes to discussions about the young people of the community getting divorced as early as one month into the marriage. I can't say that I don't agree, because I do - people my age have no patience when it comes to preserving a relationship. I think the problem is multifaceted, there isn't just one answer.

Muslim youth now a days are getting married (performing their nikkah) younger and younger in an effort to protect themselves from committing sin, while I couldn't think of a better possible answer to such a problem, I feel that the immaturity of many youth contributes to the rising percentage of divorce within the Muslim community. Its common practice for a young couple to perform their nikkah and live with their respective parents until they finish school as neither of them have enough money to pay rent and provide for a household. This is all well and good until this couple decides to treat this union as either a "halal" boyfriend-girlfriend relationship or as just an engagement. I think what young people fail to realize is that once a nikkah is done, no matter how simple and how small it is, it is still a wedding! He is your husband and she is your wife. Sure, Islam makes divorce very easy, but it is out of the mercy of Allah (SWT) and should not be abused.

I often find situations in which there is a total lack of patience along with a total lack of respect for the other person in cases of divorce. I am single and have never been married, some may argue that my situation puts me in position to make such observations, but I think I have seen enough in my years to draw conclusions as to what I think is going wrong.

There is a total lack of patience! I know that I have said that I would never run my household in the manner in which my parents have. To that comment, I would also like to add that I don't want to have a marriage like my parents either, but if there is one thing from my parents relationship that I would like to incorporate in my marriage when the time comes is the patience that both my parents exhibit in their dealings with one another. Masha'Allah, my parents have been married for 25 years, my father's brother and his wife have been married 30 years, my grandparents were married for 55 years (they took the 'till death do we part' literally, Alhamdulilah). Needless to say none of these marriages were the cookie-cutter, always on your honeymoon kind of marriages. Of course there are ups and downs, there are misunderstandings, arguments, fights even, but subhan'Allah they pulled through. So, I find it amazing how the youth of today can end a marriage in just months-its obvious that no effort was put into making those marriages work.

Another classic argument made is the "we're not compatible" argument. A friend of mine was telling me about her friend - a good Muslim girl- that simply packed her bags and left her husband a month after the wedding because she thought she had nothing in common with him. Where is the logic in that? Whatever happened to trying to make it work, getting to know your husband better so that you can develop common interests? While I may be no expert on making a marriage work, I know a little about friendships in that I know it doesn't always click in the first month of friendship and often times you have to put in an effort to make a friendship work but in the end its worth it. Whatever happened to compromise?

One of the things that pains me the most about the rising numbers of divorce in our communities is that it breaks up the family structure and tears down bonds within the community. I feel that many of the Muslim youth are failing to see the importance of marriage in our society and in our deen. A husband and wife are to be garments for one another so that we may find tranquility in their presence, yet we see the opposite happening in today's society.

I pray that Allah (SWT) place immense amounts of love and mercy between the hearts of married couples all over the world and that He blesses them with long happy lives together (ameen).

I am Furious

I cannot stop staring at the IM box blinking orange with a list of new instant messages from my cousin (you know the one in love with my best friend's sister?). I wasn't at my computer as these messages came through so, he continued to send them until I finally responded. It was something to the effect of 'You are no longer my cousin, I cannot believe you would continue to tell her sister about me, etc etc.' Clearly he is upset because he believes that I have told my best friend a list of things about him and her sister. The funny thing is neither is this is true. You see, this isn't the first argument about her that I have had to endure, it used to be something that my other cousin used to have to go through and now that shes married and gone, I go through it for her. But after the first couple arguments I vowed to drop the subject and never bring it up ever again (I am a woman of my word). I don't deny telling my best friend certain things (I'm talking years ago) about my cousin and her sister but that was out of desire to look after her, after all she is like a sister to me, and if a sister of mine was up to something like she is, I would want my best friend to tell me no matter the repercussions.

I don't understand what to do anymore. I know for a fact that talking to either of them is out of the question because if you talk to one the other will find out and it will be as if you are scheming. Speaking to both at the same time is something I am not willing to attempt. I pray that Allah (SWT) keep me away from this drama.

I have tried to speak to my cousin about the issue in a logical, understanding manner but instead of looking at me now, he goes on to bring up the mistakes that I have made in the past. He never fails to bring up the brothers that I have spoken to in the past, the lies that I have told and the list continues. No one is perfect ESPECIALLY myself. I have more skeletons in my closet than I know what to with, but Alhamdulilah Allah (SWT) has given me a second chance to turn my life around. I have up until now done a wonderful job hiding my skeletons and keeping them in my closet and those brothers have also changed for the better and have also kept the skeletons in the closet. I sometimes feel, however, that I made a big mistake in trusting my cousin with these secrets. He was like a brother to me and so I went to him in search of advice only now, I feel as if he wants to use that information as blackmail.

Subhan'Allah, you think you know a person, and then they change.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Alhamdulilah for being homophobic!

Now, don't go grimacing at your screen and cursing me out in a million different languages. We all have our right to our own beliefs. To me it seems unnatural for people of the same gender to have romantic relations with one another and my belief is that it is a sickness and a sin (there, I said it!). I look at today's society full of sin: sex, music, drugs, killing, homosexuality, lies, deceit, and the list goes on and I can't help but think how close the end of the world is.

I clearly remember the days when when knowing a gay or lesbian person was so scarce, I remember the days when these people did whatever they could to stay in the closet - to hide their shame, I remember the days when being homophobic was okay and accepted by society. Now a days everyone is a homosexual and they are so proud of it. You have the Gay Pride Parade, TV shows like Will and Grace, even shows that have nothing to do about homosexuals have at least one homosexual in the script, its everywhere! I mean, when I was in high school it suddenly became the newest fad to come out of the closet. People that I knew that were in heterosexual relationships all of a sudden decided to flip the switch. I personally always saw it as disgusting, but looking at it from an Islamic point of view, my phobia doesn't only relate to those who engage in such a sin, but also the repercussions that those who sit and watch silently will have to face.

Many Muslims along with non-Muslims wave the banner of Human Rights but so conveniently forget the story of the People of Lut (pbuh). These Muslims often are quick to say things such as "What's the big deal?" "How does legalizing gay marriages cause such a huge effect on you? What does it matter?" And while all of the arguments may sound valid..really, how does the legalization of gay marriage affect a straight Muslim?? Well, I have news for does. Not all of the people of Lut committed sins such as homosexuality, but they were still destroyed. In fact, the wife of Prophet Lut perished with the rest of his people, not because she committed these crimes, but because she didn't see anything wrong with them. Suban'Allah I see the same behavior with the Muslim community today and quite frankly is scary.

I was listening to Mohammed Al-Shareef's lecture series titled "The Perished Nations" and something he said really struck me. He mentioned that the conotation used to describe one who opposes homosexuality is very negative - Homophobic. The word homophobic suggests that this notion that is supposed to be good (ie, opposing homosexuality) is now looked at as something bad. This very same flip-flopping of good and bad it what was seen during the time of Prophet Lut.

As if it isn't bad enough to have a world that has condoned homosexuality to the point that same-sex marriages have been legalized and the media is teaming with homosexuals in an attempt to desensitize society, we now have "Muslim" groups that openly accept such behavior. Groups such as Al-Fatiha are Muslim, queer and darn proud of it (May Allah (SWT) protect us all).

I was talking to this lady I met at this cafe that I often study at. She, like many people that see me want to ask a million questions about Islam (I love it). Anyways she first asked me about me attire, then about dating in Islam, marriage in Islam and then resorted to the question "Can a Muslim person be Gay?" My answer was "A Muslim can be Gay as long as he stays in the closet, because that kind of thing is not allowed in Islam." And then I froze up, because inside of my head I was thinking all sorts of things including (why would anyone want to be gay in the first place) but I wasn't sure if the person I was speaking to was herself gay, so I left the conversation at that until she asked me what I thought about the legalization of same-sex marriage. I'm not a liar, so I told the truth starting with "No offense but..." and then continued to say "I believe it undermines the sanctity of marriage, and that marriage has always been and should always be between a man an a woman no matter what religion you follow."

Growing up I always thought that what one person does does not have an effect on the rest of society, but from history this belief has been contradicted. Society at a whole is affected by the actions of its citizens, even if it is just the actions of a handful of citizens (the rotten apple in the basket notion). Don't get me wrong, I believe that homosexuals are humans and deserve basic human rights as individuals, but the rights to legal "marriage" and what not in my belief is a right for a man with a woman and a woman with a man only.

So yes, I am homophobic...and darn proud about it!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

So when are you getting married?

Its that question that everyone seems to ask me as if I was born with some kind of calendar that told me when my big day would be. If you were born into my family, this question first gets asked to you (especially if you're a girl) somewhere around your 18th birthday. For me, it came much earlier. My grandmother died when I was a freshmen in high school, so that would make me 14 years old - that is when the questions started. You see, my grandmother had this wish that I marry my cousin who was about three years older to me, its this old fashioned back-home kind of thinking. Don't get me wrong, my cousin is a great guy, he's funny, good-looking and smart, but he's like an older brother to me. I quickly told my grandfather that it wouldn't happen when he brought up the subject and it was rather easy to convince him, only then he would just ask me about other people instead.

I'd like to get married - now if I could - only, I haven't found the right brother. I once thought I found the right brother, he was perfect to me in every way, only his niceness was truly just being nice and nothing more. To make a long story short, he is now married to a wonderful sister (I wish them the very best, insha'Allah). My family and friends think that I am very picky, and I agree, however I feel this is a matter in which one should be picky. I understand that nit-picking on little things such as the kind of car one drives or how one looks is ridiculously shallow, however when it comes to Islam one should be as picky as possible.

I am very liberal in some ways and very conservative in others. I am liberal in a sense that I think that a women should have the right to work and that her husband should help her around the house. I know that I don't want to run my household in the way that my mother has where the boys in the family to "man work" and the girls do "woman work." I believe that each gender should help out equally - even when it comes to cleaning the bathrooms. I suppose my conservative side comes from Islam. I believe that a man's wife should dress conservatively and should not converse with non-mehram men without the presence of her husband unless it is a conversation that is strictly business related, needless to say that this goes for the husband as well. I disapprove of television and music and would only marry a man who feels the same way. I want the masjid to be a huge part of our lives, so naturally the masjid has to play a huge role in his life. Also, I would like to study Islam abroad after I get married (since my parents won't let me go now), so of course he would have to have the same goal, insha'Allah. And so when I explain all of this to my parents, my family and my close friends and they all think I'm nuts. Perhaps I am, but I am determined to get what I want, especially if I have to spend the rest of my life with my decision.

Now a days its extremely difficult to find a good Muslim brother or even a good Muslim sister for that matter. Unfortunately, these days, the youth has become corrupted with the culture of hip hop, drugs, music, alcohol. Muslim brothers and sisters alike engage in the use of foul language, its a shame. What is even more shameful is that parents, knowing the difficulty their children face in finding a spouse, make the situation even more difficult. The parent's of daughters are far more at fault than those of sons (in my experience). As if it wasn't hard enough to find a good Muslim brother, you now have to make sure he's of the same background as you, he speaks the same language as you, he's from the same economical standing as you, he has a PhD, he has white skin, and the list goes on and on. For goodness sake, what happened to the days when people were getting married as early as possible in order to protect themselves from sin, when a man's religion was all that really mattered? What happened to the days when one of the reasons for marriage was to strengthen alliances between families? Subhan'Allah its a shame to see the state of the Ummah.

Now back to that question...

So when am I getting married? I suppose the answer is still "when I find the right brother, or when he finds me, insha'Allah." I truely desire to get married in the very near future, I just don't think that ACTIVELY searching for a potential spouse is the route that I would like to take. Insha'Allah when the opportunity presents itself, I will inquire. While I wait for my knight in shining thowbe to sweep me off my feet, I feel that what I need to do is focus on my family, my community, my deen, my studies and my career. I believe that marriage is half of one's deen and I realize its importance in the structure of the Islamic community, but I believe that life doesn't just stand still until Mr. or Mrs. Right come along to save the day because life goes on.

So until he comes, I'll be here insha'Allah working to benefit my community.


I have a love-hate relationship with facebook. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 10 years or so, facebook is an online networking website, kind of like myspace, freindster and other such websites. My love for facebook began roughly about a year ago. I realized that it was far more professional than myspace was. Facebook wasn't just about adding as many friends as possible it was about joining networks and making friends within those networks.

Facebook allowed me to search my friends and acquaintances through the networks that they belonged to. It allowed me to link to a friend from the profile of another friend. It also facilitated a lot of the MSA work I did in that many speakers were on facebook and many of the MSA presidents from other schools were easily contactable through facebook. And of course, it facilitated the advertisement of MSA events.

Facebook also makes it extremely easy for me to keep in touch with my family that lives over seas. It allows me to communicate with them and stay updated with their lives and it also allows me to share pictures with them. And while I love the pictures....I also hate them.

I hate facebook for its pictures because it is often too telling of an individual's character and often times it just shares more information than is necessary to be shared. I read somewhere that "Facebook is the greatest test for the 70 excuses rule" and it is so true! Honestly, what conclusion can one draw from a picture in which there is a Muslim girl who is at a bar with beer and alcohol bottles on the table in front of her and she is holding a a martini glass?

Here is my attempt at providing this sister with 70 excuses:
1. The martini glass has water in it
2. Perhaps her drink is a virgin drink (i.e. containing no alcohol)
3. Maybe she is holding her friends martini glass (but then why is she posing with it?)
4. ......
5. ......
6. Clearly I am running out of excuses (can someone help me out?)

I can honeslty say that in the amount of time I have spent of facebook I have lost a ton of respect for a lot of the brothers and sisters I know. People that I grew up with, people that I have always respected and that my family respects have this awful habit of posting pictures on their facebook pages for the world to see of themselves misbehaving. There are pictures of sisters with brothers with their arms around one another, sisters dressed provocatively, brothers posting pictures with captions that contain profanity, my list can go on and on. These are Muslims that I see at the Masjid on a regular basis I am hurt to see that this is the direction that our ummah is heading in.

Facebook has also paved the way for open mingling between the genders. It first starts off as a POKE, because this is the only way to poke a non-mehram without actually touching him. Soon, it progresses into a friend request. Next thing you know, you're looking at his pictures (and posting pictures of you looking more beautiful than usual for the sheer intention of having him see them) and you're leaving him random comments on his wall asking him about how his day was, all the while you're thinking "there is no way that this is haraam, everyone can see. we're not alone!" And if wall-flirting wasn't enough, facebook decided to add facebook chat to the mix, and now you can talk to your "brother-friend" in realtime.

I often wonder if these brothers and sisters realize that they are posting pictures of their trips to Las Vegas with their boyfriends and girlfriends or if they know that they are posting it do they know that I and everyone else on their facebook can see them? I wonder when I say salaams to them if they know that I know about their double lives.

For a while, I shut down my facebook because to me it facilitated shaytans attempt at making Muslims backbite their brother's and sister's. I hated facebook for making me see the bad in my peers and for making me judge them based off of what I saw on their pages. The way I am, I like to look for the good in people in that if a perosn is nice to me and treats me with respect that's enough for me to conclude that this person is a nice individual, but facebook has done a good job of ruining that for me. Because I feared judging my brother or sister and because I despised backbiting them, I made the decision to shut down my facebook. I soon realized that without my facebook, I was saving a lot more time, sometimes even hours on end.

Currently, my facebook is back. I tried to stay away from it for as long as I possibly could, but life was much too dificult without it, especially with the community work that I do, its very hard for me to get in contact with people in my community without the convenience of simply typing in their name and searching it. Nonetheless, I am trying not to aimlessly browse through others' facebook pages for fear that I will find somethng that will require 70 excuses and for fear that it will cause me to pass judgement on another Muslim.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The many different manifestations....

....of the Hijaab.

When non-Muslims ask me what it is that I adore so much about Islam, after mentioning the fact that it is the truest, purest and most fair religion ever, I mention that it is the one religion that has not evolved with the times. I mean we Muslims still pray five times a day, we still fast in the month of Ramadan, we still read the same Quran, we still agree that alcohol and pork are haraam, we still pray to Mecca and Muslim women still wear they same hijaab (or do they?).

Throughout my young life, both as a non-hijaabi and as a hijaabi I have noticed many different variations in the way Muslim women wear the hijaab. This might be a little too much to ask (I guess each individual is entitled to his/her own opinion), but if you're going to wear a hijaab PLEASE WEAR IT CORRECTLY! I know some of you (if anyone reads this thing) are reading this and thinking "It's on my head...whats the big deal?" It is a big deal!

Here's a break down of the various "styles" of hijaab I have seen in my young life:

The convertible hijaab

Eveyone knows the convertible hijaab. It's the one that starts off covering an entire head of hair but the material is too slippery so it slides down, showing a quarter of the sister's hair, then half of the sister's hair, then the sister's whole head only to be quickly pulled back up to cover the full head. The convertible hijaab can be a huge distraction for the hijaab-wearing sister and those around her as the shooshing sound of the hijaab material moving up and down the sister's head may divert ones attention from the khateeb. My advice to convertible hijaab sister is to get one of those cotton bonnet thingies to wear under her hijaaab, and add a couple safety pins to make sure that stubburn hijaab stays on.

The plastic wrap hijaab

So, I'm not even sure if this should be counted as a hijaab, but since I've seen it so many times its worth mentioning. The plastic wrap hijaab reminds me of that plastic wrap you use to cover up leftover food before you toss it in the fridge. Its transparent! Its made of this net like material and fails to cover even one strand of hair. My advice for the plastic wrap hijaab sister: "Sister, please don't ever wear that hijaab again. Instead invest in something perhapse less see-through."

The chandelier-earing hijaab

This hijaab is seen worn by many young sisters. It mirrors the hip-hop style hair wrap. often, sisters that wear this style of hijaab do so in order to make it possible to wear beautiful chandelier earings that compliment both their hijaab and their outfit. Some of the chandelier-earing wearing hijaab sisters fail to cover their necks (which is part of their awrah) while others do an excellent job covering their neckes with extra pieces of fabric or a turtle neck even in the middle of summer (anything to look good I suppose). These sisters are pretty stylish, you can expect them to have a nice pair of leather high heel boots, a big designer handbag, some large designer sunglasses and large jewelry. This type of hijaabi is often a distraction to brothers, especially in the masjid with the click-clacking of her boots.

The I'm too cool for my hijaab hijaab

This is the hijaab that is barely on the sister's head to begin with as she enters the masjid. This hijaab is constantly fiddled with during the khutbah and is constantly re-tied during salah. And as soon as salah is over the wearer of this hijaab tosses it off her head before the aunty next to her can say "Assalamualaikum!" This is often the sister who has tons of make-up on and has her hair done all nicely underneath her hijaab. My advice to this sister: at least keep your hijaab on until you get to your car. Its hard enough for brothers to lower their gazes, we shouldn't make it harder.

The I'm so HOOD hijaab

This is one of my favorites. I used to rock the I'm so HOOD hijaab in my early hijaabi days. This hijaab is sometimes accompanied by baggy pants and a baggy sweatshirt. Sometimes it is accented with a baseball cap tilted to the side and topped with a sweatshirt hood. This hijaab allows a hijaabi to have that rebellious image while still allowing her to fully cover up like a good Muslim girl is supposed to.

The I just spent a lot of money on my new highlights and I want to show the world hijaab

This is on of my all time favorite hijaabs, but at the same time I abhor it. This is the hijaab where everything that is supposed to be covered is covered except those 3-5 inches of side-swept, newly highlighted bangs. I hate this one the most becuase it often starts out at the perfect hijaab - simple and modest but for some reason gradually moves back farther and father revealing more and more hair and becoming more deliberate in intention as the days pass. This hijaabi often starts out as wearing nice modest clothing and then gradually everything seems to get smaller on her as if she lets them sit in the dryer for too long. My advice to this hijaabi: Ya ukhti, remember the reason you are wearing hijaab in the first place.

I can go on and on defining different types of hijaab, but I will end with my absolute favorite hijaab...

The simple hijaab

This hijaab is simple as its name suggests. It does a great job of covering the sister's hair and may also go so far as to sweep across her chest so as to contribute to additional modesty. This hijaab is often accompanied by long, loose-fitting clothing. While this hijaab is simple it is not limited to just one color or just one style...its versatile in that it comes in many different shapes, colors and patterns and can, if tied properly, be the best accessory to any outfit.

My intention in writing this entry is in no way meant to judge anyone as judging is a right that belongs to Allah (SWT) alone, rather it was meant to point out the various things that I have seen. I pray that Allah (SWT) guide us all and that when the time for judgment comes, he is pleased with us all (ameen).

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Aliens in America

There's this new show on the CW network called Aliens in America about Raja a Muslim foreign exchange student from Pakistan that is living with his host family in Wisconsin. The show airs on the CW network on Sunday nights at 8:30/7:30 central.

This isn't the first show that attempted to bring Muslims and their lifestyles into the Western living room in order to prove to the rest of the world that Muslims are people too. The Canadian show Little Mosque on the Prairie sought out to portray the same message.

While I don't watch T.V. for the mere reason that there is too much garbage on it (that's a topic for another entry), I find that its not such a bad idea to have a Muslim personality on the screen so long as the message being spread about Islam is the right one. It is for this reason exactly, if I had to choose between Aliens in America or Little Mosque on the Prairie I would have to whole heartedly cast my vote for the latter.

Little Mosque on the Prairie did an excellent job of portraying Muslims appropriately, making sure to keep in mind the rules of hijaab and the rules of gender relations while at the same time throwing in a little laugh out loud kind of humor. The show was not all comedy and no truth. In fact, it was the right blend of jokes and facts. The show did an amazing job of explaining the rules of gender relations and how Muslims went about courting for marriage, it explained Ramadan, it showed that women were not oppressed and that they played a huge role in the Mosque, it simply did an amazing job. While it definitely wasn't Islam 101 the TV edition, it did an adequate job.

On the other hand, the whole five minutes of Aliens in America is just enough to send me with some picket sign to protest the show in front of CW headquarters. The show is absurd! I mean, if you're gong to have someone being Muslim on a show, at least have it be an authentic representation! As my mom was flipping channels in the living room, I noticed a girl in a hijaab, so naturally I asked her to stay on that channel...two minutes into the show I wanted to take my computer and throw it at the TV screen.

The scene that I witnessed was this Muslim girl in a hijaab sitting at a table in a restaurant across from Raja (the Muslim main character), they are supposed to be on a date, a halal one - mind you - only the parents have not arrived yet. Anyways they are talking (I wasn't really listening as I was rather annoyed) and then she says "I have one western tendency..when I like someone I do this" and then leans over and kisses him!! He proceeds to say "I will have to ask you to refrain from doing that from now on, unless of course we get married...nonetheless, thank you." Astaghfirullah! Smoke was coming out of my ears. In the next scene, I wasn't really listening, but I saw, and the same Muslim hijaabi walking in the restaurant hand-in-hand with a caucasian, my guess would be non-Muslim boy.

Its a shame that Muslims are being portrayed as people with no morals. What's wrong with the idea of having a sitcom with a Muslim cast member who is on the show to humerously debunk common misconceptions about Muslims OR to humerously explain Islamic rules and practices? I am absolutely disgusted!


The family secret...

Very rarely does my family sit down and talk about the past. I don't remember the last time I ever heard a story about my parents' childhoods that were more deep than mere recounts of playing on the beach or family get togethers. Every family has a story, a story that everyone knows but no one dares I found out what that story was and somehow, even though I didn't know the story existed, I feel at peace because it no longer is a secret.

Last night, my girl cousins, my aunts and I had this girls night hang out thing at one of my aunts houses. The night was full of confessions, stories, memories, jokes, laughs, arguments, tears and smiles. It was amazing.

The story came out as we were discussing this issue we are having with my cousin. This cousin of mine is seeing the sister of my best friend and everyone knows. My cousin is in love with this girl, but there is a strong possibility that the two will never be together. Before I carry on, I understand that dating is haraam, however the truth of the matter is its happening and while each and everyone of us have tried to put a stop to it, nothing is working. Marriage is not looking like a viable option as my best friend's family is structured like European Royalty during the Medieval times, everyone marries some sort of relative, and my cousin is not a relative. (My apologies for making this story-like, but I have to share it with someone). Anyways, my aunt confided in us about her feelings, about how ridiculous she feels when she faces my best friend's family, about she fears her son would be heart broken when things don't work out (not if), and finally she said something that left all us young ones in question..."I just hope what happened to Abdul, doesn't happen to him!" Since I am the eldest, everyone turns to me asking me "Who's Abdul?"

Abdul is one of my mother's older brothers. You see, my mom comes from a huge family, a total of thirteen siblings, some passed away before my mother (the youngest) was born, others passed away before my mother and the rest of her siblings came to this country. Abdul was one of those siblings that passed away before my mother came to this country. The comment still made no sense to me. I don't remember any stories about my uncle except that he died in a motor cycle accident. So, I answer my cousins' question "Abdul is their brother" "So, what happened to him?" "I'm not sure." And so I gave this look to my aunt, and she looked at my other aunt, and the looks continued until someone broke the silence, my aunt that started all this began to explain. "He killed himself, he overdosed himself." And then it started, my eldest aunt tried to put a stop to the conversation explaining that we "didn't need to know." We acted like little children, eager to hear the rest of the story, asking more questions, trying to make sense of it all. My mother chimes in, "They have to know! This is their family history."

My uncle was in love with this girl and wanted to marry her, but one day, he saw her with another man. This devastated my uncle, so he basically took a lot of pills. My aunts insist that his intention wasn't suicide and that he only wanted to giver her a scare, only he died in the process (Allah yarhamu). All this time I thought it was a motorcycle accident, or at least that's what they've been telling us.

I cannot imagine the pain that my grandparents went through to lose a son in that manner or even the shame the dealth with, so much so that they made up a story to cover it all up. One of my aunts was clearly upset, "Only a loser would take his life because of a girl!" While I agree 150% that committing suicide is wrong on so many different levels, I can honestly say that I know what it feels like to not want to exist anymore. I have faced heart break after heart break, the last one being the hardest to endure and at the time it feels like the only thing to alleviate the pain is to cease to exist, I thank Allah (SWT) that he has given me the understanding that everything happens for a reason. Afterall, Allah is the best of planners.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Not just a peice of cloth

I started wearing hijaab in college, it was Ramadan 1424 (2004). I don't know what came over me...I simply woke up in the morning and put on my hijaab. The mere act of wearing the hijaab was not challenging at all, and the drive to school was okay as well, but it was when I actually got to class when the difficult part began. I could just here everyone's thoughts "Homegirl woke up and decided to turn all Holy on us!" My classmates stared, and when I looked in their direction to see what that burning sensation on the side of my face was they'd quickly divert their gaze as if I wouldn't notice. I kept telling myself I didn't care, and well, I really didn't but its a bit disconcerting when EVERYONE is looking at you like you just landed from a different planet. It wasn't necessarily rude staring, I'm sure it was simply because they were curious.

At work people asked questions as to why I decided to wear the hijaab, so I made something up because I myself didn't know why I wore it, I simply woke up and put it on. There really was no particular reason as to why.

At home, my father had the same question, "why now?" it wasn't the support I was looking for. My father was more concerned for my safety in this country rather than my obedience to my Lord. However, his unhappiness at the situation somehow made me stronger, it was some sort of a rebellion, only this time I knew that I was 110% correct! I'll tell you, that was an amazing feeling!

I give a talk in one of the Religious Studies classes at my University on my experience being a Muslim woman in America. In that talk, whenever I get to the subject of my hijaab I start of by saying "I don't know why I started to wear hijaab, but I can't tell you why I continue to wear it" and then I proceed to tell them that its the best thing that has ever happened to me. You see, when I started wearing hijaab I instantly noticed the difference in the way men looked at me. Before the hijaab there were a number of occasions where men would roll down their car windows to whistle at me, walk by me and flirt with me and other immature things that men do. After the hijaab men would give this sort of nod of approval, kind of like a bow of respect, they would open doors for me, I once had a man offer to give up his seat for me. I got into a conversation with someone once, about my hijaab and Muslim women in general. What he said touched me, he told me that he had a high regard for Muslim women because we value our bodies so much so that we don't flaunt it for the whole world to see.

I believe the bad responses I get are more motivating though. In the past I've been pretty active with my MSA and have been attacked by radical Christians while sitting out at the Dawah table in the University's quad. I've been told to go back home, the funny thing is I was born here, raised here, I never left here, so where would they like me to go? I've been told that my religion treats me a second class citizen, I think its amazing how a non-Muslim man can tell a practicing Muslim woman that she is being oppressed, when non-Muslim women are walking around half-naked parading their bodies for everyone to stare at like a piece of that is oppression!

I've been told that my garb is rather ancient. Granted, it may look that way to the untrained eye. I've been asked, by my professor, mind you if I would ever consider assimilating into American society. So I looked at her with this blank look and basically tell her that assimilating does not include letting go of one's beleifs. I mean, I go to school, I have a job, I drive a car, I speak English, Spanish, some Arabic, I wear jeans (under my abaya) and I speak my mind, what part of assimilation did I miss? Perhaps its the hijaab, but that's just appart of my American right to the Freedom of Religion.

I think the most amazing aspect of my hijaab is the random "Assalamualaikum" I get when I'm at the library, in my car, at the mall. What makes me happier than the adults that say salam to me is the children. After a long shift at the hospital when everything possible went wrong, I was heading out through the Emergency Room doors with tears at the verge of dropping from my eyes, I stared striaght ahead, not interested in making eye contact with anyone when I felt these tiny arms around my legs, as I looked down, there was this little boy with a huge grin on his face "Assalamualaikum!" he said and suddenly I forgot the reason for my tear-filled eyes. The other day I was Forever 21 with a friend of mine and I feel this small boy tug on my abaya, so naturally I look down, "Assalamualaikum, Kayfa Halek?" Its an amazing feeling I tell you.

I love my hijaab!

Innocence gone

I often find myself asking the question "whatever happened to the days when kids were innocent?" and then I stop and realize that the innocence of children didn't even exist when I was a child.

I blame TV and bad parenting. The media does this fantastic job of introducing sexuality to children at the earliest age possible with Disney movies such as Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, HECK, even the Lion King. In every one of these movies the main character has a love interest that is perused and in the end "they all live happily ever after" and the movie ends with this classic kissing scene all while three, four and five-year-old children sit with their eyes unblinkingly staring at the screen. Its no wonder the age girls lose their virginity and become pregnant is becoming younger and younger. I am not saying its all Walt Disney's fault, because it definitely isn't, its every media company out there followed by every parent that allows their child to watch all that nonsense.

What happened to the days when premarital sex was completely taboo? Now a days you become some sort of a joke if you happen to be a virgin past age 18. I remember distinctly having a conversation with a friend of mine when I was in Junior High about prom (of course I knew I was never going to go, because good Muslim girls do not attend co-ed dances) and I remeber her telling me that prom was going to be the night that she lost her virginity. I was immature then, and while if someone were to say something that idiotic now I would knock some sense in them, I simply smiled and awkward smile. A million thoughts were racing in my mind, however. "How could you simply sleep with someone just because its prom night?" "What if the guy you go with is just your friend and nothing more?" "What if you get pregnant?" "What if your parents find out?" All these thoughts raced in my head, all the while, I was only 13 years old. Today, I look at my nieces and nephews two of which are in that same age range and when I think back to that conversation I am moved to tears and my heart hurts. My mind can't help but realize that while at 13 my friend was talking about giving up her virginity when shes 18 there are girls as young as 11 giving birth to babies - babies giving birth to babies!!!

And its not just the girls, its the boys too. Society builds this enormous pressure on boys to be these tough guys so much so that answering "Yes" to the question "Are you a virgin" is all of a sudden a shameful thing. What is wrong with society? These poor, poor children are being robbed of a childhood. I've worked with children as young as five years of age, some of these children are Muslim and it devastates me to hear them talk about the things that they talk about. I wonder what kind of parenting their parents offer them. It appalling to hear a child as young as five years old, Muslim or not, singing "Slap That" by Akon or "Candy Shop" by Fifty-cent. What kind of message are we sending out children? What bothers me more than that is the thought of the kind of TV shows they watch when five year old kids are playing boyfriend and girlfriend. Sure, it might be cute when they are that young, but mommy won't be ooh-ing and aww-ing when her little girl comes home one day and says she's pregnant.

I often wish my parents were far more strict on me than they were when I was younger, I wish they asked more questions and made more rules to be followed, perhaps then I would not have made the many mistakes that I did back then. I pray to Allah that I can learn from the mistakes that my mother and father made and be able to better preserve my childrens' childhood. Don't get me wrong, my parents did the best job they could, its just that the environment I was in was a bit different and required a stricter approach. I pray that Allah (swt) protect each and every child and that he opens the eyes of every parent s that they may see the evil world we are living in.

Assalam Alaikum!

I have made countless attempts to keep a regular blog in which I rant and rave about the thoughts that seem to pop into my mind. The task seemed rather easy back in high school (which mind you was years ago) perhaps its because back then I had all the time in the world to stop what I was doing to go and blog about how I felt or what I thought. You see, the problem is thoughts come in and out of my mind almost as fast as I blink my eyes. I often find myself saying "If I had a blog I would write about that" as a thought enters my mind. However, the truth of the matter has always been that "I don't have a blog." I suppose this solves that problem! So, here goes.....