Friday, October 23, 2009

Project: Lend an Ear

Okay so the picture is a little funny and sad at the same time...haha.

But just read....

I live in the big city...the typical kind you see on TV (for those of you living in Rural areas). I drive to and from school (and other places) in rush hour traffic, I drink my coffee and eat my breakfast on the road...and there is TONS of smog. And like any big city you see in the movies..we have our occasional homeless person who sits on bus stop benches, stands on the corner at freeway exits and entrances and hauls his/her stuff down the crosswalk.

Unfortunately, with the recession, I have noticed them more. Before it seemed there was only one homeless for a given large intersection. However recently I have noticed that in my area alone there is one for every street corner and every freeway on-ramp and off-ramp. The recession seems to have hit people pretty bad. Its the worst I've seen. And my parents say its the worst since they've moved to this country. Its a shame.

Of course, I can't help but feel sad every time I see one of these distressed souls, sitting, hopeless and quite obviously stressed out. I think it hit me the hardest when I saw a man selling water bottles on a street corner with a sign that read "Ice Cold water $1 a bottle! Laid off father of two girls...please help me put food on the table." I nearly cried. Being broke and jobless myself, I feel almost helpless that I am unable to lend a helping hand to these people. Often if I don't finish my lunch earlier that day...I share it with the first person I find siting on the side of the road with a sign in his/her hand.

But one day...if a fury of frustration at my inability to find employment...I realized I just wanted someone to listen. Its frustrating, almost debilitating to constantly try finding a job and not being successful and sometimes just having someone listen to you vent helps (of course money and food would help too....Alhamdulilah I live at home though).

So I came up with an idea. The idea is not completely mine...its kind of adopted. Do you remember the "Flashmob Iftars" from 2 or 3 years back? Well...on the same note...everyone's gotta eat. I'm sure if you're living in the states (especially now) or anywhere in the world practically you can find at least one person who is less fortunate than yourself. Perhaps the economy has placed them in an unfortunate situation. a lunch for yourself and one other person. Take that meal to that person and eat with them...speak to them...listen to them...or just sit silently. Reach out.

In today's society, Muslims aren't really looked at in a friendly manner...give people a reason to look at us differently and think of us differently.

And then...lemme know how your experience was. If you wanna remain anonymous....that's fine.

Friday, October 16, 2009 a state of mind

Over the years, I have come across many types of hijaabis. There's the "I don't talk or look at boys" Hijaabi (I don't think there is anything necessarily wrong with her - her lifestyle just doesn't appeal to me), there's the "strictly business" hijaabi (I can relate to her), there's the "he's like my brother" hijaabi (I don't know what to think about her) and the "I'm covered and that's all that matters" hijaabi (I have issues with this one).

I want to preface this by saying that I'm not trying to play the holier than thou role here. I am sure there are a million and one things wrong with me and how I observe my hijaab. As a matter of fact, every now and then I'll do a little self evaluation and think the different ways that I totally don't do hijaab or Islam justice (astaghfirullah). I simply want to point out a few things that I've been noticing in my daily dealings with various hijaabis.

The "I don't talk to or look at boys" hijaabi: I used to be her. I had to be her. I felt that I needed to play this role in order to stay on the right path. After the Mr. Possibility situation I went into this mode. It worked for a while, but very quickly proved impossible for me. Notice, I say for there are many sisters who I know are capable of playing this role. This, I think, is the best way to stay out of works..but its hard.

The "Strictly business" hijaabi: This more of the type of hijaabi I am. I'll talk to a brother, but only because I need something...or because he needs something. Where some people may have issues with me in this regard is that I am also friendly...not friendly in a flirty manner (never that) but friendly the way you would be with a business colleague. I smile, laugh, joke around etc....but in a respectful manner.

The "he's like my brother" hijaabi: This is the sister that talks freely with and jokes around with brothers with the pretense that "he's like my brother."All I have to say to this sister careful! Just because he's like your brother definitely does NOT mean he're treading dangerous waters. Men are all the same..and their minds are all programed to think the same way. Besides, shaytan is one sneaky fellow. Bottom line, he's not your brother....don't treat him like he is.

The "I'm covered and that's all that matters" hijaabi: So, I have the HUGEST problem with this hijaabi. Okay, maybe that came out wrong. Let me explain. Non-Muslim men for the most part, don't understand hijaab. They are men nonetheless, they hiss and howl like dogs in a meat market at the sight of a pretty lady...even when that pretty lady happens to be a Muslim lady in hijaab. I have come across countless occasions where I have been winked at, had kisses blown at and been flirted with (I'm not that pretty). My general response to such inappropriate behavior is to look the other way and keep walking. However, I have seen other sisters laugh, smile back and even wave. They think its funny, but what this sister doesn't understand is that she just gave Islam a bad name. That man that flirted with her has no idea what Islam is or why we cover and by acting in such a manner you just showed him the Hijaab means nothing. No doubt, you can't help that you are beautiful...Allah (SWT) made you that way, but its a test...and by acting're failing. To me, hijaab is a form of Dawah. I use it explain why I can't shake a strange man's hand or why I definitely can't hug him. I use my Islamic identity to explain why I can't date, etc. When people mis-portray hijaab it upsets me.

This is more of a reminder to myself rather than an attempt to finger point.