Friday, January 30, 2009

My husband

This entry is related to the post from Is There Food On My Niqaab about fiances being non-mahrams (it was re-posted on Beautiful Muslimah as well).

I was thinking back on my relationship and how I met my husband and it struck me how quickly he tried to turn our "relationship" into an engagement. I was just a regular Quebecker student and had some knowledge about Islam, but not much, and I wasn't thinking of converting but I was learning bit by bit. We started chatting and Islam was something that got us to meet just because I was attempting to learn about Islam by speaking with Muslims. The first night we chatted, we stayed up until 5 a.m. my time (it was noon in Egypt!) chatting about a lot of different thing, but a lot about Islam.

The thing that made me message him in the first place was this weird thing in his profile saying that he was looking for a Western woman with white skin for a serious relationship. It was super-weird and I wanted to talk with Muslims to better understand them so I tried him. He showed me before we even spoke that there was something I didn't understand! I learned that the Western part was something he had in mind because he figured the woman would convert, so he'd have helped in that, and making her children born Muslims, therefore adding Muslims to the world who would have otherwise been Christian. And the white skin thing was a weird personal thing. I think it's a pretty wide-spread thing in Egypt that white skin is prettier. So weird.

Anyway, we chatted and he gave himself a lot of excuses to be with me. We chatted about inappropriate topics, topics that were fine for me to chat about but that he probably felt uncomfortable with at the beginning. And we spent too much time chatting about the same topics over and over (had nothing else to talk about after so much time) and it made us delve deeper into dumb topics. But he gave himself excuses that if he chatted with me less or wasn't there, I'd go somewhere else. Or that we were in a serious relationship, practically engaged, so it was OK. Looking back, I can see that he didn't find some of it OK. He wanted to meet me as soon as possible, wanted to have me engaged as soon as possible and married as soon as possible. But it was done so quick really, that we were married and it took about a year before I actually admitted it to anyone including myself. We signed papers December 31, 2005, but in my mind, he wasn't my husband until quite a while later.

All this because he knew it wasn't something he, as a Muslim should be doing. He knew I was his non-mahram until that last day of 2005.

It's weird to think about these things backwards from now because I've gained so much knowledge about Islam and I've changed a lot in the way I view things. And it's weird to think that I did things so differently than I would do them now if I had to.

Polygamy


I really can't imagine loving a man and sharing a life with him but having him sharing his life with me and another (or more). I'm giving him my all and he's giving me his half (third, quarter)... And I know a lot of Muslim women hate the idea of it and struggle in trying to understand how they can learn to embrace this as part of Islam. Most don't have to worry about it, I guess, since polygamy is not that likely to happen in their marriage since it's not all that common and they'd hopefully have chosen or plan to choose someone with similar views to their's. But women who do think about it often find some conflict.

Anyway, to continue, I do think that polygamy has its uses in very specific situations. My first thought about it having its uses came when I saw something on TV quite some time ago about women in Afghanistan having lost their husbands. The ones profiled were having a very hard time making enough to take care of their children. They were really struggling (really impoverished), having lost the source of income of the family. It's in cases like this where I thought that marrying more than one woman would be good and almost necessary. In cases where lots of men have lost their lives and lots of women are left widows with little possibility of marrying.

I DO NOT think that a man marrying a woman for sexual reasons is doing anything good. In fact, I don't even think that it is permissible in such cases and I'd go as far as to say that in my mind, it's a sin.

In cases like I described above, the man marrying a second wife is taking on the responsibility of taking care of this woman (and her children, if she has some) and of course, will have the sexual benefits of a husband. And the wife might not be happy about it, but accepting to have this second wife really is an act of goodness.

I'm not very knowledgeable about the Qur'an at all, but I know this one verse talking about marrying more than one wife. I don't know if there are more that can shed a different light on the subject. And I do not speak Arabic, so I will just write 3 different translations in an attempt to get some of the interpretation out that comes with translating from original text.


YUSUFALI: If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

PICKTHAL: And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.

SHAKIR: And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.


In this verse, at least in the translation, you can marry two, three and four, IF you fear that you will not deal fairly with the orphans. And what I read is that in Arabic, an orphan is a child who has lost his father (the mother could still be alive). It seems to fit with what I was thinking... It's to help children who have lost their fathers (and have no one to provide financially). The verse doesn't seem to say anything about whether or not the women the men marry have to be (or are) the mothers of these orphans, so it could also be to have extra women in the household if the man in question is taking care of many orphans. Women really are so valuable in educating children and raising them. What a wonderful man he is! I would fully support him having multiple wives in such a case. Not even a woman in that situation would like to be "co-wived", but she would be agreeing to allow in her marriage what is allowed by God. It would be an act of worship, in a way, for her to accept this agreement.

Note: I am basing this entry largely on my personal feelings about the issue. And I know I am. ;)

Coolest Blogs

I saw this on other blogs and wanted to show a few people that I enjoy their blogs. I will make my Top 5, in no particular order, even though I follow and enjoy many more blogs than that. :)

Cairo/Giza Daily Photos by Maryanne Stroud Gabbani - I love her pictures of Egypt and the information and thoughts about each.

Tea Break Thoughts by Umm Travis - Writes often and about a variety of topics. Very interesting to read what she's been up to and how things are going for her in Egypt.

Inquisitive Muslimah by Aalya - A fellow Canadian. This is the only blog I have ever gone back so far in the blog to read all the entries.

Chasing Jannah by Aalia - Always having interesting things to say. Makes people want to be better.


The Expat Confessions of a Multicultural Muslimah by Molly - Also in Egypt, telling about struggles and successes. She seems very sweet.


So here's to you all, from me (above design by Umm Travis).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Hereafter


I've believed that there was nothing after this life for mots of my life. I've mostly always believed that there was no God, mostly because of this feeling inside me that there was nothing after this life. Sometimes I felt there was, other times I didn't. But I always figured the logical answer was that there was not, but considering I didn't think there was anything after this life, it seemed unimportant to consider a creator.

I've recently begun to believe in a creator more than before, but my thoughts on the hereafter... well they haven't changed that much. I'm trying to wrap my mind around the concept. From what I understand about Islam and the Day of Judgement, when we die, we become timeless and appear directly at the Day of Judgement, same as everyone who will have died until humanity is done on earth, all at the same "time".

It's hard to imagine because although there are descriptions in the Qur'an about the afterlife, that is not how it would be (I use would since I don't know if I believe in it). These are words used to convey to a human how great or how awful it can be but in no way do I believe it would actually be with literal fire in Hell or literal gardens in Heaven. And it's hard to imagine because of how important and structured and constant time is now and how different even just that factor would be. It makes me think more about how different even our thinking might be, even if we are still us. I guess it would be normal to think differently after having had something spectacular unveiled to us (whether it's Heaven or Hell and all that comes along with these two things), but would we still feel what we do for our family and friends? Will we be fully individual? How is that still us? Will we have the memory of what it was like on earth and all our experiences? If not, again, how is that still us? If so, it's so "earthly" to be considered Heaven or Hell.


What are your thoughts?

Monday, January 26, 2009

The local mosque

I just thought I'd post about our local mosque here in pretty-small-town, Quebec (think 75 000 people with the outskirts included). It is relatively new that we have Muslims here. I saw my first hijabi in this city about 3 years ago. Now I see them regularly with the growing Muslim population. So they needed a mosque.

The mosque was established about a year and a half ago and the co-establishers are brothers who each have a Lebanese restaurant here (but they're Maroccan). I know one of them pretty well since he "helped" my web-developper husband by giving him work for 5$/hour (MINIMUM salary being 8.50$) to make a website. Since, they have gotten envolved together in sort of project and I have to say that he is really crooked. I can't wait until my husband can be rid of him in his life because although we appreciate that he gave him a chance to make money when he wasn't able to elsewhere, in the end, he was and is just out for himself. Anyway, all to say that I really dislike him. But it's not my overall verdict of the mosque itself because even though he has a lot of influence (final decisions on how it is run), it is still a community-based thing...

The mosque has a few activities like Arabic and Qur'an lessons for the children, a women's Qur'an and Sunnah class/meeting every week. And it obviously holds Jumaa prayer like any mosque would. The first year they had an imam during Ramadan who went back to Egypt after it was over. He ended up coming back full time at the beginning of summer but he left again recently. So now they are back to alternating the leadership and using khutba speeches from imams in Montreal. It's a bit of a loss for the mosque of course, since there is no real person a Muslim can go to in the community to ask for guidance about any subject. He or she would have to go online or to a Montreal mosque to get answers from an imam.

The women's section is in the back of the hall to one side. It has a door that can be closed (and is closed unless someone is walking through it). It's about 1/15th of the mosque space. It used to have a wall dividing it into a sort of entrance to put coats and it had a table. The other part was the actual praying part so at the time it was really quite small. I went to Friday prayer regularly before I started working, and I've been to some of the occaisions the mosque has had even recently (aqiqah's) and what I felt was that the women's section was too small. It is no problem, even for Friday prayer usually, but for occaisions, we were packed in there like sardines with all the children. And the men, also more numerous on the occaisions, were not packed in any way. For occaisions, there are more women and children than men, I'd say. For Friday prayer, there can be 5-10x more men, but they still only use a fraction of the space.

So that is a complaint I would have if I actually went often. That the women's section could have been made a bit larger. And the other thing I didn't like is how apart we were from the men's section (and by consequence the imam). There was a sort of criss-cross wood type of wall with a white fabric over it letting us see some sorts of shapes through the holes, but no more. I believe that it should be more open than that. We should be able to see the imam speaking. It's not as engaging to just hear it than to see it. Although personally I wouldn't know since they always did it in Arabic. So another down side was that it was not very inviting at Friday prayer for non-Arabs (like converts).

I find it great that the Muslim community here has a real place they can go to for worshipping and that has decent resources for their children. It's not perfect and it's a bit of a dump (it's in a basement, afterall) compared to big mosques in big cities, but it's quite welcoming, I'd say. It's not for me, but I'm glad it's there.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How I do my salat


I've been praying once a day on average lately. I don't do it exactly like other Muslims do it, but it is very similar. I don't believe that there is only one way to pray to God, but I find the Muslim way to be beautiful, and it's unifying that everyone does it practically the same way. Mine is slightly different, but I would be able to pray in a group with Muslims and not be doing anything different. I will describe how I do it here.

1) Intention to pray and number of units.
2) "Allahu Akbar" (hands raise to head and down)
3) Surat Al-Fatiha
4) I don't know any other parts of the Qur'an, so I leave it at that. I am hoping to learn Surat Al-Ikhlas soon. When I feel that I wasn't concentrating well enough on Surat Al-Fatiha, I repeat it.
5)"Allahu Akbar" and bend.
6)"Subhan ar-rabbi al-atheem" Not necessarily 3x. Just as many as I need, same with the translation. Sometimes translation in between. Sometimes all Arabic and all translation.
7) "Samia allahu liman hamida" as I go up. "Rabbena wa lak el hamd" when I am up.
8)"Allahu Akbar" then go down to prostrate.
9) "Subhan ar-rabbi al-alaa"
10) "Allahu akbar" as I go up and I ask in any way I want for forgiveness for my sins while I am sitting.
11) second prostration.
12) On the 2nd and last units, I say something to the effect of, "I believe there is no God but The God and that Muhammad was his messenger and prophet, to whom God gave the Qur'an for humanity fo guidance." I refuse to stop after "Muhammad was his messenger and prophet" because I feel it's too close to worship. And that the reason it's important to recognize Muhammad is because of the message he brought.
13) On the last unit, I say "assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah" to both sides.

I need to learn it all better and "tweak it". But at least I feel comfortable with this for the moment.

Learning Arabic

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was reading Qur'an with my husband the other day. Now I decided I want to actually start putting effort into learning Arabic. My husband got Rosetta Stone to learn his French and has really been enjoying it and he is getting me the Arabic Rosetta Stone. I also found a website that seems quite useful. My husband is saying they're teaching it weird. Like... too proper, I guess. For example, when saying "This is a pen." they say, "hatha qualamun", the 'un' part being the 'a'. But that regular people will just say "hatha qualam".

Rosetta stone is probably better, but this one I can look at at work although I'm not really supposed to be doing any online stuff. I kinda check blogs, write on here and check other random things as the phone rings from my calls so it doesn't distract me that much. I don't want it to affect my work. I'm not at a type of job where I just wanna get the hours worked and get outta there. They are so nice with us and we actually do want to do a good job. So as I said, I don't let it affect my work. :p

So I will try that and hopefully I stick to it. I don't have much free time but my husband has started helping a bit more with our daughter, letting me have extra time for myself. I just recently started finding time to go online at home, like I'm doing now. :D So great!

I have to go save my husband's boots. He's trying to put them in the washing machine!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Trying to find out if I'm Muslim

People in my family have suspected that I converted to Islam ever since I went to Egypt. I don't know if it was because I extended my stay or if they started thinking that when they found out I had secretly gotten married there... Ok, now that I write it out, I can understand why they'd think that. But I have been back from these months in Egypt for 2 years, and they see I'm exactly the same. Slightly more modest in dress since I no longer wear tank tops and 3\4 pants (never wore shorts), but it's the same *me*.

My uncle has tried to find out by feeding me pork. I refused. I simply don't like pork and didn't even as a kid. I only like bacon but I don't normally eat it, out of respect for my husband who does not want me to. Anyway, I went to visit my uncle for a weekend after I came back and before I had my daughter and when we went to the grocery store to figure out what to eat, I suggested chicken, salmon, steak, etc. He just suggested porky things and ended up making pork paw soup or something. Seriously looked just nasty. More than regular pork! It was a ridiculous amount of insisting that I try and that I eat pork. I really feel like he was trying to get an idea of whether or not I was Muslim. I wasn't and I'm still not (in the "traditional way": see other post to understand the ways in which I do view myself as Muslim). I need to add that although he made his soup, he did make us non-pork as the main meal. He's not that nuts. :p

Also, there was a picture taken of me in hijab at my husband's cousin's wedding and my gosh, it became a big deal. That they were forcing me, that they shouldn't have. As though I actually didn't make the choice! My husband just suggested I wear it because it was at a mosque, and I was fully up for the idea, wanting to respect the setting and occaision. And not wanting to stand out as the only one, too. I explained all that and even added that I wore it a few times apart from that to go out around the neigbourhood.

And more lately, with my MSN sub-nickname about Palestine and a Bismillah Ar-ra7man Ar-ra7him calligraphy display picture (see picture below), my brother has been asking if I'm "Islamic". Hehe.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reading Qur'an with my husband


I had a lovely time with my husband last night reading (or trying to read) the Qur'an. He was fixing someone's computer but I had the Qur'an and was basically trying to vocalize what I read (since I don't speak Arabic). He would help me out if I was having problems because it was tiny Arabic writing in the top corner of an English translation of the Qur'an and some of the thingamajigs (on top and under the letters) were not clear enough. After I had gotten through reading it, I would repeat the correct pronunciation after him and then read the English translation to understand. We went over some of the words and expressions so I could not only know what it meant, but understand words as I read them.

Honestly we didn't get far at all, we just did Surat Al-Ikhlas and I started the next (Surat Al-Falaq), but we had a nice conversation about the meanings, about Islam, God and Arabic. I hope I can do this with him more often because it was a positive experience spiritually, and for our relationship as well. :) And I like that I learn some Arabic words and get more "fluent" in reading Arabic letters. That's the reason for me reading it alone first because it doesn't have much use to understand or learn how to pronounce correctly. But it's worth it to get more fluent in reading.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My style, were I a hijabi

I don't have much style, really. I dress modestly enough and I don't spend much money on clothes. I have a lot of items given to me from my aunts, mostly shirts and tank tops. Helps me not need to buy clothes, but limits my style since I don't get a vaste choice (just the choice to accept or not what is offered). But even if I'm not a fashionista, I do enjoy fashion.


I actually enjoy hijabi fashion much more than regular fashion, though. It's that balance between fashionable and modest. It's the added accessory (headscarf) and "limitations", which in reality are more of boundaries containing style (in my view)! So here is a polyvore of style that is totally me. I have a long brown skirt similar to that one and a grey shirt that seems like it could be the same one. I need a new purse and I was looking at some similar ones to this goldy one. My current purse is just a plain brown one in this shape.

Find me on Polyvore

I am Muslim (or I strive to be)

No, I haven't converted, and I wouldn't identify myself as Muslim in public. But a Muslim is one who submits to the will of God, and I am doing that to the best of my ability. I struggle a lot finding God, but I do my best following the only thing I know for sure, and that is my sense of right and wrong. If there is a God, I believe that this is the most important given to us to use to submit to his will. Whether or not the Qur'an was delivered by God is something I can't answer. I know most people who will have fallen on my blog will believe it to be from God, but I am still searching for that answer. But even as I search, I follow what I know about God, and I do my best to submit. I am Muslim. ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Obama

I really do feel hopeful watching new American President Barack Obama speaking and seeing what is happening today in the United States. The leader of the most powerful country... He can have so much influence and make such a difference in so many ways. And I feel hopeful. :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Confession

Now this is what cofession SHOULDN'T be. Confessing your sins to some human that is supposed to then speak on behalf of God to forgive you.

But I truly do believe in confession as a way to better yourself. We should ask forgiveness for our sins, in Islam as much as Christianity, so there is a component of confession already. But I really think that the concept of regular confession is a good one. If you're trying actively to remember what you did wrong to confess and ask for forgiveness, it can only be beneficial. It's important to be consciously aware of things that we do wrong and I think that we always forget things if we don't make an effort to remember. Regular confession between a person and God is a great thing to add to your life. I have lately been doing it at night before bedtime. I've been doing it during salat, actually, which I've been performing daily lately. It's a nice time for me.

Hijab and Niqab

Picture is of women in Egypt wearing khimar, khimar, niqab and hijab. Beautiful.

Being honest with myself, I think I became especially interested in Islam after learning about the concept of "hijab". Yes, the headscarf of course, but the entire concept encompassing modesty in all forms. The way you dress, speak, act, move. I feel somehow very attached to hijab. I like to think I am modest in the way I dress (although no headscarf), speak and act, but the added part to hijab the headscarf, is that it's a public declaration as well. It tells everyone that you are Muslim. That believe in one God, and the message sent down through Muhammad, and that you wish to submit yourself to God. Or for people who are not as educated about Islam, it shows them that you make a point of being modest so they know not to speak or act with you in certain ways. I like that.

So obviously, I do have positive thoughts on hijab. But I don't know if I believe that it is mandatory. I think that I would wear it if I became Muslim, just like some niqabis wear it without definitively answering the question of whether or not it is mandatory. Because they figure it is better for them to do so and has benefits for them. I definitely feel that way about hijab. It has the benefit of keeping you more modest (the headscarf) and identifying you as Muslim, which is really so important. This seems to be the most important reason, and part of the reason that pushes me to think that it is mandatory, and at the very least, highly recommended.

About niqab, I definitely do not think it is mandatory. I don't really feel like it's especially recommended under regular circumstances, but I do think it is "useful". For me personally, I would not imagine or consider wearing niqab in the West. I see niqab as a good thing to use for "protection", so not something that would replace hijab, but something that could be added to hijab and only used in situations where the woman would require this extra protection. I can imagine myself wearing niqab in places like Egypt. Not full time, but under circumstances. I know that in Egypt I was stared at a lot and men came up to me thinking that just because I was a foreigner, it was OK to start up conversation as I briskly walkd down the street. I didn't have any real problems, but the staring itself is enough to make me want to cover. I went out with hijab occaisionally and it made no difference really. Niqab would, I'm sure. And so this would be one of those circumstances. I think it might be weird for some people that a woman would wear niqab when she goes out alone but not at work, school, only sometimes when she's out with he husband or friends, etc.

Anyway, I just wanted to post about this topic after reading Umm Travis' informative post on niqab. I seem to be taking my post ideas from others' posts lately. Just putting my reply here on my blog, although I did write some comments on Umm Travis' blog. Go visit it if you haven't, I love her blog. :) Called "Tea Break Thoughts" (women only).

Friday, January 16, 2009

What I'm thinking about today.


I keep thinking about God. Contemplating God. I want to get away from this image that God is like a human, only ever-powerful in all ways. It just makes me confused and makes me feel further away from God (even though it is this idea that makes people feel *close* to God). When I think about it in the opposite way, I imagine God simply as an intelligent energy, sometimes an energy that is apart from and controls the world and sometimes an energy that IS everything in the world. I'm reading more about pantheism and other such ideas to see what resonates with me and what doesn't. The more reading, learning and thinking, the better.

I have this deep desire to believe the God that authored/inspired the Qur'an. Maybe it's because of the general need to believe in God and the fact that the Qur'an is *it*. It's so simple and there's such unity. And my husband is Muslim, although he doesn't put any pressure on me. I'm just not there yet. And I feel like I'm trying any way to just believe it. If it was really the truth, with all the efforts I've been making, I'd believe by now, no?

I can also see it this way: If I can't get "over" Islam, then maybe there is something about it that is the truth? So I continue.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pictures



I think I will start to put pictures in my blog posts. Just to spice things up, make it seem slightly more professional. If there's anything I need to know about copyrights, please tell me. Most of the pictures will probably be found online, but I will save it and upload it... Is it possible to just use it from its original source so that if someone clicks on it, it links back to the proper place?


No one reads this so I will not get advice... But if ever I become a better and more well-known blogger, people will know I had the right intentions. Hehe.


The Beard



There was a post on one blog about men having a beard. I didn't post in the comments just because I don't have my ideas fully figured out about such specific Islamic things. I'd have trouble debating because I'm not the most informed. But I really wanted to discuss it here, with myself (and anyone who might happen to read this...).

I am not against Ahadiths, but I am not about to accept them as inspired by God and put them beside the Qur'an. Never. They are man-collected and surely contain errors. And the other issue about them is that anything mentioned in Ahadith (or the sunnah of the Prophet) is taken as Islamic LAW. I will NEVER make law, what God has not made law. And I believe that the beard is one thing that is fine to have, but fine not to have, and will make absolutely no difference in the eyes of God. And that if you have a beard and believe it to be necessary because the Prophet had a beard, it becomes bid'a and idol worship.

The way I understand it, beards were recommended in the Prophet's day, not because it was a commandment from God to wear one, but because it is a good thing to distinguish oneself from the "disbelievers/unbeleivers". And that is a strong reason for which I am strongly favourable to hijab, having not yet made a full decision on whether or not I think it is required (although there actually IS evidence stating that it is unlike the beard).

This is a pretty strong opinion I have of this practice of having a beard for religious reasons, but it's really the way I feel as of now. I will post if I learn more things and change my mind. I'm here to be honest with myself and with everyone. I will not stick to my point if I feel my arguments have fallen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Conversation with my husband

We were watching an Egyptian movie... Heya Fawda. I had my cute little superfast subtitles at the bottom to follow along. In the movie, there's a character who has a fiancé who he has obviously slept with and my husband made a comment about her being a slut. I concurred that she was, yes, somehow more slutty than him (the way she dressed and acted) but then had to make the comment that it was not for the fact that they slept together that she was more slutty, it was considering all other facts. And I asked if he found that it was worse for a woman to have sex before marriage than a man. Becuase I know that that's how society takes it and I find it a bit repulsing. That a man can have sex as much as he wants before he's married and it's not such a big deal (in Egypt) and here in Canada he'd even be called a stud or a player, both almost compliments! And that a woman, in Egypt, has sex before marriage and is a slut who would not be able to find a decent man to marry (generally) while in Canada, if she sleeps around, she's also a whore, an insult. All societies as far as I know have this double standard. I just somehow wanted to feel like it was something that was happening in the world, but that at least the person closest to me didn't agree with what was happening.

Boy was I wrong! We had the worst conversation... I've always found it hard to have a conversation with him, though, so I don't know why I ended up so upset over it, but I really did. It was a huge slap in the face. We don't have much in common, whether it's hobbies, lifestyle, beliefs, principles... We were obviously not meant to be together, but we are, and will work at making it work... But to have him basically tell me that women having sex before marriage (whether in a serious relationship or sleeping around) would always be worse than a man having sex without marriage (serious relationship or outright sleeping around), just hurt me. He was saying that they deserved what they got in terms of different treatment in this life, and that they'd get punished more than men would in the afterlife as well.

Reminded me of when he said that women who get harassed in Egypt bring it on themselves. I hate that about him. Had to put that out there because it's the day after and I'm still upset about it. It becomes hard to live with someone who is so fundamentally different. Some days we just co-exist.

Feel free to write a comment about the movie or about your thoughts on womenand having pre-marital sex.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Egyptians demonstrate in Alexandria

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jIsR7XGd6ASs42NuRNMH_kas52XA

I'm happy to read that the Egyptians demonstrated in huge numbers (50 000!) in Alexandria. One slogan was, "Gaza, excuse us -- opening Rafah is not in our hands,". It's sad to say that the Egyptian government isn't doing more than they are (which is nothing!) and that it is even telling its imams not to mention Gaza in their sermons! The way they just try to control and brainwash their population... it really disgusts me. But I know and love the Egyptian people and I know they want nothing more than help for their fellow Palestinian neighbours. It feels so powerless to be nothing but an individual, especially in a place like Egypt.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Palestine

I need to at least write a sentence or a paragraph about Palestine. How terrible it is, all that's happening over there! I do pray for Palestine. That the brutality and horror stops and that a peaceful agreement can be made to separate those lands between them in the near future. That is the best that can happen, realistically, I believe. But please, the killing of poor innocents needs to STOP-- and NOW!

Other bloggers have posted good articles and thougts... I just felt the need to have at least one post on the subject...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Again: Dance.

This will be short.

During my whole dance thoughts, I came to a semi-conclusion that people had different paths that could please God. That they could all be "submitters" even if they didn't follow the Qur'an; even if they didn't have any intention to follow God at all. I still think that's true. But the other part of the semi-conclusion was that Islam was not necessarily right for everyone. I think it's possible that it IS right for everyone. I simply don't think that Islam as it's seen or practiced (by practicing Muslims) is right for everyone. I think that God's will is a bit "looser" than what Islam makes it seem like today. The Qur'an could have easily written out hundreds of pages of very clear rules about life, but although it does have some very clear rules in there (which should be followed), that's not even what most of it is about, and a lot of it leaves room for interpretation. I can only come to the conclusion that it was done on purpose. Because there ARE different paths. Or because there is a test for us... To see if we are able to follow the best interpretation despite being led in another direction by other humans.

I will leave it at that for now.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dance has changed my views

I love dance! I find it such a beautiful artform. I've always loved to dance myself, but I don't have any extraordinary talent for it. But professionals with a passion for dance, dancing something well-choreographed and to the right music, can be so beautiful and meaningful.

It's funny how this topic, dance, has helped me figure out some of my views on life! I will explain how.

First, the way I set about Islam, as I've mentionned in another topic, is in an all-or-nothing way. If I believe that a group of things has been ordained by God, then I would need to follow ALL OF THEM, not just part of them. This is different than having a group of laws attributed to God. If there's one of them I don't believe comes from God at all, then it's human error and I totally discard it. But anyway, similarly, I believe that God is not just for one group of people. It's for everyone. Meaning that ideally, every single human would follow God. So it makes me ask myself the question: Do I believe that ideally, everyone would be strict Muslims, restricting themselves in the same ways that the Shariah, for example, dictates? I came to the conclusion that... NO... That would not be an ideal.

Back to it now: As I said, I love dance. I literally think the world would be missing something if it weren't practiced or didn't exist. I think it only brings richness to life itself. But dancing in public, and often music itself, is often said to go against Islam itself! Meaning that it goes against God! I see nothing in Islam, personally, that would lead me to believe that music is bad, so there's no issue there. But I do see the whole "dancing in public" thing to be an issue. We are supposed to be modest. And I would be one to admit that what dancers generally wear is not especially modest. It is not always sexually attracting but it's very much about the body. So if the dancers were to become strict Muslims, they would probably not be on stage displaying their talents and bodies.

I know it's not convincing in any way, and I'd never try to convince anyone with this argument, but I'm just trying to explain where it came from in me... I believe that different people can have different paths and still be following God's way. I know that most believe that Islam (as in, beleiving in Muhammad as the Messenger of God who brought the Qur'an) is the only straight path... But I think it has to be more than that. Not everyone has heard of or had the chance to learn about Islam. And they surely have the same chance as anyone to go to heaven and to please God. Islam means submission, and Muslims are ones who submit. And I do believe that every single human, even ones who have never heard of Islam, or even never heard of God, are given the equal chance to submit. And I think that that is through our inner feelings of GOOD and BAD. We can all tell them apart, but we don't all follow the good sides. "Muslims" (who believe in Muhammad and the Qur'an) as much as anyone else. Sometimes more.

I look at people I know here in Canada like my family. We are honest people and we try our best to be good to others, but we are not especially religious in my family. I think they do believe in God, but they don't make any effort with God and heaven as the reason. They simply want to be kind, caring, honest folks. And I see a lot of Muslims who will try their best to do what God wants like having a beard and eating halal meat, but they will screw people in business for as much as they can get out of them. Not all or most, but I have seen it be like this in more than just these cases. Maybe the latter thinks about God more and even prays to God, but he's trying to fool God and himself. And people like my family are just making efforts to be good just because. And so they're not trying to fool anyone, they just *are* what they are.

It's things like this that make me believe that if anything, the MOST IMPORTANT part of submitting to God is following what he has given you inside.

About Islam though... Muhammad, the Qur'an... I am starting to feel as though it is from God as well. I have just been struggling trying to find a way to KNOW if it's from God. If it is, I feel the need to follow it. If it isn't, then I can go on with my life, just trying to be good and connecting with God, but not having this book play a part in it. I think that it is the right path for many people to follow the Qur'an. It might be the right path for others to follow Buddhism, or a lot of other paths... I don't want to say all the religions though, because Christianity for example, is bordering on polytheism in a lot of ways, and Hinduism, they worship other than God, or Wiccan, where they really are polytheistic. It's not for me to judge though. I think a lot of people from those belief systems probably could be following a good path, but others might not.

Islam might be the best path to follow, and the path everyone should be following, but I don't think it means that people who aren't are at a disadvantage. Maybe those who flat-out rejected Islam after learning about it and feeling it's from God... I really don't know how God works, but I don't feel like everyone *needs* to be this type of Muslim to be good submitters. A lot of people probably are never meant to find Islam or even consider it. They are meant to bring something else to the world, like dance. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Praying the Salat...

I am off work until Monday, which means I still have 3 full days off left. I originally wanted to try praying the salat during the 5 days I have off. I had started praying it right before I started work 8 months ago, and stopped basically the day I entered work. It was a lovely experience to put that time aside a couple times a day (ideally 5, but in all honesty, I did an average of 3 prayers per day for those 2 weeks) to try to be with myself and God in a calm environment. And so seeing as this was the biggest time off from work I have gotten since I started, I wanted to try that again.

I know, I know... There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to pray and go to work... At least for some of them! And I do get weekends off! But it's all just so busy when I work full time as well as being a mom\housewife fulltime. And I just feel like I can't bring anything more into my day. And again, I know, I know... It really would help relieve the stress to feel this connection and to have this "calm time" separating my day into nice slices. I just haven't had time in 8 months to think long enough to remember how good of an idea it would be!

Now that I have, I may start praying again. It's hard to start a new routine... A person really needs to make the decision and then go up the hill to unblock into the new routine. And in this case, it's a bit harder because I have some preparation to do. I don't mean wudu, I mean that I don't fully remember all the steps. If I tried to pray now, I'd surely forget some, and I'd probably forget a verse from the Fatha just because I haven't practiced it. And it's a lot of effort and concentration to say something in Arabic all the while understanding what I'm saying, which in my case is by translating it into English in my head as I am also saying it in Arabic in my head. I don't know any other part of the Qur'an by heart, so I had mostly just skipped saying part of the Qur'an after the Fatha for that reason. Just as I got used to praying with the right movements, words and until it got easier to feel and understand what I was saying as I said it.

There's one part of the prayer, I don't know what it's called, but it's the part when the person is on their knees, sitting, and there's some text Muslims say. I totally didn't do that part and I don't plan on it either. I used it for any general du'a. I feel like the salat is a contact between the worshipper and God that could be done in numerous ways and still be "accepted". I think the way Muslims do it now is beautiful. I just avoid adding Muhammad's name in it, since I see that as a form of worship, and so I use this time to speak to God. The rest of the prayer is to glorify God, worship God, venerate God. I would say that du'a can definitely be done at any time, in any place, however one wants, but I find it a good moment in the middle of the salat.

I think I may start praying tonight. God does deserve that.

Happy New Year

It's the new year already! We're in 2009! :) I was able to spend yesterday night with my family. Parents, brother, daughter, husband, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. and it was a lot of fun. I really love my family and it's too bad we only gather up like this once a year. Of course there's about half of them I see more often than just on this day, but still not as much as I like. I don't make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I do feel like I have something specific I want to accomplish. So I'll make some.
1) make more active efforts to be a better person. following my inner good more closely.
2) seeing my cousins and friends more often
I actually did see my family more often this year than I normally do... Sadly aunt died in a car accident in March so I saw them at the funeral for those 2 days. I wish we never had to though... It was sad that her side of the family (she is my husband's wife, really) had not met up altogether in soooo many years and it took this occaision to see them all together. Back to my family though, one of my uncles got married in 2008 so we were all there for that this summer. Maybe that's why I'm realizing that I want to see them more often.
I've always had a hard time with meeting new people and meeting up with people I already know. I just always feel like I don't have a good enough excuse. I only have one friend I see often (average weekly) and 2 friends that I meet up with regularly without any special reason. It's just not convenient to see these 2 friends often because of our lifestyles and where we each reside. Other than that I have a group of friends I meet up with on our birthdays and on the National holidays (Canadian and Quebecker ones). And a cousin I see because she does my hair and her daughter is my God-daughter... I am glad to say I met up with one of my other cousins once this year without any real reason! I will do that again, God willing, this year.

;) Peace.

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