Friday, February 27, 2009

Rashad Khalifa and Code 19

Rashad Khalifa, who "discovered" Code 19, and is considered a

messenger by many of the code's followers.

While I was in Egypt over 2 years ago, I started learning more about Islam. Not only, or even mostly from Egyptians, but online on various websites. Sunni, Shiia, and "other", like http://www.submission.org/ (movement started by Rashad Khalifa). I thought there were a lot of interesting things there and it made me more interested in Islam. I'm not easy to convince though; I feel the need to *really know* what is going on before I can call myself convinced. Or in this case, call myself Muslim. And as I learned more about their beliefs, I realized how fake some of it was. First time I read about the mathematical code 19, I was pretty impressed. It didn't make me convert with its unimaginable perfection, obviously, but I thought it was interesting and as I said, impressive.

As I learned more about it, I found out how fake this "mathematical miracle" was. They were able to find MANY instances that got the number 19, but a lot of them get far-fetched, and there is no real method. An example is salat, which they believe was preserved by this code. The units of prayer are 2-4-4-3-4. The number 24434 is divisable by 19 (19 x 1286). And if you add 2, 4, 4, 3, 4, it =17. And if you add the digits 1, 2, 8, 6, it = 17 too. The believers of Code 19 seem to put more importance on the code than anything else in the Qur'an, and they even think of Rashad Khalifa, the one who discovered "the code", a messenger!!!
Oh, and they believe two ayas of the Qur'an were added in (because it doesn't fit in with their code) so they are even deleting part of the Qur'an!

They are part of the Qur'an Alone people who do not follow the Hadiths, believing that there is a lot of corruption. And they believe that the Qur'an, being complete, does not need addition of Muhammad's hadith. I don't really want to comment (or have people comment) on that part of their beliefs right now, though (if we can all control ourselves).

Goal of the post: Rashad Khalifa a messenger?! Heck no! And Code 19, they are just fooling themselves!
Link to their articles about this "mathematical miracle" - http://submission.org/miracle/

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What I should be looking for... (marriage checklist)


OK, I am married so I am not looking for anything, but I saw a checklist on Marry Halal and I thought I'd make one of my own of things I find important. This is not the list I would have made before I got married, I'm sure, but now that I have some experience, I probably have a much better list:

1) Morality/religiosity - If he believes in Islam, then it needs to be someone who actually practices what he believes. It needs to be someone who also believes, not just because religion tells him to, but from his own heart, that everyone should be treated nicely and with respect, that we should help others, that we should not cheat, lie, deceive, and all that good stuff.

2) A certain view of women - I will describe. Needs to be someone who believes that women are equal to men, in different ways, but equal nonetheless. And that both the man and the woman in the household have the same amount of responsabilities and duties as well as benefits; not the woman having everything on her shoulders. I describe it this way because if they both work and contribute to the household, I think they should have the same responsabilities around the house, but if the man works to support the family and makes enough to do so, and the woman works to keep her money for herself, then the housework is her responsability since she keeps all the benefits from her earnings. Hope I explained that clearly.

1) and 2) combined means a man who respects his wife and her beliefs, feelings, thoughts, ideas. Someone who will take into consideration his wife's thoughts on a matter and not do things behind her back, or "anyway" if she doesn't agree.

These were the main ones because they are many qualities just in one thing. Here are others:

3) Sense of humour - Someone who doesn't take himself too seriously and can laugh at things easily.

4) Emotional stability - Someone who doesn't have a bad temper. Someone laid back but focused.

5) Having things in common - It is SO IMPORTANT to have things in common!!! OF course, the first of these things is religion. But go further and think of having similar education, culture, and hobbies. At least have some of these in common. So for example: if you are an outdoorsy person, it's best not to marry someone who is homey and not open to outdoorsy things. If you have a passion, make sure that the person is open to that passion, and better yet, shares it. Love alone is NOT enough.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wedding

Ange at Hegab Rehab made a post about simple weddings. I wanted to put in my idea of what I want for my wedding someday, just for fun.

Yes, I am married, but we just spent a week going back and forth in Cairo (embassy, ministry, embassy, bla bla bla) doing things I didn't even understand. This started a week after I met my husband in real life (7 months after we'd started chatting online). And one day after all that, we went to sign papers and utter some words in Arabic with a friend of his and some random guy my husband's mom works with. I honestly did not know these were the papers that made us legally married!! I was very shy, having just met him, and I didn't fully express my opinions yet, and didn't ask every question. Anyway, that was that, we were married, I found out. lol. Not what I expected!

I knew we were legally married right after it happened, but it was a slow process to actually considering him my husband and then actually calling him my husband. That took about a year. So anyway, I never had that special day every person wishes to have. Even someone who decides to elope and goes to town hall in jeans had a more special day than I did. I was in jeans, but I didn't decide to elope. lol.

So here is my ideal wedding day.

Setting: At my parent's house, in their backyard. It's a good size and my mom keeps a very pretty garden. It's a quiet neighbourhood, the grass is so green and the flowers of all colours.

Guests: Close friends (less than 10) and family (parents, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins).

How it would work: Simple ceremony where we declare our relationship and marriage publically with cute words said. I'd come in first when everyone is seated to a pretty song (probably instrumental) and he'd come in after. I'd want to encorporate some people maybe with them reading something or carrying the ring. Maybe walking us in. It would be a day event with food being really simple and people instructed not to gift too outrageously. I don't want a huge banquet reception thing at all... Just a fun day with lots of simple food.

The dress:



Something modest and not just white. I love this one. I wish I could see it with her standing up though.

How a bad day can be lifted...

I have had a pretty bad day today... Nothing really bad happened, just a bit of a stressful day at work. I deal with some difficult people sometimes. After I'm done with them, I'm just testy with everyone. It's not a bad thing in my job to have some attitude with them sometimes, but usually I do it without actually feeling annoyed or angry. I honestly got off the phone with a client and I would have slapped him if he was in front of me, and he didn't attack me or anything like what usually happens to make me in a bad mood. Anyway...

All to say, I noticed I had 2 new followers since last time I checked. Makes me happy to see that, first of all, but also, I like to check out new blogs, especially those who check me out (yes, because I am just glad to have them, but also because they might have blogs of interest to me, if they are interested in mine!) and I found two great blogs (Toss Salad and Islamic Identity, why not name them?). One of them had Qur'an recitation playing on the main page, and I just sat there listening for a bit, and left it on. It really calmed me down. And I feel much better now, more relaxed and at peace.

I will ask for people's thoughts, just to get some opinions and maybe make me think:

Do you think this is because it is the Qur'an and even if I don't understand it, I am touched by the sounds of it? (it's soemthing from God)
Or is it just because the recitor has a beautiful voice and it is so poetic in its sound? (not from God, I could have been just as moved if he was talking about any subject)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Reading the Qur'an

I read the Qur'an a little bit tonight. I really enjoyed it and I need to make it a daily thing. I mean, it's so much better than just doing random stuff online. Even if at times that stuff is Islam-related, it's never going to be as much benefit as reading the Qur'an itself. I will try to take notes on interesting things I read and post those ideas on here. Hopefully I will follow through and hopefully I will find something interesting to say.

Right now, all I want is to walk up to the next floor and make the kid stop stomping her feet!! She's driving me nuts! She has been making so much noise ever since I put my daughter to bed an hour ago (good timing) but luckily she's sleeping away. She's a pretty deep sleeper from bedtime until 2am or so when she normally wakes up for some reason. After that, it's so-so but at least the kid upstairs is not making noise at these hours.

Now, back to the Qur'an. One thing I was wondering about is the Night of Al-Qadr. I've read about it and everything, but why do they not translate it and they leave it as Night of al-Qadr? What does Qadr mean exactly? Obviously the translators leaving it like this means that they believe it's a title for this night, but I want to know the meaning of the word, in case it is made to describe a night (any night) and it is not just a title for one specific yearly night.

I will try to look it up tomorrow.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Music! (la la la la laaaaaah)

I love music. I spend at least some minutes listening to it every day. I honestly do not feel in any way that it goes against Islam. I think of music as a beautiful gift from God.

Some songs though, do go against Islamic ideals, and I definitely think it's best to stay away from them. Songs about hooking up and boozing it up especially. Songs about love... well... they are borderline. As a married woman, I see no reason not to listen to them. They might talk about making love and they might be sexy, but I have my husband to turn towards and feel that way about. It doesn't cause me to lust or feel anything unislamic. These songs might be best not listened to by the non-married.

I feel that it depends on mostly two things:

1) What the content is. Is it against Islam in an obvious way like speaking of adultery, pre-marital sex, partying, etc.

2) How it affects the person. Does it make you, the individual listening to it, feel or do unislamic things? Does it have a negative effect on your life, however small?

If a song speaks of unislamic ideas in a way that makes them seem OK, this is not a song that should be listened to. If the music talks about, for example, love, not mentionning that it is between an unmarried couple or anything, it could be OK, but if it makes the person listening to it lusty, then it is not OK for that person. It has a negative effect on them. If music is your primary love in life, then it's not OK for you because it's making you lose sight of priorities.
Done in moderation, I feel music is just a blessing to life.

Islam always seems to clear about things. It's yes or it's no. Or it's sometimes, but in very specific conditions. I think that music is not so easy to put a ruling on. I feel it varies widely from person to person and can depend on their individual situation.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Madhabs

I don't know any specifics on the Islamic schools of thoughts and where they differ. And I don't know much about how they were formed and when they came about, although what I quickly read is that they were formed before the collection of the Hadiths were made (like the Bukhari collection). But that of course, rulings were altered as more information was made available by the scholars representing the school of thought.

I don't especially like the idea of a school of thought and following a particular one instead of another. The only use I see is to make your life more simple by not having to research individual topics you might have a question about. Just look up what your madhab thinks of it and go with that. It is obvious that no person can fully research every single thing that they encounter in life and that sometimes, they need to just rely on what someone says about the topic, but I don't feel like that needs to be based on a school of thought. It could just be the opinion of someone you trust. That person probably follows a school of thought, but you could easily go see someone who follows a different school of thought when you have another question. And then you'd be following one school for one topic and another school for another (indirectly). And I see nothing wrong with that!

I don't think that Islamic jurisprudence needs to be divided into these madhabs. I think it's another division in Islam, however small it is. I don't see why a person needs to label him/herself Hanafi, Maliki, etc. over something so tiny. Luckily, a big deal is not made over these, especially not here because of converts and how they normally don't follow one, and the immigrants being from all sorts of places that traditionally follow different madhabs. They are just Muslims together.

Back to Islamic topics

The "week off" I took from Islamic topics is over. I will start posting about Islam again tonight. I think the "week on", "week off" thing is pretty good. I might do it that way from now on. One week I just talk about whatever's happening or is on my mind, without putting effort into finding the meaning of life, and the next I will make that effort, and try to talk about topics related to Islam.

How does that sound?

Living a stable, balanced life

I was never the beauty type. I didn't do my hair or wear make-up and overall, I've never been the type to care about my appearance much. BUT, I did struggle with "borderline anorexia", as I term it. My best friend had serious issues with her weight; wanting to be extremely thin, and I had this type of feeling too since before I met her, but it just brought them back up when we started seeing each other so often. And compared to her, I ate TONS! So I just felt like I was being normal with this.

I am so happy to have gotten rid of this "obsession". I would go on pro-ana websites, I'd look up all sorts of tips to losing weight or suppressing appetite. I counted every calorie and limited it to 1200/day, making sure I never went over that amount by exaggerating the count on everything I ate. And I didn't even feel like I was doing anything bad or different.

I think it's something similar for people who get their hair done every month, don't go out without make-up and have to have the latest fashions. It's not detrimental to their health at least, but it's the same kind of "obsession" that is really not *good* for anyone's health, mostly mental. And there are all sorts of other things that a person can be obsessed about that don't seem to matter much, but that are really just a pain in a person's life!

How to find that balance in life where you are not "stuck" on anything, whether it be beauty, weight, men, music, TV shows, etc? I think I have been in periods of imbalance because of all of these things. I had a time when I had at least one show I followed each day on TV, and I NEEDED to watch it. I had a time when I would spend all day in class fantasizing about kissing a boy I liked. I had a time when I would go home after school and just download music, finding new artists I liked, and looking forward to just finishing class to put on my earphones. Even just to walk from one class to another.

One thing that made ME more stable is getting married. Once the need for a boyfriend went away, it's as though my whole world changed. I did not have to spend any time looking at guys on the street, imagining who I might meet, wondering when I'd get that first kiss, what he might look like, how much he'd love me, etc. And it seems that by eliminating this, most of my other obsessions went away. I watch TV now, but I don't even know when my favourite shows are on. I listen to music, but I never update my mp3 player and I mostly just have the radio on anyway.

Part of me misses this part of myself because it was exciting in some ways. It's passion. And maybe I don't have any passion in my life now except my daughter, but I can think so much more clearly for it. I can understand life better. I can concentrate better. The thing closest to that right now for me is Islam. Or the Islam-related. Watching videos on youtube, visiting a message board, writing this blog, reading blogs, reading articles, listening to Qur'an, etc.

Who can relate? Who is "affected" by one of these little "obsessions" and do you even want to get rid of it? Will you go the route of finding a balance or complete elimination?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have a decision to make... I don't know what to do...


Here is the situation... My husband has not seen his family since he got here about a year and a half ago, and they have never seen Nora. Early on we spoke of going to Egypt before Nora became 2 (she is 21 months old now), the reason being that we could save a plane ticket fee by sitting this baby on us. And obviously he wants to see his family and wants to show off his daughter. He feels bad that they have never met her while she sees my parents and brother at least 2 times a week, often more.

Now where it gets complicated is here... I have a job and I just started there 11 months ago. I have 2 weeks vacation. I have not had any vacation since I started. The most was getting 5 days in a row for Christmas because of it being tagged onto the weekend. I don't want to go through the 24 or so of hell it will take to go to Egypt and the other 24h of hell to come back. I don't want to spend 5000$. And especially not cramming all this in the only 16 days in a row I will have off until next year (and really, I would never take my vacations in April normally, so it would be another 16 months without vacation).

I want to go to Egypt, I miss it so much! But I want to go when I'm in between things, so I can stay for a couple months. So that it's worth all the pain of travel, so that I can actually delve into Islam fully, so my daughter can at least know her grand-parents by the end of the trip, things we won't even be able to do rushing around Egypt for 2 weeks. And on top of that, he plans on staying extra, meaning I come back alone with the baby!

I totally understand his side of missing his family, and the situation has become more important because his dad has just had open-heart surgery and it's just always unsure when health is not stable... He'd never forgive me if his dad didn't meet our daughter and I would feel bad forever. This is what is making me actually consider going.

But man... I don't think I can deal with packing, travelling with a baby, rushing there and coming back and being out almost 5000$! My husband can't understand that because he doesn't take care of her that much anway and because he'd be staying there longer! And he can't understand what it's like to work 5 days a week for a year. He has spent most of the time at home. He has French classes full time and has for the past few months, but he has vacations between each "semester" and has missed at least 3 weeks of classes just "cause".

He has no idea what it's like to wake up earlier than him, wake the baby, wake him, get us all ready, go to work until 5, come home to make supper and do the dishes, give the bath, do the bedtime routine. She just recently started falling asleep on her own and so I recently started having time for myself at night. I used to just fall asleep right with her. Now I'm more tired during the day but at least I have some "me time". And weekends are fun and relaxing, but there's still stuff that needs to be done, and I take our daughter everywhere I go. This is my routine week after week. His life has no strict routine. He stays up until 4am playing games, skips a morning of class, goes for a few days, has the weekend to play games and watch shows... It's not the same and I think of myself only when I say that I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO EGYPT!

My husband and niqab

There's not much to say about my husband's thoughts on niqab. I wrote a couple brief comments about it in the niqab post from the other day, though. But I thought it was funny what he admitted to me this morning. He said maybe the reason he doesn't have the most positive feelings towards niqab (again, must clarify that he has nothing against it either) is because he had an experience as a kid where either a kid he knew or a kid he saw got scared of a woman in niqab. No one in his family wore niqab, they all wore hijab so he wasn't exposed to any, so I guess it has stayed in his mind that they are "scary". Recently though, one of his aunts has started wearing niqab (he didn't recognize her last time he saw her at a family event) and just very recently (past month or so) his cousin started wearing it.

Anyway, poor kid who got scared. It's really not the most inviting look though, if I may be so honest. I guess that's a bit the point... to take out everything that might be beautiful from public view. And a consequence of that is that it takes away a lot of what makes us look human. I think wearing some colour or embroidery or friendly accessories (a purse, bracelet, etc.) helps that human factor A LOT.

O000h, a purse with a bunch of dangley thingies like the Japanese always love all over their bags and phones and purses and all that! They are so cute! ^_^

Abayas




I love abayas. I think they are modest and lovely and feminine, as well as being comfortable. I probably wouldn't wear *only* abayas, but I'd love to own one at least. I'd like an abaya that is versatile so it needs to be relatively simple. I like colour but it's not necessary and nothing too bright because it's a large garment and it would be too much. I'd want to be able to wear it in a way that doesn't scream "Muslim". I don't mean that in a bad way at all. I just mean that considering I am not Muslim, and that even if I was, I come from a family that is not Muslim and I don't want to shock them or make them feel uncomfortable. I just want to be modest, lovely, feminine and comfortable! :)
Are there any that you would suggest? Up there are some I like. I am simply unable to put pictures anywhere but at the head of a post. I'd love help putting pictures in the middle of a post!
Note about the abaya I am looking for that I am pretty tall (5'9") and thin and so I want something long enough for me, and not wide because I don't want it to be baggy, I just want it to flow down. Thanks for any help!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Received my niqab pieces


On February 6th (at night), I ordered 2 niqab pieces from Al-Mujalbaba and they arrived yesterday, the 17th. Only 6 or 7 business days for First Class Mail - International, which is pretty good, I find. I have not ordered online often, but the times I did were for cloth diapers about 2 years ago before my daughter was born and they took an average of 3 weeks (15 business days) and were all sort of light packages like the niqabs.

They are just a piece of georgette folded in 2 with an elastic sewn on to hold it on the face. It was too loose for me so I tied a knot in it. I wore it around my apartment, trying different styles with the scarf I had at that moment. It breathes well. I mean, for having something over your mouth and nose, it's pretty tolerable. I was in ideal conditions though and it must be pretty hard to breathe with in hot, humid summers. My husband tried it in the house too but he found it very hard to breathe in. He's not very pro-niqab anyway so he made no efforts or excuses about it like I know he would for things he believes in.

I might post a niqab photo tomorrow or something if I get around to it. I have one burgondy and one grey niqab so it can make different looks depending on which scarves I pair it with, but without being too flashy. My scarves are not ideal for niqab though. I was having fun trying it yesterday with a burgondy scarf I have and it looked pretty good, but the scarf was not covering enough. I like scarves that carry the bosom area WELL and this one kinda stopped mid-bosom. The type of scarf that is just big enough to make a decent hijab style but with the niqab, I tie it different and it uses a bit more material so it's too short and just too narrow! I may have to try it with a larger pashmina style burgondy one I have, but this one was cute cause it had some light gold details.

To explain why I even have niqabs, being non-Muslim and being a person who, even Muslim, would not wear it here in Canada (I probably have mentionned this in another entry)? Well, I actually got it because I was considering starting a vlog on youtube. And I just don't especially want my identity shown, seeing how some people react to anything related to Islam. It's either non-Muslims hating on you or Muslims hating on you for not agreeing with their interpretation of the topic in question or for having music in the video, or for wearing make-up, for showing your wrists, just anything! I want to be protected. If I even start one.

Extraction

The procedure went well. They were not especially difficult to get out, even if one of them had not come out of the gum. I got the two wisom teeth from the left side taken out. It cost 371$ CAD just for less than an hour of work! Honestly, I wasn't surprised, but it's expensive, isn't it?I had braced myself for expensive so I was not shocked but still. I'm getting the same thing done in a month for the other side so that's about 750$ just for removing a couple teeth.

I feel pretty good, it's not too sore or anything, I just feel a pulse there... that kind of weird soreness. I'm speaking fine today so there would have been no reason to take the day off work. I would have loved to sleep in though and do things around the house in late morning and afternoon, but meh!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Teeth and expenses in general


I have to get some wisdom teeth taken out tomorrow. I have the afternoon off for that but I really wonder how well I will be able to do my job on Wednesday after getting 2-3 wisdom teeth extracted. And I might get a piercing right before for fun. Just to add to the pain and expense.

I think the price of it all is stressing me out the most though because I work so hard trying to save some money and I hate when I just see my savings account go down.

When I came back to Canada from Egypt pregnant, I obviously was not able to work and so I stayed with my parents, and sponsoring my husband to come here, I was not allowed to receive anything from the government so I depended totally on my parents. They were really great and provided me with all I needed.
When my husband got his permanent resident visa, I got us an apartment, but our daughter was only 4 months old when I got the apartment and 6 months old when he got there and I didn't have a job still. Wasn't ready to start working full time that early either. And my husband wasn't able to find a job so with all that, I had to continue depending on my parents. I started working in March 2008 when my daughter was 10 months old and started paying my parents back and I finally finished giving them back the full amount before 2009 started :D

But it seems the money is always coming back out like it will again for these teeth!!! And it did for my car last month... And the painting and bit of decorating for the appartment... Expenses never stop!

Not tagged, but I feel like it: Favourites.

Favorite color: Dark pink
Favorite perfume: I don't wear perfume
Favorite PJ style: jogging pants and a thin cotton t-shirt
Favorite clothes brand in general: None.
Favorite person(s) in the entire world: My daughter and my Mom
Favorite country: CANADA
Favorite car: Not really into cars.
Favorite sport: Basketball to play, tennis and hockey to watch.
Favorite sport player/fighter: André Agassi (tennis)
Favorite spot in Canada: Montreal (haven't travelled around much though!)
Favorite animal: Dogs
Favorite movie: Aladdin, Une ligue en Jupons (translation of A League of their Own), Batman: The Dark Knight.
Favorite singer: Hawksley Workman, Feist, John Mayer
Favorite day in the week: Saturday
Favorite time of the day: morning
Favorite holiday season: *THE* Holiday season? (Christmastime)
Favorite number: Don't really care.
Favorite food: Poutine.
Favorite chocolate: Dark.
Favorite cartoon: The Simpsons
Favorite blogger: I refuse to choose!
Favorite Flavor Ice Cream: chocolate.
Mobile Brand: Nokia
Favorite name (girl): Nora (my daughter's name). Lana, if I have to choose one I haven't used.
Favorite name (boy): Theodore
Favorite hobby: reading and walking
Favorite room in my house: Living room
Favorite Fruit: strawberry
Favourite flower: I might have to go with lilies because of being Quebeccer.
Favourite Ayah from the Qu'ran: I will have to go with, "bismillah ir-rahman ir-rahim". Counts, right?

So even though no one asked, you now know a bit more about me.

Got a haircut!

I almost wanna post a picture, but I won't... In case I become Muslim and start wearing hijab, I wouldn't really want it on the net.

I went to a no-appointment place in the mall and the woman tells me it's 22$ for a haircut, and asks if I want it styled too. I make sure she's not going to send me out with wet hair and I opt not to have it styled. I never even knew it was an "option" really. It always came with any haircut I got. While she's washing my hair, I think about how I don't get it done often so I tell her to style it, which is basically to put moose and silking stuff and straighten it.

When I pass at the cash, she tells me it's 37$!! How much can a person charge for the 5 minutes (max) of time and tiny amount of product?! I can hardly imagine 15$ for someone with long hair getting it done fancy for an occaision with all sorts of sprays, curls, heaters, etc. But for my already super-straight and healthy-looking hair. I needed almost nothing. I thought places adjusted the price according to how difficult it was. Like inch-long hair would be less, super-long hair more. Super difficult styles would be more, etc etc. Anyway, I am getting over it now, but I still find it way too expensive.

At least my hair is cut and looks pretty good. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I am 1/6 of the way


... to completing one of the things on my list. I went out to an indoor amusement place with my daughter and husband (after playing outside for some time, it was a nice day; coldish but sunny). It's a really neat place that has lots of fun thing for all ages. My 21 month old daughter just goes nuts in the 0-6 area that has playhouses, a min-trampoline, dolls, tubey thingies, a blow up jump thing and a bunch of mini-farm-like toys. It also has sporty things where you throw a football, kick a soccer ball or shoot a basketball as well as air hockey and fooseball. And a bunch of Wiis and Playstations.


BUT the thing that completed 1/6 of one of the things on my list is that I spent 10 minutes on the massage chair they have there. It's not a professional massage like I was thining of having, but seriously, it does the job. When I got up after 10 minutes, I was having trouble walking from my body being so relaxed. It's really more efficient than a person since it can work more than one area at once. The machine doesn't go nuts, but it does usually work more than one part at once. Squeezes and un-squeezes the legs and feet, the bum area, the back goes up to the neck and head. I think a full hour of this chair would be too much. At least at full intensity; it would have to be lowered to like 50% after the first 10 minutes!

So I really enjoyed myself today and tonight. The parc, the amusement parc, grocery shopping so I can cook freely without needing to do magic by conjuring up a meal from almost thin air, and I even went to see a show with my friend and hung out for 2 hours. It's getting laaaate, it's already "tomorrow". And I will do something again tomorrow.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Vote for your choice on what I should do :)

I will follow my feelings and others' advice and take a 1 week "Islam break". It may be longer if I really don't feel ready to continue learning and thinking about it intensively, but for this week at least, I will resist the urge to read too many things online and even think about my own positions on Islamic issues.
And I've decided to try to just lightly distract myself with something this weekend. Something just fun and spontaneous. Here are my choices. Please submit your vote in the form of a comment!

- get a discreet piercing (for example an ear piercing)
- get a dramatic haircut and/or dye job
- paying myself a relaxing hour-long massage (if I can find an hour for myself this weekend)
- buying myself an article of clothing online

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Downs

I am feeling down lately. It seems to be one thing after another. Nothing too serious really, just personal problems at home mostly. Every time something like that happens, I let go of God. Things had gone very well for a month, but then something happened and I stopped praying. Now something happened and I am considering not blogging for some time and dropping my learning about Islam. I try to want to, but I just don't right now.

I wish I could just get my life on a happy track, you know? I am working on it though. I will try to get myself motivated again about Islam though, and really figure it out once and for all. Other than that, I have lots of positive feelings in my life, and about my life. The Islam thing is just a struggle, along with obviously the struggles that are bringing me down about it, but I'm not much affected in other aspects of my life, luckily. I have a very good ability of putting things aside to feel and act totally unaffected. It just comes out in certain situations.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Being God-fearing


I never understood this concept of "fearing God/Allah". Maybe it's because I never really believed in God, although I didn't deny His existance either... I've always felt it was important to be a good person, following his or her sense of what is good and refusing what is not. And I recently came to the conclusion that this sense IS God speaking to each one of us, telling us what to do and not do to and that the best way to submit to God was simply to follow this path. BUT, remains that even after having made this conclusion, which included belief in the existance of God, I still could not even IMAGINE the concept of fearing God. Theoretically... maybe a little... but I could not imagine it personally at all!

Now, the reason I write this post is that it has changed -- a little. And it came from the often-used question, "What would you tell Allah when he asked you why (you did or did not do such and such thing)...?" I had heard it before. But that time, I actually imagined something specific to me that had happened and that was not terrible in any way, but still left me feeling like... there is NO reason I could not have been better. None. Even if it's not the worst thing in the world, it was something that should not have been. I can't even remember the exact situation because it was actually a couple weeks ago, but it was something along the lines of me losing my temper.

The reasons I had never had this "God-fearing" feeling are numerous. One, no real belief in God - that's the biggest. But also being raised with some "Christian" influence that everyone will be forgiven and that there might not even be Hell and the fact that I see myself as a good person. But even without being a "bad" person, it's really not about that, is it? It's about the little things you do that ALL need to be related back to God.

Environment


I was thinking today (again) about how difficult it all is. Or would be if I was Muslim. The praying, fasting, wearing hijab, attending Friday prayer are all difficult things to do in the West. Praying is difficult because of work and schedules. Same for fasting, along with the fact that there is food *everywhere*, and wearing hijab because of the way people react. Whether it be strangers, family, the workplace, there's probably not one hijab-wearing Muslimah who hasn't faced some sort of "adversity".

I was imagining what I might be like if I was living in a Muslim majority, for example, Egypt, just because I have lived there (shortly) before. It would be much more motivating to pray, considering it's seen as a GOOD thing to do so no being shy about saying you want to pray. And even if you're out on the go, there are mosques EVERYWHERE to go pray in. And jobs are generally accomodating (at least more than here).

For hijab, I personally don't imagine myself without it there even without being Muslim. Although about that, I think we are judged not only on the wearing of the headscarf, but also general modesty, and just wearing loose 3/4 pants with a loose 3/4 shirt here in Canada is, relatively, more modest than wearing the same thing in Egypt. You will get FAR MORE glances in Egypt wearing that same outfit, and thus, you NEED to cover up more to maintain the same modesty.

I think a person can be a very good Muslim living here in the West. And in some ways, I think it is a benefit to be brought up here. I guess it's because I do love my country and province and the values we are taught, at least as we get educated. It's the cultural part that is sometimes lacking. In Islamic countries, because of the poverty there, the education is sometimes sub-par. And unislamic traditions that are seen as Islamic have a more negative impact than some of the things going on here, I think. Because at least here it's obvious that it's not Islamic. Much more to be said, I just don't have the ideas straightened out or the time. So anyway...

My husband has found it difficult here. He loves food, and not being able to easily find halal food has been tough for him. He is now eating halal as much as possible, but normally eats non-halal since that's what I find at the grocery store and what I make at home. And it's making a downward spiral. For him, it's as though halal food was the base of his religiosity and having it crumble has made everything else crumble.

Question for anyone who has gotten to the end of this post:

- Do you believe I will be held responsable for this? (Or even partly?)
- Do you believe he will be held responsable for making be feel far from Islam? (By not being a good example/ By discouraging me from learning at times probably because of his personal guilt)
- Which is worse, do we cancel each other out? :p

Monday, February 9, 2009

How much we have...


I always struggle with the idea that some people are more fortunate than others and that some people are raised in homes that encourage goodness and others just have everything stacked against them. I thought a lot about how fair God can be when we see how different one person's life is from another.
Part of what I figured is that we are all judged on what we do, but it's based on our circumstances. Someone who has been raised in an Islamic environment with caring parents and a good education, etc. who ends up sleeping around, never prays, doesn't even fast (eats in private because EVERYONE else is fasting) etc. will be punished much more harshly than someone who was raised Muslim in a Western environment and has had sex before marriage with someone they were in a serious relationship with, does not pray (it would be very difficult to with all the classes, etc) and doesn't fast (again, would be difficult to) and has no Muslim friends or family apart from the parents. This person has done the same things (sex before marriage, no praying, no fasting), but based on the circumstances, it seems obvious that it's not as bad as what the other person has done.
Another example is someone who has been born Muslim vs. someone who does not know of the existance of Islam. Person 1 has direct guidance while person 2 has to rely on inner feeling of God. If they both end up having the exact same (good) life, person 2 would probably have a bigger reward.
All this is good and rested many of my questions, but I was still bothered by how different we all have it... Why do some people just not have the same chance as another in life?

After 2 days without voice, I started to realize how much we ALL have. I was focusing on the differences that seemed immense, but when I think about it, most humans all have legs to walk on, arms to pick things up, eyesight, hearing, voice, taste, a similar intellect, etc... We are all given SO MUCH that the things that some people are given and others not like money seem much less relevant.

It really made me feel thankful.

Love and passion


I definitely think that love is extremely important, even essential in a marriage. But love doesn't need to be full-out passion. With time, I've changed my views about these things. I used to think love with all the passion like what we see in the movies was so ideal and beautiful. But I've learned that what is really beautiful is not a passionate love, but a love of respect and caring.

It makes me think that ideally, marriages *should* be "arranged". Not fully, in that the person envolved has other people make the decisions, but arranged that the people looking for partners get to know each in a more "on paper" kind of way. Things they believe in, things they want in life, things they like to do. And of course through this "dating" type period, they will be able to tell if they like this person and even love, but at least it won't have been based on that blinding passion. It literally blinds you so that you don't see how ill-matched you are. It blinds you to all the problems you are likely to have down the road.

I've become "cold" with time. Not even over a period of 20-30 years... I'm only 22. But I really, really, really think that the one thing people should make sure they have with a partner is RESPECT! And the second is to have things in common. Great if you have passion on top of that, but best make that passion grow with time. Don't get caught up in it before you're sure about all that other stuff (the important stuff)!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Back in Cairo, Egypt


I was reading Umm Travis' post about her incident driving in Cairo. I wouldn't be able to drive there, I think! I had enough difficulties getting around with others driving me (at times).

When I was in Egypt, we took the taxi everywhere. When I was working, I had to get from the condo to midan Abdel-Moneim Riad (basically to the Nile Hilton) since that's where the bus took off from to Smart Village, and half the time I took a taxi to there, the other half I took a 15 minute walk to the Ghamra metro and took it to Nasser station (I think) and then walked the couple mins to the bus area. A couple times I took the micro bus from a corner near the condo to the metro entrance, I think that was like 50 piastres and it saved me some time so it was worth it.

Anyway, when we took the taxi from the condo to that midan together, it was 4 LE, and my husband told me it was normally 3 LE for other Egyptians but of course they expected more because of me being foreigner. About a quarter of the times we took a taxi, my husband was asked to pay more than what he was offering -- because of me.

When it came time for me to take the taxi alone to go to work, I gave 5 LE for that distance. But just a few times later, I got a taxi driver demanding 15 LE!!! Just because I was foreigner! I tried to communicate that it was 5 LE I was offering and 5 LE he was going to get. All I was able to say in Arabic was a stern, "La! khamsa guinay!" A couple minutes later, he was still after me about it. I don't even think I had 15 LE on me, but either way, after seeing how much effort my husband put not to get screwed over by the taxi drivers, I kept my end. I ended up throwing the money onto the front seat and getting out. He just left.

I was so proud of myself, but of course I didn't want to go through that again, so from then on, I asked the drivers if 5 LE was ok.

Another little story... We were going to Alexandria so we took the taxi to Ramses square to then take the microbus. The driver was demanding more money for the ride. My husband, like always, tells him no, gets all insulted, etc. Normally it didn't get out of the taxi, but this guy didn't want to have us leave without the extra money and my husband was not going to pay him an extra pound. I couldn't really understand, but somehow, my husband punched the taxi driver. Everyone was gathering... I could understand a word here and there, mostly referring to me being Canadian... I was SOOOO embarassed! I was trying to slowly move away so people wouldn't look at me, but I had two suitcases and I simply *looked* Canadian. Turns out the guy had "insulted" his mom or something and that's why he got punched. But I seriously could not have been more embarassed.
The picture above is the view from the balcony in Cairo. I have so many better pictures, just not on this computer and this is one of the ones I had online. :)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I've been a bit down, but... (realization)


The past week has been tough, even before the voice loss and total frustration. Every time I get a bit of a down in my personal life, I seem to run away from God. What I think I may be realizing is that I'm not ready for the ritual part of Islam: praying 5 times a day, going to Friday prayer, even fasting but at least we're not there yet. It's way too much for me, and maybe that actually *is* the only thing missing for me to convert. But I'm not 100% sure about it all. Definitely though, when things are going well, I feel closer to God, I feel like I'm doing better in life, and I feel like I can overcome anything (including how difficult it would be to pray). But not right now.

I'll have to see what happens in the next weeks. I'll try examining my feelings to see if what I'm typing now makes any sense. But it feels like a realization.

I'm at my wits end!

I still can do nothing more than whisper... It's so frustrating. I have a 21 month old daughter (she will be tomorrow :) ) and I can't talk loud enough for her to hear me unless it's very quiet. And she's not used to being talked to in a whisper so it's not going well. From not being able to raise my voice when I need to (whether it's for reprimanding or praising or encouraging play, etc), I'm just exhausted, frustrated... I just want to punch myself in the face.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I have lost my voice!

I can't talk, although you wouldn't know it since you can "hear" me quite clearly right now, and I can even YELL THINGS TO YOU, but I have spent the first part of my day at work cleaning my desk, washing the windows, bringing boxes from one room to another, etc. becaues of my lack of voice. My main job is phone-based and it's so weird to have calls coming in for me and not take them, or having calls to make and having to transfer to the documents to others. My poor co-workers are making the calls I should be making and receiving calls I should be receiving. But at least it's Friday and it's a slow day for them over in the other department (people in my office area don't speak English and that's the "side" I take care of).

Anyway, it's so nice to be able to communicate... Writing is an amazing gift!

Makes me think of UmmBasma on youtube (I think that's her username but I may have to correct it) who can sign and has some signing videos on there (she can also speak and hear). She's a niqabi and it's amazing that she can get so much across with her movements and signing, even if we can't see her face. We miss expressions, mouthing of words and parts of the signs which incorporate parts of the face, but she is still seriously expressive! :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Qur'an Explorer

I am enjoying this website a lot lately. I'm practicing reading Qur'an and then hearing it, and repeating it, and hearing it again. And it has the English translation on the other side (which I mute in volume since I can read it myself).


Who uses this? Which recitor do you listen to?
Here is the link.

Completely honest with myself

I have written parts of this probably in my first posts... But I am still struggling with those same feelings. I try to be fully honest with myself about what I feel, why I do what I do, etc. on a daily basis. I don't want to fool myself about why I am doing something or why I'm feeling a certain way about someone. I don't want to ever get in even the smallest web of lies, not even with myself. God and religion is always on my mind and it's something I also want to be fully honest with myself about as well.

I have always wanted to strongly feel like there was something higher and that we had a true purpose in this life. I still don't (see the despair post). But I always wanted that sense of security that this wasn't it. If it is, then the whole of it seems useless to live out, except to just have your own fun, and I'm not the type of person who thinks that's all life is about. But what is it? That I don't know. I am very big on the idea that our inner sense of good and bad is the biggest gift we have, and that if life was just about having our fun, it would not exist. That sense inside every human being is my biggest proof that there is a God.

Back to the original topic about being honest with myself... I *want* to believe in Islam with all my heart and soul. That's why I want to learn more and why I haven't stopped since I started. And why I even started this blog. But WHY would I even want to believe? I want to be honest with myself about that. Mainly, it's because I want to feel life is for a reason and that there's a plan for us. And that sounds like a decent reason. But the other part of it is that I want that sense of belongling. I want to be part of a group... I've always been a bit of a loner, often more mature than people around me (although I'm in tuned with my inner childhood :P), or just more "tame". No extreme passion for anything, just equal "like" for everything (like certain sports, writing, music, etc.).

So it makes me wonder, if I just had a passion for something earthly like snowboarding for example, and I hung out with people who do snowboarding and went out at every chance, and tried to learn more tricks, etc. Could I be as satisfied as I hope to be through religion? I don't even know the answer to that myself. I've been thinking lately that it might be a lost cause for me to find God and that there might just not be a God wanting us, or at least me, to worship him. Maybe I just need put efforts into being a good person, and find something earthly to focus on in addition to that to take advantage of what we have here (in this earthly life).

Maybe I was just attracted to Islam because of shared values and wanting to believe in God and wanting to be part of this group, but in the end, it is not because I should be Muslim. We have a lot of shared values, but there is much missing for me to actually be Muslim. I will continue to learn. I'm not done yet. I am just in a bit of a down spot these days that makes me feel there is nothing.

I know this overall idea is not something any devout Muslim would think, and probably only a "non-religious" person of some kind could really understand what I mean in this post, but I wanted to put it out there anyway.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Who is a Muslim???

Who is a Muslim? Can anyone who considers him or herself a Muslim call himself a Muslim? Or are there certain criteria to respect?

There are people who would probably consider themselves Muslim, even though they are not practicing Muslims. The association comes more from being from a Muslim family, so they inherited the title, in a sense. And their family being Muslims *is* part of their identity, even if they don't practice the religion. A lot of people wouldn't consider them Muslims. Or would add "by name" at the end of the title. But really, we don't know what they believe inside.

Is a Muslim defined by their beliefs then? For example, a person who believes in One God who authored the Qur'an. They may or may not practice in all aspects (or any), whether it's because of lack of knowledge, lack of discipline or plain laziness (if you don't think about God, you don't realize how much you believe in Him). Are they the ones who can be called "Muslims"?

Or does a Muslim become a Muslim based on his actions? Praying, fasting, going to mosque, wearing hijab, having a beard, etc. The outward things that people can see about you that makes the association to "Muslim", although whether or not you actually believe in what you're doing inside or you're doing it because of pressure from family, etc, is unknown.

A Muslim is one who follows Islam and Islam is submission through belief in God (his messengers, revelations, day of judgement, etc.). And no one can know if you are submitting well or have the best intention to, except God. So in reality, we could say that only God can answer that question. I think most would agree that only God can answer "Who is a Muslim?"

But for the sake of labels, something we cannot go without as humans, who do YOU agree should get the priviledge of using the "Muslim" label?

I love my Mom

There's nothing special that really happened to make me think to post about how much I love my Mom. But I just do. And my Dad too, in the same way. How these two people can care so much about me and give so much of themselves to help me throughout my whole life. Sacrificing for me. Understanding and forgiving anything I might do.

I feel so sad thinking about how selfish I have been in the past, not thinking about them first. Thinking of myself first and what I wanted, not considering how it might affect them, when they have always thought about how things affect me. Hopefully they know how much I love them and appreciate how amazing they have been to me and still are. I will make a point to tell them and to make sure they know.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feelings of despair?

I am such a positive person. That's how I see myself most of the time. Apart from that, I do have a bit of a bad temper, with my husband especially. Things are just so difficult probably because of the culture difference, in part, and the overall differences in the types of people we are, and I have trouble accepting a lot of things about him. But even then, my anger with him is not the main part of our relationship. These are the two main things I'd say about myself when I examine the things I outwardly do.

Inside, I am easily able to make myself feel positive, but I have a lasting feeling of dispair that I can't fully hide and put away. This feeling that we are here for nothing and that the boredom of my life is not even worth enduring. And I have what I would describe as a great life! Happy childhood, adolescence, etc. Great people surrounding me. I consider myself intelligent and well-rounded in most aspects of life. And I am happy most of the time. And yet I still feel it's not worth living it.

I'd never do anything about it because it's not like it's difficult to live this good life of mine and forget the fact that I feel it's worthless, but I still get moments every once in a while where that's what I feel. And I know that I have this feeling underneath everything all the time.
Anyone else have this? Or is believing with all your heart that there's a God give you a sense of purpose of life that takes away feelings that life is worthless and useless? I'm obviously not there yet, anyway.

Things that bug me in Arabic, as an early learner


I am trying to learn Arabic lately. It's slow because there's my husband trying to teach me and we've just had about 3 discussions about it, and I'm going on a website during my break at work which gives me a couple words each day and shows me a small gramatical thing... But anyway, I was thinking about how hard it is... And here are things that are especially hard for me right now, or that just bug me:


- how difficult it can be to make something plural! There are like what, 16 forms of plural?! I am not even thinking of learning those right now. I will just learn words one by one as I go along.

- the letter ain. I don't like to pronounce it because it's not a pretty sound at all! And I have trouble pronouncing it in over half the situations it occurs in so it's really not consistent.

- I can't roll my r's. And Arabic sounds weird and is difficult to pronounce with just the English R. And the French R, which to me is closer to the rolling one than the English one, is a letter on its own (ghain)!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dream about afterlife


I think a lot while I sleep and it falls into my dreams... The other day, it was seriously disturbing... Me and my husband were beating random people in an attempt to find out who wanted to kill me. I don't know what it means, especially because there is so much more that I can't remember, but I was at least glad that me and my husband were on the same team. That part is a good sign.

This is not the dream I wanted to post about though. This one is related to my past post on the hereafter. I was having a dream, or just sleepy thoughts, about the afterlife. I was trying to explain to my husband what I KNEW about the afterlife. In reality, I don't know anything, I just have thoughts on what I feel it could be, but in that dream, I KNEW and I was trying to put it into words. I will describe what it was as well as I can.

It was not heaven and hell in separate places. Everyone was in the same "place". The heaven and hell part of it was how the people there (or their souls, since there was nothing physical in this world) felt. People who were at the highest level of heaven had feelings of complete delight, satisfaction, ecstacy, happiness, etc. at all times. People who were in the "hell state" were tormented psychologically. Feelings of depression, dissatisfaction, desperation, etc. And there were infinite levels based on the calculation of your deeds. Everyone can be with their loved ones, wherever they end up on the heaven to hell spectrum.

I'm sure everyone who believes in heaven and hell believe that we will be judged in a completely fair way and will end up where we deserve. But it's hard to imagine that we will when there are just two options. Someone who was always a good person in all ways gets the same heaven as someone who was "borderline". And someone who was borderline on the other side, so similar to the previous borderline, gets an eternal punishment, same as the mass murderer who wrote best-seller satan worshipping books.

So that's it for now!

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