Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Moving

I have been packing and finished moving all the stuff over to the new place today. How depressing to have to unpack everything and fix up an apartment, especially with a sick baby and working full time. I'm exhausted!

I lived at the other one for 1.5 years and lived in it all ugly and unfinished for most of that time. I JUST painted and put up decorations in September and loved the colours and the way I set it all up. I really imagined I would stay there until July 2011 for all the work me and my parents put into the place painting and putting up things. I am not ready to paint a whole apartment again, especially 2 months after I finished, and a place that is at least twice as big. I'm also depressed about having to live with roomates for 6 months and sub-letting my old apartment with my brand new fridge and dining table in there. I have to live with a tiny old fridge for 6 months and imagine all the things that could happen to my stuff while I'm not there for 6 months!

I hate moving. I am seriously running out of juice today. Hopefully it all turns out for the best eventually but for 6 months, it will likely not be awesome. The situation improved (see 2 posts ago about finding someone to sub-let, allowing me to cover my costs), but I am finding only the negative lately.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

One Year of Blogging


So the official anniversary was December 15th, but I flew right past it without thinking that I have been blogging for ONE YEAR! So much has happened. In fact, the major changes in my life were the ones I spoke about on this blog, and I could even go as far as to say that they happened *because* of this blog.


So a big thank you. Please keep following. ;)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Alhamdulilah!

I have been so very stressed financially lately. My husband is starting up a business project and my income is the only thing supporting us and his project. As well, we signed a new lease to move January 1st without being out of our old apartment lease (meaning we have 2 apartments to pay each month for 6 months). AND our daughter is changing babysitters for one that was going to be 160$ a week instead of the 80$ a week we were paying.
Good news!

1) Found someone to sub-let our apartment (even though I will pay part of it myself)

and

2) Her nursery was accredited by the government and will be only 35$ a week!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who will judge me?

I hate it when I am told to watch out what others will think of me. I know what I do and what my intentions are, and I don't care what the person watching me thinks of what I do. I will be respectful of others as much as I can, but it's not the ruling part of my life, nor should it be.

An example of me taking others into consideration: I have my septum pierced and I tuck it in when I go to mosque. I don't want to create controversy or to offend anyone (nor do I want to deal with comments) even though I think it's fine that I have it and that it's none of their business what they think. This is me respecting them and not attracting attention where I don't need it.

I was going out with a friend the other day that my husband doesn't "approve" of because of the things she does (sex, partying, the way she dresses). I went shopping with her and before I left, he was trying to prevent me from going with the excuse, "What will people at the mall think of you when they see you with her? They'll think you're the same!"

AS THOUGH I CARE! I know what I am. These people have no right to judge me; NO ONE knows the true me except Allah. And I will not live my life worried about the judgement of others.

It's like people who tell others they pray 5x a day but don't (they are steps beyond in how wrong they are because of their flat-out lies) . Or people who will always pray when someone is with them but never when alone. They are just concerned about the opinion of the other but not concerned about the truth of what they do. They put the opinions of others above Allah.

They should ask themselves the question: WHO WILL JUDGE ME?

Friday, December 18, 2009

I believe

I was thinking about how I would phrase my situation. I am a Muslim. That is the biggest and most important part, but that would give them an impression of me that is not the full reality. If a person looked up Muslim, they wouldn't find a description of me anywhere. Not even if they fell on this blog (even though this blog is the truth of what I believe, it's not the full picture; there are things I don't write here).

Here is a short, but more true and complete picture of my beliefs, for anyone who is interested:

I consider myself a Muslim. I believe in God and I believe the best way to worship him is to follow Him through the guidance given to us in the Qur'an (delivered to humanity through prophet Muhammad).

I believe that the Qur'an can be interpreted a vast number of ways and that a lot of them can be right (although NEVER fully right). I believe that the Qur'an can only be interpreted correctly when a person is able to get to their state of fitrah, which is of course impossible to fully do. All we can do is try.

I believe that Muhammad was the best example of a Muslim and that we should keep his Islamic spirit alive for our own goods, but I also believe that the hadiths are not religious law and religious law is not to be made from hadiths. I believe in the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad as the best way to do things, but that it is not the only way to do things.

I believe that a Muslim is anyone submitting to God, whether they use the Qur'an as a guide or not because I believe everyone has the truth inside them. I would go so far as saying that I believe someone considering himself an atheist could possibly be a "Muslim" because of how important the inner truth we all have is. I don't think that the man-made definition of God really is God because of how much more he is than we could every imagine. A person rejecting "God" could really be embracing this unimaginable thing most of us call God. Labels are something we use but only God knows what our truth is - even when we don't know it ourselves.

Eight Things

8 Things I'm looking forward to:

- finishing work
- having a successfully potty-trained toddler
- going back to university (not for anytime soon)
- for winter to be over
- New Years Eve to see a whole bunch of family
- July 1st to be rid of my old apartment and the financial stress related to it
- becoming a foster parent
- to go shopping this weekend

8 Things I wish I could do:

- be fluent in Arabic
- be a more practicing Muslim
- have enough courage and faith to announce that I'm Muslim
- be organized!
- have more time to myself
- travel
- be stress-free
-

8 Things I love:

- My whole family
- Islam
- Goodness
- Love
- Knowledge
- Cuteness
- Generosity

8 Things I did yesterday:

- worked
- got a new coat
- played with my daughter
- made supper
- gave my daughter a bath
- did dishes
- watched The Big Bang Theory
- watched Two and a Half Men

8 Shows I watch (or watched):

- The Big Bang Theory
- Little Mosque on the Prairie
- Friends
- Frasier
- Scrubs
- How I Met Your Mother
- So You Think You Can Dance
- La Petite Vie (Quebecker)

Note: Yes, I love sitcoms!

And I tag everyone who likes to do these things :P

Monday, December 14, 2009

I feel a bit ashamed

I had my Christmas party with work on Friday and during supper, the subject of learning languages came up between me, a co-worker (also my very good friend) and another co-worker's boyfriend and I mentionned wanting to learn Arabic and how hard it was to start because of how different it is from French and English (compared to learning German or Spanish for someone like me).

So anyway, the boyfriend turns to me and says something along the lines of, "As a Muslim, is it obligatory for you to learn Arabic for the religion?". Now, you might know that I am not "out" as a Muslim yet so no one should know this information. I speak more freely and "as a Muslim" now, but I never actually say that I am. And I don't talk *that* much with this person's girlfriend (who is my co-worker). Did he just assume I was Muslim because he knows I am married to a Muslim? Or did the co-worker get Muslim vibes from me and talk to him about it? I really don't know...

The reason I am ashamed... I answered that I am "not really Muslim". He didn't seem to believe me and asked, "Didn't you convert?". I answered no. I went on to answer his question anyway by saying that Muslims should be concerned with learning Arabic because of the Holy text (Qur'an) and the use of Arabic in the prayers, but that it was to be taken at their own pace...

I am so close to just writing a message to my co-worker to explain what happened and relay the message to her boyfriend that I am Muslim but not "out" yet. And that I feel bad about lying but I am not ready for people to know. But then she would know. I don't think she's the type to go and talk about it, but still...

I feel bad about it. I don't want to lie, especially not about this. It's true that I am not ready for people to know, but I wouldn't care if this person knew. I was more concerned about my good friend (participating in the conversation) not finding out just right now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Avoiding temptation in Islam

In Islam, it's important to avoid temptation... Muslims are not supposed to be alone with a non-maharam for this reason, and they are not supposed to drink alcohol for this reason. It's a good way. I know of people who don't believe in sex before marriage but didn't mind what happens before that. So they ended up having sex before marriage. If you find it OK to be alone with your boyfriend and to make out with him on his couch every night, isn't it likely that one night you'll actually go one step beyond and actually do the thing you were not supposed to do? And with alcohol, if you find it OK to drink until just before the point of intoxication, is it not likely that at least one of the times you consume alcohol, you will become intoxicated?

That's why I have accepted that it's not OK to be alone with non-maharams, even if you don't feel you will go beyond "the limit". And I have accepted that it is not OK to consume alcohol even if you are sure you will not intoxicate yourself. It's because of the temptation.

If I go just a bit further though about alcohol, I believe it's not OK to become intoxicated. And it is not OK to approach intoxication. BUT, I don't agree that the degree of alcohol consumed is irrelevant because I think the line between not intoxicated and intoxicated makes a huge difference in how wrong the person was. If a person became intoxicated, they did exactly what is wrong. If they drank a glass of wine, they were not intoxicated, but they did not avoid temptation and not avoiding temptation becomes the sin. Not the alcohol itself.

Definitley, being alone with a man and talking is not the same sin as fornication. And this is how I see the alcohol thing too.

I was thinking of Christmas...

I was thinking... Muslims aren't really supposed to celebrate Christmas since it's not a Muslim holiday. I understand that. But of course we know that there are Muslims who have Christian families that celebrate Christmas and it is hard to wipe that part of your life out.

I feel that it's OK for a person to celebrate Christmas if it means nothing unislamic to them (and if they don't do anything unislamic during the celebration too, of course)... But a Muslim going to a Christmas party does need to be careful that they know exactly what they are doing and why. And they should have a good reason to do it because I feel that if there are negative consequences from that celebration (like the person's children growing up confused and feeling far from Islam or influencing an uncertain Muslim to celebrate it in a confused unislamic way), the person will be held responsable for the damages caused.

The Muslim in this position needs to be careful about the celebration. A new convert to Islam might feel the need to go spend Christmas with the family because it is a tradition for them to eat together and exchange gifts and it might be worth going to because of how important family is and not wanting to break those important ties. I think the good outweighs the bad in such a situation.

A convert to Islam who simply loves Christmas might want to go all out with a Christmas tree in their home, the decorations, the music they listened to when they were young, the party, etc. As much as I understand how hard it is to give up these things, I don't think anyone could argue that it is not the best decision. So I definitely understand wanting to celebrate like they used to, and I wouldn't have any passionate feelings against them doing it to be honest (because of how much I understand, I guess), but we have to admit that it is not the right way to bring a Christian tradition into a Muslim household.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sex-ed for Muslims

There was a recent post on Tuttie's blog 'Taking Over the World' on the topic of Muslim girls not being taught what they need to know about sex and reproduction and all these things. Girls not knowing what menstruation is until they get it or not knowing how a wedding night is supposed to go until they're doing the act with their new husbands (talk about traumatizing!!).

I feel that sex-ed is necessary... I wish it wasn't necessary to have it in schools, but it just is because not all parents inform their kids about these things. So I support sex-ed. My child is much better off with the sex-ed classes they give here than nothing at all. OF COURSE the best is to learn everything from their (Muslim) parents but as explained, that just doesn't always happen.

I have a 2 and a half year old daughter and I plan on teaching her little by little the way things work in life. I don't want her to think a woman gets pregnant from kissing and I don't want her to think a woman gives birth from her bellybutton. I want her to know about menstruation and why women have it. I want her to feel proud of becoming a woman, and being a woman. As Muslims, it's especially important because of all the responsabilities that come with being a woman. I talked to my husband and we agreed that when she becomes a woman, we will celebrate it (a dinner out, a gift) and that she will get an extra privilege to mark this new stage in her life.

I also want her to know about sex. This is the part that I would rather she not learn about in school, just because of the general way it's taught. It's right for them to teach it the way they do because of how the majority of students are raised and the society we're in. I mean, it's necessary for them to learn about sexually transmitted diseases and contraception and all that in a lot of detail and to enforce condoms because of the fact that they have sex young and with many partners. I want my daughter to know these things, but I don't want her to think it's OK to have sex with everyone and at any age, which is almost implied in these courses. At least here in Quebec, there is no emphasis on abstinence in public school. So sex-ed in school is definitely not the whole picture, but it can help a lot of parents with getting the children the basics, and they can fill in the blanks (relating sex with marriage, all that stuff) if they are the uncomfortable type.

So please, parents, if you are not comfortable talking about sex, let your kids take sex-ed!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Does not understand! *frustration*

I imagine I'm not the only one with this problem... I learned about Islam mostly from the internet. In the things I read, the Islamic words are written out in "English" (a transliteration) and normally not re-written in Arabic beside it. So I learned about all sorts of terms this way; by seeing it written in a bad transliteration and never hearing the word. So when I try to talk to my husband about things, I pronounce them how I see the words written out online.

AND HE CAN NEVER UNDERSTAND! I tell him to use his imagination to imagine how it might be pronounced in Arabic because of course I cannot know just by seeing the word the way I see it. And there are some letters I simply can't pronounce well at all even if I knew it!

So for example, ربا becomes riba, نكاح becomes nikah, وليمة‎ becomes walima, and all that stuff. So nikah, that I just pronounce like nicka after seeing it, really has a HAH at the end! I tried to have a conversation with my husband about the nikah, he had no idea what I was talking about. I said it was something like the marriage contract -- HE WAS STILL CLUELESS! Then I asked about the walima, which I pronounced wall-imma. He had no clue. Then I saw online that it was spelled with a YEH. So it's actually more like wa-leem-ah...

How frustrating is it that I can't seem to ever pronouce something right?!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Obeying the laws of the country you're in

As Muslims, we should obey the laws of where we live, even if it's not a Muslim country.


At work during lunch, we were eating together watching the news and it came up that a little girl was not allowed to sing a Christmas song at school. I don't know the specifics (was she not allowed to just sing in the yard outside, in class, at a school show, etc.) but of course, in talking about it, it was all blamed on reasonable accomodation of immigrants, a big topic here. See a really old post (one of my first!) about it here. But the reason she was not allowed to sing this Christmas song had nothing to do with an immigrant complaining and trying to prevent her from singing. In fact, I think most immigrants accept that we are in Canada and that we celebrate Christmas. As a secular society, we try to make things as correct as possible, and I think that's why they cut Christmas out of schools. I think it's stupid to prevent her from singing when I'm sure it would have bothered no one. And I think we should be encouraging religious diversity instead of squashing all religions including the majority religion. Doesn't make things any easier for religious minorities who are blamed when it only has to do with us wanting to be secular. It's like bouncing in their face.... You want to be secular - you got it! But you have to stop being religious in schools too! - not just "them".

Anyway, during this discussion, it somehow came up that Muslims are trying to get their own tribunals to rule according to the Sharia here in Canada. She took it as Muslims wanting to go against our laws and I was saying that it is not Islamic to go against the laws of the country. On the contrary, they have to respect the laws. BUT it is nothing against the law to try to get extra rights. If you can legally get those, then where is the blame? Wouldn't anyone try to get extra rights if they could? If it's not accepted, then they have to accept that, and if it is accepted, then it's not the person's fault for asking... If it's unreasonable, it's the fault of the person who accepted! (and Quebeckers accepting unreasonable demands has been the problem making immigrants look demanding and unreasonable when they just asked and received)

The person just laughed when I said that in Islam you have to respect the laws of the country you're in. It was kind of insulting.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Obeying your husband

I thought of writing a post about this quite a long while ago, but I realized my ideas were so unclear and I was writing out what I felt and trying to make it about Islam. I was trying to make my personal position my Islamic position, and it wasn't working. I think I have worked things out a little since then so I will write a post.

The verse is, from the Shakir translation:

4:34: Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

(I won't get into a discussion about beating your wife right now even though it's part of this verse!)

The way I understand this verse is that because men have the responsibility of taking care of women financially, they have the right to take care of them personally... Meaning that he has the right to ask her not to go out with friends on a certain day if he wants her home, for example, and she should "obey" and stay home with him if that's what he wants. I think that this is a right that the man EARNS by first being responsible and taking care of his wife and family financially as well as he can. I think obedience of a woman is conditional on the man being financially responsible for the family.

I think it gets more complicated when the woman and the man both contribute equally to the finances. The way I see it, the wife ALWAYS has the right to not work and be supported by her husband as a stay at home wife. In a lot of cases, the woman CHOOSES to work to help her family have an easier and more comfortable life and in this case, the husband has the responsibility to pay for all the basic needs of the family, and the wife is the one who is choosing to have her income added to live a better life. If there is any money that can be saved, it is the woman's money and it is her own. BUT, she remains the one responsible for the household and so, may have to work more than the man (because of all the chores) or can use her money to hire help. In this shared-responsibility situation, the woman holds a lot of power since she is the one helping her family have more, and she will (from my understanding) get good reward for that (if Allah wills this) and she retains rights to use all of her money as she wants, BUT she keeps all of her household responsibilities (which is a lot of work for her) and still has to obey her husband.

It gets very complicated in a situation where the man is not getting any income and the woman is financially responsible for everything. She will (again, to my understanding... if Allah wills it) receive much reward for taking over the man's responsibilities. The man is hopefully doing all he can to find any type of work, in which case he is not to blame, and he should definitely try to help as much as he can... But does it become HIS responsibility to take care of the household in such a situation? And does the woman still have to obey her husband if she is the one who is in the man's role? I feel that no, the roles do not become reversed and she is still responsible for the household. And I feel that no, she does not need to obey her husband. Because as I was explaining, I think that the obedience is conditional to being taken care of. Of course, for a better household, she should respect him and try to please him. And for a better household, he should do the housework for her since she is doing some for him. That is only fair. If he doesn't, then she is simply getting more reward for all she does. And if she doesn't take into consideration her husband's wishes, she is not to blame, but he may get rewards for his patience.

If the man is not even trying to look for a job though, he is at fault, unless it is agreed upon by both partners that the woman will work and the man will take care of the household and children. In this strange situation, I would consider the roles reversed and I would go as far as to say that the man will need to obey his wife.

I kind of hate the word OBEY... I don't mean like a dog should obey his master. But yes, it would mean to do what he wants instead of what you want (as long as it's not against Islam). It's part of the "giving" in a relationship... Can't always be taking... I think Islam shows that well... This is really a system of respect between the partners that grows within these limits...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hadiths...

I visit free-minds.org every once in a while. They are a group that believes that the Qur'an alone should guide our lives with no other sources. In a way, I agree with this, but I definitely disagree with their approach overall. They read the Qur'an pretending hadiths don't exist, so their interpretation can be VERY different than what other Muslims believe about what the Qur'an says. For example, some of them don't believe that salat is a ritual prayer! It's true that by reading the Qur'an, salat is mentionned a whole lot and it doesn't directly say that it's a ritual prayer - you get that information from hadiths. And I don't trust hadiths 100% for sure and I refuse to take as God's law something that comes from hadiths only and not Qur'an but, seriously!! Could ALL the hadiths have made this error in reporting salat as a ritual prayer??! I seriously think NOT!

For me, hadiths are history... The Sahih and Bukhari hadith collections are not divinely preserved by God, so like any history book, there are flaws and it can be a biased point of view. There was a lot of effort made to keep every word of the prophet in memory and eventually recorded, but it is not perfectly preserved for sure, and as well, I'm sure it's biased (in the direction of the male elite, for example).

I just wanted to write this out to say how ridiculous I feel it is to totally disregard hadiths! I think they are made to be used to explain the Qur'an better... I don't agree with the idea that any hadith that doesn't contradict the Qur'an is authentic, but I think that anything that doesn't contradict the Qur'an is halal. Meaning, if someone attributes a hadith to the prophet that says that it is obligatory for a Muslim to twirl three times and clap three times before going to sleep, it surely doesn't go against the Qur'an to do that, but it doesn't make it authentic either; it doesn't make it something that is OBLIGATORY. This is what I don't like about hadiths. So many rules are made from it alone and accepted because they don't contradict the Qur'an.

So this is my position on the hadiths... A "middle position" since do not want to disregard them, but I also don't want to use them as law.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I want to pray

I want to get closer to Allah and be a better Muslim. I really do! I have some things I need to work out to have stronger faith and it's not happening very easily for me. A former atheist, I now have belief in God at least (alhamdulilah), but it's a way of seeing things that just evolves and doesn't change like lights operated by a light switch. It's more of a dimmer situation (except that hopefully the light is getting brighter in my situation)!

I enjoy praying salat. It's such a great ritual that really makes me feel more connected to Allah, and that only enriches my life; I know it. But I am not very good at keeping it... I guess it has a lot to do with laziness, which I need to get rid of really badly. But anyway, I have ups where I pray better and downs where I don't pray at all, and I'm finding it frustrating to always start having ups right before I get my menses, which of course makes me have to stop. And it's hard to start up again.

Women, do you have this experience too?

I guess making a habit of dua during this "period" (lol) would be a good idea to keep spirituality up. And reading Qur'an... I think I need a more structured and strict plan. Any ideas? What do you do?

Excited but really stressed

OK, so it seems we signed for the new apartment. And we still have responsability for the old apartment for 6 months. I can't pay for 2 rents for sure, but so far I worked out a roommate situation (in the new apartment) that pays for half of my old rent. And now I'm trying to rent the old one for part of the price to at least cover the costs of that place. I'm lucky that for those 6 months, I will have fridge, stove, washer and dryer at the new place that are the roommates, so that I can leave mine and make this 6 month arrangement more interesting for someone looking for a place to live temporarily. I have one person interested already. A student starting a semester in the area.

I am so stressed though, I have not slept well in 3 days thinking of this situation. And thinking of all the work I put into this current apartment to make it look decent just a couple months ago. I've been there for a year and a half and it just started to look nice a couple months ago!

Oh well! The idea of having the new apartment as mine is really exciting :)

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