Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ayah of the Week - 2

"Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clearly from error; whoever rejects evil and has faith in God has grasped the most trustworthy, unfailing handhold. And God hears and knows all things. God is the Protector of those who have faith: from the depths of darkness He will lead them forth into light." (Qur'an, 2:256-257)



What do you get from this?

When I read this, I feel God's confidence (if that makes sense). He is not begging us into Islam. He is telling us what is what and letting us do what we want to do. I feel like it's less about humans not forcing other humans into a religion (although certainly, it is about this too) but more than that, it is about free will.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Identity as a Muslim P.2

I might end up deleting the previous post... Thanks for the comments though. Don't want to cause anything at home by having written it... And I was really all messed up this weekend and yesterday, but I think I have made some conclusisons.

In the end, it's not right for me to feel like this and no woman should be taken advantage of and feel it's her Islamic duty to just "take it". We have rights and have to enforce them. Of course, I made a lot of mistakes and could have used a lot more patience in my hard times, for example, but there are things I was starting to be made to believe were my duty as a wife that I wasn't doing that simply are not. Effort is, and I made some, but obedience in all aspects is not my duty.

Women must have dignity and self-respect and for me to feel like I lose all that in becoming what "scholars" think is the ideal Muslimah is just not right!

Monday, July 26, 2010

4 AM coffee

Over the past 2 years of working in an office, I have really gotten addicted to coffee. It's worse than it has ever been right now! I used to take half a cup in the morning for over a year, but when it became very busy and exhausting at work, as well as home, I took up the habit of drinking a full cup in the morning and a full cup in the afternoon! It feels like I can't function 100% without my morning coffee! I am OK without the afternoon one though at this point and am making a point to keep these afternoon coffees to the minimum to prepare for Ramadan.

A cup of coffee lasts in the system and I was thinking of having a cup of coffee with my suhoor when I work that morning. Somehow doesn't sound like a very good idea though, does it? Destined for a crash if I go about it that way!

Who here has 4AM coffee during Ramadan? How did that work out?

My Identity as a Muslim

I had a lot of drama going on this weekend and it left me in an identity crisis.


Can I really be both Muslim and who I was before? I have been Muslim for 1 year now (anniversary of my shahada was actually this weekend, go figure!) and I felt I'd made some changes in myself as I learned more about Islam and that I had improved myself, but that I was still ME! My parents never got this "Where's my daughter?" feeling from my conversion because I was still the same girl, only gradually being more modest in clothing and a few little things they noticed but that didn't change me.

I pretty much only have one Muslim friend that I see in real life, and she is one of the most patient women I know with lots of experience with marriage problems. She really does her best to follow Islam.

A situation that came up was that I disobey my husband. My position on that was that the reason a man has a certain right over his wife is because he is 100% financially responsible (as stated in the Qur'an). So the conclusion was that I had no obligation to obey him since I am the one who financially supports him. As far as how much rights he has over me when he does become the financial supporter, I just wasn't there yet.

But my friend's response was that no, it didn't change anything that he didn't support me financially and that he was still my husband and I had to obey him. That in the end, I would be rewarded for everything I did that was more than my responsibility and he would get what he deserves as well and that we had rights to divorce our husbands if they didn't fulfill their requirements and that if I did everything the right way, at least no sin would be on me. I had to admit that it's quite convincing to view it this way because, as she said, it means that there's no sin on me. But is the part about it still being obligatory to obey my husband right? I'm very much struggling with this because even if he fulfilled his reponsability of providing financially, how much do husbands really have over their wives?!

The way I have been feeling this weekend is a bit like an abused wife. Stuck, but in the honeymoon phase after the breakdown. The thing that made me feel this way (a bit iffy, as opposed to *really* being in the honeymoon phase where you feel great) is that my husband has set up some rules about my daughter never seeing my best friend, and not seeing my parents for 1 week. To obey him would be to accept this, but I'd feel so ashamed to admit to anyone that I am allowing my husband to keep my daughter away from her grand-parents. If it was the right thing to just obey him (shut up and let it happen), would I really feel this badly?

It has made me feel like if I want to accept being Muslim fully, I'll lose who I am and lose my self-respect!

I know I am just going nuts. As I wrote, I'm having a bit of an identity crisis. I know very well this must be some middle-ground to this... I had talked and thought about the issue of obeying our husbands, but it seemed like it didn't apply to be that much, and that if it did, my husband let's me do what I want normally anyway so it was not an issue.

He actually has calmed down and decided my parents can see our daughter today which is good and makes me feel like I can put off this awful feeling... I decided I'd bring it back up to myself during Ramadan when I am at a better place spiritually (insha'Allah).

Sorry for the unorganized post.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Small personal Facebook project

Inspired by my Ayah of the Week segment, I have started posting verses (or part of verses) of the Qur'an on my Facebook status daily. It is for 2 reasons:

1) To continue my gradual approach in "coming out" as a Muslim. It will be less and less of a surprise when I finally tell my family that I am Muslim.

2) To give non-Muslims on my list a positive view of Islam. I am writing parts of verses with their surah and verse numbers, without writing specifically that it's from the Qur'an and avoiding verses that talk too much about God since the people I'm trying to touch don't really believe in God. I'm finding verses that just give a small dose of positiveness that you can find in the Qur'an.

Insha'Allah, this works as a form of dawah. :)


PS: DOES ANYONE KNOW WHY I CAN NO LONGER PASTE THINGS WHEN I AM COMPOSING A POST?

Best time to have children

Of course there are things that are necessary like being married/ being in a serious relationship and *wanting* to have children. All this will be nothing else than my point of view and pretty much what is suited to a person like me. Not all that interesting for others because different people are different but I felt like posting anyway!

After my experience of having a child kind of young at 20 years old, I can't imagine not having children until later in life like 30-40 years old. It just seems so late in life! I know that for a lot of people, it has to do with career and lengthy studies... I could definitely not imagine being a student full-time working on my Masters or a Ph.D.

My conclusion is that for a person wishing to go further in her studies, a good time to have a child would be during her bachelor's degree studies, taking a semester or two off to have the child and going back, rather than waiting until the end of graduate or post-graduate studies. After my experience, I feel that it's just so long to wait if you have a person you wish to have children with. If a person is mature and responsible enough, it just seems like the perfect way! And what a joy to be able to be a young grand-parent as well! And to have more time to live your own life after your children are grown, rather than living it earlier and having kids in the house until 60 years of age. I feel sad that my grand-parents died before I really had a chance to appreciate them.

Obviously, this is ME and not for everyone. I believe in an individual making the best decisions for her (and a couple for the both of them)!

It feels like Islamically, for a woman to delay having children until 30 years of age for a career is not 100% right. Even if a woman has every right to work and there is no prohibition on it, it is not her purpose as it is a man's and being on birth control for, let's say, over 10 years for a career when it is not her responsibility as a woman to even be the one working might be pushing the limits on the permissibility of birth control in Islam. But I shouldn't talk so I will stop right here. I have a lot of respect for working women and career women in general so it's a bit of a conflict in me to say this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Down

Last year my daughter got very ill and was hospitalized. They didn't know what was wrong for a bit but she was eventually diagnosed with systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which is arthritis that affects joints all over the body in a child. The child can also have high persisting fevers and rashes that come and go, which Nora did.

She was put on naprosyn and methotrexate last August and everything went well with this medication. She didn't have any signs of arthritis and the doctor seemed optimistic about her condition because of how well she responded to the medication. She got off naprosyn about 6 months ago and was still doing great with only methotrexate. We even believed that she might never have to deal with arthritis and that it could be a one-time thing. The doctor cut the methotrexate dose in half after 1 year of being on it but about a month with the reduced dosage, she started having the symptoms again :(

The doctor told me over the phone to go back to the full methotrexate dose for another 3 months and made her get a blood test.

Today the nurse called and the blood test shows very high inflammation so she told me it was definitely a relapse. That she was probably in a lot of pain from it so we are putting her back on her full medication with naprosyn and methotrexate for at least 3 months. Things were really getting better with her being taken off the medication, but here we are again. And the hope that she would never have to deal with this again is totally gone.

Monday, July 19, 2010

*Woman's post* Controlling when you get your P

I was thinking about Ramadan and how glad I am that I will be on vacation for the first 2 weeks of it. It's very hard for me to fast with work because of a couple reasons.
1) People not knowing I'm Muslim and that I'm fasting (and having no respect for it)
2) Not feeling well when I'm hungry or thirsty (dizziness and all that)
3) Feeling tired when I interrupt my sleep. (This is obviously the smallest of my problems though)

So I'm glad I will have the 12 first days of Ramadan when I'm not working to help me adjust to fasting and hopefully make it easier on me when I go back to work than it would have been to start at work.

I started thinking about my period though, and having to interrupt my fast when I get it. How much it would suck if I had to get it during those 2 weeks and then have to make up my fast during work days! It's not a big problem because I am on birth control that I often take without stopping, which makes me not have my period, and I definitely plan on not being in my period during those 12 days...

But the question is: How OK is it to have an "artificial" period?! If I stop the birth control, I start bleeding within 1 day, which makes me have the power to give myself my period when I get sick of fasting. Not something I want to do, but it might become tempting, I don't know! I'd make up the days, but I'd be giving myself more power than I should have since I can choose those days...

What do you think?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The mentality of some people!

I signed up for a stroller walk and the goal is to raise money for a certain charity that helps support children with caner and their families. I asked for donations at work and almost everyone gave a little something which made me quite happy.

This afternoon I was realizing how close it is to my husband's birthday and how little I actually want to deal with getting him a gift. I decided that I'd give a donation to a charity I know he likes and that happens to be a hospital for children with cancer in Cairo and I mentionned this to my co-worker. MISTAKE.

She says, "We have children here!" In trying to not get into anything, I answer, "They have some too - even more than us!" And she continues, "You're not from there, you're from Quebec. They need to take care of themselves!" and I was just without a response... There is nothing to convince people like her that children are children everywhere. People are people no matter where they're from! I've had these types of ridiculous conversations with her before and got NOWHERE so I just stopped talking.

What makes it even more ridiculous is that I'm donating and trying to get donations for a very similar charity here in Quebec! So yes, I also care for here (if it's even any of her business!) And that my donation to Egypt will be a GIFT to someone who is EGYPTIAN. So who am I to pick what he cares about? Of course he cares for his home country and its people.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ayah of the Week - 1

Slight change of plan for my Ayah of the Week segment. I will post an Ayah and then ask the question, "What do you get from this?" and put my answer. And then it will be your turn, dear readers to add what YOU get from it. Just a way to force everyone to take a second to think about what Allah is teaching us.

Note: I understand that I am posting a translation, which is an interpretation of the meaning of the Qur'an so I welcome any comment about a distinction I might not seem to understand.


"The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things)" (Qur'an, 102:1)


What do you get from this?

It reminds me of what my priorities should be. It's not about this world but the next, and competition and greed are nothing but distractions from worshiping Allah.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Muslim Name

I do not wish to take up another name, really. I am Candice and that's important to me, but when I was talking with my husband about our possible vacation in Egypt in summer 2011, he told me his mom wanted us to come so badly, and that she wanted to bring me to Saudi Arabia for Umrah! I'm really excited about that possibility! Insha'Allah it will all work out because that would just be amazing!

I know they don't allow non-Muslims into Mekkah and Medina so I'd need to prove that I am Muslim. I know there are big mosques with imams that can testify and write something up. Not sure exactly how it works or anything, but I know that will be an important part to make sure I'm able to go. It got me thinking that giving myself a Muslim middle name would be a good way to "make it official" as well.


I'd been against the idea of changing anything in my name from the beginning and wrote a post about it a while back about what a "Muslim name" is. I feel the same way as I did then, but what has changed is that I think that maybe it *would* be nice for me to find a name that has significance to me in my new life as a Muslim.

I feel I will need to read more about Islamic history and find a person who I really appreciate and go with that because I need it to be a name that inspires me. But at the same time, I want the sound of the name to be *me* and a name ending in -a just isn't me. And there aren't a lot of names not ending in -a that sound like me!

Any ideas?

I have only Zainab so far!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Thought...

I have mentionned my best friend a couple times. She's one of the people I feel needs Islam most among non-Muslims I know... I haven't come out to her yet, but she will probably be the first one to know that I am Muslim and I hope it could help her...

In the meantime, I do talk about Islam and put it in a positive light for her. She is very anti-religion after being forced into religion by her mother who is a Jehova's Witness. Anyway.

We were walking the other night and I was talking about being thankful for what we have in this world and how much more we have than so many. I talk about this type of thing regularly enough, but I think I finally found a way that made her actually feel how lucky and blessed we are. I was saying that the fact that we can be so pre-occupied with things like a guy we like not liking us back, spending hours and hours just analysing the text message he sent us trying to figure out if there's any underlying meaning, going over conversations time after time, agonizing over this, shows that we have SO MUCH. Basically that we can at least find something to be thankful about in not having the life threatening issues a lot of people have in other countries like poverty. I showed her how people are still living in Haiti even after this time has passed and how slowly the situation is really improving (that's what was in the newspaper that day) and I think it put some stuff in perspective a little bit.

Friday, July 9, 2010

When I say, "Be a man!"

Occaisionally, this expression comes out of my mouth. When I tell him to "be a man", I don't mean that he is acting like a woman, I mean that he is not fulfilling his duty as a man. For me, the opposite of a "man" is not a woman, it's a person who has a penis but is not fulfilling the duties and responsabilities given to his gender.

I don't like this expression at all because of how sexist it sounds and can be.

It shouldn't be used to tell a man to be something that a woman should be as well... Seeing as gender roles are not clear at all in non-Muslim life, it always comes off as sexist to me. In Islam, gender roles are a bit clearer, so I don't feel it is sexist to tell a man to "be a man" and go out to get himself a job to help support a family. It's explicit in Islam that this is a man's role. It's not that a woman *cannot*do it, but it is not her natural role.

What do you think?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Is there such a thing as "spirited debate" in Islam?

I enjoy engaging in a debate once in a while or watching/reading one. But when it comes to Islam, I'm starting to feel it's impossible... Maybe it's my personal experiences only but I feel that Muslims have very little respect for people who chose to follow or believe differently than they and that causes them to not even try to understand the "opposing" idea, thus debating nothing at all since they're not addressing what has been brought up!

I know the real answer to my question must be that yes, it's possible theoretically... But how many Muslims with debating skills do you really know? Is it the education that is lacking in Muslims generally? Is the Islam some Muslims believe in simply incompatible with debate because of how closed to interpretation it is? But even if it's that closed, why can't they defend this position of it being closed at the very least?

I hope that I get comments from people who can say that yes, it's just because of the Muslims I have met personally who don't represent the majority... Or comments from people of other religions who say it's the same there! It always upsets me to imagine that Islam has more closed-minded adherants than other religions/sects because Islam is so open to me!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ayah of the Week

I want to start a new segment on my blog called Ayah of the week.


Note:
1) It might not be a single ayah but a small group of ayat.
2) It might not be every week, but that will still be the name of it!

My goal will be to find an ayah that I find interesting and worth mentioning, post it, and in a short paragraph, summarize the meaning. This is not supposed to be a segment that is at all controversial because I want it to be a positive experience for me as well as the strong majority of my readers. So far I plan on reading the tafsir (that I will summarize) on http://www.tafsir.com.

Does this sound like a good place to read from and get explanations from?

It's not about what I want

... it's about what is right.

As a Muslim who does not follow orthodox or traditional Islam, I'm sometimes accused of simply wanting to fetch out an interpretation that suits what I want, regardless of if it's right or wrong. It's insulting to be told that, especially when it's clear the person knows nothing about me and what I believe and why. And the worst part, has not made any effort to know. I write my blog pretty carefully, wanting to not misrepresent myself. I re-read my posts most of the time to make sure it comes off the way I want it.

I guess there will always be people who have trouble understanding and I shouldn't let that frustrate me...

But to be clear, I investigate because I don't believe in following blindly and I make efforts to push everything aside that I have been taught when trying to figure out what is right. I don't want to arrive on a conclusion based on my wants or on things I have been conditioned to believe in. And I never claim to be right. Obviously, I believe I am or I wouldn't believe it, but I know I could easily be wrong and I am always ready to change my mind.

Do my posts come off differently than what I am writing now?

Riba - Usury

As some of you might know who follow my blog, I like to learn about the "alternative" interpretations in Islam.

I want to quickly go over what different interpretations I found on riba.

1) That riba actually means "excessive interest" and not just interest. (interpretation of http://www.submission.org/)

I don't get this impression myself and dismissed this, personally. But I suppose a person wanting to get a relatively reasonable loan might try to find a way by attributing this meaning. And to their credit, I don't feel the word riba is very well defined in Qur'an or hadiths.

2) Looking at verses 2:274 to 2: 280, we see that it deals a lot with charity. Read it for yourselves to know what this interpretation is talking about. Basically, this interpretation is that Allah is talking about interest on a loan given to a person in need of charity... Basically that if they need to borrow money, we are not to charge them interest and that the prohibition is for such cases, and not for commercial or business. That it would be OK to charge interest on a business loan for a person to improve his business, for example.

I feel that 100%, a loan to a person in need should not have interest and that the verse is clear on that. Not that you can charge some interest, but that there is NO interest to be charged. I can understand this interpretation because everything surrounding the part about riba is about charity. One of the clearest verses prohibitting riba says,
"Those who swallow usury cannot rise up save as he ariseth whom the devil hath prostrated by (his) touch. That is because they say: Trade is just like usury; whereas Allah permitteth trading and forbiddeth usury." (2:275)
Even by reading the surrounding verses (which is a good idea when trying to get an idea of the true meaning of an isolated verse), this verse is very clear about usury. And I feel it applies to ALL usury.

3) Of course, the most accepted opinion is that usury is interest and it is flat-out prohibited in any case.

My note on this is that I agree, but that it also seems like it should include charging fees for a person being late on a payment... See this verse:
"If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time Till it is easy for him to repay." (2: 280)

And the more I think about it, the more these Islamic ways of buying a house are so very similar to interest, but are more like fees that are included and cannot be raised... At least it's not "compounded over and over", which is something detested by Allah. (see 3:130) I will need to write a post on that and clarify my thoughts as I do because I don't know.

What are your thoughts on riba and on these interpretations?

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