Friday, December 27, 2013

Religion VS Culture - WHO AM I

Wow, this blog is full of drafts. I have one draft saved for practically every post I've put out in the last year or two... I never seem to get to the end of my ideas.


I've been struggling with this whole "religion vs culture" thing for a while... Trying to figure out who I am... It's an identity issue. I have beliefs that correspond to Islam and go against the typical beliefs of my culture and I have beliefs that correspond to the typical ones in my culture and contradict Islam (or most interpretations). So what am I?

At first I thought there was a way to have both in perfect harmony... I'd be a Muslim, a more "progressive" and spiritually-focused type with more open beliefs than most, like traditional Saudi-type views, but that wouldn't take away from the fact that I am Muslim. It also wouldn't take away from who I am as a Quebecker and Canadian, the cultural me. I wouldn't give up my language, dressing style, manners, holidays celebrated, etc.

With time I began to believe that NO, it was not possible to have harmony between the Muslim me and the Quebecker me, not with the beliefs that I held. I don't see myself as being more united to other Muslims than I do with people of any other religion or even atheists... I see myself united with people of all faiths or non-faiths, united by the good values we have in common as humans. I don't see myself as having anything more in common with Muslims than any other group of people including my non-Muslim friends and family.

Why would I separate myself from everything I know by slapping the label "Muslim" on myself when it doesn't represent me all that much anyway!? At the same time, if something like a label of "Muslim" makes people around me leave me or see me differently, makes the unable to see what I actually am rather than what they imagine I am because of this label, are they really worth it?

Where do I belong when I disagree with so much of what Muslims believe and so much of what Quebeckers believe? Racist, xenophobic Quebeckers don't represent me and intolerant, homophobic, judgemental Muslims don't either...

I believe in God and the Qur'an as being divinely inspired through prophet Muhammad and that there's wisdom therein for us to learn from and better ourselves from and one might say that makes me a Muslim... But I am so against the way "organized" Islam is right now, with the (man) scholars dictating what people should belief, twisting any hadith or verse in the Qur'an to support anti-women beliefs and practices. I'm also so done with my fellow Quebeckers hating everything that is different! Different language, culture, religion, skin colour, it's all bad. A lot of them are perfectly OK with immigrants who have an accent but who otherwise have adopted our way of life, as long as they're not on welfare and are easy to understand  when they speak but honestly there's vast lack of respect and acceptance for immigrants that fall outside that category. Like they'd have been better off in their own counties.

I just feel completely disconnected from it all right now. I guess I'm Muslim but I don't want people to think I am. I know I'm Quebecker because I just can't deny where I was born and how I was raised, but I do NOT support what our government is doing on a lot of levels and I feel lately that I have a lot less in common with the population than I thought I did.

Where does that leave me? My top label so far is agnostic theist. I think it represents my beliefs well... I believe in God but I know that this is not knowledge, but only belief. That the truth of whether or not there's a God is unknown, but that I personally believe there is. It's a hard thing to understand for Muslim, and even for most people who associate "agnostic" with "not concerned with whether or not there's a God". But it's who I feel I am for now. I feel the need to specify that I can't KNOW because it makes it clear (to me) that I accept any other person's beliefs as valid and possibly real. I might not agree, but I respect it out of principle. Any belief that comes from goodness is, to me, based out of truth even if not completely correct. I have something in common with EVERY person who beliefs in ANY good thing. That's mostly who I am.







Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fuck Normality

What does this slogan mean to you?

To me it means that we don't have to be just like everyone else.
That we should feel free to do things that are considered different.
To dress in a way that is different.
We should focus on being who we are, instead of what's expected of us.
We should not put importance on what "they" will think, but zone in on what we really are beneath all the pressure.
The vulgarity of the message reinforces the negative aspect of conforming to what is "normal".


Notice that I speak in "shoulds". I'm at the stage where I realize the impact that my desire to fit into society has on who I've become or who I appear to be. I'm not 100% pure "me" and I never will be, but I know I can make some small steps towards her.

Who are you, and who would you be without the pressure of society?



Quebec Charter of Values (Anti-Muslim Charter basically)

I'm completely appalled, even nauseated at my government and this "Charter of Values" that they are proposing. The idea behind the charter (the real one is to target Muslims, but I'll try to give you the one they present) is to secularize the state, make sure there's equality between men and women and to structure religious accommodation. All in the name of harmony! A few things from this charter:


  • Limiting religious signs for all state employees including healthcare, education (from subsidized daycare to university)
    • Crucifix, hijab, turban, yamaka, kirpan all banned there
    • Little cross chain is OK
    • Ring with star of David or crescent moon is OK
  • Must have face uncovered to receive state services (I partly agree with this for identification purposes, but once that's done, she should be able to re-cover.)
  • Cross stays at the National Assembly as part of our heritage, same as celebrating Christmas. 

I feel nauseated thinking about it because of how many friends and members of my family actually support it and share such xenophobic things on Facebook and say such things... They probably hate Muslims and other minorities more than ever. The more we talk about it, the more hostile it gets. Wanting to take measures against multi-culturalism, wanting more extreme laws against the English language, wanting to send back any Muslim who doesn't agree with the charter back, as though they all come from somewhere else. 

I'm disappointed that I know and love so many ignorant people! They cannot hear reason, their way of life and language are more important to them them and they are scared of losing it to the point of oppressing others. All the while they talk about how backwards countries in the Middle East are by putting their beliefs on the whole population or how backwards the USA is now allowing gays to marry in many states when it doesn't affect the lives of the other heterosexuals there. Pure hypocrisy. These people are the same as anyone else in any country who blindly believes whatever it is that they government and media tell them, spitting back the same arguments they hear. 


I generally dislike organized religion and I don't believe in it, but I do support people's rights to believe and practice. I believe that different people have different needs and that includes religious or spiritual needs which are met by the variety of religious that exist, and they should be able to practice their beliefs, whether religious or not.

God, I hate people. Takes a lot of energy out of me to see my friends and family for their other qualities, trying not to lose to much respect for them when they say things... I'd have few conversations in a day if I let these things get to me, from work to home (husband is the opposite kind of hypocrite).



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Not into it AT ALL

It's a bit sucky that I feel that way, but it is what it is. I have no motivation whatsoever to fast. I'm not good with fasting but this year, unlike others, I started with literally no intention to even try. I can't say I feel bad other than just wishing I wanted to participate like other Muslims and wanting to belong to the community a little more. But in the end, I don't want to fast and I just don't belong in any real way.

My husband and his mom are fasting at home and I just eat with the kids and take care of them. I keep a bit of appetite to be with them but there's big fat zero festive atmosphere. It's less than any year. I think my husband's mom might have been helpful for that but it hasn't. I imagine that her first Ramadan away from Egypt doesn't leave her feeling festive. She made a lot of traditional desserts the first week but I don't really like them and neither do the kids so it's like the month started with a downer.

She has been going to teraweeh every night and my daughter goes to jumah every week with her. At least that's good.

How is everyone else doing? Hope all is well :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

What do I look like?|

Why are co-workers always asking me if I saw such and such article or show, or asking me to check it out when it has to do with Muslim culture?!

I didn't watch the show about the Taliban and the attrocities they've committed. I haven't seen the arciel about the little girl who was forced to get married to a horrible man who abused her. And I don't want to more than the person next to me.

They don't even know I'm Muslim, only that I'm married to one. Should I show her every article about children in Africa dying of malnutrition or AIDS just because she dated a black man last year?!

They're so fuckin' annoying. This happened twice today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Modesty

I've always seen modesty as culturally determined and even though I loved the idea of hijab, I could never convince myself that it was obligatory or that I was doing something wrong by going out showing my hair and parts of my arms (which is how I've dressed for the past 7 years).
Lately, I've been thinking about it some more, after being pretty satisfied with my thoughts on the subject for a while...

And my current thought is: WE CAN WEAR WHATEVER WE WANT, from nothing to layers and layers. And our clothing doesn't reflect how modest we are - our modesty is first and foremost in our hearts. And our modesty isn't about sex. Attracting sexual attention is no different or worse than attracting any other type of attention. And is attracting attention all that bad? Who knows... All I know is that I need to make a conscious effort to de-program myself in the way that I think about sexual promiscuity. I need to put it back on an equal level to any other similar not-sexually-related behaviour. It's better to be a prostitute than a dishonest businessman. But BOY do we think of these two jobs differently...

I want to put things back into perspective.

I will wear what I want from now on and others can deal with their own feelings about what I wear while I will just be who I am, the best version I can be.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Interesting Article

"But beyond that issue, even those assuming the guilt of the Tsarnaev brothers seem to have no basis at all for claiming that this was an act of "terrorism" in a way that would meaningfully distinguish it from Aurora, Sandy Hook, Tucson and Columbine."

"This is far more than a semantic question. Whether something is or is not "terrorism" has very substantial political implications, and very significant legal consequences as well. The word "terrorism" is, at this point, one of the most potent in our political lexicon: it single-handedly ends debates, ratchets up fear levels, and justifies almost anything the government wants to do in its name. It's hard not to suspect that the only thing distinguishing the Boston attack from Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook and Columbine (to say nothing of the US "shock and awe" attack on Baghdad and the mass killings in Fallujah) is that the accused Boston attackers are Muslim and the other perpetrators are not."

"Islam or some related political ideology may have been the motive driving Tamerlan, as I acknowledge, but it also may not have been. You have to produce evidence showing motive. You can't just assert it and demand that everyone accept it on faith."

"But this proves the point: "terrorism" does not have any real meaning other than "a Muslim who commits violence against America and its allies", so as soon as a Muslim commits violence, there is an automatic decree that it is "terrorism" even though no such assumption arises from similar acts committed by non-Muslims."

LINK:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/22/boston-marathon-terrorism-aurora-sandy-hook

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Anyone Else?

Anyone else living in a sort of fear that this attack was done by a Muslim?

1 disgusting senseless nutcase Muslim = much hate towards every other Muslim. :(

I'm really scare of the 5pm official conference about the arrest that was made. My co-workers are already sure it's Muslims and I know I wouldn't be able to say anything to make them understand that one Muslim like this, or even a group, does not represent all or even most Muslims.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Word "Terrorist"

What exactly does this word mean?

The Boston attack has been officially described as a terrorist act by the president of the United States, and mostly no one can argue that it's not. From my FB newsfeed, I've seen that the word means means nothing else than an act that causes terror. Well, clearly that's *part* of the definition, but it can't be the whole definition, at least not the way it's used in the media. They don't go around calling a murder-suicide a terrorist attack. As far as I know, even the Sandy Bay massacre was not called a terrorist attack.

When the act is carried out on innocent strangers with a motive (political or religious), it's a terrorist attack. That's the way I understand the word as it has been presented to me by the media. If it's a person who is mentally unstable who has no political or religious motive, it's not considered terrorism. If it's a single person who is doing it to people he actually knows, with personal motives, it's not terrorism.

Basically, the word these days is almost exclusively reserved for Muslims, by definition.

OH and the definition, of course, EXCLUDES cases when these same things are done TO Muslims. If an act like this is carried out on strangers who are Muslims, with political or religious motive, but it's done outside of the USA and done TO Muslims, it's no longer terrorirsm.

(sarcarsically) Isn't it just so fun to have this little loop in the language that makes it seem like everything is Muslims' faults?

I was talking to my friend and she heard on the radio that it was officially called a terrorist attack, and for her (as someone who is pretty simple in listening to what is said on the TV and radio and parrotting it back, not much for thinking for herself or reading between the lines), that was a different way to say it was done by Muslims, or "a race" (a person of a different ethnicity, as she calls them). Sounds even worse to me when she says it in French since "race" and "breed" are the same word, sounds like she's talking about a dog. UGH

Frustrating time for Muslims continue.

May God open our hearts to love, all of us... Amin.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Praying for Forgiveness for non-Muslims

I came across the verse:

It is not for the Prophet and those who have believed to ask forgiveness for the polytheists, even if they were relatives, after it has become clear to them that they are companions of Hellfire. - Qur'an 9:113    

The first thing that I was glad to see is that even "traditional" scholars agreed that when people are alive, there's always a chance that they will change and so they are not counted as these polytheists who are clearly companions of the Hellfire. That's where the loving positive outlook ends with the traditional interpretations.

For anyone, even if they have passed, is there a certainty when "it has become clear that they are companions of the Hellfire"??? I don't feel that way about anyone I know or knew... I'm not comfortable making that judgement that a person is too far gone to have any chance at Paradise. For that reason, I would pray for a person who has passed on to be forgiven even if it's known that they were not Muslim at the time of their death.

Maybe they had belief that would qualify them as Muslim that we are not aware of and they themselves were not aware of. Only God Himself knows.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Do you stop yourself from praying for your non-Muslim loved ones based on this verse?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Going to be Reading an Umm Zakiyyah Manuscript

I'm pretty happy and excited to be one of the selected readers for the newest novel by Umm Zakiyyah which will be called Muslim Girl. I don't know how much of a "selection" it really was for the readers of the manuscript, but whether or not they chose me because they wanted someone like me as part of the test group or because they didn't have that many people showing interest in reading the manuscript, I'm super excited!

If anything, I'll be so much more into the book knowing that my feedback could be worth something. I've always loved editting... Much more than writing. I'm not especially creative but I have a good eye for what sounds right and flows right and I'm good at giving feedback.

Has anyone read any of her novels? What did you think?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fitness post: My Running Story

CROSS POSTED FROM MY OTHER BLOG


I am proud to be a beginner runner! :D Here's my little running story so far.

I've always been pretty athletic as a kid and teenager and enjoyed exercising and keeping in shape. When I got pregnant and had my daughter, it became difficult to exercise like I did before and I didn't get on an adapted baby-friendly work-out. And then I started working full time at an office 5 years ago so you can probably visualize my fitness decreasing!

A co-worker of mine runs as part of her work-out program and sometime during my mat leave, she got inspired to work towards running a 5K event. Well, she did it and since then, she's a runner!!

Since being back to work I've been hearing about running and I've been interested in trying it out. Little by little, it became more than just being interested, it became a NEED TO RUN! It was a little bit weird, but I had such a strong desire to just run... One evening about 2 weeks ago (because yes, I'm just a beginner), I wanted to run so much that I ran on my livingroom floor barefoot. That was a so-so idea because being practically on my tip-toes for the whole work out trying to stay on the same spot was awkward and just not good form. I had some discomfort in my feet the next day, but I also had a confirmation that yes, I really want to run FOR REAL.

So I went out a few days later to buy some proper shoes. Can you believe I didn't even own a decent pair of sneakers?! Here they are:


These are my new Saucony Kinvara 3 shoes. They're so light, it's like not wearing shoes except that my foot is actually supported. These are made just for running and aren't really any good for other movements (like lateral movements of basketball for example).

I decided that running a 5K was a pretty good goal for me. That's approximately 30 minutes of running, a bit more for a beginner, a bit less for someone who is a bit more used to and it can be quite a lot less for an accomplished athlete and a decent amount more for someone who has more weight to carry, etc. I found a program online called Couch to 5K (linked) which seemed like a really good starter program to get me from no running to running 30 minutes in 9 weeks. Here's a small section of 3 weeks (9 workouts).



http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/2/2_3/181.shtml


It's a running-walking program and they give you intervals to follow that make you run longer and longer stretches of time without stopping and with less and less walking in between. There's an app that will tell you in your earphones when to run and walk so you just need to concentrate on going. There's a free app with the first 4 runs for free which I tried.

Well, the first run was 1 minute of running with 1.5 minutes of walking repeated for 20 minutes. I wasn't breathing right so I had a cramp in my gut, but I still felt perfectly fine to start running again after less than the 1.5 minutes of walking and I was a little bored. I decided to do the opposite intervals for my next workout so I just pretended that "start running" meant "start walking" and the opposite as well.

This ended up being a pretty good combination for me and by the end of the run, I had the "trick" of how to breathe properly and I just felt good about it.

Continue to run 3... It was freakin COLD outside and I was underdressed... So I started running to warm myself up... 1.5 minutes of running later, I was still COLD and I was feeling good. I continued. 1 minute later, I was still cold and feeling good... 1.5 minutes later, I was just feeling good... I ignored all intervals until the 5 minute cool-down. Then I igored that and ran until the end. And then I ran an extra 5 minutes for a total of 30 minutes non-stop!

I mapped it when I got home and it's about 4.75km! It was a bit "much" for a beginner like me. My body was not really used to doing this much. I was walking pretty crooked when I cooled down, my legs were a little bit dead, but I still felt GOOD! That was me becoming a beginner runner!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

HALAL Nail Polish! Can be worn all day, every day, all the time!

Inglot Cosmetics has come out with nail polish that allows oxygen and water to seep through. Gone are the days of having to wear nail polish ONLY during your periods, ladies!

Any woman who is a bit interested in nail polish knows that the reason it's considered haram to wear during certain times for women is that it doesn't allow water to touch the nails and is therefore thought to make wudu invalid (and prayers performed too). With this nail polish, the reason for nail polish being haram is gone. So it's halal.

Here is a link to the page containing the colours available. It's a high end brand so it's not the most affordable... It's probably twice what most of us normally might pay for nail polish... But doesn't the idea of this existing make you happy as a Muslim?

I'm not writing this as the Muslim who prays all her prayers and prevents herself from wearing nail polish except during my period... No, it's true that that is not me. But the idea is still exciting to me and I love the idea of freely wearing polish and praying, even if I have not made any of that (wearing nail polish OR praying) a habit...


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

At One With God

This is the feeling I'm searching for.

To feel serenity instead of chaos, peace instead of turbulence, comfort instead of fear, love instead of anger and hate...

I might not be acting "religious" in Islam. I don't pray, I don't read Qur'an or hadith, I don't eat halal. Really, it's life as it comes naturally to me these days. I make dua and meditate occaisionally, I make efforts to be a good person in various ways. I do my best to be spiritual in some sort of way but don't follow any rituals.

I do believe that rituals can help a person find this "one with God" feeling that I'm searching for. I certainly felt closer to God when I was praying regularly and I never fasted a whole month but just a couple days and there were some "ahha!" moments in there. Reading Qur'an too helped me focus. I just don't believe that these are the only rituals that can work and basically I don't believe they are obligatory for a person. We each have our own paths.

But without rituals we can drift. And I feel like I'm drifting a bit at the moment.

Sometimes it's like being blind - I don't know where I'm going and I don't have it all figured out. But I know that I'll try again and I'll be where I need to be. Hopefully I continue to grow as a person and hopefully I stay on the straight path insha'Allah - if I even am or have been of course, only God knows.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Goals for 2013

*cross posted from my other blog, see HERE*

Here's a list of goals that I have for 2013. I still need to work on making some of them more structured and specific so I can better accomplish them, and I want to do a monthly accountability post too. I recommend you check outEllesy's post on making resolutions, it's very helpful!

Beauty-related: 

1. Figure out my eyebrows

2. Continue my no-buy. I guess I should call it a low-buy since I'm fully open to adding products I lack in my stash and replacing used up products.

Family-related: 

3. Stick to "the routine". I made a routine when my daughter started KG, my son was entering daycare and I was getting back to work after my maternity leave and I am no longer sticking to it at all. The structure was helping everyone settle down well and with different stresses going on and some fatigue, I have not been respecting my own rules.

Organizational:

4. Get things we don't use or need out of our daily living spaces.

5. Get rid of a lot of things we don't use or need.

  • If I am able to get on board with my own idea that I'm not having any more kids, I want to get rid of baby stuff I have.
  • I want to get rid of things that I don't use but that are also not useful for anyone else, even if I know they are useful somehow... Know what I mean? Like old pyjamas or towels from 15 years ago. I can still wear them and they still dry me, but they are too old and ugly to ever be useful for others, and I have gotten others over time and these need to go. 
Decor: 

6. Make a space for my son so he can leave my bedroom. 

7. Make a space for ME when that happens. I still have not decorated my bedroom in any sort of way and I've been here for 3 years... It's very teenage dorm style and maybe I finally deserve a place that I feel comfortable in?

Financial: 

8. Save the equivalent of 15% of my net income. When/If my husband's financial situation changes (for the better), I will increase that percentage. Time will tell on that one so I'm not going to set any goals that rely on others. 


Relationships: 

9. Make some active efforts to maintain relationships with people I care about. When life gets busy I don't see people or contact people as often as I'd want to or should so a resolution is to keep better contact with them. From certain friends, close acquaintances, cousins, aunts and uncles.

Attitude: 

10. Find a way to control my crazy yelling when I get upset and angry at home. There must be better ways to deal with frustration...

Spiritual: 

11. Be more spiritual. I have no idea where this resolution is going... Maybe I could make weekly goals a month in advance and try to stick to them, and try to add in permanently the things that work. From reading certain books to adding rituals into my day to day life... I will see.

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