Thinking Like a Person

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I am sure that we have all seen those obnoxious magazines with some ridiculously fit and trim woman on the cover, who claims to have lost massive amounts of weight in an insanely short amount of time. And, I am sure that some of us have actually read the interviews of said women, and read the highly offensive things that they had to say. You know, things like, “Oh, I just decided to stop thinking like a fat person.”

Thinking like a fat person. :/

That goes beyond ticking me off. It makes me fume, any time I think of it. In fact, it upsets me so much that, I think it’s been YEARS and YEARS since I last read such a piece of garbage, but it still gets to me!

When we take that leap toward taking care of ourselves, and trying to shed extra pounds, we are not changing our thinking from a “fat person” to a “skinny person.” I have been at both ends in my life, and I can tell you that my thinking is no different now that I am overweight, than it was when I was underweight (granted, that was when I was a teenager!). My thoughts regarding food are unchanged. I have always loved food, and I always will. And I do not see that as an emotional weakness on my part. Why should I? Food is, in my opinion, AWESOME!

What has changed, though, is my ability to give myself a little bit more self-worth than I was before (in my case, I think that my anti-depressant may be helping in many ways). My kids have also reached an age where they are not so dependent on me for each and every whim (only one remains in pull-ups at the moment). This has allowed me to have more time to actually think about myself (a whole 10 minutes a day, as opposed to 2 seconds!), realize that I do matter as a person.

Women are, by their very nature, nurturers. We nurture everyone and everything around us (yes, even if you think that you have a “black thumb,” you probably still at least attempt to keep the doomed house plant alive!). But we forget to nurture ourselves. We get the family fed, while we stuff our mouths with quick calories, and energy drinks to make up for sleepless nights. Our bodies are literally wrecked by pregnancies, lack of sleep, and an inability to properly look after ourselves. And as time goes on, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it getting better. Not in a timely manner, at least.

Before we know it, years have gone by, and we can no longer remember what it felt like to be young, fit, and healthy. We invest in our families, and forget to invest in ourselves.

Making a huge lifestyle change like eating and exercise habits is NOT about changing your thinking so much as it’s about finding the time to take care of yourself. To show yourself that you matter. It’s about trying to find little ways throughout the day to actually put yourself first for a change. And to not feel guilty about it, because you are worth it, and you deserve it!

Throughout it all, you think not as a fat person, or a skinny person, but as simply a person. A person of great worth. :)

Dumb Arguments

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I don’t really know where to begin this post, to be honest. I’ve got a lot on my mind, and I feel a great need to vent. Most of my frustration at the moment is directed at Muslims who make weak or senseless arguments. I’m tired of reading garbage by Muslims who support and encourage anti-Muslim rhetoric. Things like claiming that Muslims are somehow by default happier in non-Muslim countries. No actual studies were done, no polls or surveys, not even any official statistics to back up their bogus claims. It’s really nothing more than just voicing their own poorly-informed opinion. It’s perfectly alright if they wish to continue to live in whatever country that they are living in, but they really do need to give up falsifying facts to somehow justify their choices.

Now, jumping to a different issue that bothers me: niqab.

I do not now, nor have I ever, worn niqab. I don’t agree with certain sentiments that it’s fardh for women to cover every single inch of their bodies, leaving nothing but their eyes showing. I am a hijabi, and I wear either abaya, or shalwaar kameez (sometimes, I choose to wear jeans with a kameez). I show my face, hands, and on occasion, my feet (when I wear sandals). I don’t think that I’m exposing my awra in any way.

Now that I have made my position somewhat clear on the matter, I think that what I have to say next will seem less clear. Please bear with me. I’m exhausted, and my hands are hurting.

I also believe that it is a woman’s free choice to wear niqab. If she is in a society where it is safe to do so, and will be free for harassment, and she wishes to do so, then by all means, let her. This is my stance because this is the stance according to the Hanafi school of thought (I am a Hanafi Sunni Muslim). I am offended by arguments that say prostitutes in certain Gulf countries wear niqab, and as such, wearing niqab may cause a woman to be mistaking for one. I think it’s absurd, and idiotic.

It’s a weak argument against an act of modesty, and it needs to be stopped. Think about it for a moment. Do we stop wearing a particular color or print, just because some prostitute somewhere wore it once? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. So, tell me then, why would we stay away from niqab because of some hearsay stories about prostitutes hiding in niqab? Why would we abandon something that is noble, and pure, and a true sign of being Muslim? Why would we do that, and totally ignore the fact that perhaps prostitutes also wear hijab?

It’s preposterous. Oh, and insulting. I respect and support Muslim women who choose to wear niqab. And I never ever think that they must be a prostitute. Rather, I think that they are far from it. And everyone else should, too.

Housekeeping: Do it Yourself, or Keep Quiet!

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I decided to clean my house like a housekeeper this week. That means doing windows, baseboards, actually removing things to dust them, and getting on my hands and knees to scrub tiles.

It amazes me when I hear women complain about their housekeepers, and how they don’t clean enough. I wonder to myself, “are you willing to do yourself what you expect her to do?”

Last week, a woman actually complained that her housekeeper (or “maid” as she incorrectly referred to her) was found with cancer, and what bad luck that was for her (the woman, not the housekeeper). I was peeeeeved, but could say nothing at all.

I cleaned houses with my mom for about three years. Housekeepers work HARD, and for relatively very little money. Most employers expect them to do all of the work that they themselves refuse to do. We even had people who wanted us to do all of their laundry and dishes each week. I always thought, “you gotta be kidding me! Do you own clothes and dishes! You lazy person!”

And yes, they WERE lazy. We are talking about young, healthy people, with big kids, or even kids who were out of the house. And yet, they couldn’t even do their own stinking dishes!

The Past is the Past

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The topic of this post is not a happy one, but it is something that I have needed to discuss for some time. In the Muslim community, child abuse is not discussed for many reasons, most of which are cultural. Since I am a revert, I did not grow up in a Muslim community, but I still suffer from some of the unwillingness to talk about child abuse because of some interpretations of the high position that mothers hold in Islam. The Quran tells us that heaven lies at the feet of our mothers. There is a hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad (saws) tells us that our mother is the three most important people in our lives (meaning, she hold the top three positions, and then she is followed by our father, at number four).

Because of this, most Muslims will simply not speak anything that could be taken as “ill” of their mothers. Out of respect for this, I typically do not share with people my stories of being abused by my mother. I know that it would make many feel uncomfortable, because they have been raised with a philosophy that tells them that, no matter what, a mother is to be lauded and praised. This philosophy comes from culture.

I have to tell at least a portion of my story now.

I was abused by my mother during my entire childhood. Until the age of five, I was beaten with a leather belt if I did anything to upset her. That’s right, until the age of five. The beatings would have continued, had I not learned on my own what constituted a “whipping,” as she called them, and what would merely land me in my room. My mother still recalls with a hint of regret that she stopped using the belt on me at such a young age.

Emotional abuse was something that my mother excelled at. I remember being called all sorts of awful things, going back as far as one and a half years of age (yes, I really do have memories from that far back). The biggest thing that I was guilty of doing in those days, was being born. My mother had lost a child in a drowning accident only a year before I was born. I think that she was certainly in no shape at all to have another child, but here I am, so what can I say? I only know that apparently the moment I was born, she looked down at me, and realized that I was not my deceased sister, reincarnated. I would then spend the rest of my childhood, being compared to the little girl that I was so clearly nowhere near as perfect.

In our home, in a place of great prominence, hung the portrait of my sister. My mother would sit and stare at it, and wonder aloud why was she gone, and why was I nothing like her. The insults hurled at my very young self were usually in the form of reminding me that my mother had once had the perfect daughter, and now she did not. Instead, she had me to contend with. I recall once even being told that I was some sort of punishment sent to her by the devil. I think that one hurt the most, because by the time she said this, I was old enough to understand just how horrible it was, to be “sent by the devil.” I remember hiding in the backyard, crying my eyes out.

I spent my whole life wanting my mother to love me. I would see little girls on TV shows and movies, as well as in my class, and they had what seemed to be such loving relationships with their mothers. They didn’t seem to shake a little with fear and apprehension when they were being picked up from school. The hugs seemed genuine. The affection, pure. I wondered what was I doing wrong, why couldn’t I be hugged and loved like that by my mom?

I have two younger brothers who experienced a vastly different childhood. Sure, they got beatings with the belt, because she was a firm believer of corporal punishment. But they didn’t get the emotional abuse, nor did they get blamed for every bit of her unhappiness. That was uniquely my own. I know now that gender played a huge role. They were boys, so she was unable to compare them to my sister (although, she did allow my youngest brother’s hair to grow out, and when people would comment that he was such a pretty little girl, she would say “thank you,” rather than correct them. She even sometimes accidentally called him by our dead sister’s name). My being a girl must have constantly reminded her of everything that she lost, and failed to recover.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, as well as a very mild form of Tourette’s, and I’ve have several bouts of depression. My first focal tic manifested when I was four years old. My mother took me to the doctor, and he told her that I was simply “nervous.” Nervous? At four years of age? Looking back, I’m just not quite sure that’s really “normal.” I have to wonder if my “nervousness” was a product of the abuse.

Since the age of four, I have had many, many, many other tics, all of which have been quite embarrassing. I shut my eyes tightly, I jerk my head to the side, I pop my jaw, I do all sorts of things that look completely out of the ordinary. While in school, I was teased mercilessly by the other kids, which usually resulted in the tic just getting worse. All of my nervousness finally caused me to get an ulcer at the age of 15. My mom attributed it to my obsessive worrying about making good grades in school, and I believed her. I didn’t think of any other causes (because, oddly enough, I didn’t always feel the full effect of my abuse, and I felt that my upbringing was somehow not “that bad”).

Now, at the age of 37, I have all sorts of emotional issues. Depression tops the list, and is the one thing that I am getting under control at the moment. I think and behave like a person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For years after I left home, I thought that I could still hear my mother yelling my name, which would make me feel a cold rush of panic. Even today, my biggest fear is her yelling at me. I’m a grown woman with children of my own, and I still have a pathological fear of my mother.

Alhamdulilah, I have been blessed with a wonderfully kind and loving husband. Although he never personally suffered from child abuse, he has an ability to understand that it must have been painful, as well as traumatic. He works very hard at letting me know that the way that I feel about myself is not always accurate. As a result of the mental abuse that I suffered, I tend to think that I am a great goof-up, and I’m unable to do anything properly. I can get really down on myself, and I can be my cruelest critic (literally, I don’t think that there is anything anyone can say to me that would be any more harsh than what I have said to myself already). My husband is quick to swoop in and let me know that that is certainly not the case, and that I am capable of doing great things.

Ironically, it’s tough for me to listen to praise, and I often find myself crying as he is telling me these things. There’s a large part of me that thinks, “how can this be true? How can I be good at anything?” I also feel a bit ashamed, if I do believe what is being said, because then I think that I am somehow being arrogant. It’s messed up, and I am working on it, but I am sure that it’s all a result of my upbringing.

The past is the past, and I am working very hard to move on and forget about it. When I look into the eyes of my children, I can only think of how badly I want to give them a childhood that is at least a million times better than my own. I want them to grow up with laughter and love all around them. I want them to always feel like they are exactly they age they are (rather than several years older, as I did). Childhood is for children, and I want them to be children, free of worries and hardships. Particularly, hardships put on them by me. A mother’s job is to love and nurture her children. She should show them how much she loves them, and never burden them with sorrow.

There is a big, nasty, ugly, awful, and mean world out there that will do that to them. They don’t need it coming from their mother as well.

Originally posted on Journey of a Seeker Of Sacred Knowledge:

Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi 2013

Responding to the Crisis | Teaser Trailer | Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi | January 2013:

A unique chance to be part of an amazing fundraising tour by the noble Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi in 2013 . Attend and invite others to help our oppressed brothers and sisters in the blessed land of Shaam ash-Sharif! The dates and venues are yet to be confirmed Inshah’Allah!

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I Just Don’t Get it

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I just don’t get it. Why do some people feel the need to criticize everything that certain people say, think, or do? It’s bad enough when the individual doing the criticizing is not a member of your community (meaning religious and or cultural, and not regional), but when it’s someone who is supposed to share at least a few of the same view that you do, it just goes beyond painful.

 

I seem to have hit a sore nerve with some Muslims who regard themselves as being “secular” (I am still quite sure that they have no idea what the term “secular Muslim” means, but I am going to try to not go into that again), and they have lashed out with a vengeance. I’ve even been told by these secularists that it’s just great and wonderful (sarcastically, I assume) that I wish to make hijra, and they hope that I can do it soon (now, it sounds less like sarcasm, and more like vitriol). They have attempted to lump me in with religious extremists, the sorts of Muslims who regard anything that is not of an Islamic origin to be un-Islamic. You know the kind. The ones who insist on calling every single non-Muslim by the offensive term “kafir.” To be associated with that sort of Muslim is, well, insulting to me.

 

It is not extremist to want to live in a country where my children will see Muslims all around them, with a fair amount of non-Muslims in the mix (the extremist view would want to go to a place where no non-Muslim would ever be tolerated). Nor is it extremist to want to be able to walk into practically any restaurant, and order virtually anything off the menu, because (almost) everything is completely halal (the UAE does do some dietary catering to non-Muslims, with some pork and alcohol offerings).  And one does not have to be an extremist in order to desire having real and proper Eid holidays, recognized by the government, with long weekends off so that they may celebrate with their family.

 

I suppose that to some, this life we have in America, with no recognized Eid holiday for our kids (unless they go to an Islamic school), and few halal options is just something that we should grin and bear. We should neither desire recognition here in America, nor should we opt to go to a Muslim majority country. We are supposed to just be happy with things the way that they are. Live life not to the fullest, in other words, and have our children growing up thinking what a “drag” it is to be Muslim.

 

I know that people will criticize, no matter what. I also know that it doesn’t matter what they say. At the end of the day, my life is my life. The decisions that I make will only affect me, and not the hecklers. And what is most important of all (and the critics would do well to remember this next point), is that on the Day of Judgment, when we all stand before Allah wa ta’ala, we will not be asked about what someone else did. We will be asked about our own affairs. We will be judged on our own affairs. Not the affairs or actions of someone else.

 

Allah alone knows best. Allah is the best of all planners. And when we see that someone has made a decision that may not exactly be in-line with our own thinking, we must understand that if their decision comes to fruition, it must be because Allah has deemed it to be best for them. Who are we to question or criticize that? When the critics put down and insult people for their decision to make hijra, they are not only criticizing the individual. They are finding an error in Allah’s judgment.

 

Astaghfirullah.

How Others View Us

How others view us has no impact at all on who and what we truly are. Just because someone chooses to call you by a particular name, or label you as belonging to a certain group, that alone does not make it true. No matter how loudly, or how often they tell you, it cannot make it true.

 

I have apparently managed to upset some of the secular types of Muslims out there, and so they have resorted to trying to label or pigeon hole me. They are of the arrogant opinion that anyone who dares to disagree with them must somehow be extreme in their views.

 

For anyone who actually knows me, they know that it is hilariously laughable for anyone to suggest that I am extreme in any way. Yes, I believe that hijab is fardh without question (so do all scholars from the four legitimate Sunni schools of thought), and yes I will state my views regarding hijab as being unbending. It is insulting, as well as ignorant, to think that just because I hold hijab to be fardh, I am akin to Wahabbis (aka Salafis). It shows a complete lack of understanding of fiqh (I follow Hanafi fiqh, by the way), and a desire to attack anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable about how they view themselves.

 

My blog is, first and foremost, an outlet for me to discuss things that I am going through, just as countless other blogs scattered across the Internet are. The fact that certain individuals take it upon themselves to bombard me with hate mail just smacks in the face of arrogance. Oh, and ignorance.

 

If you don’t like what I have to say here, I only have this to tell you: no one is making you read it, nor do I need site visit numbers to go up. My ego is not that delicate. Go read another blog, and leave mine alone. You more than likely haven’t got a clue what I’m writing about, so just give it a rest if you find it so offensive. It wasn’t directed at you anyways. It’s not directed at anyone.

 

 

Hecklers Abound

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Someone just tried to “school” me on Islam, Islamophobia, and the need for me to get an “identity.”

They claimed that Islam is somehow meant to be “secular,” and that I must be going through an “identity crisis,” and that’s why I’m “blowing out of proportion” any anti-Muslim events that have occurred in America.

Yeah, it was totally my point-of-view that made people shoot at, throw Molotov cocktails, and even burn down masjids this last year.

And there is NO WAY that ANY RELIGION is meant to be SECULAR, with the exception of that strange neo-atheist group, the “secular-humanists.” The individual who wrote me (via my blog), fails to understand what the term “secular Muslim” means, which makes it all the more silly that they felt compelled to write me and attack my words, which were directed at secular Muslims.

I have no identity crisis at all. I know fully and firmly who and what I am. I am not a self-hater, nor have I condemned my country, simply by saying that I am sick and tired of being pushed to the side by the government.

It’s beyond ridiculous for people to feel the need to contact, insult, and attack others who have differing views.

I don’t want to live here in America anymore. I don’t want to be glared at anymore. I don’t want to have to go to three different stores for weekly groceries, because halal meat is treated as though it’s synonymous with devil worship, so Publix doesn’t carry it.

I want to live a normal life, free from being harassed for my religion.

And if anyone has a problem with that, BUZZ OFF.

Ahhhhh, Abayas!

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We recently had the pleasure of traveling to Abu Dhabi, UAE. Shopping is something of a national pastime in the Emirates, and even visitors feel somewhat compelled to indulge in a bit of the “when in Rome” mentality. So, obviously, I got my shopping on!

Being a hijabi, and more specifically, someone who has recently taken to wearing abaya, I was very keen to see the selections of modest women’s attire. To say that I was simply not disappointed would be an understatement. I was absolutely blown away by the amazing abayas and shaylas there!

My mind is still doing somersaults, and my heart is still doing happy dances at not only the availability of abayas, but also the ease of shopping for them. Just the very thought that I could walk into a mall that was very typical to what you’d find in the USA, and with Starbucks caramel macchiato in hand, I could buy an abaya was just more than I could have ever imagined. Malls with stores like H&M, and Gap, and eateries like Applebee’s, and Burger King are also malls where a hijabi can very easily shop till she drops, filling her arms with bags of gorgeous abayas.

And oh the quality! And professionalism! I saw and bought abayas that I’ve never seen such high quality for sale in America. And the shops were very professional, many of them being chain stores. What a concept! An abaya shop that is not some overcrowded little dirty place, with racks upon racks of the same, dull abayas, but rather something more akin to a fashion boutique! One shop even had their Fall and Winter 2012 Collection catalogue available (of course I grabbed one!).

That’s right, in the UAE, you don’t just buy an abaya in spring and wear it every single season till it falls apart. In the UAE, abayas actually have styles based on the seasons! Very much like “proper clothes” do, because guess what? In the UAE, abaya is considered “proper clothes!” In the UAE, abaya is not for the woman who has given up on ever looking decent again (that would be me, prior to my out-of-America-shopping-experience!), or some auntie who just doesn’t care anymore (that would have been me in a few short years!), or the woman who has decided that since there seems to be only two options: trendy or ethnic, she chose ethnic because trendy didn’t cover her properly (yup, that was also totally me!). In the UAE, abaya is high fashion.

Prices are very reasonable, in my opinion, given the fact that the quality far surpasses that which is commonly found in America. About $52 US (200 AED) will buy you a plain, black abaya, suitable for everyday wear. That same simple abaya can be mixed and matched with multiple shaylas, though (some of which could end up costing more than the abaya, due to how much work is on them). I indulged a bit and did buy some abayas that were “expensive” according to my more conservative spending habits, costing around $150 to $250 US. At first, this was due to my having absolutely no understanding of the Emirati dirham, and what the exchange rate is with the US dollar (3.63 dirham to 1 US dollar). What fun it can be, not having any clue how much cash you just shoveled over! Haha!

Now, I know that the average Muslimah reading this may have a certain image about “khaleeji style,” so I would like to step away from the to-drool-for abayas for just a moment, and address this. I, too, had a misconception about khaleeji styles, and khaleejis in general. I had heard all sorts of things about Emirati women, and their particular style of hijab. Many, if not most, are familiar with the term “camel hump hijab,” and a good number of us have even seen this ridiculous style in person. And, of course, we have read the misused and misquoted hadiths that try to label this style as being one of the wort offenses, and even a sign of the end of days. I just want to give a big sigh right now, and start a new paragraph, filled with attempts to counter the slurs.

First and foremost, I would like to say this about the Emirati people: everyone that we encountered was warm, friendly, and hospitable. People who seemed to have a genuine fondness especially for children, they smiled easily at our daughter and son. Many even asked for their names. One man even insisted that his photo be taken with our daughter. Another lady, while visiting Shaykh Zayed Grand Masjid, asked to take photos of our kids, and spoke with us with great ease. Never did we feel unwelcome in their country, nor did we feel as though we were being looked down upon. We were not visiting in a capacity as anyone special, so I do feel quite strongly that what we experienced was authentic. People are nice in Abu Dhabi. Truly nice.

Now, about that “camel hump hijab.” Guess what? It’s fallen out of fashion. So, the next time someone hurls that Hadith at you, tell them that they are not only a day late and a dollar short, but absolutely clueless. Oh, and that it’s not very Islamic to go around judging others.

I did notice that a lot of young women are fond of showing the front of their hair, but I also noticed that this was a trend mostly found among teenagers and young college aged women. I didn’t see anyone my age doing this, nor did I see any married ladies with children showing their hair. It baffles me why people are so judgmental about this style, when at the same time, they say very little about Muslim women who either just wear a loose dupatta, or nothing at all. I don’t think that the teens and young women who wear this style even consider themselves to be fully hijabis. I really do think that they are doing nothing more that expressing their cultural traditions. Later, they embrace hijab fully.

I do apologize for the serious tone that I’ve taken here, but I just really felt a need to address these issues. Our Khaleeji sisters (from the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, etc) are being judged, and it is wrong. They are beautiful Muslimahs, and many exude graceful modesty, with a touch of trendy class. I, for one, learned a lot from being among them and observing them.

And, my wardrobe got the refresher that it desperately needed!

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