If They Only Knew

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Three young adult Muslims were brutally murdered, shot in the head, execution style, in Chapel Hill, NC, a couple of days ago. The man accused has confessed to the murders, claiming that it was over a parking dispute (as if that justifies it). His wife has said that it had nothing to do with the victims’ religion, despite the fact that his Facebook page is full of anti-theist and Islamophobic rhetoric. She has gone as far as to say that the three victims (Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu-Salha, and Razan Abu-Salha) were simply “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I am deeply troubled by this statement, because many will perhaps agree with her. It wasn’t her husband’s fault that he murdered them. It was their fault entirely. Incidentally, the “wrong place” was their house, where he murdered them in cold blood.

Islamophobia is at an all-time high. News agencies, such as Fox News (the term “news” is applied rather loosely here, as I am sure that many will agree that Fox is anything but real news), have done nothing but fuel the fires of religious hatred and intolerance. Their news anchors have even made statements on air that, had they been about any group other that Muslims, they would have been told to retract these statements. People might have even lost their jobs over it, had the target not been Muslims. Islamophobia has given Fox (and others, like CNN and MSNBC) the green light to pretty much say or do whatever they want, with regards to Muslims.

Yesterday, as I was still reeling from the awful, sad news of the deaths of these three, beautiful, gentle young people, I had a thought: If they only knew us. I mean, really knew us. We aren’t really that much different from everyone else.

I can give my own life as an example to how similar it is to that of my non-Muslim neighbors. I am your typical stay-at-home-mom, with typical SAHM issues. I have a pile of laundry that threatens to attack me when I walk into the laundry room. My house is littered in toys and clothes, as if some strange cyclone started at Target, and ended right in my living room floor. My kids watch toxic amounts of TV, and every time I turn around, they are telling me about some app that their dear Disney Jr has told them to download (with a parent’s permission, of course). Certain foods are cause for great, massive meltdowns at the dining table, and junk food is always welcomed with rabid relish.

The fact that I pray five times a day, fast in Ramadhan, don’t drink alcohol, don’t eat pork, and try my best to live my life in accordance to the teachings of my religion, should not make me “foreign” or “different” from my neighbors and fellow countrymen. I don’t walk around my neighborhood, handing out pamphlets on how everyone is going to Hell, unless they start believing in exactly the same things that I do. I don’t condemn people for how they dress, or drink, or eat. I don’t scowl at people because they are different from me. Rather, I do my very best to meet each person with a smile (I have bad days, too, so maybe I don’t walk around all the time with a smile plastered on my face. Maybe, if you see me in the grocery store, you will instead witness a crazy, unhinged woman, arguing with her kids on why they cannot fill the cart with candy and cookies). I don’t impose my beliefs on others.

I really, truly believe that religion (or lack of religion) is a personal choice. I will raise my own children with the teachings of Islam, showing them what it means to be Muslim, and that each and every living person on this planet deserves respect. I will not, however, start telling random people that they should also be Muslim. It’s their business, not mine. My ultimate favorite verse in the Quran translates to mean, “To you be your way, to me be mine” (لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِىَ دِينِ). To me, that sums it up perfectly, how we should view our relationships with people of different faiths.

If people would take the chance to look past the (small) differences, they would see that we, too, are normal human beings, with all the trappings that come with being human. We love, we hate, we laugh, we cry, we rejoice, we mourn. Also, contrary to popular misbelief, we are quite humorous people. Most of us know how to laugh at ourselves. Sure, we do have crazy fanatics (all ethnic and religious groups have their crazies, believe me!), but they are honestly in the minority (just like they are in other groups).

What has happened here, according to public thought, is that one bad Muslim ruins the barrel. I cannot count how many times have people said to me, “You’re not like other Muslims.” I always end up thinking, “really? How many ‘other Muslims‘ do you know?” Since I, myself, happen to be Muslim, I know a lot of Muslims. And, I know a lot of funny Muslims.

The man who killed those young people is clearly someone who has never taken the time to get to know any Muslims. Had he known Deah, Yusor, and Razan, he would have known that they were three beautiful and bright souls. They were not the sort of people that have been portrayed on the news, and in movies. They were kind, and generous, and helped their fellow man, regardless of their faith. Perhaps he would have even grown to like them, seeing past that which “offended” him so greatly.

How they were choosing to live their lives, in service to others, is what is referred to as “stewardship” in Christianity. It’s a deeply rooted concept in Islam, as well, and we are encouraged to help others, be they Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, atheist, etc. The Quran refers to “mankind” (insan, in Arabic), and we are constantly told how we are to treat mankind. We are not told just how to treat our fellow Muslims. We must treat all of mankind with care, compassion, kindness, and respect.

If they only knew.


Inna lilahi wa inna illayhi rajeeon wa la hawla wa la quwatta illa billah! (To God we belong, and to God we shall return, and there is no power or might except in God!)

May Allah grant Deah, Yusor, and Razan the highest level of Jannatul Firdaous (heaven), and may He give comfort and ease to their grieving family. Ameen.

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.

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