Friday, December 29, 2006

Than Thou - Part Two

Manal, wife of Abu Sinan has recently started a blog, and very entertaining it is too. Except she has already had a troll who accused her of "not sounding like a Muslim", which is a nasty and completely unfounded slur.

There is no justification for such behaviour, but the cause of it is simple, yet decidedly unIslamic. We all want to be good Muslims, we want this more than anything else. For some this desire gets mixed up with the longing for others to see what a good Muslim you are, such longings then lead to the childish tactic of calling others bad Muslims so that you look like a good Muslim in comparison.

Or, to put it another way, putting someone else down to make you feel good. Which is less about Islam and more about pride and ego.

We can all be tempted by such thoughts, but there is a simple cure. When you see a Muslim doing something you see as sinful, first consider: "Would I exchange all the sins I currently commit for the sin I feel this person is committing?". Usually the answer is "yes".

Or as Abu Hanifa (RA) so eloquently put it "Oh my eyes, but others have eyes too."

Monday, December 25, 2006

The BNP at the ballet

Simone Clarke, one of the principal dancers with the English National Ballet has been revealed to be a member of the British National Party.

"Clarke said she believed that immigration had "really got out of hand". She added: "If everyone who thinks like I do joined, it would really make a difference." "

The BNP, for those fortunate enough not to have heard about them already, are a far right party, similar to Le Pen's Front Nationale in France, i.e a bunch of racists fixated on returning their countries to some ideal of racial purity which never actually existed.

The strangest aspect of Clarke's membership, is that her fellow dancer, partner of five year and the father of her child is Chinese-Cuban.

So either she's stupid or extremely deluded or both.

As a member, presumably she must regularly receive some sort of party literature and I wonder what her partner thinks of statements of the U.K being somewhere for whites only and that white people (specifically, Northern European white people, they follow the thinking of their hero Adolf on this),are superior. Or that those who date marry/outside of their race are "traitors".

I feel both disgusted and perplexed by this because, like many converts, I'm in a mixed race marriage. My husband is Arab and a foreign national. Although to the likes of the BNP, I'm already a disgrace for converting to Islam (current legislation means it is not illegal to insult Islam and Muslims in the U.K, something the BNP have readily exploited).

One of the things the BNP finds objectionable about Islam is the idea that Muslims (of the non-white variety) will come into the country and take "their women", as when a mixed race child is born: "a white family line that stretches back into deep pre-history is destroyed."

Do these people not have access to history books? Due to an extensive history of invading each other, there is no pure white race in Europe. It doesn't exist.

In summary, the BNP wish to attack the lives, futures and dreams that I and other people in mixed race relations hold dear. That's why I cannot understand someone in a mixed race relationship supporting them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

One less despot


It is wrong to feel happiness at the news of someone's death, but I doubt few will shed tears over this:

Saparmurat Niyazov 1940-2006


As an aside, why do these dictators have such an obsession with spending vast amounts of money building kitsch monstrosities?

Also, Turkmenistan is energy rich so the Americans/Russians are both right now probably assembling a puppet with great haste.

May Allah protect the people of Turkmenistan and improve their situation.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Than Thou

Big, big thanks and shukrans for all the lovely comments. Especially considering how sluggish I've been about updating of late. Insha Allah there will be more posts soon, but this blog will not turn all soppy, I promise.

One of the bad things about blogging is the whole "Than Thou"attitude. You know some bloggers who are cooler than thou, smarter than thou and in the case of religious blogs way more pious and knowledgeable than thou. Unfortunately, such types are not content unless they are inflicting their sense of superiority on someone.

I try be honest on this blog. I listen to music, watch films and tv. I'm not yet the Muslim I'd like to be, but insha Allah I will be one day. Anyone who feels it's their religious duty to tell me otherwise, please find something more constructive to do.

The main reason behind this blog is to give an insight into being a convert (and to rant on about random things). I aware that I have to give a good impression about Islam, but at the same time, I want people to realise that Muslims aren't automatons and we aren't all alike either.

A lot is being said about integration into society. Politicians are trying to turn a highly subjective concept into some standard ideal we all have to match up to. How can you actually judge integration anyway?

We all live in a society, and we should all have the individual choice to participate in that society as we wish.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Are the stars out tonight?

"It'll happen when you least expect it."

"When you meet the right person, you'll know."

Two of the eyeroll-inducing cliches most frequently emitted by the well-meaning and happily married.

But what are cliches except truth wrapped in overfamiliar phases.

I wasn't expecting it, then I met him and I knew.

That was in September and we got married last month, Alhamdulilah.

We sat side by side on the floor of the mosque. Recited our vows. The simple words that change everything. What was written, cannot be erased.
The air was heavy with the weight of the future. In this life and the next.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Breaking again

I'm sorry there hasn't been much new content here for a while, but it's for a really good (and happy reason).

Insha Allah, I will be back soon.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

What Rape Is

And so another "learned man of Islam" opens his mouth and embarrasses us all.

The man in question is Sheikh al-Hilali of Australia and he has been giving us his views on rape being the fault of the women, complete with tasteful meat and cat metaphors.

Yet the "she was asking for it" mentality is surprisingly wide spread, across all sections of society.

I had a conversation once with a male acquaintance. He had heard about a girl being raped while on her way out on a Saturday night. He felt that since the girl was obviously looking for sex, she shouldn't feel too bad about the attack.

To which I replied "So how would you feel if that was your Mother? She obviously likes sex too, otherwise you wouldn't be here".

The silence was beautiful.

In such a debate, awash with various women-as-objects metaphors, something is always forgotten: What the act of rape actually entails.

Think what must occur during a rape, the physical brutality of unwanted sexual intercourse, the fear the victim feels, the violence inflicted on them, the total absence of mutual enjoyment.

Does anyone ever ask for that?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Eid Mubarak!

Insha Allah you all had a wonderful Ramadan. Thank you so much for all your kind wishes.

May all our good deeds be accepted and inspire more good actions for the coming year, Insha Allah.

Normal blogging service will be resumed very soon, Insha Allah!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Retreating for Ramadan

So it is Ramadan already. It stretches before us like a body of water. Water we have to cross to take us to somewhere more beneficial and we have to dive in and submerge ourselves, keep focused on our aim of pleasing Allah Subhana Wa T'Ala and limit distractions.

As part of this, I will be going on a blogging break. Ramadan Kareem to all who read this blog. May Allah Subhana Wa T'Ala reward our efforts and give us strength.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When standing out is outstanding

Following my previous gloomy posts, I feel I have to redress the balance somewhat and talk about the positive side of living in a minority Muslim community.

Alhamdulilah, where I live, we are truly blessed with a small, ethnically mixed and thriving community. So-called "extremism" doesn't have a place here. I have yet to hear a Khutbah that I would be embarrassed to have my family or non-Muslim friends listen to.

Whether you are greeting someone in person, over the phone or via text or email, you always say Salaam Alaikum.
Everyone is brother or sister here. I have friends from Muslim majority countries who find that strange. Here it feels natural, we are few, we feel a greater bond to each other.

A major plus point of wearing hijab is that easy identification we can make. You see another muhijabi and you will smile and exchange salaams, even if you don't know them, there is that connection there.

Recently the sisters held a big iftar to raise funds for Lebanon. The venue was packed with sisters of all backgrounds and ethnicities and just about every style of dress and hijab imaginable. We prayed together, made du'a together and then all shared the delicious food each sister had brought. With everyone united for the purpose of pleasing Allah, it was like a tiny glimpse of Jannah.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Somewhere In Between - Part Two

"converts, especially white converts, are not usually going to win a lot of love, either from our birth society or from the Islamic community itself"

-DA

Do you ever read something and it so perfectly encapsulates something, you're left thinking "I wish I'd written that"?

Anyway, I wrote my last post and had a good whinge and was stunned as always by the nice comments. Seriously, no troll-like types at all.

When people ask me about being Muslim, I always break into a massive smile, because to me, it's wonderful, in so many ways which are hard to describe.

Which is all very well, because there are times when it's very, very lonely.

You are Muslim. Your friends and family are not. No matter how well they might accept it, the fact remains that they would rather you weren't Muslim. That hurts. To have a big part of you your loved ones wish wasn't there. Plus, it is a whole range of experiences you can't share with them.

As for the Islamic community, there is the divide caused by different cultures, the fact that you will be overburdened with friendly advice on how to live your life by people who don't really know you, and they don't really know you because of the attitude that everything of your pre-Islam life is to be locked in a big box marked "Do Not Open".

Which is a ludicrous attitude. Especially as some people have very real reminders of their past life (i.e children) which cannot be so easily boxed away.

Besides which, those experiences, that life brought you to this point. Allah is the best of planners, Alhamdulilah.

Islam is a journey and for a convert, it usually means treading your own path.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Somewhere In Between

Today I travelled to another city to attend a one day course for work.

After the course finished, I had some time left before my train was due, so I thought I would go to the mosque. Asr was nearly due and I wanted to go somewhere quiet and read the Quran. The more I thought about the idea, the more appealing it became.

I called Directory Enquiries and got the number of a local mosque. I rang the number. No answer. I passed a Shalwar Khalmeez shop with a Muslim name, I went in, gave my Salaams and asked if they knew where the mosque was. Of the five ladies in the shop, one returned my Salaams. I asked where the mosque was. They looked at me like I had asked for a bacon sandwich. "It's the other side of town".

I left the shop and I felt saddened by their rudeness. I'm starting to have doubts about going to this mosque, from the ladies' reaction, it could well be somewhere women aren't allowed/encouraged to go. I passed by a university, usually a good place to find a prayer room. It was closed. The shopping centre didn't have a prayer room either. It's getting late, I decide to try and catch an earlier train.

The timetables are located on a gloomy quiet platform. A gaggle of teenage boys are nearby.
I hear the word "Waki"(wannabe/white Pakistani) and with a sinking feeling, know they are talking about me. One actually walks over, pretending to look at the timetable, so he can check that I am indeed, white.
He returns to his friends and I hear the words "P*ki Lover". That would be about me too, then. Since my indignation would just feed their obnoxious behaviour, I walk away. I think that if I did have a Pakistani husband standing with me, they would have probably kept their opinions to themselves. Cowards.

I've had enough now. Alhamdulilah, there's a train that I can catch. As the city slides away from me, I feel relieved.

The stereotype of the Muslim woman is that we are isolated from society, either through choice, or due to the stereotypical image of the tyrannical, domineering Muslim man.

The sad fact is that, so much of society makes you feel uncomfortable, it's easy to stay in your comfort zone. It's annoying not being able to find somewhere to pray. The stares make me feel weary. I can tell myself that it's good dawah, it's good for us to be representing Muslim women in a positive way and it's good for people to see a convert.

Sometimes, I just feel so tired. Tired of explaining, being made to justify myself to people who view me with suspicion anyway. Several times, I've walked onto a train carriage and people have not just moved seats, but moved carriages. When I wear abaya, I know the nasty looks will increase as I'm viewed as not only a Muslim, but one who needs to go back to their own country.
I'm tired of explaining to both Muslims and non-Muslims that no, I didn't convert for marriage.

I think many converts are torn about whether to carry on living in their country of birth or to move to a Muslim majority country.

I don't belong here anymore, but where do I go next?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Plague


"But for all these great powers he's wishful like me
To be back where the dark Mourne sweeps down to the sea."
William Percy French

It has been years since I have been to the Mountains of Mourne and yet they remain the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

Many poems and songs have been written about them, countless pictures painted, all of which cannot describe the awesome sight of those imposing dark peaks sweeping down into the water below them.

It is hard to reconcile such beauty with the ugliness that was (and in some places, still is) found in other parts of Northern Ireland. An ugliness that can only come from seething hatred, bigotry, death, and most of all, fear. Identical streets side by side, divided by walls of concrete and steel, all sharing a love of flags and painting kerb stones. The flags, painted kerbstones and murals not a decoration, but a reminder of who you are, who they are, why you should hate them and stick, stick, stick to your own kind, or else end up stuck to the ground in some alleyway in a pool of your own blood.

Despite this, the Northern Irish, like those in the South of Ireland are known for their friendliness. Which makes the events of the Troubles (the stoicism and dry humour of the people evident in giving several decades of sectarian fighting a name which makes it sound a minor disturbance at a county show,)even more inexplicable.

Attempts are made, to explain, to understand, to justify. Discussion of the injustices experienced by Catholics and the insecurity felt by Protestants.

The truth is the Troubles happened because people wanted it to. Over 3000 people are dead as a result of the blood lust of a minority. Many more have been maimed. The numbers of lives wasted in some way by these events is incalculable.

Whatever the starting point, it was the terrorists, both Loyalist and Republican and those who gave them succour who maintained the conflict. The terrorism perpetuating itself as a classic example of the cycle of violence

Why? Power, money and for some people, sheer sadism.

What power, money and a love of bloodshed all have in common is that they are addictive. You can never have too much money or power. If you think it's an acceptable tactic to kill people, does it matter how many? The justification can always be found later and as Stalin said: "A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic".

Yes, there were the young and idealistic who were quickly bled to the machine by those who seemed to run all the operations but took none of the risks, but the main motives are those outlined above.

In a small place like Northern Ireland, it's nice to be a big fish. The ideology of terror soon providing a facade for some unashamed gangsterism. For while the Loyalist and Republican movements were supposed enemies, they could very amicably divide sources of protection money. The money involved was huge. Enough for all the latest weaponry from Russia/South Africa and to keep you in nasty gold jewellery and child maintenance payments. Certainly more then you would ever make working legitimately.

While the gangster activities continue, terrorist attacks have largely diminished, as the Peace Process shakily proceeds.

What I cannot understand is why it has taken over thirty years to get to this point.
So many wasted lives. As Bono put it: "All the folks the rest of us won't get to know".

In Islam, we believe that on Judgement Day, the Earth itself will be asked about the deeds it has witnessed. What a tragedy that one of the most beautiful parts of the planet Allah has given us has seen so much wickedness.

Photograph found via Google on Flickr. I couldn't find any details of who took it, if this changes, I will post them here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Good Stuff

Milk and cookies are great. They must be one of the most satisfying snack food combinations available.

I think it's good to find pleasure in things, no matter how inconsequential they are.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

People who upset you are rarely worth getting upset over

People can upset you in two ways: intentionally or unintentionally.

Being hurt unintentionally is usually caused by a person being thoughtless and not realising how something would affect you. If this is the case, that person needs to be told, in a calm manner, exactly why their behaviour has upset you.
Hopefully this will resolve the situation.
Unless, the person fails to recognise how their behaviour has troubled you , or worse still, the person doesn't seem to care.

Someone who intentionally upsets you usually has a strong motive, and that motive is often revenge.
So try to discover what has caused such rancour. Did you wrong this person in someway? If so, is it possible to rectify the situation by apologising/explaining?
Was the action taken by that person in proportion to the upset they felt?

If this person does not want to return to being on good terms with you, the behaviour was completely uncalled for, or they do not care that they have made you unhappy, then take immediate steps to distance yourself from this person.

The people in our lives have a lot of power over us. If there are people in your life who are abusing this power and making you unhappy, take it away from them.

Yes, you may have once been so close and have lots of happy memories. You can still have those memories, just accept that having this person in your life is no longer a good thing.

Taking such a decision may result in a drastic shrinking of your social circle, but it is far less stressful to have a few friends who bring you happiness, then a dozen who cause you sorrow.

That is why the people who upset you are rarely worth getting upset over. If they genuinely care for you and are sorry, then rather then get upset, it's better to discuss the matter with that person and avoid any repetition.

If they do not care for you, they are not worth your tears or your time.

Time is finite, don't waste yours on people who don't deserve it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blogger dance of rejection

Blogger are currently offering some new fancy beta thing. How nice for them. However, this means that I can't get to my Dashboard unless I sign in, attempt to sign up for the beta version and then am politely rejected as "one or more of your blogs cannot be moved over".

This happens every time I want to see my Dashboard and that's quite a lot now I've been trolled into having comment moderation on.

Enough with your teasing ways Blogger, it is most unseemly!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The camouflage of charity

Now that there is a supposed ceasefire, there are discussions about the money needed to rebuild Lebanon and where this money should come from.

In twee glass and china shops everywhere, there are signs with various variations on the theme of "You break it, you pay for it".

If you destroy something, there are consequences. Unless of course, you are the state of Israel. Then, there are only justifications. No apologies, no reparations, no hope for those suffering.

Unless Israel and the world is made to see that this destruction is wrong and unacceptable, Lebanon will never be safe, so what use is any charity money?

The shifting of the situation in Lebanon to just another charitable cause masks the injustice that has occurred there.

Lebanon has been violated and what the world is doing is just handing it make up to hide the injuries, the trauma, while murmuring "There, there. I'm sure Israel didn't mean for all this to happen. They're very nice really. You must have done something to upset them....."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The bad words and good words

I have been having problems recently with someone posting persistently abusive and anti-Islamic comments on my blog.

Despite the fact that this is my blog, I will write what I want and delete whatever I want, the person feels very slighted about having their comments deleted.

To spare other people having to read the comments, I've switched the comment moderation on.

This commenter has a female pseudonym and their diatribes, focused on how they feel Islam treats women and hijab blah, blah,blah, because they care about women and women's dignity so much.

Today that commenter posted that I was a "F***ing Whore". The same insult so often used by men, grasping at something to silence a woman into submission.

Well, I won't be quiet. I enjoy blogging far too much, for the way it allows me to explore my feelings and for the wonderful people it has brought me into connect with (especially you, A.K).

As for the commenter, I truly feel sympathy for you. Please believe that I pray very hard for you, for the hatred which consumes your heart and your life to be lifted.

To anyone else who wants to bring their anti-Islamic pity party to this blog, hear this:

I am Muslim. Insha Allah, I will remain within the faith of Islam until my last breath leaves my body and beyond.

Becoming Muslim is the best thing I have ever done. The joy and peace my faith gives me is immense and words cannot adequately describe it.

I love the Prophet (pbuh) more then anyone who has ever walked the earth. I love him (pbuh). I love the Companions, I love the Mothers of the Believers (May Allah be pleased with them all) I love the Qur'an I love the Sunnah.

I love the changes that serving Allah has brought into my life, all the questions it has answered, all the fears it has eased.

So please Allah, nothing, nothing, no comment you make, no link you post, no insult you use will change any of this. All it will do is strengthen my faith, make me turn to Allah even more.

La ilaha il Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasool-Allah


Friday, August 04, 2006

The power of Alhamdulilah

One of the most used words by Muslims is Alhamdulilah, which means All praise to Allah or put even more simply: Thank God.

Alhamdulilah is probably one of the words converts learn first too. It has the advantage of being comparatively easy to pronounce and it can be used in many situations.

There is something very satisfying about saying Alhamdulilah, it's phonetics are soothing, to say it is like exhaling deeply.

As well as a word of praise, it's one of reassurance and remembrance.

Alhamdulilah. Thank You. For all the blessings I remember, for all the blessings I forget and more importantly, I thank You for Your existance, for Your Light and Guidance. Your perfection and permanance beyond my understanding as well as the beauty of Your creation that I can witness and experience.
All praise is due to You. Ameen

Monday, July 31, 2006

Is there a special fruit you can eat to keep gynaecologists at bay?

In a previous post I mentioned that that people shouldn't dig for conversion stories. Yes, it is understandable that people are curious, but there is an appropriate time and place for such questions.

Just to clarify this point, I would like to state that the examination table in a Gynaecologist's office is never an appropriate place.

I'm sorry if I sound a bit precious, but at the gynaecologists! It's bad enough having to go there without being asked deep and meaningful questions at the same time.
The usual "Are you going away on holiday" patter would have sufficed.

Next time when they ask if I was born Muslim, I will be sorely tempted to say yes.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Freefalling

So the current hot idea is to have an international peace keeping force in Lebanon.

Would it not be more straight forward to insist that Israel stops trying to bomb it into oblivion?

Besides, Israel doesn't seem particularly fond of having an international presence.

If any other country (except the U.S, of course) behaved like this, there would be immediate sanctions and stern condemnatory faces all round. Whereas Israel, ever the spoilt child of the international scene, is allowed to throw it's toys out of the pram in any manner it so chooses, no matter what the effect or body count.

However, neither are Hezbollah, or their paymasters much of a shining hope for the Middle East.

Both sides have an ultimate aim in diametric opposition to each other. An aim which will never be fully realised due to the mere fact of the other's existence.

So all that leaves is spilt blood and blood doesn't cleanse, it congeals, providing nothing more than a stench and a surface for infection to flourish.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

To all those who like to quote the Qur'an out of context:


There are many quotes I could use, but this sums it up best:

"It may be that Allah will grant love and friendship between you and those who you (now) hold as enemies. For Allah has power (over all things); and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Allah forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just.

Allah only forbids you with, regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and support others in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such that turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong."
Surah 60 7-9

Any other "selective quoters", I will be deleting your comments as they are the same boring, tedious arguments and just show how much you've missed the point of my last post, which is that the daily practice of Muslims is non-violent and impacts minimally on those around them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Everyone in moderation

After reading Abu Sinan's post about the "Good Muslim", I was thinking about the current phrase "Moderate Muslim".

Extremism is a much disparaged quality. Couple that word with Islamic and you have the media "Threat to Society" standby for when they get bored of making up lies writing about immigrants.

Muslim minorities are warned against Islamic extremism, as if it were some kind of narcotic we might all get addicted to:
"It all started as a bit of fun.... saying things were Haram and calling Non-Muslims Kafir, I tried to stop but I couldn't....I just wanted more and more... soon Hizb Ut Tahrir wasn't hard core enough for me... then I met this guy who said I would go to Jannah guaranteed if...

To prevent this from happening, and to ensure we are tolerant, well-integrated members of society, our caring politicians advise us to be "Moderate Muslims", whatever one of those is.

A better idea of what this means could be found in the words of a moderate Muslim
"I'm a 'moderate' Muslim. I don't pray five times a day, I drink the odd glass of wine".*

So a 'moderate Muslim' is really a non-practicing or nominal Muslim. So it would appear that our religion has so much of a negative effect on secular society that it is better if we don't practice it.

But who believes in Moderate Muslims/Islam anyway? Google the term and the results consist of Daniel Pipes and his equally Islamophobic ilk, saying the simple fact is we Muslims are all bloodthirsty animals and thus could never be anything other then violent extremists.

The real question is why, as Muslims, should we be trying to please people who will never be pleased with us until we leave Islam.

Praying, fasting, reading the Qur'an, going to the masjid, growing a beard, following rules of Islamic dress. These things and others are very important to Muslims, but actually impact very little on other people.
If someone is offended or threatned by such actions, then surely it is them who needs to learn tolerance of others?

*Saira Khan, Marie Claire, August 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Great Dictator - You tube style

You Tube really is a treasure trove of bizarre goodness.

While looking for something else entirely, I came across this.
Oddly affecting and relevant too.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dark Heart

As long as the sun lights the day,
And as long as the moon lights the night,
I'll pray for the strength to fight thine enemy.
The One who choses darkness over light.


Dark heart by Bomb the Bass

These are dark times we are experiencing.
May Allah protect and guide us all.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Offensive and really offensive

Offensive: Apparently Materazzi called Zidane, "the son of a terrorist whore' before adding 'so just f*** off' for good measure,"*

Really Offensive:The subsequent onslaught of articles talking about Zidane's "dark side" and his "demons from the past".
Yes, his family were poor and from abroad, but from the tone of some news reports you would think he was a subhuman raised by wolves. However, he is Arab, so it's obviously acceptable to talk about him in such terms.


*"Son of a terrorist whore" is a actually a really poor insult. Surely someone can't be a terrorist and a whore? I thought being a terrorist wouldn't leave much time for street-walking on the side.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

...Because Ali didn't burn her dinner....

...Italy won. Sigh.

I wanted France to win, especially after hearing they had a fellow convert on the team.
Alas, it was not to be. I won't blame Zidane. I'm not excusing his behaviour, but whatever Marco Materazzi said, it must have been something pretty heinous to receive such a reaction.

The dazed reaction of the French team following the Italian victory underlines the reality of tired legs not doing quite enough to win.

It has not been a World Cup of outstanding teams, although there has been some amazing football.

Best Match: Argentina v Mexico
Best Goal: Joe Cole v Sweden
Best Celebration: Mauro Camoranesi's post match, on pitch haircut.

No major tournament until the European Championships in 2008, no Olympics until then either - what's a sofa-loving sports fan meant to do until then?!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Soldier's Song


No one cares about soldiers.

The whole point of soldiers is to be the necessary fodder, expendable in order to achieve the desired aim.

No one cares about them when they are alive and when they are dead they care even less.
A "dignified" funeral. Crocodile tears from politicians. All that is left is the anguish from the family as they realise their child died for nothing.

Apparently Israel cares for it's soldiers. Except it doesn't really. Israel cares for it's pride, showing it's might and using any reason to treat the Palestinans like ants under a magnifying glass.

You cannot care about something which you do not value. When something is priced in blood, the real cost is far greater then that.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Islamic FAQ


These are just some of the questions I have been asked (New stupid questions will be added to the list) :

"Do you go to sleep in your hijab?"

"Aren't you hot wearing all that?" (asked many, many times).

"Does your hijab have to be blessed by a priest?"

"Will you be having an arranged marriage?"

"Can you still have children?"

"Why isn't your hijab black?"

"Can you still get married?"

"Haven't you read the Bible?"

"Why have you betrayed your Christian roots?"

"Why can't you be a Buddhist instead? At least that's a peaceful religion"

"But I thought you were a feminist?"

"You're not going to become one of those suicide bombers are you?"

"How come Muslims are so bitter?"

"How can you marry someone without sleeping with them first?"

Finally the prize for most offensive question goes to:

"Are there many white Muslims so you don't have to marry a black man?"

"Aren't you the wrong colour to be a Muslim?"

"So if you can't drink or have boyfriends, what do you do for fun?"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Conversion Stories: Part One

The number one question I get asked, even more then if I wear my hijab in the shower (really!), is phrased in two different ways :"So what made you convert to Islam? (this is how non-Muslims phrase it)and "What was it that made you decide to convert to Islam (Muslim phrasing).

Whenever I get asked this question, it is a massive struggle not to emit an outward groan to match my inward one. As I get asked this All. The. Time.

For Muslims, they are genuinely happy with me. For some there is also the political implication of a westerner rejecting that way of life. This is because they think Western life is all wine, orgies and wearing mini skirts. This is no more true then the idea that the Middle East is a haven of correct Islamic living.

From non-Muslims, the automatic assumption will be that I've converted because I married a Muslim, like there could be no other reason why anyone would want to "do that to herself" (that's what one of my Indian Christian colleagues demanded to know when she saw me in hijab). Then, I always get treated to the religious background of the person asking the question. Which I didn't actually ask them about, because I'm not interested. People's religious beliefs are their own business.

Which, for me is the crux of the matter. No one takes the decision to convert lightly, it is a heavy decision, with a massive impact both pre and post conversion. I won't tell people this, because often I don't know them well, yet this is the first question they've asked after "What is your name?"

This means, that people are often not satisfied when I've told them, saying there must be more to it then that. Well, I make no apologies if my story doesn't meet their dramatic high standards. I've told as much as I feel comfortable with.

For those who crave other people's drama, I have to disappoint you by saying most conversion stories often follow a similar pattern: Person meets Muslim in varous capacity (work, school e.t.c), talks to person about Islam, reads about Islam/meets other Muslims, is surprised that Islam is not what they thought it was, becomes convinced by Islam, converts.

So next time you meet a convert/revert, resist that overwhelming temptation to ask them why they converted. Remember that they get asked that question on an almost daily basis. Finding something interesting does not actually make it any of your business.

If they want you to know, they will tell you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I can see you...

... really I can, thanks to this stats counter I saw on Forsoothsayer's blog.

So I know who some of my readers are, Mozambique is Ali, Romania is Alina and I know who a few of the Egyptian readers are.

As for the other people from France, the U.K and other places, the comments are open to everyone, whether you have a blogger id or not. So feel free to say hello and how you came here.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Gift of Unity

There is a lot written on the differences amongst Muslims. Different madhabs, sects, ethnicities, organisations.

Instead of being a proof of the universality of Islam, these differences are used by some as evidence of their superiority. Or more frequently, of other's inferiority.

There was an advert recently, on one of the Islamic channels, for an Umrah/Hajj package. The voice over stated "Five times a day, all Muslims turn towards the same place", while the picture showed a montage of different Muslims all turning towards Makkah.

It's something easy to take for granted, to not appreciate this as yet further evidence of Allah's grace.

Five times a day, a sizable (and growing) chunk of the world's population, perform the same actions, speaking the same language. At any given time, I can stand on my prayer mat and know there are people all over the world doing the same.

Now that is real unity. It is something very precious that Allah has given us, and we should cherish it and remain mindful of it, instead of squandering this blessing in the pursuit of material gain.

May Allah guide and protect us all.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

This Life

This is the only life we get. Over six billion people on the planet, so many possibilities and perspectives, we will only experience one.

You are your own point on the compass, no matter how close you may get to another person.

This body is the only body you will ever have. Depending on how you relate to your body, how comfortable you feel within it, you may feel like it's an extension of your inner self, your personality made flesh, or you may feel like "The Ghost in the Shell".

People mature, are marked or nourished by experience, but the mental traits are the same. The blueprint cannot be altered.

Being you is mandatory.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Girl on the Train

She is about five or six years old. Very pretty. Then she opens her mouth and I can see most of her teeth have been removed. The teeth left look decayed. She is full of childish exuberance and she can't sit still. Her mother yells and curses at her to sit down and then throws a bag of crisps at her to keep her quiet. The little girl sits and attempts to eat her crisps. It is not easy, as her gums are not strong enough to break them, so she has angle them between her remaining teeth.

I'm trying really hard not to stare. First at the little girl's mouth, then at her mother for speaking to her child in such a foul way and then my eyes go back to the pathetic spectacle of the little girl. Most of the crisps are on the floor as she hasn't been able to chew them properly. I look out of the window and I want to cry. It still shocks me how some people treat their children.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's a football thing.

So the World Cup is nearly upon us. It may be a heinously over-commercialised hype-fest, but it also provides an excuse to sit on the sofa all day long watching matches.

Any or all of the following things will happen:
  • At least one highly controversial refereeing decision.
  • A match between two not very fancied teams will turn out to be the blood-and-thunder, most entertaining match of the tournament. The sort of match you start off half watching, then end up sat right in front of the T.V unable to tear yourself away.
  • During any Brazil matches, the T.V cameras will pan on to any attractive women in the crowd, while the commentator prattles on about "Samba Spirit".
  • Most football players will not know the words to their national anthems. Those that do, will sing loudly and out of tune, ala Marcelo Salas.
One of the worse things about World Cups is that the TV is full of random people spouting nonsense about football.

An example of this was an extremely irritating American (who called football, soccer, so therefore should not be allowed to talk about it as he obviously knows nothing about the game), who was saying how the best team in the tournament rarely wins the World Cup. This is completely missing the point. The reason why tournaments are so great, is the unpredictability of them.
Football is not about being better on paper, otherwise Spain would have far more worth stealing in their trophy room then the carpet. Football really is about having 90 minutes in which anything can happen and having the desire and ingenuity to make the game go your way.

What I really hate about the whole "best teams" argument is the elitism of it. If you are not a fashionable team, you don't deserve to win. Sadly with the money situation in football, if you are not a fashionable team, you usually can't afford to win. One the reasons the Greek victory in Euro '04 was so enjoyable, was the upset it caused to football snobs.

The whole passion argument and the idea of the crowd lifting their team to excel themselves, is not something your average football snob would understand anyway. This World Cup, they'll be wearing a Brazil shirt, the last one, they wore a France shirt (until they didn't make it past the group stages , oh dear!) and before that, an Italia shirt.

Here's hoping the team who wants it most, gets it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Motorcars: A Metaphorical Tale

So after a lot of thinking and weighing up the options fully, you've decided to buy a car. You've wanted to buy a car for ages and you've finally found the one for you. It's a silver Mercedes and you love it. It is a pleasure to drive and you love being seen with it. In short, it is everything you could want in a car.

However as time passes, you decide you don't like the Mercedes anymore. You want a Jeep instead. So, do you think carefully about your decision and decide you want to keep the Mercedes or do you take Mercedes back to the shop for some else to buy and enjoy.

You do neither of those things. You decide that it's the Mercedes that has to change. So you set about pummelling it with power tools, welding gear and scrap metal. However much you try, the Mercedes doesn't become a Jeep and the more force you put on it, the more of a mess it becomes.

Until all you're left with is a wreck in place of something that once made you very happy.

There are some things which cannot be changed.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

All Change

So I have a dashing new template and the Girl's Club has a new home and look.

The new template is because I was bored (again!) and fell in love with this one.

The new home for the Girl's club is because someone deleted our blog. Yes, some silly person in cyberspace with a grudge against one of our members decided to delete our entire blog.

However the lovely Ahmed (backtick) had our post stored and with the help of him and Google's cache, you can find most of the old stuff in the new place!

Isn't technology marvellous!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Petty Fascinations Part One: Yulia Tymoshenko's Hair


Once upon a time, women did not have hair styles, they had hairdo's. Hair styles have bounce and vitality. Hairdo's do not move. At all. Hair styling is about drying your hair in a certain way and using a few hair products. Hairdo's are created, or rather, engineered, using a fist full of hair pins, various implements of a blistering temperature and the contents of a can of hairspray so large, it can be used as a battering ram.

Sadly the hairdo is a dying art, although there are a few maintaining the standard. Step forward Yulia Tymoshenko. Since 2002, the Ukrainian politician has worn her hair in an impeccably neat braid, based on a traditional Ukrainian hairdo. Such was the stir this ornate hairdo caused, speculation was rife that the braid was a result of a hair extension. When asked this question publically, Tymoshenko responded by unpinning (see!) her hair, to show that it was all her own. Since then, come rain or revolution, the braid has not shifted, not even a hair out of place.

Pictures obviouisly not taken by me and obtained from BBC News, Pravda, Ukrainian Elle, mosnews.com and The Age.au



Update:
According to this article, Yulia Tymoshenko takes exactly seven minutes every morning to style her hair. Impressive.

Also, if you Google "Yulia Tymoshenko hair", this blog is the 10th result.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Man from Montenegro, he say Yes.

0.4% has created a new country. The people of Montenegro have voted Yes to independence, with a 55.4% vote in favour, just 0.4% over the 55% needed for the vote to be valid.

Is this a good thing? I don't know. Something that makes me a bit sad it that one of the main arguements of the yes vote was that an independent Montenegro may be able to gain a quicker entry into the European Union. Especially as the Serbian version of Where's Wally (Aren't those Intepol pictures shoddy, no wonder they have been found yet!), which is currently stalling their entry, is showing no signs of coming to an end. While I can see the economic benefits of EU membership for such a small country, I'm uneasy about it being held up as the glittering prize, to be attained at any cost. Also, does EU membership enable a country to be truly independent? The benchmark figure of 55% needed for the referendum vote to be valid was set by: The EU.

I am not a nationalist, but this has been a debate on national identity and it seems strange logic to become a smaller box just to join a bigger one.

Another worry, is that this may cause further instability in the Balkans (Googling that phrase gets over 15000 hits), if Republika Srpska decides that it want independence too.

So what will happen next? Stay tuned for the next episode of the Balkan soap opera.
(P.S that last point is poking fun at the world view of the Balkans, not the region itself)

Good blog here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

New Model Army


People have very different ideas about what liberation means. Often what is called liberation really means that one type of restriction has disappeared and been replaced by another.

One area which is considered more liberated in modern day society is sex and sexuality.
Modesty or prudishness have been pushed aside by hedonism and comercialism as the frequent refrain of "Sex sells" and meeting the demand of the public is used as justification.

The most visible example of this is the pornographic industry, which has used globalisation and technology to become an ever more profitable business. From being the domain of backstreet shops and mail order companies, porn is now a mainstream product, readily available.

Does anyone ever wonder where all these porn actors/models come from? There are so many of them it is frightening. So many people are being drawn into such dangerous and damaging work and the numbers of people doing this is increasing. Can there really be that many people who want to earn their living this way? It's almost like there's some sort of conscription at work, drafting people in to provide fodder for the industry.

I am against pornography, both as a Muslim and a feminist. Those who disgree with this stance should ask themselves if they would like someone they care about to appear in such things. The answer is almost certainly no.

The desire for porn to be seen as acceptable is a very insiduous trend and not just for those who appear in it. Like narcotics, like tobacco, like gambling, porn is another accquired desire that is destructive both for the user and those around them.

It degrades both the user and the porn actor by removing dignity and converting human intimacy into the lowest common denominator of temporary gratification, encouraging people to view each other as objects be to be utilised then discarded.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Boom!


This is quite an easy post to write because I love Egypt. It's true that of my many years on earth, I've only spent seventeen days in Egypt but still, I love the place and frequently dream of returning there.

I think one of the main reasons I loved being in Egypt was because Egypt is a Muslim country (I use that term to mean that Egypt is a country with a Muslim majority). The first time I went there I was a shiny, new Muslim, still in the closet to my family and most of my friends and work colleagues. The feeling of relief at being somewhere where having to pray five times a day is the norm rather than a oddity, at not having to consantly explain all the time was amazing. It felt like I could inhale after holding my breath.

Yet amidst all the joy at being amongst other Muslims in Egypt, hearing the athan, indulging in muhijaba-friendly shopping and alternating between embarrassment and pleasure at people's delight in meeting a real-live convert, there is one memory that stands out.

I am on horseback by the pyramids looking out across the city, when the athan for Mahgrib starts. Like an aural wave, it swept across the city as the different mueddhins made their calls. As I heard it, one word came into my head: "How?" How can a country this religious be ruled by people devoid of any goodness, spiritual or otherwise?

Masha Allah, there are brave people in Egypt doing more then asking questions but are actively fighting for change in Egypt. I am humbled by their efforts. May Allah protect them all.

Technorati tag: googlebombingforalaa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

If I only had a brain......



I've been at this blogging lark for about four months now. I'm a pretty active blogger and I like to comment a lot on other people's blogs. Yet I was starting to get seriously perturbed by the lack of comments on my blog. Then, whilst looking through my settings I found a load of comments that I needed to publish. You see, I am dense. I did not realise that I actually had to check and put the comments on myself. This is what happens when you select your blog settings when you're half-asleep and don't bother to review them.

So for all the people who have commented and kept commenting:Thank you .

You are all sweeter then I could have ever imagined.

P.S replies to comments coming soon, insha Allah.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My Everchanging Ethnicity

I am a white girl. Blue eyes and skin the colour of frightened milk. I live somewhere where this complexion is pretty commonplace and so never considered myself as looking at all exotic. Until I wore hijab. Then I became a big question mark for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.

To some people I look Arab. This prompts lots of questions of "Where are you from?" when I reply I'm from this country, I am asked "So where are your parents from?". One man, who decided I must be from Syria/Lebanon, even asked where my grandparents were from. He must have thought I was using the convert story because I was ashamed of my Arab heritage.

To others, I look all too white, too much like them. My Hijab is a sign of treachery. So I get remarks like: "You're the wrong colour to be Muslim", "Wannabe Pakistani" and recently was accosted by a man on the bus who accused me of betraying my Christian roots, that this country was in danger of becoming an Islamic state and I was helping it happen. To which I replied "Good" and promptly told him to leave me alone and mind his own business.

As I got off the bus, the sun was shining and I knew that it was all worth it, converting to Islam is still the best thing I've ever done. Alhamdulilah.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Mmmmmeme

Tagged by Alina


1.Grab the book nearest to you, turn on page 18 and find line 4.
"The wariness went out of Spade's eyes. He made his eyes dull" The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

2.Stretch your left arm out as far as you can.
I'm touching my trusty stepladder.

3.What is the last thing you watched on TV?
A documentary on Vladamir Putin. He is a very small man.

4.Without looking, guess what time it is?
01.46

5.Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?
01.47

6.With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
Listening to Ciara's album. It's actually pretty good, honest!

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
From my friend's car to my door, was fumbling in my pocket for my house keys.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Alina's blog.

9. What are you wearing?
Pyjamas.

10. Did you dream last night?
No, had a really deep sleep

11. When did you last laugh?
At my friend's house last night

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Really bright yellow paint (Not my choice of colour).Three pictures. One by Wassily Kandinsky, one by Paul Klee and the other by Neil Southmore. All of them are sort of rainbow coloured and I've just realised I've forgotten the names of them all, how shameful.

13. Seen anything weird lately?
A little boy (about eight of nine) sitting all by himself at the train station. I asked him if he was okay and he insisted he was, but he looked so lonely sitting there.

14. What do you think of this quiz?
Pretty interesting.

15. What is the last film you saw?
Lady Vengence. Nice slice of Korean darkness.

16. If you became a multimillionaire overnight, what would you buy?
New mosque for my city as the current one is far too small.

17. Tell me something about you that I dunno.
That I haven't grown out of wishing I had magical powers.

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?
As cheesy as it sounds, world peace is the first thing that springs to mind.

19. Do you like to dance?
I really, really, like to dance.

20. George Bush.
Oh hell no!

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
I really like the name Nur for a girl as it's simple and has a good meaning.

It's hard picking children's names as you have to find something that suits a child and an adult. The litmus test is this: Can you imagine calling them by this name loudly, in public (as parents frequently have to), without embarrassment. As well as that, I want to give them good Muslim names but they would have to be ones my Mum could pronounce (anything with Kh in is out of the question).

22.Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?
Ibrahim. Again it has a good meaning and a lovely ring to it.

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
I consider it everyday.

24.What do you want GOD to say to you when you reach the pearly gates?
That He is pleased with me.

25. 4 people who must also do this meme in their journal.
Anyone who is interested.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Stop the Traff*kers

Loanna's story


Loanna was born in Africa. Her mother disappeared when she was very young and so she lived with an elderly woman, who treated her as her own child. Loanna did not attend school, but spent her early childhood looking after the woman.


When Loanna was 13 the woman died. Loanna spent the next few years staying with various friends and sleeping rough.


Some of these 'friends' beat Loanna and forced her to work for them. She was raped by a number of men. She could not go to the Police because she knew they would not help as they only helped rich people.

One day an English man called Stuart stopped to talk to her. He said he could help her and asked if she would like to do domestic work for him in England.

Loanna travelled to England with Stuart. He had all the paperwork for this trip and did all the talking with Immigration officials when they arrived in England.

When she arrived at Stuart's house, Loanna was told that she would be working as a masseuse. She was shocked at this and refused. She was beaten and threatened that she would be arrested if she did not do as she was told.

Loanna was locked in the house and was forced to have sex with up to seven men every day.

After 6 months the house was raided by the police. Loanna was held and sent to a Detention Centre. Stuart visited Loanna in there, threatening her not to tell the truth, or she would be sent back to Africa and killed there by his friends. Loanna was told by friends she made that if she returned to Africa, it was very likely these threats would be carried out, as it was known to have happened to other women who had reported their traffickers and been sent back. The visits were stopped after Loanna revealed the truth, but she still received threatening phone calls, often from people she had never met.

Loanna was eventually released from the Detention Centre and was assisted by the Poppy project. She received counselling for her anxiety and depression and was provided with secure accommodation and support services.

She is still scared to go out alone and worries that she will be found and punished by her traffickers.


Katerina's story

Katarina was a student in Romania. She built up a friendship with a friend of a friend named Alex, who invited her to the UK and told her that she could stay at his house, he would even help her with the air fare.

When she arrived in the UK, Katerina was held prisoner in a flat where she was repeatedly beaten and raped.

Alex told her that she could have her freedom, but she would have to work as a prostitute to pay back the money that he had paid to bring her here. Katerina eventually gave in and began work, paying all of the money she made to Alex.

When she missed one payment she was dragged from the street into the boot of a waiting car. Once again Alex held Katerina prisoner, and once again she was repeatedly raped and beaten. Katerina was forced to return to work as a prostitute for over a year until Alex decided that he would sell her on to some other men. While trying to carry out the transaction Alex was arrested.

Katerina was introduced to the Poppy Project and after providing secure accommodation we referred her to a counselling service. She was given lots of support around coping with her fear of leaving the house and also assisted with access to legal advice and interpreting among many other services. She was supported and guided to enrol in classes and also explored voluntary work.

This was not the end of the ordeal for Katerina. Alex made threats to have her family killed if she cooperated with the police investigation, in addition there were at that time, no laws to prosecute traffickers and Alex walked free.

Although Katerina is happy in Britain she fears for the safety of her family back home as Alex has many connections. She misses her family and would like to go home but believes that she will never be able to return. Her parents have received many anonymous phone calls and she is concerned for the safety of her siblings.


Stories taken from www.poppyproject.org

Human Traffiking is nothing new, like a virus it can adapt and evolve, infesting any society and culture.

Since the fall of communism, there has been a marked increase in women from Russia and Eastern Europe being trafficked in to the West. Most of these women were lured by men they trusted, who promised them a life with better opportunities.

On arrival, these women find that they are actually being sold into sexual slavery. There was a recent media report of an "auction" of two terrified teenage girls taking place in an airport coffee shop.

If the stories, of the "lucky ones", those who escaped are so horrific, imagine the suffering of those who are not so fortunate, those who are trapped in a cycle of fear and abuse.

For more information, go to www.humantraffiking.com. Also, the MTV Europe's Exit Now campaign site give guidance of how to raise awareness in your area and has links to different organisations which help these women.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Cherry Blossom


Cherry Blossoms seen
Signal the spring's arrival
Under this wide sky.

Picture taken from www.cherenson.com

Sunday, March 26, 2006

For the Love of....

I've just returned from a weekend for converts. As always, a popular topic of conversation is marriage, particularly marriage horror stories. One particular tale (worth reciting with a torch shone upwards, ghost-story telling style) involved a Saudi brother, who on discovering his convert wife had boyfriends in the past, declared that she was "like a public toilet". Obviously the various ayah and hadith about conversion erasing past sins had obviously passed this brother by. Although I'm sure he knew the one about angels cursing until dawn. Just a hunch.

Intention is very important in Islam, yet some Muslims have intentions that are definitely not from the Sunnah. On one of the few times I prayed Dhur in the mosque, it was only me and this elderly sister in the woman's section. We exchange Salaams then come the inevitable questions prompted by my pasty pale face.
"Are you a convert?"
"Yes" I reply, not knowing what was to come after the obligatory Masha-Allah ing
"Would you like to get married?"
Stupid, stupid me: "Yes".
"Ahhh" Sister then proceeds to tell me about two brothers looking for wives.
The first is described as very religious, going to the Mosque five times a day. Of course with my shallow mind I ponder what sort of work he is doing to enable him to get to the mosque on the outskirts of town this often. The second brother is from Iraq. I am told he has a wife there, but after seeing my face hit the carpet am swiftly told that they are divorced. Seeing that I'm not particulary taken with her selection of husbands, the sister is keen to know if I know of any other Muslim converts looking for marriage, when that draws a blank, she asks if I know anyone, maybe just interested in Islam. Don't worry about location, the brothers will move anywhere at all in the country

It was at that point that I left, musing on how a bright shiny passport can be more attractive then anyone's face.

I think it is about time we called this behaviour by it's real name: Prostitution. I'm sorry brothers(and sisters), but if you are willing to marry someone with all that it entails, reducing the beautiful mercy from Allah (swt) of marriage to a business transaction, solely to get a particular passport then you are prostituting yourself.

Except that usually, both the customer and the prostitute are aware of the transaction taking place. That in these cases, there is usually a poor duped spouse, often new to the deen (how often have you read on e-groups "I've been Muslim for five minutes and I'm getting married to Brother Fromabroad next week") makes this all the more despicable.

We must stop this, Insha Allah. It is a disgusting, immoral practice which debases us all and it's about time we spoke out against it as a community and take active measures to prevent it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Posting to Pimp

My blogging tentacles have stretched even further as I've just posted on the Muslim Movie Review blog. It's very new and has been started by the lovely Otowi. Feel free to email her if you would like to join.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Inner Muslim, Outer Muslim

When I started this, I thought that I would write a lot about Islam and being Muslim on it.
However, when I think of stuff I want to blog, it's not usually related to those matters and I was wondering why.

I came to the conclusion that because, at the moment, this isn't a very personal blog (I don't blog about family, work e.t.c.), anything Islamic would be related to world events.

At the moment I can't relate to those events. I can't understand why Sunni are killing Shia and vice versa in Iraq, how grown men can think it is at all acceptable to kidnap a woman and excute her just for her profession, how (admittedly very few) British Muslims can hold banners saying they want another 7/7 and just the constant lies told about our religion by people who really haven't got a clue. You can give me the reasons behind these things but I don't understand them.

Most of all I can't relate these perceptions of Islam to my daily practice of the religion. Maybe it's because, Alhamdulilah I have a comfortable life but these things make no sense to me as a Muslim.

I tried to find a better site for the third link, but all I could find on Google were a ton of anti-islamic sites praising her. I rest my case.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Unidentified

Last year, I was sitting on a train, reading a newspaper when I read that National Missing Persons Helpline was in severe financial trouble. I guess the reasons for this is that NMPH works with a lot of people who are on the margins of society such as the homeless, substance abusers and the mentally ill. Also, the whole concept of having a loved one go missing is something that most people think will never happen to them and therefore they don't get many donations.

So when I get home I decide to go online to donate money to them. When the homepage comes up, a small heading marked "Unidentified" caught my attention. I clicked on it. A page comes up stating that this section contains details of people who have been found dead and they have not been able to identify the body. Then you are warned that this material may be disturbing to some viewers. An internal debate ensues: morbid curiosity versus not wanting to upset myself. Morbid curiosity won.

I'm not sure what I expected to see. Maybe just a few recent cases, but in fact there are many listed. People of all ages. Some found over ten years ago. The causes of death are varied too. There are suspicious circumstances and suspected suicides along with those who have died of natural causes. The clothes the people were found in are described and it's clear that a lot of these people were well dressed, took good care of themselves.
What stuck in my mind were the images. The NMPH have people trained in recontructions and visual impressions in order to show what the person looked like. These images were stuck in my head for a long time afterwards.

It seems almost unimaginable, that someone can die without anyone knowing who they are. We all come from families, have friends, colleagues, neighbours. How in a "modern" society can people die and not be unidentified? What does that say about our society and how little we care for the people in it? You imagine that if you died, you would have a funeral, be laid to rest by those who care for you, who would be able to mourn for you. For reasons unknown to me, these people haven't had that. I'm not sure which is worse, that you can be born into a world where no one cares that you've died, or that someone you care about can go missing and you spend your life waiting for them to return, wondering where they are , when in fact they are dead, lying in a mortuary somewhere.

That was the the first and last time I visited that area of the website. I can't bring myself to go back there. It makes me think too much of the things we take as a given in our lives and too angry that this can happen in a supposedly civilised nation.

Most of all, I feel so sad for those people. They have been denied in death something we all take for granted in life: an identity and the dignity that comes with it.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Winner Takes it All

So the result was:

Gold: Shizuka Arakawa
Silver: Sasha Cohen
Bronze: Irina Slutskaya

The exact reverse of what I predicted, so I know nothing. In fact I said that Slutskaya would do something special, it turned out that something special was to skate really averagely.

I'm so pleased Arakawa skated so beautifully. She is clever too. I'm sure she watched Sasha fall and thought "I'll do less complicated jumps but make sure I skate clean", which was a fantastic tactic.
What makes the women's event so special to me is those moments when it looks so graceful, so spellbinding and yet so effortless, you catch your breath. In past years the Women's event became dominated by teenagers, but the way Arakawa skated is something that comes with maturity, she skated like a woman and won.

In a youth obsessed world, it's good to see at least one instance where teenage doesn't equal better.

Just the Gala to look forward to on Friday, I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I could be wrong...

My predictions for the Women's Figure Skating are:

Gold: Irina Slutskaya
Silver: Sasha Cohen
Bronze: Shizuka Arakawa

Sasha Cohen is in fabulous form, but I think Irina will really go for it as this is her last chance of an Olympic title. Plus, she has the chance of being the first Russian woman to win gold in this discipline.

I love watching the Japanese skaters though. They have this ethereal quality to their skating which is just beautiful to watch. Also, they do not punch their fists in the air after completing their programme (I'm looking at you, Cohen), which is horribly unladylike behaviour.

One to watch for the future is Elene Gedevanishvili from Georgia. To get the correct spelling of her name, I had to go here. If you click on the names, you get a profile of the competitor. Most skaters look like they've escaped from a Young Offender's Institution/Orphanage, expect for Sasha Cohen, who in her picture, looks like the sort of girl you hated in school.

Monday, February 13, 2006

More than a Woman

Tonight saw the final of the Figure Skating Pairs competition in the Olympics. It was a good final, the artistry of the skaters, particularly the Chinese couples were beautiful to watch.

Pairs more than any of the other figure skating disciplines manages to combine grace and fluidity with a speed and althleticism which makes you gasp out loud. Forget the pretty outfits, this is not a safe sport.

The Russian pair Totmianina and Marinin were the favourites to win gold and they nailed a performance which was pretty much flawless. I'll admit, I don't really understand the new scoring system but so far, it seems to have prevented any erratic decisions.

So there was one more couple to skate, Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao. Early in their routine they tried to do a throw quad salchow, which had never been done before in competition. Zhang Dan landed horribly in an awkward splits postition. She stopped skating, obviously in a great deal of pain. The couple went to speak to their coach and then decided to carry on skating, picking up the routine from where they left off. It was a wonderful performance, something that you couldn't quite believe you were seeing. She had clearly been injured and yet was skating as if she was in no pain at all. As soon as they finished Zhang Dan started crying. They won silver, Zhang Dan's knee heavily bandaged while they waited for their results.

It reminded me a lot of Kerri Strug in the 1996 Olympics. I find it awe-inspiring that someone can overcome that much physical pain because they have to compete, they have to. This is their chance and they will not let anything ruin it. It's interesting that both those occasions involved the "weaker sex". I think that woman have a higher pain threshold then man, because of the physical processes we have to go through, therefore women have a better ability to overcome pain then men.

Anyway, I hope that tonight, Zhang Dan is happy with her silver medal and her knee has no long term damage. Insha Allah I'll be cheering them on to win gold in Vancouver.

Friday, February 10, 2006

We are the World, We are the children

Ok, I know the title of this post is a really awful charity song but I've been watching the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics, so it ties in with the Olympian "let's all get along" sentiment. The usual opening ceremony elements of contempory dance, moving sculptures and fireworks were all present. Also involved was a Ferrari, lots of blue capes, Susan Sarandon and Yoko Ono! Now, Susan Sarandon is a U.N Goodwill ambassador as well as a very talented actress but Yoko....

Another thing that annoys me about opening ceremonies is seeing the athletes entering the stadium Talking On Their Mobile Phones. Look, everyone you care about should either be in the stadium or watching it on t.v, so why not just fully enjoy the moment?

Anyway, I love the Winter Olympics. It's a fabulous excuse to watch sports that you never normally would, like Moguls and then there is all the drama and prettiness of the figure skating.
I just wish it happened more often then every four years.



Thursday, February 02, 2006

Dt-Dt-Dt On your mobile phone

One of the television channels had a debate asking if the "Danish cartoons" should have been published, so everyone has been texting everyone else, asking them to make sure they vote No.

I hate the way this is being defended as a freedom of speech issue. The orginal matter of the debate was if it was acceptable for a children's book written by non-Muslims to feature an illustration of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him). This is an interesting topic of debate and one which could have surely been handled in a more constructive manner, especially in a country where Islam is the second religion.

Sadly it seems the chance to attack Islam is too irresistible to some. To them it's a win-win situation. They get to publicly denigrate our religion, use any reaction made by Muslims to portray as us uncivilised and then claim that Muslims are against freedom of speech. The icing on the cake is then to claim that Muslims want to destroy Western society.

I had already seen the most offensive cartoon when I stumbled across a blog which has the sole purpose of attacking Islam. I can't imagine how someone can spend so much time talking about something they hate so much. However judging by the number of anti-Islamic sites and books, that is an increasingly popular hobby.

I feel pity for these people. It's easy to hate them but maybe it's better to pray for them instead. I don't want my heart to be blackened like theirs.

If I am right it is from Allah, if I am wrong it is from me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

All is quiet on New Year's Day.

Happy New Year to everyone. May Allah bring you all blessings and guide us on the right path. Ameen.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Try to hitch a ride on the turning tide

I've just finished reading Turning the Tide by Suma Din. It describes the stages of a woman's life, from birth to death. I initially thought it might be a bit New Agey but it is beautifully presented and a very inspiring read.

Each life stage is compared to a type of water (rivers, oceans e.t.c). There is a selection of women's thoughts on these stages, then appropriate ayahs from the Quran and hadith, dua's to help you through these stages and then finally, the story of a great woman of Islam.

In fact my only complaint about this book, is that they should publish a handbag-sized version to make it easier to carry around with you, as it's the sort of book that is great to dip in and out of.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I've used up all my tissues..

... as I have a cold. Today has been mostly spent on the sofa. Watched Unleashed
on DVD. It was a lot better than I expected, with Jet Li really getting a chance to show off his acting skills for once. The fight scenes were really well choreographed, but that's to be expected as Yuen Woo Ping was the choreographer.

I read a really good post on UmmZaid's blog about adaib. She compares learning the intricacies of adaib to the traditional ways martial arts masters trained their students. This is a really interesting metaphor and has given me a new way of looking at this. Insha Allah this will help me improve my adaib in the future.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Just leave out the reasons

Why must we Muslims be so negative?

Reading an article in The Muslim News with the headline "No Muslims Knighted in New Years Honours".

The article starts by saying

"A total of 19 Muslims (4 OBE's, 14 MBE's and one overseas MBE) have been included the New Years Honours List."

This is good news, right? No because:

"Notably no member of the Muslim community was knighted or awarded a CBE.
However five members of the Jewish community are to receive Knighthood"

The article continues by listing exactly how many Jews, Hindus and Sikhs (what, no Buddhists!) got which Honours.

I'm not sure why an article, which should be about celebrating the achievements of our brothers and sisters, has to have such undertones of victims of Zionist plot/Islamophobia to it.

Anyway, I've decided that Ayesha Qureshi MBE is the person I'd most like to go clothes shopping with. She always looks so well turned out.



A New Day

Salaam Alaikum

After spending far too much time looking at other people's blogs, I thought I would start my own.