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.