Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blogger is boring but does Wordpress equal stress? *Update*

Update 12/12/07 While I wouldn't say Wordpress and I are on first name terms yet, I'm staying there. Insha Allah there will be no more posts on this blog.

All new material will be at:

http://getoutlines.wordpress.com

So, I have moved to Wordpress as it's rather fancy and stuff.

However, I have just completed a post on there and it involved frowning a lot and trying not to swear. So I may return to Blogger as I am weirdly picky about tech things.

Until then:

Click the link for your Mittwoch dose of more of the same.

Update18/11/07: I've done two more posts there and it is still annoying me. My forehead hurts from frowning. I usually use Mozilla and spit on IE, but does Wordpress work better in IE? Any hints?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

When Fox defended the Dog

As I have stated before, my favourite brand of brain dead tv was Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Cheesy and ludicrous it may be but it was always so watchable.

Until:

Audiotape of Chapman using racial slur


Some people seem to have a problem with this concept, but to most it is obvious: there are some words you do not say.

White people do not get to say the n-word. They don't. It's an offensive, horrible word used with one intention only : to demean someone on the basis of colour.

There are other terms like this, some are considered 'reclaimed words' by members of that community, but it still remains that unless you are part of that community, you do not and cannot use those terms.

Much has been made of this being a tape recording of a private conversation. Maybe, but the views expressed in that conversation will be abhorrent to many.

Now Dog is sorry. So he's visiting lots of black people to wash away his guilt, so they can say he's not a bad person, he didn't mean it and he can get his job back. It would be good if he could really see why he was wrong, not just that he lost his job.

Predictably, Fox News have been defending him, saying that the use of the n-word is "equivalent to cursing". Ridiculous.

Some might ask why such a big fuss is caused by the actions of a minor celebrity. Maybe because it is another reminder of what a racist society we live in, that people might be polite to your face, but will still use the lowest kind of insults in private. Scraps of 'tolerance' instead of a diet of acceptance.

In private or in public, racism and prejudice should be fought, or they will contaminate everything they come into contact with, including our very souls.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Apples do not exist

Neither do practicing Muslims who are active and positive members of society. Muslims are either totally assimilated and vaguely nominal Muslims or Jihadist. Nothing else.

Such prejudices will not have been altered by the second installment of Britz, which focused on Nasima, the female character. There was so much wrong with this show. It would take a massive post to list it all, so I will summarise.

We are introduced to Nasima as a typically ordinary girl. A bubbly medical student with a passion for politics. We see her praying with her family (although she doesn't cover her hair properly during salah, the first of many inconsistencies).

Sadly, our insight into her religious beliefs and motivations pretty much ends there. For a drama supposedly about Muslims there is actually very little about Islam.

It was just completely unconvincing.

Nasima's best friend is arrested, imprisoned and release under a control order, despite not being involved in any illegal activity. She subsequently commits suicide.

After this Nasima attends a student meeting for Muslims, where she is told that Jihad is the duty of all Muslims, even women and that nothing else will help to end the war in Iraq e.t.c. In fact, the women are told that they could make excellent jihadists as they are less likely to be detected.

Meanwhile, Nasima still fits in the time for a non-Muslim boyfriend. In one of the most unrealistic scenes (and there were many), she tells her boyfriend he doesn't understand, because he's not Muslim, then proceeds to kiss him, just after he drank some beer and they sleep together. Because that's the behaviour of a committed Muslim. *Eye roll*

Cue Nasima confessing to her parents about aforementioned boyfriend in order to get sent to Pakistan so that she can train for her 'mission'.

The director proudly claimed to have spoken to Muslims before making this film. I'm not sure what he spoke to them about, but it wasn't Islam or how Muslims interact with each other.

Nasmina is shown making wudu and praying by the side of the men. Considering this is meant to be an 'Islamist' camp, neither she nor the other women wear hijab. When she agrees to do the mission. The leader makes this bizarre convenant which makes no mention of Allah. While doing so, he puts his hand directly on her head.

She then returns to London to finalise the preparation for her mission. While in London she lives with a male fellow terrorist, which would also be a no-no islamically, but the script remains unconcerned with such matters.


She looks a bit troubled that there might be children there at the planned detonation site, but this doesn't last long. This is another major problem. We know she is mourning her friend and blames the government for her death, but again, it's just not convincing. Her motives are unclear. A character tells her she will "sit at God's right hand", which is an odd statement from a Muslim, as there is nothing in Islamic theology about anyone sitting at the right hand of Allah. However, she replies that she is not doing this for that reason. Yet if she is doing this for emotinal reasons, i.e to avenge her friends death, she seems curiously lacking in passion. I'm not sure if it's the fault of the actress, the script or both.

So she goes to her final destination, wearing virginal white and an empathy belly to hide her bomb. Before she can detonate it, her brother finds her, they struggle in slow motion. Then the screen goes fuzzy.

Now for some statistics. Remember the director has spoken to real Muslims, so we are treated to statement about 81% of young Muslims think UK foreign policy is an attack on Islam and will increase the likelihood of terrorism in the UK. Then information about the Government anti-terror legislation laws passed.


Following this is a clip of Nasima's suicide video, where she declares the public are all guilty for electing the current government she declares that Muslims will fight ending by saying "So Help Me God", which is just not the sort of terminology a Muslim would use. Considering the number of real video messages made by suicide bombers, you've think this would not be difficult to portray in a mildly authentic manner, but it's fair to conclude this programme as the same relation to authenticity that a tree slug has to moonwalking.


Anyway. According to the director, my criticism is:
"disrespectful to the many Muslims who worked on the script and the production."

I stand by my opinion, they should be ashamed at how they earn their money. I would rather clean toilets with a toothbrush for a living then be involved in making such prejudiced garbage.

The above comment came from a live discussion forum on the show held on the Channel four website after the show. Here are some other choice tidbits:

"The 2 Pakistani girls at the bomb factory were hot. Liked the bra scene. Good work Peter."



"The fact you showed just how easy it was for Nasima to create her bomb in the 2nd part from odds and ends from any hardware store. It seems like there could be a bomb workshop in every other house all over the country."

"I know that so far we (the British people) have been very lucky so far. 7/7 was an atrocity but could have been so much worse. Are you not afraid that young Muslims will watch the documentary and be inspired?"


***

This is just the latest in a seemingly never ending torrent of negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam. Both films and television will claim to tackle any number of difficult issues, yet they find it impossible to show Muslims in a realistic manner. If there is no room for our reflection in their media mirror, then it's time we made our own mirrors.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And I thought Sleeper Cell was bad...

...until I saw Britz.

This is a two part drama on Channel 4 focusing on a British Asian Muslim brother and sister. He works for M15, she is a trainee terrorist. "Which Side Are You On?" is the tag line. Err, neither actually, thanks for asking. Oh sorry, you didn't ask me did you? As I'm just a normal law-abiding Muslim and my life is not very dramatic.

Early in the programme we have the 'Radical Student Scene', where a guy in 'Muslim dress' says things about being able to attack civilians and is met with fervent applause.

When I watch something like that, someone twisting my religion, lying about what I hold to be sacred it hurts. It just upsets me so much. Worst of all, people will watch this and thinks it's true. When any Muslim says otherwise, people think we are lying, or not 'real Muslims'.

The programmes are meant to use drama to inform and 'provoke debate'.
In Britain this year we've had visits from Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir (May Allah swt preserve them both), two of the most knowledgeable and charismatic scholars visit us.
These are two men with a wealth of knowledge, particularly about Islam in the west. Did they get to appear on prime -time tv? No.

Other than that, it was just so cliched. Pakistan is shown as a technology-free slum, where "nothing changes". The male lead and his icy blonde fellow spy have an affair because as Muslims on tv must be terrorists, so must pretty actresses take their clothes off. The M15 part of the drama looked like Spooks. Zzzzz

In interviews, the actors have waffled on about "playing complex characters" and "transcending labels", but they haven't. They've just made Muslims look bad (The only good Muslim is a non-practicing one, e.t.c) and given the Islamophobes another reason to scowl at women in hijab and mutter about what we talk about in mosques.

In Islam, there is a lot of importance placed on having an income from halal (permitted means). This is because your money is what buys your food, clothes, the roof over your head. If the money is tainted, it taints everything you buy with it.

There a lot of Muslim names in the cast list of this show. They should be ashamed of how they make their money.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blame it on the Burqa/This is why I mod

In an era saturated with a love of the symbolic, the burqa has to be one of the most potent, a signifier for female subjugation (by Muslims) in shapeless black fabric.

Never mind that fabric has no powers, oppression is carried out by humans who are usually men.

Still on many feminist blogs and discussion groups, when female discrimination is brought up, there will often be a few remarks about burqas and the poor Muslim women.

This needles me on numerous levels.

On a personal level, I consider myself a feminist. Always have done, insha Allah always will. I have no problem whatsoever reconciling that with my faith. I know I'm not the only Muslim women to feel like this. Disparaging remarks about Islam, shut us out of the conversation. Speak to us, not about us, you might be surprised by what we have to say.

Then there is the matter of people insulting something they know very little about. Have they met or spoken to any Muslim women. You can talk about subjugation under the veil, but have you spoken to anyone wearing it? Ayan Ali Hersi does not count.

Finally and most disturbingly, is the issue of racism. It can be called orientalism, but that academic term often seems to dress up the ugly reality. When there is talk about suffering Muslim women, a frequent theory is: Muslim women are so oppressed, because Muslim men are so brutal. Cue the stereotypes: variations on the theme of the "Barbarous Arab".
Mixed with a White Saviour Complex, this is a heady intoxicant.

*****

I am back to moderating comments. It's an easier way of keeping an eye on things. I don't mind personal insults, but the thought of something anti-Islamic lingering on my blog upsets me.

The best thing about it is, you can delete the comments from your blog but still have a record of them in your email inbox. Great!

Here is an especially asinine one from a notorious troll. It does, however, serve to sum up the thought processes described above.

So you like your rags and not waxing now!
Screw you and hopefully a Muslim man beats you as he's allowed!
Screw Muslims and all their followers!

So Mr Troll, here is my response:

1)Actually it a recommended act for both male and female Muslims to keep body hair neatly trimmed. It is much more hygienic.

2)I think this says more about you and what thoughts you have inside your head then it does about me. Anyway, since you are interested in Islamic marriages, here's another link for you.

3)Hmm, you are rather fond of that verb, aren't you? There is a mistake in this line. You see, Muslims don't have followers, we are followers of Islam.

I am convinced now that you didn't mean to write that comment. No one could possibly be that banal on purpose. I think you meant to write something like this:

So do you like wearing hijab?

To which I would respond, why, yes I do. Aside from the religious reasons, I always used to have bad hair days and it keeps my ears warm in winter. A sister once described hijab as "a hug for your head". I like that description.

Mr Outlines sounds nice, I hope you have many happy years together.

Yes I am rather fond of him, alhamdulilah. Thank you for your wishes,insha Allah this will happen.

Peace to all the Muslims, Peace to Everyone!

Thank you and the same to you.

See, it's so much nicer to be nice!

Friday, October 12, 2007

What do Muslims ask Allah swt for most?

If there is one thing that I want people to take away from this blog it's this:

Islam is for everyone

Really. Not just for people of x ethnic group, or whatever.

Allah swt states in a hadith:
"When My servant walks towards my, I run towards him".

That's all us Muslims are doing, walking towards Allah swt. Some of us keep the pace better then others, some of us get distracted, fall off, whatever, but we keep on walking.

Nobody starts climbing midway up the ladder, you have to start from the bottom, step by step.

Which brings me to the title of my post.

The answer to the question is this:
Idhinas sirat al mustaqim
Show us the straight way

This is verse/ayah six of Surah/Chapter Al Fatiha, the first Surah of the Quran, which is recited in every unit of prayer.

So a Muslim says this at least 17 times, in the five obligatory prayers, but most of us pray additional prayers and so we say it even more then that.

It really is the most sincere desire, to follow the guidance of Allah swt and the way of His beloved final Prophet, Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him).

For anyone interested in reading about the Qur'an, a really good site is Al Tafsir.

I would like to point out for my two favourite Non-Muslim readers that it also shows translations in Portuguese (Ali's favourite language) and Romanian (Although you speak English better then me, Alina!).

When I first head about Islam, I could never imagine being a Muslim:
"No way, that's far too strict, what fun do they have?!"

I can remember seeing the Qur'an channel on telly, flicking past, not interested.

What changed is that I began to feel the absence of God in my life. I saw religious people and thought, "I want what they have, that certainty, that guidance".

Then I became friends with a Muslim, read a translation of the Qur'an and that was that.
*gasp*, I think I've finally let my conversion story slip! Told you it was nothing exciting.

It wasn't easy, I had my struggles as everyone does.

Still, I have to tell Mr Outlines that he's the second best thing to have happened to me.

The first best thing was becoming Muslim. Insha Allah, it always, always will be.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eid ish

The U.K is a pretty small country, safely within one time zone.

Yet can we celebrate Eid on the same day?

NO!!!

Subahana Allah, I'm so sorry to end my blog break with negativity, but this is absolutely ridiculous. Even within the same city, people are celebrating Eid on a different day.

I check the Ramadan Uk site - Eid is on Saturday, fine Alhamdulilah, I pray tarawih at home. I get an Eid Mubarak text and check with the local mosque, according to them, Eid is tomorrow.

It's been an odd kind of Ramadan for me. Not ideal, but insha Allah, there are things I can learn from it.

That's the key I guess, reaching for the extraordinary while living in the ordinary.

Being a better Muslim and/or a better person is a lot of work.

I don't think I'm the only one to suffer from bookitis, where you buy lots of Islamic books, so many that you don't actually ever get chance to read them properly, you read a bit of each and don't really get the benefit of any of them.

Insha Allah, just one aim that I take away from Ramadan, it to just concentrate on a few things, to do them regularly and to do them well.

It's easy to feel sad after Ramadan if you didn't quite attain that level of worship that you wanted to. Alhamdulilah, in Islam everyday is an opportunity, everyday we can make that Journey to Allah swt, or at least start on the first few steps of it.

Make today that day. Today is all we have.

In the last days of Ramadan, a very dear and wonderful brother in Islam died. Masha Allah, he had the biggest heart. There may be some of you reading this who know who he was. What made him stand out is that he did things, made things happen and he helped so many people.
He truly believed that Islam for a gift for all mankind and Masha Allah, he welcomed many people to the deen. May Allah swt forgive him and have mercy on him.

Eid Muburak to everyone whenever you celebrate.

P.S I think this is lovely. Jazak Allahu Khayran to all who have made it possible

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Update!

Alhamdulilah! All Praise is due to Allah swt! Faten has been found and she is with her family.

Alhamdulilah!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Missing! Please Help




I'm interrupting my "sort of" blogging break to post this:

Faten Mawyah was last seen at 8.00PM on Sunday, September 16th at a 7-11 on Sudley Road West in Manassas, Virginia. She is five foot seven inches tall, has medium length curly black hair and dark eyes. She drives a four door 2005 gold Chevy Impala Virginia registration number KAF-7223. She was a student a George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

If you have any information concerning Faten Mawyah or her whereabouts please contact Marah at 202-230-7297 or 540-428-2393 or contact your local police station. Thank you.

She is Manal's (wife of Abu Sinan, two dear and lovely people) sister. Please, help if you can, otherwise just pray that insha Allah she is safe and returned to her family soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Most Special Time of the Year


Ramadan Mubarak to all!

Insha Allah, I'm taking a blog break during Ramadan, so I won't be posting or commenting.

May Allah swt grant you a wonderful and blessed month of growth and an increase in our iman and taqwa.

May He accept our fasting and all other acts of worship that we perform.

May Allah swt enable us to focus on Him and thus draw closer to Him.

May we become filled with appreciation and gratitude for all we have and endeavour to help those who have so much less.

Finally, May Allah swt purify our hearts and let this purity shine through into our actions.

Ameen.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Muslims on the internet

I love the internet. I can remember the first time I ever used the internet (It was in South Wales, in 1998) and thinking that this was the start of a big love affair. All that information, just a few clicks away!

When I became Muslim, I used to search endlessly for information about Islam and Muslims generally.

People might mock "Mullah Google" and talk of the perils of getting your religion from the internet, but lots of us have done it and still do.

For many the interent is a place we feel we can discuss issues freely. Still I think it's important, before typing a response, to think: "Would I go up to that person and say it to their face?".

Muslims are meant to have excellent manners/adab. We even have an example to follow, our beloved Messenger of Allah, the Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

To point about reading about Islam, spending virtual time with Muslims, should be to bring you closer to Allah swt.

So why do I feel like I've been hit in the abdomen with a baseball bat by some of the things I've read?

It's easy to forget that lots of people live quite happily without having an "online life". The other day, I over heard someone asking what a blog was.

It's Ramadan soon, insha Allah and Alhamdulilah for this blessing.

I am seeking humility and purity. I want this month to matter, to have a lasting effect.

Examining how I spend my time, or rather how I waste it. What I can be doing to bring myself closer to Allah swt.

A while ago, Bint Will (a regular commenter on Umar Lee's blog) said that she wasn't sure if she is a better person since becoming a Muslim.

Her question resonated with me - am I a better person? I don't know, but I know that I want to be.

A big step I am currently taking is looking at what enters my ears and my eyes. Is it beneficial? Is there better things I could be doing. Insha Allah, the internet is one of those areas.

As always, if anyone has any advice or thoughts on this, please feel free to leave a comment or email me (my address is in my blog profile).

If anything thing good is in this blog post, it is from Allah swt, if anything bad is here, it's from me.

May Allah guide and protect you all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Non-stick


If you ask, I will tell you: "I am a Muslim".

That is what I call myself. No prefixes, suffixes or hyphens in any way.

There are certain things I follow within Islam, but still, I am a Muslim.

I am not better or more knowledgeable then you.

Any blessings or good qualities I have are from Allah swt and I am thankful to Him and to Him alone for them.

When I look at myself, I see many weakness, and much work I need to do and I pray insha Allah to have the life available to do it.

When I look at you, I say:

"Asalaam Alaikum wa rahamatullah wa barakatu"

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just to watch it burn.

This summer there have been several outbreaks of forest fires across
southern Europe. A big chunk of Greece is currently ablaze.
Disturbingly, it has been reported that a substantial number of the
blazes were started deliberately.

A possible theory for the arson attacks is so that the land can be cleared and developed upon.

People have died in these fires. The current toll is 64 people in the current outbreak.

If
someone/people, (and it is an if, not a definite) started those fires,
purely for financial gain, that is greed of an almost mutant nature.

Can
you imagine having the literally, burning desire to make money so much,
that you didn't care if you killed your neighbours, or whoever in order
to do it.

Does that sort of greed consume you, whisper in your
ear all the time? Is it sharp like hunger pains, or more like a gnawing
sensation, that you have the right to be successful, it'sok, you don't mean to harm anyone.

There
is something almost mythological about such levels of greed, that
desire to have everything, even if it means everyone has nothing.

We
see this greed in many guises. It is so often excused. Wanting
something at the expense of someone else - it is the other person's
fault. You were greedy first, you worked hard for this, deserve this,
need this.

To want so much, consume without question, devour without satiety. There is no end, just a perpetual pursuit of the means.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Something I just had to share

From the live chat with Ummah Film's Baba Ali on Islamonline.net

Not a question, a comment: I found Baba's hijab video while researching Christian headcoverings. That video gave me a window into Real Muslim(tm) who weren't terrorists, weren't scary, and were introspective and just trying to live a good life. Long story short, a few months later, after reading the Qu'ran and discussing with a few ppl, I took Shahada. So thank you Baba, for opening the windows to truth for me. Salaams and blessings, brother.

Alhamdulilah! It can be the smallest things that lead someone to Islam. Masha Allah to Baba Ali for his excellent work and a reminder to us that our actions can have great consequences - so represent!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Beyond Bigotry

"Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages."
Trial judge, Leon Bazile, Loving case

"O Mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you might know each other"
Surah 49:13 Yusuf Ali's translation of the meaning of the Holy Qur'an.


Interracial relationships still provoke a varied and virulent reaction, encompassing everything from fetishisation to digust. Someone in an interracial relationship may be told that they've sold out, or that they'll have to sacrifice their culture and their way of life. People openly say they don't like them, don't agree with them, would never consider being in one, like it's a radical lifestyle choice.

People talk about these issues, forgetting that interracial relationships are ultimately, just that: relationships. A connection between two people. Communication and compromise are key to an interracial relationship, just as they are to any other relationship.

Mr Outlines and I, we're an interracial marriage. It's a heavy label. It's makes what really was so natural, so obvious (alhamdulilah), sound artificial.

It's not really about race anyway, If I married a Russian, we would both be white but our cultural differences would be just as vast.

I read a lot about the perils of marrying someone from abroad, the attitudes they might have.... such gloom.

I just haven't found it to be like that. Whatever differences we have, there are far more things we have in common. our cultures and manners, something to explore, not something to feel isolated from each other by.

We like to share our culture with each other. We'll discuss history, national quirks, different things all mixed up with personal backstories, sharing our history to build our future together.

Frequently we will say, "In English/Arabic, there is a saying that....."
to which the answer is nearly always "There's the same saying in Arabic/English too".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I thought I knew, but I didn't

I tried to upload a video from YouTube for a post, but it appears to have got lost somewhere in the the hinterlands of the Internet.

Loulou posted this quote on her blog a while ago:

"Sometimes only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated."

Alphonse de Lamartine

I thought I knew what it meant, but now I realise that I only understood what it meant, which isn't the same thing at all. You can understand someone's feelings, but it takes a similar experience to know what that situation feels like.

Mr Outlines is working away at the moment. I'm almost annoyed with myself for missing him so much. Especially as missing him translates into me not wanting to do anything except sleep, watch bad tv and surf the internet. There are so many more positive activities that I could be doing, but I don't want to do anything except mope. I hope this passes, I have so many things I need to be doing instead.

I know you are not reading this, but I miss you, I miss everything.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mittwoch, Mercredi, Dydd Mercher, Yawm Al Arbiaa, Miercoles

I don't update this blog enough..... so insha Allah I will try and do a weekly update every Wednesday.

Outlines of a Hypocrite
Elsewhere I declared that British people were not overly patriotic or arrogant about their country.
This week, I asked Mr Outlines: "What's your national anthem?". Mr Outlines being from a land where this sort of knowledge is obligatory, was able to sing it perfectly and then translate it.
My response "Pah! I only know about three lines of our national anthem, but it's better than that."
After repairing to the internet for a demonstration, he had to agree that it was (In terms of tune rather then lyrical content, neither of us are big royalists). Me, I was impressed that it contains the line "Confound their knavish tricks". What a turn of phase! If it was written today it would be something like "Put a bad story about them in the press". We are indeed dumbing down.

Ice Head
Several times a week, I'll say to Mr Outlines, "I wish I was a bounty hunter", because I'm watching "Dog the Bounty Hunter". I love that show. It's just great on so many cheesy levels.
Aside from that, it's also a reminder (if you needed one) that crack is evil and will destroy your life, if you are stupid enough to go anywhere near it.

Thin but won't win
I also watched a documentary called "Thin", about a treatment centre for eating disorders on the US. People suffering from ED are often seen as attention seeking teenage girls, when sadly ED's are mental illnesses with an extremely high mortality rate. The saddest part was one women explaining that her eating disorder was her entire life.
The media is culpable for this. The ideals just do not reflect society and it's frightening how quickly size zero is becoming an acceptable aim. In the 70's Agnetha from Abba was probably considered the ideal woman, now she would be deemed fat.
We are made in all different shapes and sizes, why can't that be celebrated?


A Shiny Heart
The "study kick" consist of some Islamic courses I'm taking online through a rather well known website.
Tip - Do not look at the course catalogue, say "I need to learn everything" and take three courses at once, not when you work full time, anyway. Still, I have been incredibly slack in my learning for a long time now, so I feel like I have some running to do.
Alhamdulilah, I am enjoying the study and it is really helping in my Rememberence of Allah swt.
I really needed this. It's just so easy to get caught up with everyday things, you forget the ultimate aim.

Finally, if you tell one lie.....
"The splicing together of extracts from longer speeches appears to have completely distorted what the speakers were saying.

"The CPS has demonstrated it will not hesitate to prosecute those responsible for criminal incitement.

"But in this case we have been dealing with a heavily-edited television programme, apparently taking out of context aspects of speeches which in their totality could never provide a realistic prospect of any convictions."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Random stuff huit

Tagged by Ali

1)When I'm by myself and in a good mood, I jump up and down, in sort of Tigger bounces. My Mum used to catch me doing it and nearly die laughing because it looks so odd.

2)Chun Li is one of my heroes. I can even remember looking around the games arcade on holiday. The title sticker had come loose on a machine. I stuck it back in place and read Street Fighter 2, I read through the list of characters and was thrilled to see that one was a woman. I can even remember her description: "Chun Li may not be a powerful, she her speed makes her opponents look like slow-moving tree slugs". I like hair buns too.

3)As seen the article above, I have an excellent memory for trivia, especially music trivia.

4)I don't like small spaces. I hate to admit it, as it sounds really weedy.
When I was in Egypt, we got some tickets to go in the second biggest pyramid, I took one look and the small entrance and all the tourists swarming into it and said that I felt unwell. In fact, more shameful then that, I lied and said I had period pains to get out of it.

5)I love to sleep and can sleep almost anywhere, with frequently embarrassing consequences.
I think sleep is one of the best things on Earth. When I can't just drift off to sleep I feel cheated of a great pleasure.

6)The second time I ever saw my husband, as soon as he walked in the room, I knew that I would marry him. I remember examining his face really closely, as I was absolutely certain that her would be my husband. Alhamdulilah.

7)Similarly, As soon as The Friend Who Introduced Me To Islam, gave me a copy of Yusuf Ali's English translation of the Qur'an, I knew that it would provide the answers I was looking for. The only thing I wasn't sure of is if I would have the strength to become Muslim.

8) Although I rarely mention them on here (as they don't know about the blog, so I don't want to write much without their permission), I love my parents so much, I get teary when I think about them. I think it's because I'm worried that they don't know how much I love them. I tell them, and show them, but it doesn't seem enough.

I'm not sure there's anyone left who hasn't done this, the only person I can think of is Warrior Princess.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Beauty, The Beauty, The Beauty

Something that hurts: hearing Muslims insult Islam.

It hurts. Physically. Worse then someone insulting your family.

I know that some people (usually men) have twisted the teachings of Islam, turned it's mercy towards women into chains and insults.

These twistings, they are not in the Qu'ran, nor in the sunnah of our beloved Prophet saw.

We are warned against taking part of a our religion and leaving others, so why allow people to do this? Why not point out to them with patience and manners why they are wrong, instead of condemning Islam wholesale.

Islam is a message for all people, for all times, it belongs to all Muslims.

.........................................................................................................................................................................

I cover. From personal choice. I cover out of religious obligation, not for the pleasure of any man. When I go out, only my hands and face are on show. But, covering is more than just clothes. It is modesty in behaviour too. Still, I walk, I speak, I work, I don't cower. There is no prison for me, just what I choose to show and choose to hide.

I could cover more, wear niqab, leave the house less. I would still be me. My heart would still beat, my mind still active. I would just be choosing a different path.

I don't feel any less of a human for doing this. My humanity is not wrapped in or governed by material. Is yours?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Arrgh! No internet!

Last Monday, the internet died at my house. Much calling of our brightly-coloured broadband company ensued to no avail. We are switching to another company forthwith.

Until then, things may be a little quiet around here and I won't be able to comment as much as usual.

Alhamdulilah, it's not the worse thing in the world, but it is mightily irritating.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I don't know

Why the U.K?

I don't know why. It will be no surprise to regular readers that I condemn the recent events in London and Glasgow. I see them as incompatible with my faith. I do not know, associate with, or go to lectures by any one who thinks otherwise. If I knew anyone planning such acts, I would report them to the authorities without hesitation.

Our mosque is open, with khutbahs given in English and Arabic. Community relations are good and the Lord Mayor is a regular visitor. Alhamdulilah, I am fortunate enough to be able to study with some wonderful shayukh. They are also horrified by these activities.

Life in the U.K for Muslims, despite being disliked by all sides of the media, is generally good. Compared to many other parts of the world, we are able to practice our religion with few restrictions.

This weekend, we've been shaking our heads. This comment on the Alternative Entertainment blog sums up my feelings very well:

# a Says:
July 2nd, 2007 at 5:08 am

subhan allah

what the hell is wrong with these people??

i’m actually seriously scared of them kicking us out of this country. is this what these terrorists want? that we all leave this country and go back to the so-called muslim countries? what? so that my brother has to shave his beard off so he has a chance of getting a job in one of those countries? absolutely disgusting. may Allah save us, ameen.


Ameen

Friday, June 29, 2007

Barmy stickers at bus stops

The little stickers you sometimes see for some little known political
or social movement. I saw one the other day for the Optimum Population
trust.

So I googled and predictably enough, they are a group
concerned that the Earth is becoming overpopulated, and the negative
effects this will have on the world, both socio-economically and ecologically.

There are two main problems with their ideology.

Firstly, overpopulation is a symptom of a greater problem. To see it as an end cause of disaster is fallacious and unhelpful.

They
argue that countries with rapidly growing populations are usually
stricken by poverty. Failing to see that the cause of this poverty
isn't overpopulation, but poor education and health care provision,
which leads to people being unable to plan their families and therefore
rapid population increases occur. Improved standards of living usually
result in a drop in the birth rate, as demonstrated in almost all of the
wealthier nations.

Also that a large number of the poorer
countries still have a high proportion of the population involved in
agriculture. Therefore, bigger families are desirable to strengthen
the workforce.

Secondly, the website discusses overpopulation in the U.K.

Within my lifetime, the birthrate
in the U.K has dropped from 2.4 children to 1.9 children. As the Baby
Boomers reach retirement age, there is great economic concern about the
workforce being too small to support the increasingly large elderly
population. In Germany, a country facing similar problems, the
government are actually looking at ways to encourage families to have
more children.

So what could be the population problem in the U.K? Can you see what they might suggest....

....Immigration.
This is a familiar tactic as the media are frequently happy to churn
out stories of the country being "swamped" by immigrants. In such articles (or, more accurately, racist clap-trap masquerading as news), the danger is
stated as immigration being "A threat to our way of life". So what
bigger excuse for xenophobia could there be then overpopulation and there not being
enough food to go round (insert other random fears here), e.t.c.

Consumption of resources is vastly inequal
in the world. We know that most of our production systems, whether
agricultural or industrial are often inefficient and wasteful.

Instead
of acting in a manner akin to Chicken Little we would be better served
looking
at how to get the most out of the resources we have, in a sustainable
manner for the benefit of everyone. That would be true global concern.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pop goes the Muslim.

I'm waiting for Isha to happen, then Mr Outlines and I are going to watch The Prestige.
Otowi says it's really good so....

This brings me neatly to something that weighs on my mind somewhat: Pop Culture. Or rather, the Muslim and Pop culture.

I am torn. I know that the greatest thing is to have Remembrance of Allah swt and too much immersion in frivolity isn't good for achieving this.

There is a difference in opinion about the permissibility
of music in Islam. I follow the opinion that it is allowed, but I know
that a lot of music that I like probably doesn't fall into that
category.

Amongst western Muslims, these things seem to be a much bigger deal. People will talk about television watching like it's the worst sin ever...... when I'm sure there are far worse things.

Meanwhile,
those in Muslim countries wonder what all the fuss is about. Mr
Outlines comes from a very pious family (Mother-in-law Outlines stopped
to pray in the middle of having her hair done - Masha Allah), but they
have atv and they don't just watch Iqra. They are also big fans of Fayrouz, but then I think it that may be a legal requirement there. So Mr Outlines really wonders why I ponder so much about this.

I
think what makes me feel guilty, is that I'm not spending enough time
on the truly worthwhile things to justify spending more time on not
massively important things.

It's hard. When I come home from
work, I want to stick my brain in a cupboard. Listening to music can
seem far more relaxing then reading a book that makes me feel even
more, what a bad Muslim I am.

Another thing. Pop culture is a
shared culture. Opting out makes me feel like I have one less thing in
common with my family and those around me. Some may like to live in a
bubble of the similarly pious. I can see the benefits, but for me
that's not an option.

As I have mentioned his family, I showed Mr Outlines the post.

There followed a big discussion on why this was important, honesty amongst Muslims and the feelings of the heart.

"Ask yourself why you feel guilty about these things".

I think I already know the answer, but what's the solution?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's all about Meme

This blog has been a bit furrowed-of-brow of late so I shall be doing some memes. I have loads to get round to so....


SECTION 1 - Last 1s?
1. Last beverage? Orange squash.

2. Last phone call? The phone company to query our bill.

3. Last instant message? One of my friends ages ago. I'm not much of an I.M queen

4. Last cd played? Don't play cd much, more into MP3's on my phone. Anyway, I think it was Toots and the Maytals (Summer = Ska).

5. Last time you cried? I shed exactly two tears watching the season finale of Ugly Betty. It was very sad. I cry very easily at the t.v

6. Last text message? From a friend saying her husband had got the job he wanted.

Section 2 - 6 Have You Evers:
1. Dated someone twice? No

2. Been cheated on? No.

3. Kissed someone & regretted it? No

4. Lost someone special? Yes, but I've gained more then I've lost, so Alhamdulilah.

5. Been depressed? On occasion, but far less then I was in my teen and early twenties.

6. Been drunk and threw up? Becoming Muslim cured me of that habit!

Section 3 - List 3 Favorite Colors

1)The inside of my eyelids on a sunny day

2)My cats' fur when the sun shines on it

3)A really blue sky

Section 4 - This month have you

1. Made a new friend? No, but there's still time.

2. Fallen out of love? No, Alhamdulilah.

3. Laughed until you cried? I think i've definitely laughed til I nearly choked on
what I was eating.

4. Met someone who changed your life? No, but then who can say? Sometimes you meet someone and it's only later you realise what an effect they had.

5. Found out who your true friends were? I know who they are already.

6. Is there something you want to tell someone? Well I want to tell Mr Outlines that I love him, but I always feel like that. (Pukey but true)

7. Would you kiss anyone on your top friends? This question doesn't make grammatical sense but, Mr Outlines is my best friend and I would kiss him, and I kiss my girlfriends when we meet, so...

8. How many people on your top friends do you know in real life? Most... but I'm starting to make some blog friends who I've not yet had the pleasure of meeting. Insha Allah, one day.

9. How many kids do you want to have? Two would be nice, insha Allah, but we'll see.

10. Do you have any pets? Two gorgeous cats and a mysterious colour-changing goldfish.

11. Do you wanna change your name? Already have done. It is a lot of hassle and I'm always having to spell it out to people, but it is a nice name.

12. What did you do for your last birthday? Can't remember, think I went for a meal with my parents. I'm not into big birthday things.

13. What time did you get up today? 6.40am. Much too early, but sadly necessary.

14.What were you doing at midnight last night? Falling asleep on the sofa while Mr Outlines watched a truly awful MBC2 type film (he has been raised on MBC2, which to those who've heard of it will know what I mean, those who haven't, the show straight-to-video action adventure fare)

15. Name something you CANNOT wait for? The weekend. predictable but true.

16. Last time you saw your father? A few weeks ago, but we spoke on the phone the other day.

17. What is one thing you wish you could change about your life? Alhamdulilah for everything. Insha Allah any changes will be good ones. Really there's not too much I would like to change.

18.What are you listening to right now? Myself typing.

19. Have you ever talked to Tom? I have spoken to several Toms

20. Have you ever talked about someone behind their back? Astagfurallah Al Azim, this is truly one of my worst habits.

21.What’s the last piece of clothing you borrowed from anyone? Socks from Mr Outlines.

22. Who’s getting on your nerves right now? One of my cats was being mildly annoying but he's accepted that I don't want him dancing on my knee right now and he's stretched out on the floor.

23. Most visited webpage? Blogs, especially Umar Lee's as there are always loads of comments.

24. Coke or Pepsi? Dr Pepper.

25. Have you kissed or been kissed by anyone in the past week? Yes

26. Mac or PC? PC, Mac's are far too Face magazine for me.

I tag everyone reading this if you haven't done it already.

Monday, June 04, 2007

We are all travelling

Too long, too long, too long. I keep meaning to blog. The words buzz around my head and then chicken out when they reach my finger tips.

Lately, I have been reading about people (on blogs) questioning their faith and their path of Islam.

I want to email these people, to metaphorically lie across the doorway and say "Don't Go" while trying to grab at their ankles. (I know a friend's husband who did this, when she tried to leave in middle of an argument. It did work).

I don't email them, because knowing what someone writes on their blog, is not the same as knowing them. It's their decision.

Why do I care? I care because I believe Islam is the true path. I believe in the Oneness of Allah swt, His Prophets (peace be upon them all), His Books, His Angels, The Last Day and His Predestination.

That does not mean I think you cannot be a good or happy person without these beliefs.

Still, I believe they are the truth and it is one thing to have never believed in them and another to have believed once and then stopped believing.

I love blogging and I find other Muslim blogs especially interesting. However, sometimes it's very easy to fall into the trap of always remembering that you are Muslim without remembering Allah swt.

Muslims are an imperfect people in an imperfect world. But it's not even that we are imperfect, it's that we are so flawed despite having the guidance of the Qu'ran and the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (may Allah swt shower him with peace and grant him an exalted staion in Paradise).

So, the blogosphere it a great place to gnash your teeth at the folly of the Ummah. But too much negativity is corrosive. We see the badness of our coreligionists until it starts to seem like Islam itself is bad.

Yet Allah swt, Owner of the most beautiful names is perfect, flawless, unchanging. With faith in Him, there is beauty, hope and sirat al mustaqim and it is with remembrance of Him that we can achieve it, insha Allah.

Friday, May 18, 2007

So Easy

Allah swt knows. Your earliest memory, the people you love more then you can say, the swear words you utter under your breath, your deepest fears, the music you secretly like, what you actually do all day, your regrets, every action, every intention whether in private or in public.... Allah swt knows everything about you. He is the One we aim to please and we can hide nothing from Him.

Still, we can hide things from other people, right? Not just hide those things but pretend we never, ever do them and look down on those who do. We can aspire to be an image and think that the closer someone is to that image the more perfect they must be.

I will put this simply. I know excellent, pious Muslims who don't watch t.v, don't listen to Music and dress in a traditional manner. I also know Muslims of equal sincerity and piety who do listen to music, wear western clothes and never miss an episode of Lost.

People attain nearness to Allah swt in different ways. It is an individual journey and it as individuals that we will be judged.

We are angry when others demean our faith, yet by attaching such importance to little things, by assuming piety is measured in inches (beards, hijabs e.t.c), we demean it ourselves.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Shut you out

I am sick to beyond my own back teeth of reading little internet macho men insult Muslims and particularly Muslim women.

Constantly they cant on about how oppressed and backwards we are, not realising that we do not need or want their contemptuous pity.

Let me spell it out for you:
I am a law abiding, tax paying, hard working citizen of this country, so don't tell me to go back anywhere or imply I am somehow costing you money. I belong here as much as you do and contribute fully to society.

I believe in multiculturalism, not just for Muslims (although we are, actually a multicultural bunch), but for everyone. Diversity and respect for each other will bring us strength, it will make us stronger.

Islam is a beautiful religion, Alhamdulilah. If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them and I accept that you might not want to be Muslim. Contrary to popular belief, forced conversions are forbidden in Islam.

But, back to the haters. I can not help but notice the misogyny that seeps through most anti Muslim diatribes, the disdain that they view Muslim women with. Virtually every single blog I know that is written by a Muslim women on the net either has, or has had comment moderation on due to receiving abuse from Anti-Muslim men. Strange how they seem more hesitant
about stepping up to our brothers.

To all the secular "Muslims"/Arabs/e.t.c who belittle practising Muslims and especially practising Muslim women, shame on you.

Those who insult Islam and Muslims, you may call yourself secularists, pro-Western, or whatever, I call you racist and misogynistic and pity you for your ignorance which you do not seek to remedy, the loathing in your hearts and your cowardice in writing things which you would never dare to say to a Muslim's face.

I seek refuge in Allah swt the All -Knowing, source of all strength.

Monday, April 30, 2007

I Miss You

This was inspired a post called "Dear Husband" on Organic Muslimah's blog



I miss you,
but I haven't met you yet.
So special.
But it hasn't happened yet

...But if you believe in dreams
Or what is more important:
That a dream can come true,
I will meet you.

I Miss You by Bjork.

As a daydreaming teenager, I used to ponder about "The One". Who would he be? Where was he? Was he somewhere thinking about me?

These thoughts continued as I got older, though I still could not imagine being with him. Would you be that happy all the time? Would they love you for who you are or just what they liked about you? Would I love them in the same way?

Being settled with someone, having that other half, even after becoming Muslim, with a religion that strongly emphasises marriage, imagining being married felt like dreaming of being an astronaut, I could visualise it in my head, but it actually happening...?

When something wonderful happens to you, an event that's completely unexpected, in your mind you turn over all the coincidences that lead to it. The conference you decided to go on, the train you happened to catch. The sweetness of knowing only a few days prior to this, your mind was filled with other thoughts, unaware of the joy that awaited you.

I still can't believe it has happened, it's real, this is my life. This person by my side, my love, my best friend, my future.

I never knew I could love someone this much. That is the biggest surprise, that my heart was capable of such emotion. The more I know him, the more I love him, the good and the bad parts, they make him the person he is.

I want to grow old with him, have children with him, travel the world with him, grow as a Muslim with him.

I always tell him he is the second best thing to have happened to me, the first being to have converted to Islam.

A while ago, a friend of mine told me to "Be patient, You won't get more then what Allah swt has written for you" .

Alhamdulilah that He has written this. All blessings are from Him and all praise is due to Him. May Allah swt soften all our hearts. Ameen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rose/Warda

Firstly, a confession: I'm not really Safiya. I only call myself Safiya on my blog, for the purposes of maintaining anonymity.

After converting, I did contemplate taking a Muslim name and decided that Safiya was a nice name (and I greatly admire Safiya R.A). Not long after I converted, my Mum asked me "You don't have to change your name do you?" I answered truthfully, no, to her great relief. My name is special to my parents. It's special to me too, the phonetics please me and it just feels like my name, so I could never bring myself to call myself another name.

I remember one Muslim lady being flabbergasted that I hadn't taken a Muslim name. I wish I had just said: When asked a factual question, I will respond. Asking the same question repeatedly will not change my response to an answer that suits you.

As for the rest of my name, my middle name is a bit blah but I loved my surname. It fitted very nicely with my first name and reflected my Celtic heritage. But it still stopped being my surname after marriage, for different reasons.

Growing up, it was a given that you changed your name once you got married. A feature of any teenage crush was seeing how your name sounded with his surname.

Islam is still largely not seen as a white person thing. Hence the endless slew of articles featuring "white women in hijab" (Whenever I've heard of any media requests for interviews with new Muslims they always have that same request), because it's so bizarre and kooky(!)

So my name started to seem strange to other people, especially if they had seen my name before meeting me. One experience was waiting outside to meet a business associate outside their building. I told them where I would be waiting, and I waited for over twenty minutes before they approached me, and asked with a look of disbelief "Are you.....?".

I started getting tired of my non-Muslim name. Should a name reflect who you are, especially what is most important to you?

At this point, I will point out that Islamically it is forbidden to change a child's surname/family name to obscure or conceal their parentage.

There are different opinions on the changing of surnames. It is not a Sunnah, lots of Muslim women don't take their husband's name, but there are opinions that a woman changing her name on marriage is acceptable.

I decided that were I to marry a Mr Born Muslim, if he had an Islamic surname, I would take it after marriage.

So that's what I did. Yes, it's nice in the girly romantic way, but more importantly, my new surname is a classical Arabic word, which is in the Qu'ran and it feels good to have that connection.

However, I'm still at little uneasy about some of my intentions. I'm a white Muslim, an oddity. Insha Allah, as more people convert (not just white people, but from other traditionally not-Muslim ethnicities) it will become less odd.

But I'll still be strange. At the airport in Homeland of Husband, I was asked if my father was of that nationality, "La, zawji (No, my husband is)".

Or you get the irritating (on a sand in your underwear level) assumption that as you are married, your hijab is playing "dress up" to please that domineering husband of yours.

The bottom line is, whatever you choose in this life, someone will annoy you about it, so just make sure your choices are good for you.

N.B I didn't actually get rid of my old surname all together. I changed my name via deed poll, so it became another middle name. I'm glad it's still there.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Meme -If the blogosphere was going to end tomorrow....

This is a Meme Alina tagged me to do. You can read more about it on her site. Basically, it was started by a blogger called Urban Monk, who has promised to donate $1 to charity for every meme.

The basic concept is: if the blogosphere was going to end tomorrow, what would your last blog post be?

Here is mine:

I first became interested in blogs shortly after I converted to Islam. At this time, I would spend hours on the Internet, looking up everything I could about Islam. It's fair to say that the Internet isn't always the best source of information on Islam, but that's for another post.

It was through the comments section on Muslim Wake Up! (Yes, I used to read it), that I found Luckyfatima's blog, reading blogs lead to reading more blogs and that is how I've ended up with the variety of people on my blog roll.

The blogs I read were a refreshing anti dote to Islamic websites which were either scary fundamentalism or hipster progressivism. These bloggers felt like I did, loved Allah swt like I did and just like me, were working towards being better Muslims in their everyday life.

I didn't just read Muslims blogs, but blogs from all faiths (or none). The voices carried in all these blogs made me think about my own voice.

About a year after I started reading blogs, I felt ready to begin my own blog. It's harder then it looks. Ideas that buzz around your head, easily congeal when in the form of words on the screen.
Developing your voice, while avoiding cliches and pretentious language and always remaining sincere. Finding the time and discipline to blog, all these things were goals I was working towards.

And now it must end. I still have things left to say, but I shall look for a new form to say them.
I am grateful for all the people, too many to name who have inspired me with their posts and uplifted me with their comments.

More then this I am pleased to have had the opportunity to speak as a Muslim woman, a section of society so often spoken about, but rarely spoken to. There is endless hand wringing about Muslim integration. I hope that my blog, like many others shows that integration isn't something that others demand we achieve, it is something we are accomplishing in our daily existence. We are not The Other, nor do we wish to be.

Finally, I thank Allah swt for all His blessings and ask Him to forgive any errors I have made in this blog.

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

May all of you be blessed with good health and strong voices,

Wasalaam,

Safiya Outlines.


I tag everyone who reads this!



Thursday, April 05, 2007

Talking about textiles.

Yes, this is a hijab post. I know there have been many, many hijab posts. Still, I think Muslim women have the right to reclaim the discourse, so here is my little effort.

These are my honest feelings, not religious guidance. These are the choices I have made and I respect the differing choices of others.

Alhamdulilah, I like wearing hijab, for many reasons.

Firstly, as I have stated before, I believe hijab is a fard (a religious obligation). So I feel, that of the many should-do's that there are in Islam, it's good to have ticked one off.

That sounds very prosiac, I know so let me clarify that.

As Muslims we seek to submit to Allah swt. It's not easy. The stuggle to submit my brain to concentrate on prayer for five minutes! But when I put on my hijab, I'm doing something Allah swt has asked of me and it feels good.

Physically, I like the feel of wearing hijab. It's good to wrap your head up on a cold day.
If I'm honest, it feels like a kind of security blanket, then sensation of it, but also the reminder it provides in times of stress: "Yes I am Muslim, this situation is only temporary... breath deeply and think of Allah".

I like wearing it as visible statement of my faith, but I won't trot out the tired line of not being judged, as people still judge you or not being hassled, as people judge you in a different way.

I like not having any more bad hair days.

Hijab to me is not a big thing, just part of a code of behaviour, that I as a Muslim should follow.

I started wearing it when, I went away, when I went to Muslim gatherings, then when I last went to Egypt and decided that I didn't want to take it off, Alhamdulilah.

I know it is harder for a lot of other women, and I think we all, especially brothers, need to remember this. We all have our own challenges.

For someone thinking about wearing hijab, I would recommend three things:
Intention
Experimentation
Taking your Time.

Any action becomes easier when you know the reason behind it and are convinced of that reason. "My husband wants me to, I get nasty looks from other sisters....." Don't wear it to please other people, you will resent them and yourself for it.

Hijab is not a hair shirt. It should feel comfortable and does not need to be hideously ugly.
There are many different materials and styles of wearing hijab. Find what feels comfortable for you.
This is where I give a special mention to the ladies of Egypt, who know to dress modestly with tons of style, Masha Allah!

You will know when it is the right time to wear hijab. Some people wear it straight after converting/as soon as they hit puberty, others later.

Alhamdulilah, I always have lovely commenters on this blog. I know the more Muslim-then-thou crew would say "Astagfurallah, sister! Hijab is a fard and should be worn immediately, not when it pleases you".

To which I would reply that I agree hijab is fard, therefore it should not be taken lightly. That's why I believe it should only be worn when the sister feels she is ready to wear it, through her own choice.

Where are the blessings in misplaced obedience?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dreaming of death before I was Muslim

Last night I dreamt that I died of a chest infection. I didn't go anywhere, I became a ghost. Some people could see me and I could talk to them. I explained that I could only stay until my funeral and then I had to leave, but I didn't know where I was going, I just had to go.

I felt so angry and powerless. I didn't want to be dead and I didn't want to leave my parents, I didn't want them to have to bury me.

My corpse was placed in my bed (not my bed in real life, my bed in the dream). I wanted to slap it, to shake it, I was so angry! How could I die of something like a chest infection? I am strong, I enjoy good health, why did this happen?

I woke up crying and this woke my husband. I explained the dream to him. He reassured and me and reminded me that Muslims don't fear death.

I thought about this and said "I think I was younger in this dream, I don't think I was Muslim then".

Just like when I was vegan, I had dreams where I ate chocolate (of the non-vegan variety). I still have dreams where I'm not Muslim. I don't know if this is a weakness in my faith, or just my brain processing memories from my pre-Muslim life. Certainly, Alhamdulilah, I'm always mindful and grateful to be Muslim in my waking life.

Indeed, one of the best things about being Muslim, is the certainty about death and dying.

There is a hadith about not sharing bad dreams, but this dream is a reminder to me. In Islam, like in many other religions and spiritual traditions, there is an emphasis on reflecting upon death every day. This sounds gloomy but I feel that only from awareness of death can we really appreciate life.

Ya Allah, Alhamdulilah for every heartbeat, for every breath in my lungs. The efforts my body makes without me even realising. Ya Allah, I may not ever be your most pious servant, but help me to always be a grateful one. Ameen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Best Headline I've seen in ages- Update*

From the BBC New website:

EU snaps up Gaza croc woman

Customs officers (from the EU border assistance mission) at the Egypt/Gaza border found a lady with three crocodiles taped under her dress, which she intended to sell to Gaza Zoo.

* Just to point out,I love pun laden headlines, that play on words. My previous favourite was "Super Callie go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious", which was about the lowly football team. Caledonian Thistle thrashing Celtic.

So it's the pun I was laughing at, not some poor woman having to smuggle crocodiles for a living, or indeed at the poor crocs themselves.

P.S Crocs is a nice word, don't you think?



Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Everybody is a VIP to Somebody


I saw this photograph on El Blogador.

The impact of the photo is not immediate. At first glance, it is a coffin being carried. Then framed between two pallbearers, there is the face of a little boy. His anguish and devastation an absolute contrast to the stoicism of the men.

Watching the news, it would seem that life is very cheap. Today saw corpses being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and burned. In the past four days, at least 174 people have died in three separate accidents in Russia, all of which can be largely attributed to putting financial profit before human safety. Everyday, people are killed in Iraq in a violence so incessant, you wonder if some cities will soon have no one left alive. These are just examples.

There are many people experiencing the same pain as this little boy every day. Life may be cheap, but the cost of killing is incalculable

The photograph was taken by Alan Lewis at the funeral of an RUC officer killed in 1997.
It is part of the "Out of the Darkness" exhibition currently on show at the Ormeau Baths Gallery in Belfast.
For more pictures from the exhibition click here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Introducing Mr Outlines.....

.........or rather his blog which can be found here.

He's the only person in my offline life who knows about my blog. I didn't tell him about it until after we were married. It felt like a big thing to tell him. I remember I sat him down in front of the computer and told him in the space of one breath. Not everyone gets the point of blogging. Luckily he was completely unperturbed and became increasingly fascinated by it.

When we were setting up the blog, we discussed whether he wanted it to be an anonymous blog. At first he didn't see the point, but I felt it's better to start off anonymous and then decide to share your details, then the other way around, so he's vaguely anonymous for now.

I'm almost obsessively guarded about revealing any personal details. On his blog he's put the country we live in. That probably comes a no surprise to any regular reader of this blog, but it still felt like a major confession to me. Strangely, I find it easier to talk about myself when commenting on other blogs, maybe because then it feels more like a conversation rather then me baldly stating things.

Maybe one day, I'll want to say this is me and give all the details. I'm not ashamed of anything I've written here (except the typographical errors), I would say it all in person.

For now though, anonymity is the situation. It feels more comfortable this way.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Plea to the Polyglots

I am learning Arabic. It is a very slow process, as you can imagine. Alahmdulilah, Mr Outlines is an experienced and very patient teacher, Masha Allah.

Unfortunately, I have a really big weakness: memorising vocabulary. Remembering grammar rules is not a problem, but vocab is not so easy.

So I turn to you, readers, especially since (according to stats and blogroll)a lot of are you are bilingual, if not multi-lingual, Masha Allah.

All advice/learning tips gratefully received and I will let you know how I get on.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Not for Sale

My friend once went with a guy to his hotel room, and found lots of other men there too. She wouldn't tell me what happened after that, but she was shaking for a long time when she got back home
The above is an extract taken from an interview with a former Thai sex worker. The rest of the article can be read here.

Following the Ipswich murders, there has been renewed interest in the dangers faced by those who sell sex for money.

Some argue that criminalising prostitution is to blame, and that the word prostitute should be replaced by the less judgemental "sex worker".

Again myths are relayed of the "happy hooker", like prostitution is a money making hobby for the over-sexed.

Yet the vast majority of prostitutes are substance abusers, as demonstated in a U.K government report.

So would legalisation actually make much difference for those who sell sex? On the contrary, I feel it would just support the destructive lifestyles of these women. The only people who would benefit are the clients of these women, as they would no longer the shame of getting caught breaking the law.

By being able to purchase a woman, a man is able to feel he can treat her as he wishes. The story above is not an isolated incident. Those who end up as prostitutes are frequently the most vulnerable in society. Amsterdam may have legal brothels, but they are full of trafficked women, and the desperate will still be forced offer to have unprotected sex if it means they earn more money for their pimps.

To encourage prostitution, to normalise it, will only increase the numbers of victims and abusers.

In Sweden, it is not the prostitute who is the criminal, but the client. This has lead to a massive decrease in both the number of prostitutes and the number of people being traffiked into Sweden.

This is taken from the legislation passed:

"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."


This is the real issue at stake and shows what women and society as a whole will lose, by ever allowing prostitution to be accepted

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Everybody Smile......And Act Gracious (It's my wedding party and I'll booty shake if I want to)

Firstly, I will state that my in laws are lovely people and I felt very comfortable staying with them, Alhamdulilah.

So the wedding party. My dress was big and white, but very nice in a confectionary type of way. I had my hair "did". Yulia Tymoshenko would have been proud.

The big shock was the make up. I don't wear much make up, never have. I wore some for my Nikah and it took all of five minutes to do. I know that in the Middle East they are not so into subtle make up (think cosmetic counter ladies). But.. to open your eyes and see yourself wearing drag queen levels of make up. Immediately, noticing the stunned horror on my face, I was reassured by cries of "helou, helou" (pretty in Arabic). I had to mumble that it was more make up then I was used to. I figured with the big hair and the big dress the make would probably make sense, which it did, Alhamdulilah.

As for the party, I was told about dancing, but I don't think I grasped the concept, that I would be dancing by myself in front of everyone (note: the party was female only until my husband arrived). The first dance happened just after I arrived. Thoughout I was thinking "I'm going to kill my husband". Especially as I was shortly put to shame by all the expert belly dancers.

Most people at the wedding were very nice, but sat up on my throne I still felt some hostility. I'm sad to say that but it's true. Eventually, I thought "I've done nothing to hurt these people, I love my husband, we married in a halal manner, being white/non-arab is not a crime, so screw the haters".

The second dance was to "Yeah" by Usher (I know!). I decided not to pretend to belly dance and booty shaked instead. I admit I had the attitude of "You think I'm a bad Western girl, well I'll dance like one". Maybe not the wisest of ideas but the big dress stopped it from looking too lewd and to the nice people there it was seen as me getting into the mood of the party. To the not-nice people, I hope it gave them something to talk about.

Then there was an announcement that my husband was on the way and a flurry of re-hijabing and covering.

The best part of the night was after he arrived. We danced and he presented me with some gold jewellery. He had explained that it was tradition to do this, and he didn't want me to get anything less than what a bride usually gets. Then we had to do the really cheesy stuff like drink from the same glass and feed each other pudding. Although it was cheesy, I was loving every minute.

I went to bed that night with solid hair (It took ten washes to get all the product out of it,not to mention the assistance of my sister in law to remove all the hair pins) eye make up I still couldn't completely remove, but really, really happy, because I married a man who's worth all of this and has a family who made it fun. Alhamdulilah.