Friday, May 30, 2008

RE: The No-No Sisterhood

I prayed and pretty much waved goodbye to my social life and reputation (if so be the case...), and sent this message to all of my contacts on Facebook:

Salaam, Ladies.

InshaAllah I really hope all of you are enjoying your summers by now.

I grew up in this area and I was well aware of the hundreds of churches in the area and the two Jewish centers. I had never heard of or even fathomed that we had a masjid here. While I don't blame anyone, I think it is largely due to the fact that we are, by nature, drawn to those most like us. Once we find that group, we seal ourselves off from the outside world, and carry on. Therefore, we do not make our presence known or allow others to join.

If you've been involved with the college-age girls [here] for any length of time, you would notice that it is an extremely clique-ish atmosphere with an "us" vs. "them" mentality. Really, if you don't see it, you're an "us" or "them" or don't have your eyes opened wide enough.

This has something that has been heavy on my heart for quite some time, and I speak to myself before I speak to any of you when I say: Something has got to change.

In high school, I was the girl who was friends with all the different groups, and I find myself in the same circumstance at this time in life today. For me, personally, I go where invited - meaning, if someone calls me up and I'm free, I go. I like having a wide variety of friends and like to hang out when I have time. During those times, I have listened to girls who most of you don't know talk about how they came to the masjid or some function and found it uncomfortable, unfriendly or found themselves completely ignored. (Most were even converts like me.) I have been in conversations where I have heard one girl explain her utter disgust for another and vice versa. I've heard groups collectively criticize others. I've heard ladies talk about how they feel so alone on campus. There are girls who walk across this campus every day seeking someone to be with, yet they have no one. All of it is rather tragic.

Most of Muslim women are away from their families. Everyone should have a strong circle of friends to rely on. As women in Islam, it is especially our duty to destroy the stereotypes that bind us. But none of this can be achieved with such disunity. We have the power to change if we want to.

While most of you consider Purdue your temporary home, you were placed here for a reason. Allah puts us places in our lives for specific purposes. It may not just be to get your degree and leave - but you could make an impact on this unique community. We should thank Allah for the opportunity he has given us to meet so many of our Muslim sisters from across the globe.

It is merely impossible to assume that we will never have arguments or disagreements among us, or that we will forever be best friends. But we could be cordial. We could be civil. We could treat each other as Muslims should treat each other.

Please think over the summer, and delve into some serious soul searching and introspection. Pray and think about how we can change.

Please consider the following:

- Forget your grudges. If you're upset with someone, confront them in a loving manner or simply drop it.
- Think of ways to better reach out to other Muslim girls on campus and put those plans into action.
- Be more aware of what you say to someone and how you say it.
- Be more aware of how you speak of others.
- If you need to seek forgiveness from someone, then do so.
- If you should apologize, then do so.
- Pray for guidance.

It is definitely easier said than done, but should all put our differences aside and realize how sad it is that in a community so small we have such division and how we have people feeling uncomfortable and judged among their Muslim sisters. I would love, over the next year, to see us, as ladies, go out, do things and get to know each other.

If you feel comfortable and among friends in your life, alhamdulillah, I'm happy for you. But please keep in mind there are sisters who do not. Please make du'a to keep us closer together.

Please keep in mind:

"11.) O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one's brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: "O sinner", or "O wicked"]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrongdoers).

12.) O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful." - Surat 49. Al-Hujurat

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Chapter 15. Hadith 2025
"Narrated 'Aisha (ra) : Allah's messenger (saw) said: "Be calm, O Aisha! Allah loves that, one should be kind and lenient in all matters." [8:35-O.B]

Take care. Have a great summer, inshaAllah.

Asalaamu alaikum,

Thus far, I have gotten only one response from a girl who feels just like I described in the letter:
May 29 at 10:04pm
Amie .. I love you for your courage .. and I am glad I met you .. :) .. see you soon .. iA

:o) Well, that's a start.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The No-No Sisterhood

When I converted, I knew that I was giving up more than a religion. I knew once the news got out, I would alienate an entire group of people that had come to be my family over the years. I took comfort in the idea that I would soon replace my Christian family with a Muslim one who loved me just the same. However, my journey turned out to be a bit different.

I soon found that, in my community, I was at once a beloved novelty and someone to be avoided. After all, I still had to shed my American ideals before I could be fully accepted. I was routinely passed over at holidays as invitations to dinners were handed out. I would sit alone in the masjid during the khutbahs. I was alone. Simply alone.

Eventually I realized that I would have to be the one to venture out, just like any other time in life, if I wanted to really make friends. I joined MSA and a few other on-campus groups, and eventually did gather a group of friends.

Unfortunately, we live in a small community and our MSA was governed by the MSA brothers. This meant if the sisters wanted to do something, they had to pass it through the brothers first. And also unfortunately, the MSA brothers' president, was controlling almost to the point of being anti-Islamic. He was a dictator and made incredible standards for us.

For example, the dorms asked us to come and give exposure talks about Islam to better educate the residents who would be starting school at the university. The idea was the break the cultural barrier. The brothers' president granted our request (can you hear my eyes rolling?!), but told us that if we went, we had to wear no make up, no perfume, socks, flat shoes, black abayas and black hijabs to "better portray" the modesty of Islam.

Umm....I don't wear that sh*t on a daily basis. Why does dressing like I'm the fourth wife of an oil tycoon in Saudi Arabia help me be a great example of Islam? I understood the idea of putting on a hijab, but that doesn't exactly fully paint the portrait of a muslimah, does it? It's about demeanor and modesty. Yes, modesty is important. However, dressing ourselves in bags is not going to give a comforting idea of Islam to a bunch of Midwestern American chicks.

We decided after that to start a group of our own where we could be free, as women, to decide how we wanted to be portrayed. We started the group UMWA - United Muslim Women's Association. Even the Masjid Girls were all for it - until the brothers' president basically made a fatwa against UMWA accusing us of blatantly causing division. Since the Masjid Girls' leader of the pack had a crush on the president, she told her friends not to join UMWA - thus really creating division.

There were several girls who were in with the Masjid Girls as well as UMWA. We were basically told by the Masjid Girls to choose sides. The leader of UMWA became public enemy number one, and that brings us up to date.

UMWA has since become rather defunct, and the Masjid Girls have married off and/or moved away for the most part. All was going rather well, or so I thought, until a few weeks ago.

The former UMWA leader had her engagement party. It was a blast! We were all dressed up gorgeously and danced the night away in a privately rented club house. Some of the girls later went to a Middle Eastern cafe. Some girls smoked sheesha, some sat around and had some laughs, but an all-around good time was had by all.

However, when the pictures were posted on Facebook, the trouble began. The Masjid Girl, who has now moved to UCLA, found it her duty to message the girls in the photos about how "haram" their sheesha smoking was, and continued to pretty much tell them they weren't Muslim anylonger.

Note: How pathetic does your life really have to be that you spend your time stalking on people's pictures on Facebook looking for ways to call them out?!

Anyway, it really rocked me. I can't believe the blatant hatred between Muslims. Check out any Muslim forum and you'll see the hate-filled words slug across the pages. Why is it that we have lost the one thing that binds us so? Brother-, and in this case, sisterhood.

It makes me sick to know that not only does the media smear our reputations, but we do it to each other. Sure, we should definitely, gently, remind each other of what's right to do - but not come across in shear hatred. We should not sit and wait for someone to slip up so we can cut them off at the knees.

Ugh, I have no more words. Please stay tuned for my response to this bullsh*t.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Culture Clash

I guess you could say I've always been interested in other cultures. I was always the kid who made friends with the foreign exchange students and hung out with them. As most American high school students can't even find the countries in which we wage war on a map, I was the one my friends always liked to listen to when we did those lame country oral reports on such "exotic" places as India - and I learned it all from my "foreign" friends.

I like to thank that I am a living example of how beautifully (...tee hee) cultures can come together. My parents, of course, were both caucasian and born in the U.S., but they came from very different families with very different values and traditions. I learned to celebrate diversity at an early age.

When I converted, I had spent years doing comparative theology study Islam, Christianity and Judaism. I chose to leave Christianity for Islam based on my desire to live by its fundamental basis - I had yet to truly experience anything else. The Muslims that I knew at that time were American, Irani, Malay and Bangledeshi - all with very different opinions of culture.

However when I started to visit the mosque with the intention of surrounding myself with Muslims and gaining better Islamic understanding, I was schooled in the biggest lesson of culture in my life.

Each woman from each different ethnicity and nationality began to tell me how Islam "should be followed." Each was conflicting. Each confusing. They told me of how I needed to wear abaya/burqa/shalwar kameez. They told me I needed to eat dates/yogurt/rice/curry because this is the true Muslim way. I needed to don hijab immediately and marry one of their relatives back home so I could become a true Muslim. However, they all agreed: I needed to abandon my old lifestyle completely, and live as they said.

As painfully confusing and upsetting this was, it took me down a long path that lead me to regain solitude and dive into Islamic study alone. Which is why now, when someone begins to tell me about this or that, I demand proof - real hadith or Qur'an. How can I possibly really learn my religion when everyone's favorite sheikh is contradicting the next? Proof, people. PROOF!

Alhamdulillah, I befriended some true Muslims who accepted me just as I was and took the time to teach me real Islam minus all the, well, crap. I dove into Islam head first, and thus far, I think I've come up kicking.

While meeting more Muslims, I was, of course, introduced to more converts. At first, it was awesomely amazing. However, I began to notice a pretty disturbing trend:

-most met their husbands online
-most were unaccepted by their peers or family at home
-most had low self-esteem
-most would blindly follow their husbands without question
-most were unhappily married
-most had little to no REAL Islamic knowledge
-most had completely lost their identity as Americans and began to adopt their husband's culture

Now, I have no problems with meeting a spouse online - especially if you're looking and very serious about it. However, I do have a problem with men "preying" on young, lonely women and convincing them to accept Islam out of their "love" for them, rather than their love for Islam. I also have a HUGE issue with the man teaching HISlam rather than ISLAM. What do I mean by that? I mean teaching culture, not theology.

I have seen that most of these fellows teach their wives such things that would only benefit HIM under the premise that she is 'required by Islam' to do so - and the women do it. Why? Well, for that I blame both: I blame the man for his close-mindedness, and I blame her for having no backbone. In my personal experience, it is a HUGE misconception that the majority of Arab/Muslim wives keep their traps shut when they object to their husband's actions. There is a line between being submissive and being a doormat. From what I've seen, most converts have missed it.

As for their accepting Islam, I'm overjoyed to meet a fellow convert, but instantly equally saddened and enraged when she says, "Yeah, I did it for my husband." I'm saddened that she thought she needed to do so without personal conviction, and enraged at her inability to research for herself and for her husband's willingness to accept her doing so. That's not Islamic. Dawah by marriage - not a good idea. As soon as the relationship goes south (and in these cases, it usually does), the wife's failing respect for her husband is followed by her perception of the religion.

I'm okay with a Muslim man marrying a Christian or Jew. It's allowed. What I'm not okay with is him saying something like, "Yeah, I'm marrying her. I'll convert her." Wow. Yeah, I've actually heard this. So many Muslim girls are looking for husbands, and half the population is leaving to marry Christian chicks for visas. Wonderful tactics, fellas.

Once, I was actually told from a proposal that he decided to marry an American because the mahr, or dowry, to marry a Muslim woman is too expensive and he was happy that I already converted because it takes the work out of convincing me to do so. And while I understand, because yeah, in most cases, families ask for ridiculous amounts of cash, I don't appreciate being told I'm being settled for because I'm "cheaper," or that he would actually try to sell me Islam. Try again, Sparky. Needless to say, my answer to his question was, "hell no."

As for completely losing personal identity, I too have been accused. "Arabophilia" is a term tossed around to describe having an intense love for every and all things Middle Eastern from food to dress. When I first tried on hijab, my grandpa, trying to get a rise out of me, asked if I was trying to become "one of those ragheads." "Become" is the exact word. I'm not trying to become anything. I have already become in this world. I am what I am.

Though people tried to convince me that I needed to convert my individualism along with my religion, I've held tightly to things that are purely "me." However, t's not easy. Try going to a Muslim website (that is not of un-Godly expense) and find some prints in conservative clothing that are not blatantly ethnic (Arabic, Indian, etc.). Try finding a halal (zabiha) ribeye. Impossible.

With such influences, I can certainly see how some converts do become enamored with how their in-laws and spouses. After all, when you do marry someone, you two begin to mesh. To avoid complete institutionalization within someone else's culture, it requires open-mindedness and a willingness to learn. For most people, as with any thing else, it's just easier to do as your told, rather than make your own way.

As for me, I'm certain I haven't been Arabified.

How do I know? I still speak at a regular volume when on an international call. (Har.)

Thursday Randoms

As for those of you who read my blog (brownie points will be distributed later), you may have noticed that I deleted a few items. Something you must know about me: I loathe being censored.

DH happened to stumble upon my blog, and "expressed" how he disliked how much "personal information" I disclosed. We then had a "discussion" which lead to my, let's face it, incredibly brat-tastic erasing of anything containing his/our personal existence.

Do not be alarmed. We are now back to our usual state of marital bliss after I calmly explained how I hate being told what I can and cannot write about, and that I am a responsible adult that is discreet..................sort of. Nevertheless, we came to an agreement, and I am back!

However, sadly, I permanently deleted most of the goods. Those of you who didn't read it missed out. You snooze you lose, right?


Cats are sneaky. So sneaky that sometimes after you've thrown them out of your room three times when your husband is getting ready, they sneak in, hide underneath the bed, and lie in waiting for the precise moment to attack their victims.

Unfortunately, that was the case this morning. I'm sad to report that the bunny has not survived. My cat has this habit of playing with small stuffed animals. He apparently found one that plays a fun "cat and mouse" game (excuse the somewhat-of-a pun). The bunny wasn't eaten. He was just tossed around a bit too much.

I cried like a baby for about three hours. The bunny was later laid to rest in our back yard.


I got another job. I will now be raising funds in true telemarketing style for the university.

.....not excited. Looking for new job.


Yesterday, I had a way cool unexpected (well, no one gave me the message of their impending anyway) visit from my friend and her husband. I cannot WAIT for them to move close by!


I am officially well on my way to becoming a pharmacist. Scared? Hell yeah. I hate calculus.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bun Bun

I guess with everything else that's been going on, I failed to mention how DH and I rescued a baby rabbit from the jaws of the evil neighbor cat.

On Monday night, I was sitting on the couch, enjoying a repeat episode of Ace of Cakes when I heard the all-too-familiar scream of a baby bunny being eaten by a cat. How could I tell? As much as I love cats, I've had them all my life and have learned that they're heartless hunters. I've seen and heard many a baby bunny dragged out of his little nest.

Usually I have an internal debate about whether to let nature take its course or to interfere, but when I opened the door to discover the neighbor cat attempting to devour the terrified little creature, I beat it on the head with my flip flop until it let go.

I hate that damn cat.
I am not one to usually hate any animals, but when it's mean, hisses all the time, terrorizes the plant and other animal life in my own household, It angers me. Not to mention it shreds the trash bags on trash day so I have to go outside and pick it all up.

Back to the bunny.

I picked up the terrified little guy and inspected him for injuries. Surprisingly, there were no puncture wounds or cuts. SubhanAllah. However, his tiny back leg was all floppy. It was definitely broken.

I brought him inside and happened to find an old kitten bottle. I gave him some water and made a nest for him inside of an Xbox box.

I called up a friend that just finished his first leg of vet school and asked what to do about the bunny's injury. Knowing that I knew how to splint a human's leg, he said, "just do the same thing - only with smaller sticks." Great.

As many broken bones as I've had in the past, I can't imagine putting such an innocent little animal through such torture, but I knew it had to be done.

However, I procrastinated long enough to construct a small cage out of window screen material and spare wood I found lying around the garage. It's pretty good, if I do say so myself.

DH held the little guy as I held my breath and felt his little awkwardly placed broken bones. It had a lot of swelling, but I could feel them go back into place. (To be honest, I was feeling a little queasy at that point...) I wrapped cotton gauze around his leg. Then placed a half of a popsicle stick on either side of his leg, then wrapped it with non-stick tape.

He's didn't scream or writhe in pain. He hopped right back in his cage and ate some food.

And that's the story about how how I saved a baby rabbit, children.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Work is Boring

... so I find other ways to amuse myself.

I'm currently working as a temp in a diamond jeweler at the slowest time of the year. It's my third day on the job, but they haven't had a chance to train me because of people's days off, etc, and there is honestly not a whole lot I could be doing. How can I describe a typical day?

"Well, I generally come in at least fifteen minutes late early. I use the side door - that way Lumbergh Mr. K can't see me. After that I just sorta space out for about an hour....I just stare at my desk; but it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work." (Peter Gibbons, Office Space (edited for accuracy))

  1. I listen to other people's conversations
An older gentleman came into the store to get his watch battery replaced. I only homed in on the actual words being said when J came back with his watch and asked if he had a cold because his voice sounded raspy.

"No," he said. "As I get older my voice gets deeper and more scratchy by the year.


"You know, " he continued, "I am the only person in my church that the music director has not asked to join the choir?"


"Yeah. During the summer months, since people go on vacations an' such, there is no choir. Last summer, when she was recruiting for the fall chorus, I sat behind her one Sunday in church and sang extra loud so she could be sure to hear the true quality of my voice. I figured that would take care of another year of her not asking."

2. When I'm too far away to actually hear a conversation, I narrate it for myself.

(I'm sure it's far more fascinating this way.)

3. I try to see how much sugar it takes, mixed with coffee, to make a supersaturated solution.

I ran out of sugar before I reached maximum solubility today. I'll try again tomorrow.

4. I Google friend's and acquaintance's names in true, stalker fashion.

5. I chew three or four pieces of gum at once and form dental molds - both top and bottom.

6. I create small, postmodern sculptures out of rubber bands, paper clips, and pen caps.

7. I find things I like in the case and go shop online to find affordable cheap replicas.

8. I stalk people on Facebook and leave obscure comments on their photos.

9. I see how much water I can drink without getting the swishy, sea-sick tummy feeling.

Current record: 54 oz. (Just 10 oz. shy of a gallon. In 8 hours. Gross. I mean...good for me. Whatever applies.)

10. I blog random a$$ posts.