Sunday, December 28, 2008

Be Not Grieved

Should you not gain your wants, my soul, then be not grieved;
But hasten to that banquet which your Lord’s bequeathed.

And when a thing for which you ask is slow to come,
Then know that often through delay are gifts received.

Find solace in privation and respect its due,
For only by contentment is the heart relieved.

And know that when the trials of life have rendered you
Despairing of all hope, and of all joy bereaved,

Then shake yourself and rouse yourself from heedlessness,
And make pure hope a meadow that you never leave.

Your Maker’s gifts take subtle and uncounted forms,
How fine the fabric of the world His hands have weaved.

The journey done, they came to the water of life,
And all the caravan drank deep, their thirst allieved.

Far be it from the host to leave them thirsty there,
His spring pour forth all generosity received.

My Lord, my trust in Your purpose is strong,
That trust is now my shield; I’m safe, and undeceived.

All those who hope for grace from You will feel Your rain;
Too generous are You to leave my branch unleaved.

May blessing rest upon the loved one, Muhammad,
Who’s been my means to high degrees since I believed.

He is my fortress and my handhold, to my soul,
Hold fast, and travel to a joy still unconceived.

Originally in Arabic by Ali bin Husayn al-Habshi

Friday, December 26, 2008

from Texas with Love

I am currently sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Houston, Texas. The reasons for which are quite muddled and confusing. There are Christmas songs playing quite loudly, while it's about 20 degrees outside and the trees are in full bloom. Seems rather awkward to me, but oh well.

I'm in the home state of George Dubya Bush. I brought some extra shoes with me in case.

So, the end of December arrives, which will leave me a year older (and a year wiser? probably not). This year has been filled with chunks of hard stuff for me, and moments of some sweetness as well. I think I was waiting for something that won't ever really come. I was waiting for assurance, absolute contentment and a deletion of all sadness. A little antidote for naivety was in order.

InshaAllah when I make it to Jannah, I will have those hopes fulfilled.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is...there probably isn't a point, similar to much of what I write and talk about.

Well, on to more grey hairs.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Donkey Sanctuary

Yes, folks. It exists. And it's not that I have anything against donkeys in particular, but it just sounds hilarious. The Donkey Sanctuary.

Phew. *wipes tear*

Monday, December 08, 2008

i'm alive

I just finished having a very interesting breakdown. Have 2 more papers, then I'll try to be back with nonsensical posts once again.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Watch this

A few days ago I went to a film screening of the CBC's documentary on the Omar Khadr case. I recommend to each of you to watch it here. It's quite astounding.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Ballerina from Iceland

Today I got one of those guys adding me to MSN randomly. So, before I blocked him, I decided to have a little fun...

Shoaib says: ok my name is shoaib
Asmaa says: wonderful
Shoaib says: from where u r
Asmaa says: I'm from Iceland
Shoaib says: nice place
Asmaa says: it is. cold and a bit ugly. but it's my home
Shoaib says: r u muslim
Asmaa says: i'm muslim, yes
Shoaib says: me too
Asmaa says: wow we have so much in common. lolz
Shoaib says: ur age
Asmaa says: i'm 15
Shoaib says: i am 26
Asmaa says: eww that's so old
Shoaib says: can i see u?
Asmaa says: can you see me? I don't know. sure, come to iceland
Asmaa says: where are you from?
Shoaib says: The one and only pakistan
Asmaa says: cool that's my favourite country. all the power outages...so romantic
Shoaib says: i like this name asma
Shoaib says: tell me about ur family
Asmaa says: I have 9 brothers, and 2 half-sisters.
Asmaa says: and we live in a little village on this mountain here in iceland
Asmaa says: i'm lucky to have internet today, usually we don't get signal up here.
Shoaib says: amazing
Asmaa says: yeah, it's really cool. i want to be a ballerina when i grow up, too
Shoaib says: join me for friend ship? chat daily
Asmaa says: where is this friend ship going? what sea is it sailing on?
Shoaib says: ok
Shoaib says: your home countary?
Asmaa says: lithuania
Shoaib says: where is it?
Asmaa says: it's in south america
Shoaib says: ok i dont know
Shoaib says: will u sent me ur picture
Asmaa says:no, i'm much too beautiful. you wouldn't be able to handle all that beauty
Shoaib says: ur the most younger in ur brother/sisters
Asmaa says: no. I'm the oldest. I have 9 younger brothers
Asmaa says: and they all came out at once, too! like a litter of puppies. except uglier
Shoaib says: nice jok
Asmaa says: it's not a joke
Asmaa says: do you think i'm lying?
Shoaib says: how is it possible ur 15 after every year ur mother have a child. any way how is ur mother
Asmaa says: okay i'll tell you the truth. my father is married to 7 wives
Asmaa says: but don't tell anyone, because it's so embarrassing. lol
Shoaib says: no its not
Asmaa says: yes it is
Shoaib says: it hapen with human
Asmaa says: true. like, i want to marry 3 husbands. one black, one white, and one brown.
Asmaa says: so I guess it's the same with my dad...he wanted to marry one from each continent i guess. lolz
Shoaib says: ok!!!!!!!!!!! Why?!!!!!!!!!!
Asmaa says: because I can't decide which race I like best. duh!! silly!!
Shoaib says: u have to sister right. how old they are. have u meet them
Asmaa says: yeah i have two sisters. they live in bolivia unfortunately. they moved out recently.
Asmaa says: one was adopted by a bolivian family. the other was sold for slave labour because my dad wanted to buy a bigger house
Shoaib says: ok. can we have chat daily
Asmaa says: like I said, we don't get internet access here much. because we live on a mountain. duh
Shoaib says: ok
Asmaa says: uh oh...i feel an earthquake!!! I have to go. bye! lolz

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Soothing Mercy

When prophet Ya'qoub (peace by upon him) lost both his sons, he made a poignant statement, which is mentioned in the Quran. He said: I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah.

I've been through some difficult months, and it seems that through it all I couldn't find peace or contentment. I was shoved towards a low place, and I could not pick myself up. I recently heard the verse above recited prayer and I found it very powerful. I mean, my Lord is the only One who has any true power in my life, wouldn't it be fitting for me to turn to Him in my times of need?

And Ya'qoub said to his other sons: never give up hope of Allah's Soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah's Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.

I think one of the reasons I'm unable to pick myself up is because I've been fairly constant in complaining about my sorrow to other people. But I never once thought I should stop doing that, and instead only complain to my Lord.

I need soothing mercy. Maybe today is a good day to start.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Babies make my day

So whenever I feel kind of angry or annoyed or sad, my remedy is watching youtube clips of cute babies doing funny things. This cheers me up quite quickly. Here are a few of my favourites.







And of course, the ever present classic:



I am not crazy.
Sometimes I want to ask God: when will it be my turn for the two eases?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Beautiful Noise

I happened to be listening to this song today, and I found something about the lyrics really irritating. (The other) Asma also talks about the idea of love songs here. Anyways, the song I heard went something like this:

you got my attention,and you know,
we had first connection that wouldn't let go,
there was somethin' sexy 'bout your voice,
anything you say makes a beautiful noise.

Besides the general ickyness of that whole bit, anything she says makes a beautiful noise? I can't even sit here and explain how ridiculous that phrase is. It's like this man is in love with this woman because she has this amazing voice, and every time she says something, he loves the melody it makes. Let's set aside the obtuse notion that a woman may actually have something of benefit to say, and not appreciate a man losing himself in the tones of her voice.

I'm sure some people may find this type of "compliment" romantic. But let's face it, stuff like this just furthers the reality that women are valued for their beauty and not for their wit or intelligence.

Perhaps we are slowly making progress. But we still have ways to go. General pop culture is definitely not helping.

That also reminded me of this video (which is ingeniously hilarious):



Anyways, that's enough man-hating for one night. Well then, til tomorrow!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sometimes I feel like packing it in, giving up, and laying in bed all day and every day until I die.

Monday, October 27, 2008

chaos

This is just to let you know, I've eaten the plums in the icebox....

Wait, no. Sorry, wrong stream of my brain. Shall we start over? This is to let you know...I am currently running on 1 hour of sleep, 1 atomic fireball, 1 falafel sandwich, 1 litre of mango juice, 1 cup of coffee, and a whole lot of deflating adrenaline (sing it in the tune of that partridge tree christmas song).
"It's crunch time," says Asmaa as she munches away on dad's cookies. "No pun intended. ha. ha. ha."
Anyone has to admit, 2 papers due on 2 consecutive days in grad school is just pure evil. One down, one to go.

In other news, I think I want to dress up as a witch on Halloween and walk around campus with a similarly inebriated friend of mine. Any opinions on the halalness/haramness factor?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shrinking

I had a dream that I would like to share. It was long with many nonsensical links in the narrative, like any dream.

Right before I woke up, near the end there was this man groaning on the floor. It looked like he was a traveler who was just making his way home. The people passing by didn't think to stop and help him, so he was just laying there. I stopped and asked him what he needed. He needed water so I ran off to find some water. People stared at me, even scoffed at me for trying to help him, as if he was too dirty and unworthy to be helped. But I didn't care.

I found water, and on my way back to the man, I saw a young boy running towards the man. I just knew implicitly that the young boy was his brother. This "boy" was more like a teenager. And at the very moment the boy reached the man, the man lost consciousness, and went limp.

The boy stood looking over his older brother's body thinking that he had just died. Knowing that he had no one else in the world to take care of him, the boy began to shrink. His body was quickly becoming smaller, and more vulnerable until he was about the age of a toddler. He had an expression of utter pain on his face, as one tear rolled down his cheek.

As it turned out, the man was not dead. After being roused and given water, he and his brother reunited, and all was well. It was at this point, just as an onlooker and fairly uninvolved person, that I began to cry. I went and hid behind something so that I wouldn't be crying in public. It was uncontrollable. The people around me thought I was crazy. After all, the man turned out to be okay, so why was I crying?

But they didn't understand that I saw that boy shrinking. I saw him becoming more vulnerable. I saw pain. And it wasn't something that I could just forget.

It strikes me that the same thing happens to us when we lose someone we love or go through a traumatic experience. We shrink on the inside, we close up because we're more vulnerable, we feel our chests being constricted, and our hearts beat slower and heavier in our throats.

I'm awake now. But I still can't forget the shrinking.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Free hugs for idiots like me

Apparently Sunday was "Free Hugs" day. I happened to be at a crowded mall and saw a man and a woman holding up two large posters that said "Free Hugs." I watched them for a while, and then felt that I should participate, mostly at the behest of my friend who dared me. And apparently I never turn down a dare.

So I went up to the woman and gave her a hug, and started asking her about the social experiment and making conversation. After all, I felt it was only natural to exchange a few words with someone I had engaged in voluntary physical contact with. So then I turned to the guy and said "sorry, I can't hug guys."

Much to my horror and embarrassment, this individual said "umm, I'm not a guy" in a very feminine voice. So I fumbled for a moment, and then gave "her" a hug, too (what else could I do?). Then I promptly ran away, cheeks flushed.

I swear she looked like a he! Even my friends from afar were surprised that I was hugging a random male, until I explained it to them.

In short, if you're a woman, you should grow your hair long lest someone like me call you a man in front of 10 other people.

Thanks.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Need for Marriage

This post comes in response to some discussion on marriage in the blogger world, as well as various conversations I've had recently.

One of the statements I need to talk about is: "men need to get married because of raging hormones."

An argument I often hear about the difference between men and women when it comes to their need for marriage is that men need it for sexual purposes, and women need it for emotional purposes. This is an exasperating and incorrect viewpoint. On the one hand, it denies a woman's physical needs and thus makes a woman feel unnatural when she has those desires. On the other hand, it also negates the possibility that a male has emotional needs which can be satisfied through marriage. A man who exhibits emotional behaviour is thought to be effeminate or unmanly.

Furthermore, I think this argument is debasing for men. They are made out to be these uncontrollable sex machines. And not that I'm a big fan of men anyways, but I still don't think that's an accurate or fair description of them.

Why do we limit what the genders are allowed to feel? Every human has both physical and emotional needs. To deny their wants and needs is irresponsible and hurtful in the long run.

I think this viewpoint gives rise to a sense of urgency for men. They feel that they need to get married as soon as they can. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it can become dangerous if they rush into something they are not mentally, emotionally and financially ready for.

The fact that many Muslim females are pursuing post-secondary education, and may not wish to get married until they finish, seems to push males to find wives from "back home." Plus, young women from the motherland may be easier to "control" because of the collective type of culture they live in. Since women here are brought up in sync with an individualistic approach, I could see how they would be more difficult to "control." I'm not sure why men feel the need to control their wives, but that's a topic for another post.

Marrying from "back home" is dangerous trend. It's more difficult for a woman to marry a man from back home due to issues like cultural differences, but also more tangible and logistical problems such as the male's foreign credentials not being recognized here. Because of this, we find many good women getting older who cannot seem to find a spouse. And it's not like you can get up one morning and get on a flight to marry a stranger from overseas. My individual values would not allow for that.

I suppose now, since I'm "next in line" in my family, I'm starting to feel these pressures at a higher degree. As the months pass, my confusion towards this issue grows. My own wants and needs seem to be in conflict with those of my parents, which is also another cause for concern.

I do not know how to proceed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Places to Cry

My good friend got married a few days ago. And at her wedding, I struggled not to get teared up. I told myself that I needed to maintain my tough-guy image, so I couldn't start bawling in the company of so many people that I knew.

But then I started thinking of all the places I have actually cried. Here is a list of some of them, for your convenience:

1. On a bus in Egypt.

2. At the airport.

3. At my sisters' weddings.

4. On the subway.

5. In a public washroom.

6. In prayer.

7. In front of a computer at school.

8. In an elevator.

And I'm sure I've missed some. When I consciously made this list, my previously-held belief about being a tough guy evaporated.

How can I change the world if I'm just another crybaby?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Arranged

This video seems to be a bit old, but I just saw it today, and I think it's pretty amazing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

TTC Delays

This morning I routinely got on the subway at Kipling station, westbound towards the University of Toronto. I found a seat and made myself comfortable. I turned up my MP3 player to tune out the world and veg for a while. But destiny didn't allow me to sit like that for long. At Islington station, an announcement was made for all passengers to exit the train and the station, and shuttle buses were to be provided to various locations.

Delays on the subway aren't uncommon. So I exited the train and saw a woman crying uncontrollably, being comforted by a random passerby. It was a strange and unnerving sight. I heard the sirens of police cars and fire trucks in the distance, and was ambling amongst the hundreds of passengers who seemed confused and unsure of what was happening.

As it turns out, someone had jumped onto the tracks on the subway, and was hit by the train as it pulled into the station. Some passengers had witnessed the event.

I was sitting on the shuttle bus on the way to the next station, and thinking how commonplace it seemed, that someone had committed suicide on the subway today. It's obvious that it's a regular occurrence on the TTC since within 5 minutes, they had staff to drive shuttle buses set up for people who wished to travel to other stations, and more employees to direct people in an orderly manner. It was a routine day for them.

But I thought about that person who had deemed life to be so unbearable, that he or she decided it was not worth living anymore. I wondered about what drove that person to the brink, to the edge of the platform in what was such a violent end. I would think that circumstances must have been difficult indeed.

And it surprised me, too, that many of the other passengers were pushing and swearing, and generally in terribly foul moods because they were "inconvenienced" by someone's death.

And while people were put out at the fact that they had to wait that extra 20 minutes to get to their destinations, I wondered about the concept of suicide and how accepted it is in our culture. How does a culture unwittingly accept and internalize the taking of one's own life? Think about it, when was the last time you offhandedly said something like "I feel like killing myself!"? If you're anything like me, that type of phrase isn't uncommon in your daily conversations.

Suicide is not a topic we like to hear about, nor is it one that is often addressed by politicians or the media. It's a taboo subject that is swept under the rug, that is simply called a "delay" on the subway line. Is that how a life's worth is measured at the end of the day?

I think suicide is incredibly perverse in the sense that someone is able to get to a point of such blatant desperation that it feels there is no alternative than ending life. But what's even more perverse is the uncaring, nonchalant, and annoyed reactions of the rest of us towards it.

We don't need police officers and massive fire trucks to be on hand in case of an emergency. We don't need to further develop strategies to clean up the "messes" that people cause and to insure normal, uninterrupted service. What we need is to recognize the underlying reasons why people take their lives, address those reasons, and work hard on developing preventative measures.

Otherwise, we can easily spend the rest of our lives putting out fires that could've been prevented simply by taking away the matches.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Apparently today, my face looks like it just "woke up from 1 million years of sleep." Courtesy of my little sister. Sibling love never ceases to amaze me.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Video Summary of Face

This is the summary of my face today: Mostly because I had to come to class at 8:30 in the morning, and there were 3 girls behind me talking all throughout the class. And putting their feet up on the chair next to me, which I thought was horrendously rude.

I felt like throwing my grapes at them. But I'm too nice. Plus, I wanted to eat them.

I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

ps: is it obvious that I've just discovered Windows Movie Maker?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

...and then he pooped

Mostly because I'm bored (when I should be doing work). Here's a video of my nephew Adam. Sigh he's so cute. I had to stop the video because he was escaping from my clutches. That sneaky boy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Deep End

In the last few days that I was in Egypt this past summer, my sister and I rode a jet ski in the Mediterranean. If you want to do something like that here, you probably need to have a boating license or something. But no, some Egyptian pounds and a life jacket are enough to drive one in Egypt.

We were zooming around quite fast, me being the driver. It was all very exciting and fun. After about 10 minutes of driving around, I made a turn that was too sharp, and before I knew what was happening, the entire jet ski flipped over, throwing me and my little sister into the sea.

We were very far from shore, and it wasn't swimming distance. There was no one else around. Just us, two girl floating in the Mediterranean, holding on desperately to an upside down jet ski. When the motor automatically turned off, the jet ski started to sink. I started panicking, telling my little sister to hold onto the front part of the contraption that hadn't sunk yet.

I frantically started screaming for help, though I knew full-well that no one would hear me. In those moments we were stranded there, I felt a mixture of fear and extreme guilt for having gotten myself and my little sister into such a bind.

It's very interesting to think of the state of fright I was in. I still feel unnerved and uncomfortable when I think about what happened that day. The most frightening part of it was not having ground to stand on. Not only were we in a difficult situation, but there was nothing below us to keep us stable. The fear of death by drowning was a clear and intense reality in my mind.

A few minutes later another boat happened to be whizzing by, and they alerted the Egyptian “lifeguards” (essentially a group of young men in a boat) who came and, quite literally, rescued us.

Afterwards and for the rest of the day, I was shaken. I kept having flashbacks of every second of what went down. Mostly, I had recurring thoughts about my body falling. I had no control over any of my limbs. I was seized up and thrown into the salt water.

I don’t know why I’m thinking of this now, in the middle of the night. Perhaps because that day I twisted my knee very awkwardly, and it still smarts every once in a while. I should see a doctor.

Maybe I haven’t described it in dramatic enough terms, but I was afraid for my life. People generally say you see your entire life flash before your eyes in times like these. But I didn’t. All I could think about the entire time was how to stay alive. I just wasn’t ready to die, especially not like this – on a silly whim.

The uncertainty of life evades us. I could have easily died that day.

Sometimes I wonder when and how my death will happen, and I hope that when that time comes, I won’t feel so terribly unprepared.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

All in a Day's Work

I like making lists. It's much easier than writing in paragraph form. So, here's a list of the noteworthy things I did today, in chronological order:

1. I role-played a teen with drug addiction issues in one of my social work classes. Eerily enough, my act was very convincing.

2. I went to Second Cup after iftar with a friend of mine. I got a cookie, and asked the barista to put whipped cream on it, just to see if he would flinch. He didn't. My social experiment was a failure. To my chagrin, he promptly spread a thick layer of whipped cream on the cookie (which I hated).

3. We found a patch of grass on a busy square in downtown Toronto, took our shoes and socks off, and walked on it, marveling at how cold and wonderful the grass felt under our feet. A man walked by and looked us up and down (starting at our bare feet) and uttered a confused: "assalaamu alaikum..?"

4. I found a lost blackberry at Ryerson (what we were doing there is beyond me). And spent a good 10 minutes trying to locate its owner. It was a nice phone (i.e. I sympathized since I have the same one. Yes I own a blackberry - mostly because I'm a creep) so I felt it my duty to return it to the owner. I was successful.

5. I bought a lehnga. Lahenga? Lengha? It's to wear to my friend's wedding. I feel like one of those dazed and confused white people trying to fit into an Indian wedding. (This was technically done on Tuesday, however, I feel it is noteworthy enough to go on my list).

6. I tripped while standing on an escalator. I'm not quite sure how. Apparently I am capable of wondrous things.

I vaguely remember a few other things, but these will suffice for now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I wish I had these things to break my fast with

Strange cravings that have been bothering me all day...

One blueberry muffin
One pumpkin pie
One croissant
One green skittle
One glass of chocolate milk

That's all.

Monday, September 08, 2008

First day jitters

Today was my first day of school. Being back at school is very strange. I feel old and out-of-place. And I mean, Masters? Ick. It sounds so academic and serious. Why am I doing this again?

So my program is made up of about 120 people. 97% of which are young Caucasian women. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it was slightly surprising to see very few visible minorities in the class, especially considering the fact that the field of social work is ever-present in the lives of minorities and immigrants.

Anyways, it was okay. Scary at first, but okay. I walked in with all these nervous jitters, thinking to myself that I was definitely going to flunk out of this program and "how did I even get in?!" But hopefully time and experience will eradicate those fears. It's transitioning from one period of your life to another that's the difficult part.

Also, my classes all start at 8:30 in the morning. I think that's morally wrong, and discriminatory against those of us who aren't morning people.

That's all.

Bye.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Facts of Life

I found my first white hair today. Excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in Beauty and the Beast.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Food Mapping

This is what I had for suhoor/sehri today.

Some cereal (Oatmeal Squares by Quaker) and milk (1%).

Some fruit salad (composed of peaches, oranges, grapes, bananas).

One boiled egg with salt and pepper.

Yes, I eat a lot. But that's what I call accommodating the 4 food groups!

Perhaps a report on tonight's Iftar is in order.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ramadan Mubarak with a twist

Ramadan Mubarak to all you random readers :) May the tranquility of this month be reflected in your lives, and may God accept all your good actions.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

God is Great(er)

Sometimes I forget God. Allah.

I am too engrossed in life. Oh, life. The ins and outs, the ups and downs. Even making my daily prayers doesn't seem to snap me out of my forgetfulness.

Then suddenly there are moments we find buried under the dirty laundry of life, moments of clarity and truth. And we remember "Allahu Akbar," literally, "God is Greater."

It's easy to keep our heads in the clouds blaming others for our pain and taking credit for all the good in our lives. But it's difficult and humbling to remember that God is the source of it all.

We say it everyday. It's the start to each of our prayers, meant to separate your unimportant life from the importance of prayer. Because God IS Greater.

Greater than you or I. Greater than the talents and achievements we claim are of our own doing. He is above what paltry pain we feel in this world. Above the mundane things that we believe constitute a life.

I'm trying to remind myself, God is Greater.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Educating the Muslim Female

I've been trying to sort these sentiments in my mind for quite some time, so writing them out clearly will be difficult. Kindly bear with me...

I grew up with a clear path of education. It was naturally expected for me to go to university, and to pursue higher education. It was never simply an "option." I was pushed to do the best at whatever endeavours I decided to undertake.

In university, I was indoctrinated with the notion of individuality, empowerment and self-determination. I was taught that what and who I wanted to be, was completely in my hands. So I made myself in those four years, out of a combination of valuable personal relationships and classroom education. That was followed by a year in the workforce. Which was both scary (at first) and enlightening. Soon I embark on 2 years of graduate school.

And yet there was something missing all along. And that is true empowerment.

The more I contemplate it, it seems to me that Muslims educate their daughters with the intention of producing educated housewives. In short, education is about theory and not practice. In my limited experience, an incredible amount of concentration is put on marriage in a young woman's life - as opposed to truly empowering her and allowing her to make choices about her future.

For example, if a woman of education reaches her late 20's and is still unmarried, it seems there is suddenly a "too-empowered" stigma attached to her name. It's as though marriage defines women, and without it we are unnatural. I do not deny there is a natural desire for partnership, but I question our community's perception of what a woman is without it.

I often feel frustrated being in a Muslim family. I'm not proud of these frustrations of mine. Believe me, it's a conflicting and negative feeling to have. (Perhaps the phenomenon is also found in non-Muslim families, but I speak from experience only.)

Though we've been taught to make decisions on our own, I find that being female and Muslim sometimes means some of our decision are made for us, and not by us. And thus there can only be one product of that: an ever-increasing frustration with the situations we find ourselves in.

It may be arrogant of me to presume these frustrations are born out of education. But being educated gives rise to the notion that one has full jurisdiction over one's life. But there's the Islamic notion of the "wali" (guardian) to reckon with.

I don't mean to be "blasphemous" with these words, I apologize if anyone feels offended. All I mean to do is express myself in a way that I feel is honest and true to reality.

It's not that I desire rebellion in any serious way. My rebellion is minuscule and quiet, often taking form in wholly insignificant things like buttons, the way I dress, or the sometimes humourous manner in which I address people. So no, it's not that I want to go out and do something my family and community would hate, just to prove I am independent. Not at all.

It's simply a bewitching concept to know that no matter the extent of your education and experience in this world, there are limits set upon you simply because of your sex. But what to do? Either you not educate a woman, and thus legitimize your control over her, or enrich a woman's mind and deal with the consequences of her new-found power.

I personally have these conflicts in my psyche - perhaps I am alone in this. Nonetheless, I have yet to determine what a proper psychological solution for it is. I am wary of extremes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Home

I got home a few days ago, to the quiet roads of Toronto. To the home with reliable hot running water. To quiet mornings and quiet nights.

But it seems the tumultuous Egyptian landscape has followed me home. Internalized chaos I suppose. I didn't quite notice I had any conflicting or chaotic feelings when I was there. Mostly because there was so much external chaos that the internal didn't quite show.

I thought coming back to Toronto would be this immense relief. A load off of my mind and heart. But it isn't quite what I hoped for.

They say home is where the heart is. I used to look for my home in physical places. I used to think that familiar surroundings and in-depth knowledge of how things around me function, constituted a "home." I'm starting to see that I'm wrong.

Don't think that it's a simple question of whether my home is in Egypt or in Canada. Physical space and landscape is relatively irrelevant in the grand scheme. It's not about countries. It's more complicated than that. Home is about love and people.

And then the natural question that follows is: if your "home" disappoints you, how do you just get up and find another? Relocating your body is easy. It's the relocation of your heart that's the hard part.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hi.

Well wow, I haven't posted for a month and a half. Longest time I've ever been away. I guess I haven't felt very talkative lately. Or...writative.

For example, I started writing a novel about 2 months ago - at work during my spare time - but got writer's block about 700 words into it, and thought that's probably not a good sign. So I quit.

I'm in Egypt. The Adhan for fajr just went off. I can't sleep. When I logged into blogger everything was in Arabic lettering. That was confusing.

We're pretty much here to drop off my sister (she's getting married) and come back to Canada. I've always found marriage to be a rather depressing thing. Which is a pretty terrible thing to say, I admit.

I guess it's fear of change, fear of the unknown. And a touch of separation anxiety. Oh well. Not much for people to do except get over their fears or stagnate.

Everything has been going in slow motion for the past few months. As though I'm outside looking in, scrutinizing my life, wondering what and how and who I'll end up being.

I'll let you know if I find out.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Life updates (and more importantly, cookies)

1. I'm off to Egypt on June 30. Will return August 13 inshaAllah.

2. Naturally, I'm leaving my job at the end of June as well. So one of the clients goes to me "I'm going to miss you. You're always so pleasant and cooperative." That was excellent.

3. I'm starting my masters in social work come September inshaAllah, back to school! Thus, procrastination begins once again, thus blog posts will more than likely increase in frequency.

4. I hear the original dad's cookies (plain chocolate chip, not oatmeal) are back. That makes my stomach smile.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Baby Adam

I am officially an aunt as of May 21, 2008. Bloggers, welcome Baby Adam to this world: The story of his birth is rather an interesting one. He was 2 weeks overdue, so the doctors decided to induce my sister-in-law's labour. It went on for about two days, so we were all just waiting for some news.

Adam was born with the umbilical cord around his neck, not breathing. After a few minutes he was okay, alhamdulillah, but still needed to be put into a special care unit for infants. We went to visit him that day, and it was quite the sight to be seen...

7 of us - my siblings and parents were in the waiting room, and only two of us were allowed to see him at a time. And it was heart-wrenching, to see his little body hooked up to an IV, and breathing in extra oxygen through a mask of sorts. And yet, he was still the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen.

My brother, a first-time father, was in a state of stress and worry the entire time. And for good reason. He was asking us to make dua for Adam that Allah (swt) would grant him health. And it was interesting - suddenly someone who's usually easy-going and light-hearted becomes a worried and protective father. In a span of 2-3 days, he's completely changed. Seeing him hold Adam in his arms was an interesting mix of emotions. My family is growing up.

It was raining that day. A sign of Mercy from Allah. And I think we were all praying that Adam would be a source of mercy, too. He is the first baby in our family, so maybe the novelty of being related to such a beautiful thing will wear off eventually, but not soon I hope.

Alhamdulillah Adam's completely fine now, crying and eating and crying and eating some more; it was just a scare. But it makes you realize just how many things can go wrong, and how every baby is a perfect miracle.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

High-Tech Prayer Rug

Check this out. I find it neat that he's incorporating Islam into his PhD.

Get your PhD whilst racking up on rewards for making prayer easier and more accessible for people. Now that is a good plan.

(And an interesting aside. I've done this a few times and believe me, it is rather disturbing in the morning when you check your phone)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mom fired over Timbit

I thought this was rather interesting.

Suddenly I feel like eating timbits. But I'll pay for them.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tax Season

Asmaa wakes up on a chill February morn
but her oh so cheerful face turns to scorn

when she spies that suspicious envelope
she knows there is little hope.

they are her dreaded T4 slips
"oh hell no" she mouths with her lips

for this means tax season is just beginning
if she were a man, her hair would be thinning.

March comes and goes
but April starts her woes.

There are tons of rough drafts lying on her desk
the scene is ugly - nay, grotesque

more horrible than a gripping horror tale
for she has a hidden fear that she will fail

and her money will land in the hands of the Agency
they'll go on a rampage to collect their fees

and so Asmaa lies on her bed
capturing her whole body is this feeling of dread

all she can tangibly do is pray
but there is no escape from the CRA

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Proving our Canadian-ness

As you have likely heard by now, the charges against 4 more of the "Toronto 18" have been stayed (charges of 3 youth were already stayed last year). Click here or here for more on that.

It seems that our collective duas, as expressed here are slowly but surely being answered.

This is good news, for both the Muslim and non-Muslim community. We are slowly being exonerated of accusations that had little merit to begin with. No matter how blue in the face Muslims get, trying to explain that Islam does not endorse terrorism, the media has a tendency to instill irrational fears in the hearts of the public.

And now, charges have been stayed without these individuals even getting to a trial. Surprising, isn't it? I will refrain from writing anything about the others who are still in prison, some in solitary confinement for months on end.

Although this is good news, the comments I'm seeing from of our fellow Canadians are really astounding. One of the comments I've read (you can see all the comments at the link I provided above) is as follows:

"They have proof that at least SOME of them were planning something wrong, and those ones will (hopefully) be brought to justice. There were bound to be a few associates or mere friends taken down in the process, but let that be a warning to muslims. WATCH WHO YOU HANG OUT WITH, or better yet rat any extremists you know out yourselves, it will let the rest of Canada start to think of you in a better light."

According to this individual, in order for Canada to think of us Muslims in a better light, we need to be divided and fight against one another. We must always be suspicious towards other Muslims and "rat" on those whom we suspect to be doing wrong.

Put more simply, in order to be accepted into the generous hearts of Canadians, we have to prove our Canadian-ness. It isn't enough anymore to be born and raised here. It isn't enough that our community is more highly educated than the average Canadian and we are contributing to the economy in massive ways. It isn't enough that our mosques run community outreach programs, food drives, fundraising initiatives for the homeless. Apparently for Muslims, it's just not enough to be decent human beings.

But oh, we dearly want all Canadians to love us! So, let's start ratting out our Muslim neighbours who went camping last summer!

Ridiculous.

To be clear, I'm not advocating anything related to terrorism, which is abhorrent and disgusting to say the least. Rather, it is interesting to see the reactions that are elicited by people when you start throwing around that dreaded T-word.

And hey, how does one even define what is "Canadian" anyways? The age old question. At the end of the day, if we Muslims are trying to "prove" that we belong to an identity that is so fluid in and of itself, we're just paving the way to more confusion about our own identities.

I am a decent human being but I maintain my own identity - one that I have formed for myself by weighing in all aspects of my surroundings, one that I think will make me a stronger and better person. That is all I can offer. If that's not enough to make me a "Canadian" or make the public see me in a better light, well then that makes me sad, but I am still unwavering.

--

As human beings in the 21st century, we live in a culture that is entrenched in fear. We think that there is an evil force behind every corner we turn and that everyone is out to get us. Before we are ever able to move on and think about the world objectively, we need to shed these hurtful stereotypes. Non-Muslims perhaps need to come to terms with Muslims being an integral part of the Canadian mosaic.

And Muslims aren't off the hook either. We have some pretty negative stereotypes of our own - often thinking that anyone who's skin is lighter than ours is a bigot.

In short, none of us are without fault. We each have ways to go, but we need to strive to make sure our society moves forward in a productive and fair manner. I hope, God-willing, that the rest of the individuals who are not out of prison yet will be given a fair judgment as well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Change

Do you ever suddenly stop what you're doing and look at your life, and the lives of people around you and think when did all this happen?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rolling up the rim

The following is a sad tribute to my ever-growing pool of lost cups (I have yet to win a single thing), written by a friend.

There was once this lady
Who was a little shady

She would buy lots of tea
Rubbing her hands with glee

She whispers, ‘roll up the rim to win’
The corner of her lips forming a grin

She drinks her tea fast
To roll the rim at last

Quickly, with her hands begins to roll
Hopes of victory runs through her soul

Her excited eyes
Look up to the skies

‘please play again’

She tosses her cup to the side
For so many times she’s tried

Tomorrow’s another day
For just another play

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Random Updates

March 18, 2008: at long last, gained G1 license.

March 19, 2008: lost job.

March 20, 2008: began job search with large amounts of chocolate in hand.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rolling up the Rim

So it's that time of the year again with Tim Horton's Roll up the Rim to win cup craze. You all know what I'm talking about, unless you're from the deep south, in which case I feel sorry for you (for several reasons).

But anyways, I have a problem. Possibly psychological. I can't wait to finish my drink before rolling up the rim. I have to do it way before I finish my drink, maybe even before I start. You see, I can't very well enjoy my cup of (insert drink name here) unless I know whether I've won or lost. Losing after drinking it leaves me with an empty feeling, but knowing that I've lost beforehand gives me an opportunity to recover from my grief whilst drinking.

I have bought 3 liquid beverages so far this season, and have yet to win anything. I will report on any future successes. I don't even want the car or TV or big prizes. I just want a free tea :D

okay bye.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Confessions of a Hijabi trying to beat her Quadrapop score.

I am on the subway, head lowered staring intently at my cell phone screen (I am attempting to beat my already ridiculously high score on Quadrapop - akin to tetris). My mind is completely engrossed in perplexing thoughts of which piece to place where when I briefly lose focus and suffer those heart breaking words: Game Over. Sigh, well there's always tomorrow on the bus.

I glance up to survey my surroundings, and find about 4 to 5 people looking at me, some are confused, some belligerent (these are more rare), and some staring blankly as though to signal I am simply the most interesting entity on the subway car. I am suddenly annoyed, even angry that they should stare so freely and without shame at me while I'm just trying to get from one place to another in the city, just like them.

My reactions vary. Sometimes I stare back long enough for them to abashedly look away and pretend not to have been discomfited with my gaze. Sometimes I smile at them, making them either smile back (this is rare), or just tug their lips in awkward angles, their facial expression denoting confusion.

And some days I'm just tired, and I end up looking away first, dejected at not being able to make their stomachs churn or eyelids nervously flutter. Yes, I will admit to the joy of making people step back for a moment and realize that I'm a human being with a small sense of humour, too. Sometimes I tell men I won't shake their hands just to see the look of mild bewilderment on their faces (another secret pleasure).

And you can't blame me. People have their ignorant fun with me (like random strangers asking, "do you speak English?" as a prelude to "do you have the time?") Because heaven forbid I give them the incorrect time due to the fact that I am English impaired.

Another one of my favourites is in the summer when people ask "aren't you hot in that?" I promptly reply "yes, but I'm from the desert. All I know how to be is hot." I was asked that by my employer once in September and this reply made her step back a moment and laugh. Needless to say, she never asked again (success!)

Now some will say this may not be the greatest way to reach out to non-Muslims and come to common understandings and such. But try looking different for your entire life, and constantly being reminded that you are not like us. It's stressful knowing that no matter what you achieve, or how much education you have, some people will always view you through a lens of pity as a common religiously deluded girl. That makes me sad.

This is all I've known: being pushed into the world looking and feeling unlike coworkers, classmates, and the general public. And I won't lie, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to just blend in for one day, to breathe a sigh of relief that your guard can actually be let down for a moment.

But it has never come to that because without hijab, I am the same as everyone else. I'd be drowning in a sea of sameness. And that, more than being misunderstood or scoffed at, I cannot bear.

Plus, it's too damn fun to mess with people. (If any others would like to share their reactions and/or responses to questions they get about hijab, go for it!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NO ROSES FOR YOU!!

I'm not usually a fan of February 14. I find it a little stale that there are only certain days in the year that people are expected celebrate love. And the way we celebrate, controlled by an overarching consumerism of course, is slightly restrictive and unoriginal. Blah blah.

But I won't lie. My mouth is definitely an ardent fan of the holiday, especially the 15th when all the Valentine's day candy goes on sale.

And apparently, Saudi Arabia also has strong opinions on Valentine's, albeit with a slightly different twist than mine.

It's all a little exciting. I've never had to buy flowers on the black market before. Maybe I'd try to buy some just for the thrill of it.

But think of the poor suffering Saudi's! No spicy cinnamon hearts, no sweet tarts, no (halal) marshmallows and gooey chocolates in the shape of hearts!

My heart goes out to them (not on the 14th though, that seems to be illegal).

In other news, when Feb 15 comes to pass, I shall have to report on all the junk that I've bought. Good day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When you tell someone you love them, and their response is "what do you want?" you know you're doing something wrong.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts from the office

So that's it. I have officially become someone who works weekends. Yes, this is my first Saturday here.

Hey I wonder if I'll become some type of crazed workaholic now. That sounds kinda cool...bags under the eyes, right hand shaking with a travel mug full of strong black coffee, irritable and anxious.

Only problem is, I'm way too lazy to be a workaholic. I mean, I'm blogging at work.

In other news. Winter blues.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Food for thought

I wonder which will get more media attention.

The death of Heath Ledger? (which has already been immortalized on wikipedia and on numerous blogs and facebook groups composed of fans reeling from the horrible news.)

Or the Gaza Crisis?

Hmm.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A dandelion by any other name...would smell as sweet

I have never explained my blog header to you readers. (Not sure if there are many of you left after my several hiatuses and creative droughts. If there are not, I will write this as a letter to myself.)

My blog header, a puff of a weed, a dandelion. I never saw dandelions as being weeds. I always liked them, brought them home for my mom (who promptly threw them away after smiling and telling us she loved them). You see, this is the nature of adult life. We are no longer able to enjoy the small things we did as children.

Dandelions are scattered eventually. They don't remain whole. Which I think is a perfect metaphor for a human being. We are not in control of the various pieces of ourselves. We give away portions of our hearts, our time, and our efforts. Wind and life makes us scatter these things, makes us give them away until perhaps at a later point in time, we feel naked and robbed of what we could have kept for ourselves. What is a dandelion without its seeds? Without the beautiful yellow and white that surrounds its core? Does it have meaning anymore?

But all those seeds it gave away are sprouting and becoming something beautiful on their own. And we, as people, we are drained sometimes. We are plucked of our seeds or willingly donate them to others who need them more than we do. And suddenly we find ourselves without anything to protect us from an oncoming winter. We have been too scattered, have not conserved anything for ourselves. Winter crushes us and we suffer.

This, the ultimate sacrifice. To leave aside what we could have selfishly kept, so that others can live life a little better. But as the weeds that we are, our roots run deep. And when the pain and frost have ended, we are not gone. We grow again, and we give again.

It's funny perhaps, that I could have such a role model. But I aspire to be as strong as that dandelion.