Sunday, February 28, 2010

If I obtained my knowledge solely from facebook statuses, I would know that no one was proud to be a Canadian until Canada's hockey team won gold at the Olympics.

Foo.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Well Hello there, Ugly

Every couple of months I somehow come up with a new joke that I find to be absolutely hilarious. And then I use and butcher the joke until it's completely dead and I need to find a new one.

For example, I went through a phase of calling everyone and everything "ugly." Like "I love you, ugly" or "this sandwich tastes really ugly." At one point, being called "ugly" by me was actually a term of endearment. My next major line was to respond to everything with "just like your face." To illustrate:
Group member: "Asmaa, your work is subpar."
Asmaa: "Just like your face."
Sister: "Asmaa, that shirt is really wrinkled."
Asmaa: "Just like your face."
I quickly got bored of that, and would thus like to officially reveal my new line: "I'm not attractive enough." To illustrate:
Mom: "Asmaa go do the dishes."
Asmaa: "Omee I'm not attractive enough to do the dishes."
Friend: "You want to hang out today?"
Asmaa: "I'm not attractive enough to hang out with you."
But apparently I'm the only one who finds this funny. Which doesn't surprise me, since, well, in all honesty I'm not attractive enough to come up with good jokes.

(Just like your face.)

Bye, uglies.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apparently "Asmaa" isn't the easiest name to pronounce. Whities tend to call me "azma" regardless of how many times I try to correct them.

And so I find it highly problematic that my supervisor at the hospital would make a joke about my name sounding like "asthma." After she mentioned my name, her husband thought she was going to buy inhalers. Really, supervisor? Is that an appropriate joke for your position?

I'm going to eat cheetos.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

how not to end up with a dead donkey on your conscience

There was a man named Goha (Mullah Nasruddin for the Subcontinent folks). He was traveling on a journey with his son and donkey.

They walked until they reached a small town, and the people of the town looked at them with disdain saying "look at those fools, they're both walking while they have a donkey. One of them should ride it!"

So Goha thought "they're right!" and hoisted his son onto the donkey.
They continued their journey and came upon another town. The townsfolk whispered to one another "look at that insolent boy! He's riding the donkey while he makes his old father walk!"

So Goha thought "yes I should ride instead," and they switched places.

The next town they reached, they heard the people saying "look at that selfish man! He rides while his poor young son walks? They should both ride the donkey!"

So Goha hoisted his son up and they both rode to the next town.

Now at the next town, the people stared in amazement and said "how can you both ride the donkey? Look at him - he's so tired, thirsty, and weak. You are horrible people!"

So Goha and his son slipped off their donkey out of guilt. Then Goha thought and thought about what he could do to make the situation right and he came up with a solution. Him and his son would carry the donkey!

They struggled out of the town with all the people pointing and laughing. Just as they were about to leave, they crossed over a bridge and lost their balance. The donkey fell off their shoulders and into the river where he drowned.

Moral of the story: if you listen to people - everyone claims to know what's best for you. But you'd better start making your own wise decisions if you want your donkey to live.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fakeness is for Barbie. MAN UP.

Over the past few years I've learned something about myself - I can hold mean grudges. I try to play it off or make it seem like it's no big deal. But the fact of the matter is that I'm a grudge bank.

A few years ago when AlMaghrib was first starting up in Toronto, I took this course called "History of the Khulafaa" taught by Muhammad AlShareef. It was one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. And he brought up indicents in our early history where the companions of the prophet (peace be upon him) were at major odds with one another. You know, just day-to-day disagreements.

For example, many of you may know that the first caliph, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), denied the prophet's daughter Fatima her "inheritance" after the prophet died. (This was because prophets don't leave material inheritances behind - they only leave the legacy of religion). So they argued majorly about that. But here's the thing - although they argued and there was "bad blood" there, they reconciled and resumed a good relationship afterwards.

The gem that Sh Muhammad brought out of this story is this: although the sahaba had major contentions with one another sometimes, they were honest about it. They said what they really felt and didn't shy away from telling others that they were in the wrong. I think there are quite a few instances in our history that you can turn to for proof of this.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like they insulted each other or were malevolent towards one another, but they were honest.

And we don't have that today. We're so absorbed in niceties - and we think being absolutely polite all the time is the "Islamic" thing to do. Who ever said that? We do need to be gentle, truthful, benevolent - yes. But we definitely do not need to cover up our feelings when someone has wronged us, or lie and be fake with people.

I hate being fake. I hate pretending that someone didn't hurt me & keep smiling at them as if it's all fine, when in reality I'm sad or seething inside.

I also don't believe true forgiveness can come from hiding things and covering them up until they disappear. That's not forgiving, that's just a form of forceful forgetting. And we all know that forgetting is what the mind does - not the heart. Oh yes, the heart remembers.

Like if someone had beef with me, I wish they would just tell me to my face so I can understand & some real healing could happen. That's what I do - if someone has hurt me, I tell them straight-up. And this has backfired on me several times in my life. But believe me, when I get that off of my chest and both me and the other party are hurting in the reality of the situation, THAT is when forgiveness really happens.

Believe me, I know. I forgave someone recently - I had tried to ignore my grudge towards him before for many months, and I pretended like I had forgiven him, but it was an absolute lie and my heart knew it. I couldn't live like that anymore. We finally had a conversation and he said awful things to me & he meant every word. And I'm almost glad he said what he did. Later on, he kept trying to apologize but I wouldn't accept those apologies. And the only way I was finally able to do that was to get it all off my chest. I hid nothing, I had no pride to maintain - I was honest, brutally honest with that person. And he was brutally honest with me. And following those exchanges, there was some bad blood there for a few weeks...but subhanAllah, I can't speak for the other person, but those negative feelings don't exist in my heart anymore. It's like they evaporated after all those months of keeping it in and pretending like it was okay.

You know why I was able to move past this grudge? Because I threw politeness out the window and I was true to myself, true to what I felt. And so was he. I didn't "protect" myself by tip-toeing around the issue. I shot it straight in the heart. I was willing to have my ego hurt in order to stop harboring ill feelings towards my brother in Islam. And it worked - alhamdulillah.

In short, stop being so fake. To be a good Muslim, and to have true brotherhood and sisterhood, you need to have honest relationships with people. That's my take on it anyways.

Happy fighting! =)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Seeing Double

My older sister and I dressed the exact same today for no particular reason. We just thought it would be fun because apparently we think like 15-year-olds. We wore identical everythings - it helps that we shop together and practically buy the same clothes.


People kept doing double-takes and thought we were twins. It was a very nice compliment - for her. It was fun.

And then it reminded me of the strange doublemint gum commercials from the late 80s and early 90s:



Which creeped me out greatly. The end.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ekscuse me?

I've just discovered something quite mind-boggling and it has caused me to fully question the legitimacy of the English language.

We have 26 letters in our alphabet, but the fact of the matter is that we don't need the letter "X" at all. I challenge you to find a single word in our language that REQUIRES an X.

To elucidate my point, let me show you some words with Xs so you'll understand:

1. Example can easily be "egsample"
2. Extra can be spelled "ekstra"
3. Xylophone is clearly "zylaphone"

Think about it. It's a completely useless letter, and that makes me kind of angry. Granted, it does make a lot of things look cool. For egsample, "Malcolm X" can't be "Malcolm Eks." That's stupid.

So sure, it serves some twisted purpose of making things look kind of mysterious and cool. But that still doesn't change the fact that it is NOT NEEDED.

Dumb English. Good day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marriage according to little people

I usually hate email forwards, but I just feel like posting this. So I will. Some kids were asked questions about marriage/dating, and this is how they responded:

1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?

You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. - Alan, age 10

No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with. -Kristen, age 10

2. WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?

Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then. -Camille, age 10

3. HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF 2 PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?

You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids. -Derrick, age 8

4. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?

Both don't want any more kids. -Lori, age 8

5. WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?

Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough. -Lynnette, age 8

On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. -Martin, age 10

6. WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?

When they're rich. -Pam, age 7

The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that. -Curt, age 7

The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do. -Tim, age 8

7. IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?

It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them. -Anita, age 9

8. HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED?

There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there? -Kelvin, age 8

9. HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?

Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck. -Ricky , age 10

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Du'aa of Yunus

Thought I'd share something lovely I learned a few months ago...

Prophet Yunus (Jonah) called upon Allah (swt) in anguish from beneath 3 darknesses (the darkness of the belly of the whale, the darkness of the ocean, and the darkness of the night), a supplication whose urgency and sincerity caused the angels to weep:

لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

"None has the right to be worshipped but You (O, Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You; truly, I have been of the wrong-doers."

To this day, as an honour to prophet Yunus (peace be upon him), Muslims make this du'aa in times of distress and hardship.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

I tried to make chocolate chip cookies today but the batter turned out too liquidy so I decided to make it a big cookie-cake. Which would have been fine had the whole tray not burnt to a crisp and been inedible.

I really need someone to pick me up, dust me off, and make me feel beautiful again.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Class Routines: Spitballs

Kauthar had a problem. For the longest time, she had contemplated spitballing the back of her classmate Joseph's shiny bald head. It was the perfect target - so round, so white, and just a few rows ahead of her, at the centre of her vision.

He was that tall guy in her class whose shirt collars were for some reason always slightly too large, inadvertently showing a bit too much neck (no one wants to see that much man-neck). His smile was sharp, and it quickly transformed his eagle-like eyes into merry slits. His hands were small-ish thus not looking quite proportionate to his body, and his shoulders heaved awkwardly with heavy, gutteral laughter at every remarkably crude comment made by his classmates or teacher. That gummy grin and decently-coiffed beard were too much for some girls. They swooned, they flirted, they even fell in love with him. Silly tarts.

And yet today all Kauthar wanted to do was to spitball his head. Every class his seemingly-waxed head would mock her by periodically bobbing up and down, feigning note-taking whilst he was actually texting his girl of the hour.

She daydreamed of that moment; how the spitball would fly majestically through the air, hit the back of his ridiculous head with a gooey *smack* and stick there until he reached back with his somewhat effeminate hand to wipe it away. The thought made her chuckle internally.

The problem was, she didn't have a straw today. But she did have scraps of paper and her saliva all ready to go. The frustration at not being able to eject that perfect spitball ate away at her psyche all throughout the 2 hour class. It almost made her seethe with anger, and consequently a bright pink flush spread through her face.

At the end of her class, she gathered her things, noting that he was probably onto some other unsuspecting girl by now. She secretly vowed to bring a straw next week, silently rubbing her gloved hands with evil glee.
When the conquest is too difficult, the prize loses its allure.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Empowerment through God

So I’m taking this class at my faculty called “Empowerment at the Margins” and we’re always questioning what the term “empowerment” really means. As a social worker, I’ll be expected to be a catalyst in the empowerment of disadvantaged people...but how can I do that if I don’t even know what it means?

Well let’s start with the basics: my good ol’ friend dictionary.com defines power as the “ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.” Then it defines empowerment as “to equip or supply with an ability; enable” or “to give power or authority to; authorize, esp. by legal or official means.”

In short, power is an ability to do, and empowerment is giving someone the ability to do.

Common to both of these definitions of empowerment is the act of “giving” power to someone else. There is an assumption that power is some kind of tangible entity that is transferable from one person’s hands to another. If we assume that this is true, who really has the power to give power to others? And is it my place in the field of social work to assume others are completely powerless until I, the obvious heroin in this comic strip, come and give them this thing we call “power.”

Aww, look at me being the noble social worker! It’s kind of cute if you disregard the fact that I look like some kind of creepy missionary...

Okay, paint job is done now. Let’s get serious.

I often feel lost in my class discussions about power - because there is no acknowledgment of the One who is All-Powerful and from Who all power stems. You see, in my eyes, if all power belongs to God, our act of “empowering” is pretty arrogant in that we attribute the abilities to empower to ourselves and not to a greater being.

I was listening to a lecture about du’aa by Yasir Qadhi a few months ago, and he said this brilliantly true statement that really spoke to me: “our honour lies in humbling ourselves before the One who has Honour, Al-Azeez...and our strength lies in admitting our complete weakness in front of the All-Powerful, Al-Qawee.”

I often try to be “empowered” by asserting myself, being confident, being in some ways masculine and tough. To me, being empowered always meant that my voice was heard and respected, but as I learn and grow I’m starting to realize that true empowerment is not something that needs to be validated by anyone else. I made the mistake of defining something internal by external factors. In reality, I need to admit my weakness to the All-Powerful in order to have true strength.

But we are so damn cocky. We assume in our arrogance that power is centered within us. We can’t handle thinking about power as something beyond our control.

In response to humankind’s struggle and thirst for power, a major principle of Islam is “tawakkul” meaning a complete reliance on God. The Qur’an consistently elucidates the concept of tawakkul by first making clear and concise statements about Allah’s Power. For example, the beginning of Surat al-Mulk: ”blessed is He in whose hand is dominion, and He is over all things competent” (67:1).

In Surat al-Ra’d, Allah (swt) says: “Allah is He who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne; He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord” (13:12). In these verses and many others in the Qur’an, Allah’s power is portrayed as beyond our imagination. He says “Be” and it is!

There are scores of verses in the Qur’an that talk about Allah’s ultimate power; so shouldn’t it naturally follow that we turn to the One with power at least in our times of need?

That is the essence of tawakkul; recognizing who it is that has true power and putting your trust in Him. Allah says again in the Qur’an: “and whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him” (65:3).

Back to our topic of empowerment: so the believer does not feel the need to rely on people to empower him or her. Instead, there is a comprehensive and beautiful reliance on the One in whose hand is our souls. There’s this amazing du’aa that I like – part of it goes like this “antal-ghaniyu wa nahn-ul-fuqarau ilayk” – You are the rich and we are the poor and weak in need of You. My need for Him transcends my need for anything or anyone else. Basically, the rest of you are chumps.

I’ll stop writing soon, I swear. But there’s one hadith that I want to share:

The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “strange is the affair of the Mu’min (the believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks Allah and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient and it becomes better for him...” (Muslim).

So the believer is constantly in a state of thankfulness and acceptance, whether good or evil befalls him or her. True empowerment comes from the mind – it is not my place to give power to someone less advantaged than me in the material sense. Material goods and abilities do not even constitute empowerment; they only constitute a transient worldly power.

So how can I ever claim to empower someone, when true empowerment lies in admitting weakness, being content with what Allah has given you, and attaining a state of patience and certainty?

If that is empowerment, I definitely can’t give that to you, you can only give that to yourself.