Tuesday, December 27, 2011

They Hate Me.

When we were young we believed that love could conquer all - that just by hoping with all your heart that the world would be a better place could make it so. I used to think that the louder I shouted about injustices, the faster they would be resolved. I used to know things for sure, I used to believe in the goodness of people over their evil.

The last few years have been like anchors, slowly pulling my head down out of the clouds. I've begun to see that there are very few things in life that are simply black and white. I've begun to lose hope in the world. I don't know when exactly I started to feel this way, but I think that all the hatred for Muslims and Islam that is now a part of worldwide political and social dogma is at the root of these feelings. It's now becoming apparent that it is acceptable to insult and humiliate Muslims without facing substantial criticism. Entire governments are anti-Islam.

Even in Egypt where I am now stationed, the case is the same. You'd think that in a majority Muslim country, you'd be less exposed to anti-Islam rhetoric, but unfortunately that is just not true. Recent elections brought the Muslim Brotherhood and a Salafi Party into "power" (and I'm not yet sure what that even means considering the turmoil surrounding the military's current rule). I'm alright with people disagreeing with these parties' politics, as I'm sure I don't agree with all of them myself. But the anti-Islam rhetoric coming from "liberal" media has been so immense and heartbreaking that I usually just stop reading or turn the TV off.

And my heart hurts more every time I read or watch something about some new person or entity hating me. And I say "me" because the personal is political and the political is personal. Part of me wishes I could escape to a mental state where I was more hopeful in people seeing truth above propaganda. I want to be able to look up at the clouds and not be distracted by the ugly ground I'm standing on. I want to be free of hatred and full of love. I wish I was, I wish I could be.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jannah Crescent

Over the past several years, my family has been scattered around the world. It seems to happen intermittently - one sibling leaves to pursue some dream in another city or country, and another simultaneously comes back home. I think the last time we were all together was over five years ago.

So there's this small crescent on my street in Toronto that has 6 or 7 beautiful houses - it's actually more of a glorified semi-circle driveway. When my sister and I used to walk past it, we would talk about how awesome it would be if we bought those houses in the semi-circle and everyone moved back home. All the nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters and our parents, and we all got to see each other whenever we wanted. We'd talk about how we'd just all take turns cooking, and how we'd knock on each others doors when we felt like going someplace, and we'd all definitely take food from our parents' house.

It was a happy thought, and it still is. And then we would just sigh and my sister would say "maybe in Jannah, inshaAllah."

Over the years I've realized that all happiness is marred my some sadness. Even if for a moment or two everything seems just exactly right. It doesn't have to be some immense life-altering sadness, it could just be a loved one being too far away for you to share your happiness with her or him. It could be the distant memory of what you wish you could change from all those years ago. It could be anything.

This is not to be confused with pessimism or deep-seated regrets. Far from it. All I mean to say is that there is no pure happiness, sadness, anger, or other emotions. You aren't just one thing at any time. When you realize that this life is more emotionally complicated than you once imagined, it makes Jannah feel more real.

We are continuously journeying towards stations of happiness, but when we arrive, there are always memories of sadness or fear of future troubles. The thing is, when you arrive to the ultimate station of happiness, paradise, none of that exists anymore.

I just hope that someday we get to live in a Jannah Crescent.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's December

Regardless of where you are in the world, December is just plain old December. And it sucks the words right out of my mouth.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter Sea

The winter sea is indifferently majestic;
it is unconcerned with the city’s arbitrary nighttime gunshots
or upcoming contentious elections.
All it wants is to discover the shore’s bumps and old plastic chairs left by humans because the air got too cold, and to flood adjacent highways when possible.

The sea doesn’t care that you are empty inside, or that you go to it for a calming solace because nothing else is consistently good or peaceful.
All it wants is to protect its sunken treasures from prying eyes and the sun’s attempt to evaporate its surface.

When the sea is dark and the night prevents inquisitive eyes from distinguishing its edge on the horizon from the black sky, your soul won’t feel any more enriched.
The café lighthouses that are on the brink of being engulfed in its waves will not bring you closer to home.

The sea just wants to be left alone, moving heavy contents in and out of its unburdened heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When it Rains in Egypt, it Pours

And that's not a metaphor:

Flooded street beside our home in Alexandria

So when it rains here, it's hard to go out for leisure since many streets are in this shape - I guess no proper drainage system is in place considering it doesn't rain except in limited winter months.

Naturally since I can't go out as much, I've started noticing that the English channels on my TV keep playing the same things over and over: CSI (in all its forms), MasterChef Australia and lots of Sandra Bullock & horror movies (arguably the same thing).

Which sucks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Climbing Mount Sinai

If any of you remember this post, you'll know that one of the places I have always wanted to go was Mt. Sinai, the mountain that Moses (peace be upon him) is said to have climbed to talk to God. I've always loved the idea of going to a place that was so rich in history and meaning - but not just any history, my history. A history that I believed in, that was a part of my identity as a human being, and a believer in a line of prophets sent by God.

In early September I was fortunate enough to make that climb up Mt. Sinai with my husband. And it was absolutely the most physically challenging feat I have ever faced. The first half of the climb was tiring but not difficult. I can't say the same for the second half - every step I took up that mountain was exhausting, especially considering that we began our ascent in the middle of the night (3am).

But I regret nothing, it was shockingly beautiful to be climbing a trail in dead silence with a frighteningly large amount of stars staring at me from the heavens. And all we could see during the night were the stars and massive black shapes protruding from the ground - we were fully surrounded by mountains - Mt. Sinai being the highest of them.

Perhaps people who have lived all their lives around the majestic presence of mountains can't appreciate the kinds of heavy emotions attached to this experience. I had never before seen anything like this. As we were climbing and the sun was slowly rising, I began to see the peaks of all the mountains surrounding us. As far as the eye could see - nothing, absolutely nothing but mountains.

For a long time, I've felt that I haven't been learning anything new or going through new experiences. This was a new one. A stunning new one that left me speechless. All I could think of were the verses of the Qur'an where God says:

They say: "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!" Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin. That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. Not one of the beings in the heavens and the earth but must come to (Allah) Most Gracious as a servant (Surat Maryam 88-93).

Seeing those mountains reminded me of how Great God is - a Greatness that cannot be measured or quantified. But it's a greatness that inspires all creations to recognize and praise their Lord. Even mountains, which in the sunlight were simple very very large mounds of rocks and boulders...even mountains feel that connection to God. It makes me sad to think of times when I haven't felt that connection due to negligence, arrogance, or other negative qualities I possess. Perhaps it's a silly question, but aren't more feeling than a mound of rocks? I suppose it's something that I have to continuously grapple with.

I wish I could elaborate more on the intensity of the experience, I wish I could take you there...to that place where the shuffling of your feet and beating of your heart are the only sounds that matter. Where you realize that God is everything, and you are nothing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Racing Chocolate Thief

I have this recurring dream where I'm in a big race, but the race starts off with a free all-you-can-eat chocolate chip waffle breakfast. Needless to say, I stay at the starting line for a while, even after the race starts. In fact, I stay there until I've finished every last waffle. Then, once I start the race, I keep stumbling upon these massive chocolate stashes located under people's mattresses (not sure why I had access to their mattresses). I suddenly notice that I'm carrying a very big sack, so I begin to fill it up with all the various chocolate bars I'm finding until it's completely full. I should mention that there were other sweets including soft cookies, gum, toffee, mints - I remember I didn't take the mints because I calculated that they were a waste of sack space.

And then, after all that, I still manage win the race. Chocolate dreams are the best. Especially when they are recurring.

But then I wake up and I'm seriously hungry.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

avoiding living so as not to make a Life

I've been avoiding living. And by living I mean, actually digging my heels into anything real in Egypt. I haven't enrolled in any classes, haven't made any friends, haven't said or done anything to make me accountable to anyone (besides my husband).

I didn't really do it on purpose. I just avoided doing real stuff and my conscious mind told me that it was because I was newly married - getting a hang of things like cooking, pleasing in-laws, etc. (yeah...right.) I kept using excuses until I finally stopped suppressing the real reason of avoidance. Well, I didn't want to stop - it all kind of just forcefully broke out of my subconscious mind.

I don't want to make a life here. I don't want any of this to be real. The more anchored I become here, the more it feels like the anchor will be too heavy to lift when I need to go home. For example, when I think about the slight possibility of making friends, my guard automatically goes up - because I already have friends at home.

And my guard is always up because people in Egypt are nosey in a major way. And everyone has an opinion. I understand that people who are close to you want to advise you, but it's often done in a way that's extremely pushy, and might I add, not only people who are close to you. Someone you just met might just tell you that you're living your life wrong. So yes, my guard is up in an exhausting way. Sometimes I just collapse under its weight and take a day or two to just be moody and not let anyone in.

And when I remember my parents and siblings, and all the babies that are related to me that I haven't seen in so long, my heart aches. And although my logical mind tells me that I should be where I am, how can it ever win an argument with my heart?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I did the thing I promised myself I would never do.

I did the thing I promised myself I would never do. I promised myself that someday when I got married, I wouldn't neglect my old life - I would keep blogging, I would stay in touch with friends and family. I would work. Basically, I would just be myself, except with another person.

When my friends were getting married and falling off the face of the planet, I didn't understand. I thought it was about them being so in love that they just didn't think anything else was as important. At the time, I turned my nose up at them. To be honest, I thought they were overly-emotional ninnies.

But I think I now understand their predicaments. After you get married, things change - there's so much more complex emotional states that need to be analyzed and sorted through. There is a lot of personal adjustment and reflection that happens. And well, there are in-laws.

The person you're with will make you re-examine your own life and habits - compare and contrast them to your own, worry about new things you had never thought of before. And it's a lot to handle on a psychological level. So I get it now - I get why people struggle to maintain their old lives when they get married. It's emotionally taxing.

Granted, the fact that I'm in Egypt makes it significantly harder to maintain my old life (well, actually it makes it impossible). But I'm still a little bit sad. And that's not because some of the things I was and some of the values that I held are falling to the wayside. No, it's because it's happening without me noticing. But I should notice, and I should care. The last thing that I want to be is a woman who loses herself in marriage simply because she didn't take the time or effort to carve her own niche in the world.

I know it's not easy, but I'm trying.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

While I was lying in bed I came up with a really great blog post topic. I thought I should write it down or else I might forget, but I was too lazy to get out of bed. And then, I forgot. So this is what you get to read:

booga booga booga.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


I miss Autumn in Canada. October is the month all the trees used to really start looking like they were set ablaze with colour. I remember being so distracted by the trees that I would often almost bump into passers-by. To me, autumn is associated with putting a jacket on in the morning and holding a travel mug filled with hot tea while running towards the bus in half drizzly weather. I never understood why people called this kind of weather "miserable."

Autumn is what life is about - seeing that stage of immense beauty disintegrate into a cold kind of darkness. I always found those quiet moments of reflection surprising and sweet, like a chocolate bar you forgot you had in your bag. I suppose I'll have to find things that inspire me in Egypt now - although autumn here is just the same as summer, but slightly less hot. No changing colours, no putting on jackets, and no having coffee with friends on their lunch breaks.

I used to craved the culture of Egypt - knowing that it was rich and filled with family and unique flavours of life. And not that it isn't, but every day I realize more and more how much I miss my home, the familiar associations I have with Canadian nature and atmosphere. I didn't realize how connected I was to home until I left it. It isn't just people anymore, it's smells and tastes and sensory things that I just can't explain with words.

I miss bumping into friends on the street. I miss muffins - I guess Egyptians haven't come around to the idea of muffins just yet. I miss calling my sister whenever I want to complain about something (which was daily). I miss my mom.

I miss the place my heart grew up.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I miss being able to escape to a private place when life became too overwhelming. Whether that meant going for an undisturbed walk, or holing myself up in my room and vegetating. I miss downtime. Downtime in Egypt exists, but it's collective, which means that you're in someone else's face while having your downtime. Apartments are generally too small, sidewalks to full, mouths too busy yapping to find a quiet moment of rest and contemplation, separate from all else.

I miss being alone.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm still alive

These are the days leading up to my walima, and boy oh boy did I underestimate the amount of things that need to be done.

The problem is, life in Egypt is hard. Yup, that's the crux of the matter. Getting stuff done here is so much more difficult than in Canada. It requires knowing people as opposed to just showing up and buying something at a store. You have to know someone so that you don't get ripped off or get stuck with a defective product.

Also, when moving into an apartment, you literally need to buy everything except the walls and the floors of the place. Nothing comes included, even doorknobs. So, as you can imagine, there was shopping to be done every single day for the past month.

Also it's really hot. And Egyptian culture is confusing, and I'm trying hard to navigate it without offending people in a major way. Pretty sure I've done that several times thus far. Oh well.

Also, my English is suffering in major way. Writing used to come easily to me, but now I'm searching for words that are commonplace. For example, I was about to type "searching" like this: "surching." And that's not an exaggeration (which I just spelled with 2 Xs instead of 2 Gs).

Life in Egypt is hard.

But Alhamdulillah, this is what was meant for me - so what state is appropriate except that of thankfulness, right?

(but it's hot)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Til we Meet Again

I'm in Egypt right now...Ramadan in Egypt is different. When it first started, I longed to be back in Canada with familiar faces, getting Ramadan Mubarak emails and calls. It didn’t feel the same to be in a different country – the emotions that I had always associated with the beginning of Ramadan weren’t there.

It has gotten better in the past few days – I’m noticing interesting things about Egyptian culture and how it melts into the Islamic tradition. On the second day of Ramadan we went out slightly before maghrib to go to an iftar at my in-laws’ place, and the streets were like that of a ghost town. The shops were closed, there were barely any people walking about – the only people on the streets were young men wielding bags of pre-packaged dates to give to drivers of passing cars to break their fasts with. It was quite the sight to see men throwing little bags of dates into the open windows of cars.

Egyptians only bake certain kinds of bread in Ramadan. And only eat certain kinds of foods – the week before Ramadan, grocery stores sell massive amounts of oil (go figure) and Ramadan-specific foods including dates, Amar Al-Deen (dried apricot sheets, sort of like fruit roll-ups).

Praying taraweeh here is different, too. I prayed in the largest congregation I’ve ever prayed in at a famous mosque in Alexandria. The streets all around the mosque were blocked off and we prayed on the asphalt in rows upon rows of worshippers. And the imams…I can’t quite describe how it feels to be praying behind imams who sound like some of my favourite reciters. Imagine praying behind Abu Bakr Al-Shatri, or Muhammad Jibreel or AbdelBaset Abdel Samad.

To be honest I felt lonely when Ramadan first started. I missed my community, I missed the quirks of the multicultural mishmash that is Ramadan in Toronto. And I still miss it, but the thing that always brings me back is listening to the same Qur’an, the same du’aa, the same sweet words of celebration that surround this month. It reminds me that there is one thing in my life that is consistent no matter where I am. It makes me feel like maybe I’m not too far from home.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

pack it up

I'm currently in the process of packing up most of my belongings to move to another country for a while. I leave in just under 3 days inshaAllah.

Packing for a long trip with no definite return date means that I have to go through nearly everything I own, and makes me re-examine the purpose of a lot of things that I'm leaving behind. Limited suitcase space gives rise to a lot of personal judgement/decisions about what true needs are vs. the frills. We go through our lives accumulating items that have either intrinsic or sentimental value - but at the end most of it means nothing.

Packing up my life is hard. I have a lot of stuff to go through, but that's not why it's hard. Rather, I now really have to deal with the fact that I'm leaving the home tree that has always had stable roots, for a life of a seed trying to burrow itself into the ground to grow and make its own roots. What if I get tired and a slight wind blows me away?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

I just discovered this series of songs. It's very entertaining to me, and surprisingly halalish.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Punching Stuff

Do you ever have days when you're so frustrated that you feel like punching babies and old people in the face? And it has to specifically be babies and old people, or it's not going to work.

Friday, July 01, 2011


This is the current state of my desk.

Just thought you should know.

More meaningful episodes of disarray to follow.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I'm making lists in the hopes that a) I won't forget anything important, and b) it'll ease the sadness of departure by making things technical, straight forward, unemotional.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Growing up is Hard

The thing I wanted the most when I was younger was to grow up so I could be independent, make my own choices, move out of my parents' home. I craved these things - I craved the thought of the hypothetically brilliant process of self-discovery I would go through when I was "older." I can't remember how many times I've thought about how great it would be to leave home, or mutter under my breath "I can't wait to move out" or some angrier variation of that. I thought everything would be easier, better if I didn't have to put up with the quirks of my family anymore.

But boy was I wrong (as I'm discovering that I was/am basically wrong about everything I thought was true).

I'm currently in the mental gear of finally moving away from the people I've lived with for the past 25 years. And it's not all it's cracked up to be.

Now I'm dreading this stage of life where I'll have to make real decisions. Decisions that involve thinking about uprooting myself and moving to a new country. Decisions involving finances - and not just "can I afford these shoes" decisions; now it's more like "if I don't get this job what will I do for rent" decisions. Decisions about starting a family. These are stressful things to think about.

My ever-coveted "independence" is naturally also hard on the heart.

Growing up sucks.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The year I spent with a beard.

One year ago today, I first met my husband.

I remember not wanting to meet him - I had pretty much sworn off men at the time. I actually only went ahead with it because I didn't want to offend my really jovial and sincere uncle who wanted to introduce us. (Later I would find out that he wasn't too excited about meeting me, either!) But I sucked up my pride and I went - I remember thinking exactly this: at least this will be another amusing marriage story to tell. In fact, this story has roots in my first meeting with him ;)

But, well, Allah is the Best of Planners. I couldn't have planned something so efficiently and effortlessly as He did, subhanAllah.

Anyway, my husband later told me that he was a bit intimidated by me when we first met. I'm the one who started talking to him first, and asking him hard questions. He didn't expect me to be so aggressive. But I suppose my charm got to him eventually =)

I left that meeting feeling rather content. I really don't believe in this "love at first sight" business, but I knew pretty quickly in my heart of hearts that this man had the potential to be the one.

And he was. And it wasn't complicated.

There's something about being married that contributes to a kind of serenity and peace of mind that I have never experienced before. It's not quite about being in love, although that is a part of it. It's deeper than that. It's a spiritual ease - knowing that a part of your life now has much deeper roots than it used to.

Now I understand this verse in the Qur'an: "Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think" (30:21).

It really is a sign of the Mercy of Allah, Who attributes great love to Himself - He is called Al-Wadud (The Loving). It's rather bewitching to think that God, the source of all love, deemed me to be worthy of having this love in my life. I remember thinking after I got married, what in the world could I possibly have done to deserve this kind of happiness? The thing is, I did nothing to deserve it - it's all by the hands of an incomprehensibly Merciful Lord.

Allah blessed me with one year in my husband's company, Alhamdulillah. Here's hoping to many more happy years and the strengthening of our now intertwined roots.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Nothing is Random

About a year ago, my brother was suddenly admitted into the ICU for what had initially seemed to be a regular bout of the flu. As it turns out, his symptoms were caused by something much more serious. His body had formed massive blood clots in his extremities, and any dislodged blood clots traveling into his heart or lungs could have been an easy cause for sudden death. But it wasn't his time to die yet, so after a lengthy and stressful few weeks in the hospital, he was home recovering.

It struck me at the time because he was a healthy, active, and young. And none of those adjectives are usually attached to what our mental image is of someone facing death. But there we were, living out of hospital waiting rooms and neglecting everything external to that reality.

But nothing is random.

There are literally millions of things that could go wrong with your body at any given moment. If one hormone is imbalanced, if one organ isn't functioning just right, if one body part gets jostled too hard...anything could happen. You could die today. You could die reading this. I could die writing this.

I always thought that I knew that nothing was random, that everything has a purpose in the grand scheme of our existence. But I didn't until now. Sure, I thought about life's big events as having purpose, but I never gave much thought to the small, seemingly meaningless words, actions, events that were all lining up a certain way so that an end could be achieved. An end that you may not have ever thought plausible.

No, nothing is random. My sister had to give birth at a specific time last year so that I could go visit her with my mom, so that I could just happen to meet my (now) husband on that same trip. If any part of that story had changed, perhaps the outcome would have changed as well.

And so I've been thinking about all the people I know, the places I've been, the experiences I've had (and am having). So many conversations, so many feelings, frustrations, facial expressions, moments of existence. Many of them seem random, but as I'm sure you've gathered by now: nothing is random.

And you're not alive randomly either. Your blood isn't successfully pulsing through your veins because of a random sequence of numbers and events. You are not random. I am not random. But we spend our lives as if we are. As if the things we say or do have no meaning.

You're not random. If you're alive right now, there is a reason for it. All the things that could have gone wrong with your body internally or externally...didn't. You're still here. You still have some purpose to fulfill.

Make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The longer I am away from working in my field, the less qualified and talented I feel. I'm in my 5th month of looking for a full-time job, and it's draining every bit of motivation and drive that I have.

But I guess there's always a silver lining. At least now I know what marshmallows in hot chocolate taste like, and what happens in Vampire Diaries.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My greatest fear is to live a life of insignificance. I've thrown myself into so many projects, organizations, events; all in hopes of finding what I'm meant to do, who I'm meant to be.

But I still don't know, and not knowing comes with a kind of fragility and fear that I never wanted to feel. I've been so afraid to stop distracting myself with meaningless things in order to welcome the experience of discovery. Now I don't have a choice.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

first white

When I was younger I thought when I was older
I wouldn’t want to be younger. But I do,
only because I feel it will free me from the pressure
to be spectacular and brilliant
and do something of meaning with my life.

I remember finding my first white in a public washroom 2 years ago
while glancing at myself over the sink. It was a quick glimmer in the light
that made me look closer. And there it was,
above my forehead, staring at me blankly as if to say
what did you expect?

Monday, April 25, 2011

happy birthday to...

My blog! Randomly Placed turned 6 today. I've seen it through some tough times - its innocent birth and rebellious adolescence. I think RP is turning into quite the mature little thing, and it has been both strange and interesting to watch this brain child of mine develop.

Excuse me while I go eat some cake to celebrate...mostly just because I want to eat cake.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Female Leadership: The Queen of Sheba

I have spent much time ruminating about the intricacies and challenges that come along with being a leader and being female. By "leader" I do not necessarily mean the leader of an entire nation. Rather, I mean it in more of a subjective manner - a position of influence and authority regardless of how small the scope.

For a large period of my life I was lead to believe that women are inherently inadequate leaders. Perhaps it was the idea that women were overly emotional and had fewer "logical thinking" skills as men. Sometimes these things were actually said out loud (i.e. "women are ____" and you could fill in the blank with every possible generalization to be made about women). And sometimes it wasn't said, but implied through people's actions.

Needless to say, I have always had a problem with these ideas. Being in various positions of leadership over the years (and finding that - by the will of God - I was able to contribute positively in those positions), I couldn't for the life of me understand how some people could sincerely believe that females had very little to offer in this realm.

I still struggle with the barriers that are put up to discourage females from active participation in (real, influential) decision-making. I see in the eyes of females so much passion and willingness to contribute to the betterment of our community, and yet their skills are taken for granted. And it's only a matter of time until those females become tired of the dismissive attitudes they're exposed to in their own communities and move on to other places that will accept and value their abilities. That saddens me.

I was listening to Surat An-Naml, and the story of the Queen of Sheba caught my attention. I've been thinking about these verses quite a bit:

(The queen) said: "Ye chiefs! here is delivered to me - a letter worthy of respect. "It is from Solomon, and is (as follows): 'In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful: "'Be ye not arrogant against me, but come to me in submission (to the true Religion).'" She said: "Ye chiefs! advise me in (this) my affair: no affair have I decided except in your presence." They said: "We are endued with strength, and given to vehement war: but the command is with thee; so consider what thou wilt command." She said: "Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave. But I am going to send him a present, and (wait) to see with what (answer) return (my) ambassadors." (Surat An-Naml: 29-35)

I love these verses - they teach me so much about the difference between male and female leadership and the value that a female leader could potentially have. The Queen of Sheba asks her advisors for their opinion regarding Prophet Sulaiman's letter that calls them to worship the One God. Her advisors say they are strong and willing to fight. She disagrees with their take on the situation saying "Kings, when they enter a country, despoil it, and make the noblest of its people its meanest thus do they behave..." She eventually decides to handle matters with Prophet Sulaiman very differently than the advised violence of war.

What I take from this is simple: the story illustrates the potentially different leadership qualities that males vs. females possess. That is, the Queen of Sheba was concerned for the well-being of her people and land such that she did not want to instigate unnecessary war. How novel that idea is! She demonstrated a level of wisdom and foresight that would be admirable in any leader - male or female. She brought to the table a different skill-set that set her apart from other leaders, and that made her nation strong and meaningful enough to be mentioned in the Qur'an as a parable for us, the readers.

I do believe that men and women are inherently different beings, each with their strengths and weaknesses. I also believe that there is a reason that God created two different beings - and that is, that they compliment one another. Perhaps leadership styles are different amongst men and women, but those differences are precisely what make a strong community! Gathering both men and women to decide on the direction the community needs to head in will yield a balanced and positive outcome. When women are pigeonholed and only "allowed" to participate in ways that are deemed adequately "feminine"...well, everyone loses, and our community becomes imbalanced and unable to progress properly.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Students are Lazy

When I was in university (for a total of 6 years), I never missed a test or exam & I only ever handed in 2 assignments late. The 1st paper because the due date was Eid day, so I got my prof to delay the due date by a day. And the second was because the late penalty was only 1% per day (and if you ask me, any prof who makes the late penalty 1% is just asking for late papers - it felt wrong to hand it in on time).

My point is, when I observe the university students around me, I find that they're handing in papers late, asking for extensions, missing exams and forging doctor's notes. As if they can't gather the threads of their lives together long enough to do anything on time. And I just don't get it. Sure, it was always a struggle to do things on time, sure I'd pull painful all-nighters and perhaps neglect other things in life that weren't school related...but it got the job done, and it got it done on time.

Why is everyone so lazy these days? If something causes hardship, apparently it's not worth doing anymore - or it's worth faking an illness.

(I wish I was rocking back and forth in a rocking chair as I said this:)

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Getting what you Deserve

We live between two very precarious and seemingly contradictory frameworks of self-identification: one being a type of self-loathing taught to us by the capitalist market that seeks to sell us any and all types of products to enhance our beauty, intelligence, stamina, etc. The other being a sense of entitlement whereby our excessive accumulation of things does not bother us because we truly believe we deserve all possible good in the world. It's quite the conundrum; on the one hand, we hate ourselves to the point where we buy absolutely ridiculous things for exorbitant prices hoping they'll makes us love ourselves. On the other hand, we believe we are at our very essence worthy of all of these things and more.

When we encounter difficult situations in any sense, our initial reaction is to say or think: why me? What did I do to deserve something so hard, difficult, and painful in my life? Perhaps we don't often think about the essential problem from which these thoughts spring - i.e. that we are somehow entitled to a life free of pain, or that we deserve a certain level of happiness.

The fact is, we deserve absolutely nothing. There is no "life-for-dummies" manual that dictates that good things will or should come to us regardless. There is no guarantee that anything you have now will last til tomorrow. I think one of the reasons we're so unhappy as a nation is that we believe we do deserve things, when we really don't. That isn't to say that we are all horrible people who have done things that put us in the "undeserving" category. No, but there is only one category - undeserving.

One of God's Names is "Al-Wahhab" which means The Bestower of Gifts. He gives us gifts for different reasons. He may give a gift solely out of love for His slave. Or He may see that His slave is far from Him, so He gives her a beautiful gift to bring her back to thanking Him.

Allah is also "Al-Razzaq" meaning the Sustainer and The One Who gives Rizq (sustenance). But there's a difference between this name and Al-Wahhab. Allah's Name "Al-Razzaq" insinuates that a person puts forth a certain effort to sustain him/herself, and then God allows that person's sustenance to be placed upon him/her. Whereas Al-Wahhab is a Name that indicates that God is the giver of gifts without toil, simply out of a love of His slaves.

If you think about some of the amazing and unexpected things that have happened in your life that you don't believe you really deserve, like having a beautiful healthy baby, or suddenly being able to go for Hajj when you thought you couldn't afford it, or whatever it is; those things came from Al-Wahhab. The Bestower of Gifts, not because you did something to deserve it. Rather, He is fulfilling His Name and Attribute through giving these things to you.

For me, it was my husband. For the life of me, I didn't understand why I deserved to be married to someone that was so perfect for me. Just months before I'd met him, I had totally given up on marriage and no longer wanted to pursue anything related to it. But Al-Wahhab was adamant about bringing him into my life because He knew it was a gift that I would be so grateful for. Alhamdulillah.

The point is, we need to understand that in essence, we do not inherently deserve anything. God says in the Qur'an: "If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve. He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature" (Qur'an 35:45). Clearly, if God were to give us what we truly deserved, we would no longer be here.

In order to achieve true happiness and thankfulness that is sincere and lasting, we need to come to terms with our undeserving nature. We need to know that when something good happens to us, it's not because we have self-sufficient talents that have brought the event about or true "entitlement" to that good thing. Rather, it's because Allah chose this for us for reasons that we may not understand; He is the one who empowered us to achieve any of the good things in our lives.

When we accept that all good comes from God and reject the conceited notion that we have raised ourselves up through self-sufficiency, we can begin to embark on the journey of becoming truly thankful for every day of life.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The First Shoots of Spring...

I stumbled upon this happy sight today while out on a walk with a friend of mine:

It reminds me of love.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dhulm: putting stuff where it really shouldn't go.

The Arabic word "dhulm" is usually translated as "injustice/oppression." Linguistically, dhulm means to place something where it doesn't belong...

In times of reflection, I often marvel at the hurtful situations I sometimes used to find myself in. It's interesting how when we are young, we go through life doing and saying things without realizing it will all have an impact on us later in life. It will impact our self-esteem, our psychology, the way we maintain relationships, etc. The things we do are not singular items that are lost in space and time. They actually build up and eventually make us into who we are. Upon thinking about this for some time, I've come to the conclusion that we cause ourselves so much pain by committing dhulm upon our own souls.

For example, in the past I've gotten my heart broken (like the majority of people alive). In reference to the concept of dhulm, I now know it's because I committed injustice towards my own heart by putting it where it did not belong - giving it to people who didn't deserve it/weren't sanctioned to have it. I think this is quite a serious form of dhulm considering the status of the heart as the centre of life - the piece of flesh that houses a spiritual essence that cannot quite be captured in human words.

It's a simple concept, but I've been analyzing my life and so many things can be explained so succinctly and adequately by using the definition of dhulm. You may not think it's mind-blowing, but the reason I've adopted this element into my framework of thinking is because I used to try to find excuses as to why things in my life weren't turning out the way that I wanted them to. I would rack my brain and sit alone for hours just trying to figure out how to fix different problems.

And now I see, I was being messy and negligent. Like I still do with the things in my room, I was just putting stuff where it didn't belong. But instead of physical items, they were emotions and thoughts and beliefs. I was putting my trust in people and things and myself, whereas I should've put my trust in God. That's major dhulm towards myself.

Notice how in the Qur'an, God often refers to some people as having wronged their own souls, even though He is referring to their disbelief in Him. So why are they being referred to as committing dhulm or oppression against themselves? Well, they took the natural desire to believe in a higher being (our fitrah) and buried it in some deep hole within themselves where it definitely didn't belong. And the results of that are devastating.

We don't often think of the concept of "oppression" being towards oneself. Rather, we externalize the blame and let ourselves think we are victims of others' dhulm towards us. But chances are, just as we lose track of our possessions, we do the same to various components of our souls. And that is root of disappointment and I believe, the root of so many evils we find in our lives.

So just put your stuff where it belongs.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Control of the "Feminine"

I'm not shy to say that I ascribe to a mainstream Islamic framework. I try my best to follow the Qur'an and Sunnah and not mix my beliefs with doubtful elements or unreliable sources. I guess you could call me an "orthodox Muslim." Within this framework, I understand that Islam is widely applicable to different societal contexts - and its rules (although they remain unchanged), apply differently in each cultural context. So within my "orthodox" views, there is still room for flexibility and acceptance of other opinions.

Don't worry, this blog post isn't about my aqeedah, rather I needed to write that preamble so that the rest of this entry can be put into context and read through that lens.

I have a problem with the way that some of our (respected) scholars interpret the "feminine" as a concept, and how they extrapolate those understandings into their discourses. I say they are respected, because that is what they are. In most matters, I can look up to their opinions and interpretations and feel confident that I can take most of what they say at face value.

But for some reason, when it comes to women, there is a deep chasm of misunderstanding and misrepresentation that happens in some Islamic literature. I was recently reading a book on the Fiqh of Marriage and I was shocked to read some of the hurtful and unsupported generalizations that the author put forth. He cited a quote by a respected scholar which literally equated a wife with a slave/servant/captive in order to prove that it is obligatory on a wife to serve her husband just as it is obligatory for a slave/servant to serve his master.

Granted, the author was quoting a scholar from many generations ago - and we know that they lived in a different era where such analyses were acceptable and normal. It is disheartening though, to see someone include something like this in a book written just a few years ago. This isn't the only example of broad generalizations made by scholars and authors alike. Women are constantly referred to as one homogeneous group which has characteristics like jealousy, overzealous emotion, and a lack of logical thinking power ascribed to it.

I have a problem with this. And this is where you need to refer back to my first paragraph. I am not a "progressive" Muslim who seeks to abandon what the Qur'an and Sunnah and our respected scholars have established. Nor am I an apologist who tries to make difficult issues look rosy and lovely. But still, I have a problem with the way that many of our communities receive and think about women. The way in which communities interact with their female population is not to be blamed on the community itself. Rather, there is an overarching system that perpetuates certain beliefs and ideologies.

Although our communities have changed drastically over the past centuries, we are still quoting dated sources when it comes to social contexts. As I mentioned before, the rulings and principles are the same, but how the topic is approached needs to change.

If I'm seeking knowledge about the fiqh surrounding marital issues, and I feel saddened after reading about how my entire sex is emotional, jealous, and lacks ability to make logical decisions, then there's something wrong. I consider myself to be a practicing Muslim woman who assesses and makes her life decisions in reference to Islam. So where does it leave me when I can't turn to these sources to obtain the knowledge that I need and crave?

It's unfortunate and dangerous - I might know another source where I can go to get information. I might have the resources available to me. But for women who don't have those options or are unaware of alternatives, something like this can be a major repellent from adhering to Islamic principles. Islamic principles are beautiful and have an immense amount of wisdom behind them, but if you present them harshly, that beauty is greatly diminished.

I hope that each woman reading these things can come to realize that a man's unsubstantiated words are not superior to her own thoughts and interpretations of her life and her role in society.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I was at the library last year and I picked up a book called "Women, Food, and God." I will admit that I judge books by their covers, and it seemed like an interesting read. I thought the book was quite intuitive and one of the author's points was that we should look at our relationship with food as a microcosm of our relationships with our emotions, loved ones, and life events.

Her argument was that our eating habits (especially for people who over eat) are deeply related to our emotions, family roots, and even our spirituality. For example, someone who grew up in a poor household or one with many family members may have experienced scarcity when it comes to food. If they didn't quickly get their piece, they wouldn't get anything. The emotions around scarcity could push someone to over eat later in life - even if those thoughts or emotions are subconscious.

Although this idea isn't that new, I found it pretty fascinating, and started making connections in my own life - not necessarily related to eating, but just related to other personality traits or characteristics.

It's one thing to think about your quirks and personality traits coming from nowhere, or somewhere, or something in a random, disorganized way. But if you stop and think about how you were raised as a child, and consequently how that upbringing deeply affects your current life...it's pretty cool. I don't know why I'm just discovering this now.

Actually I do know why. I was having a conversation with a friend, and she was telling me that it's easy for some people to engage in argumentation and discussion, while others become easily upset and simply remove themselves from a situation that is uncomfortable. She said that she's noticed that people who have larger families and who have had to share a room with a sibling at some point will have an easier time compromising and adjusting to others' personalities, even if they find it challenging to do so. Those who were able to remove themselves from their families whenever they faced a dispute (i.e. had their own room), may have a more difficult time accepting others' arguments now.

I don't quite know if this is true, and it's definitely not a generalization, but it did make me stop and think about all my personality traits that I kinda thought came from nowhere. And now I know they came from somewhere. Trying to put together this puzzle is pretty awesome.

So maybe you got your mom's nose...what else did you get? JIGSAW TIME.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Have you ever just sat there and thought about the sun? Everything that's living benefits from it's presence - plants, animals, YOU (especially those of us who are vitamin D deficient, we get it). But having too much of it can be extremely damaging to your health.

Just think about it for a moment; how balanced it all is - not just the sun, but a lot of other elements in our lives as well. Think about how God entrusts you to create a balanced life out of the natural tools and perfect resources that He's given you.

It's mind-blowing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Delirious Story Writing

Once upon a time there was a girl named Hankousha and a boy named Muzz. The young children were neighbours in a small village, and they used to play hide and seek in the forest beside their houses. Hankousha was very white - so white that when the sun was shining brightly, it would be hard to see her because she would blend into the sunlight. Muzz, on the other hand, was a hairy, gruff child who was a little bit scared of wolves, fires, and some kinds of birds.

Although the children were very different from one another, they still enjoyed one another's company every day after school. They would run home holding hands. Whenever they had to cross the street, Muzz would tighten his grip on Hankousha's hand and quickly run across to keep her safe. Even though he didn't say it, Hankousha had known Muzz was in love with her since they first met when Muzz's family decided to move to their town.

One day Muzz was sick and Hankousha didn't see him at school. As she hurried back from school to check on him, she ran into a duck covered in gold necklaces. She was shocked to see such a sight in the middle of a crowded street. So she stopped and asked the heavily adorned duck "ducky, why are you covered in gold?" The duck began to speak in a clear British accent saying "you see my child, ancient Egyptians used to worship me during the night..." she quickly interrupted "err, why just during the night?" The duck rolled its eyes and said "silly child, because they worshiped the sun during the day, so once the sun went down, they needed something to occupy their time." Hankousha stared at the duck incredulously. She began to doubt her sanity, so quickly continued on her path home.

Once she was home, she threw her school books on the table and told her mom she was going to visit Muzz. Her mother, who happened to be a very large fish who could magically walk and breathe regular oxygen turned to her and said: "okay honey, but don't be late because we're having your favourite food for dinner: chocolate-stuffed spinach!" Hankousha was happy that she would be eating the best food on the planet, but decided to visit Muzz first.

She skipped to his house in a pink and yellow dress, singing Mariah Carey songs out loud. She was out of breath by the time she arrived to his house and knocked on his door three times. She waited and waited but nobody answered the door. Now she started getting worried. She ran to the back of the house to see if they had left a window or door open. Luckily, she found a tiny opening in the window, so she transformed into a snake and slithered into the house. Once she was inside, she turned back into her pretty girly self and started looking around. The house smelled lovely, as though Muzz's mom had just baked cupcakes. But all the lights were off and it seemed like nobody was home. She ran upstairs only to find that all the beds were empty. She started to panic...what could've happened to Muzz? Where was he? Was he so sick that they had to take him to the hospital?

She ran down the stairs so she could race out the door to keep searching for him. Before she opened the door to leave, she noticed a note sitting on top of the dining room table. It had her name on it! She took it into her hands and opened it slowly, afraid of what she might find inside. As she unfolded it, she began to sweat and feel nervous...to her surprise, the note only had one word in it: "BOO." For a second, Hankousha was very confused. Then she felt two hands grab her violently by her shoulders, the fingers digging into her skin. She twisted to get away and a scream was right about to exit her throat when she saw the hands that were on her. They were a bit dark, hairy, and she recognized those nails that needed to be clipped. She turned around gasping, it was Muzz.

He grinned and said "boo."

Sunday, March 06, 2011

why I can't write a book

My friend tells me that I should write a book. I suppose I could write a book(let). I tried to write a book in 2008 and I got writer's block after approx 700 words & I subsequently quit. I think I've gotten used to this blogging style of writing - i.e. short snippets of thoughts, random pictures, descriptions of moments or emotions...but no consistent thread to keep it all together.

I'm missing that brain thread. It's all ripped up in my mind and I'm not sure if I can make it proper again.

Anyway, what would I write about?

Friday, March 04, 2011

Every human being needs to feel useful.

To be loved is great, to be sought after...sure. To feel intelligent or worthy, okay. But the crux of it all is usefulness. Sure, you can be the smartest person on earth; but if you can't put that intelligence to work or do something amazing with it, then what's the point of even having it?

Usefulness is a base human need. Forget Maslow's hierarchy of needs or whatever other theories are emerging in your thoughts right now. A person needs to be useful. And right now, I feel useless. And that's on of the most destructive and suffocating states of mind a person can be in.

I'm choking on my uselessness.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baking up a Storm. A Fat, Fat Storm.

Inspired by Bake it in a Cake (basically the best website I have ever seen), I decided to try baking a Reese peanut butter cup into a chocolate cupcake:

It was amazing. That is all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Latest Escapades of Randomly Placed

I was contacted to be a subject in a research project by a professor who happened upon my blog by searching something on Google. If that isn't random, I don't know what it. I love it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Revolution & Egyptian Identity

For most of my life, I rarely attributed my characteristics or personality traits to being Egyptian. I had assumed my sense of humour was of my own making. I assumed my values, dreams, hopes all came from an amalgamation of being a Muslim and a Canadian. I didn't factor in my Egyptian roots.

Over the past two years or so, I've started becoming more aware of how my family's dynamics and my own personal traits have real roots in the Egyptian culture. When I first began to realize this, it was an interesting and almost frightening awakening. How could I have gone through my entire life nearly rejecting a part of my identity - not because I specifically disliked it, but because I truly believed it had no bearing on my life? It began to seem nonsensical to me. Perhaps it was because in the past 2-3 years I've made many more trips to Egypt than I ever had before. I made 3 separate trips to Egypt in 2010 alone.

Similarly, I still had this internal conflict with myself - was it Islamically right for me to be "proud" of my heritage. I always rejected this notion of national pride because I didn't believe that any one race was better than the other - and on that specific point, I know I am right. But the way it translated into my life wasn't right; I suppressed that identity, thinking it was more important to just be known as Muslim than anything else. And I still believe that is mostly right. But not all right.

I didn't give myself the chance to celebrate the unique identity that came along with such a rich culture. I think I've been missing out a lot.

This became even more clear to me after witnessing the bravery, confidence, unity, resourcefulness, and steadfastness of the Egyptian people over the past 18 days. I am both proud and incredibly humbled to claim Egyptian roots and heritage. I can only aspire to hope for the characteristics of both strength and the culture of humility that I have seen in the Egyptian people.

For the first time in 25 years, I can say with a clear sense of purpose and sincerity: I'm proud to be Egyptian.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011


January 29 Toronto demonstration
The revolution currently taking place in Egypt has become a personal revolution for us all. Whether or not we have family or connections in Egypt is no longer an indication of our attachment to the situation in the country. We are them, they are us. Their struggle is a universal one.

The results of this revolution will be the ultimate litmus test for the true potential that lies in that area of the world (amongst others). I find myself glued to AlJazeerah's live coverage of the situation & checking real-time Twitter updates from people in Cairo and Alex. Admittedly, the first time I've felt that Twitter had any use.

I deeply admire the courage it has taken for people to face the force that has been silencing them for over 30 years. But my ultimate admiration is for those who are forming neighbourhood watches - guarding their streets and homes from looters throughout the day, only armed with sticks and knives (against guns of thieves). The stories and first-hand accounts I've heard are almost unbelievable. This is where the men are separated from the boys. Those are men in the true sense of the word.

Every day I call my loved ones to make sure that nothing happened to them through the night. It's a nauseating feeling to go to sleep not knowing if you'll be able to hear their voices again in the morning.

All possible prayers are with them. God is the only protector.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The sounds of revolution are only titillating to those who do not have loved ones in the crowds.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

living the hard life

Over the past several years, I have seen some of the enormously hurtful effects of the West's "terrorist" witch-hunt. They've taken people from our cities, our communities - people to whom we would've never given a second glance to had not the authorities decided to effectively crucify them in the public eye.

I remember a conversation between my older sister and the wife of a man who was being held on Canada's  security certificate (dictating that Canada can detain and deport foreign nationals if they have "just cause" - which is naturally a very subjective concept). My sister asked her how do you manage to raise your kids as a single-mom, actively advocate on your husband's behalf and live a normal life all at once? And she gave the simplest of answers which, to this day, astonishes me with its heavy meaning and brevity: who ever said that life is supposed to be easy?

To this day I can't fathom how she managed (and still manages) to stay afloat with her family and still be one of most genuinely kind people I have ever met. But the answer to my puzzled thoughts lies in that one statement: "who ever said that life is supposed to be easy?"

I was thinking about this because lately I have been so frustrated with my less-than-fruitful job hunt, and I see others who are in similar situations about jobs, school, family situations, etc. And we whine and moan about how difficult our lives are, and we wonder why God is putting this test on our shoulders. And we walk through life with a feeling of entitlement, as though we somehow deserve good things to materialize for us without strife or struggle.

But no one ever promised us an easy life. And she understood that.

She understood that she has to take what she was given and do the best she can with it, not expecting that things will become easier or better - but instead expecting a reward from the Creator who knows her every moment of struggle and pain, and who knows the amount of effort she put in to still believe and not raise her hands and just say I give up on You, I give up on myself.

That's a kind of strength I can only dream of achieving.

Life is meant to be riddled with tests and at least some physical or emotional discomfort. You will lose things and people that you love. That's simply a testament to what God says about the impermanent nature of our lives. We all have different struggles and pains - and God gives us the trials He knows we can bear and overcome. But still, the path to overcoming trials is not strewn with rose petals; it is engrossed by thorns that will snag your clothes unless you step carefully, mindfully towards the end goal of Relief in the hereafter.

Relief sounds wonderful.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Re: Gossip

When I really think about it, I don't understand gossip.

I mean, I understand the concept, and I can even understand the allure to engage in meaningless gossip at some points in life. By nature we are curious beings, so sometimes we have to consciously fight against our urges to pry open someone else's private life.

I know that we've all engaged in gossip at some point, and still do. But for the girls and guys out there who are incessantly chatting about other people: I don't get you. An aside: I say GUYS too because people may be under the impression that only girls gossip, and that can't be farther from the truth. There are a fair share of men who can't keep their traps shut about stuff that doesn't relate to them.

I've met a handful of people who are bona fide gossips through and through. They can barely take two breaths without saying something about someone between them. I never truly understood these characters until I once heard that gossip about myself existed. Frankly, I'm a boring person. As far as I'm concerned I haven't done anything scandalous or even interesting enough to warrant people taking the time to discuss my life. So if they're actually talking about the banality of my existence...well damn, they must be really bored or something!

And gossips don't just spread drama, they also create drama that didn't even exist before they started talking about it.

Religiously speaking, backbiting is one of the larger sins that we very unwittingly fall into, and it's incredibly damaging to ourselves and those around us. See this somewhat creepy YouTube video for a visual representation of the issue.

Related to this issue is that of being unable to hold your tongue when it comes to personal issues within your own life as well. I've been shocked at how easy some people speak about intimate details of their personal lives. Fights within families or spouses, struggles with finances, arguments within work or organizations. Where do you draw the boundaries of what things you can make public and what things should remain private? Perhaps our world is becoming one that no longer values privacy...Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc. These communication avenues all promote the unfiltered sharing of both the intimate and the banal aspects of day-to-day life. There is something perturbing about the fact that I can login to my Facebook and quickly know who's in a bad mood, who's getting married, having babies, celebrating anniversaries, eating a cupcake, etc.

And perhaps the over-sharing of information fuels the gossiping.

My message to gossips: stop wasting your time talking about other people just because you lead a life of insignificance. If you do something of meaning with your life, you won't have time to be the person who's always preoccupied with sticking his/her nose in others' business. Also stop sharing intimate details about your life with people you barely know, or it will come back to bite you in the rear. And if you still have mouth-flapping troubles, start a habit of chewing sticky and hard taffy. All day, every day.

Good luck with your gym membership bills though. And I'll try not to mention that you've gained weight to all my networks, Facebook friends and email lists.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Getting Married

December 23, 2010.

Until the above date, I didn't understand why people said things like: the day you get married is the best day of your life. I figured getting married was nice and special, but didn't like the idea of comparing it to every other day in your life...as if after you get married, it's all downhill from there!

But then the morning of December 23 came and it was sunny but cool, and calm. I slept in. I took my time getting out of bed, eating breakfast. My then-fiance came to pick something up from our place before the wedding and I peeked at him from the top floor of our apartment and smiled a delicious kind of secret smile. Slow conversations carried me into the afternoon where I ironed my dress carefully, ensuring all its corners were crisp and clean.

The florist delivered my bouquet.

The cake was delivered when I was in the shower, then I plopped my contacts in and dusted my face with faint, light make-up. I put the dress on and looked in the mirror - it was a kind of surreal glee. I stood looking at myself, feeling no nerves, no doubts...just an overwhelming sense of determination. I had found the one. And I had taken the means I'd been blessed with, and was marrying him. It seemed to be the most logical and easy decision I had ever made. I pinned my hijab in place.

With my loud and high heels, I clanked my way to the car, ensuring that my dress stayed pristine until the wedding. We drove by the sea on the way to the mosque; there was a cool breeze, and I was chewing gum, smiling, and joking as though I was on a regular day-errand. We arrived on time and I quickly scuttled in, making sure that he didn't see me in my dress before the ceremony.

I waited with my family in the women's prayer area, greeting guests and replying to the ocean of mabrooks being talked into my ears. My tongue wasn't tied.

After we prayed isha, I made my way up to the balcony of the mosque to have a clear view of the whole ceremony. For some reason, I was the last to get up there and the women had crowded the viewing areas. With my serene psychological forces, I willed them to part and I stood looking into the crowd of men and seeing my friend who was about to become my husband.

He signed and fingerprinted our marriage contract, and then I did. My writing was wobbly and lopsided, but my name was clear - I agree said my ink-stained thumb. And I watched as my father said the words that officially gave me away to my husband. Suddenly I was wrapped in the arms of women I knew and loved, and women I had just met for the first time. They were inexplicably happy, there were tears. I glanced down at the men's section and tried to scan the crowded room for the guy, but he was lost somewhere in the the arms of some friend or relative.

I felt the same as before. Happy, calm, sure of myself. Nothing seemed to have changed.

My husband escaped and made his way to the women's section to exchange rings with me. His face was bright and filled with an innocent bewilderment as he took my hand and kissed my forehead (to the soundtrack of giggling women). My cheeks were flushed, but it all seemed as though it was the most natural sequence of events. As though I knew beforehand that this was all going to happen this way.

There were chocolates and drinks passed around. I didn't taste them. My husband saved a chocolate for me to eat later, but my brother got to it first. And that was okay.

We linked arms and made our way out of the mosque to be greeted by a crowd of happy faces, confetti and hand-held fireworks. My husband's friends ambushed him and threw him up into the air a few times for good measure. I looked on in amazement and kept stealing glances at this man who was now suddenly my closest partner in life. I smiled because I absolutely knew he was the right ally to make.

After snapping some photos, he took my by the hand and led me from the festivities to his friend's car to drive us away.

Between the smiles and careful, treasured first words, I quietly said alhamdulillah and I knew that I would never be surprised by anything beautiful that God allows me to have in my life, because He was the only one capable of bringing two people from different parts of the globe together - people who didn't know about each other just a year before, people who weren't even interested in this thing called love anymore, people who had surrendered themselves to the harshness of disappointment.

But God is Al-Fattah, The Opener of doors, opportunities, chances at regaining piety, forgiveness, love. And nothing more remains for me except to thank Him every day for making what seemed to be so hard at first, so so easy and wonderful and full of immense beauty and contentment.

And now I get why people say getting married is the best day of your life. It's true. Alhamdulillah.