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 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.