Fievel Went West, but I Went East

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve written here and it’s long overdue. A lot has happened in that time. For one, I went back to the USA, then went BACK to the UK. Then after a week in the UK, I moved to Bangladesh. So here I am, launched from first world countries and right into a developing one with a language I’m totally unable to understand. Sure, I’ve learned some in the month I’ve been here, but a lot of the things I’ve learned have very little to do with Islam. As far as that goes, I’ve made a short list-

1. If you’re not ethnically South Asian, the people WILL want to touch you and take your photo. Especially if you’re white.

2. White skin fascinates them because in Hindu culture, light skin is associated with a higher caste. And this means that skin lightening creams are a huge seller here.

3. The skin creams don’t work, but people are convinced they do.

4. Don’t expect much from the dentists. It’s clean, but definitely not sterile. And you will see lizards walking around on the wall if you’re in there long enough. As for why the dentistry isn’t good, it’s not a lack of talent. The country is poor. You won’t see many dentists able to afford the necessary diamond-head drills for minute marks.

5. Did I mention that people love to touch foreigners? Yeah. You’ll feel pawed thoroughly.

6. No one will harass you about being Muslim, but they all want to know how the Hell you ended up Muslim and in South Asia.

7. American culture and Bangladeshi culture are seriously clashing things. A Bangladeshi will tell you “good job” no matter how crappy you’re doing when you try to imitate their language or certain skills for living there. This is because they want to be encouraging. However, in American culture people will criticize if you do things wrong. This is a compliment. If you don’t do something well and an American says “good job”, it’s not a compliment. Kind of like “bless your (little) heart” is not a compliment. Both things mean “I’ll just say something nice despite you’re obvious shortcomings because I think you’re too stupid to do any better.” So adjusting to that is different.

I will have to continue later. I’m cooking with my husband. Biryani time! :-D

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Taking Off the Veil: A Muslim’s Response to Insensitive Veil Experiment Pseudojournalism

I, a Muslim woman who covers all but the hands and face strictly (and sometimes I cover all but my eyes… VOLUNTARILY), took off my hijab for a day (read the whole thing before you judge. This isn’t a recent event, but something I was forced to do last year and am only just writing about. No mercy will be taken on stupid, judgmental comments if you don’t). And I thought I’d write about that because I read a really good article on Ms. Muslamic’s blog page and it got me thinking. All these articles are from non-Muslim, Western women who don’t have Islam in their hearts putting on our safety net and turning it into a cage. Well, NO KIDDING! YOU AREN’T A MUSLIM WOMAN! So you put on the veil for a day? A week? A month? And you didn’t pray, read Qur’an, or do anything that the typical Muslim woman does? You never reflected on who you are as a person and strived to improve yourself? Please tell me more about how draping yourself in fabric gives you an understanding of what’s in our innermost feelings and heart of hearts…. /Sarcasm. And I thought to myself, “Ama, how about you write about when you walked around in Western clothes with your hair blowing in the breeze and your face with makeup…?” Slow down, self, we have to see what these “journalists” are saying about what I wear to set myself free….

*Reads and is shocked* Before I discuss my day without the veil… I HAVE to say something about these idiots who pretended to write ‘earnest’ articles when they actually just wrote about their feelings of Islam and wore the veil with great prejudice in their heart rather than objectivity.

Guess what- how articles of clothing feel to one person may not feel that way to another. Liz Jones wrote an article with such a stupid ending that I thought my brain cells were going to melt and leak out through my ears. Finding it “disgusting” that Muslim schoolgirls have to cover. You know what’s disgusting? Children’s beauty pageants. Mothers forcing their toddlers to diet because they’re “too fat”. Putting a corset on a pre-teen. Buying adult clothes for 8-year-old schoolgirls and allowing them to go to class in sweatpants with “Juicy” or “Sexy” written on the butt. Our little girls may be warm, but you never hear about pedophiles kidnapping kids from Islamic schools. But Ms. Juicy? I bet he wanted to see just how juicy she was. You know, up until said pedo decides he’s raped her too much for her to be fresh and juicy enough and he leaves her mangled corpse in a park. You want to know what happens to little girls who are allowed to become easy targets, look up the Pamela Butler case from Kansas City. Little girl kidnapped while innocently roller skating. Her body was found behind a church brutally raped, beaten, electrocuted, and tortured to death. A 10-year-old. And the guy who did it? My mother worked at the D.A.’s office and I overheard her telling my father that the creep said he wanted the older sister, but given what Pamela was wearing and where she was in the driveway, she was an EASIER TARGET. I think it’s disgusting we let our schoolgirls be treated like pretty little pedo-bait.

Next, I read the link on the page for Danielle Crittenden. I thought, “hey… a Huffington Post writer… This shouldn’t be too bad.” I WAS SO WRONG! Apparently, the only difference to her in whether or not I’m a threat to society is a piece of freaking cloth!!! EVERY ‘reason’ she gave for why the burqa (and she didn’t even wear the burqa, she wore NIQAAB! HUGE difference!) was a CULTURAL issue. Not an Islamic one. ‘OMG, MUSLIMS ARE DOING FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION!!!’ No. CULTURES are guilty of FGM. Female circumcision is allowed in Islam, but under strict circumstances. Like the removal of ONLY the clitoral hood. You can’t remove the clitoris itself because women have Islamic right to enjoy their husbands sexually. How is she going to enjoy him without her clitoris? I mean, sure, some women can have vaginal orgasms by hitting the g-spot, but the vast majority of women have to have some sort of clitoral stimulation during sex to have an orgasm. So OBVIOUSLY it’s wrong to remove the clitoris itself. OR the labia, actually, because it can cause infection. The clitoral hood is viewed as similar to the foreskin of a man and you don’t remove anything else on a man, so they don’t remove more on a woman. Honour killings? A cultural problem. Something they also do in Liberia and Uganda along with ACTUAL FGM (as opposed to female circumcision). What do those countries have in common? Oh, wait, THEY’RE COUNTRIES WITH CHRISTIAN MAJORITY POPULATION AND LEGAL SYSTEMS! The Prophet (Muhammad S.A.W.) said that the best of men was the best to women. As in treated them WELL. He never hit a woman. The word in the Qur’an that people translate to mean ‘beat’ as though men can beat their wives? In the days of the Prophet S.A.W., the word was used to mean ‘LEAVE’. To this day, it can still be used to mean ‘leave’. Do you not think language changes over time? Do you not think things were spoken differently in Arabic 1430+ years ago when you can see a change in how English was spoken from even just 50 years ago? Or in Shakespearean times? How utterly ARROGANT to blame the disobedience and cruelty of a person on a perfect God and message! American law states that rape is illegal, yet most rapists aren’t prosecuted. Should we assume that because of this, Americans are ok with rape and all Americans are rapists? NO! Why? Because it’s STUPID.

The last article I read from the links on Ms. Muslimac’s page was so caked in lies and stupid, bigoted comments that I wanted to toss the laptop across the room. One thing said, and I quote directly from the link “After watching 74 YouTube videos and parsing 108 Google search pages, I couldn’t find one article or video explaining if burqas were comfortable, or how Americans reacted to seeing someone resembling the Grim Reaper float by them in line at Starbucks.” First of all, when I and my BELOVED SISTERS wear niqaab or burqa, we look modest. Not like the Grim freaking-Reaper. Second of all, she had to watch 74 videos and couldn’t find ONE saying whether or not the burqa or niqaab is comfortable? LIAR! This video was on the FIRST PAGE OF RESULTS. “The Comfortable Niqabi”. Her face is covered and you can tell she is all smiles. I only had to click on ONE video. I scrolled the first page of results, saw that, clicked it, and heard a woman speak about being comfortable and feeling protected wearing it. For granted, if you only speak English you need to skip over the conversation until about 1:42 in the video because before they’re speaking another language. But she still says, in plain English, THAT SHE LIKES WEARING IT. Also, she had to type in 108 google searches?!!! HOW IS THIS WOMAN A REPORTER?! I searched the SAME thing again in Google (“burqa comfortable”….. no quotes. Literally just 2 words) and on the first page, This site popped up with a question about how Muslim women who wear the burqa feel in them. One sister says, “Well,I wear BURQA, I feel so comfortable when I wear it, and I can’t imagine myself going out of home without wearing it,, Here in my country (Saudi Arabia), most of the women wear BURQA or NIQAB,,”. Another says, “when i wear burqa i really feel protected and comfortable.”. This took me less than a minute to find. And this woman scoured the internet for over 100 pages trying to find this info? WTF did she type into the search bar…. “me hates berkuh ’cause ‘Murica… them’s not comfy, I needs proofs” ??? On page 2 of the results, I found this site which quotes a woman as saying, “I have five burqas, three from Dubai and two bought locally. Those bought from Dubai are very elegant and comfortable, for they are specially designed for hot climate.” So her saying in the article that she was too hot all day, looked like a grim reaper, etc? Just her own Islamophobia poking it’s ugly face into where it doesn’t belong and then writing an article equivalent in truth to the Islamophobia beast wiping its butt on the keyboard. I don’t care how “respectful” the piece was at the end talking about how much respect she gained for us. The ENTIRE piece was ripping on what many of us CHOOSE to wear and are most COMFORTABLE in. She followed up how much she respects us with saying she’d never dress like us again because it “suckkkkked”? You know what sucks? Western “fashion” oppression.

WHICH BRINGS US TO THE MAIN EVENT- I TOOK OFF MY HIJAB

Since the opinions of Muslim women don’t matter when a journalist writes about what it’s like to be a Muslim in niqaab or burqa, I’m making them (Western and non-Muslim journalists) matter just as much here. Just as they reduced Muslim women to what they wear, IT’S THEIR TURN. When I was having trouble paying rent, I had to sell a family heirloom. For granted, before they died they TOLD me to sell it if I got in a rough spot because “even though it’s an heirloom, if I can’t take it with me when I die then no one else can either. It’s an object at the end of the day”. So sayeth my Grandpa. Well, I knew the piece was worth at least $700 (US dollars), but every place I went to was offering me less than $100. I’d emailed them photos and they offered higher and seemed eager to help me sell it, but when they’d see my mother and I walking in with our hijab… All of a sudden, they wanted to rip us off. They didn’t want to help us. They had “no extra buying power that month”. The only way I was going to make rent was to put the Western clothing I had happily given up for hijab back on. The push-up bra, the makeup, skin from the mid-thigh down showing from my jean skirt, a low-cut shirt fluttering in my cleavage, and my blond hair flipping in the breeze behind me like the models in shampoo commercials because I’d quit going to salons (thus my hair is now very long). I looked in the mirror. I thought about wearing this for my future husband, Nazmul. How pretty I looked. How amazing my figure looked in it. How this body was only for him and how much I liked it. And that thought…. BAM!I realised I was going to have to go outside like that. Men and women would have full opportunity to judge my figure, criticise my less-than-flat tummy in their minds, to gaze at my breasts jiggling as I walked… I was fresh meat. I felt the cool breeze outside tease my hair. And it was Hell.

I walked as quickly as I could to the car with my mother, who also walked swiftly not having her hijab either. We didn’t want to give anyone any more chance than we had to give to see us without our hijabs. The car headed to a pawn shop in the next town recommended by a good friend of ours. We rode in silence. Every time someone looked from their vehicle into ours… I felt ashamed. I was disobeying GOD. I felt like I had lost my link to Him. Becoming a Muslim after everything we’d been through was like the most amazing prize ever and our trophies, our hijabs, were taken away. It was like the old dial-up internet connection to Allah (God) had been unplugged. Someone else needed to make a call. That someone else was the dunya (life). Fleeting, and testing. And we let it win for the moment. Instead of the later reward in the akhira (afterlife), we had caved and let the dunya borrow our connection. And it was far more shameful to me than the shape or appearance of my body. I’m not ashamed of my body. Far from. In fact, I love my body. I don’t care that I’m not perfect. I feed my body fruit, veggies, halal meat, and all organic goodies. Because I want this body to be healthy and keep on for a while inSha’Allah (if God wills it). But it’s MY choice in who sees it. In who DESERVES to be able to enjoy MY body.

We pulled into the parking lot. We both sat there, wanting to cry, in silence. A family heirloom… from someone we could no longer speak to… was about to leave us. And we had already lost so much, with my mother’s terminal illness going in and out of remission, yanking our emotions around like a yo-yo in expert hands, and with my own recent loss of the ability to work due to my own health conditions. But also, we were shaming ourselves in the eyes of Allah. We had decided not to trust Him to protect us. And we knew we’d have to answer for that. We shakily got out of the car and walked inside. The first thing I saw was 2 men with their eyes down my cleavage. One subconsciously groped the counter for a moment, mildly, and probably without realising it. I felt violated, dirty. I walked over to the counter and we did our business. As he was checking its value and pulling bills out of the till, he glanced over at me as he was closing the till. I was in pain. I don’t wear high heels often because I have a degenerative spinal condition. But my pain wasn’t what he noticed. I had leaned on the counter for support and my breasts were pushed together for extreme cleavage and I noticed he stopped the till and pulled out another bill. I don’t know for how much that bill was, but no matter the denomination it made me cringe. I had allowed men and women alike to gaze upon what I saved for God, my husband, and most importantly MYSELF to pay for one month of rent and utilities. I felt like, effectively, a prostitute. I had basically pimped my body for cash goods. It doesn’t just feel bad for a moment, it worms its way into your mind and makes you feel like you tarnished a little part of your soul.

Finally, after paying rent, I went home. I ran, despite the pain from my conditions, RAN to my apartment and shut the door. I went to my room and cried. I cried for the loss of self I had experienced. For all the bad glances from people and even for the ones who seemed to look at me without noticing me… Because I allowed my bodily autonomy to be decided by cash. I allowed ‘fitting in so I could do something like normal people’ to get in the way of my faith. It was harder to pray after that. Because I felt undeserving. I had abandoned my outer protection, so why would Allah afford me inner protection? But I held on to my faith and prayed for forgiveness. From my dreams later, I think I’m forgiven. But only Allah knows for sure if I am. I felt naked, judged, out of place, over-exposed, vulnerable, and like a piece of meat on display for anyone to come by and pick up and turn over and around to see if I was really a good cut. And it was awful.

You know that nightmare you have when you’re at work or school and people keep staring and laughing. And suddenly, you realise you’re totally naked and the whole crowd can check out your junk and all you can do is try and cover yourself and hide in absolute horror/humiliation? That’s what it feels like for a hijab/niqaab/burqa-loving Muslimah to have to step outside without her beloved clothes. When you wake up from a nightmare in your bed as a little kid, but you’re just old enough to think you can’t call for mommy… you hide under your blanket. You feel safe and protected under that blanket. Well our hijab is that blanket. With Islamophobia, hatred, rape, general assaults, stalking, and all the world’s ills…. outside of our doors lies a nightmare. The hijab is our armor against it. What we can hide under or ride into battle with. When wearing it, we feel safe. We feel like we can accomplish ANYTHING. I won’t deny that it can feel like a prison to some who don’t have the choice in whether or not to wear it, but most who come from those countries and still wear it say it’s freedom. One lady told me “it used to be my prison and now it’s my wings to fly.” It’s the CHOICE that makes a prison. If we’re free to choose what we wear, most of us will choose to keep our clothes. Because they free us. Makeup is an oppression to us. Bulimia to fit into the newest styles is an oppression to us. The pressure to fit in is an oppression to us. Male-dominated fashion is an oppression to us. And our hijabs set us free. Truly free. Your opinion on how these clothes feel is determined on whether or not you have Islam in your heart. Or if you have objectiveness and reason in your mind. If you let go of your bigotry, you can see how it TRULY feels. How much freedom you have in your day when you don’t have to worry about touching up your makeup. Or hair. Or outfit. You can just BE. And that’s what I wish these pseudojournalists dissing our way of life and clothes would do… Quit watering and growing your bigotry and just LET US BE.

Posted in Abaya, Allah, Anger, Answers, Assigning Blame, Atrocities, Authority, basics, Bigotry, Burqa, Challenge, Changing Clothes, Circumcision, Corruption, curiosity, Customs, Day of Judgement, Degrading, Depression, Dhikr, Dignity, discrimination, Discussion, Duas, Embarrassing, Equal, Equality, Etiquette, False Accusations, False Feminism, Fear of Selfishness, Female Circumcision, Female Genital Mutilation, Feminism, Gender roles, Girls, hate, Helplessness, Hijab, Humiliation, ignorance, Impure, Inappropriate, Inflammatory Statement, Innocent Victims, Intention, Invasion of Privacy, Islam, Islamic, Islamophobia, Isolation, Issues, Jealousy, Kidnapping, Kufr, learning, Lie, Men, Muhammad, Muslim, Muslimah, Muslims, Niqaab, No Privacy, Non-Muslims, Obligations, Oppression, Over-sexualised, Over-sexualising Children, Pray, Prayer, Prejudice, Privacy, Privacy Issue, Prophet, Prostitution, Public Humiliation, Pure, Qur'an, Reflect, Reiteration, Religion, Religious Delusions, rules, Scared, Self-Hate, Selfishness, Sensitivity, Serious, Shamed, Shari'ah, Shari'ah Law, shawl, Silence, Silenced, Silencing, Society, Sorrow, Stress, tolerance, Unbiased, Unclean, understanding, Undressed, Undressing, Unfair, Unfair Blame, Unspoken Haya, Value, Veil, Weakness, Western Superiority Complex, wisdom, Woman, Women, wrongdoers, Zikr | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“Are You Guys Planning on Starting a Family Soon?”

It’s an innocent enough question. But for someone who hasn’t been able to go live with her husband yet and has a condition which could create a battle with infertility, it’s like having your heart ripped out, thrown to the dirt floor, and stomped on. Twice. Not to mention it’s going to take a bit for me to get used to the idea of being touched and creating a child. To question my husband and I on our baby-making is both inappropriate and EXTREMELY hurtful. At least to me.

A little backpeddaling, I can explain to you the long journey (LONG- before I even get to fertility, you need to fully understand why I am how I am and that’s a Hell of a long story) of why fertility is such a touchy issue. I have endometriosis. Not just “Oh, she’s 26, so she’s probably had like 2 or 3 surgeries with stage 1 or 2 level growth”. I’m talking 9 surgeries with pain since I was a child with multiple stage 4 growths, tumours, adhesions, and my internal organs being internally glued to each other requiring hours and hours of surgery just to make heads or tails of what organ was what and where it should even be moved.

The pain started when I was 11. Cramps and cramps and cramps all day. My father said I was just trying to get attention and not have to do anything (seeing as how I was lazy and fat in his eyes. Of course, he loved me, it’s just not a side I saw of him often. He would call himself ‘strict’, but it was abuse, but I’ll have more on that later). My mother took me to several doctors to try and get one of them, ANY of them to look at me. Endometriosis is a genetically-linked condition and my mum had it. As a matter of fact, when she was 25 (a year younger than I am now), she had to have a hysterectomy. And at my current age, 26, she went back to have the ovaries removed too. So she knew exactly what endo pain looked like. I was accused for months of going through some kind of psychosomatic illness. One doctor even accused me of being molested by my father (I was positive my father was going to beat him to a pulp right then and there, and honestly I wouldn’t have minded… SICK freak of a doctor) and said that I had become addicted to pain killers that summer since I had broken my knee. His assumption was that I was drug seeking for either myself or my mother who looked “drug-addicted”. For granted, she hadn’t been the best put-together that day, but when you spend all day working and then all night between getting the crap beaten out of you by your husband and taking care of a kid who can barely walk because of the pain you’re probably not going to look effing “runway ready”, are you? It took a cyst rupturing to finally convince any doctors to take me seriously. 11 November 1998, 6 days before my 12th birthday, I started my first period. And with that little flux of hormones triggered a cyst over my right ovary to rupture. The pain was deafening, blinding… it was awful. It was a split second. Or, I should say I only remember a split second. My ears rang, my vision turned grey and then black, and I was unconscious on my bathroom floor. I was told it was my dad who found me, but I don’t know. I remember going to the hospital. The whole ordeal of that was horrific. I was 11, I barely even understood what a period even WAS, so the prospect of bleeding and then having a doctor tell me they needed to stick a finger into my vagina and scan over my abdomen was terrifying. However, I endured it with little argument because I was trusting to medical professionals. 8 hours later, I was told there were cysts visible and to see an OB/GYN specialist. I was accepted by insurance the next week. It took, despite the proof of cysts, a further 3 months to convince him to do anything and my first surgery was the next month. In March. Goodbye spring break… God Bless my friend, Kate, who (even at 12 years old) spent spring break AND when she was supposed to be belatedly celebrating her birthday taking care of me post-surgically. Well, mum did, but Kate was there helping out a bit too. It was Hell for all of us. I had just had my first real surgery (I never really felt my surgery for tonsils and adenoids was a real operation… it was pretty gentle) AND I was being loaded up after birth control pills with depo-Provera and progesterone. Basically, my body couldn’t decide if it was in puberty still or if it had gotten pregnant. I was a nightmare for a couple of months, I’m ashamed to say.

The treatments seemed to go somewhat smoothly and I had an “ok” Summer where I played my usual sports. I lagged a bit, but I was struggling to adjust to my new womanliness and womanly issues. Then several things happened at once to totally turn my life on its head. I started developing pains again. I had 3 emergency room visits. Then, a couple weeks after I turned 13, the unthinkable happened. I became a victim of rape from 2 separate perpetrators. I went to an emergency room (I won’t say where…) and I had to get a pelvic to receive any treatments. They told my mother she’d forgotten to fill out some of the insurance paperwork and she left under the promise that a nurse would be with me for the exam. The exam being a pelvic. In this exam, they externally and internally examine a woman’s vagina with one or two fingers. I’d had several of these exams. I always felt a little dirty after them, so I had somewhat the mentality of someone who was being abused, but seeing as how I was submitting to these exams legitimately for my own good, it lessened the blow (so to speak). However, this one turned VERY quickly. I was promised an injection for the pain early if I allowed a student or two to stay in during the exam instead of the female nurse so that they could see what endo was like on a VERY young girl. And I was promised that it would help others my age or possibly younger. Me, being the sucker I was, was both desperate for pain relief (I’d been in so much pain I was absolutely sick and my pills weren’t even touching it) and also feeling proud of myself for being able to potentially be the puzzle piece to help someone else have less pain. So I accepted. When it started, I noticed it was 2 men, but my regular doc was a man so I thought less of it. When the exam started, it was rough. Too rough. I asked him to stop because it hurt, and he flat out told me “no”. When I could see that he had his hands down his own pants and the student with him was less feeling my abdomen to learn and more “holding me down while leering”, I realised something was desperately wrong with my situation. I said to stop. I told them I’d tell someone what they did. And the words will resonate in my ears forever. “You agreed to this exam in return for getting your meds early. Go ahead. It’ll just make you sound like you prostituted yourself for drugs”. I was and would be, in everyone’s eyes, a drug whore. I still tried to sit up. A hand was suddenly on my chest and I was slammed down onto the table. Hard. I felt my body being manipulated, violated, and even with years of martial arts training my instict was to freeze. I could see shoes under the door… sweet salvation only a scream away, and it choked in my throat… Tears burning my eyes and blurring the clock because it was the only thing in the room I could look at. If I looked the other way, it was either them or the implements for a normal pap that were being used to my detriment instead. The event is both a blur and unimaginably clear in my head. To this day, I can’t stand the site of a spreader for a pap smear. I can’t stand it. And I refuse to allow any exam where a family member isn’t present. So my mother has seen my bits more times than she would probably care to post-diaper age up to even recently. Even at 26, I can’t do it alone. Because when the exams start, my mind crashes back there and the clock is just a rape-distraction until it’s over. When it happened, I was called some horrible things. I won’t repeat them here… But I will say that Emilie Autumn’s lyrics to the song “God Help Me” hit me hard when I heard them… “God, God help me. Just maybe I’ll learn to help myself. Speak to me, don’t leave me, he’s burning me. Won’t you shine in my direction and help me? Won’t you lend me your protection and help me? Places, everyone, this is a test. Throw your stones, do your damage, your worst. And your best. All the world is a judge, but that doesn’t compare to what I do to myself when you’re not there.” And it’s true. All the world is a judge and it really DOESN’T compare to what I do to myself when certain people aren’t there. They violated me… I didn’t count how many times. Once a piece, I’m sure, but I disappeared into my 13-year-old head in the middle and didn’t really pay attention to anything more than the shame and the pain and the crashing echo the ticking of the second hand on the clock made in my own mind from its place on the wall. And as suddenly as it started, I could hear the snapping of gloves as they were being discarded, the cold voice saying “Get dressed, you’re free to go”, and the door open and shut as they left. Leaving me a crying, broken shell of a girl I had been mere minutes before. I sat up, I used the wipes left behind to clean myself up, clean the blood from myself, and I scrubbed my skin raw. I shakily put my clothes back on, dried off my face, and lied flawlessly about just being in pain when my mother came back in to get me. I don’t remember the drive home. I don’t remember the next week after that. I remember feeling selfish for thinking only of my own pain. Trying to convince myself that what happened somehow could still help someone else despite my better judgement. I used it to eat less since my dad was getting on me about gaining weight. I started taking laxatives and drinking ipecac that I stole from friends’ houses to make myself sick to keep from gaining weight and it was then that I started cutting myself. To this day I can’t remember what my initial reason was… Whether I was cutting just to prove to myself that I was even alive anymore by bleeding and witnessing for myself that I could still feel pain, or if it was because the pain was so great my blood felt too full in my body and I cut to numb myself to it and lower the pressure it had beating so harshly throughout my body. I’ve cut for both reasons. I’ve tried to kill myself for both reasons.

The rape was only a crack in the blocks of my life that were crumbling down. I had had to have pelvics, so I convinced myself that I was over-reacting about it. After all… I knew what rape was. I had witnessed for myself what marital rape was from the time I was a small girl… Hearing my mother’s screams of pain and her begging my father to stop from behind the door… or not even from behind the door… Burned into my mind is more than one occasion he’d force his hands upon her in the kitchen while she was cooking or when he’d just beaten her senseless when he’d drag her up the stairs to the room and I could see him slam her onto the bed and look at me with cold, dead eyes resonating pure evil as he had his hands around her throat and over her mouth as he used his foot to kick the door closed. Her real teeth were beaten out of her when I was younger and then the veneers were beaten out of her with a baseball bat) but it’s hard to cope with. When I was living in domestic violence shelters, a little over half of the women there were either on drugs, drinking, both, or recovering from these things. I remember when he’d throw her out onto the deck into snow in her revealing pajamas as punishment for feeding the dog a treat if he didn’t give her permission first… I knew rape. I knew horror. And I trivialised my own experiences because of that. I’m not sure if it was because I really felt guilty about people having it worse than me or if I was trying to compartmentalise what I’d been through into something akin to a pelvic exam’s normal routine in order to cope with it. Either way… it was awful. A couple months after my ordeal, I was started on Lupron along with the progesterone. So my body was now going through puberty, coping with a rape I’d not dared to speak of, chemically going through menopause, and fighting off pregnancy hormones. If I wasn’t sweating or hyper-emotional, I was puking as secretively as I could. And that was my 7th grade year before Christmas break. Just after Christmas break, my mother got sick. And I don’t mean “wow, that’s a nasty flu”. She almost died. She developed meningitis and my father didn’t want to “deal with her”. She had the tell-tale rash, the fever, all the symptoms and my father was trained as an EMT. I’m still not entirely convinced that he wasn’t just trying to let her die. My grandmother finally caught wind of what was happening and took her downtown (across state lines even) to a hospital to get her treatment. And I had to stay with them (grandparents) until my mother was well because my father is a fireman and has 24 hour shifts (not cool to leave a then 13 year old and a 9 year old alone for that long). When they got my mother to the hospital, her fever had breached that point when the brain starts to swell and cook in your own head. And her heart had stopped twice. She was placed into isolation and I wasn’t allowed to know how she was. During this time, my mother lost her ability to walk, feed herself, and dress herself. She forgot my name (or that I even existed). Heck, she forgot HER OWN name. Soon after, she forgot how to talk at all. Luckily, that one came back within a few days. But walking and so on were slower. I remember helping take care of my brother after school, taking care of my mother when she got home from the hospital, and doing homework despite being told to “let it slide” just so I’d have something to think about. I was having constant nightmares about what had recently happened to me. And I felt like crap for it. Not because it was so awful (although it was), but because I felt selfish for having any of my own problems. I felt selfish because here was my mother, utterly defenseless, frustrated at losing most of her lifelong memories. She still has large gaps despite regaining some. But one thing she never got back was her original personality. For all intents and purposes, my mother died. There was someone else walking around in a “my mum” suit. She didn’t speak the same, walk the same, entonate the same… She didn’t even find the same things funny that she did before. She had an ASD (autism spectrum disorder… Asperger’s) before, but it’s been more pronounced every since. I’ve learned to work around it and we’re VERY close now, but for a few months, it was TENSE. Meanwhile, I had ANOTHER surgery for my endometriosis and the growths were so bad they kept me open and, while I was under, tried to get my parents to consent to a full hysterectomy. All of my organs were scarred together and the empty spaces… well… what’s SUPPOSED to be fairly empty was totally pooled with endo blood that was scarring and scabbing the outside lining of my intestine/bladder/you-name-it. My father wanted to consent (I’m sure out of fear that it would keep being that bad for me) and my mother had to fight against it so I could make the choice for myself. They did the surgery WITHOUT a hysterectomy and I was ok for a few months.

Coming into my 8th grade year, I was hiding self-destructive behaviours and suicidal ideation in my diary. The pain was finally so bad I had to have surgery again. Ironically it was scheduled 2 days before my birthday and the opening day of Jim Carrey’s “Grinch” movie. I remember because we went straight from the hospital to see it. I fell asleep half-way through. Despite being asked for myself this time, I declined to a hysterectomy. I said that I wanted the pain gone, but I felt I was too young to really make a decision on my permanent future reproduction. Looking back, I feel like 14-year-old me was pretty darn mature… and wise… I flip-flopped a couple times until the last 5 years about whether or not I wanted kids. At least I was smart enough to realise I was way too young to be making permanent changes to my ability to choose my reproductive future when most people in school were fighting authority in that whole ‘I’M TOTALLY WAY GROWN UP RIGHT NOW, BRO!” way.

Over the Summer of 2001, I was blessed enough to be part of the People to People program to Australia and New Zealand. My condition slowed me down a little bit, but I was at least able to enjoy myself. But before I started high school, at the age of 14, I was flown across the country to go under the knife for the 4th time since this whole ordeal began. He found yet more endometriosis, cysts, adhesions, and a couple fibroids. I remember waking up and being terrified when he mentioned the words “fibroid tumours”. I was convinced I was going to die. Luckily, those are benign and I’ve had many more come and go since then without a hitch. He used an experimental “jelly” in my abdomen that was supposed to help prevent further adhesions. I was hopeful. With this, I had another surgery the next year to check on how well the treatments were doing and then a year after that because the pain had only THEN begun to come back. Both surgeries were only a stage 1 or 2, thankfully. In 2004, the endo was back to a stage 3 and there was a lot of pain. 2004 was hard in many ways. After years of knowing my father was an adulterer (He flaunted it and denied it at the same time. When I had surgery in Boston, instead of picking up my meds for me before we got home, he decided to have his whore over for sex in my grandparents’…. my mother’s parents’…. in ground pool. Not to mention he would take this woman out for movies and dinners with my brother and her son who were both the same age on MY birthday leaving me to celebrate with my mother and friends… God forbid my own father try to be there) he decided to become a bartender. He then used bar tending to pick up other women. Deny it as much as he wants, but I could smell their perfume on him. I could see the glitter all over his clothes. You have to be very very close to someone for that much transfer. Not to mention that he started coming home after having a few drinks as well. Later in 2004, my parents announced their divorce. And by that, I mean my mother told us when we got home from school. She was terrified. My 13-year-old brother behaved as an ass (verbally and emotionally abusing my mother, lying to the courts about her ability to parent, and he even flipped off our grandmother and then calling the cops to say she had beaten him. She did give him a light slap, but she had permission to discipline him and it was far from abuse and didn’t even leave a temporary red mark. In the end, he managed to help my father steal most of my possessions and the money out of mine and my mother’s saving accounts despite their names not being on it) and created a lot of drama. I heard about death threats against my mother. I had to leave my school and then go to another school secretly under a new appearance and protected identity. When we left the house, we weren’t allowed to take all of our things. He told us to take the dog, Bubba, or he’d just put him down. A loyal dog we’d had since I was 7, and he’d just kill him. This, frankly, wasn’t surprising. He often abused the dog. He kicked him so much that he developed a chronic, painful condition in his hips that we had to medicate him for. He used to tell “funny” stories about abusing various animals (toads, a bat…. the story of the bat I won’t tell because it still horrifies me) and the things he was willing to do to punish a 4-legged animal for peeing in the wrong place made me physically sick. I emotionally/mentally “checked out” many times when he was going off on the dog or my mother. Thankfully, my grandparents took him in and gave him love for the last 5 years of his life. But my rabbit, Muffin, was put through so many moves and so much stress that he died. We lived between shelters and with my grandparents and friends over the summer. So I moved around from place to place 6 times. Because of family police and fire department connections, we were found at 2 of those locations. I had been forced to spend the day with him by the courts. He was nice to me, but I was terrified the whole time, realising it was only because he wanted me to testify he was a great and present father. In that time, I tried to search the house for a couple more things of mine that meant a lot. I discovered some of my narcotics under his motorcycle helmet in the garage. Of course, one could argue my mother planted them, but given I had to climb onto something to get to them since the ladders were always locked up and my mother is even shorter than me…. it’s safe to say my father actually stole them from me because he didn’t want to admit to the doctors that he was in enough pain to need them after his own spinal surgery. After that day, I left my job. I didn’t feel safe with my mother having to come out of hiding to pick me up. Especially since my father had taken my car from me (and even though the court ordered that I was to get it back, he never did OR gave me the money for it either…. so he failed to follow those orders). Starting high school for my senior year was hard. I didn’t know anyone. And they COULDN’T know me because I was living between shelters. There was a lot of shame, but also the shelters forced me to sign contracts that I wouldn’t disclose their location or that I was in one. It was very isolating. All the things seniors do (finishing building memories, fun field trips, prom, etc) I never got to do. Instead, I got to see a corrupt attorney in a corrupt town rip me to shreds because I was suddenly on the wrong side of corruption. Not that there’s a “right” side, but my family benefited from corruption. And I learned about it when I refused to lie on the stand. I refused. My brother was happy to lie with my father, but it’s just not me. My mental health was called into question because my mother had been admitted for depression, my aunt is so mentally ill she’s permanently disabled and on public health, my grandfather was a bit nutty, and also I had been put in the hospital because I tried to kill myself (which honestly with all of this BS in my life, the doctors were kind of impressed I didn’t try it sooner or more often) twice at ages 15 and 16. But finally, November came and we were FREE. We got in the car and drove. My grandfather (not the one married to my grandmother… my biological one) helped us pay for hotels and gasoline even though he couldn’t really afford it. And we left the entire region. We put 2 days worth of travel in great weather (it’ll take you 5 or 6 days if it’s bad out) to in between him and us without a plane shortening the trip. In that time, I slept in shelters, in the car, etc. As for school? I couldn’t get into a regular high school. They wanted me to repeat the year, which I refused. I was humiliated enough in my life, I didn’t want to quit high school for the year and then have to come back. So I went to a charter school. They told me that I would have to work twice as hard because I’d been forced to drop out of the semester already, so I had to do 2 semesters in 1. Without a real tutor, I spent hours in the library educating myself. I taught myself enough to do all the required homework and took the necessary tests. I did all the work for my entire senior year of high school in a 3 month span of time. And while I did that, I also got a job and started taking classes at the local community college. I was determined to not let my education take a hit. I had been degraded on paper in court too many times to allow my looking too ignorant to pass high school properly. In the meantime, I was hit by a drunk driver. In my car, it was night on my way home from work and I was hit head-on by someone who didn’t have their lights on. I don’t remember much. I remember being confused, I remember not knowing where I was, I remember the smell of tequila being breathed on me and someone announcing in Spanish that I seemed ok, and I’m assuming they were the ones who moved my car from the middle of the road because I don’t remember it. But when I finally got home, it was 4 hours after I’d left work. I tried to get hold of my mother, but she was sleeping. I noticed my seat belt didn’t lock and my airbag didn’t go off (despite the fact I was on a road that had a speed limit of 45mph and people tend to speed… so the collision was at minimum that speed). My mother got me inside because I apparently “fell asleep” at the wheel and my car rolled into the post for the parking structure. After that, my periods of absence, weird “panic attacks” where I wasn’t scared (which later were discovered to be seizures), and body twitches increased dramatically after years of being in control. I was then formally diagnosed with epilepsy (my mother wasn’t ‘allowed’ to take me for a diagnosis when I was younger and I didn’t have grand mals yet, so I had to cope with getting in trouble in school for ‘daydreaming’ and covering up my myoclonic seizures with the meds I also used for the pain of my spinal defect and fibromyositis). I’ve since never had the seizures fully under control. I was forced to live without health insurance or treatments until 2008, when I had to have my spine repaired (more on that later). Between my spinal disorder (which I’ve had my whole life, but only started hurting with my endo sitting in the culdesac) and my endometriosis, I had been nearly bedridden after the end of 2007. Because of the severity of my spinal disorders, I was told that I could risk losing my fertility or risk losing my ability to walk. These were my options. I was already slowly being forced to use a wheelchair more and more, so I chose to have the spinal surgery. It was a success. After having to use a wheelchair for a while, I woke up from the surgery and was able to stand up and walk to the bathroom (albeit with a lot of hanging on my IV post and stubbornness). The main nurse was amazing. The problem was a Russian immigrant nurse who didn’t wash his hands and was overly rough. When I left the hospital, I had no idea I would become one of many people who had contracted a serious post-op infection from his methods (he left the USA and went back to Russia to avoid prosecution for his willful neglect and abuse of patients). A week after I got home, the incision site started weeping. Not a normal fluid, but green. We thought nothing of it until the next day when I woke up and it had started truly oozing so badly I thought I’d wet the bed until I realised the proper area of my underwear wasn’t wet. It was entirely my back. The doctor initially said I must either have pneumonia (which I was cleared for) or it was serum because I’m overweight (I’m a big girl, I’ll admit). A couple days later, I had such a high fever I was out of my mind. It got worrisome for my mother, but I tried to assure her I’d be fine. I don’t remember much after that. Apparently this is because I almost died. My fever got up to over 105F and was crossing the 106 threshold (40.5-41.1 Celsius). I told her that she shouldn’t worry because it didn’t hurt anymore. I don’t remember that. I just remember everything around me feeling “foggy” and yet utterly peaceful. Everything was warm, which I now realise was because I was burning up. I remember being in the emergency room. My mother and friend (at the time, he hasn’t spoken to me since I became Muslim) said the emergency room was packed since it was New Year’s and I still didn’t have to wait. They called an emergency and I was basically placed in a “bubble”. I was quarantined and so was everyone else. No one left until they knew what I had. I was covered in cool cloths, then ice packs, and I was given cool fluids in my IV not to mention a ton of antibiotics, antifungals… They were giving me EVERYTHING they possibly could. The treatments alone, they’d told my mother, could have killed me. But it was the right treatment. Apparently, I was one of many who had already come in with those symptoms following a surgery at the hospital. And so far, a couple had already died from it. They treated me far more aggressively. They lowered my fever as fast as they could (I was thrown into shock twice) and then I was taken for surgery and they literally cut as much of the infected tissue out of me as possible. Some of it being muscle tissue, and some even BONE. Thankfully, it was part of bone they had already had to remove part of, so it wasn’t doing that much to me. The infection had already spread up my spinal cord and was dangerously close to my brain stem. So I was kept unconscious for 2 days and when I woke up, I was told that they had to leave the wound in my back open to heal with a pump inside it. Of course, it would be another 3 days before I was aware enough to fully understand it. It took 4 months to heal from the ordeal as much as I could (there’s permanent damage, but thankfully nothing I can’t handle). The main problem left was the intense pain from the endo. I’d been so caught up in trying not to be paralyzed and then trying not to die, my uterus was definitely not feeling the love and attention it usually enjoyed from me. I’d neglected my reproductive system for almost 5 years (it was 2009 at that point). After years of pain, dozens of emergency room visits (including one with a D&C after a 147 day cycle with no end in site and serious anemia going on), and what had to total in weeks of crying curled in a ball… I was FINALLY given the referral to go to both a gynecologic and a spinal surgeon. In 2010 I had my 8th surgery at a stage 4. I lost my appendix and almost lost my right ovary, but in the end my body won the fight. Surgery number 9 came this recent October (as you can see from prior blog entries) and I was told my chances of having children were fairly good, so long as the usual endo culprits didn’t arise.

END OF BACK STORY.

See? I told you it would be long. Obviously, you can tell that I’ve lived through some pretty horrible and painful things directly related to my reproductive system. So asking me about fertility, as you can probably guess with an illness that accounts for a large percentage of infertility, is painful to me. But let me explain some things about fertility Islamically WITH my current situation and how my mind works.

One of the reasons pregnancy is a difficult question is because of Nazmul’s and my country statuses. He’s a Bengali man living in the UK and I’m an American in the USA. We’ve not been able to physically get together yet. We skype, we hang out in chat, but the one time I was within hand-holding distance, we were separated by a wall and either under interrogation (both of us) or arrest (me). I was put into a prison and sent back to the USA despite all my papers being in proper order (except apparently the wrong TYPE of marriage visa… although I could have legally stayed as a tourist WITHOUT a visa had they not all had a stick up their…. well… I’ll let you finish that statement… But the fact I’ve not even been allowed to fall into my husband’s arms and breathe him in is a source of great pain for both of us. How can we make a baby if we’re not even physically together? And when we’re trying so hard to be, asking over and over and over “When?” is like slapping me in the face and saying “You’re not trying hard enough, he’s not trying hard enough, it’s someone’s fault and I’m judging you all negatively.” And it increases my fears of getting together.

Another thing, once we’re together, sex is a huge issue. It can be a wonderful thing where two people who are very much in love with each other can meld themselves into what feels like one soul and I’m sure it can be a beautiful moment for them. But don’t ask me about the details. Me even SAYING ‘yeah, we’re trying” when you ask us if we’re trying for kids is like saying “Yes, we partake in frequent intercourse” and that, frankly, IS NO ONE’S EFFING BUSINESS. How often, how many times, and other details are frankly none of anyone else’s concern. And especially asking about sexual things to someone who was a rape victim is like saying “When are you going to get over your hangups about your bodily autonomy and let him play in a place that has been a source of pain and violation since you were 11 and 13 respectively?” Please just STOP.

Outside of that, fertility has a LOT of issues behind it. Pregnancy, not getting pregnant, artificial insemination, extra embryos, embryo reduction, miscarriage, etc etc. There is a LOT to this fertility beast. But I’ll cover it to the best of my ability. I just ask you to remember that I AM NOT A SHEIKH OR A SCHOLAR IN ISLAM AND THIS IS MERELY WHAT I HAVE STUDIED FOR MYSELF. If you require this info, please also consult a sheikh.

Now, the Qur’an has a few things about infertility in it. Several of them relate to the story of Ibrahim and also Zakariya (Abraham and Zachariah, for you non-Arabs). “And (remember) Zakariya, when he cried to his Lord: “O my Lord! leave me not without offspring, though thou art the best of inheritors.” So We listened to him: and We granted him Yahya: We cured his wife’s (Barrenness) for him. These (three)were ever quick in emulation in good works; they used to call on Us with love and reverence, and humble themselves before Us. 21:89-90 ” I like this one. Sure, there are a few other verses (11:71-73, 51:28-30, 3:38-40, and 19:2-4 from what I can tell) however this one in particular happens to be the most comforting TO ME. Some of you may benefit from looking up the others and trying those on for size. What works for me may not for you. In the verse I suggested, it SPECIFICALLY says that Allah has cured barrenness before and it gives me hope that should I turn out that way I can take black seed with full faith and pray more to ask Him to do so for me too. It’s a very hopeful verse. However, fertility has a lot of other options and such for us Muslim women.

Pregnancy- the aim, the desire, the longing… There are SO many blessings in it and in breastfeeding and in rearing a child. But to those of us who are infertile or who are at risk of being unable to easily have kids, this is a source of pain and stress. We want NOTHING MORE than to have a baby and it’s like we’re being denied that. It’s horrible. It’s the most desperate sense of longing. Imagine your heart being ripped out of your chest and kicked a few times. This is how an infertile or potentially infertile woman feels every time they see a pregnant woman or a woman with a baby. I can sort of see why some women go completely mad and resort to desperate measure. For granted, I don’t think that I would ever do something like that, but I can honestly understand the sense of desperation and helplessness to something where your own body and future are in the running. And even if we DO get pregnant, there’s always a higher chance of miscarriage. With endometriosis, I have a 43% chance of miscarriage. With fibroid tumours, which I’m prone to it’s another 41%. However, treated, this second percentage drops to 14%. Either way, my odds aren’t good. And it terrifies me. I’m a Muslim, which means that after a set amount of time I feel the SOUL within me, not just a clump of cells. Can you imagine the horror of being able to feel your child die within what was supposed to be the safety of your body? Can you imagine having to live with the fact that your own body may have killed your baby? This is a potential future for me. A likely one. I’ve had dreams of being pregnant and having a child call out to me from the womb for help. Really messed up dreams. And it’s terrifying to be within reach yet out of reach to save a life. The only real comfort is this hadith- Mu’adh b. Jabal reported on the authority of Allah’s Messenger SAW who said “By him in whose Hand is my life, the miscarried fetus will drag his mother towards the paradise, with his navel string if she had shown the patience for the sake of reward from Allah.” I hope to never have to be that patient because I don’t know if I have the strength.

Another thing someone suggested to me recently was polygyny. This is a somewhat painful thing to say to me too. Not becaust it wouldn’t bring about a child, but because it wouldn’t bring about MY child. Sure, it may give my husband a child which he is MORE than justified in seeking out and he has my every blessing given a hadith: “Marry the loving and the fertile because through you, I will compete with the nations for superiority in numbers.” (Abu Dawud and others). But seeing as how I want children so badly, to see those closest to me succeed where I am a failure would be almost more pain than I could take. It’s like saying, “It’s ok, as a wife you’re totally replaceable. He can get a newer, better model.” I know I’m not justified in how I feel on that. Nazmul would NEVER be unfair to me or think of me in that way. But I’m a jealous girl. To know that someone else was getting what I always wanted through MY husband (even if he was hers too…) brings out that green monster in me and it’s not something I can really control well without a major makeover in imaan (which I’m working on).

Adoption is another issue. “It is not piety that you turn your faces towards the east or west; but piety is the one who believes in Allah, the last day, the angels, the book, the Prophets, and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to the poor who beg, and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask… (2:177)” Obviously this shows that taking in an orphan is a good deed. HOWEVER, there is also …Nor has He made your adopted sons your (real) sons; that is simply a saying of your mouths. But Allah speaks the truth and guides you to the (right way). Call them by their fathers names, that is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers, they are your brothers in faith and your ward…(33:4-5) which shows that an adopted child is different to giving birth still. I grew up in a society where an adopted child could be every bit the same as the other children in the household. But this turns it on its head. This means that it would still be NOT my child. The only way to do this would be to foster the child, which means that I would have to breastfeed the baby. Now, this sounds impossible without giving birth, but there are injections and herbal treatments out there that can naturally (or unnaturally) stimulate a woman who has never given birth into lactation. Although it wouldn’t be Islamically EXACTLY like my flesh andblood child, this would make the child mahram to both Nazmul and I. This is the option I’m most comfortable with if I’m unable to have a baby by any other means. “By any other means”, obviously I’m speaking about fertility treatments. Right now, I’m getting ready to try and start a routine of fertility cleansing and endometriosis treatments that will prepare my body for pregnancy. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go for the unnatural route. One of these is IVF. Invitro Fertilisation. This is where they take eggs and sperm from both parents and fertilise the eggs in a petri dish. The Islamic problems with this can be the fact that many fetuses could be made and thus many destroyed in the process (some women believe abortion is wrong after only 40 days, some 120… I believe 120 for myself and Muslims, but politically speaking otherwise I fall under a purely pro-choice political stance… no hate from pro-choicers please as I’m on your side here, lol), a miscarriage can still occur, there can be a LOT of babies implanted so you may have to “selectively reduce” the number which again brings up the issue of abortion, and of course the concept of donor sperm/eggs and surrogates comes into play. The use of donor eggs or sperm is UTTERLY FORBIDDEN. 25:54 of the Qur’an blatantly states that lineage is passed through marriage, and thus the marriage of 2 people involved in the creation of a child is incredibly sacred. If a donor sperm and/or egg are used, then the child will essentially be a bastard (child born out of wedlock). Other procedures (GIFT, ZIFT, IUI) are also ok under the SAME stipulations. The ONLY time a donor can be claimed to be alright in being used is in an egg donor. And this is only if the donor egg comes from your husbands 2nd/3rd/4th wife. That way the child is STILL born within the walls of MARRIAGE. However, since there is possible jealousy and the womb is only halal to the husband (each wife could claim equal right to the child being equally responsible for the life, thus creating massive drama for many), then this would STILL be a haraam thing to do. So in the end, a donor egg is still forbidden even under that “logic”.

There are a couple of “unnatural” aspects to using foreign methods to get pregnant (IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, or IUI) which many people fail to mention. Medical Gender Selection and selective reduction. Medical gender selection basically means trying to intentionally choose the gender of your baby. Many people say that this is “trying to play God” or that it’s forbidden because it could upset the balance between men and women (which, seriously, if Allah deems that you’re having a boy do you think ANY amount of science would give you a girl? ROFL. No. Just start picking out little pink dresses because it’s a girl. Allah wins every time.) but there are some legitimate reasons for wanting to choose the gender of your baby. In recent years, geneticists have found that some illnesses are sex-linked genetic disorders. Usually they afflict MALES, but some affect females. So if something runs in your family, then you might aim to have a child of the gender which would only be a CARRIER of the illness as opposed to rolling the dice on your future child’s potential pain and suffering. There are many herbs and methods deemed to be helpful and even Zakariya (A.S.) prayed for a specific gender for his child and it was granted! So would you accuse the Prophet Zakariya of using a haraam method? I’d hope not! The other issue with these scientific methods of pregnancy would be multifetal implantation. You could end up with not a child, but a litter. Like a cat, lol. There are a few views on abortion and when the soul is in the fetus (1. 120 days 2. 40 days 3. When the fetus can actually move of its own muscle power which can be as early as 3 months or as late as 5 months in) but you have to take other issues into account. While abortion is a disliked act (and even haraam in some cases), if the woman’s life is in danger or the life of an existing child is harmed by being pregnant (or pregnant with that many) then you MAY abort or selectively reduce the number of fetuses in your womb to create an unburdensome atmosphere. In the end, this is a choice between a woman and her spouse (and physician). If she chooses to seek help from the sheikh or from spiritual means, masha’Allah, but if not then it’s no one else’s business but Allah’s.

All these various things ring out in my mind on a regular basis. The potential for infertility makes me a bit jealous. I’ve had to learn to be happy for other people without being fearful for my own future. And sometimes I have to force myself to be a smart enough person to NOT go to a baby shower or hold a relative’s baby if it makes me apprehensive for the future. But inSha’Allah I can hope things will be ok. For one thing, after the horrors I mentioned above happened, I still opened myself up enough to find Islam with the help of friends (reverted in 2010). I’ve done a lot of research Islamically on fertility issues, I’ve joined a rape survivor’s support group, and I have a wonderful and caring husband who knows all these things about me and hasn’t once turned his nose up at anything I’ve had to say. He’s been there for me every step of the way and while we’re still young enough in our marriage that we’re just learning to walk together, I’m pretty sure that with the love we’ve already formed we’re going to take flight quickly. And it’ll be amazing.

I’ll leave this entry with the verse that has brought me the most comfort in my potential infertility:
“To Allaah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He wills. Or He bestows both males and females and He renders barren whomever He wills. Verily, He is the all-Knower and is Able to do all things.” [Quran 42:49-50]

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Needs Stating Again…

So apparently the idiot that helped his brother bomb Boston has now confessed that they did it for religious reasons… REALLY?! So you get all angry and emo over God-knows-what and you decide to blow people up and you’re going to blame ALLAH?!!! I’d hate to be you come Judgement when you’re asked about that one, brightspark!

I realise I wrote THIS for the anniversary of 9/11, but I definitely think the sentiment needs revisiting. It definitely captures how I feel about the Tsarnaev brothers hijacking my religion.

Posted in Anti-Terrorism, Redirect to Previous Entry, Reiteration, Terrorism | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I Won’t Apologise for Boston

I’m sure many of you would think this was a highly inflammatory statement, but think about it… When does one apologise? Right, when they’ve done something wrong. I haven’t! I’m sick and tired of people acting like every time a Muslim is accused of doing something bad, the entire Muslim population is guilty for it.

I’m a very peaceful person. I’m against the taking of any life without due cause. Human, animal, insect, anything. I will capture bugs and take them outside as opposed to squashing them. I will dig up a plant wilting from too much sun and replant it somewhere else. Because every life is precious. I feel bad whenever I hear the tragic loss of life of any human being no matter where it happens. Boston, Kabul, Darfur, Melbourne, Durban, San Paulo, Christchurch… you name an innocent person who was murdered and I will pray for them. I will mourn them. But I’m not going to take responsiblity for harming someone if I’m not responsible. My religion doesn’t teach that it’s ok to do that. Islam finds the killing of one innocent person so severe as to be comparable to the killing of all of humanity. So how DARE society automatically assume that because someone claiming to be a Muslim commits an atrocity that I am somehow even REMOTELY to blame because he/she/they share my faith? How DARE they?

Further, how DARE society act like I’m an “apologist” for atrocities when I try to explain the events that lead up to the event? I have mentioned that the boys didn’t have psychotherapy to help them adjust to life here in the USA or to learn to cope with the horrors they saw as children. I’ve mentioned how living through that sort of Hell could warp the mind. That’s NOT making an excuse for them. It’s merely trying to figure out what could have contributed to their mental state that drove them to do what they did. I’m not trying to put blame on the victims. On the contrary, I’m trying to figure out if there was ANY way this could have been prevented. Maybe if there was better counselling in place for refugees. Maybe if that counselling was mandatory for your refugee status here. MAYBE if we tried something like that then something like this doesn’t ever have to happen again. I can’t be in Boston to pick up the rubble. I can’t be in Boston to hug the survivors or to tend them myself. But I can decide to try and come up with a solution so that no one in the future has to go through what those poor people did ever again in this country. I find that a much better option than sitting on my thumbs and making “We stand with you” posts on Facebook. I’ve survived bad times and I must say that while it feels nice for 3 seconds to see that someone feels for your situation, it’s more of a slap in the face when that’s all they do. Many of the shares I see for domestic violence or sexual assault are from people who pat themselves on the back for posting on social media, but they never go out and volunteer. They never call support networks to see what they need. They never spend 3 days straight cooking food with all the spare money they have to go distribute it to people homeless and hungry on the streets. I see people complaining all the time about the homeless and hungry, but when’s the last time they picked up a ladle? Or handed out a blanket?

But I do that. I give the last of what I have to others on a regular basis. I try to give charity from the heart and when people ask me what my religion has to say about their situation, I do my best to explain. I was a good person before I was religious, but now that I’m a Muslimah I strive SO MUCH HARDER for it. And this is the case for most of the 1.8 BILLION Muslims in the world. So when one or two people do something terrible, don’t ask me to apologise for it like I’m a guilty party! Someone the other day jocularly said that he should just shoot all the “towelheads” in my apartment complex for the cause of peace in America. He looked right at me and told me that I should DIE because I’m a Muslim. I was told that I was responsible for the Boston tragedy. I have had people glaring and making comments at me ever since. The local masjids have been posting statuses on their facebooks and twitters and whatever else denouncing the people who set off those bombs as staunchly and often as possible because it’s a widely known fact that Islamophobic attacks are incredibly common after ANY atrocity. Regardless of whether or not the perpetrator was discovered and found to be a Muslim or not. In this country, you are no longer part of the joke of “guilty until proven innocent”. You’re now Muslim until proven innocent. You’re a terrorist until proven non-Muslim. You’re scum unless proven Islamophobic. After a tragedy, this is our reality.

I’m done being apologetic. I’m not going to say “I’m so sorry” anymore after a crime like this. I’m going to be honest. I’m not sorry. I feel terrible that bad things happen, but I’m not going to feel guilty as if I committed the crime myself. My sympathy, my empathy… you know what? My ENTIRE HEART bleeds for the people of tragedy, of violence, of sorrow, of suffering… But I’m done being a part of the Muslim mass-sacrifice. My dignity as a Muslim is no longer part of the payment for society’s healing. I will absolutely sacrifice a bit of my heart for people. But I won’t be part of people selling out Islam and the Muslims anymore. A true Muslim doesn’t commit these atrocities so the true Muslims have NOTHING to keep saying “I’m sorry” for.

Muslims- Let me remind you that we are a GOOD people. A God-fearing people. A MERCIFUL people. We are a group founded on the love and faith in Allah, the trust of His messengers, and the goodwill toward every living person and creature on this earth. We need to remember that feeling bad and feeling guilt don’t have to be the same thing. Because these bad things are not from us.

Posted in Adjust to America, Allah, Apologise, Apologist, Assigning Blame, Atrocities, Bigotry, Bleeding Heart, Bomb, Bombing, Boston Bombing, Crime, Criminals, Death, Dignity, Empathy, Excuses, Finding Answers, Humanty, Inflammatory Statement, Innocent Victims, Islam, Islamic, Islamophobia, Life, Living Beings, Loss of Life, Merciful, Mercy, Murder, Muslim, Muslimah, Muslims, Peace, Prevention, Psychotherapy, Refugee, Refugees, Religion, Society, Sorrow, Soul, Suffering, Support Groups, Support Networks, Survivor, Survivors, Sympathy, Terrorism, Threatened with Gun, Threatening, Threats, Tragedy, Unfair, Unfair Blame, Value of Life, violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trip From HELL

As you all probably know by now, I flew from Phoenix to London Heathrow on the 23rd. What you don’t know is how much it SUCKED. “Sucked” in all caps sucked. “Sucked” as in makes vampires seem lazy sucked. Sucked with an “F you” tone. That morning, I was late getting ready for the pain clinic and when I got there, I wasn’t seen for 2 hours past my appointment time. Then I had to go to the DES office to sign papers as a character witness. And THAT took from noon to five in the evening. So much for spending a nice afternoon with my mother.

After that nightmare, I had to go to the airport. Everything seemed fine. My bags were checked and I got through the metal detectors just fine. But then, a woman pulled me onto this platform thing and tells me I was “randomly selected for more thorough screening”. Right. “Randomly”. So, in front of everyone, I had hands all up under my scarf, had my boobs groped (in case my baby feeders actually launched missiles like in that “Austin Powers” movie), and my groin gently pressed because you know how us hijabis are always hiding things in our business. *Eye roll* My only consolation for that one is that it seemed like she was almost as uncomfortable with it as I was.

The flight was HELL. I took half of the 5mg valium (diazepam) to calm my nerves and it did ok. Until we hit turbulence. And not NORMAL turbulence. This is the kind that even the flight attendents were nervous and asking if there was a problem. I had images running through my head of the plane just falling apart like a badly put-together Lego toy, of course with me being sucked out through some sort of hole in the side. And then, as luck would have it, I realised I was seated directly behind a puker. Mr. Motion Sickness, I think, spent the entire 10-hour flight with his face in a bag. And me, behind him with nerves of less-than-steel, could smell it the whole way. About 2 hours of turbulence and his noisy retching finally took its toll on me (and about 8 other passengers… I seriously pity the flight crew on that flight. It was HORRIBLE) and I escaped to the back of the plane where I was sick (combining 3 of my most hated things- flying, wierd air pockets, and public vomiting). And I stayed there for a while. Just long enough to recover from having to be by the bubonic passenger. So I made my way back to my seat where, you guessed it, he’s still hurking into a bag. I honestly felt terrible for the guy. When I got back, I took the other half of my valium along with my usual night meds in hopes that one of them would knock me out. Which they did.

I didn’t wake up again until an hour before we landed. I found myself in a conversation with an Iranian Shia man (very sweet guy). He kept asking about religion, but all I could focus on were the 2 guys in front of me. The puker who was STILL dry heaving at this point (GOD did I feel so bad for him at that point…) and this guy with a horrible hacking cough who had been using meds to mask it… so who knows what horrible ailment he exposed us all to. Then there was a woman who decides “Hey, there’s a guy puking over there. Now’s a really awesome time to put on my obnoxious perfume that smells like a combination of hospitalised old lady and brothel whore.” So, about everyone around that could smell her AND the sick guy was barely holding their bad in-flight meals back.

On the ground, the baggage claim was FOREVER away (compared to the smaller airports in Phoenix and Kansas. I’d never been in a HUGE one before). My rolling carry-on bag kept wanting to tip, so I had to carry both bags. It took 4 escalators and a mini subway tram to get there. And I had to pass customs first. As a precaution, though I was told I didn’t need one, I had already gotten a travel Visa to the UK to make sure that I was set. Since I was only going to marry in a religious ceremony and then legally marry only once I had gotten back to the USA, it didn’t seem like a huge thing to apply for anything further (since the UK wouldn’t be effected by anything I did in those regards). When I went to approach the Customs counter, the zipper on my carry-on handbag broke. My stuff went EVERYWHERE. Including pantyliners and a wedding garter. In front of women AND men. Awesome.

That was a mere beginning to my Hell. I gave the lady all my papers and the visa confirmation along with the ticket for my return flight (which I’d paid extra to pick an isle seat) and explained what my intentions were for the country (without lying or omitting). She didn’t like that I only had around $300 cash on me and didn’t care about my possession of a return ticket. She said something popped up and she needed to make further inquiry. So she had me sit in a chair by the line so I could watch everyone ELSE (minus 5 other people and 1 group of guys) get through without any problem. Then I was brought to a back room where I was questioned again. I was getting nervous so I told them to contact Nazmul. Then I was taken downstairs to collect my 2 checked bags from the flight and I was taken from there to a private room where I was made to open and remove EVERYTHING from each piece of luggage. This included my underwear and my binder. My binder has all my failed poetry and short stories in them that I still try to fix or re-do. And she took ALL of them to rifle through. To get perspective- I find my writing on those pieces to be more private than even my bras and underwear. So I was in a state of distress by that. I actually started feeling sick because it bothered me so much. Go through my underoos all you want, but leave my poetry alone. It possibly wouldn’t have been that bad had I been able to eat anything substantial on the plane (and by that, I mean more than a muffin 2 hours into a 10 hour flight).

Next, I was taken upstairs and left in a tiny room for 20 minutes. There, they took several digital photos and fingerprinted me there (twice). After that, I was taken to a room and marked as a ‘detainee’. I almost laughed at that. I couldn’t believe it was even real. Not until the door shut behind me and I realised I was locked in did it hit me. After being searched physically and relieved of everything sharp (including hijab pins) and my meds, I was in a room that locked from the outside. The bathroom, though separated by gender, was just a stall where you could see the legs and top of the head of anyone inside. This also means anyone could hear if you had to pee or if you were just changing clothes. Obviously, I quit accepting their little glasses of water at this point. I cried. I just sat down, defeated, and cried for a half hour. The fact that it was a bad situation was sinking in and I was terrified. I was in the same room as they took people they arrested. So obviously I was in it deep.

Despite not wanting the MEN guarding the room to hear me pee, I DID want a change of clothes. But they kept telling me to wait. Anything I asked for, including my meds that I was TOLD I’d have access to whenever I needed, they said “Just wait five more minutes.” Five more minutes turned into hours. 2 hours in, I was brought into an interrogation room. I’m not exaggerating on the type of room. If you watch Law and Order, it’s like that. Only smaller. Room with glass on one side, the table and chairs were bolted to the ground…. At any moment I was convinced Mariska Hargitay was going to come in accusing me of murder. I was not allowed to even get up to adjust my abaya. I was told to sit down and stay still. I was grilled for over an hour and only then was I let in on the fact that she’d also interrogated Nazmul. And she then told me that Nazmul had filed for us to have an official wedding that would be recognised in the UK. I was not aware of the appointment being allowed, and she said it wasn’t. And that this appointment was why I was there regardless of whether or not I was the one who made the appointment. She told me that if it had just been the religious ceremony as I had specified, there wouldn’t be a problem, but since the appointment was scheduled then I needed to apply for a different visa than the one I held currently. I asked if it would help my case if Nazmul were to cancel the appointment, but she said that no matter what the damage had been done already. Nothing I could do about that information.

Once I’d been there for 4 hours, she came and sent me to the locked “waiting room” again. And a little while later she came with an official document. It was now official that I was being deported. All because of ONE appointment on the schedule that I didn’t even make. So again, all that I could do is sit there in my dirty clothes without my pain or epilepsy meds with the chairs killing my back and cry. I was alone in there, without my pens to at least write or my MP3 player to listen to nasheeds. I waited for someone to tell me it was a cruel joke. I prayed for it. It didn’t feel real. I felt like I was watching this happen to someone else. After a couple hours, I finally demanded at least my epilepsy medications and was allowed to take them under direct supervision. Then they came back to the room to tell me they were flying me back to Phoenix the next day. The flight left EXACTLY when my wedding was supposed to start. That was the cruelest irony. I thanked her for trying to fight for me (because she HAD tried to ask for lenience through her supervisor) and she promised this would not be a negative mark against my passport should I try to visit the UK again in the future. She also gave me advice on how to file in the future for the right visa (because filing the wrong one had turned out so darn fun….). After, I had to sign some documents stating I understood what was going onn. They kept my passport and told me I couldn’t have it back until I landed in Phoenix. But they also kept my purse with my license in it and other identifying papers. I also wasn’t allowed access to ANY of my luggage. After 8 hours total of detention and sporadic interrogation, I STILL hadn’t been allowed to change my clothes and hadn’t eaten anything. I had, by then, been in the same clothes for 32 straight hours. When they left me in the room again, the chairs had kept hurting me more and more. Finally, the pain was so bad I buried my face in my coat (where they couldn’t see) and cried continuously for about 40 minutes. I was alone, dirty, in pain, and completely humiliated because of something that I hadn’t even done. And other people who had advised me on how to come to the UK had done exactly what I had with zero complications. Mine failed ONLY because of one easily cancelled appointment.

Finally, there was a shift change after another hour of being locked up (yes, like a prisoner. Because people under arrest were taken there too), I was able to beg for clothes and my pain medication. The guy who was there was nice, although it was embarassing. Every piece of thothing I was to put on, I had to shake out in front of him. This included the bra and panties. And then I was forbidden to wear any pins, so I had to find a clean al-amira. I had to take my meds in front of him, explaining what each of them was and what they were for. I’d been too upset to even drink water the whole time, but he kept coming in every few minutes after trying to get me something (which the other guys had NOT done). He told me that with my medications, it would be very unhealthy and that he could get me something straight away. 30 minutes after I’d taken my meds, I accepted the offer for food. Only the “halal” options were a tuna and mayo sandwich or an egg salad sandwich. Egg makes me sick (despite me loving them, they obviously don’t love me back, lol) and I’m mildly gluten sensitive. So… the options SUCKED. I ended up with tuna. After he gave me that, I made it quite clear that I didn’t want to have food close to clothing that was grungy. So FINALLY I was allowed to take my outfit of choice into the barely-covering stall and change. There was soap and water there, so I rinsed off my arms, neck, and face so I didn’t feel too grimy. And when I came back out, I had the tuna sandwich.

As I finished 1/2 of it, the payphone in the holding area (which is as useful as wings on a spatula if you only have American money in the UK because you hadn’t gotten as far as the currency exchange) started to ring. I was a little confused but answered. It was Nazmul. When I heard his answers in interrogation, I was admittedly a bit angry. I was mad he had caused me humiliation. But the second I heard his voice, it all went away. Not only did the way he said my name melt my heart, but when it sounded like he was being reduced to tears it totally broke my heart. It WASN’T his fault. It was simply human error. And while blaming someone else did initially make me feel more in control of an out-of-control situation, it didn’t change it. So it was pointless. We realised this was probably just a test from Allah. But this sort of realisation didn’t change the fact I was being deported the next day when my wedding was supposed to start.

Finally, at about 11pm (I’d been there for 9 hours between interrogations and being set in tiny rooms to stew), a woman came down to get me. I’d be spending the night with a group of other female detainees at, essentially, a prison. I was searched with ANOTHER pat-down (I’d had no less than 4 already). The men running the room were all nice to consider the cold and had me put on a jacket and gloves. Then I was put into the back of a van and they started off to the detention center. The van had cameras and glass separating me from the front. I couldn’t even communicate with the driver or the woman. It was like I was just some stupid criminal or a stray dog. They drove fast, not caring if it made the seatbelt choke me. And then they drove up to a building with 2 systems of gates after a fence that was topped with barbed wire (yes, a jail).

Once inside, I got, you guessed it, another pat-down search. Then my belongings were gone through again. I was allowed to bring paper, a pen, pajamas, and ONE clean outfit to put on. Then I was seen by a nurse who kept all of my meds and told to take what I needed then because it’d be several hours before I was allowed access to them again whether I needed them or not. Luckily, I was sent my inhaler so I could have it on me in case. I was taken up the stairs to the area for female detainees. To get there, I had to be taken passed 6 sets of locked doors. There were 8 other women there, and only 2 rooms for us to sleep in. 2 of the rooms were like little cells for women who were either a problem or other risk. Of course, being epileptic and on narcotics, I was given a room to myself. Which is more like a closet with a tiny inch-thick foam mattress and a sheet with no curtain on the window that went across it for privacy to change my clothes. The bathroom was also an overly-exposed stall that didn’t lock. The shower was open. There wasn’t really any halal food, but another lady who had been there a few days was willing to share what she had with me (another Muslimah sister who understood exactly what I was going through). Of course, despite the pat-down, I smuggled in a candy bar. So I shared with the other ladies there.

Once I was settled in, we all kind of shared stories. A woman from Ghana, 2 ladies from Iraq, a lady from Albania, a lady from Eastern Asia (we couldn’t figure out where, she didn’t speak English), 2 ladies from Venezuela, a woman from Poland, and a lady from India (who was there for the same reason as me) were there besides me. It was a packed room. We shared our opinions on what constituted a test from God and what was human ignorance. Despite being in a terrible situation and all of us suffering from humiliation and stress, we all found a moment to decompress before lights-out.

After lights-out, I didn’t really sleep. I was overly stressed, I was cold, and I was in pain from the conditions I was in. So I stayed up and wrote down exactly what had been happening. I got up several times to just pace and decided I would ask for my 5 minute phone card. I decided to try and call my mother since she was probably really freaked out (big shocker… when your kid is imprisoned in another country, you tend to be stressed). And it didn’t work. Not only that, they’d taken the papers with Nazmul’s number on it so I couldn’t call him EITHER. So I pretty much just sat in the room after that with my thoughts.

The next morning, I got a phone call from Nazmul. Apparently, he had been able to find me. I was so grateful to be able to hear his voice. Or ANYONE familiar’s voice. But I had less than 10 minutes before they were going to take me to the airport again. I was taken downstairs, given my morning medications. Then I was given another pat-down and searched thoroughly again before being loaded back up into a van and taken through the various gates and barbed-wire fences to the airport. I wasn’t taken in through the normal entrance into Heathrow, I was driven around the bottom area with the cargo, maintenance crew, and others. Admittedly, I kind of felt more like a tourist there for about 5 minutes. Because being within spitting distance of the wheels of the planes and being able to see them repair them was kind of cool. Dehydrated, hungry, and cold or not… it was pretty cool. I spent a lot of that little tour with my hands over my ears because the van was rattling so loudly though.

I went through a completely separate area of security than everyone else and was, you guessed it, patted down another 2 times before I was allowed back in the van. They also went through all of my luggage again. Shock of all shocks, nothing had been taken out of or added to the luggage that had been locked in a closet without people in it *eye roll* and thus nothing dangerous or contraband was in there. Then I was taken to the gate where they checked ALL my bags minus a small bag with my medications. Then I was led onto the plane before anyone else was allowed on. The flight crew was aware of my situation and they came and talked to me. Only unlike many of the other people, they were very kind about it. And most of them had experienced something similar from human error while they were working in other countries and not knowing what was allowed where. So it wasn’t so bad. I was so tired I slept a lot of the way home. I hadn’t really gotten any sleep the whole time I was there (I was detained and sporadically interrogated over the span of 25 hours) and I hadn’t really eaten either except for a sandwich, so exhaustion is putting it mildly. The only thing I really noticed is the absolute care given to me by one male flight attendant. He noticed my epilepsy was starting to act up (I don’t notice when I’m really tired when I start having absence seizures and simple partials. I mistake them for the typical dizziness of exhaustion) and realised I was probably dehydrated since I’d been refusing water the whole time I’d been on the flight. About 6 hours into it, he quit taking “no” for an answer and said that I needed to at least try and left me the whole bottle. After I started drinking a little water, I felt markedly better and slowly improved. I was able to take my meds and have a muffin at least. Then by landing I was somewhat more alert.

Finally, the plane landed, I got through customs, and I saw my mother and grandparents. It was finally over. And nothing felt better than hugs from family.

*EDIT

After I wrote this post, I got up to go lay down and noticed my feet were numb. This is because I had developed severe edema from being on a plane for 10 hours, followed by detention and interrogation which lasted for 25 hours in which I wasn’t allowed to really be up to exercise, followed by being forced to be on yet another flight over 4 hours (it was an 11 hour flight). I was seriously dehydrated, my blood work was out of whack (since I still really hadn’t been able to eat anything since coming home due to my nerves) and that in combination with everything else caused my lower extremities to swell. I was at a higher risk for developing a blood clot so I was observed carefully. I’m ok now. I’m finding that with fluids and rest in my system, I feel a lot better. Now all we need to do is better prepare the right visa papers before I try again.

Posted in Accusations, Additional Screening, Advice, Airplanes, Arizona, Authority, Barbed Wire Fences, Body Searching, Changing Clothes, Cold, Cruelty, Customs, Decent Agent, Dehydration, Denied Comfort, Deportation, Deported, Detainees, Detention, Diazepam, Dizziness, Edema, Embarrassing, Emotional Distress, England, Epilepsy, Family Denied Information, Fear, Fear of Flying, Fiance, Fiance Detained, Fiance Questioned, Flight Meals, Food Allergies, Heathrow, Holding, Humiliation, Insomnia, Interrogation, Invasion of Privacy, Kind Flight Attendant, Late Medications, Legal Marriage, Locked Doors, Locked in a Room, London, Luggage, Luggage Inspected, Luggage Searched, Man Going Through Underwear, Man Going Through Woman's Underwear, Medication Denial, Motion Sickness, New Friends, No Privacy, Not Allowed Clean Clothes, Not Allowed Own Belongings, One Phone Call, Pain, Pantyliners, Pat Down, Pat Down Search, Phoenix, Plane Tires, Prison, Privacy, Privacy Issue, Random Selection, Refusal to Acknowledge Arrival, Religious Marriage, Repeated Pat Downs, Runway Level, Sedation, seizure, Stress, Throwing Up in Public, Tourist Visa, Transport to Prison, TSA, Turbulence, UK, UK Customs, UKBA, Underwear Exposed, United Kingdom, Valium, Wedding Garter, Wedding Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Peacocking Vs. Drab

No, Peacocking isn’t an official Islamic term. It’s something I just made up to describe the act of putting on a hijab in such a way that it’s simply to strut your stuff the way a peacock does. Which is wrong on so many levels. But the sisters saying that you have to go out looking drab or you’re not modest enough need to shut the Hell up too. Because there’s nothing in the Qur’an or ahadith that says “your hijab has to be depressingly boring.”.

As far as peacocking goes, I would love to see sisters wearing a little colour and feeling good about themselves. What I DON’T like to see is the sisters that look like they bathed in glitter, wrapped themselves in jewelry, and then were surprised by Tinkerbell spamming them on their way out the door with her magical bedazzler wand that turns you into what can only be described as the front half of a gay centaur. (Thanks to Asad for the phrase “Tinkerbell spam” that got me rolling.) I see so many people spending HOURS on how to style their hijab. Admittedly, I used to do the same. Although I wanted to do it in my own home and was playing with hijab as a new Muslim. The more exciting styles I tried out never left my home. Not even on Eid. Speaking of Eid- if you want to wear a glittery scarf and a somewhat glitzy abaya, that’s cool. Chances are, you’re going to the masjid and then MAYBE out to eat at a nice place. But either way, Eid is usually spent with sisters and your family, of which it’s FINE for you to be a glamour queen. It’s when you wear it all the time that you turn into a Gaudy Godzilla. You don’t need to spend an hour folding your scarf to go to Walmart (or Tesco). Unless you’re me, and that’s because I have a neurological condition that makes it REALLY hard sometimes. And even then I usually just give up and wear an al-amira (because it’s one thing to have a twitch, but another to dress like you have one, lol. The Einstein look can apply to hijab, horrifyingly enough). You don’t need to put a bunch of different colours in your hijab. You don’t need a crazy pattern. You don’t need a giant flower on the side. You don’t need to have it barely cover your hair. You don’t need to have the “accidentally on purpose” showing hair on the forehead. You don’t need it to be metallic and shiny. You just need a decent hijab.

And speaking of decent hijab, don’t listen to any sister who assumes that dark, neutral colours or navy blue are the only acceptable colours to wear. Ask them, “where did the Prophet SAW say that this is required from Allah SWT???” Because they won’t be able to say. They MAY try to point out the hadith where it talks about the sahaba having scarves that made it look like they had crows on their head (thus denoting “black”), but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t wear other colours. ***Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-’As – We came down with the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) from a turning of a valley. He turned his attention to me and I was wearing a garment dyed with a reddish yellow dye. He asked: “What is this garment over you?” I recognised what he disliked. I then came to my family who were burning their oven. I threw it (the garment) in it and came to him the next day. He asked: “Abdullah, what have you done with the garment?” I informed him about it. He said: “Why did you not give it to one of your family to wear, for there is no harm in it for women.”*** This RIGHT HERE shows that ladies are allowed to wear colours other than that! He doesn’t specify BLACK at all. It’s just the absolute most modest. Wearing something that isn’t black doesn’t make you NOT modest.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that you need to BALANCE your hijab. If you wear a black abaya and black hijab, good for you! But the same “Good for you!” goes to the sister in the white abaya with a pink scarf that’s modestly folded and not overly adorned. Pay attention if you don’t know how far is too far. If you’re getting compliments from sisters on your hijab, it’s ok. But if brothers start complimenting the adornments or specific aspects of the hijab (other than “this is very modest, masha’Allah”), then it’s TOO MUCH. If you’re wearing an abaya with a lot going on in the front for Eid, take it down a notch with a plain hijab. The reverse is also true that if your hijab is decorated then the abaya may be less so. OR have a little decoration on each for the celebration. If you have flower patterns on the hijab, then make sure it’s not a BUSY flower pattern. A large scarf with flowers in a similar colour to the rest of the scarf is not going to attract attention like a scarf that has 90 little flowers of a wildly different colour. There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to look nice. But we need to be careful. Allah likes beauty. But he also hates showing off, a form of arrogance or pride. So we need to make sure we’re beautiful without showing off. That we’re MODESTLY beautiful. Modest doesn’t have to mean “boring” or “plain”, but it does have to mean “simple”. If you can learn to separate the definitions of “simple” and “plain”, then you’ve struck hijabi gold, which is one adornment us ladies CAN partake in that the men cannot. :-)

Posted in Abaya, Fashion, Halal, Haraam, Hijab, Niqaab, shawl, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Patriotism and Nationalism in Christianity and Islam

I would like to thank the people who have continued reading my blog through the slow updates and conceited nature of the posts in these last few months. I got wrapped up in my wedding and my health and thus ignored what I was originally SUPPOSED to be doing with this blog. It’s about time I get back to some of that. One thing I’d like to talk to you guys about is, well, patriotism and nationalism. The title of this post wasn’t exactly imaginative enough to intrigue in that manner. Actually, now that I look at it, it sounds like one of those “every other guy is doing this” midterm thesis papers that the professor reads only partly because they all say the same thing and he’s trying to think of what he wants for dinner… But I promise you I’ll try to be a little more interesting and make it easy to distinguish which verses come from where.

One thing that needs to be said is that both religions view the issues of patriotism (ok) and nationalism (not ok) the same exact way and actually have very similar verses between the Bible and the Qur’an to outline this. “OMG, Amanda, you mean that being patriotic isn’t the same thing as nationalistic?!!!” No. No it’s not. Allow me to explain patriotism to you first. Patriotism is loving your country and the people in it. If you’re patriotic, you want the best for your country and everything in it. This means you support your neighbours and the infrastructure as a means to help keep society running smoothly. Here are examples from the Bible and the Qur’an in patriotism-
Proverbs 27:23-24 (Bible)
23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; 24 for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.
An-Nahl 16:90 (Qur’an)
Surely Allah enjoins justice, kindness, and doing of good, to kith and kin, and forbids all that is shameful, evil, and oppressive. He exhorts you so that you may be mindful.
As you can see, the Bible encourages you to take care of what you have. Part of what you have is the society you’re in. If you don’t take care of the infrastructure and support what’s in it, it can come crashing down. Quite frankly, the verse in the Qur’an I’ve posted under it is about the most perfect companion to the Biblical verse as it basically says the same thing. By commanding good and forbidding evil, you’re supporting yourself and those in your society. This is a form of patriotism.

While patriotism is ok, you have to do it within the confines of being a righteous person.
Luke 13:31-35 (Bible)
31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. 35 Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’[a]”
An-Nisaa’ 4:134 (Qur’an)
O you who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.
The first in the Bible is of Jesus lamenting on the injustices of his homeland. He acknowledges that there are some bad things going on and is willing to state it. The verse in the Qur’an tells us to stand up against injustice and point it out as well. This is one way that patriotism differs from nationalism. A nationalist thinks his country is and always will be the best. A patriot is willing to point out their country’s flaws because they want it to improve from where it is. As we’re not perfect, neither can what we create in government be perfect. So we constantly need to improve ourselves to improve it. Even if occasionally we have to put our feet down or lament on what we see.

Nationalism, unlike patriotism, is a nasty nasty thing. And when I say “nasty”, I mean worse than that spoiled jameed that I put in that mansaf I tried to make without realising that it was supposed to be white (not grey). But hey, I’d never even seen it before much less used it… how the heck was I supposed to know? ANYWHO, back on topic- nationalism sucks. Nationalism is like patriotism in that you wish the best for your society, but nationalism differs in that it believes it should have better than any other country. Nationalism is taking priority in your country at the expense of all others. And that’s not right. God made the Earth, not countries. Country borders are a man-made thing. One thing that I remember from going to church was the belief that God created man in His image. Nowhere did the pastors, ministers, or priests say that He created black, white, brown, American, Iraqi, or any other specific group in His name and damn the rest to being less than. Sure, there are racist groups that believe that it was a specific race and that at the tower of Babel only a select group wasn’t “monkeyed down” (as I heard so disgustingly put by someone once). But nowhere does the Bible say that either. For all we know, the original skin tone of people before the Tower of Babel was green with purple polka dots. And when the “tribes” and “tongues” were separated out, it never said that one was made to be superior over another. When it gets right down to it, the only thing God cares about is if you’re a believing and righteous person. And here are a few verses to help you see this-
Galatians 3:28
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
3:103 (Qur’an)
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.”
Both of these verses clearly state that the ONLY division there is among the people that is recognised by God is whether you are a believer or not. If you believe in Him, then you are of ONE group, no matter where in the world God chose to start out your life or what skin tone He gave you.
Philippians 2:2
2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.
3:105 (Qur’an)
And do not be like the ones who became divided and differed after the clear proofs had come to them. And those will have a great punishment.
These two verses further this idea to show that not only are we not “different’ to each other as believers, but we should be like brothers/sisters and have a complete love of God. We should be together in our ways, and not divide ourselves.
Revelation 7:9-10
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
49:13 (Qur’an)
“O Men, We created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another”
30:22 (Qur’an)
And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Lo! herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge.
These verses show that race and nation are no matter to God. From the Bible, you see that in Paradise, there will be people from all groups on earth. From the Qur’an, you see the reason why there are different tribes and languages to begin with; as a means to get to know each other. The various languages and colours and things like that are both a sign of God’s love and power and an ice breaker for us. You know, like “Yo, dude, your brown skin is totally different from my white skin. What other kinds of unique things are there about you that are different than me? Because we can TOTALLY become BFFs over our mutual respect of one another.”
Hebrews 11:13
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
3:185(Qur’an)
“Everyone shall taste death. And only on the Day of Resurrection will you be paid your wages in full. And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception [a deceiving thing]”
Death. The Qur’an was more blunt about it. We ALL will die. But both books view living on this earth the same way. As a strange place we don’t belong. No matter your nationality, a Christian is to first view himself as a Christian and thus a stranger to the earth stuck here but meant for paradise. A Muslim views this world as a deception and the real life we have will be after the test is over. Either way, this earth is NO place for a believer and our origins have NOTHING to do with it!

The last set of verses I’d like to share with you have to do with the difference between patriotism and stupidity.
Matthew 10:23
23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Quran 4-97-98 (Qur’an)
Verily! As for those whom the Angels have taken (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory to them), they (angels) asked them, “In what condition were you?”. They replied, “We were weak and oppressed on earth”. The Angels asked, “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to migrate therein?” Such men will find their abode in Hell – what an evil destination! Except the weak ones among men, women and children who were unable to devise a plan, nor are they able to direct their way
The Bible bluntly tells you that if you’re persecuted, LEAVE. The Qur’an says that if you stay in a group of mostly disbelievers where you’ll be influenced negatively (oppressed in your beliefs) then you should LEAVE. You can want the best for the people in your society, you can want the best for the infrastructure of that society, but you can’t want them over your own soul. Your soul is worth so much more than any fleeting thing on this earth. If you’re in danger in any way (mentally, physically, or for your very soul) then you need to take care of YOU first. You and your family is first in this regard. If you feel that strongly about something, you can send help from afar if it’s possible (like how people in Wyoming could fund clean water in Ethopia without ever going there). It’s perfectly ok to be patriotic without nationalism but ONLY so long as you don’t put it above your responsibilities to GOD.

I think these things are pretty easy concepts to live by. Not only that, but they’re so much easier and more encompassing. To view EVERYONE as a potential brother or sister in faith makes your world bigger and forces you to let go of prejudices you may be holding. Sociologically, this is more likely to advance society and technologically propell us forward as we will work with each other more and compete against each other less. Once the world learns that we’re not so different (you can tell me we are when we can’t donate blood and organs to each other anymore) then a lot of progress in the way of helping others and obeying God can be made.

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Discrimination Drama, Prepare to be Defeated

Well, at least ISLAMICALLY defeated. And when it comes to geting married, Islamic law is so much more important than national law. I would much rather live as an Islamically married, but legally unmarried woman with my fiance than the other way around. And even though I’d most like to have BOTH national and Islamic laws recognise it, it seems that this may not happen for us the way we want it to.

Allow me to rewind a bit, please. A few months ago, we fully intended on a 25 January nikah (wedding for those of you who don’t speak “Muslim”). This meant that I would have been able to apply for my passport and gotten it back quickly enough to properly apply for the I-129F packet so that my fiance could immediately turn around and complete the paperwork so he could get a fiance visa to come here and marry me. Unfortunately, there was some discrimination in my passport. They tried twice to get me to remove the hijab. The first time they said my photo had the hijab cap too low on my forehead. This was ridiculous to me as I’ve seen other women have the scarf on lower than I had. Then the second time they tried to tell me that my hairline needed to show, which is completely against hijab and not the truth. Their final excuse was that I didn’t have my hair covered in my previous passport. My old passport had expired long ago anyway, being taken when I was 13 and a decade before I became a Muslimah and full-time wearer of hijab. The NEXT time they declined it was to tell me that I didn’t have a statement saying WHY I was wearing the scarf. Luckily, I had photocopied everything I sent in and was able to send a copied packet of everything with a letter explaining that their inconsistency was obvious discrimination and that if they denied it again I could file legal action. Big shock- my passport was in the mail a week later and in my hand the week after that.

This sounds like crisis averted as I was able to get my passport, but you’d be wrong. They took SO LONG in giving me my passport (almost 4 months) that the visa window had closed. Nazmul’s and my plans for 25 January here in Phoenix were completely unsalvagable. Crushed. And so were we. Not willing to give up, we started looking at all our options. He can’t come here without a visa since, even though he lives in the UK on a valid visa, his citizenship is Bangladeshi and therefore not on the list of visa-free travel approved countries. So that was out. At first, I was opposed to the idea of getting married in London. Totally selfish of me. I wanted to get married with my family near and able to attend. Of course, I realised later that I was not willing to do something he was- marry without his family present. I was being ridiculous. So I looked into it. Americans can travel to the UK without a visa for tourism as long as they can support themselves somehow while they’re there.

This is where it’s slightly complicated. I can travel, but I have to have round-trip tickets. Which means I can go there, but I have to come back. This means that when I go to the UK, I can marry Nazmul in a nikah ceremony at a masjid. But our marriage will NOT be recognised by any government. This means that we’ll be like most couples nowadays in the legal sense- living together without being ‘married’. But what matters to us is that Allah recognises it. If the US or UK don’t want to, then so be it. But the relationship’s documentation will give us an edge in getting the visas rolling so that we CAN get the legal status, inSha’Allah (God willing). We’re hoping to be able to do this in Bristol.

The thing that’s thrown me for a loop is that I had resigned to being unable to marry on 25 January. But with my grandmother willing to pay for the tickets whenever I want to go, it looks like I may get that day anyway. Which is shocking to a bride. It’s like a shotgun wedding without the sex or the baby first, “Surprise, you’re getting married! Pack your stuff and GTHO!” I love that she’s willing to help. This is an amazing opportunity for us and it will mean so much that we can be spouses finally rather than just fiance and fiancee. So I’m panicking a little. You know, the usual bridal “Am I ready for this?” and “Am I going to be good enough?” kinds of things, but I think that’s totally normal. Especially since I’ll be living in another continent entirely, not just another country. An ocean will separate me from what I know. But I’ll have a HUSBAND then, so that will help.

Just please make extra dua with us in mind. We really want this nikah to happen and it would really be a dream come true for us.

Posted in Allah, discrimination, Faith, Family, Goals, Halal, Intention, Islam, Islamic Remedies, Marriage, Muslim, National Law, Nikah, Oppression, Prejudice, Prepare, Shari'ah Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Not Barren!

As has been mentioned in some of my prior posts, I have had stage 4 endometriosis many times. Tuesday, I had my 9th surgery to help me with the issue and ALHAMDULILAH I was only at a stage 1. I was taking depo-Provera, which I hated, and it felt like it was doing nothing. Every time I take depo, I have spotting, hot flashes, hormonal outbursts, and a myriad of other symptoms that really seem like they’re hurting me more than helping. But when they got in to do the surgery, it seemed like it wasn’t in vain after all.

To give a short account of what was found- I had a couple small fibroids removed, several cysts on both ovaries that had to be popped, some endometriosis across my abdominal wall and organs, and the biggest problem was adhesions. Why I felt like I was getting tugging all the time when I moved is because the ovaries are supposed to be a free-floating organ and mine weren’t. Mine were scarred in place to my abdominal wall and intestines. They had to cut the scar tissue so that they would separate. After they removed a TON of the scar tissue, a lot of my organs relaxed back into place where they should be and they were able to do a treatment for my interstitial cystitis. For the final act, they did bilateral ovarian drilling. It’s just what it sounds like. They use a tiny little “drill” and bore holes through cysts and into the ovary that way the eggs have a means of exit. This means that I have a MUCH better chance of an egg getting into my fallopian tubes and becoming fertilised once I’m married and we begin trying for children.

The biggest fear I’d had recently was that I would be barren, or unable to have kids if you don’t know the word, and that I would be less appealing a woman for it. Of course, I don’t think my wonderful, loving fiance would hold infertility against me. I know he loves me and would accept me no matter what. But thinking that I want kids that bad and may not be able to DID make me feel like I was less of a woman. It made me feel androgynous and out of place with what I wanted for myself. And this surgery has given me peace of mind with that. It’s not been long enough to see about the relief from pain, but I have high hopes for that too. It seems like I’m not wetting my pants when I sneeze (adhesions…. the symptoms are just SO sexy!) or feel like something is trying to rip out of me, so that’s a HUGE plus. I’m also noticing that, with the bladder treatments, I don’t have to get up 10+times a night to pee, which is very helpful in getting a proper night’s rest.

I did face a couple of problems in going to the hospital this time though, and I think it has to do with religion. I wear full hijab and we went to a Catholic hospital. And the hypocrisy I noticed there was stifling. MY nurse was wonderful, but there were a couple of people who treated us differently because of it. When I first woke up, I was placed in a wing where ALL the patients and nurses were women. So I didn’t worry too much about men except for the visitors. Still, I decided to get up and put my abaya and hijab on in case the door opened and a man was there. This is my own right. I have some medical training, so I knew how to shut off the IV without unhooking myself or leaking everywhere. I got the abaya on and replaced the IV. But the alarm went off because it read it as a block. I explained when the nurse (not my regular nurse) came in that I was trying to preserve my modesty and it did help me feel more comfortable. She seemed great at first. She totally accepted where I was coming from and talked about wearing modest clothes for her religion too and she asked if we were Christian. I said, “No, we’re Muslim. Are you?” And she said, “No, I’m a believer.” So I reiterated, “Yeah, we’re all believers.” And she replied, “No, you’re Muslim. I’m Christian, and that makes me the believer”. Like being a non-Christian makes you a non-believer! It was SO insulting and she treated us differently after that. I would NEVER call a non-Muslim a disbeliever! I may not agree with all the tenants of their faith, but I would NEVER be so rude to someone. ESPECIALLY someone under my care who relied on me for pain relief and basic comforts after a medical procedure! It makes you wonder how hard they’re going to be willing to work to make sure you have what you need since they think you’re less than they are! Alhamdulilah (all thanks is to Allah) the blonde nurse was WONDERFUL. She was so sweet and tolerant. I don’t think there’s a better nurse employed anywhere on this earth. And she made sure that nurse snobby was not my primary after that.

Now that I’m out of the hospital, I’ve got a lot of bruises that I’m tending. On my hands, wrists, and arms, there are several from the IVs. Since my surgery was robotic, they tilted me at an angle so that my head was lower than my feet and I have bruises from the straps. There’s one on the left side of my face, my right breast is pretty bruised, and I had some fairly bad edema in my face and neck that made it hard to breathe the first night out. Of course, the edema in my foot was pretty horrible from all the extra fluids too. I’ve had a rough go getting around. Thankfully, my wonderful fiance and awesome best friend have been all the emotional support and more that one could ever want or need and I’ve felt better at least emotionally. :-)

I hope this surgery finally gives me the relief from pain I’ve needed to work harder on this blog. You wouldn’t believe how much energy pain will drain from you. <3

InSha’Allah all of you lovely people are well.

Posted in Baby, endometriosis, Health, Marriage, surgery | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Wedding Insanity

I know I’m not posting as much as I’d like, and I apologise, but I’m planning my nikah. I love being engaged. I love the attention (admittedly…). I think I’ll love being married more. But this “planning like a resposible adult” thing? It SUCKS. The vendors contacting me are absolutely obnoxious and insane. “PLEASE BUY OUR UNNECESSARY WEDDING PRODUCTS THAT ARE OVERPRICED AND FAR TOO BREAKABLE!”

It’s all great. I adore my in-laws, and my family adores them…. But it was all a giant fairytale until the 17th when we FINALLY set the date for the nikah. Now all of a sudden, it’s like “Stuff just got real”. It took a few days, but last night, it just hit me in this wave. It’s turned from surreal into “this is really happening” and my mind is in so many terrifying and wonderful directions I don’t know what to do with myself.

I’m going to be meeting his family in a country with a culture unlike any I’ve ever lived around and then moving to yet another country. For granted, it’s a Western country and I understand it, but even one Western country will differ from another. I’ll be away from my mum for the first time, away from my cat, learning a different routine, etc etc. I’m scared to death, but I can’t wait. :-)

Posted in Engaged, Marriage, Nikah | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Oh, Internet, How You Lack Info on Male Hijab…

As promised before I became INSANELY busy, I have been researching hijab (the physical aspects. Remember that hijab isn’t just physical even if that aspect is what we talk about on this post only). But NOT hijab for ladies. “But, Amanda, I thought your super-oppressive religion only had rules for women because Muslim men can’t look at anything with lady-bits without sporting pant-timber!” This is incorrect. Just because some countries are “super-oppressive” and aim it at women does NOT mean that women are the only objects of the law. There are LOTS of little things about hijab for men. Did you know that men have rulings on what fabric they can wear? Or what colour? No. Most don’t, because WOMEN DON’T HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO THAT. Women don’t have to pay attention to what their garments are dyed with. Men do. If a woman’s garment hangs lower than required out of modesty, she’s fine. A man letting his garment too low is letting his garment be in the fire. If you ask me- MALE HIJAB IS ACTUALLY HARDER!

I’m going to give you some ahadith which explain hijab for men. Yes, some of these will account for both genders, but we have to remember that the aim of this is to remind the brothers what is expected of them as well.

The first thing we should establish is that praying in unlawful clothes is not acceptable.
“Then [the Messenger saaws] mentioned a man who had traveled for a long time. Unkempt and covered in dust, he raised his hands to the heavens (and cried): ‘O my Lord! O my Lord!’ His food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and what he had provided to sustain himself with was also unlawful. How could his invocation be accepted?”" – Muslim
It’s pretty safe to say that if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, your prayer isn’t acceptable. But figuring out what IS takes quite a bit of work (and I really hope to be taking a lot of that work off of some of you guys. Or even some of you single Muslimahs trying to raise boys in a society that focuses on YOUR dress over theirs.

Next- don’t be distracting. This applies to both men and women here:
Reported by Aisha, RA- “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) once prayed wearing a garment having marks. He looked at its marks. When he saluted, he said: Take this garment of mine to AbuJahm, for it turned my attention just now in my prayer, and bring a simple garment without marks.” – Abu Dawood 4041
This ahadith doesn’t say you have to wear boring clothes. Just remember that if you have one of those “WOW” patterns, it’s going to distract you and, potentially, others who may be praying.

Remember to be grateful for your clothes. Al-Nahl 16:81 “And Allâh has made for you out of that which He has created shades, and has made for you places of refuge in the mountains, and has made for you garments to protect you from the heat (and cold), and coats of mail to protect you from your (mutual) violence. Thus does He perfect His Grace unto you, that you may submit yourselves to His Will (in Islâm).” To remember that you are and have nothing without Allah is a cornerstone of faith. And many men and women forget this aspect of clothing. There are duas, for both genders, which allow you to be clothed and uncovered to those whom you don’t want to see you.
*Dua for putting on clothes- Alhamdu lillaahil-lathee kasaanee haathaa (aththawba) wa razaqaneehi min ghayri hawlim-minnee wa laa quwwatin. (Praise is to Allah Who has clothed me with this (garment) and provided it for me, though I was powerless myself and incapable.)
*Dua for putting on NEW clothes- Allaahumma lakal-hamdu ‘Anta kasawtaneehi, ‘as’aluka min khayrihi wa khayri maa suni’a lahu, wa ‘a’oothu bika min sharrihi wa sharri ma suni’a lahu. (O Allah, praise is to You. You have clothed me. I ask You for its goodness and the goodness of what it has been made for, and I seek Your protection from the evil of it and the evil of what it has been made for.)
*Invocation for someone who has put on new clothes- Tublee wa yukhliful-laahu ta’aalaa. (May Allah replace it when it is wom out.)
*Dua for removing (taking off) clothing- Bismillâhilladhi lâilãha illâhü (In the name of Allah, apart from whom there is no Lord. (al-Nasai)

Now… to you. Yes, you. The one that has on those shabby clothes that make it appear as if you’ve been wrestling every rabies-mad dog in town. No, not you… Allah places no blame on the person who can’t afford it… I’m talking to the guy who can afford it and instead chooses to dress up like Frumpzilla. You DO realise you should look nicer, right? Where’s my proof??? How about here-
Ibn Abi al-Ahwas said: I came in shabby clothes to see the Prophet and he said: “Do you have money?” I said yes. He said: “From where does your money come?” I said: “Allah has given me camels and sheep and horses and slaves.” He said: “Then if Allah gave you money and possessions, he likes for you to show it.”
Or what about “al-Khatib al-Baghdadi narrates in his Tarikh Baghdad that one time Abu Hanifa asked a man who was shabbily dressed to stay behind after the others had left from his circle of study. Then he told him: “Lift up the prayer-rug and take the money that is there and buy yourself some nice clothes.” The man told him he was wealthy and had no need of the money. Abu Hanifa said: “Has it not reached you that the Prophet said: Allah likes to see the mark of His benevolence on His servant?”
Or even- `Umar entered upon me one day as I was praying in a single garment and he said: “Don’t you have two garments in your possession?” I said yes. He said: “In your opinion, if I sent you to one of the people of Madina on an errand, would you go in a single garment?” I said no. He said: “Then is Allah worthier of our self-beautification or people?”
In short- quit dressing like some Shabby Abby. Ok? if PEOPLE know it’s not attractive, Allah certainly does too.

Following up on our own Muslim “What Not To Wear” (although we’re not following the advice of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly, we’re using the Prophet’s.. SO much better, don’t you think?) we must also ask you to QUIT dressing like the disbelievers. “But, Amanda, IT’S SOOOOO HARD! Have YOU ever tried to find clothes for Muslim men alone? No one carries anything that looks Muslim!” Well then, quit looking for jeans and tees. Go to the shop where the sisters buy their abayas and you’re BOUND to find a thobe, a dishdasha, a kurta, kufis, etc. And if Phoenix, Az has them, they’re everywhere. “But, Amanda… they’re TOO EXPENSIVE and the only cheap ones I can find are online.” So get one. “They only take credit card! I’m not getting one, that’s USURY!” Visa gift card. Buy one at a grocery store or Walmart. You load on how much you want, they work like a debit card, and can be used online YOU ARE OUT OF EXCUSES! And if I can get stuff online for myself while being dirt poor, anyone else can.
-Imam Nawawi in his Fatawa was asked: “Is there harm for one’s religion and his salat if he dresses other than in the fashion of Muslims?” He answered: “It is forbidden to resemble the disbelievers in appearance, whether in clothing or otherwise, because of the sound and well-known hadiths concerning this; and wearing such clothing makes one’s prayer incomplete tanqusu bihi al-salat.”
Do you need any more than that to know that you shoudn’t be running around in the same clothing as any neighbour you have? Looking different doesn’t necessarily exclude you, but it WILL set you apart in your standards.

Wearing white or green is a good thing. What? You guys were expecting me to tell you about something else that puts you on the naughty list? Don’t worry, I’ll have another few of those next. But for now, consider these about green and white-
-Narrated by Aisha RA- Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was questioned about Waraqah and Khadijah said to him, “He believed in you, but died before you appeared as a prophet.” Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) then said, “I was shown him in a dream, wearing white clothes, and if he had been one of the inhabitants of Hell he would have been wearing different clothing.” Al-Tirmidhi 4623
-”I came to the Prophet while he was wearing white clothes and sleeping…” – Narrated by Abu Dharr, Sahih Bukhari 7.717
-”I went with my father to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and saw two green garments over him.” -Narrated by Abu Rimthah, Abu Dawood

Now back to the naughty list things. And pay VERY close attentions to the words. There isn’t a prohibition of wearing red or yellow-red, but it DOES matter what’s used to DYE it. If you’re wearing yellow or yellow-red (aka “orange”) then do NOT get it if it was dyed with saffron. And don’t buy reds dyed with safflower. Also, don’t wear red alone. Feel free to have red and green, red and black, red and white… just not red by itself. Just hear the following ahadith-
Hadith – Narrated Imran ibn Husayn – The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I do not ride on purple, or wear a garment dyed with saffron*, or wear shirt hemmed with silk.” – Abu Dawood 4037
- Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-’As – We came down with the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) from a turning of a valley. He turned his attention to me and I was wearing a garment dyed with a reddish yellow dye. He asked: “What is this garment over you?” I recognised what he disliked. I then came to my family who were burning their oven. I threw it (the garment) in it and came to him the next day. He asked: “Abdullah, what have you done with the garment?” I informed him about it. He said: “Why did you not give it to one of your family to wear, for there is no harm in it for women.”
-From al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib (may Allah be pleased with him): “The Prophet (saaws) forbade us to use soft red mattresses and qasiy – garments with woven stripes of silk.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5390)
-From Ibn ‘Abbaas, who said: “I was forbidden (to wear) red garments and gold rings, and to recite Qur’aan in rukoo’.” (Narrated by al-Nasaa’i, no. 5171. Imam Albaani said: its isnaad is sahih. Saheeh Sunan al-Nasaa’i, 1068).
-A man passed by the Prophet SAWS wearing two red garments and greeted him with salaam, but he SAWS did not return the greeting.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, no. 2731; Abu Dawood, no. 3574. Al-Tirmidhi said: this hadeeth is hasan ghareeb with this isnaad). According to the scholars, the meaning of this hadith is that the Prophet SAWS disliked the wearing of garments dyed with safflower (the red dyestuff obtained from safflowers), but he had no objection to garments dyed with clay or other substances, so long as it was not dyed with safflower. This hadeeth was classed as da’eef by al-Albaani (Da’eef Sunan Abi Dawood, 403; Da’eef Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 334. He said: its isnaad is da’eef).
The explanation of the last hadith in that safflower dye is prohibited but other reds are ok and with other colours is proof in the next hadith in which he wears a Yemeni garment which is usually striped with black or green-
-The hadeeth of al-Baraa’ ibn ‘Aazib (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “The Messenger of Allah SAWS was of average build. I saw him in a red hullah, and I never saw anyone more handsome than him.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 5400; Muslim, 4308). *Hullah being the Yemeni garment
-Al-Bayhaqi narrated in al-Sunan: “[The Prophet] SAWS used to wear a red cloak on Eid.” (And of course no one’s going to wear ONLY a cloak…)

You’ve already noticed a couple more things haraam in the hadith, no doubt. Men are also prohibited from wearing gold and silk. It’s perfectly fine for women, mind you. I enjoy my silk shayla wrap and a sister looks beautiful in her gold bangles (she’s asked me if I’d like to borrow them, but I’m allergic to gold… go figure.). There is clear proof as to this. It’s not just gold rings. It’s gold watches, gold cuff links, gold pens… Gold is for ladies (unless you like being the effeminate sort, in which case keep it to yourself there, Da Vinci…)
- Narrated by Uqba bin Amir- A silken Farruj was presented to Allah’s Apostle and he put it on and offered the prayer in it. When he finished the prayer, he took it off violently as if he disliked it and said, “This (garment) does not befit those who fear Allah!” Sahih Bukhari 7.693
-”Do not wear silk, for those who wear it in this life shall not wear it in the Hereafter.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim. A Similar hadith is reported by them on the authority of Anas.)
-The Prophet (peace be on him) once saw a gold ring on a man’s hand. He immediately took it from him and threw it down saying, ‘Does a person pick up a piece of burning coal and hold it in his hand?’ After the Prophet (peace be on him) had left the place, someone asked the man, ‘Why do you not pick it up and benefit from it?’ He replied, ‘No, by Allah! I shall not pick it up after the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) has thrown it away.’ (Reported by Muslim.)
- On another occasion, referring to a silken garment, he said, “This is the dress of a man who has no character.” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

“O Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment* upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc.) and as an adornment, and the raiment of righteousness, that is better. Such are among the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allâh, that they may remember (i.e. leave falsehood and follow truth).” Qur’an 7:26. But what does that MEAN? What are the “private parts” for men? Hey… I just heard, like, three of you giggle at that question… That’s NOT what I meant! What that means is “What is considered private/not to be seen by others?” It’s from the navel to the knee. Thighs must be covered.
-Reported Muhammad Jahsh, “The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, passed by Ma’mar while his thighs were uncovered. He said, to him, ‘O Ma’mar, cover your thighs, for they are (part of the) ‘aurah.” This is related by Ahmad, al-Hakim and al-Bukhari in Tareekh and in mu’allaq form in his Sahih.
-Reported Jurhad, “The Messenger of Allah passed by me when the cloak I was wearing did not cover my thigh. He said, ‘Cover your thigh, for it (is part of the) ‘aurah.” This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi, who called it hassan, and by al-Bukhari in mu’allaq form in the Sahih.

Another thing that brothers are quick to point out on sisters, but quicker to disobey at the same time, is TIGHT clothing. Skinny jeans look bad on women (if you ever wanted to let people know what a toothpick with a muffin top looks like, wear one) and worse on men (Just… ‘no’). But they still wear them no matter how immodest it is.
-I asked Jabir bin ‘Abdullah about praying in a single garment. He said, “I traveled with the Prophet during some of his journeys, and I came to him at night for some purpose and I found him praying. At that time, I was wearing a single garment with which I covered my shoulders and prayed by his side. When he finished the prayer, he asked, ‘O Jabir! What has brought you here?’ I told him what I wanted. When I finished, he asked, ‘O Jabir! What is this garment which I have seen and with which you covered your shoulders?’ I replied, ‘It is a (tight) garment.’ He said, ‘If the garment is large enough, wrap it round the body (covering the shoulders) and if it is tight (too short) then use it as an Izar (tie it around your waist only.)’ ” Bukhari 1.357

And another thing… What is it with these brothers wearing dishdashas and thobes that hang down to their feet? When I first became a Muslim, I literally called them “manbayas” because I had NO IDEA they were supposed to be different than a woman’s abaya. Why? Because brothers are letting them past their ankle all down to the ground like women let down their abayas. So obviously they look like the woman’s garment! Again, Da Vinci, if you wanna wear women’s clothing, private is the best place for it!
-Yahya related to me from Malik from al Ala ibn Abd ar-Rahman that his father said, “I asked Abu Said al-Khudri about the lower garment. He said that he would inform me with knowledge and that he had heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘The lower garment of the mumin should reach to the middle of his calves. There is no harm in what is between that and the ankles. What is lower than that is in the Fire. What is lower than that is in the Fire. On the Day of Rising, Allah will not look at a person who trails his lower garment in arrogance.’ ” Al-Muwatta 48.12, similar narration to Abu Dawood 4082
-The Prophet saaws said, “Have your lower garment halfway down your shin; if you cannot do it, have it up to the ankles. Beware of trailing the lower garment, for it is conceit and Allah does not like conceit.” – Abu Dawood
-I happened to pass before Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) with my lower garment trailing (upon the ground). He said: Abdullah, tug up your lower garment. I tugged it up, and he again said: Tug it still further, and I tugged it still further and I went on tugging it afterward, whereupon some of the people said: To what extent? Thereupon he said: To the middle of the shanks (shanks are the part of the leg b/t the knee and ankle).” Sahih Muslim 5200
-I have been ordered to prostrate on seven bodily parts and not to fold back the hair or clothing: the forehead, the nose, the hands, the knees and the feet.” (Related by Muslim and an-Nasa’i.)
The last one OBVIOUSLY applies to men. Prostrating, yes we all get down on all 7, but women are allowed to tie back the hair back (encouraged actually) so that it fits into the scarves we wear. So yet another male-only restriction.

The last thing I’ll touch on for male hijab is the beard. It almost seems like a lost requirement. As women have an order placed on our heads, men have an order placed upon their faces. The Beard is not just some miniscule “well, I don’t really HAVE to do it… it’s not in the Qur’an!”. But these same people will remind the sisters who don’t wear hijab as head-scarves aren’t exclusively mentioned in the Qur’an that the Qur’an DOES order us to follow the Sunnah. I don’t get it and the other sisters don’t either. It’s a massive logical fallacy. But there are clear proofs to the importance of the beard for men.
-The Prophet (SAW) said “I have no connection with one who shaves, shouts and tears his clothing eg. in grief or affication.” -Abu Darda (RA) in Muslim 501
- The Prophet (SAW) says: “Trim closely the moustache, and let the beard flow (Grow).” – Ibn Umar (RA) in Muslim 498
- The Prophet (SAW) said: “Act against contrary to the polythesists, trim closely the moustache and grow the beard.” – Ibn Umar (RA) Muslim 500
- The Prophet (SAW) said “Trim closely the moustache and grow the beard.” – Abu Hurairah (RA) in Muslim 501
- The Prophet (SAW)said: “Anyone who shaves has no claim to the mercy of Allah” Ibn Abbas (RA) in Tibradi

In closing- I think it’s pretty obvious that a woman’s hijab is the most visible in society by today’s standards, but TRUE hijab is genderless. Men have their obligations and so do women. For every person who claims that women keeping our heads covered is difficult, there are just as many brothers who struggle with their beards. For every woman who tries to keep her abaya long enough, there’s a brother trying to let his dishdasha down without letting it go too far. Hijab is a MUSLIM struggle, not a WOMAN struggle. And we ALL need to do better in keeping the practice of hijab (and this statement is a reminder to myself first). But the rumour that women have it harder than men needs to stop. Women may have restrictions on what we can expose, look at all these restrictions that men have on what they can USE. Ladies, I must say that we have the sweeter side of this issue.

Posted in Allah, Equality, Etiquette, Faith, Fashion, Gender roles, God, Hadiths, Halal, Haraam, hate, Help, Hijab, ignorance, Islam, Men, Non-Muslims, Obligations, Prayer, Prejudice, Qur'an, tolerance, trends, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Haters of (Female) Hijab Subconsciously Respect It

Yeah, you heard me right. Haters don’t hate. At least not deep down. “The proof is in the pudding” as my great-grandmother used to say. Allah has given clear signs about what we are and aren’t to do. And there are reaffirming signs to those of us who follow and enforcing signs to those who don’t. I’ll only address one aspect of the hijab today, and only for females wearing hijab (boys, your hijab should be as visible as ours and I will try ASAP to write a post for you about your hijab as well. Please bear with me as I’ve been busy lately.)

Qur’an verse 33:59 states, “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.”. This is one of my favourite verses simply because I’ve started to notice a few things. The first one makes the Qur’an seem to have a sociological contradiction (I promise you it doesn’t!). I am abused for wearing hijab all the time. I’m called names, I’m spit at, I’m denied service at businesses, etc. HOWEVER, the Arabic word used for “abused” is a tricky one and without proper knowledge of the Arabic language it’s VERY easy to say “Ha! The Qur’an is wrong!”. In fact, the Qur’an is NOT wrong at all. The type of abuse it speaks of is in the sense of sexual harassment. This is because the word “yuthayna” is used and can mean “abused”, “teased”, “annoyed”, “harassed”, or “molested”. And this is why I say there is no contradiction in the Qur’an here as claimed by people who claim a logical fallacy against Islam in this particular ayah.

While I face a lot of discrimination and harassment in the Islamophobic side of society, I have not been sexually harassed or assaulted since I put on the hijab. I’m called a “terrorist” or a “traitor” all the time, not to mention many vulgar terms which I choose not to repeat on this blog. But the common insults that Westerners throw at women whether the statement is accurate or not have not come up. Since becoming a hijabi, I haven’t been called a “slut”, “skank”, “tramp”, “whore”, or anything else along those lines once. My mother has when we’ve been out together and she wasn’t in hijab, but when we are both in hijab, we NEVER hear those words! Why? Because Allah has promised to keep us from abuse if we draw our outer garments over us. Brothers lower their gaze when we walk through, and even though bigots stare, they do not leer at us and if we make eye contact for a brief moment they almost always avert their gaze as well. I’ve seen a Youtube video (I will not post the link since it contains haraam images. Keep those eyes safe, my friends) where they showed these women walking by in clothing that was barely more than just denim lingerie. The aim of the video was not to record them, but the men WATCHING them. And the camera person asked them questions. These men said they don’t treat women with respect if they don’t dress modestly because there’s a difference between the “b****es” and the “sisters”. What’s this difference? They said it was that a sister will carry herself with self-respect while a b**** wears clothing leaving nothing to the imagination and throws it at you. Obviously when the women were confronted with the footage, they had this pseudo-feminist stuff they were spouting off about how well respected they were. The problem with that was the number of cameras taking photos of them was NOT for the altercation going on, but these were still images (not video) taking shots up their skirts or at their bodies. Does this sound to you like they were being listened to or respected? NO! They were being teased, molested, and abused even though they didn’t know they were. And it’s a shame.

Women who wear clothing in a way that outlines their adornments are logically more prone to harassment. And I use myself as an example again because when I was younger and a non-Muslim, I dressed in a few different ways. I was fairly strict Christian a while and wore hats out even, and then I had a rebellious “atheist/agnostic” phase. Admittedly, it lasted a very short time and I went back to Christianity because I knew there is a God even if Christianity didn’t make sense to me. But then I came to Islam (another thanks to my best friend ever for helping me learn <3 ) and wore hijab. The more modest my clothing, the fewer the vulgar remarks. It's not just the fact that skin is hanging out and people are immature, but it's a matter of self-respect too. If you don't respect yourself enough to keep your parts covered, why should anyone else respect you then? I had a male friend when I was younger who used to say that he and other men were created visually and that they can't help noticing every ounce of skin they see. He went on to joke that it shouldn't be considered sexual harassment to comment on a body part if said body part was exposed (skin showing). Honestly, I think the statement outlines what a LOT of men are thinking because I have also told the "If I can see it, I can comment it" joke to many more male friends and they say they've thought the same exact thing. Ladies, MEN ARE HARDWIRED to be visual! Just like us ladies are hardwired to be less visual and more sensual. We need to take this into account. And no, it isn't your fault that a man harasses you or stares at you. But it IS your fault for giving him something to harass or stare at if you're showing off what Allah commanded us to keep private.

Obviously, some trolls are going to email me through my facebook later to tell me that hijabis are victims of rape too and that non-hijabis don’t deserve to be raped. And I agree. The above verse does NOT justify any kind of violent sexual assault on any woman (or man, child, gay, straight, etc etc *insert your sub-group here*). Actually, it doesn’t really mention it here because it’s SUCH a horrific crime it gets its own specialised texts. Islam takes rape INTENSELY seriously. A person, no matter what they’re wearing, has the right to be safe walking down the street at night, etc. And that’s the truth.

*Subpost- I would like to remind all of you (and firstly myself) that hijab FIRST is a manner of behaviour and SECOND a manner of dress. If you are dressed in perfect hijab but you’re staring at the opposite sex, dating, drinking, dancing, swearing, backbiting, and otherwise behaving badly… That’s not hijab, honey!

Posted in Allah, Deen, discrimination, Etiquette, Faith, Fashion, Hadiths, hate, Hijab, ignorance, Islam, Niqaab, Non-Muslims, Oppression, Prejudice, Profanity, Qur'an, Reflect, Religion, shawl, Ummah, Veil | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frankenstein’s Arm- I Now Own It

I’ve been talking forever about needing surgery for my shoulder. Well, it’s FINALLY happened. Insurance cleared, my appointments showed I was finally healthy enough for the procedure, and my schedule was open. So on the afternoon of the 19th, I packed up my bags and headed down to Banner Thunderbird hospital here in Phoenix for the surgery. While as a Muslim woman, it’s good to have female physicians looking at you, it just so happened that my entire surgical team was *gasp* MALE. I admit that I WAS really nervous. Not so much about the surgery, but the IV. And, of course, that being the part I fretted the most about was the hardest part of the whole dang day. It took them 4 different spots to get the IV in. So I’m pretty well bruised up on my left arm (since it was the right shoulder being operated on, they couldn’t put the IV in that side). Luckily, after that I got some cool fluids in my veins. I couldn’t get a cool drink, but the fact my body was getting SOME fluid seemed to make me crave a drink much less.

It was a bit anxiety-filled waiting for the surgery. It was supposed to start at 3:30 but an hour after, I’m sitting there with the IV taunting me and the prophylactic antibiotics turning my gut wondering where my surgeon was. Of course, one female nurse was sitting with me not saying a thing the whole time. I really wished the whole time she would go away. It’s not that I didn’t like her, she was nice. It’s just that the antibiotics were making me nauseous and I’m the sort of person that doesn’t like other people around should my stomach decide to turn itself inside-out. But shortly after, my anasthesiologist, Dr Jordan, came in. He definitely impressed me. Most anesthesiologists have the personality of a toad, but this guy was VERY nice and personable. He was more in tune with the fact I wanted to be left a bit alone than anyone, so he helped people hurry it along with the 900 questions (not literally that many, but they had to verify with me a bunch on what I was doing to check my mental capacity and their own records). My surgeon, Dr Hayman, then came in to visit with me and proceeded to make me a lot more nervous by drawing on me. “We’re going to go in through here and here…” But he also helped me adjust what position I was in on the bed because I was uncomfortable. That’s usually a “nurse job” but he actually cares. I know! A doctor who gives a hoot in this day and age! Finally, it was time for me to go back and I met my nurse, Larry. That’s right, another man. A Muslim woman and my entire surgical team is MALE. I know I pointed that out already, but given that I’d given the hospital prior notice of my religious beliefs, I was a little stunned. However, when I’d first gotten into the hospital and took the mandatory pregnancy test, the female nurses were the ones willing to leave doors open and me standing there with my back end exposed to the world. The men were INCREDIBLY cautious about my modesty. Larry was funny and he knew that I couldn’t see. So he gave a “play by play” of everything going on. They let me keep a blanket over my entire torso on the way back and Larry made sure my hijab cap stayed on under my surgical cap until we got in the OR. So unlike the female nurses, the men respected my hijab entirely.

Of course, I had on this awesomely effective brave face the whole time before surgery. Like “Yeah, I’m not worried. Everything’s fine.” I said that to my fiance, to my best friend, to my mother, to the nurses…. But guess who started getting teary from nerves as soon as the cold air from the OR hit them? *Points to self* This girl… (Fail). So Dr Jordan comes over to me and says, “Let’s get you on the operating table here”. It was this weird table that they were going to operate on me sitting up. Of course, I had on NOTHING under the gown and it flips open in the back. I got all embarrassed and even more anxious. The doc’s answer? “This is going to sting a little…” Of course, I asked what it was even though I knew. “Versaid”. I was really nervous at that point as they were sticking all sorts of monitors to me. Then suddenly… The whole world became HILARIOUS. Not just a little funny… but “This is the best comedy I have ever seen in my life” hysterical. I remember the doctors and nurses kind of giggling with me, but I don’t remember much more. I know I had a moment of clarity as they were giving me the anesthesia because I got nervous again and Larry was holding the oxygen mask on my face with one hand and holding my hand with the other. He was definitely in tune with the fact that I get clingy when I’m scared. I can appreciate that. As I was going under, I remembered Ayat-ul Kursi. That’s the only thing I could think of. Just reciting that to myself over and over again. And it was surprisingly calming.

The next thing I knew- My throat was scratchy, I couldn’t move my arm without intense pain, and lights were too bright. It was already OVER. I didn’t feel so good though. And after that, I was waking up again with penlights in my eye. “Amanda? Are you awake? Can you understand me? Your surgery is done, but you’ve had a seizure. We need to check a few things before you go.” Of course, I’d kinda tugged a bit at the stitches, but it all looked ok. About 3 hours, 2 cups of ice, 3 glasses of apple juice, and a glass of water later, I was ready to go home. Usually I have a lot of trouble breathing after surgery, but praying beforehand must’ve had some affect because for the first time after a surgery, my oxygen levels were just fine. I don’t remember much, but I know I went to my gran’s. I know I had a lot of pain and I remember my fiance and best friend were both on the phone with me at some point and I know I cried on both of them (sorry!). But about what… not entirely sure. I think it was the pain. Luckily, I’m over here at my grandparent’s now and everything is healing smoothly. Unfortunately a lot of my pain medications were “mysteriously vanished” during the time I was under anesthesia so I’m kind of recovering WITHOUT a lot of pain control, but through prayer and the love of friends and my grandparents it’s all going ok.

I hope that soon I can start writing more relavent issues in this blog, but for now, my surgical experiences are all I can share. As for the title of this blog entry… It pretty much feels like they replaced my whole arm. It kinda just sits there like it’s not my arm. It’s so weird.

Posted in Doctor, Epilepsy, Health, hospital, Pain, seizure, surgery | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crimes of the Khutbah- There’s a Reason Jumu’ah Etiquette is on Decline

One pitfall I’ve noticed Muslim religious leaders fall into the same as any other religion is the tendency to be complimented on one particular topic… And then they work that topic over so many times you start feeling a sense of deja vu every Friday. And soon after that, people quit listening, the Jumu’ah etiquette goes out the window, and people get this look on their face short of rolling their eyes like “Yeah… you beat that dead horse. I’ll just daydream here and try not to fall asleep before the actual Salah starts…”

Why is it so hard to come up with a new topic? I know sometimes I have trouble figuring out what to write, but I’m a Muslimah only a year in and I barely get out. But when I DO venture out for a day I am so inspire with what I want to talk about because there’s ALWAYS an issue which needs to be addressed. I’m not saying this like a “haraam police” person. I’m not saying have every khutbah where it’s like “OMG don’t do that! You people are so horrible and YOU’RE ALL GOING TO HELL!” No. Sometimes I see issues which should be addressed because it’s so GREAT. People quit listening to authority for a variety of reasons. It could be because the imam of the group has found a comfort zone in the same 5 or 6 topics and people are bored. It could be that the topic at hand doesn’t really apply to the group (I’m pretty sure I can avoid Diwalli and Holi celebrations on the streets here just like South Asians do just fine not celebrating “the Fourth of July”). Or people could quit listening to the khutbah attentively because it’s always about things the imam has seen ‘certain members of the community’ doing wrong. That last one is the one that about kills me. I go in and hear some berating and then go to the next week and hear some berating… Seriously, tell us what we’re doing right occasionally or we’re going to think you’re a pompous jerk who doesn’t see anyone but themselves doing anything right. I know that’s what people are thinking because sisters talk. I’m sure the brothers may too, but I don’t go to the brothers’ side. But I know I went to a masjid downtown once to see what it was like and the sisters all seemed disheartened or disinterested. I heard people saying things like, “Just ignore half of what our imam says. The only person’s behaviour he shows any approval of is his own.” THAT IS NOT HOW YOU WANT YOUR CONGREGATION TO SEE YOU!

When people are more focused on attending Jumu’ah because it’s a routine or because it’s fard upon them (men) rather than enjoying the time to learn, it starts to show. People start showing disregard to others or the imam in the masjid by their behaviour, people start acting up in the community, and things go a bit downhill. I went to a masjid for 4 weeks in a row and they covered the SAME topic for 3 of them. The first time people listened. The second people started to drift. The third contained the most deplorable behaviour by the Ummah in a masjid that I have ever seen. Especially by the women (not joking, I think this may be partly why women dominate the populations of Hell. We definitely get defiant quicker than our male counterparts). People talked the whole time. Through the khutbah and even the adhan. I heard people playing video games on their phones. They didn’t even bother to take the sound off! I saw people allowing children to scream and there was plenty of gossiping on each side. While this behaviour is never acceptable, I must admit that I’d heard the same ahadith and ayaat SO MANY TIMES in 3 weeks that I was tempted to talk as well. And I definitely daydreamed a couple times, regretfully.

I wish imams and religious leaders would go out and do more things with the community. I realise “you have families too” but WE DIDN’T CHOOSE FOR YOU TO BE AN IMAM. YOU chose that. It comes with extra responsibility. You’re our spiritual advisor. If you don’t have time for us “because your family needs you” then STEP DOWN. Let someone who will be more devoted do it. I know that my imam does an impressive job balancing this, so I know it’s not impossible. For granted, I wish there were more community events, but it’s a tiny masjid and not that realistically capable of booking venues or hosting things like others do. But people are still available if and when you need to talk to someone. They make it happen. I’ve heard people say that they can’t get ahold of their imam before. I’ve NEVER waited more than 12 hours for my imam to get back to me. So it shocks me. And people really need that one-on-one time sometimes. Sheikh Google seems to disagree with itself sometimes. So it’s good to have a leader you can actually interact with. And it’s good to see them at an event which DOESN’T revolve around anything specific. Like if someone throws a picnic. It’s easier to identify with an imam you’ve seen in jeans and a t-shirt on occasion than the full garb he wears every khutbah.

The last bit I’m going to hit on is topics. I know, AGAIN. But this is the one I find so important. This blog has stated many places I’m a newer revert. Having only been going to a masjid for less than a year and a half and not even going sometimes due to health, I should be hearing new things all the time. I don’t want every week to be about improving my iman. How can I increase my iman if I’m not being taught the three ‘R’s (rules, rewards, and repercussions)? I love when I hear a khutbah about a whole chapter of the Qur’an (or a series on the chapter for long ones like Surah 2). I really like hearing about topics that are usually swept under the rug. MALE hijab, domestic violence, judging other people’s deen, how to answer people about misconceptions… My all-time FAVOURITE khutbah was an “everyone participate” khutbah. You raised your hand and asked a question you had about something and he gave a mini-khutbah on it. Sisters were asking, brothers were asking, and even the children quit wanting to play and started participating and wanting to answer if they knew something. It got EVERYONE involved. And after the prayer, people ended up staying and CONTINUING it. THIS is what I want at my masjid. Get everyone involved and excited and thinking.

Posted in Abandoning Parental Responsibility, Anger, basics, Boring, Boys, Candid, Challenge, Children, Dawah, Deen, Discussion, Etiquette, Goals, Imam, Intention, Islam, Job, Jumu'ah, Khutbah, learning, Masjid, Misconduct by Muslims, Mosque, Muslim, Patience, Prayer, Prepare, Projecting, Reflect, rules, Self-improvement, Support, Ummah, Unspoken Haya, Value, Weakness, wisdom, Women, wrongdoers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment