Friday, 30 April 2010

An Attitude Problem

Asalamu aliakaum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatoo (May God’s peace, mercy and blessings be upon you) and Hellooo!
Talk about an attitude problem. I just happened to read the recent case of 16 year old Najwa Malha in Spain, who was expelled from her school for wearing the Muslim headscarf/veil or hijab.
Just between us-I am a Muslim.
I speak two languages fluently, have my driver’s license, graduated and got a B.A. (with distinction) in English Language and Literature.
And yes, I wear the veil, or hijaab.
My older sis graduated from computer engineering  and and right now, she’s finishing up her Masters.
She, too, wears the veil.
By now, you’ve probably heard it before (well, at least I hope you did!)-- the hijab is not a symbol of oppression but I’m going to tell it to you again.
When schools make rules that prohibit the wearing of the veil (like this recent case in Spain)- then girls are not educated.
When judges enforce such unfair laws—then, girls are not educated.
The simple matter is this:
What stands in the way of a veiled girl’s life is not her veil- it is the attitudes around her surrounding the veil.
It is only ignorance that acts as a real barrier to education…to a better life
Picture this. You visit a country, say Egypt, where practically 75% of the women (from the native population) don the veil or hijab. What do you find? Are these girls all stuck at home? Are they all barred from an education?
Heck no.
The girls attend schools, universities, colleges, etc.
Egyptian women are doctors, nurses, secretaries, interior designers, computer engineers, etc.
Even with their veil?
Yes, even with their veil! Nobody questions it because they understand that the wearing of a veil is simply a woman’s attempt to obey the command of God. That doesn’t make her an outcast of society.
Now, let’s go visit another country... let’s go to Turkey. The year is 1999 and Turkish medical student Fatma Orgel, a senior in university who has come very close to achieving her dream of becoming a doctor, is facing the decision of a lifetime. A law has been enacted banning the wearing of the hijab on campus.
Eventually, Fatma makes the decision… not to give up her veil, not to, in her eyes, disobey God. (Thankfully, she does find a way to complete her degree, but that is by traveling to another, more tolerant country).
But what had stood in the way of this woman completing her education?
It wasn’t her veil. Obviously she had already completed 5 years with the veil on.
It was the attitudes around the veil.
And this is what needs to be addressed…and erased as soon as possible.
We keep talking about how we are a global people and that we should accept diversity in all its sizes, shapes and colors. Yet, do we really practice what we preach?
The veil does not mark a person physically or mentally incapable of achieving what others around them can.  The veil does not oppress a woman-
does that.

Just a Question

Asalamu aliakum wa rahmat Allah wa barkatoo and HellOooo,

This if for all you university and school students. I know the semester's coming to an end and exams are coming up.

What's on your mind?

"Does this outfit make me look fat ?" Reem thinks as she gets ready for class.

"What am I forgetting to do? Did I have some kind of homework assignment ?Mona wonders as she walks out of class.

"When can I retire ?" Dr.Mahmoud questions as he finishes grading exams.

"How am I going to afford the next semester ?" Abu Tariq groans as he stares at the growing pile of bills.

"Was the answer A or B for question #6 ?" Sara worries after she turns in her exam paper.

"What should I have for lunch ?" Huda asks Anood.

"Why isn't this printer working ?" Fatimah sobs as the clock ticks 2:00

"Do you have a cigarette?" Khaled begs Sammy.

"Am I dying ?" Ai'sha whispers on her way to the clinic.

Dear Sarira....A letter to the Grownup me

Asalamu aliakum and Hello!

Day 1...and post 1...

And- my very thought is- What have you gotten yourself into? 

Yeah, what a welcome. Seriously, welcome to my blog.

I think I'll start off with this letter I just found yesterday. I wrote this letter to myself almost 4 years ago. I found that sadly, I had forgotten a lot of it...and a lot of who I wanted to be...

"Dear Supposedly “Grown up and More Mature” Sarira
            How are you? Are you reading this in your brand, new private helicopter? Are congratulations in order- I mean, should I congratulate on you getting married? Having kids? Oh, my, GOD! You didn't turn into a grandma, already, did you? Awwwwwwwwwwww---eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeowww- Noooooooooo. [ You have just experienced a slight second of plain old hysteria. ]

            Well, you're probably wondering what the heck this is. Let me start at the very beginning. At this point in your life, you are 19 years old. You still haven’t learned to drive because you are the biggest procrastinator ever, you haven’t memorized as much as the Qurán as you wanted to, and you have never once completed reading a whole Arabic book (other than the Qurán), but you’re trying to do all of these or at least are planning on working on these three…InshaAllah, by the time you read this letter again, you will have completed this stuff and can “fondly chuckle” over the painstaking memories of trying to do these seemingly impossible tasks ;))

            Oh, and by the way, you're not insane. Well, not completely. You don't normally write letters to yourself. Not even to your older self. It's just that recently you've been assigned to keep a journal. Unfortunately, we (that would be me and you, which equals you and you) know how well you are keep at a journal. Let me spell this out for you. You don't. That is, you're H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E. at keeping a journal.  You're always delaying writing in your journal. Also, you're always rambling. You also always throw your journals away, only to find them a few years later—which somehow, brings me to the point of this letter. Just a few weeks ago, you found an old journal you'd had, 4 years ago. You skimmed through it and cringed at every piece of writing…but, the good news is that you remembered a little more about yourself when you read what you had written. So this is why I'm (which would be you) starting this journal with a letter to yourself…so that when you find it, you can remember who you were and who you wanted to be.

            So who are you? Sarira was born in Nov.10 of the year 1987. Her father, a university professor, and her mother, a former teacher and now a home engineer (LOL), say she showed great potential right from the beginning. Not only did she ..... Just kidding. Hahah, I was going to make it sound like the whole "about the author" thing...Oh yeah, you're a real joker. Your field of specialization is lame jokes. You excel at that. Like right now, you're cracking yourself up. Gosh, how sad. But seriously, you are a sensitive and shy person. It's funny because you're also very outspoken and outgoing, which might seem like a contradiction but it's true. You're a mixture.

            Who do you want to be?

            You want to be healthy. You want to be a teacher. You want to be a part of the revival of this Ummah. You want to have such a high sense of integrity, that people would trust you with their wallets. You want to be…a better you.

            And now, for the good, old preachy stuff. Here are some things you don't want to be.

            You don't want to be obsessed about money. It isn’t everything. Never forget that. [note from current me- I did forget this] There will always be bills to pay, things that are broken and that need to be fixed. Some days, you might begin to see money as the one goal you are striving for. Don't! Don’t fall into that trap. Don’t get carried away by money that you forget the simple pleasures- don’t make such a big deal about money that you put your health aside for it. There’s no wealth with out health. [Yeah, you're a riot. You're hilarious. You're amazing. You're smart. I can go on and on…Seriously, you considered going into advertising as your career, but somehow settled on English Literature. Well, settled isn't exactly the right word…]

            When you learn how to drive (assuming you stop using your parents as your personal chauffeurs, you lazy bum), stop and help the people who get stranded on the road- whose cars break down. You don't want to be one of those persons who just keeps on driving, even when they have nothing important to do. You always think to yourself, “If only, I could drive I would help her…" So, do that.

            Also, when you learn how to drive, and your kids (inshaAllah) ask you to take to their friend’s houses, try not to be annoying about the directions.

            Never forget just because you can do something better/faster and less messier than a kid that you should do it. It took a lot for you to get where you are now- a lot of mistakes, a lot of ugly projects … a lot of lessons. And you know what, you didn't turn out that bad, did you? With every mistake you did, every crooked line,  with all the coloring all over the place (and talk about weird colors to color with) you gained a little more experience….and I'd like to think a little more creative J  Never forget that it's the journey that counts…not that the project looks like an adult did it. Cause that won't benefit anybody.

            Never forget that your likes are different from other person's—even, maybe, God willing, your kid's. You have often told yourself that you won't force your kids to like what you like or expect them to be like you. Don't forget that.

            Don't forget how to relax, laugh, go roller blading in your abaya, how to finger paint, and etc.

            And lastly, don’t forget F, S, N, N, L, A, A, A and loads of others…And if you do forget “their names” and you grow really old, just remember- they loved you and more than that, you loved them. - and, May Allah be with you,

Looking forward to getting to know you better,
Your Younger Self.

P.S. Did you cut down on the chocolate intake yet? You used to experience chocolate withdrawal symptoms- and you have promised yourself several times to quit eating it."


P.S.S. No, I didn't cut down on my choco intake. I still eat a bar almost daily...(Hey, at least some things don't change :P)

P.S.S.S. I did learn to drive- and nope, I don't go roller blading in my abaya anymore. 

P.+ 4 other S's: What do you think your younger self would have to tell you now?