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Archive for June, 2010

I just wasted 4 hours of my life. Invited to a henna (mehndi) party. Got all dressed up thinking it would be ladies event. my bad. Next time I am going to pull on my abaya over my pjs.

The decor was lovely- that I was enjoying along with the yummy appetizers; until I got a preview of the belly dancers’ decolletage in the ladies room. Why do people invite people like me to these things anyway? Felt like such a prissy goody two shoes excusing myself with the lovely hostess because I felt ‘uncomfortable’. She was so sweet wanted us to stay for dinner- so I gathered my girls & a friend’s teenager and headed to the newest ice cream shop in town called SHAVE IT, promising her we will be back in time for dinner.

The whole ‘show’ was for the viewing pleasure of the few dozen white guests, to introduce them to the groom’s Egyptian and bride’s Pakistani heritage.  The groom’s family sat in a corner miffed, not exactly thrilled by the Diane of Belly Dancers Unlimited’s hijack of their culture.

Three or four Pakistani women were on the lit dance floor in an otherwise dark room, when I wandered in 45 minutes later, dancing as if to prove something, nothing joyous or spontaneous about their moves.  No men up there with them; they were busy staring hungrily from the sidelines.

The invitation said 6 o’clock so naturally most of the non-desis showed up at 6:00.  Dinner wasn’t served until 10:00. Feeding the non-desi guests on time would have served our culture better. Dinner before the dancing starts always; this way guests who do not want to be ‘entertained’ can leave without rejecting the hospitality of the host.

I really have to ponder what we are trying to prove about our culture after I examined the dancer’s brochure left on the entrance, next to the rose petals and the dripping ruby-red candles.  Clad in Hollywood inspired harem costumes with angel wings ‘veils’, a superstar dance troupe, not one of them Arab or South Asian.  The all male bhangra act also hired for the night were fully covered; why is it always the women who have to expose their bodies to entertain?

Was the henna ceremony itself not enough culture, the aroma of the mehndi and oil rubbed on to the bride’s hands. The mithai (sweets) in an antique silver bowl, placed lovingly or playfully in the bride’s mouth, depending on who is feeding her. The rose & jasmine jewellery and garlands fashioned by hand, the bangles placed by every dinner plate. Why do we HAVE to dilute our identities?  Give them an authentic Pakistani or Egyptian experience, it is enough. We have such an inferiority complex!

At my sis-in loves (inlaws) wedding, we had more than 200  non-desis attend. The beauty of our simple nikaah ceremony, the grand arrival of the barat, the greeting & feeding of the guests, the recitation of the quran, the poetry reading by my husband’s grandfather,  including Allah in the celebration of a new life left many of them marveling at the grace in our faith & culture.


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Last year, Mr. LF came back from a business trip to Europe puzzled over Swiss grocery stores’ policy of selling the plastic one-use grocery bags. My response was GREAT idea! Finally California is catching on to the idea, the ban has passed the state assembly hope the Senate has the gusto to pass it too. It would prohibit grocery stores from offering plastic bags and would require customers to pay for paper bags by June 2012.

There is a joke about desis; that you can tell if you are a desi (from Southeast Asia) if you reuse grocery bags or the empty yogurt cups.  I guess because we are cheap. Better cheap than a polluter I say. So if they aren’t for FREE anymore, we will definitely reuse them.

This is such an easy way to go green. Imagine how many resources we can save. As Muslims, it is incumbent on us to protect the planet that Allah has given as an Amanah (trust). As Muslim moms, we are the ones who usually buy the groceries for our homes- how hard is it really to make it a priority NOT to use plastic single use bags, paper or plastic.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in the United States alone more than 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are used each year. Worldwide, the number of plastic bags used is anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion every year. Meanwhile, Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute, as only 0.6 percent to 1 percent of them are ever recycled.

They choked up gutters, suffocated dolphins, accumulate in your drawers. It takes a 1000 years to biodegrade one. The little pieces of plastic act as a sponge for chemicals. They soak up a million fold greater concentration of such deadly compounds as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of the notorious insecticide DDT), than the surrounding seawater (Reusablebags.com).

Marine life then eats these pieces and dies. It is estimated that over a 100,000 different birds, seals and whales die every year (Reusablebags.com). After the animal dies its carcass decomposes and the plastic is free to roam the ocean and kill again.

These days every store sells multiple-use bags for usually a dollar. They last so long, I have some that are a few years old and they still look the same. Just rinse them out from time to time. Otherwise use canvas bags, they are the best. No one will look at you like you are a weirdo any more than they already do.

Ask the clerk NOT to bag things that already come in bags ie. the bag of oranges, onions. And Milk and Juice jugs are easier to carry without a bag-ever had one burst because the bag broke?

It take just a bit of retraining our habits. Keep the bags in your car and return them to the car when you have emptied out the grocery! I have a big insulated bag (free from American Express) I that I keep in the car along with several reusable bags. Most stores even give you a nickel back for every bag you reuse.

plastic vs paper? NEITHER use an insulated reusable grocery bag

Reuseable grocery bags

Sometimes I forget to take the bags ( am so not perfect :P), that is when I ask the clerk to give me paper bags as a last resort. They are not that great (it takes one gallon of water to produce ONE paper bag) but at least it can go in your compost bin and you are much more likely to reuse them. You can make bookcovers, use it as craft paper or wrap a gift. Or if you absolutely must use a plastic bag- please RECYCLE them.

The next step for my house is getting rid of the single-use Glad garbage bags- I have heard of biodegradable/compostable ones  iA

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2910910883_6b2156e34a_o

my article as published on suhaibwebb.com; dedicated to my husband as 11 years pass from the day we became man and wife.

I am from Generation X, raised on ‘Pretty in Pink’ and Sweet Dreams romance novels. Some of my friends read Mills and Boons, others raved about the unattainable love in the Thorn birds; but I preferred the grand passion of Wuthering Heights. That was my idea of a romance – filling each other completely, a religion of love.

It also came from Indian movies; rich girl falls for poor guy, they dance around trees in the rain, then drama ensues from the family, enter Prem Chopra character, the guy runs off with girl, the end. Sometimes, he would dash in with a monologue and take her away while she was getting married to someone else. How many girls are still waiting for their Sir Salman/Saif/Shahrukh Khan to take them away on a white horse in a red lehnga?

When in love, according to Freud, “against all the evidence of  her/his senses, a wo/man who is in love declares ‘I’ and ‘you’ are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.” This love is so destructive, so impossible. Based on these notions, I have nursed many a heartbroken friend: in ER after she burnt herself with a cigarette because she wasn’t allowed to see him, helping hide another’s bruises under makeup, where he punched her for talking to his buddy. My own quest was for the eternal flutter in my heart. What were we thinking? Allah made us; He put these feelings in our heart, so why didn’t we ever think of turning to His book to see how ‘boy meets girl’ really works? It’s all in there.

I read of a great courtship, a love story that is so romantic it’s divine. The setting – Madyan, the land of frankincense, I can almost smell it lingering in the air. Historian Abdulla Al-Wohaibi writes that Madyan was “a flourishing ancient town with numerous wells and permanently flowing springs whose water had good taste. There were farms, gardens and groves of palm trees.”

Here we meet Safurah, the daughter of Shuyab `alayhi assalam (peace be upon him) at the side of a gushing spring, ‘keeping back, stopping her sheep from drinking with the sheep of the shepherds.’ And Musa (as), a fugitive on the run for eight days, crossing the burning desert sands from Egypt, feeding off nothing but tree leaves.

Their meeting is a beautiful example of chivalry; a perfect model of what it means to be a man and a woman. She didn’t need him; this was her daily routine and she waited out of her sense of modesty. She and her sister were strong women, after all herding their father’s flock wasn’t easy work. They were surrounded by rowdy men, reminding me of scenes from Liberty market in Lahore, Cairo’s Khan Khaleeli or the Westfield mall in Generic town, U.S.A. where rowdy boys hang out – men yelling, pushing, with little dignity or sense of composure. He, however, was a gentleman amongst the uncouth.

She didn’t need his help, she could have waited until all of the other men were done and then watered her flock, but that’s what makes it so special – that he still stood up to help her. Musa (as) was thirsty too but his sense of doing the right thing was stronger than his fatigue or his hunger. He was honorable – he could have ignored the sisters, could have said “I’m too tired, too important.” He had no relationship with these women. He didn’t know what family or religion they were from. All he saw was someone was being treated unfairly and for the sake of Allah, he was ready to help.

Sisters, a man like that will get you far in life. He will be just with your children, your parents and his parents. He will help you in your faith, your home and your life. As for the ones pushing each other to get the water from the well, they are the same brothers who will keep fighting for the dunya: keep working away for the next promotion, the next beamer, and you will be left on the side like the two sisters from Madyan.

When Musa (as) approached the water, he saw that the shepherds had put over the mouth of the spring an immense rock that could only be moved by ten men. ‘Musa embraced the rock and lifted it out of the spring’s mouth, the veins of his neck and hands standing out as he did so.’ He watered their sheep and put the rock back in its place.

After Musa (as) did this kind act, he went back in the shade of the tree and made du`a’. Unlike some MSA brothers who like to walk the sisters to their apartments and then ask them if they have food in the fridge, he didn’t ask the girls “Hey! I did you a favor, can you help me out now?”

No, he lies down on Allah’s green earth and makes this beautiful du`a’:

28:24

“So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: ‘My Lord! I am truly in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!’” (Qur’an, 28:24)

`Ata’ bin As-Sa’ib said in Tafsir ibn Kathir: “When Musa made that du`a’ the women heard him.”  What a beautiful du`a’ to make for all of us who are looking for a good partner or bliss in our married lives. This one du`a’ to Allah gave Musa (as) a job, a house and a family all at once. When you have nothing left except Allah, than you find that Allah is always enough for you.

The two sisters came home with the well-fed sheep, surprising their father Shuyab (as). He asked them what had happened, and they told him what Musa (as) had done. So he sent one of them to call him to meet her father.

She said: “My father is inviting you so that he may reward you for watering our sheep.” In Tafsir ibn Kathir it states
there came to him one of them, walking shyly, meaning she was walking like a free woman. Narrates `Umar ibn-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him: “She was covering herself from them (Musa) with the folds of her garment.”

Safurah is intelligent and intuitive. Abdullah bin Masud praised three people’s intuition:, Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) about `Umar ibn-Khattab, Yousuf ‘s (as) companion, and Safurah’s when she asked her father to hire Musa (as). “Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” Her father said to her, ”What do you know about that?” She said to him, “He lifted a rock which could only be lifted by ten men, and when I came back with him, I walked ahead of him, but he said to me, walk behind me, and if I get confused about the route, throw a pebble so that I will know which way to go.”

He didn’t follow her, looking at her from behind – subhan’Allah. Imagine the scenario: he was a prince who must have had women throwing themselves at him but he ‘lowers his gaze’, which is the hukum for all Muslim men, but how many really adhere to that? Here Musa (as) is not Safurah’s husband yet, so he asks her to walk behind him, knowing very well that he doesn’t know the way but she does. It wasn’t a matter of ego or superiority; he was concerned about her honor as she was alone, without her sister; this way he was protecting her. Look at their society too – if all the men were such boors, could you put it past those people to gossip about her walking with him?

I often wonder how Musa (as) grew up to be this way? He came from such privilege, so much fahasha (corruption) existed in the court of Pharoah; he could have had any woman he wanted. But he learnt how to honor women from his pious foster mother, `Aasiya (ra); and continued this respect even hundreds of miles from his mother’s eyes. Mothers can be shields for their sons – even if the fathers are Pharoah.

Back to our courtship: Musa (as) takes Safurah’s ‘lead’ by making her throw stones to direct the route. Brothers, there’s a lesson for you here: it’s ok to ask for directions and to consult with a woman. Such a man’s bravado would be insulted today; he would be considered crazy or sexist,  asking a woman to walk in his shadow and then make her do all the work! Armed with our liberal arts education, we often undervalue a man’s masculinity. Such hoopla is made over where the husband walks, in front, side by side, behind you. My husband is a foot and some taller than me, so big deal if he sometimes walks faster than me, he’s got longer legs. Other times he walks behind me especially in crowds and he is often there by my side. It doesn’t define us. Shouldn’t it matter more whether he is ahead, behind or by my side spiritually?

Safurah then hired Musa (as) and chooses to marry him under her father’s guidance. There was no long engagement and no endless conversations – no promises of unending love. How many times do we pass up great partners because we haven’t clicked? What did she like about him in those short meetings? First of all, she sees he is not a wimp, he stood up for her when they were strangers, imagine what he would do for her when she becomes his sahib-e-hayat (wife).

He complements her life; she needs a man in her household, to help her run her business (we see the same theme in the blessed union of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and our mother, Khadijah (ra). This story reinforces in me the reason why my husband is always going to be the leader of my family. He leads well, so that I may willingly follow.

Musa (as) agrees to the terms Safurah’s family sets for their marriage. She admires his trust in Allah, his ability to problem solve, his strength and his manners. If women looked for his four characteristics in a man, instead of the countless other things we focus on, will we not find our own beautiful Musa?

Further, if we are consumed by the love we have for our spouse, will there be space in our hearts for Allah? Heathcliff and Catherine of Wuthering Heights had replaced God for each other. They needed to fuse their identities and thought they had attained heaven. Bronte’s mysticism notwithstanding, love like theirs is asocial, amoral and irresponsible. After reading Musa and Safurah’s love story though, I learned to love my husband for the right reasons: for his support, his strengths, and his sense of responsibility for the sake of Allah. After ten years, he still makes my heart flutter; but he doesn’t need to complete me. It’s enough that he complements me. And it is this evolving courtship that will inshaAllah knock the tunes out of every Indian movie.

References:

Abdulla Al-Wohabi, The Northern Hijaz In The Writings of The Arab Geographers 800-1150 B.C., p. 142

Emily Bronte, I Melani. Religion, Metaphysics and Mysticism in the Wuthering Heights.

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Question: Could you please explain the verse of the Qur’an, “slay the polytheists wherever you find them” [9:5]  What are the implications of this verse and why/when was it revealed?

From Seekers Guidance by Sidi Faraz Khan

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

InshaAllah  you are well.

The key to understanding the verse in question is to understand its context and the circumstances in which it was revealed.

What the Scholars of Qur’anic Exegesis Said

As mentioned by scholars of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), these verses were revealed specifically with regards to particular groups of polytheists that breached their peace treaties with the Muslim polity. This is clear in the very first verse, as it mentions that the proclamation is given out specifically to “those polytheists with whom you had made covenants.”

Imam Razi, Imam Jamal, and others clarify in their tafsirs that this proclamation of fighting the polytheists “applies only to those that broke their covenants.” This is also why an exception to the proclamation is made in verse 4 which, as Imam Razi and others clarify, refers to “those who did not break their covenants,” i.e., they were not to be fought.

Hence, the oft-misunderstood fifth verse of “killing the polytheists wherever you find them” refers only to those that previously broke their covenants and, moreover, after they had four months to reflect on the situation and decide if they wanted to continue with their violation or not. If they decided to continue with their violation, then they would effectively be re-declaring war on the Muslim polity, in which case the verse ordered the polity to defend itself against the transgression. Even in that case, the next verse (verse 6) ordered the Muslims to provide safe passage and protection to any opposing soldier that sought asylum during combat.

Perhaps the following verse (verse 7) best summarizes the context of this discussion, as it states (with commentary from Tafsir al-Razi and Tafsir al-Jalalayn in brackets):

“How can polytheists [that were treacherous and violated their treaties] have a covenant with Allah and His Messenger? Except for those with whom you entered covenants [i.e., the polytheists who did not break them and hence were not treacherous] in the Sacred Mosque. So as long as they are true to you [with their covenants and do not breach them] then be true to them [by also fulfilling your covenants]; verily, Allah loves those who fear Him [i.e., He loves those who fulfill covenants, since whoever fears Allah will fulfill his covenants, and the Prophet kept his word and upheld his side of the treaty until his enemies broke theirs].”

[Razi, Tafsir; Jamal, Hashiyat `ala Jalalayn]

Summarizing the Issue

So to summarize, these verses have a clear historical context and cannot be used to justify acts of violence or terrorism committed against innocent civilians.

Furthermore, by Islamic law, a Muslim government must uphold its treaties and covenants with other nations, regardless of the faith of those nations. It is unlawful to break a peace treaty with any other nation. This also applies to any Non-Muslim that is a citizen of a Muslim nation or that peacefully enters one. This is because citizenship and visitor’s visas are legally considered covenants that cannot be violated. They ensure security and protection for the citizen/visitor, and require that the citizen/visitor not break any of the nation’s laws.

The same, of course, applies to a Muslim citizen of a Non-Muslim nation or a Muslim that enters a Non-Muslim nation with a visitor’s visa or the like, which again serve as covenants of mutual peace and protection. It would be unlawful for a Muslim to break such a covenant. This is also in accordance with contemporary international law and is absolutely binding. And Allah knows best. [Marghinani, al-Hidaya; Kuwaiti Fiqh Encyclopedia

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Hold your children tight, give them extra hugs and kisses because you don’t know when the good Lord might take them away. A brother from Chicago has a missing daughter. A young brother who knew the family writes about Sophia Khan, a bright, clever 9-year-old who just finished 4th grade.

Innalillahi wa inna elayhi rajioon-

I have a 9 year old who just finished 4th grade. She is one of my Lord’s most precious favors-my first born, my love. What would I do in that situation. I cannot imagine the pain, the anguish, the hopes dashed with every ‘official’ update and reborn with faith in Allah. Her life, her smile replaying every time you close your eyes. What do you do in a time like this?

Mufti Ebrahim Desai answers in askimam.org

Allah does whatever He wants according to His infinite wisdom. In such a situation focus on taqdeer and place ones trust in Allah and make dua. May Allah grant all of you courage.

Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanavi writes in Munnajat-e Maqbool- a prayer whens someone is lost

إذا ضَاعَ لَهُ شيئٌ أو اَبِقَ؛
اللَّهُمَّ رآدَّ الضَّآلةِ وَ*هادِيَ الضَّلالةِ أنتَ تَهدي مِنَ الضَّلالَةِ اُردُد عَلَيَّ ضآلَّتي بِقُدرَتِكَ وَ*سُلطانِكَ فَإنَّها مِن عَطَآئِكَ وَ*فَضلِك

Oh Allah, the Returner of the lost and Guider of the misguided, you are the one who guides from misguidance, turn back towards me what I have lost with your Power and Authority because it was your own gift and bounty.

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي عَافَانِي مِمَّا ابْتَلَاكَ بِهِ وَفَضَّلَنِي عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِمَّنْ خَلَقَ تَفْضِيلَاً

“All praise belongs to Allah who has saved me from such a condition which is afflicted on you and favoured me over many creations”. The virtues of this dua is that the reciter will be saved from the difficulties he has seen.


The hadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW):

The supplication that gets the quickest answer is the one made by one Muslim for another in his absence.”

Tirimdhi

Please pray for her and her family. I pray Allah does a miracle and Sophia is found. May Allah reunite her with her family. Nothing is beyond Allah’s power he returned Prophet Yousuf (AS) back to Prophet Yaqub (AS) after years. If He chooses not to return her,then her reunion with her parents on the Day of Judgement will be a sight to see as she leads her parents into Jannah. Ameen


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Stylish Hijabis

Wrapped up in style from head to toe. So sometimes I want to dress like this because she looks stylish, beautiful, is my little sister’s buddy and is all covered.

In Islam, hijab allows us to identify ourselves as being on a spiritual path, but we can also be on a spiritual path and have flair,” she said. “The terms are not incongruent. Hijab defines us not only as Muslim women but as women. We don’t want to look ugly. We just don’t want to be sexually provocative.

During the winter I, sometimes, don my collection of long coats instead of my jilbab. People are more accepting when they can relate to the outfit. Sometimes it is a brand or a style, an accessory. Then I read some pervert’s comment on the original article and say hey my abayas are better.

But then look at  the dude in this picture he is still staring at the niqabi sisters!! So you gotta do whatever you do to please Allah, forget men.

This week coast to coast there were two articles highlighting Muslim women fashion in two major newspaper the LA Times & the NYT. They were both fun to read. Maybe typical but refreshing because they were ordinary women, with personalities that shone through the words on paper. Thank you to the writers, fellow Los Angelenos Lorraine Ali and Elisabeth Greenbaum Kasson for making their articles upbeat. So many journalists pretend to be building bridges but take off with a juicy tidbit and spin the original story into something ugly.

I do this because I want to be closer to God, I want to please him and I want to live a modest lifestyle,” said Ms. Ahmed, who asked that her appearance without a veil not be described. “I want to be tested in that way. The niqab is a constant reminder to do the right thing. It’s God-consciousness in my face.

That is what I think about hijab- constant state of readiness for salah, so a constant state of worship.  I do it for myself- yes, in the beginning it was absolutely about modesty and all the whys but on my tenth year anniversary of wearing hijab, I can say I do it selfishly, for my end with my Creator.

If I ever chose to wear niqab it would be to humble my ego for Allah, to squish my vanity. The sacrifice of facial expressions would be so huge because I am a really expressive person. Some people have poker faces; me, my emotion play out on my face pronto. I communicate with hand gestures and expression more than words-yeah one of those people. The sisters that do niqab are cheetis- to use a very Lahori term- strong, FIERCE ala project runway! May Allah accept their worship.

So with my iman I yo-yo between the two ends of the covering Muslimah spectrum. Admiring both, styling on the fence with my abaya and hijab.

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Fcode by Farah Alshamsi

Fcode by Farah Alshamsi

Fcode by Farah Alshamsi

If you have the trillion dirhams for them then find out where to get them on Khaleej Times Online.

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