Monday, July 31, 2006
I have to wonder... how many all-zabiha restaurants are there in Raleigh? Not being someone who eats all-zabiha, and honestly just makes an effort to avoid haram when it comes to food, I don't know the answer. I only know of one such place, because they recently opened, and left fliers on everybody's car at jumma'ah two weeks in a row. And I've been there, know where it is, and know the food is pretty good if you can eat that stuff... spicy stuff.
So why would somebody who does try to eat only zabiha ask me for a restaurant to eat at? I don't know... unless he gets out even less frequently than I do. You'd think I would have to ask him. Nevertheless, 100% halal Pakistani restaurants are the least of my worries these days.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
It is odd how life throws curves... unexpected changes to the status quo which mandate we revaluate our position and are often forced to alter course. My sister, when I learned how to drive, told me to press the accelerator as I was going around a turn. Slow down before it, and accelerate through it. My sister isn't the best driver, but if you do this or try this... it can be a lot of fun. If we know what's around the corner, we don't hesitate to continue on, full-speed ahead. But if you've ever been on one of those exit ramps that seems to circle twice over, and you can't figure out which way to go by the time you're all turned around... you might be able to imagine, metaphorically, the position in which I find myself today. Still going around... and I don't know which way to turn even when I do get to the end of the path. In fact, I don't even know if I can see all the options. So imagine not only being lost, but blind as well... and not even knowing where to go--so asking for directions doesn't make much sense.
For that, I think I need to think. Shouldn't I arrive at some conclusion about who I am? Who I want to be? What I want to do with my life? The answers to those questions keep changing! Changing so frequently I can't even begin to make any plans to bring them about. I blame all this inner conflict on the apparent instablity of my life in general at present. I do hope that within a few months I can "settle," emotionally, physically, mentally.
My current living situation has been a primary worry for me, financially and socially, but moving in with a sister should alleviate the greater concerns I have on that front. If I can start to feel at home (which I've been unable to do in my current apartment because of my roommate, mostly) soon, I think that I can relieve some tension I have with my family. Even since moving out I've felt insecure, and afraid that I would fail. I really want to ease into a new life that does not involve my parents... this is horribly un-Islamic of me, and I am not sure what to do about it.
Every effort I make to reconcile with my parents leaves me wanting more distance between us. Every concession I make to improve relationships seems to negatively impact my faith. What is worse, is that I feel like I'm lying to them as a comfort, and even with the best intentions it's just encouraging them to refuse the truth, the reality, and then they imagine that I am not as serious as I am. My dad I think is willfully misunderstanding me--and claims frequently that I have said I'd do things that I did never and would never do. (I wonder if I should really be afraid that he's losing his mind, or that he really just isn't listening?)
Either way, I know they are refusing to believe how serious Islam is for me. I think even if I were as serious about Christianity they might not believe it of me. They don't understand, I didn't just become a Muslim, I became a very strong, and devoted Muslim, more so than any Muslims I'm sure either of them have met. So they simply don't understand... they actually think I've made less of a change than I have. And even as I try to explain how serious it is, they are heads-in-the-sand when it comes to hearing my point of view.
This is getting worse really... it's worse that I feel like I have to lie just so they don't think I'm crazy.. but they think I'm crazy anyway. They don't understand how important this is to me... and it's so important that I would much rather leave them altogether in their bigoted ignorance and pursue my own desires without ever informing them much less consulting them about my decisions. I do love my family... but I think they love the girl I was, not the girl I am now--because they refuse to see me as I am. In fact, they are actually insulting me according to the changes I have made, changes that I see only for the better they drag through the mud. Even when they say nothing has changed... their actions tell a different story. Maybe they are lying too. They don't act like they care, and even when I try to bridge the gap I just want to stay away from them, even longer.
Why do I have to put up with this? They are refusing to acknowledge me as I am, they are insulting me and my faith, and the more I deal with that the more I resent them and their attitude. I feel like I could turn into some evil person on account of their behavior, having so much disgust for it. If that's the case, I really think it would be better for me to avoid them for a while. And I think that's what I'll do--they don't seem to mind, anyway.
Friday, July 28, 2006
I lost count.
The more I talk to my parents, the less I want to. The more time I spend with them, the less I want to. I really want to move away, hours away so that the distance strains communication and visits become impractical. The further, the better. This urge isn't new--it's been with me since I was 13--and frequently re-emerges though in varying degrees.
But insults to my character, to my intelligence, from my own parents? How can that be borne? Why must it?
Thursday, July 27, 2006
I can't say that I wasn't stressed about it at all, but most of the time a few other things were on my mind. I decided at one point to just re-lease the place I am currently staying, and after calling to see if I could do just that I found out that my apartment had been leased to somebody else... 3 boys, actually, and I was going to have to move. They did offer to let me lease a different room downstairs in the same building, with two different roommates.
I did mention this to a sister at the masjid, who urged me to place a note on the bulletin board there, which I just did over the weekend. And alhamdulillah... Sunday night I got a call from a sister who had an apartment and was looking for someone to stay in the 2nd bedroom. She wasn't married, but living alone. So really, it improves both our situations. And the apartment is just a little bit further than mine is from the masjid, and from school, but not too much to manage. I now know for sure I'll have to drive to a park-and-ride lot and take a bus onto campus, which is fine because I've been doing that for ages anyway.
Anyway, I think by living with a sister many, probably most, of the troubles to have with a roommate would be eliminated. I know she won't be bothered if I get up early to pray, and I know there won't be beer spilled all over the kitchen, and I won't have to worry about running into "friends" who are spending the night, sleeping on the floor as I'm trying to make breakfast. I'm just so optimistic about the arrangement...
Tawakalt 'ala Allah (I put my trust in Allah.) Sometimes there isn't much else to say than that, and really we should all do that, because Allah swt is the Provider, and the Sustainer. Alhamdulillah.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
No, I'm not kidding. Most buildings have fully functional air conditioners, keeping the temperature nice and cool, making it comfortable if not more practical to be fully covered in the first place.
Since I spend most of the day inside, I don't have to worry too much about the heat. Since I work so late (6pm is late, in my estimation) in the afternoon, it has started to cool off by the time I need venture outside anyway, and mornings are fairly tolerable. I haven't actually had to spend very much time outside, walking long distances in the heat, at all this summer. The a/c in my car was out--and that was the biggest problem I had, really, and alhamdulillah it has now been remedied.
The only time the heat has really stifled me was while I was stuck in traffic with the dysfunctional air conditioner. At this point, the car is just getting hotter from the sun even though the windows are open (practically no cooling from the a/c), I was on fresh pavement (which seems to radiate heat even when the sun is not glaring down on it), surrounded by other cars with hefty exhaust, on an extremely humid day, without even the slighest breeze (and car of course stationary.) Oh, that was torture.
But that was a single, isolated incident. The humidity here makes the heat much worse than it could be--and that's the case in hijab or not. Sweat, the body's method of cooling, doesn't evaporate... so there is no cooling, and you just become hot, wet, "sticky," and other adjectives that aren't particularly appropriate for polite conversation.
But on occasions where the air is not saturated with moisture, the body is actually pretty effective at cooling itself, if you let it. When people are in the desert, it's reccommended that they wear loose clothing. Part of hijab is that clothes not be form-fitting... I try but haven't perfected this, but in general my clothes this summer are looser than they have been in past summers. The way the loose clothes work is that as you sweat, and the sweat evaporates, the air between you and your clothes is cooled, and you have a little bit of a protection against the heat. In tight clothes, the sweat just soaks the layers and then the fabric gets cooled off, but not your skin. Or so I've read... and certainly seems to be the case.
So I've been able to wear loose pants, even a skirt, but also loose shirts and light jackets, that really don't make the heat intolerable. And since there is some protection against the direct sun, that also helps to stay cool, I think.
As to the hijab, specifically, somebody told me that putting something on your head lowers your core body temperature... I have yet to find that scientifically verified, so I think he was making it up. But anyway, as long as it's not soo humid to make the fabric cling around my neck, the scarf itself hasn't given me much trouble. The key is to wear lighter and breatheable fabrics.
If it's really hot outside, people are going to be hot no matter what they are wearing, and there are advantages to wearing light, loose, clothing that covers the entire body. So if someone asks, "Are you hot?" the only sensible reply is "Well yeah, aren't you too?"
But I don't do much, especially on the really hot days, outside. I typically don't walk further than a couple of blocks outside at a time, and have no real reason to do any very strenuous activity outside (being in an apartment, no lawn to mow!)
Wearing loose clothes is actually very beneficial I think to helping the body stay cool, and so is drinking plenty of water--but that should be obvious anyway.
So anyway, this summer has been very tolerable so far, as per the heat. That might change when I go back to school in a month and have to haul myself and a ton of books around the new campus that suffers from a dearth of trees (and consequently, shade), but it's not like I would be cool or comfortable not wearing hijab while I did that.
My point in summary: heat is a poor excuse for not wearing hijab... the scarf itself (assuming it's a good fabric) doesn't seem to make the heat any more noticeable, in my opinion, and the number of advantages in covering fully and wearing loose clothes make it worthwhile. :-)
Things I've wanted to blog about lately are...
*why this summer feels cooler, being in hijab
*fixing my a/c to really make it cooler...
*finding a new roommate and/or dealing with upcoming eviction
*marriage counseling seminar I attended over the weekend
*recent relations with my parents
At present, I find myself tired and poorly equipped for writing, having difficulties expressing myself. But I hope in this week I can discuss a few of those things... and maybe figure out why I don't want to think about myself.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Like KFC peach cobbler... I don't handle that too well.
But also, dealing with emotions. I have a hard enough time dealing with mine, much less someone else's! And try as I might to offer encouragement, guidance, I'm just at a loss of words. There's nothing to say, when emotions are like that. I know, when it's me, I don't listen, I just need to get stuff "out" and end up saying a lot of stupid things. And I guess that's what has happened... though in reverse.
May Allah protect us all from the whispers of the Shaitaan.
May Allah keep us all on the straight path.
Oh Allah, let not our hearts deviate from the truth after you have guided us, and bestow on us mercy from your grace. Verily, you are the giver of bounties without measure. Al-Imran 8
Thursday, July 20, 2006
It started with the drunks in the parking lot, effectively blocking the drive-entrance to the complex and I had to wait for them to meander out of the way before driving in to park. Now there were people lingering all around the front of my building, so I drove around to the back, hoping to avoid them. That was my plan...
There were a few people around the back but I just walked past and didn't have any trouble. Then I'm heading up the steps and walking towards my apartment and see a guy and a girl who I don't recognize walk out the door. (The guy looked a little like some guy who I think lives downstairs from me.) Anyway, they walk out the door, so of course it is unlocked... which, quite honestly, really freaked me out, because there were a lot of drunk people hanging around.
So the guy and girl walk down the other set of steps (the ones I didn't come up) and never saw me (backs to me, so I never saw their faces, actually) and I step inside and lock the door... and look around at the mess that is my kitchen.
Beer spilled in front of the fridge (the whole kitchen wreaked of it, btw), an orange half-way sliced sitting on the counter, beer spilled all over the counter, both sinks filled with Rachel's old spaghetti dishes (the only thing she can cook is spaghetti, and she uses big big dishes for it, which she leaves filling up the sink...). There was a 6-pack of something on the counter as well, and I had a bottle of juice somebody had taken out and left on the counter. It was gross, and it stank.
I spent the next hour or so griping to a friend online about this, but at some point Albert was yelling at Rachel in the bedroom beside mine, he didn't want her to go out there with "them," but sure enough, out Rachel goes to join the drinking yelling mess outside. Yes... this means Albert was spending the night... ugh.
Anyway, I can hear people intermittently entering the kitchen and leaving. Around about the time to pray, I get all spiffed up in jilbab and all, and head out... and decide to take the steps I normally do, not realizing that, oh yeah, I parked in the back. So I turn to go back through the breezeway instead of walking outside the building, but run into Rachel, stumbling around and some other people who I don't know. She was /very/ drunk, and attempts to try to introduce me, "hey, that's my roommate..." and I'm just trying to clear through this bunch of drunks to eventually get to my car... ooooh boy. So I go to the mosque, and pray fajr. And then I decide that I'll stay a while, so I grabbed a copy of the Qur'an they had and read Surah Hud... slowly. There were some brothers talking occasionally that kind of distracted me. Anyway, I go back home later, and there's Rachel... and the girl I didn't recognize beforehand who was actually her friend Sarah (I know her) and then the guy... still don't know who he is. It's past 6am now, it's getting bright out, I don't know what they were doing, but they're sitting out in front of the apartment door while everyone else has probably crashed. Ugh. So I say hellos and then go in and go to bed.
Mind you, the kitchen of course was still stinking mess... that wasn't clean even by Monday when I finally decided to clean up the beer off the floor so I wouldn't step in it.
Drunk people bumbling around in my kitchen at night does not give me peace of mind, nor their leaving the door unlocked in the middle of the night with lots of strange people around. Rachel really hadn't given me much trouble before then, since I first moved... but now I'm grateful that I won't be living with her much longer.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
That one gives me goosebumps.
And I don't just listen to Sheikh Hamza... I listen over and over again. In fact, I think the world could do with a few more Hamza Yusufs. Here is a bona fide Islamic scholar who doesn't look like a savage, nor speaks like a foreigner (not in English, anyway.) It might be nice if people like him made more news than, say, Zarqawi or Ahmadinajad. Why? Because here is somebody who actually represents Islam. There are many American scholars, knowledgeable American converts, or Muslims born in the USA who are familiar with the setting. But more and more so, Americans relate Islam to terrorism, increasingly so. My parents even think that Muslims get secret information about terror plots through some global network. But will they listen to a speech, read a single article from the Muslim's perspective to discover any truth? No.
You know, I don't think most people will admit to "trusting" the media. I asked my mom once, if she believed what the news reporters said about any variety of things, especially political issues. She said of course not. The media is known to be biased, so not to be trusted entirely. So I ask, why then, do you trust the media's assessment of Islam? If you can't trust what they say about the Senate, why can you trust what they say about Islam?
"But why would they lie?"
Isn't it obvious? There are thousands of reasons for lies, and if they lie about some things, how can you trust them on others? And then accuse me of being brainwashed? Please.
The speech below is great... for Muslims, I think even for non-Muslims. Listen, watch, if you haven't already. Religion is straight, and it's our duty to explain Islam to all those people who are getting the wrong idea. Explain in our actions, explain in our words, explain in our manners.
And in all things, remember Allah.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Something that really bothers me (those of you who know me know this) is being forced to do anything. It makes me mad, defensive, argumentative, and an all around evil person.
So before and even after I became Muslim, one issue that troubled me was hijab, naturally. I couldn't stand having to be forced to wear it! And so I railed against it at every opportunity. Those of you who knew when I put it on, knew I didn't do it because I was forced, nor because I was convinced it was mandatory. It was kind of like a why not, let me try it, why am I so chicken challenge to myself.
Now, a few months down the road, things have changed. The problem is no longer being forced to wear hijab. I wear it because I want to, because I want to please Allah swt in this way. The problem is being forced to take it off!
And of course, when anyone tries to force me to do anything, I get very defensive and sort of fling myself in the other direction. Right now, my family is trying to force me to take off hijab. Not all the time, mind you, but whenever I'm with them. In the house, when I'm just with my parents, I don't need to wear it, but if I'm only there for 15 minutes, and it took me 5 just to get hijab pinned right so it wouldn't keep falling off or into my face, why should I take it off when I get there only to put it on when I leave? Just to please them? I'd rather leave it on, if merely for convenience.
But my dad really is trying to push me into a corner, to get me not to wear it around the kids. And I hate it. Last night I was visiting, I needed to pick up some mail, and my 1-yr old nephew was there. I deliberately left on the scarf because I wasn't planning to stay for long. "Go on and take the headgear off," he says. This I hate, he calls it "head gear" or "head dress," and honestly it pisses me off. Then he claims yet again I've promised not to wear it around them--which I never did even mention, much less promise!
And whether they like it or not, one day my family will have to deal with hijab. InshaAllah. Of all the stupid reasons not to wear it--we don't want the children asking questions... whatever! First of all, the nephew is a year old, like he cares what I wear on my head. But more importantly, the question "Why does Amy wear that scarf on her head?" has to be one of the easiest to answer! What a cop-out on their part, but how despicable of them trying to threaten me into going along with them.
This really, truly hurts. I can't keep compromising for them, and I won't. And because they are trying to force me out of my own religion, it's pushing me further away from them.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I used to prefer running outdoors... far superior to running on a machine, anyway. Now that I live in a not so great neighborhood, running outdoors doesn't thrill me so much. So I went to the gym that I go to, which usually isn't crowded, has plenty of equipment and qualified staff, is open until 9pm... wearing pants and a t-shirt. It's one place I really couldn't stand to go in hijab. And part of it is the looks I'd get, but I really just can't imagine working out in hijab. The best I can do is a bandana over my hair and long sleeves, but in July I have a hard time with that.
I have seen hijabis walking at the lake (even a woman in full veil, face and all!) but I have a hard time with that... I'm not sure why, exactly. I do mean power-walking, btw, not just a leisurely stroll. Nevertheless... is there an easy solution to this?
Friday, July 07, 2006
why are jilbabs so ugly?
I mean come on, they are.
I read on a site tonight (it was terrible so I'm not linking it) that basically said women should wear really ugly garb if they absolutely must go out, and only then will it qualify as a jilbab (being too big and too ugly to really wear in the first place.) Apparently, wearing a jilbab is supposed to make you look old, ugly, and make people feel sorry for you.
I recently got a bag full of them from Amatullah. Shoulder pads are gone. They went out years ago! I remember when they went out! But most of these still had shoulder pads. Some even had the big stiff ones... you know, so you kind of look like a linebacker when you put on the jilbab, now. These were hand-me-down jilbabs, and really I am grateful. Most of them did actually fit (I'm not especially tall, but these were all too short. By fit, I mean they didn't hug me too tight anywhere) well enough, despite the fact that most were dirty (spots here and there) and have at least a button or two missing. Several are pinned together in places with safety pins. They are frighteningly dark colors, this blackish blue, or real black, navy, dark green... and one was a tan shade. Several had poofy sleeves--in addition to the shoulder pads. Many had hideous decorations in the front chest area... good thing we wear scarves to cover up that nonsense!! But some had huge and gaudy buttons up the front and on the sleeves (oh yeah, *all* the sleeves were too short) and a few were pleated in the back! I thought designers had figured out that doing that does in fact make your butt look bigger.
But anyway... these are not supposed to attract attention? Heh, ok sure. Now I wear them anyway... especially going to the masjid. I wouldn't wear them anywhere else though. It's almost like a joke, though. I can't really match anything up to these dark jilbabs (as far as scarves) and have to wear pants under them anyway (all too short) so I'm sure that I am wearing the ugliest attire each and every time I go. Really, there isn't anything pleasant about it. The other day I wore an olive-green scarf with an emerald-green jilbab. Once I noticed it, I was mortified. And that was to fajr so I had to walk in the men's door. I must look like some old old woman who doesn't care if her clothes match... but 22 or 52 it's none of their business how old I am.
Just the styles of the jilbabs are so...... well, I don't think my grandmothers would be caught dead in them, they're so awful. Mind you, they aren't awful because they are plain. They are awful because they have been tailored up with poofs, pleats, useless belts, random hangy things with shinies on them, really gaudy buttons to look... agh!
And still I wear them. You wouldn't think it, but I really am grateful. I wouldn't wear these to work, but I do feel more comfortable wearing them to the masjid, than just jeans or what have you.
And I did buy a jilbab in Hartford at the bazar... and it is not ugly. At least, not in the sense those are. Lamentably, it still has shoulder pads but they are the thin ones you barely notice. And instead of being button up... well, it doesn't have buttons up the front which is nice. And it's long enough (I don't have to tailor it at all, it's just the right length) and the sleeves are long enough (do I have extra long arms or something?) and it's loose without having fabric bunched up between my shoulder blades or other random places. I may even wear it tomorrow, inshaAllah.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
For years they have been saying it was "just dementia," even before my grandmother died. She used to say he had something wrong with his brain. And that was 5 or 6 years ago. So he has been getting worse... worse, and worse. To give you an idea, he can no longer remember the numbers on a clock. He used to know when it was time to eat by reading the time, and he can't read the time. He knows that he's 88, and he knows that it's summer. Apparently he remembers Pat (my aunt) because she takes care of him, but I'm not sure he knows her name. And they said sometimes he gets violent. Pat is currently taking care of him at her house, but said that as soon as he hits her that he's going to have to go (into a care facility.) There's no way she could handle that anyway, her body is frail now too. But she's also said she won't be able to take care of him once he starts needing diapers.
I can't tell how my mom is handling this. She seems so detached--and she knows he doesn't remember her. I'm not sure if she wants to go back and visit him or not, at this point. I just know that she hasn't visited much (only once, I think the months ago) and that she doesn't seem to call Pat very much about it. Mostly we only hear updates when Pat actually calls her.
In other news...
No more updates about Brett and Brittany getting married... which is unfortunate, a little, considering their current situation. Brittany wasn't ever much interested in going to school, she couldn't make up her mind what to do (post-secondary, we're talking about) but just had some interest in planning weddings or cake decorating or photography... what a girl. But my brother decided to leave music education for business/finance, but then stopped now, as he's had an offer to manage a store at the restaraunt he's been working at for a few years now.
He took that offer, and is now staying in a beach town in NC, running that little store for the summer, where business is really booming with all the tourists. (It's a pretty popular chain, especially on the eastern side of this state, and the store he's running is about 4th or 5th in revenue right now in the state--out of about 80-90 stores.) Brittany has gone with him. They both had apartments leased for school in the fall, in a county 2 hours away, and until this weekend were living in a hotel in another town that wasn't too close to where they're working, unfortunately. But now they're able to rent this little trailer (they call it a shack) through one of the people that help buy these stores for new managers. So they've just moved in, apparently it's really small. And, of course, they're living together.
She's really helping him as he runs this store--he's doing the managerial end and running the cookline, while basically she's in charge of waitstaff. And both of them are really good at their jobs. I hope for their sake they can get it to work out. And too, that they can commit themselves to each other as they have to this business.
My sister has finally moved out to the sticks and is having trouble getting internet, apparently. And I heard their house was dirtier than they thought so they're spending extra time to clean up. I haven't heard how much they love it and all... she's thinking about taking another job that's not so far from where they live, now. To give an idea...
He works in Greensboro, she works in Cary atm, and they live equidistant between the two... about a 45 min drive... sans traffic. But if she's commuting in the morning she has to deal with a lot of traffic into a major business sector, RTP, before getting to where she works in Cary. So I think she's thinking about getting a job in RTP instead of Cary so it's just a little closer.
I guess that's all about my family now...
I went to the ICNA-MAS convention this past weekend... it was superfun. :-D Will post about it soon inshaAllah.