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Archive for April, 2010

Pregnancy is hard. It is physically and emotionally draining.  I played volleyball in high school and before school began, our team went to a camp in Pennsylvania to train. We’d wake up at six to run up and down a hill at least ten consecutive times. We would then do body strengthening. We didn’t touch a volleyball those first two hours of the early morning. Then it was eight and we’d be able to eat. After that grueling week was over, I felt so fit. I was sore, but knew my body would recuperate.

Pregnancy is a lot different. You definitely see physical changes. You definitely feel sore. You run out of breath, not because you just climbed a mountain, but because you had to go up the stairs to use the bathroom….for the fourth time.

I always thought that pregnancy was going to be so easy for me, after all, I’m not a light-weight. I was wrong. The first four and a half months were the toughest I ever had to endure. Being an over-achiever, it was never good enough to just “be.” I had to be better. Those 4.5 months, I was struggling to just exist. Between the constant throwing up, visits to the E.R. and migraine headaches, I wondered why any woman would voluntarily do this again. It was difficult to remain spiritually inclined when I felt like I was being punished with this tribulation.

Then the ease started to peak its little head. Slowly but surely, I wasn’t throwing up five times a day, only once in the morning. The migraines weren’t as intense, I only had to deal with swollen feet and intense heartburn. I gratefully waddle to work now, instead of being bed-ridden unable to even consider going into the kitchen. I was so happy that those days were behind me and embraced every other physical ailment as a blessing from Allah.

It’s easy to complain when you’re pregnant. It’s hard to be conscious of the fact that you’re complaining. The day to day, “How are you feeling?” questions come with a mental list of obstacles I face day in and day out. I have to make a very conscious effort not to rattle them off.

So instead, here is the list of what I’m grateful for:

– I’m grateful that Allah has given me the opportunity to experience something that many women are unable to.

– I’m grateful for my husband who has been so patient with me through this whole ordeal and makes sure the fridge is stocked with milk, baby carrots, and popsicles 🙂

-I’m grateful for my family and friends who encouraged me and were there to drop off food and lend a supportive ear and hand when we needed it.

– I’m grateful for my students and supervisor who were so understanding during the difficult times.

– I’m so grateful to be a Muslim. I’m so grateful that Allah protected me from being a pregnant teenager potentially getting kicked out of the house, not having anywhere to go. (This happens so much today 😦 ).

– At Dunkin Donuts, the cashier told me “I hope you’re having a boy.” I told her, “It’s going to be a girl.” Her friend said to her, “What’s wrong with a girl? Girls are nice.” The cashier replied, “Wait until she becomes a teenager and she goes out “poppin.”‘ I replied by answering, “She won’t be poppin,” (Please Allah let her be righteous and not “poppin” (whatever that means)). Her friend whispers to her, “Nooo….her girl won’t be “poppin.” She’s traditional, they don’t do that stuff.”

I’m grateful for being “traditional.” Alhamdulillah.

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Fuzzy Da’wa

Everytime I answer someone’s question about Islam, I cannot help but think that I have failed to give them the bigger picture. Last week, I, along with the Trinity College MSA, hosted a panel discussion titled, “Ms. Independent, the Islamic Way.” Alhamdulillah, people attended with a wide variety of questions, some requiring rather lengthy answers, and others that were pretty straightforward.

I worried about the straightforward answers. Let me explain.

Audience Member: Do you have to wear the head scarf at home?

Me: No, immediate family members are allowed to see you without the hijab on.

I realized how foreign the concept of hijab was to this lady. My mind was racing. Hmm, maybe she also thinks we shower with it. The whole idea of modesty to the outside world was missing. The straight forward answer provided the guidelines without the wisdom.

I had to revisit the question.

Me: The hijab is foremost something commanded to us by God in order that we may be modest and noticed for our Islam. However, there is a clear distinction between being modest to the outside world and being with family at home. The majority of men and women do not go to work dressed in their pajamas and would probably be reprimanded if they did. Why? Because there should be a level of respect that is maintained in the workplace atmosphere.

I didn’t say that last part. I wish I had. But, it still wouldn’t have been enough. It still fails to answer the bigger question, which is, “Why do any of this at all?!”

Audience Member: How does Islam view homosexuality?

(As a sidenote- I think it’s rather easy to be tofu. Soak up the flavors of those around you. It is much easier to be accepting of everything society tells us to be accepting of than to stick to certain principles, especially if those principles are not popular)

Me: Islam is pretty clear that any act of homosexuality is forbidden. This is not to say that some people may have homosexual feelings, however, acting upon those feelings would not be condoned, just as an unmarried heterosexual man or woman would be forbidden to act upon their desires.

Still not adequate.

I attempt to continue…. Islam has given us a set of guidelines to live by in order that we may live the best life in submission to God. Some of these things are quite clear- Do not murder, slander, cheat. Others are a bit fuzzy and we may not always see their wisdom depending on our context- do not deal in interest, you must pray at certain times of the day etc. Within those guidelines, God tells us that the best way to raise a family and express our sexuality would be between a man and a woman in the confines of a marriage.

I guess that was closer to what I wanted to say.

As Muslims, we are here as an example to humanity, and yet, how can someone who is gay not feel like I’m judging, or at least, not feel a bit alienated from the Muslim community?

I continue…

It is quite sad that homosexuals are sometimes judged so quickly in the Muslim community and we have Muslim men and women who have committed heinous acts, are in prison, and with that are given a Muslim chaplain who will hear their narrative and encourage their repentance towards God. For the Muslim community, we must be accepting of all people, even if we are not accepting of their decisions.

The same question keeps racing through my head, “Why? Just why do any of this?” Just live morally to the best of your ability. Treat people with respect, be driven at work and school, raise socially-conscious children.

This is why, “We hear and we obey,” (2:285). When God commands us to do something, this should be our answer and not for anything but for our OWN sake and I think that obedience is our most difficult struggle.

Does this mean that we do not question and reflect? Absolutely not.

Do we however live in an uber-argumentative society that molds us not into reflective creatures, but rather, beings that need to be right? I think so.

“As for those whose scales are heavy, they are the successful ones. And as for those whose scales are light: those are they who lose their own souls,” (7:8-9).

It does not take that much humility to realize the greatness of God, but it does take a great deal of humility to act in accordance to what has been decreed. We refuse, we fight, we have defense mechanisms, we rationalize, we do everything except say, “If this is what God wants, then I hear and I obey.”

For my own sake.

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