The Not So Cool Mum

Depending on your perspective, the image of a woman can bring about different interpretations. These can cover an entire spectrum from the positive things such as beauty, compassion and hope to the negative such as inferiority, worthlessness and incompetence. However, there is one main stereotypical view society has of women and that is their role as the ‘homemaker’. In fact, this stereotype is so etched into our way of thinking that even the dictionary on Mac provides the following definition for homemaker:

a person, especially a woman, who manages a home.

For many women around the world though this stereotype was and in some cases continues to be a reality. It might seem harmless, but it has been a major cause of injustice for women. In the past, this particular stereotype brought about severe restrictions on accessing an education and/or entering the workforce. In fact, anything besides being a mother was frowned upon and even when women were given access to education they were taught how to be better mothers and wives.

It has only been in recent times that a woman could be pictured as something other than that person who takes care of kids and a husband.

Whilst many may cringe at the thought of the word feminism, it really is thanks to their hard work that many women were and are still able to break free from the restrictions of the ‘homemaker’ role.

This is definitely an achievement that cannot be ignored, and is one that I’m sure many women are truly grateful for.

However, in all of this, there remains one occupation that has caught the raw end of the deal. The homemaker.

In this entire struggle for women to become more, the ‘homemaker’ role became worthless. It became inferior to any other option a woman could have. How many times have you witnessed, in reality or on TV, a stay at home mum being asked what she does for a living? The person asking is always left a little confused when the Mum says that’s all she does.

It’s no wonder why people are left confused though, the stay at home mum apparently does nothing all day. So not only is the homemaker role worthless, it’s also effortless.

Somewhere in all the arguing and fighting, we forgot the value of our mothers. We forgot the effort and time they put in raising their children that it has become so easy to define the role of the homemaker as simple. So simple in fact, that if there’s no other occupation in the picture, you might as well consider yourself incompetent.

We live in a time where being a mother is not enough. It’s underestimated and underappreciated.

There’s no doubt that it’s a woman’s right to be able to work, but shouldn’t it also be her right to choose if she wants to work or not without worrying about what people will think?

This might sound crazy, but how about we give women the choice to do what makes them happy without feeling bad about it… even if that means staying at home and taking care of their household.

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Words Can Kill

It’s generally accepted that the old adage – sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me  – is aimed at strengthening or empowering a victim of verbal abuse. At face value, this may seem like the right thing to do, but what is this adage really saying?

If we tell children who are the victims of any kind of verbal abuse to not take it seriously, are we also telling the perpetrators that unless it’s physical it’s harmless?

We currently live in an era where cyber bullying has seen preteens commit suicide and rumours have the power to instigate honour killings. As a society, not only do we underestimate the power of these supposedly ‘harmless’ words, but we also force victims to swallow their pain and get over it. If anything, we have given full power to the perpetrators.

The world we live in has turned gossip, backbiting, bullying and slandering into a commodity, in which hundreds, if not thousands of magazines and TV shows thrive from using this form of content. You may think that calling a celebrity fat or ugly is harmless, but what does this particular action say about a person’s character?

Take this narration into consideration:

As cited in ‘Ata ur – Rahim and Thompson (2006), “Malik, son of Dinar, said, ‘Jesus, peace be upon him, and the disciples with him passed by the carcass of a dog. A disciple said, “what a stench this dog makes!” Then he, (blessing and peace be upon him), said, “How white are its teeth!”” (Pg. 265)

Technically speaking, I don’t think anyone would find it wrong to say a dog smells, but this narration highlights a much more complex issue. Even though the dog obviously smells due to decay, it’s what we say that matters. In fact everything we say impacts our character. Jesus was pure and so where his actions. If he had the capacity to speak bad of anyone or anything than it would ultimately reflect back on him and essentially spoil his character.

Compare this with that fact that as consumers, we have been given the authority to judge and pass opinion on everything. It’s almost as if we feel like this is our right. I’m all for freedom of speech, but does that mean that we no longer are responsible for the possible consequences of our words? Or maybe we are just so used to talking about other we are no longer able to identify what will and will not have consequences.

This ‘lack of awareness’ that a person develops from constant gossiping is elaborated in the Quran, in which backbiting is likened to that of eating the flesh of your dead brother (49:12). At first, I understood it symbolically, a savage practice. However, a more literal way of understanding this analogy was later brought to my attention.

When a person literally eats the flesh of a human they are unable to feel compassion. It might feel strange the first time but if done constantly, then eventually, the perpetrator will become completely desensitised to the experience and may even enjoy it.

This is exactly what happens when we maliciously talk about celebrities. We become desensitised to the practice that we don’t even notice when we are doing it to the people around us. It becomes normal, which is why Jesus could not even speak bad about a dog.

So maybe it’s time we remind our selves that malicious talk about absolutely anyone, behind their back or to their face is not okay. That old adage had it all wrong, yes sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can also kill you.

 

Reference

‘Ata ur Rahim, M & Thompson, A (2006), ‘Jesus Prophet of Islam‘ Ta-Ha Publishers, London UK. Pg. 265

There is no ‘Honour’ in an Honour Killing

What Happened – Poem

 

I’m sitting here tryin to figure how it all started

One moment were family, the next we’ve parted

You were the one, in my heart, I cherished

And it was your decree, the reason I perished.

What happened to your heart, what happened to your soul

Tell me how I became the ultimate goal

A liar, a liar, came knocking on your door

Telling you, your daughter was a whore

We’ve been drenched in shame the men all cried

When I thought you would be the one to scream, no he lied

Instead, I stood still, and watched you declare

That you will not be a man until you rid yourself bare

Of the filth you once called your daughter

But no, my heart whispered; he would never hurt ‘er

But no, my heart lied, so truth be told

My mind knew your heart had turned ice cold.

*****

Can you tell me how this one moment blackened your heart?

When you promised nothing would ever tear us apart

You are the woman I love, I admire

And you look at me now, with eyes raging like fire

What happened to your heart, what happened to your soul

Tell me please, in all of this, what is your role

When I thought you would be the one to hold me tight

Screaming no no this could never be right

Instead, I stand still, and watch you proclaim

This filth has brought the entire family shame

Holding a cloth and bucket for the slaughter

Coz this slut is no longer your daughter

Mum please don’t do this I want to scream

I pinch and pinch, praying this is all a dream

But my skin only bruises and my heart breaks

How can your love have been so fake

*****

There’s only one person left I need to see

The one who’d sincerely love to see me free

She’s smashing her fists on the floor, begging god please

Don’t let them hurt my sister, please; I’m here on my knees.

Walking up to her, I don’t care what they say

I need to hold her, and tell her, it’ll all be okay

Shedding tears, she shouts please don’t go

They’re all liars, I know I know I know

Snatched from her arms, they throw me at his feet

The hollow man who’s at the edge of his seat

I look up to see, the gun pointed at me,

You will die tonight; he says, and I will be free

I stand up, look at him and smile

Yes you are right; I’ll die in a little while

But if god were to judge between me and you

He will say there’s only one Muslim here, not two.

Anonymous.com

They say if there’s more than a 3cm gap between you and your partner while sleeping, then you’ve got issues. I think who ever they are, they’re right, but my husband and me, we’re way passed issues. We’re at completely inconceivable damage with our unspoken agreement of a 1-meter distance.

 

The bed lets out a painful squeak as his large overgrown ass gets up.

I want to swear at the hairy, egocentric bastard, but I’d prefer he not know I’m awake, so I do it in my mind. I wait for the shower to turn on and feel a sense of relief knowing he wont be out for a while. I slide my hand under my pillow and grab my phone. I ignore the Whatsapp, Tango and Viber notifications and jump onto anonymous.com. I log in with the username ‘Angel’. It takes a moment to load, but when it does, there are no new messages. I click on the chat history with ‘Bad Boy’ and read the last message I wrote. ‘I love you.’ Suddenly I feel like a hopeless teenager again. Have I been married for that long I forgot that saying I love you first makes the guy run as far as he can? In this case, just not reply. I grit my teeth at the idea of being rejected. I refresh the page over and over again but it makes no difference. I scroll up to the top of our chat history and sigh. Could 7 months of chatting really mean nothing to Bad Boy? The shower suddenly stops and I feel my stomach tie up in knots. I take a deep breath in and refresh the page one more time. I close my eyes for a few seconds and then open one eye to peek. There’s a reply, and it says, “I love you too.”

I hold my fingers back from replying as I do a quick happy dance.

Moments later, there’s another message. “I want to meet you.”

Before I can comprehend the situation, he opens the bathroom door. I fumble with my phone and quickly shove it back under my pillow.

“You awake?”

I groan and cover my head with the blanket.

“I need to be at the office early, so you need to take the kids to school.”

“Again?”

“Yes. Again.” He doesn’t wait for me to argue. He just leaves.

 

Getting the kids ready and taking them to school goes like a blur. All I can think of is Bad Boy’s request to meet me. When I get home, I decide to reply, “me too.”

Bad Boy replies almost instantly to arrange a time.

I’m too excited to wait another day, so I ask if Bad Boy wants to meet me tonight.

“Perfect,” Bad Boy writes. “Dinner at 5?”

“Italian or Thai?”

“Thai Palace. The one on Smith St.”

“Nice. How will I know it’s you?”

“I’ll be holding a white rose.”

 

It’s the fifth time I’ve called my husbands office and before his secretary could lie about him being in a meeting again, I threaten to come to his work if she doesn’t put my call through. It works.

“What do you want?”

His voice sucks all the happiness out of my day. “I’m going out tonight.”

“Who’s going to watch the kids?”

“You can.”

“I’m working late. Find a babysitter.”

“How am I going to find one with such short notice?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. Stay home.”

“You’re such a dickhead.” I shut the phone in his face.

 

It takes another two hours of calling a ton of babysitters before one is available for tonight. Bad Boy better be worth it because she only agrees to come if I pay double her usual rate. I have no choice but to agree.

 

I have the babysitter come right after school so she can watch the kids while I get ready.

When I analyse my reflection I realise I haven’t done my eyebrows or shaved anywhere in ages. I’ve got no time to waste so I jump in the shower, pluck and shave all at the same time. It gets a little tricky but I manage. Eventually, the only thing left to do is find something to wear. I pick a black midi dress that I bought and never wore. It shows enough cleavage to say ‘I’m no angel’ but not short enough to make Bad Boy think I’m easy. I pair it up with red stilettos and I head out.

 

I get to the restaurant about 10 minutes early but I wait in the car until I’m 10 minutes late. I may be over excited but I’m not about to let Bad Boy know. It feels like an eternity but it finally passes. I get out of the car and adjust my dress to the pleasure of some onlookers. I get a couple of whistles, which I must admit feels really good. I walk across the road and towards the restaurant. The closer I get the sweatier my underarms become. I need to pull it together. I take a deep breath, exhale and then open the door. I examine the half full restaurant and notice a man with his back to the entrance sitting alone. I hesitate for a second but then I see it. A flawless white rose placed on the table. I take careful steps towards him and when I’m close enough, I say in a seductive tone, “Bad Boy.”

Bad Boy reaches out for the rose and says as he gets up to face me, “Angel, it’s been – ”

Bad Boy’s eyes meet mine, and my jaw drops. Out of all the men in the world – It was him.

The Flaw of the Happily Ever After and the Key to a Successful Marriage

If there’s anything the ‘Happily Ever After’ concept has done for our society, it’s ruin marriage. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in fairytales – well at least I believe in the way they begin.

It always the same; you meet the person you love and it’s so amazing it’s like a fairytale. It happens all the time. Here’s the problem though – a fairytale ends when the couple gets married and the only peek into the future we get is that they live happily ever after.

Judging on how much these fairytales influence young minds, it’s disappointing to see that not much effort has gone into at least showing how they got to the happily ever after. Instead, as adults, we are left with the impression that as soon as the wedding takes place, we are going to live in endless joy.

But reality does not have any sympathy for this little fantasy and as soon as you’re back from the honeymoon you’ll realise that being married to even the most spectacular person requires effort.

Yes, annoying habits might require some effort, but they’re usually not deal breakers. The real effort occurs when you realise you’re companion is also a person who has their own life. They have their own thoughts, hopes and dreams and will inevitably change during the course of your marriage.

The idea of change may be disconcerting, but it’s a part of life. We learn new things, we have new goals, we evolve and transform, we change all the time. It’s not a bad thing, but it can be difficult for the other person in the relationship to keep up.

So does this mean that marriages are destined to fail? Well, it all depends on your attitude. One effective approach to living happily with your partner is found in the Quran and it’s only a few words, which are used to describe the relationship between a husband and wife,

“…they are an apparel for you and you are an apparel for them…” (Quran 2:187).

At first glance, it might seem strange to be referred to as ‘apparel’ but if you take a moment to dig deeper, you will realise how accurate and perfect this analogy is.

Here is a list of how this analogy can help your marriage:

  1. Choice of apparel or clothing in Winter
    In winter we choose to wear items that will mainly keep us warm and protect us from the harm brought on by the cold. For a person in a relationship, this would mean to be aware of times that your partner is in need of warmth. By symbolically taking on the role of apparel, you are the person who provides much needed support during times of hardship. You offer words that bring warmth to the heart and peace to the mind. Your presence also provides your partner protection from harm.
  1. Choice of apparel or clothing in Summer
    In summer, the choice of clothing is much lighter. Whilst we still need to cover parts of the body, we choose clothes that will not cause our bodies to overheat. For a person in a relationship, this highlights the need to offer your partner space. I’m not talking about separating here, but what I am saying is that even though you’re both madly in love, you both also should have your own lives. The clothes in summer are light and in that sense your presence in certain aspects of your partners life should also be light. For example, going through your partners phone or not letting your partner socialize without you being around are those moments that will cause your body to overheat. Give your partner space.
  1. Choice of apparel or clothing is meant to compliment your body and personality.
    As much as our choices of clothes are an extension of who we are, they are also a means to conceal our private areas as well as our insecurities.  So when it comes to this analogy, it’s not about you becoming an extension of them, but rather, it’s about accepting and appreciating everything that makes your partner who they are. It’s also about making your partner feel comfortable with who they are.
  1. Fashion changes
    Similar to the changes that occur with fashion, as the symbolic apparel, this means that you too are fluid and embrace change.

A successful marriage is a joint effort. It does not place the burden of responsibility on one spouse only. The beauty of this analogy is that it identifies this and defines both the husband and wife as the apparel for one another.

 

The Christian who made me a Better Muslim

It’s interesting how sometimes, when we make a prayer, we already envision what, when or how, the prayer will be answered. Unfortunately, this is the exact reason why we too often miss out on the actual answer. It’s not so much as being ungrateful, but we have expectations, which in turn narrows our vision and makes us miss the countless blessings along the way. We somehow become the experts on how our prayer should be answered and forget that in the action of prayer we lifted our hands to the Almighty. And it is undoubtedly the Almighty that is all too aware of how to best answer our prayer.

I learnt this lesson under the strangest circumstances. I was going through an especially difficult time. I felt betrayed by those closest to me and as a result my prayer was quiet harsh. In it’s simplest form, I wanted Allah to show me He too hadn’t left me. But unlike my irrational thinking and unpleasant prayer, Allah answered in the sweetest, gentlest manner.

I was sitting at a train station with my sister at the time of my silent and angry prayer when I noticed a ‘Sheik’ look alike get off the train. Instantly my spirits lifted. I thought this must be the answer to my prayer. This ‘Sheik’ will walk up to me and say something that will give me hope. Instead, the ‘Sheik’ walked right passed me and popped my bubble of hope with him.

I felt naive to think so stereotypically and within a millisecond I lost all hope that Allah would ever answer my prayer. As soon as my hope diminished a strange young lady walked up to us. She put her hand out and introduced herself.

I shook her hand warily. I thought she would leave after the hello, but she started creating conversation. She baffled me. She wasn’t asking for money or cigarettes, she wasn’t trying to sign us up for anything – she was genuinely making conversation. I felt a little uneasy by her presence and in all honesty, I was not in a good mood, so I watched as her and my sister spoke.

All of a sudden though, my sister asked, “are you in a relationship?” My jaw dropped at what I thought was an inappropriate question to ask a complete stranger.

However, the young lady was not fazed by the question. Instead, she replied without any hesitation, “yes. With God.”

As soon as she said that, my eyes fell to her crucifix necklace. I assumed she was a preacher who was probably trying to recruit some newbies.

She continued talking about all sorts of stuff. I joined in the conversation here and there, but I left most of the talking to my sister. I must admit though, she was really nice and her just being there started to make me feel better.

After a while, she opened up the religion topic and asked, “So… why are you Muslim?”

At first I didn’t know how to take it. Was it rude of her to ask so bluntly? Is it really any of her business?  Her question irritated me. I could lie to you and say it was because she had the nerve to ask, but really, I quickly came to realise I had no idea how to answer her.

I said something about there being only one God and His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), but even as I spoke I knew I sounded like a recorder – repeating what my parents taught me rather than actually answering her question. Why was I Muslim? I could tell she noticed my frustration so she didn’t really press on. But even though she left me to it, my mind continued at full speed, with one terrifying question – Was I Muslim only because of my parents?

We stayed in contact with her after that day, and for a while I did all that I could to redeem myself. I wanted to prove to her I knew why I was Muslim and she done all she could to show me I was destined to become a Christian.

However, as much as we debated about Islam and Christianity, it was her strong religious spirituality that led me to a part of Islam I never knew – a part that was filled with love and mercy. Through her love for Jesus, she taught me how to pray from my heart. She opened a door for me that would lead me to Allah. A door that meant I no longer needed to explain myself to her. I finally believed. 

It was only when my heart had accepted Islam, without the pressure of outsiders that I realised she was only a means to an end.

She sent me on a quest to figure it out. Yes I was born Muslim, I prayed and fasted and I wore the veil. I was a typical Muslim shell. But what was on the inside? Why was I Muslim? If my parents no longer wanted to be Muslim would I change too?

I wanted Allah to show me he never left and he sent me the most random person. Her kindness gave me much needed relief and her question sent me on a journey of discovery, because it was never Allah that left me, but me who never knew who He was.

So now, I pose this question to you – Why are you Muslim?