Thursday, July 23, 2009

10 Honest Things

I'm kind of late in doing this so I can't remember who exactly tagged me (aside from lovely Nadia since she tagged me yesterday) and I also can't remember who has/hasn't done it, so I'm not sure who to tag at the end. I'll do what Candice did and tag anyone who's reading who hasn't done it yet =)

1. I have a Starbucks addiction. It's been nearly 2 weeks without any Starbucks and I can feel strong withdrawal symptoms. I miss my vanilla skimmed latte and carrot cake :(

2. I would love to write an academic book on women and Islam one day, but I'm so scared of it not doing well/no one reading it/getting criticised.

3. I want to have babies one day but I'm scared of it changing my body so much that it won't go back to the way it was before.

4. I love blogging even more than I thought I would, and I love it when other bloggers mention me in their posts - I get very giddy and excited!

5. I'm a gym rat - I love working out and going to the gym.

6. I cry whenever I see Makkah on TV/hear the Madinah/Makkah adhaans.

7. I can be very sensitive and paranoid, especially when I'm insecure about something.

8. I would love to have a few Shetland ponies as pets, just so I can hug them all the time.

9. Sometimes I feel like I can't be liberal and Muslim at the same time, which really worries me.

10. I miss more things about Cairo than I'd like to admit.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


It's my birthday today! It feels weird being 21. I liked being 20 - it was such a nice, rounded-off number. I'm going to have lots of carrot cake and cupcakes inshallah =)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nature & God's Amazing Creation

I've been in Holland for over 2 weeks now, I still can't get over how beautiful everything is. There are animals everywhere, green fields, and lots of flowers. I feel like I'm constantly reminded of how amazing God's creation is. Everything is just perfect. The feeling of seeing beautiful landscapes is definitely something you don't get often in Cairo. Here are some pics of the area around my grandfather's house. I will be moving to The Hague soon inshallah, and even there you still manage to see lots of nature, which is amazing for a city.

Cows - my favourite animals after Shetland ponies

These cute little sheep are right next door to where I live

Shetland ponies - the cutest animals on earth!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Practicing Islam

As I was getting ready to move to Holland a few weeks ago, I began thinking about how my relationship with God/Islam would change, or if it would change at all. Would it be more difficult to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country? What would Dutch Muslims be like? Would I have a more distant relationship with God, or would it become closer?

Now I can see that it's neither easier nor harder. Not because Holland is the ideal place to be a Muslim, but because Egypt wasn't the easiest place to be a Muslim in either. In Egypt you get judged by other Muslims - constantly. In Holland you get judged by non-Muslims - sometimes. Which is worse? Muslims judging you, when they know it is wrong to judge and when they know that everyone has their own PRIVATE relationship with God, or non-Muslims judging you, who just haven't made the effort to understand Islam better? Hmm, I'd say option number 1.

One thing I do miss though is hearing the adhaan. I knew I'd really miss that. I think the next time I hear it I'm going to cry or something. Another thing I miss is having lots of fellow Muslims to talk to about Islam, something that makes me feel a lot closer to God.

I feel like my connection to God has gotten slightly less closer, simply because I'm not surrounded by Muslims here and because there aren't reminders everywhere, like mosques, the adhaan, or Qur'ans. However I think by reading the Qur'an more often and thinking about God more, I can make the connection even stronger, inshallah. I hope I'll be able to meet Muslims here soon, I'm sure that'll help, and it should also make Ramadan better. I remember the connection being strongest during Umrah, because your life literally changes to revolve around God. Now that was amazing, but sadly not practical in the long-term.

How do you feel - do you think it would be easier to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country, or in a Muslim one?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Okay so I just realized how hard Ramadan is going to be here in Holland. Right now Fajr is at 3:30 am, and Maghrib is at 10:00 pm. I checked the times for last year in Ramadan and they were 2:30 am for Fajr and 9:30 pm for Maghrib...that's 19 hours! Yeah it won't be hot and everything but still...that's a loooong time!

Last year in Cairo during Ramadan it was from 4:00 am till 6:00 pm...but then again it was really hot. I guess it's better to have a longer period that's cold than a shorter one that's hot, since thirst is a lot worse than hunger.

Inshallah it won't be too bad!

Hopefully I'll find a mosque I can go to. In Cairo most women don't go to the mosque to pray so I didn't experience it in Cairo, but I loved praying all prayers at the mosque in Madinah and Makkah, so I'm going to try do that here too.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Local Islam

So I've been in Holland for a week now, and I've been talking to my family and friends here a lot about Islam in Holland and how Muslims are percieved. Right now I'm staying in a small town near the German border, with a very small population. I thought it'd be interesting to find out how Muslims who live here are seen by non-Muslim Dutch people, and wheher they integrate fully or not.

I began by asking my cousin if there were a lot of Muslims here. She said there were. Then I asked whether people accepted them or not. She said most people didn't like them but it was mostly because Muslims didn't make any effort to integrate: they didn't learn Dutch, or work, or go to Dutch schools. They also tended to form gangs. Then I asked her if she knew any Muslims personally and she said no. Hmmm!

Then I found out that the town mosque had been burnt down after 9/ in, on purpose. After I recovered from the shock of realizing I was in a town where a mosque had been burnt down, I asked whether they had found out who'd done it. She said they hadn't. Anyway, after that the Muslims who live here put together money to build a new mosque. I asked different people what the mosque was like and when I got back "amazing", "huge", and "out of place", I started to expect a mosque similar to the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. Instead I found this:

I mean ít's nice and everything but 1) it's not huge; and 2) it's not out of place. It barely looks like classical Islamic architecture. I thought it was just another building until I saw the minarets. I'm not saying all this because I think it should look more Islamic or it should be bigger - I just find it interesting that a lot of people exaggerated its size and appearance. Someone even asked me why there needs to be a mosque in this town.

Anyway, my grandfather had pretty much the same views as my cousin: Muslims here don't try to integrate and they cause a lot of problems.

I then talked to my aunt, who had the exact opposite view. She said there weren't a lot of Muslims in this town, and that most of them were really nice people. She said every religion has good and bad people. She also said that most Muslims DO integrate and speak Dutch fluently.

Yesterday I also asked a friend of mine all these questions. She also said that most Muslims do integrate and are nice people, and that many Dutch people are just ignorant about Islam.

From my personal experiences here so far, I've noticed that most foreign-looking people tend to be speaking Dutch (in a natural Dutch accent). They dress like everyone else, talk like everyone else, and act like everyone else. The only difference is in appearance. So what are Dutch people complaining about? Why do they think that MOST Muslims don't want to integrate or "be part of society"? How did Holland go from being the most open-minded and tolerant society 10 years ago to being one of the most anti-Islamic countries in Europe? Will things get worse, or will people eventually stop panicking about Muslims and accept that Muslims are normal Dutch people who are here to stay?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Whose Fault Is It?

Sorry I haven't posted for a while (or commented on anyone's blogs), I just moved to another country and am still settling in! Just thought I would write a quick post about something I've been thinking about recently: Islam's image and how to react to it.

There's no doubt that Islam has a negative global image, generally. Many non-Muslims have very stereotypical views of Islam and about Muslims, such as "all Muslims are terrorists" or "all Muslim women are oppressed", etc. If you look at mainstream Western media, it's clearly biased against Muslims. Books, films, sitcoms - they usually show Muslims in a very negative way.

My question is: as Muslims, should we be trying to fix this? And what can we do? Should we just ignore this and write it off as ignorance and racism, or should we actively try to fight against it and counter these images? I guess in a way fighting against it is kind of giving it seriousness, whereas ignoring it would be like saying "it's not even worth responding to". If we think we should respond, what can we do?

For me I guess the number one thing is to set an example. When people see you acting a certain way, they'll associate it with your religion, nationality, gender, etc. So if you are a good person, people will probably see Islam as a positive normal thing. If however you are rude, arrogant etc, people may associate that with Islam. This associating thing is something we all do. Each one of us represents different things - our religion, nationality, profession - its human nature to associate people with their statuses in life.

Another thing is to interact with non-Muslims in a rational, calm, respectful way. My previous post about Gary Miller is an example of us - he approaches non-Muslims ina peaceful way and logically tries to show that Islam is the truth. Some Muslims choose to be rude, arrogant, and obnoxious, and this will never make anyone change their perception of Islam from negative/neutral to positive, let alone make them convert.

What do you think?