Friday, October 9, 2009

A Few Thoughts...

  • I'm still missing Cairo and wondering if this will ever end. Was it really arrogant of me to assume that even after I built my life there I could leave and build a new one somewhere else? Obviously it's not that easy. Family can't be replaced, who knows if I'll ever find amazing friends like I had in Cairo again, and there is no Starbucks near me. It gets really depressing at times, and at other times it's more bearable. I hope I made the right decision by coming here, and that it's just taking some time to settle in. Does anyone have any experience with this? And any advice?

  • I found the most amazing book today, "The Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures". I think I might spend the next few weeks locked up in my apartment reading the 6 volumes. Wow! Everything I could ever want to know in one title. The volume I borrowed today is called "Practices, Interpretations, and Representations", and each section is written by a different author. The encyclopedia is edited by Suad Joseph (whom I love) and every single prominent Islamic scholar who writes on women is in there. Yay!

  • A lot of people have been talking about Sheikh al-Azhar claiming that niqab is un-Islamic. Whether this is the case or not, this is yet another example of women being told what they can and can't wear. This argument has been put forward by many pro-niqab Muslims, and I agree with it. I wonder, however, whether these Muslims would also defend a woman's right to wear a mini-skirt? If a law banning mini-skirts was proposed, would these people also get upset about it, since it would also be infringing on a woman's right to choose what to wear? When one uses that argument, it should apply to all cases, not only to cases that one agrees with.

  • Why exactly did Obama win a Nobel? What has he done?

  • I was very impressed and inspired by this post. Thank God there are other Muslims who see Islam the way I do. I think I agree with every single thing he writes!

  • My friend Aynur blogged about this book. "Questioning the Veil" by Marnia Lazreg. I read the introduction and ordered the book right away. The veil is definitely one of the aspects of Islam & Women that I'm most interested in, and unfortunately no one has really written much about it lately. I'A this book will be amazing.

  • Isn't this an adorable picture? I love it!


Anonymous said...

I agree about the whole Niqab issue. I don't think women should be banned from wearing it, just as they shouldn't for not wearing it.

Obama winning the Nobel, well, I can only say that it once again renews my hopes for his negotiations with Israel and Palestine.. Naive hope? I don't know. I am getting tired from losing faith in him and then regaining it every other week...

Your time away from home. My only advice is to give it a year, and then if you still dislike it, go back home. I always follow this approach with new jobs and new cities.

Thanks for all of the book titles. I want to check out that encyclopedia and also Aynur's suggestion.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Good words. In response to the niqab ban issue I think you're right. If we support one woman's right to wear the niqab, we also have support women choosing not to wear hijab and niqab, even in Islamic countries. In the same way, we have to support freedom of religion. I think that people who choose Islam, and people who choose to leave Islam for another religion also deserve respect and protection.

HijabMan said...

Thanks for the plug :)

Fatimah said...

I don't think it's arrogant at all, but brave and courageous of you to do this. Inshallah the settling in will become easier after a while but it is hard to start new! In the end you'll always have this experience with you.

That sounds like an incredible encyclopedia! keep us updated with your findings from that book :)

As far as Obama I'm confused as well.. I'm seeing both sides of the coin. one, is that the prize acknowledges and he even acknowledges that he may not have done anything concrete yet, but he has started the foundation towards peace. I don't know how much I believe in that, but it's not like he gave himself the prize. I was very surprised though.

Hey Hijabman! :)

ellen557 said...

Fatimah is right, what you're doing is very brave. Don't forget that even though it might feel like you've been in Holland for ages now, you haven't - and you have all the time in the world to make amazing friends.
And agreed re niqab. And no I don't think the same Muslims would defend miniskirts - but you're right, they should. There shouldn't be any special treatment, you know? Just as a niqab wearing woman shouldn't be singled out and targeted, neither should a woman who chooses not to wear hijab or wears miniskirts or whatever.

And erm. A Nobel for Obama? Hm :|

Anonymous said...

Good point - if the niqab is defended then so should the right of women to wear short skirts. But that wouldn't happen, at least not in the Muslim world. :p

I always love reading HijabMan's postings. :)

I ordered 'Questioning the Veil' as well, I had a coupon for 40% off at Borders and I'm having it sent to a store near me so I don't have to pay for shipping. :) I was going to wait but hey, I had a coupon. :D

Stacy aka Fahiima - yes, I agree ... if someone chooses to leave Islam they deserve protection and respect. The Qur'an states that there is no compulsion in religion and I don't understand why that's not followed.

IloveAllah4life said...

I'm a little confused by some of the comments above. Are all of you Muslims? What is with the "if a woman has the right to wear the Niqab, then she has the right to wear the mini-skirt?" I'm sorry but that is bull and you all know it. No! a Muslim woman, who is practising her religion does not have the "right" to wear a mini-skirt. That right was taken away by Allah centuries ago. So yeah people, fear Allah and stop telling Muslim women they have a right to wear a mini-skirt when we don't. All human beings only have the choice to obey or disobey the creator. So choose wisely people.


cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah Elizabeth: I think you're right, maybe 3 months is not long enough for me to have settled down and gotten used to it.

And I really hope Obama lives up to your expectations :))) If he can't who will?

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Stacy: you're so right; if a Muslim decides to leave Islam that is their choice, and they should not be persecuted, as happens in Egypt. The Qur'an is pretty clear about there being no compulsion in religion.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Fatimah: thanks for your advice :) I'A it's just taking some time for me to settle down and it'll get better.

And I agree with you on the Obama thing - I can see both sides too. Like you said, he didn't give himself the prize.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Ellen: I totally agree. We should defend both since they both revolve around a woman's right to CHOOSE what to wear...

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Aynur: the book looks like it'll be great, i'A! Let me know when you read it & what you think.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

IloveAllahforlife: first of all, we weren't "telling" Muslim women to wear mini skirts. My point was that if Muslims are using the argument of "a woman should be free to choose what to wear" then they should also be angry if, say, Egypt, implemented a ban against mini skirts. But they wouldn't, which is hypocritical. You either support a woman's choice or not, you don't support it when it suits you. And by the way, even if I don't wear mini skirts as a Muslim women, I would be angry if a fellow non-Muslim wasn't allowed to.

The mini skirt was an extreme example to make a point. Let's look at what other bloggers said - how many Muslim women get targeted and judged b/c they don't wear hijab or niqab? Many. And that's also a problem, since women should have the right to choose what to wear.

Secondly, if you want people to listen to your views then maybe framing them differently would help you. And next time please read what I and other bloggers wrote before assuming we're saying something that we aren't.

Umm Omar said...

When I moved from one state to another, it took me a good 2 years to feel settled and happy where I was. It takes time, often, more time than we would like.
When I saw the headlines (about Obama) I asked the same question, but then when I read about it, I was like, "eh, okay, but not really." Ha! Nothing makes sense anymore. The encyclopedia sounds interesting. Please share tid-bits here whenever you can!

IloveAllah4life said...

"My point was that if Muslims are using the argument of "a woman should be free to choose what to wear" then they should also be angry if, say, Egypt, implemented a ban against mini skirts."

Ok, I'll let point out to you where are you are wrong on this whole choice issue. Mini-skirts and Hijabs/Niqabs are not the same. What you are not understanding is that it is WRONG for a Muslim woman to wear a mini-skirt, or to expose any of her body/beauty. And another thing, Egypt is a Muslim country(not the best) but it is still considered a Muslim country and they have a right to make whatever law they want as long as it is a law that agrees with Islamic Shariah/values. Niqabs/Burqas are banned in France, and i'm sure many other western countries will soon follow.
Why are you speaking out against Muslims? And no it is definitly not hypocritical to say a Muslim woman has the right to cover her body. Because she does in a non-Muslim country. Now if a Muslim woman who is in a non-Muslim country chooses not to cover her body, then there's nothing no one can do about it. A Muslim Country and a Non-Muslim country are different. Muslims have a responsibility to try to encourage the laws of Allah and forbid evil. That's my point. when you have declared yourself to be Muslim, believe it or not, you have given away your rights and choices to Allah. that's if you are Muslim and you try your very best to follow the Quran and Sunnah.

But looking at other things you've written in your blog, I guess we have different views on what Islamic values actually are.

Anonymous said...

To "IloveAllah4life" :

Your comments disturb me. I'm not exaggerating, I mean I will probably lose sleep tonight. I'm actually saddened that this is how you see Islam/ life/ people. Maybe there's some obscure interpretation of Islam that lets you think that you can express your love of Allah for life by coming in here and being condescending and arrogant all over the place. From the amount of judging and attitude my eyeballs just swallowed, I'm going to assume you're not actually a human being but some wise saint that has figured out the universe.

"believe it or not, you have given away your choices to Allah"

Given away ? I understand what you mean, but it's interesting to observe your bleak phrasing. I've never really thought of it as "giving away" my choices, but that God through his mercy was GIVING me my choices and rights, the ones backwards societies might make me think I didn't have.

I understand you are under the impression that you are some how loving Allah for life and imparting knowledge on those who simply do not understand, but I see nothing but the arrogance of a big bully.

Preach about loving Allah all you want, but what I find it hard to believe is that what you're displaying here is in anyway a display of Islamic values.

Although maybe you've found something somewhere that justifies sarcasm, condescending attitudes, an ego, arrogance and a simple lack of compassion and judgmental intolerance. I hope if you have that you show it to me, because the Quranic verse I'm familiar with is:

"And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster." (Luqman 31:18)"

- "...Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong." (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

Everyone here has a right to post what they believe to be Islamic values without having their faith judged. Who are you to ascribe motivations or question people's sincerity ? This isn't even about Islam, I hope in life that this is not the attitude you take to people who think outside your box.

This is all of course without touching on the fact that you've obviously missed the entire point the author was making about mini-skirts. Let me use your language to explain it to you. "Ok, I'll let point out to you where you are wrong on this issue...your understanding of what the author said and what the author actually said is WRONG. What she meant was that if you're going to oppose banning the niqab then do so but then don't hide behind a 'woman's right to choose what she wears' as your defense line since you wouldn't condone her right to wear revealing clothing".

Your last line about how judging from this blog you and the author of this blog have different views on Islam relieves me in that I hope that every one I ever meet or know has a different view on Islam than the bleak, bleak intolerance you're preaching.

G said...


Um, how about you get off your high horse? I think it best if you either first understand what is being said and then make a valid argument rather than assume you have Islamic revelations and knowledge exclusive to you. Maybe people will listen to you if you weren't so full of yourself.

And if Egypt is "not the best Muslim country" I'm assuming you're living in Islamic utopia right now? From your views I cringe to think what that would be like....rivers of Christian and Jewish blood running through town good enough for you? Lashing of a woman who shows her wrists and therefore her "beauty"?

Anonymous- You're my hero for the day. Perfectly written reply. I wish my comment was as full of knowledge as yours is but hey, I don't yet know enough to complement my views with evidence from the Quran (this is what being humble looks like IloveAllah4life, just in case you were wondering).

Cairo, Lusaka, Amsterdam: You know how I love reading your blog posts deeply and then writing massive comments? Well, if I write one now I won't do it it justice so I will be doing so SOON. But just as a side note, I also agree its too early to judge Holland, it is always hard in the beginning. I am here for you!!

p.s: your blog is still eternally my favorite!! and reading a quran I finally understand is becoming one of the most enlightening things in my life!! LOVE YOU

IloveAllah4life said...

Anonymous: Number 1. if you didn't understand what I mean, or my views, you could've simply asked me nicely instead of calling me all sorts of names.
Number 2. I'm just being honest, and if that makes you disturbed and loose sleep, then loose all the sleep you want. You quote the Quran and yet do exactly the opposite of what it told you to do. You called me arrogant, prideful, and judgmental. All of which I'm not. So before you give me any advice, i suggest you first start with yourself and take your own advice and follow the Ayats of Quran you just wrote.

And number 3. When I said, if you are a true Muslim, you have given up all of your rights and choices to Allah, I mean people fight against their own desires, what seems to be what everybody is into, whatever ever else that is considered the norm, but is not Islamic. How many times do Muslims leave things for Allah's sake. Yes I understand and am thankful everyday and night and will never be thankful enough to Allah for making me Muslim and His great favor on me and all true Muslims, but that does not mean that I'm not human and at times don't struggle against temptations.

As for the author of this blog, I'm sure he can talk for himself and tell me exactly what he means or meant. And I understand exactly what he meant.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

IloveAllahfor life:
Number 1: I'm a woman
Number 2: you obviously didn't understand what I meant, not the first time you commented, or the second, or even the third. This post isn't about whether Muslim women ARE ALLOWED to wear mini-skirts! It's about Muslims using the whole "women should be free to choose" argument WHEN AND WHERE it suits them. Either you agree that a woman can choose or you don't. I think she can, and so have no problem with a woman wearing niqab or wearing a mini-skirt. It's HER choice. Why do you need to judge people instead of God? Who do you think you are to comment on my Islamic values? If you disagree with me, fine, then have some decency and say it politely and make some kind of valid argument.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Anonymous: "Everyone here has a right to post what they believe to be Islamic values without having their faith judged." Thanks for that, and for the whole post. Couldn't have said it better.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

G: thanks! I love your comments! Will talk more on skype i'A :)

Anonymous said...

To: ILoveAllah4life

I don't want to drag this out so this will be my final response. You're right I shouldn't judge, and I apologize if it seemed like I did. However, I stand firm in my opinion. I didn't ask you about what you meant, because I sincerely doubt I misunderstood you.

It's hard to respond to what you said because you haven't even backed up your retorts with anything.

When defending yourself as not being arrogant or judgmental your argument basically consisted of "I'm not". Either way, I don't care if you are or aren't, I'm not judging you personally, however, I can without a doubt attest to the fact that your comments are condescending and arrogant and judgmental regardless of how you really are. If you really aren't a judgmental person, then you really have to re-evaluate how you're addressing your fellow Muslims. I already see two comments that agree with me on the fact that you're being condescending.

I don't want to be negative towards you and I do not know you personally so I cannot judge. However, I can't help but notice that you've continued to re-affirm what it is that's disturbing me.

Especially with this line "I mean people fight against their own desires, what seems to be what everybody is into, whatever ever else that is considered the norm, but is not Islamic."

See again you seem very concerned with rules and what's forbidden and how we're all giving up things and that your fellow Muslims need to be more pious. It's this self-righteousness that pops up in every religion from Catholicism to Judaism to Islam, where it starts out as a religion of compassion, liberation, simplicity and forgiveness, then we suddenly angry preachers pop up here and there telling us all how human nature is by definition weak and Satan is tempting us and the world is a pleasure we must deny ourselves. I'm not saying you're advocating this but you I do sense the same attitude.

I've never once felt like I was "fighting my desires" in Islam. Every desire I have needs to simply be regulated for my own benefit. Just like food. I never fight my desire for food, it's there for a reason, however, for my health's sake I'm not going to go out and pig out. Islam is about reaching that natural rhythm. If you feel like you're "fighting a desire", then something's probably wrong.

You obviously have a very conservative outlook on what Islam is, I have no problem with that as long as you back up your arguments. There are also people who have liberal outlooks, and as long as they have reasons to support their views you can't just come in here and subscribe pretenses and motivations to them.

Either way, I've said what I needed to say. You seem to misinterpret response after response from everyone, so I'm just going to call it a day.

To G and Cairo:

Thank you for the kind words.

IloveAllah4life said...

Cairo, lusaka, amerdam: If I have come off judgmental or offensive, let me say SORRY to you because that really wasn't my intention at all. Only Allah trully knows which one of us has the right intentions and wants only what is right, and what Allah loves.

How I understood what you wrote was that you are okay with women wearing whatever they want, whether it is hijab/niqab or other revealing clothes it is fine. That's what I understood and if my understanding is wrong then do forgive me. But i'm saying that because we are Muslim we should not be okay with someone who is disobeying Allah's commandments knowingly and on purpose. If you can try to tell your sister in Islam that it is not right for her to reveal her body then do that because Allah did order all Muslim women to wear the Hijab anytime they are around non-mahram men.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

IloveAllahforLife: I believe that every Muslim has the right to decide for herself what to wear and what not to wear. In the end, God will judge each of us. When Muslim women pressure each other to dress a certain way, it makes a lot of women uncomfortable. So I'm really against that.

Thanks for clearing it up :)

مى said...

I agree with you on that last comment. They've been giving too many excuses as to why they ban niqab, the most recurring of those excuses being the fight against terrorism and rising crime rates. I think this is bullshit. Whether it's in Islam or not, they shouldn't interfere. A woman has the right to wear whatever she's comfortable in.

Mrs. S said...

It’s not arrogant to try living in a new place. Even if the experience is a poor one, knowing what you don’t want is just as important as knowing what you do. Besides, building a life doesn’t happen in a few days or weeks. It takes time.

I can totally relate to the Starbucks issue. My first job after college was in a small town. I had never lived on my own before, I was 3,000 miles from anyone I knew, I was the only Muslim and I’m shy! All I wanted was a cup of Starbucks coffee to remind me of my friends and where I grew up. When I realized there wasn’t one even remotely accessible, I had to fight back some serious tears in the middle of a public place. Just hang in there.

Yay for new books! My topic of choice is economics in the “Muslim” world. I just got three new books, and I am using all my willpower to hold off on a fourth until I finish them.

Niqab skirt ban...hijab is fard...hijab is oppressive...I’ve waited my whole life for someone to finally say (and mean it) hijab (or not) is a personal choice, a form of expression and not the business of governments or so called experts. Can we move on and judge each other about something else? Like the 5 pillars or better yet [lack of] etiquette at holy sites? Seriously, they need to put signs up saying “NO GUM” at the Dome of the Rock. It’s pretty miserable scraping the stuff off the bottom of your shoe, balancing on one leg and trying to keep your abaya tucked between your knees.

Anonymous said...

Cairo, don't worry about the critics, they just give you tough skin :)

mezba said...

I agree with you. In Canada recently there is a movement led by some "Muslim" groups to ban the niqab. The niqab wearers now say they deserve our support as a) fellow Muslim sisters and b) a woman's right to wear what they want.

And they are right.

But they are the first one to applaud Saudi and Iran's strict restrictions on women's wear. You can't have it both ways.

As for Obama, he won it for not being George Bush.

Sara said...

I just want to be away from cairo, right now...more than ever

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Mai: I totally agree. Especially in the West, it seems so hypocritical. They claim to be completely free societies and yet want to dictate what Muslim women can and can't wear.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Mrs S: great comment! We all need the reminder to focus on bigger issues in Islam, such as the 5 pillars. Unfortunately a woman's dress code always seems to be the subject that comes up, either brougt up by Muslims or non-Muslims.

And yay, someone who understands my Starbucks problem! My friends and fam think I'm crazy.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah: you're right, but it gets so annoying sometimes. Ugh.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Mezba: what a great example. That's what really gets to me. You either support women's rights or you don't. Too many people use it when it suits them and then ditch again.

And yes, being George Bush definitely deserves some kind of award :P

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

I see where you're coming from Sara! When I was in Cairo I was so desperate to leave. Right now I don't know if I'm missing Cairo itself or memories...

Sara said...

I love Cairo though! I mean, I am instantly home sick when I am away :)
(Even if I'm in alex!)

Hey do you ever get asked whether your belief in hijab conflicts with your feminist views?

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

I love Cairo too, and it took me leaving it to realize that :( I am still homesick after 3 months. I hope I can visit soon!
Well I have yet to be 100% convinced that the Qur'an is explicitly asking all women to cover their hair. But I think that if I did believe that, a lot of people would ask how I could believe in it AND be a feminist. I don't see a contradiction but I know a lot of Europeans do.

Remember me next time you're at Starbucks Korba or Sequoia :))

Hicham Maged said...

CLA (for short), in fact I am wondering when will we stop focusing on the clothes? I've disccused this point over my blog in the post entitled Modesty of the Mind so wish to see your visits when you've time since you're insterested in Islam and women as it appeares from the blog.