Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Emma's War

"Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood called on Egyptians to eject Britain from their country and replace Egypt's Napoleonic legal code code with sharia. From there it spread to Sudan, Kuwait, Palestine, Lebanon, Algeria and elsewhere. As one country after another freed itself from colonialism, the Brotherhood continued to agitate for a return to sharia. 'Islam is a state and a religion' was one of its slogans. 'No constitution but the Quran' was another. I asked the journalist why the Muslim Brothers were so determined to make sharia the only source of law in Sudan.

He was happy to tell me. Islam, he said in between bites, was a complete system, covering every aspect of life. This is what Sudanese Muslims forgot when they let the British talk them into making religion a private matter, outside the purview of the state. Islam is sharia, or the 'straight path', he went on, and the Sudanese would not be fully Muslim until they lived in a state committed to enforcing it. There was a oneness, a unity to Islam that made it impossible for Muslims to pick and choose among its rules and regulations, the faith had to be swallowed whole or it was no good. That's why no Muslim could oppose sharia. If he did, he was an apostate."

An Excerpt from Emma's War: Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan by Deborah Scroggins.

"An Islamic state is a state governed in accordance with Islamic law, the Shari'a. Government in accordance with the Shari'a implies the pre-eminence within the state of the judiciary or, rather, of the judicial aspect of the state over both the executive and the legislature, since the Shari'a originate from divine revelation and may not be developed or modified, merely applied, their application involving interpretation in particular cases and enforcement, not legislation in the sense of innovative law-giving. In the Islamic state the functions and authority of the executive and legislature are subordinate and ancillary to those of the judiciary. And since the Shari'a have their origin in divine revelation, the pre-eminence of the judicial aspect of the state over its other aspects implies the domination of the religious sphere over the political sphere. The ruler (Khalifa) of the Islamic state is legitimate in so far as he ensures the application of the Shari'a and the thereby preserves the moral order upon which the integrity of the community of believers depends. That is, the (Khalifa) performs his functions within legal parameters laid down in advance and immutable, and his performance is under constant surveillance, not only by the doctors of religious law, the 'ulama', but by each and every individual adult member of the community, given the egalitarian conceptions of Islam, the assumption of equal and unmediated access to scripture, the injunction upon every Muslim 'to command that which is proper and forbid that which is reprehensible', and the axiom that the community cannot agree on error.

It is common view of all the radical Islamist movements in the contemporary Arab world that these principles of Islamic government were realised under the rule of the first four 'rightly guided' caliphs, the Rashidun, Abu Bakr(632-4 CE), Umar(634-44 CE), Uthman(644-56 CE) and Ali(656-61 CE), and that no contemporary Arab state is governed in accordance with these principles. In so far as the explanation of un-Islamic government is to be found in the condition of contemporary Arab society, radical Islamism stigmatises this society as characterised by jahiliya, that is ignorance of (of the Qur'anic message), pre-Islamic barbarousness. The radical Islamists accordingly deduce from this the necessity of their mission, to reform society and the state on Islamic principles and, where the state impedes or resists this mission, they deduce the legitimacy and indeed the imperative of revolt. "

An Excerpt from The Battlefield: Algeria 1988-2002, Studies in a Broken Polity by Hugh Roberts.


Monday, August 29, 2005

This morning

Him: Are you ok?You sound a bit down.
Me: Am fine.
Him: So quiet. Two-word answers are so not you.
Me: Are you calling me a chatterbox?
Him: Yes.
Me: Well am not feeling chatty today. So you should be happy.
Him: Trouble is I think I got addicted. Can't stand the silence anymore.
Me: Can't you just say you missed me for once without baiting me at the same time?
Him: Ok. I missed our talks yesterday.
Me: Thank you.
Him: Moreover I don't like these sudden stillnesses of yours. They usually mean trouble sooner or later.
Me: You don't like it when am restless either.
Him: Meen al kida?I love your energy.
Me: Really?
Him: Inti 3abeeta?Di a7la 7aga feeki. You're like a kid in a toy store. Mish 3arfa ti3mili eh wala eh.
Me: And that's good?
Him: Tab3an. You're never bored or indifferent. You're interested in everything. And you feel things so much. It gets a little extreme sometimes but one has to give you credit for passion ya3ni.
Me: What can I say?Am glad you approve.
Him: I still don't like that tone of voice. Come on what's eating at you?
Me: Well you know how you said I'm interested in everything?
Him: Aiwa?
Me: Well you're the current area of interest.
Him: Why do I suddenly feel like the ice cream flavor of the month?
Me: And like you said am extreme. So we are talking extreme interest here.
Him: Ustur ya rab. Wi ba3dain?
Me: Bas.
Him: Bas eh?Inti btid7aki 3alya ya bit inti?Btishtaghaleeni?
Me: La wallahi. I just love you so much I don't think it's heatlhy.
Him: Tayeb rabena yishfeeki.
Me: Allah yikhaleek.
Him: Ya3ni bardu mish 3ayza titkalimi?
Me: Ma3laih 3adeeha.
Him: Mashi ya sitti. Ya khabar bifloos. Elmuhim ana I need a favor.
Me: Anything.
Him: I'm due in surgery this evening. I told my mother you'll take care of her.
Me: Ok.
Him: I should join you about 9.
Me: Fine.
Him: Is there a problem?
Me: I just wish you told me before you mentioned it to her. What if I couldn't make it?
Him: Ya 7abibty she flew all the way out here especially to meet you & your family & she doesn't have much time.
Me: Fine. Where would she like to go?
Him: I'm not sure. You have the number. Call her & work it out.
Me: Ok. I'll call her right now. Is she up yet?
Him: Yes she is. And one more thing.
Me: Yes?
Him: Her English is not that good so remember to stick to 3arabi.
Me: Don't worry. Wouldn't talk English with parents.
Him: And when I say 3arabai I mean 3arabi mafhoom - mish seer gidgid wi mish gayla wello wil7agat bita3itku iyaha.
Me: You think Egyptian is the only way to speak Arabic?
Him: Ya sitti 3ala 3aini wi rasi inti wi gam3it eldiwal el3arabya kulaha bas elsit tifhamik.
Me: Typical Egyptian attitude.
Him: Fi eh?
Me: Egyptians don't know anything about other Arabs & they don't want to know. Tell me if you had married that Iranian girl what language would you tell her to speak to your Mom?
Him: Well that's just one more reason we were never meant to be isn't it?
Me: You're hopeless.
Him: Although now that you mention it I suppose she could have tried Swedish.
Me: You ex speaks Swedish?
Him: Atrociously but she might have managed.
Me: Go away. I mean it.
Him: I love you you know.
Me: You'd better. You'd just better.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005


Is jealousy a sign of love or insecurity?
Am jealous of his mother.
I think it's a sign of insanity.
Help me. I think am losing it.

Feeling a compulsion to see them again today. Maybe things will be different this time. Maybe last night was a one-off. Maybe it was all just a bad dream.

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And you thought it was Bad

"Gossip is not a trivial pastime: it is essential to human social, psychological and even physical well-being."

That is according to this study

Anyone who has been the victim of malicious gossip might beg to disagree though. Gossip can make you feel your privacy has been violated. It can stigmatize & humiliate people. Or it can lead to a culture where everyone is restricted for fear of the gossips. Somehow I can't see it as positively as this research suggests.

Friday, August 26, 2005

My Turn

Him: I worry you a lot don't I?

Me : Lots of things worry me.

Him: Damn.And I thought I was special.

Me : You are very special. But not in that particular way.

Him: What do you worry about most? Come on. One-word answer.

Me : One-word answer? Responsiblity.

Him: Responsibility?

Me : Yes. Being responsible for someone else's happiness indefinitely.

Him: Am I so difficult?

Me : In some ways.

Him: Name one.

Me : You like having your own way too much.

Him: Ouch. You think I'm selfish?

Me : No. Not at all. You're self-confident & decisive. Unlike me. It's part of what attracts me to you. But self-confident, decisive people are sometimes inflexible. You don't really trust anyone's judgement but your own do you?

Him: If I seem to make decisions for you sometimes it's only because you suffer so much with them I just try to spare you. You said it yourself. You don't like responsibility.

Me : Didn't say that I didn't like it, K. Am not irresponsible. All I said was that I think twice before taking on new responsibilities. Like to be sure I can handle them. Doesn't mean that once I take them on I want you to shoulder them on your own & not consult with me.

Him: Are we talking about something specific here or is this just Psychology 101?

Me : Was just answering your question. But since you ask I can actually give you specifics.

Him: Please don't stop there.

Me : Well it's not just me you don't consult, is it? You don't consult with your family about anything you plan to do - like get married. You decide then you tell them your decision. And they accept that without question - which means inta m3awidhum 3ala kida.

Him: Ma3laish bas I think I'm old enough to get married without parental guidance.

Me : Me, too. But I do want my parents to be happy and to like you. But you, you just pick up the phone and tell them our plans and expect them to jump on a flight. And they do. What takes me weeks to accomplish takes you 5 minutes.

Him: Choosing my own life partner is being inflexible?

Me : That's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that most people would be more anxious about whether their family or close friends like their partner. And it's not an issue for you at all.

Him: Tayeb. Moving on....There's more isn't there?

Me : Remember when we were talking about that car you wanted to buy? And A. said what's the point in giving you advice you always do what you want in the end? I mean A. is a mechanical engineer. If my best friend was a mechanical engineer I'd listen to his advice about cars.

Him: Anything else?

Me : Yes. Remember when we had that conversation about religion?

Him: Yes.

Me : Well you said you didn't like the fact that I was reading so much about religion because you thought I was referring too much to the interpretations of others. Yes, I'm interested in how other people cope with the questions that are bothering me. But you - the only knowledge you really accept from others is the facts. Nothing that requires personal judgement or interpretation. You think you know best.

Him: Wi eh kaman?

Me : La 7aram yikfi. Ana khalast.

Him: You know there might be some truth in what you say but you make it sound very negative.

Me : Am sorry. Me & my big mouth.You know criticism is what I do best. And you did ask.

Him: Ok then I guess I got more than I bargained for.

Me : 7abibi mashallah you're a very intelligent, successful person. And now that I'm getting to know your family life better I see that you're used to people depending on you. All of which I really respect. I mean it. You know I love you. You're my hero.

Him: Aiwa yakhti sala7i. Manti ti'itili elateel wi timshi fi ganaztu. Give me more. If you're quite done shrinking my ego that is.

Me : Oh am not worried about your ego. If I shrink it min hina lilsub7 it'll just come down to about normal size.

Him: You're a hard woman.

Me : No I'm a woman who cares about you. No one is always right. Sometimes others see things you don't. And if you insist on taking charge of everything then you might get to a point where you overburden yourself & that's not good for your or anyone else.

Him: You think I carry too much on my shoulders?

Me : Well they're pretty impressive shoulders but still. Mish tiftiri ya3ni.

Him(laughing): Nice one but you still haven't even started to make it up to me.

Me : Do I need to make it up? Are we fighting?

Him: So far a one-sided fight.

Me : Ok in the interests of fair-play you get to criticize me in a minute. But before I make it up to you you promise to think about what I said?

Him: I think about everything you say.

Me : This is one of those conversations you don't like, no?

Him: I like conversation to be about specifics. Tell me I didn't like it when you did X or Y and I'll see what I can do about it. I just think it's more effective communication than all the psychoanalysis.

Me : Ok your turn now. What worries you about me most? Give me specifics since they're your thing. I don't mind.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005


Why is it that some Arab men who come from more conservative cultures behave so badly when they find themselves in a more Liberal society?Is it because they come from a culture that puts the burden of moral behavior on women alone & tells men they cannot control themselves?

The concept of a man being cheap is an unusual one. It's not an accusation that men are often asked to defend themselves against. But I have never respected men who gave me the feeling that I - as a woman - am the only one who is setting limits in the relationship - that they would let it go anywhere if I don't stop it. And that they are like that with all women. I always feel such men have no personal or moral standards of their own and are infact dirt-cheap.

The husband of a friend of mine who she caught cheating a while back told her that he hadn't pursued the other woman or gone out looking to cheat - that the woman pursued him. And my friend believes that is true. So is that an excuse?Is a man so helpless against his own physical urges that as his partner I have to accept that he just can't say no?That he'll be faithful only as long as no other woman wants him?

Actually it's not just physical urges that some men seem to be unable to say no to. It's the ego-boost they get when a woman makes them feel wanted. They are so vulnerable to that kind of flattery that it can make them forget their obligations to their partner, to themselves & to their religion.

Is this a product of the way our culture over-emphasizes a woman's obligation to suppress her own sexuality?That men don't think they have to control themselves & actually expect the woman to do it for them & always blame her if control is lost?

It's the woman who has to cover up so they don't get any thoughts. It's the woman who has to refuse when they ask for things they know are wrong. Have lost count of the number of times I had this conversation with a male friend or relative. He would say well why didn't she refuse & I would say well why did you ask?Didn't you know it was wrong?But they seem to think it was all her fault even though it was their idea & they kept asking again & again!The minute she says yes he feels he can do whatever he wants without any guilt because now it's all her fault.

Am not disputing that a woman should keep her sexuality out of the public sphere. That is my personal belief - even though I don't accept the concept of hijab or AlZay AlShar3i because I really believe that the definition of what is decent differs with time & place. You can't make it a uniform. There was never a time when all Muslim women wore the same thing. If you look at folkloric fashions throughout the Muslim world you'll find that while most of them are fairly conservative, not all of them include a headcover. And even the ones who do use the headcover as an ornament - showing part of or a lot of their hair through it.It's hard for me to believe that for 1400 or 1500 years Muslim women were interpreting Islam wrong until we came along in the 1970's & suddenly saw something they had all missed.

My mother told me once a long time ago that decency in clothing is not about what other people will think or feel - it's about how your clothes make you feel. Vaguely I think in the back of my mind that is the standard I follow. Some clothes make me especially aware of being a woman, they have an effect on my mood, they make me more flirtatious, more reckless. These are the things I know are not meant for the public sphere. It's my own thoughts & my own feelings that I feel guilty or responsible for - not someone else's.

But yes I believe the Prophet did say that every religion has a defining feature & the defining feature of Islam was modesty. So it is part of our identity to be modest. Which is fine as far as I'm concerned. But this is a long way from becoming obssessed with the sexuality of a woman while men do what they want.

I think it's sad also the way this has caused so many women to internalize the guilt. Once heard one woman saying that if a man sees one woman & is sexually excited by her & goes of & sleeps with another woman it's the first woman's fault for exciting him. So the woman gets the sin comitted by 2 people she didn't know without her knowledge!What nonsense!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Will never forget my friend F.'s wedding. It was October 2003. The 3aqd or katb ketab or milcha - the official wedding ceremony I mean was supposed to take place on Wednesday afternoon at the mosque - just after noon prayers. Only men were going to be there. Then there was going to be a lunch feast at their house & at night a party.

On Tuesday she had gone with her father & her fiance to the Ma7kma AlShar3iya(the courthouse) in Abu Dhabi to sign papers to the effect that she was willing to marry this guy & allowing her father to sign the actual contract for her - as her wakeel(agent). Remember thinking that that made marriage seem like any other legal contract. You could have a lawyer or an agent sign it for you.

Was at her house later on Tuesday evening & I told her if you said you were willing to marry him before witnesses & he said the same & you signed papers then you're already married. And we had an interesting discussion about that. I still believe that btw. Can't actually see the difference between that & the actual official marriage ceremony.

But it was Wednesday that was truly memorable because guess what happened?She overslept!F. is Sudanese. Now I love Sudanese people. They are so kind. But they have an image as a relaxed, laidback people who never hurry anything & who take their sleep VERY seriously. Guess I never realized how seriously until that day!

So there we were at 1:00pm knocking on her door trying to get her to wake up without making too much noise but she is a really heavy sleeper. The house was full of women - mostly from the bridegroom's family & at 1:00pm her father called from the mosque to say that the katb ketab was finished & they were coming back to the house with all the men. And she wouldn't get up. She missed her appointment at the hairdresser's. All the guests were asking where the bride was & her mother told them she was at the hairdresser's!

She didn't actually get up until 2:30pm. She opens her door & stands there looking sleepy & confused & I wanted to STRANGLE her!I was a mass of nerves. But they were all laughing, telling her sabah elkhair mabrook you've been married for one & a half hrs.

We smuggled her out of the house by covering her up in a local 3abaya & niqab - borrowed from a local friend. She came back from the hairdresser's at 4:30pm & most guests had already left. And she had to go back a couple of hours later to get ready for the party at night.

Imagine sleeping through your own wedding!If only she'd let me borrow some of that nerve. I worry so much at weddings - wanting everything to be perfect.

The other memorable wedding was my friend M.'s. They had the official marriage ceremony & the wedding both at the InterCon. An Imam came to perform the ceremony at the ballroom infront of all the guests & after he left the party & zafa & everything was supposed to happen since you couldn't have music with him around. I remember those of us who came in with the bride remained standing around them at the center of the ballroom waiting for the ceremony to finish. We thought it wouldn't take that long. But this Imam decided to give a sermon about marriage in Islam & complain about all the problems with modern marriages & giving the bride & groom premarital marriage counselling for an hour & 15 minutes before starting the ceremony. My shoes were killing me but her sister & I were giggling because it was really funny to watch how the people who were standing started looking for their tables & sitting down one by one when they realized this was going to take a while. The circle around the bride & groom & their parents kept getting smaller & smaller.

Today I went out for sheesha & tea with K., D. & M. The girls & I were remembering these incidents & other weird weddings we'd attended & laughing.

D( to K): For sure you wouldn't want this Imam at your wedding.
M: La tab3an. One hour & fifteen minutes?She'll change her mind(meaning me).
Me: I will not!
D: I like the first option better. Do it while she's asleep.
Me: What am I?The Runaway Bride?
M: You know what your problem is?You think like a man. Usually it's men who fear commitment & women who want it. The homing instinct.
Me: Don't fear it. Just don't like to mess up. But anyway I think your wedding day is too late for second thoughts.
D: Well some women change their mind about having a baby when they go into labor so I guess it's never too late to change your mind.

K (to D): La ana fi 3ardik balash elseera di.
D: Ay seera?
K: Ma 7adish yigeeb seerit elkhilfa wala el3iyal allah la yisee'kum.
D & M: Laish?Shu fi?Shu sayer ma3kun?
Me: Ignore him. He's just a3sabu ta3bana because he's been working too hard.
K: Ana bardu illy a3sabi ta3bana?

He is never going to let me forget what happened on Thurs. Why does he have such a long memory? Like an elephant. An elephant never forgets. And now the girls won't leave me alone until they hear the whole story.

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Friday, August 19, 2005


Very, very tired. Exhausted infact. But too hyper & too excited to sleep.

We're trying to get married now. Notice the word trying. Why trying? It should be simple enough. Two responsible, consenting adults should be able to get married when they want to right?Wrong. WHEN being the operative word here. It can't be when you want. It has its own pace & isn't about to be hurried.

My parents say they're very happy & pleased to hear about K. & of course there is nothing they like better than to see me happily settled down etc...But they won't even see him unless he brings his family. Tried to explain that his parents live in Sweden so neighborly visits might be a little difficult here. But no way. Mom says we have to know who he is. Confused I ask if they want to know who he is why won't they at least meet him?She explains that this is because they won't know who he is unless they see his family too. Huh?

K. is pretty pissed off about that. Kept saying that he's not a child & it's not a PTA meeting to be asked to bring a parent & that he can't have his parents flying back & forth all the time. He thinks everything should be settled first & then his parents should just come for the wedding.

Was terrified he was going to dig in his heels about this. Like the true Taurean he is if he digs in his heels I'd have no choice but to commit suicide by hara kiri. Then they'd all be sorry for the way am caught in the middle.

But we got past that. He spoke with his parents & they convinced him that it's only natural that the girl's family want to know what kind of family he comes from before the wedding when it will be too late really. Was pretty impressed at this outcome because I couldn't talk any sense into him myself. But I guess they're his parents so they would know what to do with him.

Unfortunately however there are practical difficulties. His parents just came back from holiday in Egypt so neither one of them can get away from their jobs before Christmas. So basically nothing can happen & the process cannot even start before my parents leave here.

Now I regret not having let the formalities start AGES ago. If I had realized it would be so complicated we could have started them & we would have had YEARS to get to know each other before they completed if this rate is anything to go by.

Now that I managed to reach a decision that we should get married I can't STAND being made to wait. It's nerve-racking. Just wanted to get it over with. Just jump right into it. Having all this time will just mean more time to worry. It's like when you've shut your eyes tight & made up your mind to jump into the pool & then someone says hold on we still have to fill the pool. So what happens while you're waiting for them to fill the pool?You start to lose your nerve.

This morning I woke up & had a horrible fight with my sister L. Complete with screaming match & throwing things at each other. Then I had a crying fit closely followed by a panic attack about motherhood. I think I would make a terrible mother. Can't even get along with my little sister.

Have never been good with kids once they get past being cute little babies who don't talk back or have chips on their shoulders. I think on average I give them until about age 8 or 9. Then I start to find them really obnoxious & lose interest in them.

So I called K. & I told him that we can't get married because I can't possibly have adolescent children in MY LIFE & I HATE adolescents & pre-adolescents and if we get married all our kids will turn out to be sociopathic drug-dealers & prostitutes because am sure am going to abuse them. How can I possibly not abuse them when I hate them so much?

He said you're rambling. So I hung up on him. So he called right back & said am I allowed to ask what brought this on?I said no I hate you. So he said ok & he hung up. Had another crying fit.

Then I got dressed to go out & my Mom said don't go out in public with your face like that. She meant because my face was all puffed up & swollen from crying. And then I got a lecture about how this was not the way to deal with my little sister wana elkibeera etc....Exactly what I needed to hear.

So I went back in my room, washed my face & then tried to go out again & Mom asked me where I was going. I told her to see K. Don't know why I said that. Wasn't going out to see him. Wasn't even speaking to him. Just said it to be difficult I guess. Because I knew it would upset her. But she didn't choose to rise to the bait. One dirty look & then she gave me her back & ignored me.

Walked to the nearest cafe & sat by myself for 2 hrs, staring into space & having just about every coffee they had on the menu. Then I wanted a cigarette & reached for my bag only to realize that I forgot it. So I had no money & credit cards on me. No car keys & no house keys too. Just my cellphone which I was carrying my hand. Called K. & told him where I was & that I had no money. He said ok he's coming. Before he came I went into the bathroom & threw up all the coffee.

Of course when he did come he picked up the cheque & stared at me like I'd gone mad. Then he asked did you drink all this coffee by yourself?I said yes. He said did you eat anything?I said no I was feeling too sick. He said I'd feel better if I eat. Was too tired to argue. So he ordered a salad for me. And I did feel better.
Told him I wanted to go home now so he took me home.

Took him out to dinner tonight to apologize. It's getting to be a vicious circle this fighting & then taking him out to dinner. Except he wasn't really mad at me this time. He was making fun of me all evening. Don't know which is worse.

Earlier I bought my Mom a box of chocolates to apologize(story of my life). Good thing is you can always bribe my Mom with chocolate. She's so cute.

But still haven't been near L. We're ignoring each other for this lifetime.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Defenders of the Faith?

It is narrated that 50 days before the Prophet's birth in Mecca the Kaaba was to come under attack a Yemeni/Abyssinian army mounted on elephants. On hearing the story of the impending attack the Prophet's grandfather Abdul Mutalab was seen hurrying towards the Kaaba. When asked what he was going to do he replied that he had camels grazing around the Kaaba. There was shock & dismay. People asked him how can you possibly care about your camels when the Kaaba is about to be destroyed? He made his famous reply:
"LilBait rabun ya7meeh. Wana rabu hazihi alebil."

The translation is that the Kaaba is the House of no one but God & God is perfectly capable of protecting His own House. Whereas Abudul Mutalib was responsible for his cattle & should defend them.

Later the Qura'an narrates how God did indeed protect His House in Surat AlFil.

The Qura'an also has another message for us in Surat Al-Hijr.

"Ina Na7nu nazalna elzikr wina lahu la7afithoon."
"Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian." [15:9]

If AbdulMutalib - an idolator - had enough faith in the Creator to know that what Allah has undertaken to protect no one can harm why are so many believers today so fiercely protective of the faith?Why are they so afraid to leave this to Allah?

Does the Truth really need to be treated with kid gloves as if it was something fragile that will break & shatter?Isn't it Falsehood that cannot stand up to scrutiny?Can the word of God not stand on its own two feet?

Did Allah send us His Message to protect us or to ask us to rise up & defend it?Defend it from what?Don't we keep repeating that Islam is deen fitra?If it is then how come we get so possessive of it?If it is deen fitra then it belongs to all humanity. It is something that anyone can reach on their own if they search within themselves because it is in their fitra(nature). Is this not why we call converts to Islam reverts?So if we truly believe all this?Why do we try to hide it away from prying eyes us as if it was our family jewels?

When I hear something that goes against my understanding of faith I defend my ideas the same way AbdulMutalib was defending his Ibil(cattle). My thoughts are my responsibility so I defend them. If I am right then it is for my own good. If I am wrong then that detracts NOTHING from the Faith & it is my own loss. If someone does me the favor of making me aware of where I was wrong then I acquire new thoughts - like buying new cattle. In all cases that I don't kid myself that I - or anyone else - am defending the Faith because the Faith is in no need of humble human protection.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Fairly Typical Day

It's really strange the amount of time I spend sitting around the clinic where he works. I finish work at 4:30pm. He works evenings until 8:30pm usually. It would have made sense to simply meet him after work but somehow that's not the pattern we've fallen into.

Usually I'll get there around 7:00pm. Right after Maghreb. Don't know why I do that. Guess I just gravitate to the place where he is.

It's not like I even see him. I hang around the waiting room with my book. Or I chat with his colleagues. I've become such good friends with the receptionist, the nurses & the other doctors. Even his boss - the head of the department will sometimes stop & talk to me.When he's in surgery, I sometimes find myself waiting with the patient's family & getting into all sorts of conversations with them. He was saying once that it's amazing the way I can tell him things about his patients he never knew. Probably because he doesn't socialize with them as much as I do.

On rare occasions, when one of his appointments is late or there is a cancellation & no one is waiting, he will have time to take me upstairs to the staff cafeteria for a drink. But that doesn't happen very often.

The odd thing is it's not like I have nothing else to do. Have just fallen into the habit of scheduling my social life to start with his. When friends call & want to meet up I always choose the time after 8:30pm so he & I can meet them together. My girlfriends complain that we don't have girl's nights out anymore. And he complains that we don't spend enough time alone together. Not making anyone happy am I?

After he gets off work he wants to go home to shower & change. Usually I'll wait for him in the carpark downstairs. Or I'll drive around. But I won't go anywhere without him. Don't feel like it.

Then we go out in his car. At night we go back so I can pick up my car to go home.
Now that I look at all that in the cold, clear light of day it seems a bit inconvenient. The only reason I can think of for why we do things like that is that we try to stay together as long as possible. He likes to joke that we are living together.

Why am I thinking about it now?Today my friend D. passed by K.'s building & she saw my car parked there. So she called & she told me ya 7abibti you're not married yet. You're not even engaged. This is a small city. People know you & him & they know you are together. And he lives alone. Do you think it's a good idea for your car to be seen parked there so often?Why not just meet him outside?

Don't really care what people say but I do feel bad for my parents. It's the stupid way Arabs of have of saying so-and-so's daughter did this or that. As a woman I have no existence as an individual in this culture do I?

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Sunday, August 14, 2005


Last night K. was telling me imagine that you are building a really big, beautiful house with your partner. And you spend a lot of time & effort choosing everything for the house just the way you both love it. And you grow really attached to this house. It becomes your home. Then as soon as it's complete, before you've had time to enjoy it, your partner wants to move because they've seen another house they like better. Suppose that your partner does this over & over again?

The house here is a symbol for the relationship of course. And not our relationship. We were discussing why a friend of his & his wife just got divorced.

Happiness - for me at least - is not really a cloud that I float on. It's not something that descends on me. It's a constant peace process - a negotiation within myself which results in a lack of or a reduction in my inner conflicts. When it happens I feel pleasure & relief. It's a sensation of being unburdened - like great weights have been lifted off my shoulders.

So how do I achieve this conflict resolution?The bad news is I can't. At least not on a permanent basis. Because like everyone else my inner conflicts stem from interaction with forces outside myself. And they're not constant forces.So more often than not it's back to the negotiating table with myself & with new challenges & changes.

Of course not everyone is like that. Some of us are restless by nature. We invite new challenges in an almost compulsive way - so placing ourselves under more pressure & more conflict because when we have achieved happiness & equilibrium for a while we start to think what next?What else is out there?And we start to worry that we don't have all there is to have. We get bored & restless.

Others have more stable temperaments & so their periods of harmony & equilibrium last longer. They value stability more than adventure or ambition.

Of course I would place myself in the first group. And K. in the second group.

So does this mean that am going to be the one constantly wanting a new house - like K's friend?

Well everyone knows that I don't have roots. Am not the kind of person who gets attached to places or to jobs or to locations. But I do get very attached to people I love. Most of my close friendships are more or less lifelong. Am still in close touch with friends who moved away when we were in 6th grade or 7th grade.

And I discovered now that sometimes being around him when he's happy is enough to make me happy. Even if left on my own I'd be somewhere else doing something else.

Guess that yes I'd probably keep wanting new houses but only if my partner is ready to move with me. Wouldn't want to move alone.

But I also discovered that quite often am not as happy as he is. It's my basic restlessness. Not because I love him less or anything. He just has the ability to make his pleasures in life last longer than me. It takes more to worry him, upset him, bore him or make him dissatisfied than it does me. And he senses that. And sometimes it hurts him. When I become critical of something he enjoys or loves he reacts by not sharing it with me anymore. Especially when it's something we both used to enjoy then I got bored of for a while or something. If I remember & feel like doing it again sometime later I find him evasive or unwilling. I find that he would rather do it with other people. And THAT hurts me. It feels like I lost a privilege. And it tells me that even though he didn't say anything at the time, he was hurt & he hasn't forgiven me.

Are there limits to being yourself around your partner?Is it sometimes a good idea to 'fake' feelings & reactions?Have I gone too far in being open with him?

It's a typical state of being for me. Am happy in our relationship & with my life at the moment. But still what he said about his friend's divorce has me worrying about the future. And these occasional disconnections that we have sometimes also worry me.

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
Mohandas K. Gandhi

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Friday, August 12, 2005

Blogging About Not Blogging

Haven't felt much like blogging in a couple of days. I sit infront of the screen & can't think of anything to write.

Is it that I get writer's block when am feeling happy?So it would seem. I think for me writing is an outlet for my worries, fears & frustrations more than anything else.

So now I know am the kind of person who only feels like writing when in doubt or pain or resentment. During periods of peace & happiness I stay away from writing because it causes me to overexamine & overanalyze & so find some things to worry about. I try to make my rare periods of serenity & not thinking too much last as long as possible.

Been reading a lot of blogs lately & I can sense am not the only one. You see very few personal posts about happy things. The overwhelming majority are critical or frustrated or worried or unhappy in tone.

Tried to post a few times & everytime I manage to say that I am pleased. Pleased is the exact word. What I feel is pleasure. But then there is no more to say.

Why is it that a post that starts "I am pleased" is so difficult to finish whereas a post that starts "I am scared" or "So-and-So is making me angry" would go on forever?

Monday, August 08, 2005


Him: What are you doing here?
Me: Waiting.
Me: Because this is the waiting room.
Him: It says Patient Waiting Room. Mish kuli man hab wa dab.
Me: Maybe I'm here for a consultation.
Him: Do you have an appointment?
Me: No what I have is a feeling that you're going to squeeze me in somehow.
Him: I think you're a little over-dressed for a visit to the dentist.
Me: Not this dentist.
Him: I can't stand here flirting with you. I'm working.
Me: This is your idea of flirting?
Him: What would you call it?
Me: Pulling teeth. For your information, when flirting it's customary to smile - which is what I've been desperately trying to get you to do for the last few minutes.
Him(finally smiling): What do I have to smile about?
Me: Am here all dressed up & ready to take you somewhere nice for dinner.
Him: That top is supposed to make me smile?
Me: What's wrong with it?
Him: No the question is where is it?I don't see it. Ok I see two sleeves. I think you forgot to bring the rest of your top.
Me: You see what happens when you dump me?Ba'ata3 hidoomi.
Him: Ana bardu illy I dumped you?Inti illy 3ayza tsafri wi tsebeeni.
Me: One of these days I hope you will give me a chance to explain.
Him: Itla3i min dimaghi dilwa'ati. 3andi shugl.
Me: Ok am waiting.
Him: Mashi ya magnoona.Give me 20 min.

Later over dinner:

Him: This is very nice.Thanks for coming by.
Me: And?
Him: And you look beautiful. Very sexy.
Me: Yeah flatter me. I love it.
Him: It's not flattery. It's true. I'm sure you know it. A woman always knows when she looks sexy.
Me: Well I had to get your attention somehow. You've been neglecting me.
Him: The last thing you need to worry about is getting my attention. I think you get too much of it as it is.
Me: You were away for 10 days.You come back, we have one day together and you're yelling at me. Then you ignore me for 3 days.
Him: Tab bas bas ata3ti albi.
Me: And you knew I was sick. Half-killed myself getting out of bed to see you on Thurs & Friday. Tab yakhi isa'al. Salamtek, Allah yir7amik wala get well soon.
Him: I sense a change of tactics. First you flirt, now you're guilt-tripping me. I think I liked the first one better.
Me: So you don't think you need to feel guilty about anything?
Him: Let me ask you that question.

(Was getting a bit frustrated here. He's so stubborn. Won't give an inch.)

Me: For not telling you what you think I should have told you?
Him: Yes.
Me: No I don't feel guilty. I had my reasons.
Him: Such as?
Me: I didn't want you to feel pressured to make a decision before you're ready. I don't think that love should have deadlines.
Him: But we do have a deadline. And you knew about it & I didn't. You knew what you were getting into & I didn't. Is that fair?
Me: That's not how I see it. I thought it would be unfair to you not to give you your time.
Him: You don't have the time to give me. And you're not being honest with yourself. Is it that you didn't want me to feel pressured or that you were afraid that if I knew I would pressure you & you're afraid to commit?
Me: I don't see December as the end of the world.
Him: Ok let me make one thing very clear. I don't do long-distance relationships. Been there, done that. It's difficult & frustrating for everyone involved & it's just not an option as far as I'm concerned.
Me: Will you stop putting words in my mouth?Did I say anything about a long-distance relationship now?
Him: Ana asif. Tell you what. I'll just shut up. You wanted me to listen to you. Fine. I'm listening.
Me: Do you have any idea how intimidating your whole attitude is?This feels more & more like an interrogation every minute.
Him: I don't mean to be intimidating. But I really don't like surprises of this type. I need stability in my life. And that can't happen if you keep secrets or if you make me feel you don't know what you want.

Me: Ok I'm going to try one more time to explain this to you. Hopefully without interruption?
Him: Itfadali.
Me: December is the date my family will be leaving. It is also the last date by which I have to be available for the position in Morroco. However that doesn't mean it's the date I will be leaving. I will leave in one case & one case only - if you & I are not together anymore. If the time comes to make these decisions & we still feel the same about each other & you want me to stay I'll make arrangements to stay. Without going into details.
Him: La ma3laish I've had enough of being in the dark. I want to know details law sama7ti.
Me: 7abibi I can't tell you because I haven't thought everything out yet. There is still time. My whole family is not leaving in December. My uncle & his family will still be here. Can stay with them for a while until we decide what to do. And I have my job. My company can sponsor me. The point is I don't have to leave in December. And we don't have to decide yet.
Him:How long would you say we have?
Me: Visa transfer will take about a month so probably I should apply in October if am staying.
Him: And your parents?They have no objection?
Me: My parents?No why would they object?They know am trying to decide between my job here & my job there. They don't know about you yet but now my brother knows so I'd say it's a matter of time before they find out. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Like we did with my bro.
Him: Do you always procrastinate & leave everything to work itself out at the last minute?
Me: Yeah procrastination is my philosophy in life. Guess it's not yours huh?
Him: No it's not to tell you the truth.
Me: Still mad at me?
Him: Not mad. Confused. I still don't see why you couldn't tell me all this before.
Me: Because I don't want you feeling a sense of obligation to marry me before December. There. I said it. Happy?

He laughed at that. And the mood lifted thank God. My nerves were at breaking point.

Him: And what if I want to marry you before December?
Me: Then I wanted you to ask me on your own without being pressured.
Him: Inti do you want to marry me before December?
Me: 7abibi I love you. I really do but please don't make me answer that now.
Him: Ya gabana.

But he was smiling. And I was happy. So completely relieved. We didn't really talk about anything serious or important after that. I think we were both ready for a break. Just flirting, picking on each other, dancing, enjoying the food etc....

Didn't get home til pretty late though. Been pushing it with my parents. Have to start coming home at a reasonable hour.

Wonder if we get married, would we still go out & have evenings like this together?

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

The Destruction of Mecca

Don't believe this. All hell breaks lose in the Muslim World because some stupid American senator suggested that Mecca should be nuked. And here we have a bunch of self-proclaimed 'religious' Muslims taking it upon themselves to save Tancredo the trouble & just destroy Mecca themselves. Biyadi la biyad 3amr?

Don't understand why this is not getting more media coverage in the Arab world?Why are we all allowing this to go ahead with no debate?Does Mecca belong only to the narrow-minded religious bigots who are doing this?Isn't this the heritage of all Muslims?Don't future generations of Muslims have a right to this religious & cultural heritage?And don't we have any love for the Prophet's home & the birthplace of Islam?


Saturday, August 06, 2005


That was not a day that started well at all. Woke up feeling so sick. That horrible cold. Guess I overdid it on Thurs being out & running around all day. Some sort of relapse.

Was planning to go to my brother's early to help my sister-in-law with cooking for dinner. Didn't seem fair to dump it all on her when it was my fault there was going to be a dinner at all. But felt so exhausted. Temperature high again. And my throat. And all that coughing & sneezing on a sore throat.

Went & knocked my parent's door. Woke Mom & told her to make me better. What's the point in having a mother who is a doctor if I get sick like everybody else? She said the fever won't go down because my throat is infected & I needed to get a culture. Which I did but I never went back to get the results. My mom has this thing against anti-biotics. Anyway she did give me some pills to swallow & she made me drink warm lemon juice & she told me to go back to sleep. So I did.

She woke me up about 2:00pm to eat something. Had some soup & took more pills & went back to sleep. Never even called my sister-in-law. Talk about being rude. Next time I woke up it was 5:30pm. And I had 18 missed calls. That shows you how heavily I was drugged. 8 calls were K. The rest were M. & D., my bro & my sister-in-law.

So I got up feeling a bit better, showered & changed. Didn't know how I was supposed to talk on the phone when my voice wouldn't come out so started sending everyone sms. Of course they all called. Why don't people realize that if you wanted to talk you'd have called?

Mom was nagging that I shouldn't go out in my condition & that if I go to my bro's I'll give the infection to the kids. Felt a bit guilty about that. But my sister-in-law said she'll have the kids in bed before dinner. Very sweet of her. Then D. offered to go early & help but I said no everything was under control. Can't put the whole world to trouble.

Arrived at my bro's about 9:00pm. Was much more human by then. Sent K. sms to let him know I was there. Told him not to leave before I confirmed I was there. He lives too close to my bro's & I didn't want him arriving before me.

He showed up about 10 min later. Introduced him to my bro. Saw them exchange business cards so I guess now if my brother wants to contact him anytime for a man-to-man talk I can't do anything about it. My sister-in-law he'd already met. And he knows D. & M. All in all it wasn't too uncomfortable. My bro was being nice. The TV was on & there was a report about Sudan on BBC so the conversation was about politics to start with. Then K. & my bro started talking football. And my sister-in-law called me & the girls to help her in the kitchen even though she said when we arrived that she didn't need any help.

We went but I kept going back to the living room every 5 min to see how they were getting along. My friends were making fun of me - asking what I was expecting that they'd start throwing punches at each other?How was I supposed to know?Never been in this kind of situation before. After going out there for the 3rd time I sensed that K. was getting pissed off at me. Didn't like the looks I was getting from him. And he had warned me earlier that I didn't need to 'babysit' him. So I was forced to behave.

Over dinner I was the topic of conversation. That happens when you are the one person a lot of people who don't know each other very well have in common. Basically they all started making fun of me, telling all my embarrassing stories etc...All in a nice way. I didn't mind. My bro wouldn't have gone along with that if he didn't like K. There would have been a lot more formality.

K. didn't stay too long after dinner. The whole thing was over by 11:00pm. Stayed just long enough to ask what my bro thought of him. He wouldn't give me a straight answer though. He just told me that it was late & I wasn't well & I should go home - the implication being that he knew I was going to go see K. the minute I left. But he didn't tell me to keep away from the guy or else or anything like that. Had to be content with that.

So I left & drove over to K. building & called him from the parking downstairs. He said ok am coming down & hung up. Geez. At least give me a chance to ask you one question. So we went for one of those famous drives in my car.

Could tell his mood wasn't so great though. So I panicked. And I kept pushing for answers. He lost patience & snapped at me. Really hate it when he does that. Didn't say anything. Kept looking straight ahead. Then I couldn't keep driving so I pulled over.

He said you can't stop here give me the keys so I did. We kept driving around. It was awful. Hate it when he's all silent & brooding & won't aswer questions. I know I should wait until he's ready to say but I get so nervous.

After a while I put on the radio & THEN he started talking.

Him: Your brother says you have to leave in Dec.
Me: But I told you that.
Him: What you told me was that you might be leaving. That was when I first met you. Then you never mentioned it again. And everytime we talked about our future you would say we needed more time. When you say we need more time I assume that we have more time. Not that you're making definite plans to leave.
Me: Am sorry. There are no definite plans. There's a job offer in Morroco but I haven't decided anything yet.
Him: And when were you going to tell me?After you decide?Were you going to leave & then send me a letter?
Me: Why are you shouting?Am sitting right next to you & am not deaf.
Him: I'm sorry. It's late. Let's just go home.
Me: That's it?Conversation starts when you want & ends when you want?It doesn't matter if I have something to say?
Him: Now is not a good time to talk to me. Not if you don't like shouting.
Me: So why did you come out with me?So you can shout?
Him: You're right. It was a mistake to go out tonight. I'm tired.
Me: Fine. Let me drop you off.
Him: No I'll take you home. I can get a cab or something.

When he dropped me off I asked are you even going to call me?He said not tonight. So I just said fine. Then he said I'll call you tomorrow. Just said good night.Went up to my room. Took some cold pills & went to sleep. Was NOT going to cry with my sore throat.

8:00 pm on Sat & he hasn't called. Am I supposed to wait or to call him?

Update: Sent him an sms saying don't you think you're over-reacting?He replied with sms also that he doesn't like secrets. Called him. He didn't pick up. Then he sent me sms that he's out right now & will call me later.

Secrets?What secrets?All I meant to do was not pressure him to take any step he's not convinced of. Didn't want to be like those girls who go & tell a guy ahli gaybeenli 3arees or whatever to force him to propose. And I didn't want to feel we were being rushed.

But of course I was going to tell him. Just thought there was more time to do it.

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Friday, August 05, 2005

Going Around in Circles

Me: So do you still love me?
Him: Ifridi.
Me: Ifridi?What kind of answer is that?
Him: Manti mish bitisa'ali kida lillah fi lillah. Akeed 3ayza 7aga. I have to know what this is going to cost me.
Me: Afraid you will have to marry me tomorrow?
Him: Yafandim da shi yisharafni.
Me: La ya sheikh.
Him: Da ana mish misada'a nafsi min kutr elsharaf.
Me: Ghasban 3anak. Ana asharaf qabeeltak kulaha.
Him: Ma 3andinash yakhti qaba'el.
Me: I7na 3andina. Ba3dain ana aslan I never agreed to marry you.
Him: Na3am?
Me: Especially not when you can't even say you love me.
Him: Excuse me?What have I been saying all day?
Me: Doesn't count. You didn't say it when I wanted it.
Him: Ya salam.
Me: And you're not supposed to care about the cost. You're supposed to be ready to die for me.
Him: Ana 3arif inik 3ayza twadeeni fi dahya. Wallahi min awil yom shoftik feeh.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005


يا ليل مالك آخر يرجي ولا للشوق آخر
لي فى الغرام سريرة والله أعلم بالسرائر
طرفي وطرف النجم فيك كلاهما ساه وساهر
لي فيك اجر مجاهد لو صح أن الليل كافر


Halal or Haram?

My brother A. came over to see me today. Mom told him am sick. We had a talk. Finally told him about K. Guess am easy to interrogate when am not feeling well.

He says he wants to meet the guy. Wants me to bring K. to dinner on Friday. Considering the fact that K. will be back on Thurs that's awfully short notice. Wonder how he'd feel about dinner at my brother's?

Tried to explain that I don't want pressure. He promised no shotgun wedding on Friday but still gave me a lecture about how we're Muslims & not Europeans & I can't expect to be getting involved with men all over the place with no commitment etc.

The C-word again. Commitment. Am scared.

My voice is almost gone. That happens when your throat is blocked. It's painful to speak & I sound really funny. So I couldn't argue much.

Been thinking about the whole we're Muslims argument though. Does being Muslim mean that you can't fall in love before marriage?Should I feel am doing something haram here?Are arranged marriages somehow more Islamic?

There's a hadith that states that someone asked the Prophet if love was halal or haram & the Prophet said:"Al7ub El7alal 7alal wa Al7ub El7aram 7aram.".

My brother says that halal love can only be within marriage.

Update: Ok it's arranged. K. says he has no problem with dinner on Friday. Decided am going to bring 2 of my girlfriends along. That way it feels more casual. Just bringing a group of friends to dinner. A. doesn't like it. He said the point was that he wanted to get to know the guy & have a man-to-man talk. And I said but I don't want you to have a man-to-man talk with him!That's exactly what am afraid of!

D. & M. don't know yet but they're coming even if I have to drag them by the hair!Some friends they would be if they didn't support me in my hour of trial.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Now I know why....

I've been so tired for the last few days. Was coming down with a monumental case of the flu. Has finally arrived. Woke up with a sore throat, heavy head. Been sneezing & coughing all day. And now am running a temperature. Going home early from work. Will try to see a doctor on the way home.

Monday, August 01, 2005

5 Nice Things That Happened To Me Today

1)My supervisor says am a brilliant mind & but that I sometimes lack discipline. Am a brilliant mind?Me?Who cares about discipline? Am happy.You can't have everything right?

2)Went perfume-shopping with my Dad. He bought one perfume & the lady was trying to convince him to buy something more from the same brand because they had a special gift if you spend a certain amount. He didn't want anything more so she started working on me. She was trying to sell me eyeshadow. She offered to do my eye make-up to demo the product. So she did & then she asked my dad isn't she beautiful with this make-up? He told her don't ask me that. She's my daughter. Whatever you do to her I'll still find her beautiful.Then he asked me if I want it. I did so he got it for me.

My Dad never said he thought I was beautiful before.

3)My friend bought me a cute little pink nightdress. It says "I'm Usually Gorgeous But It's My Day Off". Love unexpected gifts. Wearing it right now. Put it on as soon as she gave it to me. She just left.

4)Was trying to register for a new gym class. Found something called Tamarkuz which is supposed to be a mix of yoga & Sufism. Physical & spiritual exercise. Can't imagine what it will be like but looking forward to it. First class is next Sat.

5)K. called this morning. Woke me up for work. As soon as I picked up he said that's it I want to come back now. I asked well was it something I said just now?Was joking though. All I said was hello!
Asked him why he was up so early. He said he hasn't slept yet but was about to when he thought he'd call to see what I'll say. He always says that. Never I called because I have something to say to you. Always I called to see what you'll say. Don't know if that means anything. Here's my mental note to figure it out sometime.

So a new nightie & a new eye-shadow. Both I love. And both gifts. It feels like it's my birthday today.