Friday, March 27, 2009
From Quest to Yin-Yang: sis I'm so so soooo happy you're writing it out! like yeah, take up all the blog sweety .... but you'll have to buy me coffee next time we meet. With whipped cream. :-) ... i've always believed writing is a healing power. Tell it girl, get well ...
To my readers, if anyone has a story to share or an opinion to show and would like to use the healing power of 'writing it out', feel free to email me with a post for publishing. Or, comment away so I know you're reading. Brothers and sisters alike. hey, we're all human :-)
From Yin-Yang to readers:
Thanks everyone for the comments. Man, I feel I'm hogging Quest's blog. Thanks Quest :) I love you. I hope this public declaration of love is well received and that I don't scare your suitors off, ha!
I continue to work, alhamdullilah, but secretly hoping that my firm would approve of my sabbatical leave. As my collegue puts it, we work to get away from work. Not sure if that is healthy...
Not sure where I want to go, I feel I need to go away for a little while just to get my mind off, and to get my mind straight.
Anyway..... in doing up the notes to Part 2 of Tariq Ramadan's talk, I realize I had better attend a French spelling bee contest.
La famille par Tariq Ramadan (The Family, by Tariq Ramadan) Part 2
No one in the world shares your personality, not your brother, and not even your twin. Why is that? Because we are all created as unique beings who interact with others in a certain way.
The first responsibility we have is intropsection, to know ourselves. Before being responsible for another person, we have to be responsible for ourselves.
Each individual, man and woman alike, has his/her tastes, intelligence, and expectations. The first thing to do before finding a husband or a wife is to know what you want, know your expectations.
It is not as simple as 'this person is a Muslim, walhamdullilah'. It doesn't work this way. One should have trust in Allah, yes, but the world today is more complicated; society is more complex - take your time, listen to your needs.
Respond to your needs, and at the same time, respect the Islamic principles. It is not that one should respect the Islamic principles, and forget his/her own needs.
What are your needs? It may be that you need someone who talks with you, who spends time with you, or who listens to you. Or it may be that you need affection, need protection. Remember, you are responsible for your body, mind and soul.
Listen to yourself, make introspections, make an effort - a struggle of the self.
It is not enough to say 'this person is good-looking and has 'ilm', that should suffice. You are not only marrying another person, but also his/her psyche, emotions, intelligence, and also a person who should understand your needs. Understand your own needs, pay attention to your heart.
Everyone has expectations. Many men and women think it is sufficient for the other party to have certain looks and possess a certain amount of knowledge. Consequently, they are then wrecked emotionally when plunged into the daily challenges, because they forget to attend to their own needs and expectations.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ
2:187 They are as a garment for you, and you are as a garment for them.
Your spouse is, therefore, a garment of protection. A garment that protects your vulnerability, your fragility, your wounds, and your needs. A garment that shields you from wind and rain.
What is the wind and rain? Each individual has their weak spots, and one must search for the cover that one needs, whatever that may be for each person. But you need to find yourself, your need to know yourself, and you need to pay attention to yourself.
This is not being egocentric. Knowing yourself needs humility, needs courage, and needs acknowledgement of your own weaknesses.
People nowadays speak of the perfect marriage, but this is only verbal marriage. Nowadays, divorces are on the increase, especially amongst Muslim couples. We don't have a practical plan, it's all theoretical. We need to put Islam in practice.
Each one of us is a unique individual. In a relationship, one should not suffer while the other party gains. No, both parties should develop and blossom together. Remember, we are to return to Allah as an individual, we are responsible for ourselves.
However, as a couple, we must also remember the following:
لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللّهُ نَفْسًا إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ
2:286 God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear
It is true that Allah does not give you more than what you can bear. However, when you decide to live with this man or this woman as a spouse, you must remember the other part of the verse, that is: What you can bear, however, you must bear it.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Have been quite busy at work (since when am I not busy? Quest can attest to that). But I figure it is much better being busy, than free, especially what I am going through. So alhamdullilah wasshukr to Allah. Come to think of it, I shouldn't complain, goodness. Think about what other people in the world are going through...
In the meantime, I have also decided to practice my French after putting it down for 3 years. Really, the one thing that keeps me going in my French is Tariq Ramadan (because he publishes in French a lot).
InshaAllah, I’d like to share with you a translation of one of his talks I attended on families (this was in French). I was taking notes, and I found them to be half in English and half in French, so I hope the below will actually make sense. The italics are my comments and random ramblings.
Family - From the Ideal to Reality, the Steps, the Challenges, the Struggle
It is important to realize that having a family is not only to follow the teachings of the Qur'an, of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), but it is also a daily challenge, a voyage.
We often speak of following the Prophet (Peace be upon him), but the true following of the Prophet is not only in theory, but in spirit.
Allah said in the Qur'an (3:31):
قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
"Say [O Prophet]: "If you love God, follow me, [and] God will love you and forgive you your sins; for God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace."
Following the Prophet in the truest sense is to approach Allah.
We have the best example in the Prophet (SAW). Everyone knows this, but the best example in what? People always speak of following the sunnah in such ritualistic way, but they forget the essence in following the sunnah is in their manners, in their interaction with others. Being decent to one another is not sinful, you know. Why can't we learn to smile, why can't we learn to be decent, why can't we learn just to be, well, human? In love and in spirit.
Therefore, in forming a family, we should always remember not only in the way of applying the rules, but more importantly, in applying one's heart to the rules.
We have to model ourselves after the Prophet in educating our hearts how to better love and to better understand the other.
Not only do we need to translate the principles in our lives, we need to bring our hearts to our lives. Not only do we need to bring our hearts to our lives, we need to bring in our knowledge to our lives. All this is to reach our goal of approach the Unique.
And therefore, when the Prophet tells us that we should love him more than anything, more than our parents and even ourselves, it is not that he is arrogant (astaghfirullah) and that he thinks he is the most important person in the world (though he definitely is), but it's because he wants the good for us. He knows that it is by loving and following him as an example in heart, spirit, and actions, that we can approach Him. Everything that the Prophet did and advised us to do was only for our own good.
Forming a family, living with another man or woman in marriage, to be a father/ mother is a struggle, a daily struggle.
With all this, there is one reality that one should never forget: As an individual, one is responsible of oneself, one's heart, and one's intelligence.
That said, the quality of Oneness belongs only to Allah. Allah had mentioned in His book that all things are created in pairs. Humans, like nature, like animals, are destined in our solitude to live with another, to find the other half of faith.
One is alone in needs, but this is not exclusive. Marriage is not an obligation in Islam. There are many scholars, great people who choose not to marry. However, it is a recommended act, because it gives peace to one's heart.
A true couple strives for peace together, strives to blossom together, and strives for the well-being of both.
Allah is the path in the heart, but a spouse is the support to one in remaining faithful on this path. God as the path, and your spouse as the partner in the journey.
Monday, March 23, 2009
So Quest has kindly invited me to write on the blog again. Or should I say, Quest has always welcomed me to blog, I have just never got around to it (i.e. lazy)
My one year quest ended yesterday, 21st of March 2009, the exact one-year anniversary (if I may put it that way) of me knowing the potential.
I thought we had a lot in common, I thought he had everything that I was looking for, I thought I can also bring in a lot to the relationship, we met up, spoke, his mother spoke to me, my mother spoke to him, all seemed fine, (this went on about for 1 year) and suddenly, he said, 'let's just be friends'.
Niceness is cruelty itself. Yet, perhaps it is better being nice than harsh. It hurts, it feels I can never meet another person like that, it feels painful, my heart hurts. But I know that life must move on, life will move on, inshaAllah.
Perhaps the following lyrics will describe my emotions better:
"Watching the stars till they're gone
Like an actor all alone
Who never knew the story he was in
Who never knew the story ends.
Like the sky reflecting my heart
All the colors become visible
When the morning begins
I'll read the last line
In endless rain I've been walking
Like a poet feeling pain
Trying to find the answers
Trying to hide the tears
But it was just a circle
That never ends
When the rain stops, I'll turn the page
The page of the first chapter
Am I wrong to be hurt
Am I wrong to feel pain
Am I wrong to be in the rain
Am I wrong to wish the night won't end
Am I wrong to cry
But I know, It's not wrong to sing The Last Song
Cause forever fades
I see red
I see blue
But the silver lining gradually takes over
When the morning begins
I'll be in the next chapter"
I look forward to being in the next chapter, whatever the content may be, whatever the story may be, whenever the page turns....
One comfort I have is that the verbal noun of 'being broken' ِانكِسَارٌ in Arabic (Form VII), being the reflexive from of the Form I verb كَ سَ رَ (broke), is a quality that Allah loves, because it is in this state that one feels his/her true reliance on Allah, that He makes us realize that HE is in charge, not us. When one is in this state, inshaAllah the One will give................
Lastly, as the man who I also admire a lot, Tariq Ramadan, had once said, to be a Muslim does not translate (from a language point of view) to 'the one who submits', but 'the one who is at peace with God, the one who enters into God's peace'.
I need to find this peace, I need to be peaceful, I need to be a Muslim.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The best thing happened to me yesterday. I'm sitting in an auditorium listening to the Muslim, French-Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan speak about how the U.S treats Muslim-majority states.
I'm focused. Eyes wide open. As if forgetting to blink. The hour passes and he's finished. Applause. The moderator announces: "and now I'm sure you all have burning questions so we're opening the floor for a Q&A".
My hand shoots up before he finishes his sentence. I begin: "Professor Ramadan, assalamu alaikum. Thank you for an amazing talk and I'll start with a less political but more of a cultural question. You seem to model your speech so that the United states is in one basket, and muslim states in another. And then you mention that the U.S needs our discourse, needs new discourses by Muslims here. How about the muslim ummah in the west? There are many muslims there who shape their lives and careers to address only 'westerners' and to make da'wa through constructive ways. What do you make of these people?"
He answers. Of course saying that no matter what, "we", as in Muslims in the west, will always be considered as "outsiders" no matter what we do. I take his point and I accept it.
But as he finishes I have more. I want to ask another question so I do. In the middle of the sentence, the moderator cuts me off. I was startled because I was really focused on what I was saying. Then, I shyly, and sheepishly -- shut my yap up.
To my utter surprise and total amazement, Tariq Ramadan -- who caught the question I was trying to pose -- looks at me, completely ignores the moderator who shut me up, and proceeds to answer my question.
Not in a word. Not in a line. In lines and lines and lines! He explains ideas on reformation in Islam, on how we need to combine the text with the world, on how scholars of fiqh should realize that they need to join hands with scholars of the world, on 'moderate muslims' and how that's problematic. On and on and on and on. SubhanAllah! I was like Allah, I love you. And if I'm to die now, I'd die happy.
Tariq Ramadan is by far an inspiration beyond bounds. May Allah (swt) keep him for our ummah. Ameen.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Something's been bugging me lately, and I wanted to get your opinion on it. The topic is a bit less pretty than the question of marriage, but nonetheless, I'm really wanting some opinion.
I wrote about it in my other blog:
Let's hear what you think! And the picture you see is of Anne Frank.
You'll see the point when you read the other blog.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Howz it going folks, howz the other end of the world doing? As requested, here's a reminder of my Beirut Blog address:
And now, let the Quest continue! ;)
A few days ago I attended a family wedding near Jounieh outside Beirut. Yes, I’m sitting at our table, holding my little camcorder filming all the luxury around me – food, band, mc, dancers, art show, candles in bohemian crystals, ten layered cake, silk dresses, diamond rings, silk flowers and all the rest of it. The “too much-ness” of it all must have put a bizarre look on my face, in any case a man somehow approaches me and says: “ I want to dance with you”.
As if his words triggered something in me, I found myself pausing then retreating into my memories-- not all of them, just the ones about suitors and weddings.
One of the things we discuss with a suitor especially as we approach the nikkah is the question of the wedding and how we want it to happen.
Let me admit: Even though I’ve attended weddings most of my life, and had sort of pointless talks with suitors about the wedding, simply because I didn’t know what I wanted, only now I know what I want in mine – or “don’t want”. O boy. Be better than this. Don’t wait this long.
Sisters, I’m afraid this is addressed mostly to you. To brothers as well, but she is the princess of the night and he’ll try to make her happy. So, again, ladies, know what you want. The earlier the better.
Here are a few tips that come to mind:
Mixed or Separate
For those who know that the question of mixed or separate wedding is not an issue, and that they’ll have a separate-gender one all the way (or vice versa) then go thank Allah (swt) because you’ve been spared a huge headache.
For the rest, ask yourself: Do you imagine that in your wedding you’ll have to find a happy medium between having it mixed or separate? Do you imagine that your parents or his will request a mixed one, while you both want a separate one? Find out if you fit this category. That’s a huge step.
Mixing it Up
Do you imagine that you’ll “halalify” your mixed wedding? If yes, grab a piece of paper and pen, and write down your definition or description of what makes a mixed wedding acceptable for your (and his) Islamic values.
When you’re done, put that paper away in your drawer, then go downstairs and in a conversation over cookies and some warm tea, ask your family how they imagine your wedding to be like. Take notes in your head, and see if that halalified wedding can in reality be contained within the boundaries you’ve given it. In other words, can you manage to keep it halal and satisfy your family’s expectations at the same time?
External Family Obligations
Define “family”. Write down every name. Yes, each and every name of the family member who you want to attend your wedding/walimah. Now, on a piece of paper, divide the page in two columns – name one “differences” and the other “similarities”. Write down what you imagine are the similarities in Islamic values shared by the list of family members. Then, write down the differences. When you’re done, ask yourself how these similarities and differences may complicate things when all the family gets together to “help” prepare your wedding.
Was it Bob Marley who said: “ No woman no cry”. Maybe he said that after his wedding. Single ladies, the big question – how much poorer will the groom get after the wedding? And his daddy, and uncles and your daddy and uncles and the rest of the income-making souls in both families.
If your family and/or his can afford it, good news. You’ll get the big night with shine and glory and everyone goes home happy. But if you’re less fortunate and it’s the groom who’ll single handedly pay for the big day, now is a good time my sister to get rid of the fairy tale wedding you’ve imagined for yourself.
Not because it’s wrong to think of a fairy tale wedding or to have one. You are the best. You deserve the best my sister. But think with me: define a ‘perfect wedding’. Is it crystals, gold, lights, luxury, limos and jaguars parked outside?
Are “things” the tools for your happiness that night, or is it your heart and what makes it happy? Remember all the weddings you’ve attended, and write down the things that made your heart dance in joy when you saw them at the wedding.
A sincere Dua given, a tear from a mother, a speech delivered by a best friend, a Qur’an recitation segment, an azan heard before you walk in with him—the best thing I’ve seen was at a sisters-only wedding ceremony and an extremely shy girl who never never never never never never dances at any sisters wedding, not even at that of her own biological sister, got up and said, “you all know I don’t dance, but I’m going to try tonight just for you Ayesha”. There were some serious tears of joy in Ayesha’s eyes for sure. In mine too And I know Ayesha will never forget that special moment in her wedding.
Therefore, write your descriptions down and see for yourself what makes for a “perfect wedding”. Don’t hold back anything and don’t be afraid of being wrong. It’s better to be wrong on paper than in real life when the big day comes.
Last but not least, you can have the best plan for your wedding day, and know exactly what you want together in agreement with your groom, but if you don’t have what it takes to make it happen – it’s all useless.
In other words, you’ll probably make a few people in your family not so happy when you announce your own wedding plans that may be different from what they want for you. It’s a very sensitive line to walk and I’ve seen many unhappy brides who had to give in to what their families wanted. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not asking you to rebel and revolt and hurt your family. In the end, they care.
But the point is you might have to be prepared for some tough negotiations, a few tears and some heated discussions. Don’t be afraid of this. And remember that Allah (swt) will ease the difficult. You might be surprised how their hearts change quickly as if magically, all with the blessing of Allah (swt).
Alright folks. That’s all she wrote, don’t forget your istikharah of course, and I’ll write you more as I attend more weddings!
And of course I said a big whopper “NO” to the guy who asked to dance with me. But I’m happy he asked. All these reflections wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t :)