Good visuals excite me.
The beauty of nature mesmerizes me.
Memories of Pakistan nostalgia-te me.
Position of women worries me.
Chauvinists exasperate me.
Preachers of false dogmas enrage me.
Terrorism sickens me.
Extremists frustrate me.
Moral policing infuriates me.
The lost community baffles me.
Racism saddens me.
Political bastards need to get a life!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Caught Between a Rock and an Immigrant Identity

While browsing through a list of shows, I happened to watch an interview of Pervaiz Musharraf. When talking about terrorism, the discussion went for a moment to the 7/7 London attacks. The host pointed out that a Pakistani man was also part of that attack and Musharraf went on to declare how that person was a second or third generation, born to Pakistani immigrants, Britisher. He himself and Pakistan has nothing to do with the acts of a national of another country, and the UK needs to take care of it itself. This led me to question, yet again, who am I and what is my identity?

Technically and legally that may be true. But how true is it really? Born-Abroad people I guess will always at some point (or all of their life) be caught up in this question of who exactly are they? I know I've been in a tug of war with it since forever. It feels like being in a magnetic field where there is constant pull and push.

Immigrant communities are nothing short of being as dirty as radical groups. Their radicalism doesn't necessarily lie in the day to day pulling out a of gun and shooting a flock of white birds, but more so like the politics of a jungle. The stronger members are fierce with keeping the group together. They do not let the youngsters get separated (willingly or unwillingly), and in the event of such an occurrence - has any one seen the Battle at kruger? Undoubtedly in the case of those buffaloes, everyone would applaud their courage and strength, but we are after all humans, and certainly different than animals. The game of will works differently with us. But coming back to the point of identifying oneself. Legally, yes that Pakistani involved in 7/7 is a Britisher and he is Britain's problem, not Pakistan's. But even so, culturally and emotionally, his association with Pakistan cannot be dismissed, even if he was a tenth generation immigrant. What is the reason for that? The activity and position of immigrants in a host country.

Immigrants are unique people with individual behavior that speaks volumes of their distinction from the natural citizens. Now this man may have never been to Pakistan, but because of his associations, he will never be purely British. But because of his British exposure, he will not be completely known or understood in Pakistan either. Considering the burden of his Pakistani immigrant community, he has more than not lived a very Pakistani upbringing. He may be walking around in England, but he comes home to a very Pakistani family and community. Depending on who he is walking with, he may have to be careful with restraining from areas where there are too many Pakistani restaurants. And after all this, if his personal tendency is more British than Pakistani, he is still unique and subject to racial stereotyping.

Migration is a very old human phenomenon, and inevitable. And as diverse and rich this planet is, it is aught to produce various kinds of people. God created one man and one woman only, the rest of us are a result of the processes and systems. This earth has a very deep impact on the human behaviorism. From people who build communities in the mountains to those in the flat-lands to those living close to water. Each element shapes us. We learn from, and find ourselves through the visual and non-visual metaphors of this earth.

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." [Qur'an 49:13]

So why is it that migrants and immigration and integration and xenophobia are becoming such nuisance?

" To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute."
[Qur'an 5:48]

Because obviously with each passing time we are becoming more and more destructive, chaotic, selfish and corrupt.

I got a little side-tracked there. But it's still quite important. Because one, we are no longer interested in knowing one another. Two, we are way too interested in and arrogant about ourselves. Everything else is stupid, nonsensical, and less dignified. This creates tension within a born-abroad person. He has first hand knowledge of people who are not his "own", and secondhand information over those he must identify with. He may develop warmer feelings with his first hand associations or extreme love for his fantasy - a distant, exotic land where the genes of his ancestors have shaped. In either case, the opposition is unhappy.

Integration is a funny word. Your parents don't want it. And the natural residents don't seriously mean it. So what is the freakin' muggle to do? If I am born in England, why do I still call myself a born-abroad Pakistani? I have a Pakistani passport too, so what is my legal destiny if I kill someone? I've had a very Pakistani upbringing that I absolutely do not connect with, should I feel ashamed of that? The President has clearly cut me off as a Pakistani. Are these feelings and connections controllable? Must humans be predictable? As God himself says, if He wanted, everything would be exactly as what we would perceive as utopia. But it isn't, and that is the test. Being different isn't a crime, that is what's keeping the times rolling. Being constant would have killed us all a long time ago.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Happily Ever After :)

I love watching this. Mixed marriages are beautiful :D
God bless them!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Muslim Women and Non-Muslim Men, the Dilemma!

This post is incredibly late, but as some of you might know of the poll I did a while back regarding Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men, the results left me quite amazed. So without further ado, here is the screen shot of the poll and it's results:

I had put two questions on my blog. One, should a Muslim woman be given the choice to marry a non-Muslim? Two, Should a Muslim woman annul a perfectly happy marriage with a non-Muslim man? In an glance you'll find a majority-vote against the conforming view, which is of course, excellent. But even more of a surprising result, at least for me, is the vote cast by men.

Initially when I started looking into this subject, and of course my first point of attack was Google-search, it looked pretty glum. Fatwas by the randoms, blogs, articles and forums, all against Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men. I read views by Muslim women being all arrogant and sarcastic. Men being pretty much barbaric and talking absolute insanity. But between all this strictness I found tiny voices questioning the what-ifs.

I have to admit, people are still not comfortable with being open about their stance on the subject. I wonder what the results would have been had I enforced an identity-reveal to be able to vote. Then again, this problem lies within the entire Islamosphere. If you're saying something that does not align with the prevalent viewpoint, you HAVE to be anonymous with it. Quite a negligible percentage of people actually do go all out with their scandalous opinions, and we all know what happens then. *cough*ontherun*cough*.

Coming back to the actual results. First of all, I knew there would be women voting against question number one. But it was amazing to see how little the number of such women was compared to those who were for it. I also knew that there would be a hell of a lot of men against this. But it put a nice smile on my face to see an equal number voting for it. What is very obvious from these results is the proportion of men to women that conform to the norm *i-wunderz-why*. As for question number two, again, the result is very anti-conforming.

The dilemma:

I have a problem with these results though. Not that I wanted an opposing reaction. But rather why is this result so radically different than what real life has handed down to me? I am not going to question the need for anonymity, as that is pretty much understood, but rather how come it is so that a majority view is the silenced view? Some people are powerful because the rest give them power. And the more aggressive one group and ideology will be, the more will the rest seek refuge from it, or rather stay quiet and get on with their lives selfishly because no one wants unwanted and uninvited disruption. So is this the essence of modern day Islam? What Islam really is, is one thing. I've had enough people telling me to shut up and stop talking rubbish against Islam. Well honeys, who the hell is doing that? Let me correct those of you yet again, it is the culture and corrupt elite of Islam that I've honestly have had enough of.

Some of you may be wondering why I have lost my mind and taking the result of this insignificant poll to reflect the entire ummah of Islam? Sure I won't turn a blind eye to those having fun with the poll, but I can' turn a blind eye to reality either. In this journey of finding something fruitful, I've encountered quite a bit of insight into the working systems of our culture and society. And it's not pretty.

Why are we following something out of fear and not love? Why is this fear so strong that we are willing to live in inbreeding hatred and then take it to the grave? What has turned us into such cowards? Or is the sword of jihadis in our homes, mosques, neighborhoods, societies and this world so blunt that it is easier to kill ourselves with our own sharpened blades? Is Islam a system, or a way of life? Is hierarchy to be abused, or practiced to ensure everyone's protection? When they read there is no compulsion in religion, are they dyslexic and seeing something totally different? Or is it selective-dyslexia that is turned on each time a peaceful, inclusive and loving statement is encountered? What kind of insecurity is this that forces some to be permanently armed against those who just want peace? There is a heaven and hell ultimately, and a God for sure who will be making some final decisions. Then why are we already creating a hell on earth and making decisions that don't fall under our jurisdiction? Men and women who do good on earth to get their 72 virgins ... what kind of perverts are you?

Marriage is a union of two people where they come together to become each other's support through the thick and thin of life. I am not going to judge those who stay single since marriage is not a mandatory act, but having a sincere partner does give one a peace of mind. Everything on this earth comes in pairs, and so do we. So it is only natural to have these instinct of wanting a partner. What I am most certain of is that marriage was definitely not God's idea of making our lives a living horror. Unfortunately, today it is noting short of exactly that. There are lots of reasons for why that it so, but one of them certainly is the lack of understanding of the essence of marriage. It is not a business deal, not a way to pay for the harm you might have caused someone, not a way to gain power over someone, not to harass anyone, not to get rid of our daughterly burdens, not to conform to a society and neither to boost one's ego through getting the perfect catch. A marriage is to nurture healthy societies, bring a concept of respect, do away with a destructive and lust-oriented lifestyle and most importantly, make two people happy.

There definitely are lots of women who would not even think of marrying outside their religion. More often because they don't want to bring shame to their family than because that is what their heart truly desires. In comparison there are not many of those who choose to, or randomly end up with a non-Muslim. But the choice should be an honest, unadulterated and unforced one. Choices make up the very center of human character, and if these choices are heavily influenced, it is not resulting in strong people. And with the excessive freedom of choice, if we tomorrow find that a majority of women are choosing non-Muslim partners, then the Muslim men need to look into the situation and figure out why they are the lesser choice!

Muslim women in the West are growing up in and facing different situations today than their counterparts in the East. Different. Not better or worse. Their circumstances, their rights, and their legal strength allows them to make choices without falling into the trap of reasons that the Ulema give for them to stay away from non-Muslims. And all reasons aside, if this choice ultimately boils down to making God angry, then let Him talk to this flouting lot, and let Him punish them. Everybody else, please put your weapons away.

Those who oppress and those who succumb to oppression are both hell-bound.

Yeah Yeah, Brainwash Them Twats!

Wow. What a brilliant way to teach young girls of how to stay away from non-Muslim men! Throw in a blue-eyed, blond atheist who tells you to take your scarf off in the middle of the night. Of cooouuuuuuurse all of them like that. Stupid, good-for-nothing, flirtatious, extremely handsome, two-timing, alcohol consuming, sex-wanting, lustful non-Muslims. eeeeeeewwwwwwww!

Blooody stereotyping!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gathering Remnants of My Dearly Beloved

I've been reading conspiracy theories about HAARP and the massive, unwarned flooding that has left millions of Pakistanis not only homeless, but trapped in the vicious cycle of post-flooding disease and trauma. I'm left dumbfounded by the irritatingly vacuous media coverage and analysis of the AirBlue flight 202 crash. And I've been watching the nation get divided over the Sialkot event where one side seems to have lost all hope and is cursing every system and soul in the country, and the other just helpless, yet optimistic through counting failures of other nations, thereby soothing themselves. And while all this was not already accomplishing the goal of disrupting national unity and laying a solid foundation for eternal damage, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (assumedly) jumped in to make sure that any left optimism is double-check murdered.

Oftentimes we hear illiteracy, poverty and feudalism being labeled as the root evils of our society. And that is not far from the truth, it's playing it's part quite sufficiently in keeping the progressive attitude oppressed. But as a whole, the un- and the educated lot, there are two serious issues with us. One, lack of fairness. And I don't care for political fairness, that is a crappy Utopian ideology and exists nowhere (if The Simpsons didn't already simplify that for you)! I am referring to public fairness at an individual level. And alongside this empirical nation-trait runs unity, and not that of ravage and vandalism, but of support and praise.

I understand (at some warped level), but absolutely do not condone this chain of public outbursts. But what's a person to do when nothing is going right and there happens to be a stone at your feet? I also know that in all of such public showcases of vandalism, there is a decent amount of people who are just having fun with being able to throw this stone at something big and shiny that doesn't belong to them. This is an example of the height of unfairness by the people, to the people. Talking of proper queues is such a tired cliche. I don't know if the system has gotten any better, but have you experienced applying for a passport, standing in a queue from nine in the morning till four in the evening, realizing that you have hardly moved an inch? So in this situation, I barely see poverty or illiteracy being the problem. If you are poor, you violate the rights of the privileged by reason of an inferiority complex. If you are the privileged, you violate the rights of the poor by reason of a superiority complex. This critically prevalent holier-than-thou attitude is doing nothing but feeding an arrogant and suspicious nation.

Second point that I raised was of support and praise. As a nation, I feel, we've developed an incredible amount of restraint in allowing ourselves to appreciate each others' successes. On the contrary, we are jealous and critical of anything that moves, to say the least. This issue runs from the system down to the individual. We are so self-involved that it hurts to see another surpass us. We will put our own brother in trouble to make sure we can afford that new car! The banks have played an impressive role in lining up millions of court cases that may appear as simple as a defaulting client, but underneath it is a complex mesh of family businesses gone wrong. As a system we fail to support a genius mind who is incapable of meeting soaring education fee. As an individual we fail to support talents that have the capacity to bring national pride. Google Pakistan, the highest ranking information is pornographic crap with frustrated boys and men cursing anything female for being female.

There is nothing that we are proud of as a nation. Fake, empty, Muslim pride is all that we talk of. Soaking in skin-deep worries, the aim of our life is to make sure we, as an individual have it all, and we, as an individual have the best. It is so confusing to talk about Pakistan. It is the same country where millions have gone homeless, and the same country whose people go abroad for shopping and vacationing. I am horrified by the materialist attitude of the young generation. Horrified by the materialist gauge by which we judge everyone and make friends. I am horrified even by memories of vandal motorcyclists on Sunday mornings and independence day that pulverized all enthusiasm of national pride. My plea is not to the poor and illiterate man, who has possibly lost everything in this anarchic country, but to those who still manage to arrange for themselves a decent twice-a-day meal. We may not have control over bombings and natural disasters, but we do have control over how we project ourselves as a people. We need to kill arrogance and materialism, and replace it with humility, trust and respect. Have the patience to listen to an opposing viewpoint (Facebook ban). Drop that cool act and be concerned, aware and active even when there is not a situation. Stop building castles in the air and talk big of a revolution-to-be. We fancy a French revolution or a civil war to bring a halt to our problems, but we forget how bloody these can be - nothing to look forward to. The time to change from words to actions came and went. What needs to reclaimed, must be reclaimed. And it must be done now! Only great nations produce great leaders. Do we have the potential to be a great nation?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Moral Police Love Women in Bed that Moan

OMG! If I come across such amazingly stupid people, I just can't stop laughing! Especially when they are caught. LOL. What a retard this one that I came across. So a man called Nazrir Ahmed (whose privacy I absolutely do NOT care about) just sent me a private message a while back saying, " U r just chalenging the islamic laws for the sake of publicity and money" and that, "U shd mend ur words abt religion." Now. Considering my situation, I would really say I wish I was earning some money, was a millionaire, and had a massive villa on a nice hilltop somewhere in Marseilles. Unfortunately, that is not really the case. And also that those of you who really understand what I am talking about in my blog, or otherwise, it's nothing against religion, but more a true understanding of it. And just cursing some real bastards on the way. And man do I love God. His mercy doesn't stop sending those my way. Otherwise I'd be having a dead blog right here. And no I don't want that. My therapist has strictly advised against it. hahahhahahaha.

Moving on. I asked the man what exactly has disturbed his existence, so I can talk a bit more seriously about the issue, and help him understand my position. While I was thinking all angelic to help this poor soul out, I thought, why not check his profile out. Of course, such men don't have balls enough, and there was hardly enough present on his wall to be stalking. But just enough *evil*. There was a link about a post he made on a "Sexy Women" fan-page. Still being all angelic that I am, I thought man he must've cursed or something on there. And to my surprise. What a generous man he turned out to be. ahahahahahah. To quote his post, "It is fantastic to have sexy women in bed because they moan a lot."

Now. Tell me. What would your reaction have been if you were in my place? All I know is that there was a massive earthquake of laughter within me. I spilled my lazily prepared cup of afternoon coffee all over the table and floor. I had coffee coming out of my nose. My mouth. I was coughing the last drops of this divine caffeine out of my lungs. Tears were like this herd of loose big bulls. And I have a feeling something went silent on the top floor; my neighbors probably stopped to make sure they were only hearing someone laughing hysterically and not .. oh well, you get the point. ahahahahah.

And to prove this is not made up, and such $%^%^&^ do exist, here's a screen-shot of the conversation:

And a screen-shot of the Sexy Women fan-page:

Now that I feel a lot more calm. LOL. Getting to serious business. Who has the nerve to now tell me that I should look at the positive side, and pay heed to those that have a clear focus? How can I concentrate and not get mad when such blokes pop up every fortnight! How can I not talk about such creeps of our society when it is precisely this sort of people who have messed our system inside out?! It is not a recent or new height of hypocrisy that has been touched with the sudden boom of internet and cyber-sex over the past decade. But I thank cyber-sex for allowing me to pin-point such hypocrisy and show it as proof!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Horror that Pakistan is Becoming

I tried, but I just could not resist from speaking my mind about this. It's about the murder of the two brothers in Sialkot. So many things are going on in my head and I can't seem to make coherent my chain of thought. I've watched the video a couple of times and it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch the interviews of the family members of these boys.

First of all. What I can't seem to make sense of is the public that is casually watching and getting a kick out of this real-life/realtime bloodshed. Apparently there are two boys being killed by two other men, there are a couple of policemen, and quite a large audience. Why isn't anyone screaming against this atrocity and trying to toss some sense into the so-called saviors of the public? Oh wait, didn't I hear the police in fact telling the murderers to finish the boys off? What kind of society is this? Here I am going on about women not having any rights, but then this is precisely the problem! How can anyone have rights in a country where the law is the biggest enemy of the public? How can there ever be justice in a country where the public is too scared, or too lazy to ask for justice? How can a people or country progress, when this is the rate and speed at which we are aching for change? What can I expect from people when they've lost their sense of reason and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

In a news bit that I was listening to, they were saying that all policemen and murderers will be caught in two to four days time. What precisely do they intend on doing in two to four days? This action should happen overnight! In a matter of a few hours! What selfish pigs are we that we only get ignited and hasty when it is "my" blood that is lost, when it is "I" that is suffering? It is not even a question that human life is so fucking invaluable. We've been taught and indoctrinated to accept it like so. This repeat-process of the killing of the aam insaan has made us insensitive towards it. Who is scared of a roadside shooting incident or a bomb blast anymore? No weddings are postponed, no restaurants are shutdown. One holiday to relax, and then you're back on the road. Life goes on. Big deal. This is our attitude now. And this is precisely what is turning each and every one of us barbaric. We sit, relax and enjoy life till it slaps us across the face. And the next day we tie a band around a forehead and take part in the next shooting. Screw that!

People sitting in the government calculate their power by the amount of murders they've got on hand and the number of cases they've got in court. People on the road calculate their power according to who can speak the bigger word. Who's got more land? Who won the lottery? Who's going to spend their vacation in their farmhouse in Ireland! Who went shopping to Dubai this season? Who's got a private security force in their house? Am I talking about the same country here where millions of people have gone homeless? This amazing contrast in the kind of people that make up Pakistanis is fucking amazing. Third world country? I don't think so.

What is Pakistan? What are Pakistanis thinking? What do they want? Are they even serious? Or is it just that the life of the aam insaan is so unimportant to consider, that it is security enough that officials have a bank account or a house elsewhere on the planet, and that is enough?!

Regardless to even point out that we are in the middle of Ramadan! I am no one to point at someone's piety, or how seriously they take Ramadan. But does it not soften ones heart to just be going through these holy days? I know it has an effect on people. You hold yourself from becoming angry or getting into a fight or being unreasonable. And it is a very conscious effort. Regardless of how Muslim you are or are not. Then what got into these people that they've summoned the absolute wrath of God in the holiest of the months?

For myself. Even if I said that there is no god, then it is precisely at such a moment that I would say, I hope there is a God. And I hope He is writing names down.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Error 403: Forbidden Love (Disrupting Systems)

Alright. First thing first. The initial driver behind this slow regression from my blog was this exhibition that I was working on. Disrupting Systems was the 2010 Masters graduation exhibition of the Piet Zwart Institute of the Willem de Kooning Academy, and I was part of this. No, unfortunately just barging into an exhibition doesn't get you a degree, therefore, this reality still renders me an under-graduate. The exhibition was at the former Fotomuseum (future WORM) in Rotterdam between the 2nd and the 19th of July. It included works by four graduating students and about seven of the 1st year students.

Anyways. Of the four graduating students was Farrah Shakeel, an international student here from Pakistan, and with whom my interest lies. I met Farrah completely randomly through this monstrosity of the virtual web, as I have a few other nice people as well. Through our initial talks I got to know what she was working on for her thesis, and that kind of led me into becoming more and more interested in somehow becoming a part of it. It was very me-relevant; it was about the Pakistani immigrants in Europe, specifically focusing on women and this whole issue of migration and integration. We had lots of talks around this, and she was also concerned about the vastness of the subject, and mutually we sort of landed on a focal point that was interesting for the both of us. We presented the idea to her course director and the external juror, and it was super well received, and that is how I hijacked a graduation project :P ... oh well ..

Farrah recently married a Dutch man, and they have a beautiful relationship, not only together, but with their families as well. And for me, the reality is opposite. Those of you who've read my earlier posts can understand where I am coming from. Those of you who haven't, my life dilemma revolves around the marital choice I want to make as a result of my life experiences as opposed to my migrant parents and the strong bonds they hold with a country and culture they left behind a couple of decades ago. This is what brought us together: the desire of one, and the accomplishment of another. Of course the more ironic part stands the different worlds we come from, and for whom this should've been possible. So, bottom line, we combined this into a single project: (Pakistani)Muslim girls in the West and Interfaith Marriage, and called it:
Error 403: Forbidden Love.

The project is basically an effort to voice inter-faith marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men. To voice the hardship of girls in my predicament and showcase the cold attitude of my community - the Pakistani migrant community in Europe.

At the end. We received a really positive response. It was great to have met people who had a similar story to share, or were just glad to see this issue up. Of course, what I would've wanted more would be to have a larger Muslim or Pakistani audience. But seeing the kind of dull response earlier on anyways towards some form of an enlightening dialog, was disappointing. Nevertheless, I also understand why that is. Farrah's thesis Pakistani-Muslim Identity & Migration and the Rules of Interfaith Love puts further light on this. It's a very comprehensive, interesting and gutsy thesis, also since it's always nicer to read brain-tickling material about yourself from your own people as opposed to foreigners. Anyone interested in it can scream now.

The thesis covers the following topics: early migration, creation of Pakistan, Pakistani migration, first and second generation, Islam and the female, Pakistani women in love, interfaith/bi-racial issues, comparison of the issues Muslim women face as opposed to men, and the public view.

It is nothing new to say this, but it's never enough to do so either: a compatible partner is what makes a marriage work, not a single religion. A similar approach towards (whatever)religion, life and people is what will make a marriage last, not just the naive idea that the presence of a single religion will do wonders. Within religion there are so many divisions, people are so much more learned now, both men and women, everyone is so much more opinionated than they ever were, globalization has made it so much easier to coin one's own world view and live by that ... however on earth can you imagine to make it work just because some basic facts match? It has to be a lot deeper than that. It has to be a lot specific than that. We are responsible for the situation we stand in today, this multi-culti-ism that we've decorated around ourselves. Not that it's a horrible place to be at, but now that we're here, this is what we've got to work with, and have got to make it work. I firmly believe in the idea that whatever position we're in right now, at this very moment, is a result of a chain of events that has been happening from the beginning of this world. Sure we've encountered cross-roads, sure we had choices, but the choices made were a result of who we were becoming, what held more worth at that point in time. And here we are today. What are you going to do? Pull a stunt and make everyone believe we're back in the 1st century? That definitely ain't happening darling. But what can happen, is work towards getting the best out of what we have, make the right choice at the crossroad we are at today.

To see more pictures of the project you can click here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lost in Self

So it's been an eternity since I last posted. I've been away for so long, it's hardly funny. I don't really consider myself a public figure, so is a public apology really my obligation? Or perhaps there are one or two people who do deserve my apology. So here I am. On the World Wide Web, humbly apologizing for my selfish escape.

But Ramadan is here. Which basically means a quick way to put on some weight. Firstly, Happy Ramadan all of you. Blessings for everyone, including myself. The greed that we desis have for food is unmatched anywhere in the world. Hands down. You cannot win over a desi's appetite ... unless I guess it's some McDonald's obsessed American . So, in this massive greed for something fried, my desiness urged for some Ramadan pakoras .. and viola! A whole bunch of sadistic oil drops splattered across my face and neck, leaving horrible marks and balloons. Everything is much subtle now, but women really don't like such accidents you know

A lot has happened since and I don't think one blog would be fair, or enough to cover all that. But to mention some highlights: I collaborated with (now) a dear friend and worked on a project that ultimately was presented in the form of her graduation exhibition. Took a little stroll under the Eiffel tower. Some desi stories that totally flipped me out. And of course, to discuss the results of the poll. So stay tuned for all this, and more.

I would also really like to state here the wonderful increase in the amount of people joining my facebook page, Freedom of Marital Choices for Muslim Women. Before creating this, I really didn't think many people would support this idea, as the underlying basis of it includes freedom of religious choices as well; freedom for women to choose compatible men over binding themselves with religious restrictions. I am absolutely thrilled about that. But I am truly looking forward to some more (and substantial) Pakistani support. If you haven't already joined it, but support the cause, you can click here, or find a link in the right column.

To have a looksie at my project you can follow this link that'll direct you to my facebook album.

As for France, it's lovely :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I am an Immigrant, a Third Class Citizen (2)


The sun was going down fast. I hated winter for it winded back my curfew time. Zeenat and I were pacing fast, 2 blocks away from home. My mother had already called four times since I left school. Why did I feel so anxious about these calls? Zeenat was blabbing on about some girl in her breathless mode. Someone's sister was seen at a gynecologist by herself. Oh, alright, she was by herself - that's news!

"Emaan, tera dimaagh khraab hai!" Mother shrieked as I swiftly walked past by the kitchen up to my room, of course, not forgetting my manners of greeting her. I was in no mood for any meaningless gibberish - yeah, yeah, I'm thirty minutes late. "Janti nahi apnay baap ko!" O yes, I know my dad all too well.

All this nonsense drove me nuts. What interest we have in others' lives. How can we assume things about others, or make rules for others, when we don't know what it's like to be in their shoes. Parents know their children like the back side of their hand. That's what my mum always said. How is that possible? She is raising a couple of kids who are experiencing life and growing up in an absolutely different circumstance. How can she possibly empathize with what I feel? My other siblings are zombies, may parents have programmed them to be remote-control-responsive. My system didn't match with their software; I'm malfunctioning.

There are two kinds of people that the community must collectively ostracize: homos and flouting women. And in our community ostracism is not restricted to the word, it goes beyond and includes ridicule. Well women have it easier; homos just get thrown off a high place down to a stone floor, women get the divine opportunity to get beaten into obedience.

Islam is a religion of hierarchy. (Down with free markets!!) At the top is God, followed by the Prophets and somewhere in between them come the Books, which also come somewhere between the Prophets and mankind. Further down (in order) are the free believing men, the free believing women, the slave men, the slave women, the unbelievers, the polytheists, the adulterous men and women, and finally the homosexuals. So basically, the free believing men, the highest order of mankind, the ones who decide the life of the others, are like those kids in school who get told for the very first time that they are the day's class monitor, and almost immediately you see a change in their attitude: proper, chest-out, proud and very strict. After getting used to the post, they may learn the trick of power abuse. And this is where I get to laugh. See, I'm no apostate, still very much a believing woman. But these proud class monitors have to report to their superiors at the end of the day as well. While they go about their pompous business, with the special star on their chest, they are the ones who will face the harshest meeting with their Creator.

When people decide to migrate, especially when the decision is voluntary, they should understand the expanse of this decision. It is not a decision that simply effects the migrants, but also the recipient country and the children of these migrants. It is their selfish, non-accommodating, non-compromising , non-accepting attitude that creates problems of a larger magnitude. Their denial to acknowledge the new place, fear of losing their origins, leads to nothing but disaster.

As always, the disaster effects the women harder.

One thing that absolutely frustrates me is that religion is solely for the woman to follow. Everything good or bad she does is viewed through the minuscule lens of religion, or the working system of a patriarchal culture. Women are to wear a hijab, which is an instant giveaway of her religion, leading to religious discrimination and now public humiliation at the hands of conservative non-Muslims. What is a man's giveaway? Neither is his beard mandatory, nor a green scarf! His visual appearance is pretty secular regardless of whether he is living in Muslim state or not. Any religious get up is absolutely the man's own choice and he isn't looked down upon for a different choice. In today's world, not every woman takes a hijab, and it's quite culturally accepted. But when we sit down and talk about it, it's like a super g-force guilt attack.

As for love. Again. Easier for the Muslim man to fall in love in this non-Muslim state, since he is allowed to marry outside of religion. Love by itself is often considered an irrational state of mind. So it's alright for the man to be irrational and get away with it, but not a woman. The star on chest coming into play.

I love my Pakistani culture, I really do. And I thank my heritage to have made me a part of it. The problem is, that is not my only heritage. I have also grown up in one culture that is different than the Pakistani one. Grown up in a culture that is home to me. How can I be expected to behave different than what I see, experience, deal with every day and every minute of my life? How can I be expected to behave culturally Pakistani as a full time job when that's a country I've seen less than a handful of times? How can I be expected to act like Pakistani girls when my entire life is in a different part of the world with different worries, different feelings, different issues, different lifestyle? Why should my moral placement be thousands of miles away? Why is it wrong for me to feel more British than Pakistani when that's where I've grown up? Why is it that while still trying hard to maintain this balance, it's never good enough? Why is everybody thought of as robots that they must function the same way? Aren't we all humans? Is it not possible for at least one of them to feel different? I have my own heart, my own mind, my own eyes. Can't I create my own reasoning? Am I not solely responsible for my deeds? Why is it everybody else's duty to get me heaven? What if even they aren't doing very heaven-oriented deeds?What if they've got it all wrong? Isn't that a possibility? Or are we little totalitarian puppets and any and everybody is going around dictating what they have found right? Is my life, your life? Are you willing to go down for me in the end? If not, would you blummin' get out of my face and mind your own business, please!

Identity, Love, Marriage & the Female Muslim Migrant.


A lovely woman I met. She is arranging a talk this Saturday over the subject. Any and all around the location and interested in the subject are welcome!

I am an FOB*; an International student. My journey begins from a simple middle-class household in Pakistan, and arrives in the midst of the First World cacophony of the Netherlands. This journey has evoked several questions - from the bigger issues of the System crash to the more intimate and human worries of love. While everybody likes splashing their feet in the political ponds, I give my time to the tunnel of love and identity.

I want to open a dialog - an FOB vs an EBCD**. I invite you to share your views with me of your life as a Muslim dual-identity holder. I want to talk about the basic issues of love and marriage in a minority community. What are your challenges and how are they different than mine?

*Fresh Off the Boat
**European Born Confused Desi


Venue: Piet Zwart Institute
Mauritsstaart 36,
3012 CJ Rotterdam,
The Netherlands

Date: Saturday, 5 June 2010

Time: 1500 - 1700 hrs

p.s. Please confirm your attendance by e-mail.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I am an Immigrant, a Third Class Citizen (1)

I am an immigrant. I am a Muslim. I am a woman. I am a third class citizen. Because the Muslim men, legal or illegal, have conveniently taken up all the second class positions, and have further degraded their women to an even lower status. Why? Because the Quran says, men are a degree above.

My parents landed in England straight from Pakistan. My mother had not even technically left a radius of 600 kilometers from where she lived in Lahore. My father's elder sister was already living in England for quite some while after she got married to a British-Pakistani, who had initially entered the country with the reference of a friend's friend and managed to work his way through to permanently stamp the British soil with his existence. And that's how it goes.

Both my parents aren't very educated. Both sides of my paternal and maternal family aren't very conservative; none of them force their women into wearing a burqa, but none of them are interested in more than a chicken-biryani recipe either. My father's side of the family is still more progressive than my mother's. I have heard stranded incidences in distant relatives of women getting a useful degree and working. But from my mother's side, bah! Her own brother's daughters are squirming in the prison of a home that they live in. None of them have had a decent education, and going out to work for them is blasphemy while their father is still alive - even if he has completely lost it and will beg people for money to pay the bills. His wife especially hates it whenever we have gone to Pakistan to meet up. We are a bad influence on their children. My parents have completely let go of their children and are far from the ancestral culture and religion. Only if they knew!

I was born in England. When my eyes were conscious of what they were looking at, they saw Buckingham Palace. When I started recognizing script, it began with A for Apple. When I was conscious of people around me, they were in all colors and sizes. I grew up singing the itsy bitsy, yellow, polka dot bikini song, as opposed to some poetry of Iqbal's. When my brain was processing the meaning of moderate, I had a gazillion people before my eyes; with women in bikinis on the beach, to my father's sister in a headscarf, that later on turned into a burqa. Luckily my father thought the burqa was unnecessary, but he still supported her.

While of course my parents could not entirely keep me hidden from the country I was growing up in, I still felt quite different from the other boys and girls in my class. My cousin (female) also went to the same school as me. My parents encouraged us to be friends, be close, and discouraged from randomly talking to other kids. I don't know why they created this image in my head that the other kids would end up hurting me if I befriended them. It did manage to keep us away, but my cousin and I also ended up being best friends for the longest time. When we were about 7 or 8, our parents arranged for us to read the Quran (in arabic) with the help of an old lady in the neighbourhood. There were three more kids other than us. It was not just a Quran reading session, it also involved speaking Urdu and all these little stories and etiquettes that were building up our base for being good Muslims who were close to their culture in this blatantly non-Muslim country.

In the house, it was always about doing things in one way. There were a lot of rules. Breaking these rules meant a court marshal by the Father. They were trying hard to protect us children from the evils and sins of the society. Everything ended with a story about how Allah will punish; how those who go astray, burn in hell. My parents did love me, but something was missing.


Saturday, May 8, 2010

What I Never Said About Myself

I had a test that day and I hadn't quite prepared for it. I was hoping to somehow get out of it. During recess, my friends and I tried to go over the larger details while still laughing endlessly and falling on top of each other for no obvious reason. Something was quite funny, or we were just under-slept, or perhaps too many chips. A girl came over to tell me that the admin had asked for me. The news straightened all of us girls up and started looking at each other, wordlessly thinking of what we had done. Giggling still, I walked into the office only to see the back of my mother. As she turned around, I saw her teary eyes, red. My admin exclaimed that I should go home with my mother. At this point, I had no idea why or what, but I was simply ecstatic to have escaped the test (I did lie to my admin when she asked if I had any).

On our way out I kept asking my mother of what had happened, she gave no answer. As we approached our car, I noticed that my dad was sitting in there. Something was terribly wrong, and only now I was slightly getting an idea of what exactly was happening. I had been dating a white-guy (non-Muslim) for a while now. But how could they have possibly known? I was still giving it the benefit of the doubt.

Five minutes of silence and then my father started. He called me a slut, sex-hungry, lying bitch. Very conveniently, he rolled my mother into his favorite hobby of abusing as well. By now it was obvious - they knew. I felt a heavy burden on my chest, like the sky was falling on me. His anger was out of control, and so were my tears. A hundred thoughts went through my head; who told them?

Upon arriving home, very passively (for the sake of the public) we entered our house. I was welcomed inside with a hard hit on my bottom with a cricket bat. As he continued to curse and paved the way towards my room, my mother did nothing at all. It didn't stop there. He went ahead and started hitting me with a phone cable. I screamed. I begged. It didn't work. He kept saying Is it sex that you want? Should I get you married, you whore! I could not understand why he was saying that; I was completely scandalized to hear these words from my own father. At the same time, I knew, something had broken; between him and me. Then he left.

After that moment, I didn't move. I was frozen in shock. My body was bruised severely. My face was a mess. My mother came in after what seemed like centuries. She kept crying. Why did you do this to us? I could not understand why were they making it so big? Did you do something? Why were they thinking of me like this? I wouldn't be in peace till you had your next period.

I'd been going out with a guy for a little while now. There was no way I would tell my parents even if I had a Pakistani boyfriend, having a British-non-Muslim was completely out of the question. But now they knew. I could not deny. I could not leave the room for several days. And my father hit me every night after coming back from his work. One night I was already sleeping before he came; he woke me up to let his frustration out. He was this close to killing me; he had the nerve to bring a knife up to my face, but not guts enough to stab it in me. I was completely cut off from everything. My food would be brought to my room while the rest of the family ate together downstairs.

My mother would come sometimes to put something on the bruises to ease the healing as they hardened. She sobbed intensely as she went on over and over again about where she had failed, what she had done to deserve this, why didn't I die before I brought this upon her.

I was 17 then. My family was quite conservative, there were a lot of rules. Rules that completely cut us from the society we were living in, socializing with them, becoming even a shadow of them. At home it was always shalwar kameez, luckily we could wear more society-friendly clothing when outside, but even then it had to be something that covered appropriately, was long enough and didn't show any skin.

On the fourth day my mother forced me to apologize to my father. It was the hardest thing. But she made me do it. It was another round of screams and abuses and accusations. And then it came down. She must wear a hijab from now on. I was completely taken aback. But that was the only way out for me. My timings were made more strict, and the already non-existent social life was crushed down to eternal death.

The next day I tried to talk to my mother about my boyfriend. It ended with her forcing me to call him to end it.

That was not the end of it all. Only the beginning.

Nobody wants their life to resemble a cheap novel.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Finding True Love, Beyond Boundaries

*Someone said to me that I am a racist and a sexist. The only reason I want to be with a non-Muslim is because I am victim to white-skin. Well, let me tell you mister, I am exactly as racist as you, your family, my family, and our community, that forces me to marry a brown-Pakistani-sunni-Muslim-cousin! So bite me!

A big shout out to Pakistani women who choose to be with a yellow-fellow, but that is precisely the point. Personal preferences, unforced!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Islamo-Erotica, Female Sexuality and Closed Cultures

Women of my homeland in: Unrelenting Contention

Amir Normandi, 30Y series

Technically, one would say that Muslim eroticism or Islamic erotica is an oxymoron. But I don't really understand why. In the recent years, a lot of art has surfaced looming around sexuality and the female form under the shadow of Islam. I posted a long time back about Sarah Maple, whose painting landed her the famous 15 minutes of fame. It is sometimes difficult to assume whether such art is merely for instant talk and controversy, or is there real substance behind it all.

Talking as a Muslim woman brought up in a very controversial setting – very conservative parents, my secret drawer that had everything un-Islamic and a Christian boyfriend – it is sometimes so confusing and conflicting to understand what I should and must be doing in contrast to what I should and must NEVER do. When I look at such art, it sort of reminds me of me; this dark, mysterious identity that I am almost forced to wear, in contrast to the secret times with myself where I admire myself in a pretty white-lace summer dress and dreaming about being in a distant land where no one is there to tell on me, or start yelling again about the hell-fires – to just get away from this dense web of my immigrant community where everybody is so effing interested in what I am doing, or almost waiting to catch me in situation that would spice up their life!

I get that Islam is about modesty and keeping private things private, but how will people ever know and learn and be OK with their sexuality if they don't talk? Just talking is such big issue, a girl is expected to be completely clueless about it till her wedding night. You have to just say the word sex and girls in Pakistan start giggling, blushing, put on this immensely scandalized expression, but yet are very, very interested. One girl gets to know something fresh from her newly married cousin or friend, and it will be the talk of the century till all the friends of the friends and the second and third and fourth cousins know about it. This clearly shows the lack of proper guidance and information available, but also how trying to keep something hidden is not stopping anybody from going ahead with their limited investigations. Why isn't it better to know the right thing from a credible source, instead of being freaked out all the time about will I get pregnant if I sit on this table? and having no one to answer, leading you to avoid sitting on any table at all times.

Even among married folk, it is such a pity of the kind of mindsets both a husband and wife have. The wife is too scared to being the one to lead, holds on to her personal desires, and basically acts like a miss-goody-2-shoes to avoid the husband thinking that she has any prior experience whatsoever. The husband, on the other hand, could be too scared to experiment something with this wife who has such apparently conservative values, that he does not want to put his guard or domination down. Isn't this a joke somewhere that once you've seen a man naked, you can't possibly take him serious anymore. LOL. This is the impact of the heavy interference of family in a married couples life in our culture. Because whatever you do, is a direct reflection of your family and upbringing, and you must die protecting your family's honor.

In very extreme cases such a relationship would lead the man to finding his desired level of pleasure elsewhere, and the woman ending up with a very dissatisfied sex life and living a marriage only for the well-being of (if any) children, or the respect of the family. In super extreme cases, the woman will also look for sexual release elsewhere. In the absolutely best of cases, they would talk.

Ladies. What (Muslim) men want as a wife is definitely someone who (in no particular order) will wear the persona of the world's most modest woman ever, one who will never negate him in public, will cook wonderful food for his friends, will be nice to his parents, will do as he says, will give advise only when he asks for it ... BUT also what he wants is someone who can turn the tables around when in their privacy. Islam is very clear and loud about a man's sexuality. Mut'ah marriages in history, his polygamous nature and acceptance of a sexual relationship with female slaves other than his wives, everything indicates that it's something quite important to him. It is important to us women as well, so how do you keep your game up, and the man interested? By not shying away from a little talk about each others' needs, likes and dislikes.

Gentlemen. Stop trying to make women believe you were sitting idle in your idle time. And stop expecting women to have been sitting idle in their idle time. By letting your guard down (bit by bit), you're only helping to improve your relationship. And if your woman makes a move, stop making foolish assumptions.

Art is sensitive to human nature. It is a visual detection of any micro-imbalance. To me, showing a burqa-clad woman doing it with a bearded man, or the woman just by herself is not controversial at all. It is only the affirmation of the fact that something is amiss. It may not be the best way to induce information in this closed society, because the creation of art is not always an angel-esque awareness-driven effort – it can be loud, at-your-face, distinctly-gripping, disgusting and very graphic as well – something that may not sit too well with some people. But it definitely is a very valid medium.

What makes Islamic erotica controversial is the presence of a female form. It is so often questioned as to why this constant objectification? Why isn't the male form used in a similar context. I can only just laugh about it because unless you're seriously deviated from human nature, you wouldn't be asking this question. LOL. What's even funnier though, is that in this genre, the nude form is absent; her privates are perfectly hidden - most of her is – and it's just the exaggerated pose that suggests anything sexual. To me, it's the perfect reflection of a woman as a sexual being that is cut off from the outer world with this thin layer of dark fabric. It's simply a reality that doesn't go down the throats of conservatives.

Islamic erotica is a result of closed up desires even in the most valid of relationships such as marriage. It should not be taken as controversial or dealt with aggressively, but as a means to fixing the existing imbalance. No one likes to talk about something that is running smoothly, we are all controversy-driven gossiping load of nutheads.

This could also be a reason why some Muslim women in Western cultures, who are more open and accepting of their sexuality, feel turned off by the idea of marrying a fellow Muslim man. The idea of going into a relationship where there are lots of expectations, mentally forced limitations, and a need of the loud showcasing of purity and chastity in absolute silence, can be very discomforting. And the idea of marrying a non-Muslim man, with whom they can fall in love, be romantic, not be shy of an enlightening talk, take an initiative, can be very liberating.
So relax. Have a Coca-Cola

Monday, May 3, 2010

2:223 Does Islam Define Women as Sexbots for their Men?

Muslims have sex too you know. They aren't asexual and their kids definitely don't grow on trees. I was pleasantly surprised to have come across a fatwa site with a Muslim brother asking about the permissibility of oral sex in Islam. *Big Smile*. It was a good read though (and yes it is allowed); lead to some googling regarding the infamous verse in the Quran (deemed terribly controversial by some women, including myself) 2-223:

Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers.

Or a more traditional translation:

Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe.

When you read this out of context (and I swear each and every one of them does!), it sounds so sexist that I could sometimes feel marbles boiling in the temples of my face, and my pulse pulsating like your brains at a heavy metal concert! It not only angers me because it is in the Quran, but more-so because it can't be wrong – and NO ONE can challenge it. But if can't be wrong, and if Quran supports women's rights AND her dignity, there has to be another angle to it. And I found it! Nothing makes me happier to find a non-chauvinist interpretation. And after having understood something, when you land on websites like these, it really is a pity and I sympathize with people who hold onto such crude and shameful interpretations, and do not struggle to find the truth. To this person I would only direct her to go read verses 4:22-23. That should clear up her confusions. Or perhaps it's just a propagandist website, with never-Muslim writers, instead of ex-Muslim ones.

When you read it out of context, it comes across as women being sex slaves to their men, who can go in whenever they please. It is definitely hard to my ears, and if it were to be exactly just this, I would've never absorbed it. Men who use this verse as a continuous reminder to themselves (and their women) that they are the sexually privileged and in charge, obviously have their heads too up in the sky. So what is the real deal then?

What I found is that back in the days the Jewish people (the people of Book) used to have sex with their women only by lying on their sides. This provided the woman with a sort of privacy and her body was not on a full display to her man. other than the Jewish, the Ansaars (the idol-worshipers) also practiced sex in a similar fashion, and had in fact adopted this from the Jews. When the Muhaajir came to Madinah (the Quraysh tribe), one of their men married an Ansaar women. Since the Quraysh were not bound to doing it only by lying on their sides, the Ansaar wife found it odd that her husband wanted to do it differently and strictly told him to either do it from the side, or not do it at all. The issue became bigger and the news finally reached Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). And that is when the verse 2:223 was revealed to him, implying that there was no restriction as how you choose to do it, as long as it is vaginal. The Jews also believed that having anal sex would bring a child with a squint. So it was to clear the misconception about what behind really meant. You can read about this with complete reference here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Women in the Culture of Islam

In Islam, the man has been declared as the head of the family; the maintainer, the provider, the caretaker, the leader. He is the one who disciplines his woman if she goes astray.

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. (4:34)

I am conflicted over this verse. Firstly, this sounds more fair than what is normally practiced; men hear something unpleasant to their ears about their women, the first thing they do is hit them (oftentimes without even validating). They hit them so hard that it leaves the women black and blue. They hit them on their face as well. All commentary so far unanimously agrees that a man must not hit a woman on her face, and that the act must not leave a mark on her body. So what is the penalty for a man who doesn't follow the proposed way?

What is this then?

Secondly, what action can a woman take if her husband goes astray? It is irrational and illogical to believe that women cannot feel as angry as men, or that in their state of anger they don't have destructive thoughts as men do. So how do they show this anger? All she can do is take divorce, or forgive. Believing for a moment that a man's rage is far worse than that of a woman's, I fail to understand how the authority of divorce is in the hands of the husband, since in the advent of such an occurrence, it is the woman on the receiving end.

Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. Nor is it lawful for them to hide what Allah Hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (2:228)

This constant reminder of how a man is superior, has a degree of advantage, is more knowledgeable, has more control, is more trustworthy, is more powerful, is not at all making me feel very useful. Perhaps to those who like submission, and who like to believe that they are worthless. But would that kind even exist by default? Or is it a character-trait that has been ingrained in our genes?

For all such Islamic characterizations of a man, it has been argued that a man is capable of maintaining control in his interfaith marriage; retaining his religion, and also making sure his children are brought up as Muslims. This makes me wonder. What right does this non-Muslim wife/mother have in such a relationship? She is obviously allowed to practice her religion, and any force on her to convert is haram. Is she an outsider in this marriage who prays separately, joins her family in her religious celebration, and most certainly has a different appearance than that of a Muslim woman? Would not the kids from this union be intrigued as to why their parents are different from that of other kids in the neighborhood, or in school? Or is this oppression a form of making the woman feel bad and disconnected, and thereby unconsciously self-forced into converting?

Taking this similar scenario with a Muslim woman married to a non-Muslim man, what the Islamic clergy fears is the similar unconscious submission of the Muslim woman by either giving up her faith or converting. One thing I absolutely do know, women who believe in Islam, have not given up their faith prior to falling for a non-Muslim man, know for a fact that turning back on Islam is a big sin, it is absolutely unacceptable. Under no circumstances will she convert or leave Islam, unless she becomes doubtful of the Text at her own account. Saying that it is inevitable that she becomes doubtful is not a legitimate argument because her doubts will arise from the behavior of the society around her and her culture, of how difficult they make her life. While non-Muslim women may easily consider converting for her Muslim partner for the sake of marriage.

Keeping our talk to the present times, we know that there are many non-Muslim women who end up hurt, forced and misused by Muslim husbands. I agree that many Muslim-woman/Non-Muslim-man marriages also end up in the dump. We all also agree that intra-faith marriages also fail, and the percentage of which continues to rise. Marriage is a gamble. You cannot guarantee success unless each of the involved parties put their egos and prejudices aside.

Do not do to others, what you would not have done unto you. As Karen Armstrong quotes repeatedly, is the golden rule for success at any level. Dethrone yourself, and put the other in that position.

There are more men in the Islamic world who are not excited over equal rights in comparison to those in the non-Islamic world. Islamic cultures are unjust towards their women. These women kill personal desires only for the sanctity and well-being of her husband and family. She reduces herself to a nobody; a nobody who keeps giving. In today's world where there are so many challenges and opportunities, why would a woman feel happy with becoming a nobody? Scholars argue that Islam gave women respect and the Western world has sexually objectified their women and turned them into social butterflies. Sorry, but they aren't being forced into doing so. I am not glorifying Western culture at all, I only see it as a stark contrast to Islam, and I am desperately seeking the mid-culture, the mid-road, where things aren't so black and white.

Regardless of how wonderful Islam is or isn't, that fact of the matter is, Islamic cultures are oppressive, they deprive the women of her rights. When her rights in her own culture aren't being met, what difference does it make if she marries a Muslim or a non-Muslim. So what if her husband isn't fasting with her or praying with her? I read somewhere, What can a Christian husband do for a Muslim wife? What is the Muslim husband doing for a Muslim wife? At least in the non-Muslim world, her rights are protected by the state, and she won't go hungry and naked in case of a divorce, where otherwise all she has is a few hundreds from the haq mehr.

They keep shouting and screaming, it's not Islam, it's the Muslims. Well I really don't care, because it is effecting me largely and negatively either way. Everywhere in the Quran the first command is for the man, and then to the woman. Every cause has an effect, every action has a reaction. So when the first order isn't being implemented, it is damn right going to effect of how women then implement it. It's a balance that needs to be maintained; the crop isn't going to grow if it isn't being taken care of.

It is seriously fucked up of how Muslim women are expected to follow their orders down to the last letter, while the Muslim men run around like horny horses with nobody to answer to.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Vanity, Modesty and Islam

Vanity is impermissible under religious law. Taken that the hijab and burqa (or whatever it is called in different countries - I am talking of the head and body cover) is the normal clothing style approved for a woman, and that we are not allowed to wear make-up when going out (or basically when we are in the presence of other na-mehram men), it does make life rather bland. The only time we are allowed to dress up, wear make-up and perfume is when we are either only in the presence of other women, or with husbands. As soon we leave this company, the fancy clothing, the make-up, the perfume has to somehow magically disappear. With perfumes though, in case of some really stubborn ones, the fragrance can linger on even if you scrub yourself to nothingness.

The supposed rationale behind all this is that you should not try to beautify yourself any more than how Allah has already made you. Yeah, too bad if you haven't already landed a Giselle-Bundchen face! Quran is supposed to be for all times, it's theory cannot fail, and you cannot challenge it. Well for the Islamic well-being, a woman would be better off with godzilla features really.

But there is a problem. Regardless of how ill-looking and unpresentable a woman is, no matter how old or young, and how covered or uncovered she is, she still faces harassment. So how exactly a hijab and lack of cosmetic indulgence is working, I have no idea. Even more sad is how it is worse in Muslim countries. No matter how appropriately you're dressed, you can't escape harrassment. Sure they'll say they've lost Islam's way, they're under-educated. But is that what has become of Islamic countries? It's so easy to always blame the woman. Does Atefah Sahaleh ring a bell? The execution of an under-age girl in Iran, and so many other similar cases, where women end up on the execution stand, and their abusers stand amongst the public and mercilessly watch.

It is really stupid to say that there is harasment in the West as well because according to us, they are immoral as it is. But guess what, the harassment of Islamic countries far exceeds that of a non-Muslim one. So vanity or no vanity, every woman gets her fair share of it. Practically looking at it, we should just be modest, adopt the middle path. Neither overdo it, nor be too relaxed. Because as for the men, they are going to be annoying anyways.

This can be tricky though, since everyone has their own understanding of being modest. Europeans may find the Indian belly showing in their sari immodest, and the Indian may find the European mini-skirt immodest. But if I'm not mistaken, mini-skirts and uber-shorts aren't consider completely modest here in the West either. It's about how you wear it. If you pair it with high-heels or a posture that says look at my boobs, then go back to see my ass, you know what that means.

I think intuition-ally, we know when we are doing too much. We know when we are just trying to be sexy and appealing in the wrong way. That gut instinct cannot be ruled out. And that is where the understanding of modesty comes about. We should simply aim towards being graceful and pleasant. And a burqa combined with a hijab/niqab is just at one far end of the spectrum.

What pisses me off the most is how a Muslim woman's modesty (at first glance) is only judged by her outer garb. While there is no such criteria for a man. Otherwise I'd be seeing all these white caps and trousers above ankles. It doesn't matter what she is from the inside, in the strict Muslim countries, lack of adherence to the proper dress code can mean a harsh penalty. Does anyone remember that instance where a girl's school caught fire in Saudi Arabia, and the girls weren't allowed to leave the blazing building because they were not wearing the correct Islamic dress? Read here. How fucked up is that?

Muslim women suffer a lot more than any given Muslim man. The laws are harsher for her. Life is much harder for her. Inequality is screaming from every corner and crevice! Those who don't get it, don't know any better. Their reality is so well indoctrinated into them that it's really sad.

Men can have multiple wives. He can choose from a larger audience. If his spouse disobeys, he can hit her. He can take his shirt off in public and think no woman is going to feel sexually drawn to him on his flexing muscles (if he has a good body, i.e.). He can plough whenever he feels like and the woman cannot reject. He is the master and she must be submissive.

And what does a woman get? An ordained burqa? And if she behaves well, mercy of her husband? what kind of a twisted relationship is this?

The current version of Islam doesn't sit too well with me, of how our cultures bring it to us. The real Islam seems like a fine silk thread: you have to look real hard to know it's there. A woman has so much more rights than we are made to believe. Can someone please link me to a female scholar of Islam who hasn't studied her subject through other men?

Any moderate family I come across is not a result of a true religious following, but rather the lack of following. My parents believe themselves to be religious, and I am an outcast because I wasn't in sync with them. The number of times I've seen my father hit my mother is enough for me to know for a fact that Islam is the single most corrupt ideology of any given household!

I haven't disowned Islam. I have disowned those who have left me in this predicament. All of them!

Vanity may be a sin. But being a little selfish every now and then isn't. I'm not getting a second life.

p.s. I have a strong feeling that God has something else in store for women!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aquila, For Stylish, Moderate Muslim Women


Women on top, eh? *chuckles*
I hope they are all enthusiastic about the context I am reading it with :D

Modest and Fabulous! That is the slogan of this new women's magazine, Aquila-Asia, that is being issued from Indonesia. Liana Rosnita Redwan-Beer (Singaporean), the founder and publisher of this magazine, launched the first edition just last month.

She says, We're not a magazine that preaches, we don't tell our readers what is right or wrong; but we help them live their lives to the fullest by including information about Islam in the context of modern living.

There's a fashion spread that features a heavily made-up model in tight-fitting clothes with a headscarf that still shows off a lot of her hair; another about the all-covering burqini swimsuit; an article on premarital sex and virginity, and an opinion piece on what to do if your daughter dates a non-Muslim.

From the looks of it, I'm quite drawn to it. It has a very modern, relaxed, and open feel to it. Should do good in projecting a better image of Muslim women than just being on the news because of the burqa-controversy. I would be interested in reading what they have to say. Though the article isn't really precisely giving out what side they lean on. Do they say yes to dating non-Muslim men? Is pre-marital sex not a taboo anymore? They are dealing with a whole bunch of issues, but I wonder if they aren't preaching, what exactly are they saying? Maybe they're just testing waters for now, and see what their audience is really like.

I am looking forward to this. As for now, it's thumbs up! Congratulations to your first edition.

Their facebook page here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

South Park and Muhammad, the Controversy

Fox News

South Park is an American animated sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the Comedy Central television network (if you already didn't know that :P). It's quite known for it's sarcastic humor, and there isn't a topic they haven't ripped apart, and I love them for that.

For their 200th mega episode they decided to do a mash up of all major previous hits, which of course means a mega controversial show. We all remember the Super-best-Friends episode where they combined all the important religious figures - yes, including Muhammad (p.b.u.h) - and I personally found it quite alright, nothing to get all defensive/offended over. Considering all the hoohaa over Islam recently (I wonder who's to blame *rolls-eyes*), I am not surprised that the show decided to put Muhammad in their mega-episode once again, even though it isn't a secret that you aren't supposed to be sarcastic about Islam or it's prophet, because if you do, they go all Theo-Van-Gogh on you! Not pretty eh.

So as (almost) expected (though I would've dearly hoped otherwise), the creators of the show have been warned by a radical Islamic website over the possibility of a Theo-esque destiny to them if the show is aired. It's really funny how they go to saying that it isn't a threat, but it's a very likely possibility. What is that supposed to mean? I don't expect any tolerant behavior from such nutjobs. But for the love of the rest of Muslims, please don't defame the entirety with such horrendous statements!

Anything happens anywhere in the world that goes against the liking of these radicalists, Muslim countries are painted red and non-Muslims get another kick to think of something even better to piss them off. When the Danish cartoon came out, I rememeber how the Pakistani cities were spray painted with Denmark = Hell (or a similar equation). Why?

During the time of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) there were plenty of people who ridiculed him and had a hateful attitude towards him. He didn't go out to kill them, or ask someone to go kill them. Instead he showed patience and preserverence always. And it is nothing else he asks from us. I hate receiving all those chain mails about boycotting Denmark because how would I face Allah and His prophet when I will be questioned about what I did when they made fun of Muhammad (p.b.u.h). Well I showed patience. That will be my answer.

It's insane how some Muslim go about saying how Islam brought enlightenment to Europe. Well, true. Al-Adulus (Spain) got super prosperous when the Muslims came there. They accomplished and taught a lot. And then it was all taken away when the Christians invaded, and the Muslims from Africa came along to see how their brothers were doing. These African Muslim were completely shocked at what was happening in Al-Andulus, they thought they've drifted far away from Islam, and were responsible (if not fully) for the downfall of the great empire. So as quickly Muslims brought enlightenment to Europe, with the same speed the cross-continent brethren brought a hault to it; gave away the enlightenment and took themselves back to the dark ages.

Yes, unlimited freedom of speech can cause problems, you can (most likely) end up hurting someone. But this is not a valid enough reason to kill anyone or even give death threats. If we want others to project us better, we need to make ourselves better. What we see in media about us in not all lies; there is no smoke without fire. Media is known to exaggerate and give a bollywood twist to everything (really!). South Park isn't singling us out. It has made fun of every amoeba that exists. So there is no reason to get worked up.

In another blog I read something interesting that we claim to respect and believe in all the prophets ever sent by God, and if we don't believe in any one of them, we are automatically excluded from the faith. So why is it that we don't get angered over media making fun of Jesus or Abraham? Are they not dear to us? Even the liberals are often quick to make statements like "Oh, they don't even respect their own prophet, so why should I expect them to respect mine." Say what?


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