Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Hello to my new friends who've just joined on. Sorry you've caught me during a rough period in my life. : ( I promise that I'm not normally this moody; it's situational only.

Question for all: How do you see yourself, personality-wise?

I think I'm a generally cheerful and friendly person, and I am honest (perhaps a bit too much for my own good sometimes ^_^). I expect the best of everyone, but I do find it hard to forgive people who hurt me (so God helps me out with that). I like to think that I am open-minded and accepting of everyone. I like to talk to and help people. Oddly enough (given my previous profession), I really don't like conflict or competition. It upsets the tranquillity of my life.

And I'm a foodie. I love food, and as long as it isn't fish or shellfish (both of which I have a mild - but nonetheless unpleasant - allergy to), I'll try it.

Also, found this interesting book while shelving some books at my friend's store: Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton. It's about religious addiction. Never heard of that before, but I suppose extreme cults, or maybe people coming off other addictions (drugs, alcohol, etc) or prison could fall prey to it. Using faith as their new "fix", or as the new thing they have to do all the time to keep from reverting to their old lifestyle.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

No words...

I am not happy right now. I feel angry and betrayed, but, most of all, I feel hurt.

I went to see the lady at the Islamic store, and she told me that one of the women at the mosque was basically attacking me on the "super sekret squirl Niqabi Salafi web group". She doesn't post there much, but she reads it a lot, and she said that this woman had been asking a lot of questions and stirred up a bunch of the salafi niqabis about me, a non-Muslim, wearing niqab. Evidently, a lot of those women don't wear niqab because they want to, but because their husbands make them.

So what is the big flippin' deal? Are they all fired up because they don't get that a woman might want to wear niqab of her own free will? Well, last time I checked, this was a free country. I don't go places or do anything as a niqabi that might cast a "bad light" on the Muslim community here, so they have no real grounds for objection as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, the lady told me about it because she didn't want me to be caught completely off-guard if I went to jummah on Friday and this woman jumped on my case about it.

I feel really hurt about it (what's happened, not the nice sister warning me). Instead of reaching out and encouraging me and helping me to learn and understand more about Islam - like you lovely Muslimahs and other knowledgeable friends here do- they're slinking around and stabbing me in the back. These women don't even KNOW me!!!

I know I should forgive them and pray that God will open their eyes to the wrongness of their actions (especially the ringleader). I'll say some prayers and hopefully in a little while I won't be so angry, and maybe God will open my heart and help me to forgive them.

I'm not going to wear niqab for a while. I don't want to feel the least bit connected with those women, and I have no intention of going to jummah on Friday.

Monday, September 28, 2009

To date or not to date?

Dating. It's that thing that most 20-somethings I know can't seem to live without, and they pity the "singletons" among the population. Sometimes it seems like the social structure of the universe is dependent upon everyone dating. "Going out". "Going steady". "Seeing someone." Or having a "significant other".

A friend of mine from the Army once told me, after breaking up with a mutual friend (who is still a buddy of mine), that she "had" to date guys because they amused her and she was bored if she wasn't dating anyone. Huh? I, of course, told her that no relationship would be successful if she wasn't happy alone, as you can't depend upon another person to make you happy. You have to make *yourself* happy. She blew me off (since I'm only 6 years older and obviously don't know what I'm talking about), immediately started dating some Air Force guy and now they're engaged.

I've dated a few guys between high school until last January. Although the last relationship didn't end badly (we still talk and get along quite well), I decided that enough was enough: no more dating. (Please remind me to tell ya'll the story of the guy I dated before him. Yeech! Was that ever a mess at the end.)

If my mom had her way, she'd set me up with a guy I dated/was engaged to a few years ago. His mom would like that, too, since she loves me. He's currently deployed, and we have kept in contact, but all I'm doing is leaving the lines of communication open. Kind of "Hi, I'm here. Oh, hi, I'm here, too." We're friends, and unless something moves him to ask my mom and stepdad for my hand (because we're both old-fashioned like that, and I love it), we'll stay just friends, and I can certainly live with that.

Yes, I am single, and you know what? I'm happy that way. I do what I want, go where I want, eat what I want, etc, and there's no man in my life to tell me how I should look or what I should do. I don't define myself or my own worth by a shallow relationship that most likely wouldn't end in marriage. Hopefully I'll get married one day, but if I don't, that's okay, too. I'm content with my relationship with God, my cats, my friends, my family, my books, and my little apartment. My needs are simple and few, and I think life is best when there is no conflict or drama or anyone else to shake up the status quo.

I, like Charlotte Lucas Collins, find myself very content with my position in life.

Well, except for not having a job, but hopefully that situation will be remedied very soon. : )


I love this website! They have so many beautiful things, including SUITS! But they're all so expensive. *weep* I guess I'll have to keep searching for long coats and loose pants separately.

This one links to an abaya that I *love*. The best part is, you can buy pants or a skirt to go with it, and for an additional fee, they'll tailor the abaya to be the top!

This site has a TON of great books. I want them all! They even have a big selection of comparative religion books. : )

This has a huge list of websites that sell abayas and jilbabs, among other goodies.

So, have any of you ladies bought anything from any of these sites?

I did it!

I wore hijab to my interview! (Thanks for the words of encouragement, Stephanie. You really helped a lot.)

It helped me feel a little less nervous (although I was still a LOT nervous, since it's been several years since I've had an interview). I think it looked great - a one piece black al-Amira hijab, a black jacket and trousers, a pink floral blouse, and black heels. Very professional and very feminine. : ) The lady who interviewed me was very nice. She didn't even bat an eye at my hijab. ^_^

She's going to turn in my interview sheet before she leaves tonight, and HR will review it and ((HOPEFULLY!!!!)) will make me an offer between tomorrow and 9 October. *crosses her fingers*

Also, through LK, I found this lady who is *really* studying Islam and the Qur'an, and asking all sorts of nifty questions. I'm looking forward to reading all of her entries.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Note to self...

Finish reading this ( later. Right now, Popeye's is calling... Yummy fried chicken strips and mashed potatoes with cajun gravy. : D And a biscuit! I can't forget the lovely, buttery, so-bad-it's-good biscuits!

Friday, September 25, 2009

First time I wore hijab.

You know, I don't think I've ever told you guys about the first time I wore hijab. On a random trip to the Goodwill one day, I found an abaya (the black one with the pretty velvet decoration on the sleeves) and a purple/orange/white-striped shayla hijab. I laundered them and fixed a tear on the abaya, and wore them to go out to lunch with a friend the next day.

As was our usual custom at the time, we went to lunch at our favorite local Indian restaurant (which I've mentioned before). The waitress who took us to our table was all smiles, she complimented me on my hijab, and we ordered our drinks and got our food. After we left the restaurant, we walked a few shops down to the Indian grocery store so my friend could get some mango chutney.

There was a group of 6-8 guys (of Middle Eastern/Indian origins) blocking the side walk. As we got closer, the guys who saw me poked their buddies who didn't, or said something, or whatever, and they all moved completely out of the way. Gave us lots of space. They were very nice, very respectful. After we'd passed, they went back to their previous locations and continued their conversations. We went to the store, got what she wanted, and left.

That was it. It was a very nice experience. My friend said "Those guys saw you as one of them, rather than "other", like most Americans are. I don't think they would have moved if you weren't dressed like that."

It was cool. I felt totally respected, totally comfortable, and I was treated like a lady. After that, I started wearing hijab as often as possible (even though the heat sometimes made it nearly unbearable).

Anyone care to share their "first time wearing hijab" story? Or first niqab story?


*runs around and jumps for joy* I have a job interview on MONDAY!!!!!! Cross your fingers/say prayers/make du'a for me!

Cutest thing ever!

Isn't she precious? I just want to pinch her cheeks. They're so chubby and cute!

I'm back...

Hi, all. Sorry I've been pretty out of commission the last day or two. I was so bad yesterday... I made a buffalo chicken pizza for lunch yesterday and it was soooo yummy that I ate the whole thing, and ended up making myself sick. That's what I get for eating too much, though. : P

Oh, darn...I thought today was Thursday. I just realized it's Friday and I missed jummah prayers. *sigh* I was planning on going, too. Darn this not having a job... I can't seem to keep track of the days any more.

The weather here has been AWESOME. A cold front came in on Tuesday afternoon, and it hasn't been over 68 degrees since. I turned off the a/c and opened the windows. My cats are loving it, too. They run around the house and jump on my bed, then on the window sill, then onto the bistro table on my balcony. I sure am glad it has cooled off... I like the heat okay, but it's a bit much when it seems to be around 8 months out of the year, you know?

I'm still cleaning out my apartment. I'm trying to eliminate the clutter in my house, and that includes paring down my book collection. *weep* So I managed to read 6 books in the last 2 days. I read "Succubus Takes Manhattan" by Nina Harper and "Kitty and the Midnight Hour", "Kitty Goes to Washington", "Kitty Takes a Holiday", "Kitty and the Silver Bullet", and "Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand" (all by Carrie Vaughn). "Kitty" is a pretty good paranormal (werewolf) series, and there's not a lot of sex - and what there is, I just skip over - but lots of action and cool stuff. I give all the books I'm not going to keep to my friend for her book store, and paranormal romance is a very popular category.

That said, I'm trying to figure out what to read after I finish the sixth (most recent) "Kitty" book. I was thinking of maybe re-reading the Left Behind series. I read the whole thing several years ago, when the books were very popular, and we've had so many people buying the books at the store that I want to read it again.

*start rant*

I read one of Amber's posts earlier, and it kind of raised my ire, as it talked about censorship and the invasion of privacy, etc. That kind of stuff really ticks me off.

Then I got to thinking, well, it's like that in real life, too. I mean, I can't even wear hijab to a job interview if I want to have a chance at getting a job. I could be the best one for the job that they talk to, but a hijab would almost definitely rule me right out, and there would be nothing I could do to fight it. If you don't believe me, did you hear about the hijabi muslimah who tried to get a job at Abercrombie & Fitch? As much as I would love to be able to have the luxury of giving a big "F-you" to the conformist establishment that is American society (different is NOT good) and go right ahead, financially it's not a good move.

Standing out is only allowed if it's in a "normal" way, like the kids who look like they spent their whole allowance at Hot Topic. They're what I call "conforming non-conformists". They may think they're rebelling and being all original, but...seriously. Those outfits and accessories come from a MALL CHAIN STORE. There are 5,000 other kids in the city wearing the Exact Same Thing.

How did I go off on the "non-conformists" tangent? Anyway, in the U.S., by wearing hijab (and especially niqab), you really do buck the system and stick it to "The Man". (LOL!!!)

*end rant*

Still talking about Hot Topic...who was the moron who decided that GUYS should wear SKINNY JEANS? They're CHICK PANTS. Granted, very immodest and unflattering on any girl with even a teensy weensy hint of curves (that would be pretty much anyone size 6 or over), but still...chick pants. *sigh* I can't decide if the "saggy, hanging-below-the-rear-and-I-don't-know-how-to-wear-a-freaking-belt gangsta pants" that never seem to go away or the "skinny jeans on guys" fad is worse. I totally DON'T want to see anyone's undergarments, but guys in...chick pants. *shudder of revulsion*

And a guy wearing them just walked in. *face plant on keyboard*

So, how are all of you doing? : )

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Religious commentary, feel free to ignore. *grin*

Now I'm going to go off on a tangent, and those of you who are Catholic, please don't feel this is a personal attack. I loves you all very much. Especially you, Amber, you sweetie. *hugs* This is just my lil' ol' opinion, and you all know that I don't shut up when I get on a roll. ; P Please feel free to correct me if I've misinterpreted something. Goodness knows, I'm wrong on a fairly regular basis.

Re: Catholicism. The whole confession thing and the role of priests as intercessors have always been a big part of my beef with Catholicism. I don't believe that there is any man on Earth who has the right to say whether or not my sins are forgiven. That is between me and God, and He is truly generous and merciful. He is EAGER to forgive me. All I have to do is ask Him.

Another beef is the saints and praying to Mary. Okay, if it isn't worship, it's waaay too close to idolatry for comfort for me, as Mary was merely a woman - a very, very good one, to be sure, since God picked her to be the mother of Jesus - but she was only human. The dead can't intercede for the living, so why say "Hail Marys" and pray Rosaries to her? Jesus, however, is not dead, and He can and will intercede with God on our behalf.

Another topic: I don't believe that good works alone will get you to Heaven, and good deeds are a major point in Islam. For Muslims, you have to do more good works than bad in order to go to Heaven (or "Paradise"). Also, what I have read is that Muslims believe everyone's fate is determined while they are in the womb. So people can do bad things most of their lives, but start doing good things towards the end, and they still go to Heaven. Likewise, people can do good things most of their lives, but start doing bad things towards the end, so they still go to Hell, even if the "predetermined for Heaven" guy did way more bad stuff. That's a precipice of uncertainty that I really don't want to play on.

Good works as proof and part of your faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior is what I've always believed to be the way to Heaven. Jesus said "Love the Lord Your God, love thy neighbor, etc". Doing all of the things that Jesus taught means you didn't just say "I believe in Jesus as the Son of God" and leave your Christianity at that; i.e., a "passive Christian". It means you truly tried to live your life according to what He taught. Didn't He say something about "faith without good works" and "good works without faith"?

Matthew 6:7

This is a verse I found the same night I found Dr. Gabriel's book, after saying that prayer (with "God" in place of "Allah"). I just opened my Bible and this is what I found:

Matthew 6:7 (KJV) "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen (NIV says "hypocrites") do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

We all know that Muslims pray five times per day. I've also learned that additional prayers (in your own words) are not prohibited, but aren't really encouraged, either. So how is this a personal relationship with God? I've heard converts give that as one reason for converting, but they were mostly disillusioned Catholics who grew tired of confession and "needing someone to intercede with God". I can see how you wouldn't feel like God was accessible to the average person under those circumstances.

I'll go on about that in my next post. : ) I'm wordy today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My thoughts about Islam so far.

Okay, here's a basic run-down of what I think, comparing Islam and Christianity, at this juncture. Of course, I have not finished reading the Qur'an or re-reading the Bible, so I will reserve my final opinion for that. If you find anything that I relate as negative, please be assured that it is not my opinion of Muslim people. I like you all very much. : )

Disclaimer aside, now...

Thus far, despite the claims of my Muslim friends here and at the masjid, and the constant refrain of "compassionate and merciful" that prefaces any Muslim book/article, I have not seen the Islamic Allah to be like the kind, loving, and truly merciful God I have always been taught about. He seems more like a God who can hardly wait to mete out punishment to the "unbelievers". In the second sura, my understanding at one point was that Allah had already decided who would and would not be a Muslim, and therefore was going to punish the non-Muslims for not being Muslim, although he'd made the choice of their religion! (Mind you, this is me paraphrasing, since I can't remember word for word.)

Another thing I'm having trouble with are the constant commands to "fear and obey Allah". To me it seems that the worship of Allah is based upon fear, and that the relationship is a master/slave one. I have yet to see anything that is to be done out of LOVE of Allah, rather than "fear and obey".

Also, when Gabriel supposedly revealed the Qur'an to Muhammad, why did he command him to "Read!" over and over again, despite the fact that the guy was scared out of his wits, not to mention illiterate? Now, I totally believe that God can make great leaders/prophets/whatever out of the blind/deaf/dumb/illiterate - He did so in the Bible. But when Gabriel appeared to others (Mary, and other folks I know I'm currently forgetting), he told them "Do not be afraid" and then delivered his message. Why didn't he do so with Muhammad?

In my search for information to determine whether or not the Qur'an is, as constantly claimed by Muslims, the perfect, unchanged and utterly correct "Last Revelation of Allah", the Qur'an has been shown to conflict with what we know from modern science on some points. Also, the Qur'an was not written all in Arabic - the language was too limited (no Arabic words for some things), so Farsi and a handful of other languages were dipped into, to cover the deficiency.

Muhammad's attitude towards women bothered me, too. I don't remember if I've written this before, so I'll go ahead and (possibly) repeat myself. Yes, okay, he was progressive when it came to women inheriting property, payment of dowries, etc. Got that. But his personal attitude left something to be desired. He said that women were deficient in intelligence and deficient in religion. In regards to religion, it was because women couldn't fast during their periods, which is a natural biological function created by God. I don't remember what the "deficient in intelligence" story was, but that was a reason given by Muhammad for women not getting an equal inheritance as men, and he repeated the comment more than once.

Now, the following are things I picked up from Dr. Gabriel's book:

Muhammad really was not a peaceful guy, and he didn't live a peaceful life. After he'd covered Arabia and subdued or converted the few rebel groups left, he SOUGHT OUT other countries (Sudan was one of them, I recall). He sent them letters, demanding that they submit to Islam and acknowledge Allah and Muhammad as Allah's Prophet, or he would wage war upon them. These were countries that, at the time, were minding their own business, and he was jonesing for a fight, so he went after them.

Jesus, on the other hand, told his followers that "he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword" (when one of his apostles cut off the Roman guy's ear in the garden, trying to stop them from taking Jesus to Pilate). Yes, I know, Jesus also said that he did not come to bring peace, but that parents, children, friends and all would take up swords against each other. This was because He knew that His message would divide families and friends between those who believed what He taught, and those who didn't. Dr. Gabriel's own experience (his father immediately pulled a gun and fired five shots at him after learning his son had converted to Christianity), and the thousands of other stories we hear like it have illustrated that point. Unlike Muhammad, though, Jesus preached His message and moved on if no one would listen. He didn't try to force anyone to accept Him or His message, which is in pretty stark contrast to what I've read of Muhammad.

Dr. Gabriel invites anyone and everyone to check his information - which has been historically documented, not a pro-Christian/anti-Islam fabrication from one person.

One thing he wrote really stood out in my mind. He questioned a teacher at Al-Azhar (a guy who later was found to have masterminded the '93 WTC bombings) about why he never spoke about the Qur'an's messages on peace and loving others. His (now former) teacher replied, "'There is an entire sura devoted to "The Spoils of War". There is no sura called "Peace".'"

Although most of the Muslims I've met have been nothing but kind and generous (may they be blessed for putting up with all of my questions!), I find the roots of the religion are disturbing to me, although some points within it (like the lovely hijab) are certainly worth adopting.

Likewise, I've met many "cultural Christians" - people who are Christian only by association with the culture in which they were raised, not true believers - or people who claim to be Christian and attend church, etc, but they are not God-like in their behavior, though the roots of Christianity (Jesus' message) are those of peace, love, and forgiveness.

Yikes! Or, something I saw at lunch.

I went and had lunch at the Indian restaurant with a friend of mine. We hadn't been in a while, so we met up at 11:00, before she had to be at work.

While we were there, I saw a lady who was, at youngest, in her mid-40s, wearing a short denim skirt that was totally age-inappropriate. That skirt looked like something an elementary-school girl should have been wearing, little pockets and all.

Now, there's nothing wrong with wearing denim skirts -- you just can't look like you made a grown-up size version of a third-grader's skirt!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More blog spam...I need to go home... : )

Note: All the red highlights come from the person who sent it out. They aren't
mine. : )

Forget fashion, this is freedom

(Filed: 31/12/2003)
The Muslim veil has become a hot political issue in France - but Stella White cannot see what the fuss is about. A Catholic from Kent, she explains the joys of the complete cover-up
To liberated Westerners, the hijab, or veil, is a stain on womankind. It symbolises the crushing of the female spirit and is the mark of slavery, transforming a woman into a passive lump who is only allowed out of the house to buy her husband's dinner.
When faced with this piece-of-cloth- on-legs, English women will often meet the eyes peeking out of the hijab with an expression of pity and sadness. For them, the veil represents a living death. This might also be the feeling of the French authorities, who have decided to ban the hijab in schools, believing that no young girl should have to carry the burden of repression on her tender head.
Yet for many, including myself, the veil is not an instrument of coercion, but a means of liberation. Personally, I have never felt so free as I do when I am wearing it.
Before you presume that I am regurgitating propaganda from a culture that has brainwashed me, I should point out that I am a Catholic, not a Muslim. I am not from the mysterious East, but am a 32-year-old woman from boring Kent. Nor am I a prude: my life has included spells as an exotic dancer, kissogram and glamour model. Three of my best friends are strippers. I have had relationships with Muslim men, but none of them ever demanded I wear the hijab; in fact, they found my behaviour slightly embarrassing.
There is nobody in my past that has coerced me to wear a veil. I do so simply because I love it.
I relish the privacy; the barrier that the hijab creates between myself and the harsh, frenetic world, especially in London. I find a great peace behind the veil: I don't feel invaded by nosy passers-by; the traffic, noise and crowds seem less overwhelming. I can retreat into my own safe world even as I walk and, on a practical level, I feel completely secure from unwanted advances.
The hijab is also a financial security system. Like most pedestrians in London, I can't afford to give money to every homeless person I see, but feel stressed and guilty when I walk past them. In my hijab, my conscience can hide. I also feel fairly safe from muggers. Thieves glance at me and probably think, "illegal immigrant; not worth the effort", presuming that my big carrier bags contain only weird, knobbly vegetables for my 16 children.
In my hijab, shopping is also cheaper. A small minority of Muslim traders operate a two-tier pricing system with the "one of us" price being considerably lower than the price for Westerners. If I want a bargain, I make sure I am "hijabbed-up" .
The most amazing effect of wearing the veil is that you automatically seem to become a member of the Muslim community and are accorded all of the privileges and dignity of a Muslim woman. When I walk into a Muslim shop, a man will say to me, gently, "Salaam aleikum [peace be upon you]. How can I help you, madam?" On the bus, Muslim men from Africa, the Middle East or the Far East will move aside for me and say, "After you, sister."
The offices, bars and clubs of London are full of English girls in short skirts and strappy sandals, many of them looking for love. Women who wear the hijab, often despised by the West, actually feel sorry for these Western women who have to harm themselves with crippling high heels, skin-choking make-up and obsessive dieting in order to find a man.
My Iranian friend Mona is a successful businesswoman who goes out every day looking impeccable, with painted nails, stilettos, sharp suits and perfect make-up. "It was just so much easier when I was in Iran," she says. "You'd get up at nine, throw on your big black hooded dress and jump in the car. Now, I have to spend two or three hours getting done up every morning."
Too often, the hijab is dismissed as the preserve of Muslim fundamentalists. But in the Christian tradition, St Paul ordered women to cover their heads and, until the Sixties, no woman would be seen in an English church without a hat and gloves.
Many English women wore hats out in the street or headscarves tied under their chin. Hindu and Sikh women are still expected to cover their heads loosely for their honour, or izzat, and Orthodox Jewish women have traditionally worn wigs over their real hair to conceal it from men who are not their husbands. Yet, among all these cultural groups, only Muslim women seem to have been described as weak or oppressed on account of their headgear.
Two of the most unlikely bedfellows are the woman who wears a hijab and the militant feminist. When women in the early Seventies began cropping their hair short, and wearing dungarees and comfortable shoes, they were rejecting the idea of suffering for fashion and were refusing to take part in the desperate ritual to attract spoilt, fussy males.
Similarly, a woman in a hijab can retain her identity without being a slave to finicky Western notions of beauty.
A particularly sad article appeared in a popular women's magazine last week, entitled: "How to hate your body less." I showed it to my Arab friend Malika, who shook her head and said: "In my culture, men are so grateful when they marry a woman that they see her as a gorgeous princess, whatever shape or size she is."
Within the hijab, Muslim women know their power and their value. One Muslim man told me: "My wife is like a beautiful diamond. Would you leave a precious diamond to get scratched or stolen in the street? No, you would wrap it in velvet. And that is how the hijab protects my wife, who is more precious to me than any jewel."
Of course, if anybody tried to remove my veil or force me to wear it, I would react violently. I am privileged to live in a country in which I can wear whatever I want to. Not all women are so lucky. Personally, I have found in the hijab a kind of guardian angel. My mother, on the other hand, claims that I wear it because I can't be bothered to brush my hair.

Comments (from the moderator of a hijabi Yahoo group):
Here is a non-Muslim woman who has realized and understood the value and benefits of the Islamic hijab, and she is using it for herself despite being a non-Muslim.

Something I've seen that bothers me...

In so many journal entries and articles and books that I've read recently, Muslims seem to make out all "Westerners" (especially Americans) as being Godless heathens with no regard for family or modesty.

Frankly, this bothers me. A LOT. Mainly because I come from good, faithful, honest, hard-working Christian roots (on my mother's side - we aren't EVEN gonna talk about my dad's hypocritical family).

I never wore skimpy clothes (my mother would have fixed that immediately if I'd ever tried - which I didn't). I was never wild, even in high school or college, where every kid under-age is supposedly drinking and doing drugs and sleeping around. I've always preferred a quiet evening at home with a good book or watching t.v. to running around all crazy like that, and no man has ever touched me. That's a right reserved for my future husband, and I'm very happy to keep it that way. My faith in God has always been rock solid, even if my certainty about the surrounding details hasn't.

How can these people say "Western women are all whores, they all walk around naked and sleep with anyone who asks, Westerners don't have family values, they're always getting divorced, they lie and cheat and steal, they're greedy, they don't believe in God...", but get defensive when all Muslims are stereotyped as terrorists, or, if not terrorists, then supportive of those who are?

So many Muslims in the Middle East (and in Latin America -Thanks for that note, Tuttie) have, in all likelihood, never actually met anyone from the West. Their opinions either come from movies (which we all know are ALWAYS accurate *eye roll*), or they are parroting what other people have said.

Prejudice works both ways, folks. Let's try not to add to the bumbling mass of ignorance, shall we?

*end of rant*

Where my heart lies...

Monterey, California... la tierra de mi corazon... Como te extranyo!

Epically cute hijab book.

This is the most epic-cute little book on hijab! It details all the things Muslim girls can do wearing hijab, like playing at the park or reading the Qur'an or praying or eating or shopping with parents or riding a bus. I love it. Price was $10.95, but we somehow ended up with a copy at my friend's book store, so I got it for $5.

It's from England, and despite what Amazon says, it is in print. You can buy different books in the series ("I Can Say Bismillah Anywhere", "I Can Eat Anything Anywhere", etc) on some Islamic store websites. Me, regardless of whether or not I eventually become Muslim, if I should lose my mind and have kids, will teach my daughter that hijab is a great, wonderful, beautiful and glorious thing. : D

Also, got this article link from new friend LK. : )

Info on author

Here's what I got, folks:

Mark Gabriel is not his original name - he changed it after leaving Egypt. He has a bachelors, masters and PhD in Islamic History and Culture from Al-Azhar. After leaving Egypt, he did some work with a Christian organization in Capetown, Africa. He got a Masters in World Religion from the Florida Christian University in Orlando in 2001, and a PhD in Christian Education, also from FCU, in 2002. He was inducted as a fellow, Oxford Society of Scholars, in September 2003.

Sounds pretty well-qualified to me. : )

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hijab question.

Hello again, all. : ) Question to those of you who wear hijab/cover: Did wearing hijab change what you wear?

To clarify: I am not a girly-girl. I have never been into make-up (although I loved nail polish at 15-16-17). I don't wear dresses or skirts or girly blouses or those dreadful "baby doll tees" (I hate the ridiculously short sleeves...they show the -for most of us - most unflattering part of the arm). I've always been a "jeans and t-shirt, no shoes if I can get away with it" kind of girl -- especially after enlisting in the Army. Who wants to wear heels after tormenting their feet in boots for over 4 years?

Since wearing hijab, though, that's changed a bit. I've found that my previous almost-aversion to "frou-frou girly stuff" has loosened up enough for me to wear florals and pink and...just "girlier looking" clothes. I think that being able to wear my t-shirts and jeans under abayas has helped. I pick cheerful colors for my hijabs because most of my abayas are black, to help brighten them up a bit.

P.S. Also, do any of you speak Spanish?

Balance is restored in my universe....

First off, I have to thank NoorTheNinjabi (cute name!) for giving me that link to the guidance prayer.

Second, I think God gave me the answer to my dilemma WAY faster than I could have anticipated. I said that prayer yesterday afternoon, and last night, I went to the book store (just browsing their comparative religion section, seeing what they had).

This is what I found: Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities by Mark Gabriel.

The major note on this is that it was written, not as a comparison of Christianity and Islam, but as a scholarly look at the lives and teachings of the respective founders. Basically, he separated the leaders from the followers.

The author: Dr. Gabriel also related his experience growing up as a Muslim (he had the Qur'an memorized by age 12, graduated #2 in a class of 6,000 from Al-Azhar University at 18, and began teaching and leading prayers at the local mosque as an Imam. All along, he got in trouble with his teachers for asking questions about Islam. At 35, he was tortured for 15 days by the Egyptian "secret police" who had been told by the university staff that he had renounced Islam and converted to Christianity. After being released, he quit going to the mosque and turned his back on Islam (in secret). He read the Bible, which had been given to him by a pharmacist, and after reading the Gospels and Acts, he converted to Christianity. He secretly attended church for a year, but was forced to leave Egypt after blurting out the truth to his father, who immediately tried to kill him. He has two PhD's, one in Islamic History, but I forget what the other was. : )

Anyway, I read his book cover-to-cover, and it answered every question and niggling doubt in my mind.

I think that this was God's answer for me (and He sure knows I don't need any more stress in my life right now).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Books re: Islam and/or Christianity currently on the shelf

I decided to give you guys a list of the Islamic/Christian/comparative religion books I have read (marked with a *) or have on my bookshelf to be read soon. In no particular order:

* Why Islam is Our Only Choice by Muhammad Haneef Shahid - Okay, I'm about half-way through this one. I have to tell you, the grammatical errors are heinous, so much so that they're a distraction. My guess is that a lot of these stories were in English/non-Arabic language, were translated to Arabic for publication, then translated back from Arabic to English. The most recent story comes from the mid-80s and the oldest goes back to the 1800s, so it's probably safe to assume that the original letters have been lost/thrown away over time.

101 Questions and Answers on Islam by John Renard

Qur'an, Penguin Classics edition translated by N.J. Dawood. Currently reading, and using the Qur'an translated by Maulana Muhammad Ali as a cross-reference.

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong. This one is next on the shelf to be read.

Teach Yourself: Islam. This is a good, fast-reading basic primer on Islam for the person who doesn't know ANYTHING about Islam.

* Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab's View of Islam by Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh. This guy debated a prominent Muslim scholar, Ahmed Deedat, a couple of times between 1988 and 1993.

* Christianity and Islam According to the Bible and the Qur'an by Nasr Al-Moghamis. This is a compare/contrast of the two books by a Muslim. In this case, it's obvious that the point is that the Bible is erroneous and wrong when compared to the Qu'ran.

* partially. Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith and Kathleen M. Moore.

* The Truth about Islam and Women by John Ankerberg and Emir Caner. This one is a short book, written by a Christian and a Christian convert. Caner was disowned by his father when he converted to Christianity.

* Daughters of Another Path by Carol L. Anway. I really enjoyed this one, but I talked about it in one of my earliest posts, so I'm not going to repeat myself. : )

Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges with Muslim Women by Miriam Adeney.

Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Belief by Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner.

Voices Behind the Veil: The World of Islam Through the Eyes of Women by Ergun Mehmet Caner. This one is from a Christian POV.

The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I got this one because it was on clearance at Half Price Books. : P

And, finally, last, but certainly not least: the Holy Bible (the King James Version and the New International Version).

Anybody have some to recommend that I haven't listed here?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Do the differences ultimately matter?

Boy, am I in a mood tonight. I've been reading up on Islam and Christianity, similarities and differences, and right now I'm so confused I don't know *anything*. When I started, it was just curiosity; what is all the fuss about (Islam)? Now, it has me questioning the religion in which I was raised, but not feeling very certain about Islam, either. It's like neither of them is a definite "yes" or "no" any more. There's no sense of peace for me, either way. I'm very frustrated... : (

Now I'm thinking, do all the differences really matter? Can't all of us (Christians, Muslims, and Jews) be right in worshipping the same God, and everything else just minor details? Could it be that there is more than one true and right path to the same destination?

I've given myself a headache, so I'm going to eat dinner and try not to think about it any more tonight.

Iftar last night

I went to (I'll call her "Z") "Z"'s house last night for iftar. What a spread! She must have been cooking all afternoon, and it was incredible. The soup she made was especially good. She also had lamb and rice, green beans and tomatoes, salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and olive oil, flat bread, fruit, and dates. Top that off with juice and lots of water, and then Turkish tea at the end of the meal... It was well after noon before I was able to eat today. Too bad her husband missed it, but he went down the street to the masjid for iftar, I guess because we were coming

Two other girls (both converts) came over, too, and "L" ate so much she was moaning and groaning about how full she was afterwards.

Oh, and it was funny --- she and I wore the same abaya! I thought it was hilarious, but she seemed a little upset. I appeased her when I told her I wasn't going to the masjid after iftar. Evidently she is one of those people who gets upset if someone else has the same outfit, but it's okay. Me, I feel like I have to complement others on their good taste when they have a same article of clothing as me. : )

Friday, September 11, 2009

Still no luck...

Well, still no luck on the job front. The weather has been nasty, too -- raining every day -- so I haven't bothered going out for the last couple of days. People here seem to think that bad weather means "drive faster and stupider than normal". LOL! However, I'm working really hard to be optimistic. : ) And I've gotten an (almost) clean house out of the deal, since being at home so much lately gives me no excuse not to clean.

I went to the jummah prayers at the masjid today; for some reason I keep wanting to say "Jomeh prayers" -- "Jomeh" is Farsi for Friday, so I guess it's the same thing... : P. Anyway, it was nice. The sheikh's lesson was on the five Pillars of Islam, particularly zakat (which was emphasized because they're building a new Islamic center down town and zakat is the only way they can get the money to fund construction). At about 1:30 a man did the call to prayer --- I got chills listening to it. After they finished salat, everybody socialized a bit, and one very nice lady invited me to her house for iftar on Tuesday --- she knew me from the Islam 101 class. I'm looking forward to going.

And, last of all, I got the five abayas that I ordered! They're so pretty... I'll pull the photos from the website and post them when I get the time.

Actually, this is last of all: I have more new friends on here! It looks like the number has gone up 4 or 5 since I last wrote an entry. Maybe I'm not as boring as I thought! lol : )

P.S. On another note, if you Muslimahs would make du'a that the lady who owns the new Islamic clothing store here get it up and running again soon -- all the rain we've had made the roof over her shop so heavy that part of it collapsed in earlier this week. She was selling her hijabs, khol, incense, etc., outside the masjid today, and the sisters were getting it all. : )