Read this book
last night. It's a compilation of essays about Ghadir and Shi'asm in general. I'm going to have to blog it later as I started blogging and it got real long. Will post later when more thought is put into it and I can cut it down.
Tonight I will be reading Ethos of Prophets
and finishing The Beloved by Kahlil Gibran
. Insomnia's good occassionally - at least you get caught up on reading. I'm also catching up on the editing I'm doing with Masooma
and finished the book I've been assigned to review and am about to start writing the actual review, as well as start two new books I've been assigned.
Soon we can discuss the accusations of me being a Wahhabi
WOW...Play this(choose Fartaqi)
close your eyes, listen, and just let it take you away...OMG. It's so beautiful. You can click on "lyrics" to see the words. If you want more Nasheed click here
This statement is always translated wrong. Not always, but often. It is often translated as "God is great!" However, from what I understand and much research into it, it should be translated as "God is greater!" or "God is greatest." Some would say what's the difference? But here's what I think.
Watching Fahrenheit 9/11, there was a woman with a demolished house and she is shouting various things such as "So this is American democracy?" (in essense) and then she shouts "Allahu Akbar!" and it is translated in subtitles as "God is great!" I don't like this as it doesn't make sense. Why would she shout "God is great!"? What she is shouting is "God is greater!" God is greater than all of this, this world, and everything happening. With God there is Justice. If she were saying "God is great!" it doesn't have the same meaning. If she said "God is great," she would be saying that her house being demolished is a sign of God being great, but what she is saying is that "God is greater" than all bad or good that is happening in the world.
Allahu Akbar! as explained in the book The Underlying Concept of Daily Prayers by Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamene'i:
With this statement the worshipper begins the glorious proceedings: with such a splendid opening. ALLAHU AKBAR (God is Greater).... Greater than what we can imagine, Greater than all other gods worshipped by people in the course of history. Greater than all the powers and forces which man will be frightened of or terrified by and expected to get support and energy from. Greater than one would dare disobey or break His laws.
This is the context in which she was saying the words (I believe). This small misinterpreation changes the whole meaning of what she was saying and it really bugs me that it's not translated correctly in many cases (in Islamic books as well as others).
From the aforementioned book: The Treatise on Rights.
I liked how the woman "is an object of tranquility." Hmmm...could I possibly be considered tranquil...ever?
20- THE RIGHT OF THE WIFE
And the right of your subject through matrimonial contract is that you should know that God has made her repose, a comfort and a companion, and a maintainer for you. It is incumbent upon each of you to thank God for the other and realize that the other one is God's blessing for you. It is obligatory to be a good companion for God's Blessing, and to honor her and treat her gently. Yet, your right over her is more incumbent and she must obey you in every matter that you like or detest- except in acts of disobedience to God. She should enjoy the rights of mercy and intimacy, as she is an object of tranquility. You should care for her through consummation of the lust that must be consummated. And that is surely great. And there is no power but in God.
Saw Control Room
this weekend. Excellent movie. Here are a few things that were amusing: The head guy of Al Jazeera (who btw has a wonderful demeanor about him...very easy to listen to him speak). Anyhow, he at one point said: "If Fox News were to offer me a job, I'd take it. Leave the Arab nightmare for the American Dream." He also had said earlier in the film something along the lines of "If everyone got an American passport/visa, this would all be done - no more problems." One thing that was a really good point in the film is when someone had said that the US media radicalizes Islam. The movie was well done and very fair if you ask me. Definately worth a watch.
I also saw Fahrenheit 9/11
which was also very good. I knew it would be. What is good about Michael Moore is that he gets normal people who don't watch political documentaries or read leftist news to see another viewpoint. And everyone will see this film for the same reason they watched Passion of the Christ - to not be left out of conversation. I have a feeling this film is going to hurt Bush and Yay for that.
Other events of the weekend:
Friday as I'm going for my evening walk, I walk past a store where there is a sexually explicit window decoration (won't go into the details but can say it's near pornographic) and then I look at what type of store it is. It's a furniture store. Now what does a scantily clad woman and a cucumber have to do with furniture? This country is getting worse and worse about selling sex.
Walking out the door Sunday morning and stepping into the gay parade (who knew there were so many gay people in Atlanta...even South Asians had a banner). It never used to bother me, but it does now. Naked people dancing on floats, women dressed as men, men dressed as women, the smell of alcohol and cigarette smoke...all of it. Got out of the area to go get a present for someone from a nearby store and it began raining on their parade and I kind of had to laugh because well it was almost like a sign from God. It just poured hard, lightening and thundered putting the parade to a complete end.
Read a couple good books last night... The Treatise on Rights by Imam Sajjad Ali ibn al-Hussei
n and also Shi'ism: Imamate & Wilayat by Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi.
I've also came to the decision that I no longer want to live in the US. I just don't want it. I don't want my children (insh'Allah) to be raised here either.
Blah Blah Blah Blah
Another hot muggy rainy day. A had a foot of my hair cut off yesterday...that felt good. It was way way way too long. It looks much better. Been reading the Qur'an a lot lately and some other Islamic books. Quiet thoughtful days these have been. I want to see Fahrenheit 9/11
this weekend and also Control Room.
A movie about Al Jazeera and US media techniques.
I've been waiting a while to see both of them. I would really like to go Geocaching
sometime this weekend.
Been working on the editing stuff that Masooma
and I have been working on. Lotsa work. I've been reviewing Margaret Coel's
new book, Wife of Moon. Interesting book. I don't read much mystery since reading Dean Koontz's Intensity
a few years back and it scared the eebie jeebies out of me. I never picked up another mystery again after that. This one isn't scary though. Just intriguing and you want to know what's going on. Good stuff. I just might have to read some Tony Hillerman books
and Sister Scorpion
have been recommending. I also want to start reading the Dune series. That's it for me. And it's been over 3 weeks since I had a cancer stick. I actually feel really good about quitting.
Where is everyone?
Nobody loves me. Wah wah.
Me'Raj: The Night Ascension...excellent book
I read Me'Raj: The Night Ascension
last night and it scared me. The visions of those in hell and paying off sins was enough to keep me up for a while after. Very good book though. This is the passage I absolutely loved, I mean how cool would this be! To have all the prophets pray together. Wow.
We reached Bait al-Muqaddas and I proceeded to tie the reins of Buraq to the same ring that the great Prophets (before me) used to tie their animal to. After this I entered the Masjid and it was here that I met Ibrahim, Musa, `Isa and the rest of the Prophets yes. They all gathered around me and we proceeded to get ready for Salat. I had no doubt that the Salat would be lead by Jibra'il, however when the lines for the Salat were being formed, Jibra'il placed his hand on my shoulder and pushed me forward.
Now I'm going to read Ghadir by Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr
Interesting news about my new home.
In April, they found a hand grenade with the pin pulled out and in May, there was a rocket launcher found by the railroad tracks. I wonder what's going to be found in June? Why do I feel like I just stepped into a terrorist mark?
Here's an amusing local paper, the Creative Loafing
(i personally love the name). Andisheh Nouraee's articles are great.
Driving in Atlanta drives me crazy. For instance. My first lesson was to "always stay in the left lane because right lines tend to end." This doesn't make any sense but it's true. They just end. But on the contrary, the left lanes often become turning lanes. Yes, they don't really have many turning lanes here. It's best to stay in the middle, but then you have to play Russian Roulette to get over when you need another lane.
Double yellow lines mean nothing to people here. They are to cross any time you want. And similarly, if you want to just cut off traffic by being vertical in the street when you should be horizontal, that's okay too. Anything to cause an accident is okay. Speeding is required and if you don't join in you will get honked at and then cut off. All these do include cops. Cops don't use blinkers, will cut you off, and speed everywhere just like the rest of them. But they have the bonus of not having to worry about being at fault and red lights are just a reason to turn on the flashing lights.
The biggest driving pet peeve is the lack of blinkers. No one uses them. I find myself driving on the highway right around 90-100mph to keep up with people and look to see if i can move in the next lane. No blinkers are going so i assume it's safe, but as soon as i maneuver over, someone jerks over from the next lane over to the one i was just moving into with my blinker happily blinking. Cars are all around with sideswipe scars - Why? Because they refuse
to use their blinkers.
Now people in Colorado know I have a notorious record for the following:
1. Driving fast.
2. Being an aggressive driver.
3. Occassionally being too brave and bordering reckless (I enjoy driving mountian curvy roads at medium to high speeds...it's the thrill i guess).
I have nothing on these people. I have an odd feeling that I will die in a car here. It's no joke. If you don't believe me, just read this website: Basic Driving Rules of Driving Metro Atlanta (all must read this - it is so funny and so right on!)
. Many a blogs will also verify what i say too, just do a search on this website for atlanta driving
My neighborhood is cool, also very very gay, (not in the happy sense, but more the boy + boy sense) but it's very clean and friendly. I'm getting used to the daily torrential rainstorms too. Here's a website about my new hood.
I live very close to the first picture. It's a great park. Except on that website, where they say the temperature feels like XX - what they really meant was it feels like 120.
All of a sudden out of nowhere, the sky turned dark, the tv lost it's connection, it started pouring (I don't mean rain, I mean RAIN - the kind that goes sideways, down, and even up - just came from the sky and isn't stopping anytime soon.) It's windy and crazy out there - like it's the wrath of God. I'm freaked. I've never seen lightening that bright flash in windows or heard thunder that loud (it made the glass in the windows shake and i swear almost fall out) in a downtown area. I'll be hiding under the bed until it stops. Eek there went another boom... I'm off to hide. (Heart pounding fast)
I'm all desi'd out.
Went to various shalwar khameez stores on Saturday and they wore me out. It was fun to try them on. But after a while, it's just hot and exhausting and with a bunch of different women telling you what to get, what you need, etc. And here's the real bad part. All the ones I liked were right around $200 to $300. Eek. Say what? Anyhow, ended not buying any at the time. I know what style I like though...but can I say, "them are some funny looking pants." :-)
Went to see what was playing at the Bollywood cinemas. There's two that I've found so far. This is one
and this is another
. Then went to the Desi mall to check out one more shalwar khameez shop but ended up eating samosas instead. Yum. Checked out the ABCD movies in the Bollywood store. Then we went and bought a Punjabi CD titled Desi Fever
from one of the Desi cd stores. It's a fun cd with cheesy lyrics. Then went to the International Farmers Market and this is by far the best halaal meat store I've been to. It's as big as a grocery store and has everything you can imagine. I was so excited that I just kept saying "look at what they have" and "this is sooo cool". Then watched ""American Desi."
It was later at night that all this would affect me in my sleep. I tossed and turned and couldn't get the various Indian women's voices out of my head telling me what I needed, etc. This in-between-being-awake and near-dreaming-state was very close to becoming a nightmare. No one should hear that many motherly/salesgirl/etc Indian women while trying to fall asleep.
Sunday was all about errands and a little shopping. Had a heart to heart talk with Dad...which was great. The older he gets, the more sensitive and nostalgic he gets. I love it as it usually brings old memories up and I love hearing my dad's stories.
Oops... I just said a bad word...
So I dusted off the ole pant suit clothes and drove 45 minutes clear across town for a job interview at a music company. I prefer to stay at home freelancing or working from home. The commute will suck, and so will not being able to work in pajamas.
They really liked me at the interview. The dress code is very relaxed and so is the general atmosphere. Small group of people I'd be working with/for. And I'd be writing stuff that is heard by more than readers. Hmmm....decisions decisions.
If they offer it to me, and the money is okay, I just may join the working population again. Indeed, it's a very very very sad day.
I was wrong and all of you were right!
When I told everyone I was moving to Atlanta, they said "It's so hot." and "It's so humid." I said that I liked humid and didn't mind heat. I was wrong. I thought I did but I don't. It's not normal for the air to be so hot at night. Nor is it normal to have it rain, only instead of cooling things off as rain normally does, it feels like boiling water is being pelted at you. I also used to complain about air conditioning. Well I still hate it, but have learned to love it. It's a must have. Air conditioning is on 24/7 here. I hate it being so cold, but the alternative is to sweat to death.
And the real bad news? It's only June and I guess the worst months are July and August. God help me.
What is that smell? That is indeed serious smog/pollution.
and on to the rest of the trip - the tourist thang...
Overwhelming humanity. There is so much to take in as there is no such thing as empty space.
Non-stop honking. The sound of horns is everywhere. It doesn't matter where you are, there is honking. Annoying at first but one does get used to it. The interesting thing is if someone has not honked their horn in 15 minutes, they will honk it at nothing. We were walking towards Central Park and a cabby was sitting there at the stopsign and there were no cars to be found anywhere since the Puerto Rican Day Parade had just ended and streets down there were just opening back up. He honked his horn. I looked around. Nothing there. Nervous habit I guess.
Why don't they clean the streets? There is litter everywhere. Trashcans are overflowing with trash and then piles start next to the trashcan. This is especially true in Chinatown and some other well travelled areas. But most streets have trash all along the curb. I guess the nightly trash pickups and twice a week street sweeping can't keep up with how many people live here and/or visit/work here.
Halaal food is everywhere! From restaurants to sidewalk stands.
Different accents and languages everywhere including many desi's with traditional garb...an unbelievable amount of their restaurants too.
Lastly - What an awesome city! I absolutely love the energy in the city. I would miss quiet and nature, but this city has everything. I would consider living here.
First day in, drove into the city from Newark. First thing I notice is looking at the skyline (which you can see from NJ) is how instantly you know where the WTC was. Weird for me since I've never really paid any attention to the skyline. But even so, you know where it was. Second, the traffic is insane. Mind you, it was Saturday and it was worse than any rush hour traffic I've ever seen.
You see odd things there too which I figured, but when you see it, it's just odd.
Odd things seen
* Buddhist people sitting on mats on the sidewalk meditating/praying East (I think.) Not a few, but a whole group of them side by side meditating on a very very busy street.
* Driving down the street and seeing a cruise ship that appeared to be floating through traffic. It was of course an optical illusion. It was a cruise ship but it was on the river - it looked as though it were actually cruising through the city. Imagine our surprise while driving between high skyscrapers and then seeing a cruiseship in the intersection.
* Leaving a Pakistani restaurant which deserves its own bloggage (will do) and walking down the street where a guy with a coat hanger is trying to break into his own car since he had locked his keys in it. He's cursing and sweating and then a black guy comes up to him and says "Man, let me show you how that's done." It actually made me laugh outloud because of the stereotype.
* 3,000 umbrellas in Battery Park (Statue of Liberty area...where all the immigrants landed way back) and how it was some artistic thing. Each umbrella had a Monarch Butterfly painted on it.
Found this great Pakistani restaurant with halaal food. The food I think burned a layer off of my tongue. That was some HOT stuff. What was really interesting about the place was its Muslimness. There's a bucket of prayer rugs, a sign on the wall pointing Qibla, and a Muslim shower bucket in the bathrooms (but keeping with that tradition, the women's bathroom of course had no toilet paper, or soap - typical as it's just like the mosque...most women's sections suck compared to the mens). Yes, that's a pet peeve of mine.
The rest of the day 1
Drove through Times Square
. Wow, what a massive number of people. Absolutely insane lighting and people. My eyes just couldn't take it all in. Massive billboards, lights flashing everywhere and an unbelievable amount of advertising/mind control...even McDonald's lights blink.
Walked around Wall Street
and saw the NYSE
- very ornate building and area. I had to see it having worked in the financial services industry for so long. The windy streets around it very interesting too with ornate buildings, halaal Paki/Indian restaurants and a very beautiful church that once laid in dust from the WTC.
From there wandered over to the WTC site
and this I found really odd. I felt nothing. When in Oklahoma City, I felt something, sadness...but here I didn't feel anything. It bothered me a bit that I didn't. I suppose it's because the wrath of what has come from it (multiple wars, racism, religion bigotry, too much media attention, don't know). It's amazing the space the towers once used and how the implosions damaged the buildings around the area.
What an interesting area and they are right next to each other. Chinatown is massive. Little winding streets, people selling illegal DVD's - for instance, one can buy Shrek 2 although it only came out in theatres a few weeks ago. I, of course, would never buy such bootlegged items. Okay, so maybe I did - $5 for Shrek 2 - who could refuse? Got some lychees which i love...yum!
Little Italy is a little less hustle and bustle. The accents were awesome. Straight of the Godfather. We think we saw the Godfather sitting in his tinted windowed town car. Great restaurants open out onto the streets for the weekend and people end up having a parking meter next to their head while eating. Very cool area. Awesome gelato too.
Spent day 2 driving around the areas...Times Square, 42nd street, Theatre district, Park Ave, Grenwich Village, Soho, Tribeca, Diamond district (90% of diamonds that go through the US go through here...and 95% of the stores in the Diamond District are Jewish owned - I wonder how much of that goes to Israel), went near Harlem too. I'm sure there's many more neighborhoods we saw, but I'm not recalling them right now. And this is what i found particularly shocking. The whole area we drove was only a portion of Manhattan. About 1/3 of it. We didn't hit the other buroughs. So in total we saw about 1/15th of NYC. Crazy.
Got around Central Park and found throngs of police all over. I've never seen so many police in one place. At one point there were about 40 on one corner of the sidewalk. We found out it was for Puerto Rican Day. Thousands of Puerto Ricans were waving their flags from cars and wearing the flag of Puerto Rico. There are more Puerto Ricans in NYC than there are in Puerto Rico if you can believe that.
From there we went to wander Central Park. That's their only nature area from what i can tell. I was wondering if they had any. You still can't really escape the sounds of the city, but what a great park. There's two big lakes and all kinds of other stuff. We only walked through a couple parts of it. Spent about an hour trying to find Strawberry Fields (a section of the park)...named after the John Lennon song and the mosaic of "imagine" in honor of his song...one of my favorites. Finally found it as we were leaving the park (already night). It made me happy that co-searcher spotted it though. I was beginning to pout and as those who know me, this isn't a good thing.
Found a halaal Afghan restaurant to eat at and yum... great food. Oh and check this out. On the way out...stopped into a little corner store for water and behind the counter was the price of cigarettes. Get this smokers: $6.40 per pack. Yikes!
Day 3 - New Jawsey
Now New Jawsians have an odd accent. It sounds like everyone is an old Jewish grandma. Even teenage girls. Grumbly and odd. Took some getting used to. When leaving the hotel, I asked if there was a shuttle to go shopping. The lady told me to ask the concierge and I could get a ride and a ride is what I got. I stepped into a limo, sunk in the plush Cartier interior, and looked out dark windows feeling like a superstar. :-/ First limo ride for me. I have to admit, it was cool. Although I hate extravagance for most things, I sucked up and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. When in Rome right? Went shopping as a reward for me going over a week without cigarettes...yes, I've given up the nasty habit. Week 1 is a success.
Anyhow, went into some highscale stores (just for fun) and it was interesting because some actually had live jazz bands and one had a piano dude. Too funny. Bought a few things and some spa like items to treat myself to later. Quitting was hard dang it. I deserved reward.
Got a call for an interview at a music company so made plans to interview when I get back. Sounds like a cool job.
After, I called the hotel and got another limo ride back feeling like a princess. Went to the mall later and explored the lovely world of Tiffany and Co...a girl can dream can't she?
Got some good ice cream and called it a night.
Flight delayed many times before finally leaving ground. Finally got home and realized exactly what humidity was. It feels like someone is suffocating you with a plastic bag full of hot air. How am I going to make it through the summer?
All in all it was an awesome trip. Loved every minute of it. Even the crazy driving and the especially rude driving. It really is Darwinstic. I can't wait to wear my $4 dollar shirt that says "I (heart) NY". :-)
Pictures will be uploaded soon insh'Allah.
This n' that...
Went to a desi mall (yes, they actually have whole malls...too cool) and looked around and ate halaal chinese food there...that was such good food. I've missed Chinese food...so much of it has pork in it that i don't feel comfortable eating it anymore, but halaal...woo hoo...pile it on. there was a dance studio right across the way too and i could see in. So cool... Indians doing Bollywood type dances. Fun to watch them practice.
Came home and then went for a walk in the park. Robert Redford and Jane Fonda were there presenting the weekly movie in the park. It's cool, for five weeks or so they have screen on the green where they play an older movie on a big screen in this giant park (and i do mean giant) real close to where i live. The next three movies are The Sound of Music (love that one), Psycho (love that one too), and Wizard of Oz (of course i love that one too). They did Barefoot in the Park last night and the week before was Young Frankenstein. All movies that I've seen but i love. As a film major it seems I've seen everything old. It's a lot of fun though going to the park to watch a movie. I look forward to next weeks movie. :-)
I like walking at dusk too because all the fireflies are out glowing all over the place. I've never seen them before moving here and I like watching them. It's my favorite thing here, well my second favorite thing.
Talked to M's mom on the phone last night and she wants me to stay on in Toronto after M leaves for a few extra days. That's so sweet, and cool. (a little nervous feeling here too...)
Leaving for NYC tomorrow...will blog on return. Insh'Allah :-)
Terrorists, Evildoers and the American People
I'm sick of three words: terrorists, evildoers, and American people. If I hear them anymore I'm gonna scream. Seriously, isn't everyone else sick of it too? I mean they have no meaning anymore. Bush today, of course, took Reagan's burial to harp on the danger of terrorism. I hate the word American anymore. It's all become such patriotic bull.
I'm surviving Bush one month at a time...and there's still 4 left.
And if, God help us, he wins the election, I'm moving to Canada. No, somewhere further where I can't hear his droning voice.... Iceland maybe? I hear it's pretty there this time of year. Who am I kidding, Kerry will be just as bad. I guess I'll start looking for property now.
On a good note, I'm enjoying these Georgians and what they did today at the G8. It is a state of rebels, that's for sure. And stubborn.
I'm finally in the mood to write, rather than just doing what i have to do. I got another freelance assignment today...always a good feeling for me. Starting editing a book for a friend (Yes, finally I've been working on it.) and even did a little writing of my own.
Spiritually I'm in a peak too. I've been reading the Quran (partly for the editing, but then continuing to read after finding what i needed), and other Islamic books. I was so overwhelmed for a while with everything that I kind of dropped it all at one time. Since getting an English-only-Quran and not having to worry about all the rules about Wudu for reading the Quran, etc. I find it easier to pick up. That's a problem for me. I used to read the Quran everyday and carried it with me everyday to work. Then someone said "You can't do that." "You can't carry it in your bag with all your other stuff and you can't read it without doing Wudu." I became afraid of reading it. Now I have it online and in English form so I feel a little less restricted, and therefore am picking it up often once again. The English only version does seem to lack the sacredness of the big one I have with Arabic and English though.
I've also been reading Nahjul Balagha a bit and some others. I just finished this book
loaned me... Very good book. The writer is an American convert and touched on some issues that I have been having and thought I was alone in, but apparently most converts go through. I guess most of my friends converted so long ago, and they appear to me to be perfect Islamic examples, I didn't realize that they probably also struggled in the beginning too, although you'd never know it talking to them.
So, a few things from the book (J. Lynn Jones "Believing as Ourselves")that I really liked:
from Jeffrey Lang's foreword (His book is also very good...Struggling to Surrender):
"...converts sometimes naively expect that since the subculture they have entered into is more overtly religious, its members should be less prone to human failings. They soon discover otherwise..."
I had this feeling when converting and was shocked when I saw otherwise (I am thinking of Ashura), until someone said to me - "Islam is the perfect reigion, with the most imperfect followers."
also from the foreword:
"Most converts follow a certain characteristic path, beginning with initial fervor, followed by extreme conservatism, followed by confusion and despondency. For some the third phase is the first step towards further soul-searching, personal healing, and a deeper faith, but for others it signals their eventual departure from Islam. Many converts speak of feeling spiritually disengaged during this period, of being unable to experience the divine closeness that they had known earlier in their conversion, even though in all outward respects their behavior is in full keeping with community norms."
This really hit me because it's exactly where I'm at. I could never ever dream of leaving Islam. Once you find the truth, how can you turn your back on it, let alone God? I can't. But I have found myself frustrated, not wanting to go to the mosque, not wanting to pray - but still doing so, where when i first converted, I couldn't wait to pray and would often become emotional while doing so and I loved going to the mosque. I put my heart and soul into praying and now it seems that it's something to be done, rather than a want. I've been trying to get back where I was before, but it hasn't been easy.
This quote from the book really struck me:
"The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself." - Mark Twain
I can't tell you how many times I've told this to my closest friend. I have said over and over "I don't know who I am anymore." It's true. I miss swimming. I don't mind hijab, but I'm not exactly comfortable in it. Not because of what it looks like, but because of comfort and my active lifestyle. I miss throwing on a pair of shorts, a t-shirt, a baseball hat and hitting the mountains for a day of hiking. Putting on pants in hot weather, a long shirt, and hijab drains my enthusiasm to often even go outside. At times I'm happy to wear it and proud, but it has really affected my lifestyle, and ironically those times i felt closest to God before converting (in the outdoors exploring His artistry) are now unattractive to me because of hijab - it makes me lazy. Also, humidity of my new home doubly makes me want to hide out inside instead of outdoors where I feel closer to God. Inside is so material and unreal, where outside is His creation, not man's. I miss it, but I can't take the heat in hijab. It's a big issue of mine as far as comfort goes, because the person I naturally am would be outside enjoying life instead of hiding out inside. Eating halaal, praying, and everything else is easy and I feel fine doing it although. Eating halaal is a pain sometimes, when you just want to grab something meaty and quick, but that is much easier than hijab as it doesn't make me uncomfortable.
She made a really good point though. We HAVE to keep a part of ourselves. And decide what style of dress (long shirt versus abaya, etc) we feel comfortable and ourselves in. This is where I wonder about hijab. I do feel it is important to wear it, but what about when it stops us from living or feeling ourselves to the point of giving up most of what makes us up as a person? I try to think about whether I am a better Muslim wearing it or not wearing it. I remember my first days as a Muslim - putting it on to see Muslim friends, taking it off when at work, putting it on to pray, etc - and gave up and decided to wear it always. Now that it's summer, I'm hating it and I feel like a hermit instead of the person I used to be.
"I finally realized that, despite all the talk about God and Islam I had participated in and listened to over the last few years, it had been about God - abstract, distant, and distinctly foreboding. My once very real, personal, and comforting, experience with God that had led me to Islam in the first place had been lost."
Yup. I agree fully with this statement. Although it's only been under a year for me to get here.
She also talks about how we as converts start trying to please the born Muslims so they will consider us real Muslims. Like we are fake ones unless they believe we are real. It is a problem though. Many born Muslims don't consider converts real Muslims. Most think we marry into Islam, even if we aren't married. It makes me want to rebel and never marry so they can't say it. But even this though shows how much I still want to please and/or prove myself to other Muslims. She reemphasizes that we entered Islam to be close to Allah, and we should remember that pleasing other Muslims doesn't make us Muslim, it just gives us unneeded stress. And we end up bringing these people to our minds when we pray instead of God. We think more of them than God. I didn't realize how much I did that until reading it.
The book goes into other good topics, but these are the passages that really struck a cord with me and lifted me out of my spiritual hump. I'm still not ready to go to the mosque here...not ready for a new community's question session just yet. That will have to wait still. I hate the why questions. Only because the answers aren't simple and it's quite personal really.
And the really good news of the day: I have begun kicking my worst habit. Not trying. I'm actually using reinforcements and I've called on Allah to help.
Okay, I'm kidding, but not far off. Man my head feels like it's going to explode. My ear is killing me and the humidity doesn't help.
But the good news is: I get to go to New York for the weekend. How fun will that be? I haven't been there since I was 4 or 5 and don't remember much of that. I guess we lived there for six months when my Dad drove us cross country from Oregon to New York in his (and yes, he does still own it) Bluebird School Bus. Ironically, these are my only memories of NYC:
1)Being scared to death on top of the Empire State Building.
2)Passing the Statue of Liberty by ferry and thinking how weird that the lady was green and wondering how she got here from France.
3)Being parked outside the World Trade Center in the schoolbus in the middle of the night and my dad saying. "This is a very important building for the US. It holds a lot of power." I looked at it in awe wondering why. My dad isn't exactly a corporate guy so I didn't really know what he meant.
I can't wait to go. Maybe that will make me feel better. :-/ Krispie Kremes have made my mood better but not this nasty cold.
Tonight I get to go get measured up for a shalwar khameez
. Fun. And should be interesting as I've never been tailored. I guess I get to see the final product when I go to Toronto next month.
I'm almost finished with the current book, Believing as Ourselves which has been very good. I have about 25 pages left.
Man o man, that was some nasty stuff and still is. Ears are still clogged but I'm doing better. Whew.
Had some fun this weekend despite the nastiness. And I got to catch up on a few movies while i was down. I watched Cheaper by the Dozen, and if you can believe this - I finally watched National Lampoon's Vacation. I must be the only 80's child who hasn't seen it. I've also been reading this book.
I will blog it when I'm done. It's very good and insightful and really hit the mark on what I've been going through regarding converting and all that.
Saturday was good. Got up determined to see the outdoors. Went and test drove a Mini Cooper
- aw, i really really want one now. What a fun fast little car. Then went Geocaching
and found 3 out of 4. Yay - that makes 123.
Mourned Reagan's passing away a little bit. Not that I thought he was a great president but as a kid I did. I thought he was the best. It was the first time I understood politics. I remember the day. I was in the 6th grade and I was standing outside by the tetherball court right around election time and was asked "What are you - Republican or Democrat?" I said "Democrat." My parents instilled in me that if you are poor to middle class, you are a Democrat and that was that. Simple, though knowing, my parents, like other middle class family's we knew, weren't going to vote and never would. But even being "Democrats" I liked Reagan. I thought he was going to protect us from those Russians. Does anyone else remember the Russian exercises as a kid where you'd have to go hide in the bomb shelter or under your desk at school? During Reagan's era is the last time I felt innocent
politically. Those were the times, I thought the world was a happy place, well except for AIDS and Ethiopia. LiveAid and "We are World" were big back then too - but even that song showed unity. Then I grew up.
He had a human face and a human heart and genuinely cared about people. He didn't always do right and he may have been the beginning of the downward spiral of politics, but he was human. Much more than I can say for our recent presidents. My biggest problem is that he brought George Bush in with him. With Reagan we got Bush, and with Bush we got hell, twice, but hopefully not three times.
Sunday was good too. First time driving in Atlanta, and let me say, these people all get their driver's licenses from Cracker Jack Boxes. I swear it. Even the cops cut you off without using a blinker. The speed limit doesn't matter. If it's 45, you better be doing 60 or you are going to have someone right on your bumber and honked at. It was an interesting drive to say the least.
Did a quick geocache today while listening to desi music on the radio. :-) They actually have a radio station that plays desi music. Too much fun. It made my driving fit right into a Bollywood movie, which everyone who knows me, knows I love Bollywood. If only life were as happy as a good Bollywood flick and we all could break out into song and dance in the middle of our day, everyone would be much happier.
Made some Chai and got a box of almond biscotti's, sat outside and drank it while watching firefly's. I had never seen firefly's before. Pretty cool how they blink in the evening twilight. Then watched House of Sand and Fog... really really good movie but way too depressing for a Sunday night.
And the highlight of the weekend - When i began talking like these slurring southerners and caught myself doing it. Oh dear God, is there any hope for me? Am I to become a Southern Belle? Eek.
I'm dying. Really I am. I'm sure of it.
Yuck Yuck Yuck.
Whining Whining Whining.
Got to Atlanta Monday night very tired. It was an exhausting 4 days but also fun. Determined to leave Friday and we did. Had some late night help getting it done. Thanks Khadija! Finally left town around 2:30am and only made it to the Springs. Got up Saturday and went through New Mexico, to Oklahoma, and finally Dad's in Texas. The smell of oil all around and nothing else in sight. Pulled into Dad's little town on old Route 66 around 6 pm. Hung out for a couple hours which was really nice. I learned something new about his town. It was started by a guy who died on the Titanic. Interesting.
Left with the intention of getting to Little Rock, Arkansas but didn't quite make it. Went through Oklahoma and stopped off at the Federal Building Memorial that my Dad told us to stop and see in Oklahoma City. It was around midnight when we got there so nice and quiet. Sad to see but they've done a real nice job making the memorial. A pool of water that is actually about a centimeter deep though it looks deeper, and empty lit up chairs along a hill that symbolizes those who died that day. Small chairs for kids, and larger ones for adults. On each end of the "pool" of water are two structures with the times 9:01 and 9:03 - the bombing between them. Left with sadness and anger that there are so many innocent people who have to die for a cause they had nothing to do with. When will innocent people stop dying at the hands of evil?
A link to the memorial...though I liked it at night better
Oklahoma City is a pretty happening town. We didn't stay though. Headed East some more and got into the Roadkill state of Arkansas for sleep.
The next day drove through Arkansas and Tennessee and I've never seen so much roadkill in my life. Sheesh. Stopped in Memphis, a very different type of city. Very happening with blues blaring out onto the streets and lots of pig signs advertising all kinds of pork BBQ. We started off by visiting Graceland, home of Elvis. Pretty cool. We didn't tour it or anything, just took a picture along that famous fence and headed to the downtown area just as tornado sirens began to sound. No one was running or doing anything so we decided to ignore it too. Had some dinner and waited out the storm. Good seating - the window. Rain and wind tore through the town with two tornadoes in the air. The tornadoes finally left and we followed suit. One couple was too freaked out and they left the restaurant without even eating. It wasn't really scary. Well kinda, but everyone was so relaxed, it was hard to be scared. Eating while tornado sirens are going off was a first for me though.
Here's a picture of near where we were....without the storm...
Drove along the storm's route towards Nashville. Pouring rain and wind the whole way. Made it pretty close to it before stopping for the night. Got there the next morning and what a cool little quirky town. Very Country and Western but with style. The Southwest Bell building was cool and the downtown area with Printer's Alley, BBQ Joints, and Music Halls was pretty cool.
Here's Printer's Alley (Nashville was a big printing and furniture hub before the prohibition when it became music and bars.)
and the Nashville skyline:
Definitely a different flavor down here. Had some lunch and walked and drove around a bit then headed out towards Chattanooga. Pretty drive along the way. Chattahoochee River looks like fun and Chattanooga was a cool little town. Loved it. Small big town. I liked the names of their coffee shops: one was the Perky Piruana and the other was called Badass Coffee Co. I would like to spend a weekend here sometime.
From there we drove towards the scenic "mountain" route. This made me cry. Yeah I know, what a baby. But I was expecting the Appalachians to be big mountains similar to the Rockies and what I found out is that there is nothing like the Rockies. :-( I started crying entering Georgia. No more Rockies, my friends are back in Colorado, and a wave of sadness hit me. My nieces aren't just down the street any more, Masooma isn't there to go geocaching or hiking with, Leila's not there for me to just drop by on, all my friends are so far away now. I felt yucky and realized that it was no longer a road trip, this was now home. Drove around to switch moods and it worked. It won't be so bad, but I am going to miss doing outdoorsy things. What they call mountains here are hills in Colorado. I'm gonna miss my hiking, and camping and stuff but maybe higher up in these mountains there will be something I consider mountains. Insh'Allah.