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So my friend Maryam got married this weekend (her younger sister, Sarah, also got married this weekend!). I was at their mehndi, and at Maryam’s wedding (couldn’t stay for Sarah’s), and it was just lovely. Both girls are lovely inside and out, and they looked fabulous, and it was just a really nice wedding. God bless their marriages and keep them happy, ameen.

(I have pictures of them, but I don’t think they’d want me to post them, much less on my blog, not even my protected FB account, so I won’t. But trust me, they looked GORGEOUS.)

At Maryam’s wedding, there weren’t many other people I knew, so I sat with my mom and her teacher friends from her old school, the one I refer to as the shithole Islamic school. You guys know what I’m talking about. I didn’t mind. I wasn’t an active participant in the conversation, but I didn’t mind sitting there and listening along and being slightly bored. No big deal.

When I was younger, my parents often took me to dinner parties where there weren’t any other kids for me to play with. I learned long ago how boredom wasn’t a bad thing, and how to enjoy my own company, which I do, very much, to this day. I learned how to keep myself amused for hours with one sheet of paper and a pen, if the hosts were nice enough to think of me and give me that, and how to sit quietly next to my parents (as a four year old!) for hours while they drank tea and talked. It wasn’t a big deal.

Which is why I hate the kids these days, constantly demanding to be entertained. 😡 Little turds.

So I’m sitting at this wedding with the aunties and Maryam is led in by her siblings and everyone looks awesome and she joins the groom on the stage and stands for some official wedding pictures and all that.

And I know Maryam. I know she can be a little shy, although if you know her, she’s hilarious and sarcastic and interesting and awesome. But if you don’t know her, you’d think she was just kind of quiet and shy and introverted.

And I know that she, like almost all brides, was probably more than a little nervous, more than a little stressed, more than a little tired. And she’s also a little shy, sometimes. When she was standing for the pics, she had her chin tipped down, her gaze lowered, which is very traditional.

Back in the day, brides often had veils over their faces for the entire wedding celebration. You guys saw pictures from my mom and dad’s wedding (if you haven’t, they’re all up and captioned at my TwitPic page), where my mom had a veil over her face for the nikkah (the actual signing of the papers, reading of the vows and the prayers, the actual marriage). Even in the normal wedding photos, she has her gaze lowered. I think there are just a couple pictures, if any, really, where she’s looking at the camera.

(These pictures are of my parents.)

Maryam wasn’t really talking to anyone when she was up on the stage, and her head was mostly lowered, although she did look up for some of the pictures and smile and all that. She wasn’t really talking to her friends or the groom, and this is pretty traditional.

Traditionally, the bride doesn’t smile, doesn’t talk to her friends, doesn’t talk to the grooms, doesn’t do anything but keep her head down.

And Jesus shit, you guys, the comments from the peanut gallery at my table.

One auntie that I’ve known forever was like, “Oh, this is how brides should be! Brides that keep their gaze down the whole time, they just look so much better, so much more pious! [She used the word ‘noor’ when describing how she looked, which literally means a light emanating from the face, but more generally refers to a light that seems to emanate from a person due to that person’s goodness and piety, etc.]”

She continued, “This is how brides should absolutely be. They shouldn’t be talking to anyone, they shouldn’t be smiling. I hate it when I go to weddings and the brides are looking up, looking around, smiling at their friends, smiling for the photos, talking to the groom. Gah, you have the REST OF YOUR LIFE to talk and smile! For God’s sake, at least sit still for this, your wedding day!”

Seriously. That is EXACTLY what was said.

WHAT THE HELL KIND OF BULLSHIT IS THIS.

I almost vomited. I almost vomited right there. It took everything in me not to tell this auntie to shove it, and that she was full of shit.

It was the most disgusting, misogynistic thing I’d heard all week, easily. Possibly all month. So fucking disgusting.

Brides should stay quiet? Look down? Not smile? I should mention, NO such conduct is expected from grooms. If a groom laughs with his friends and smiles for the photos, everyone’s like, aww, look, he’s so happy, what a great guy, what a great marriage. If a girl does it, she’s too free, too loose, too uppity.

Insisting that a bride look down and keep her mouth shut and not even dare to fucking smile on her WEDDING DAY is nothing but a blatant, gross desire to silence a woman.

Think about it this way: She is not even entitled to her own emotions.

These same ridiculous aunties are going to sit around at my wedding, eating the food I paid for them to have for dinner that night, sitting at tables I paid for, and paid to decorate, and they’re going to talk about how I look ‘too free, too loose” (translation, since it’s a little idiomatic: whorish) because I’m daring to smile for the camera and talk to my friends. And if I dare to smile and grin at my husband?

Dear LORD, that is the worst goddamn thing I can ever do. It means I’m a whore. Seriously. Grinning at my husband, forget even holding his hand (OMG WTF SKANK), on my wedding day is enough for some people to think I’m acting whorishly and totally inappropriately.

They’re in for a terrible surprise.

Because I can guarantee, (and this is not out of spite in reaction to this incident but how I’ve always felt) if I ever get married, the day I do, my shoulders will be down and back, my head will be held high, I will be smiling, and my eyes will meet the camera each time.

I will talk and joke with my friends. I will tease my groom. I will thank my guests for coming. I will grin at the camera in picture after picture with friends and family and acquaintances that somehow managed to come along.

To any young women reading this, the imminent-brides, if you want to go the more traditional route and keep your head down and not look at the camera, that is FINE. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If that is what you want to do, that’s awesome and totally cool and I will probably be sitting there, looking at your pics, thinking you make a gorgeous, traditional bride.

But that is not to say that’s how all brides SHOULD be.

To the other imminent-brides that are not comfortable with that, don’t stand for it. Look at the camera. Smile. Talk to your friends. Flash your husband a big ol’ smile.

You have the rest of your life to smile and talk and touch your husband, true. So why not start doing all that on the day you actually get married?

I’d like to end by once again congratulating Maryam and Sarah. You are both lovely and your wedding was awesome. Also, please don’t interpret this as even slightly critical of you. It’s critical of how people judge brides, and how people have horrible, offensive expectations of women, and are so quick to brand them as being too loose, for something as simple as a smile. Every bride should be able to behave the way she wants on her wedding day without being subject to this kind of disgusting criticism rooted in our patriarchy-obsessed culture.

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I wasn’t really going to post anything about the strife in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and the Middle East. I mean, everything I have opined on the matter is on my Twitter timeline. I’m actually at the top of my Twitter game when there’s a revolution going on. During the Egyptian revolution, an NPR editor or something included me in a Follow Friday re: Egypt/Cairo/Tahrir, which was exciting. In a very vain, pointless, ego-stroking kind of way. But still. Occasionally I have those vain, pointless, ego-stroking moments.

Certain things have bothered me for a while now regarding these protests and revolutions. In no particular order:

Stop saying stupid things like, “In the MidEast, people are dying, and here, teachers don’t want to pay an extra 12%.” That is a bullshit argument and I have no patience for it. I got into an argument with a dude named Atraqchi who’s some kind of Iraq war analyst, a while ago. He’s a HuffPo writer (I know, who isn’t?) and he tried to advance the argument that Muslims in the US shouldn’t donate any money to the Park51 Masjid because Muslims overseas were dying in Baghdad and Pakistan and Sudan and Palestine.

That is straight bullshit. First, you can support both, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make in this context. Yes, it’s true that people are dying in the MidEast while workers across the country protest a crack-down on unions. But making that argument creates a false equivalency and is just plain disingenuous.

In this country, we are lucky enough to know that whatever happens, we will not be gunned down in the street en masse by the army or police. En masse, I said. (RIP, Oscar Grant, and the tens of thousands like you.) If we take to the streets in protest (say, about unions) we know that the President will not order air strikes on us, and we know the police won’t open fire on us as we do nothing but walk the picket line. We know this. Call it a product of American exceptionalism, that we don’t think the same things that happen in other countries can happen here, whatever.

We know this won’t happen here. We’re lucky enough to live in an environment that affords us that kind of security. We’re luckier than a lot of the world’s population. Great. Good for us.

But what we do hold dear and what we do fight for are our rights in this country. Currently, one of those rights is under attack – collective bargaining. You can’t put a price on collective bargaining. Stop trying to raise the 12% number. Just stop. The wealthy in this country have lobbyists (and, well, money). The working and middle class? We have unions. Unions are one of the top donors to the Democratic party for much the same reason, along with plaintiffs’ attorneys. And, of course, two of the things on the GOP agenda? Cracking unions and tort reform. Gee. Shocker.

The argument that people in the MidEast is are dying so we are idiots to be upset about a 12% raise is just ludicrous. The contexts and environments are two entirely different things. Yes, they’re fighting for their lives there. Here, we’re lucky to be fighting for our rights, not our lives. And just because people in Libya are being mowed down by Qaddafi’s security forces, we should shut up and sit down and twiddle our thumbs while we have our collective bargaining rights watered down and eventually stripped away?

Unlikely. If you honestly think that, step to the back of the line.

Tear gas in Cairo on Jan 28. Source: Boston.com (click)

And this 12% business is really pissing me off. “Just pay the 12% increase.” I’ve heard this over and over. Um, why? Are we Americans so glued to MSNBC and FOX that we’ve forgotten the very nature of pensions and how they work?! Pensions are not a gift by some kindly employer. Pension funds are PART OF YOUR COMPENSATION FOR THE WORK YOU DO. It is YOUR money. It’s not being given to you by the employer or the government, given at will to be taken at will. It is YOUR entitlement for the work you do. That is how pensions work.

I could go on about this and hash out the economics of it all (my mom has been teaching economics for twenty years – really, I got this, it’s basically all we talk about at the dinner table) but this article says it better than I have time to.

“Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who Really “Contributes” to Public Workers’ Pensions?”

Read this. If you read nothing else on Wisconsin and labor relations in the US ever, read that. Understand how pensions work. Understand where your money is.

Source: Inquistr (click)

This isn’t about unions, it’s about the budget. No, it’s not. First, Wisconsin isn’t broke. They have a projected deficit of something like $137M, I think. Which is nothing, really, since the last time I checked, IL was about 6 or $7B in the hole. 😛 We really don’t know what we’re doing here. Anyway, $137M is low when compared to the rest of the states in the US. WI isn’t in dire straits. Yet. Or at least, not when it comes to its finances.

Aside from that, the Public Worker’s Union AGREED to Walker’s demands for pension/benefits cuts. They agreed. And Walker told them to go screw. And he admitted in that prank phone call from David Koch, I believe, that it was about cracking down on unions. I’m sure FOX News has found some clever way to spin it, but really? Really? When it comes straight from the ass’s mouth? I mean, horse’s ass? I mean, horse’s mouth? Really?

Also refer to what I said earlier, about unions being one of the largest donors to the Democratic party. Follow the money. Always follow the money and you will have your answer to just about everything. And you will be severely depressed and need lots of chocolate.

Om nom nom.

Source: Feet in 2 Worlds (click)

All those countries in the MidEast that are revolting – they’re all the same. Okay, no one actually explicitly said this, verbatim. But it’s the prevailing attitude. The glibness of it all – “Oh, what Arab/Muslim country is protesting today? Har har har. Eh, heard it before when Country A was doing it, now it’s just Country B’s turn.” It really just – grr.

First of all, try to be a bit more precise. Not all Muslims are Arabs. Not all Arabs are Muslims. I have the feeling the world just got a lot bigger for some people. (God, could I be any more condescending today? Fine.) In a lot of cases, these are NOT even Muslim countries! Sure, most of the population is Muslim, but that doesn’t mean the country is necessarily an Islamic nation and not a secular one. That’d be like saying that just because most Americans are Christians, America is a Christian nation.

… Okay, that’s a bad example, because America basically is a Christian nation, especially if you listen to those idiot Teabaggers. For more on that, if you’re interested, read American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips. You can find it here on GoodReads.

More importantly, Country A is absolutely NOT anything like Country B. That’s nothing more than a racist, xenophobic perspective that reeks of American exceptionalism. (Hm. That seems like a theme with me today.) Bahrain is not Egypt is not Libya is not Yemen is not Sudan is not Jordan is not Syria is not Iran.

I bet it’s easy to think in those terms. Break yourself of that habit. These are countries with different governments, different rulers, different histories, different cultures, different population demographics (the Egyptian revolution, for example, was led by a youth movement as I think some huge percentage of the population is under 30 so it just makes sense; in Libya, it’s the business and middle class that is leading the revolt with the youth movement close behind), different relations with other countries in the region, and different relations with the US.

Don’t lump them all together. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because Egyptians threw off Mubarak, Iranians can throw off Ahmadinejad or Pakistan can throw off Zardari. Don’t do it. It displays nothing but ignorance, and you’re going to anger a lot of people along the way.

I’ve gotten twitter replies to that effect: Oh, those countries are all the same. I never trusted myself to reply, so I didn’t. Because I would have said something really, really mean, and made the person feel like an absolute idiot. I just know I would have. I figured it was better to hold my counsel and let someone a little more patient somewhere down the line explain the folly of that mindset.

Just … don’t do it. You’d never say that Portugal and Spain and Andorra were basically the same just because they all share the Iberian peninsula. You’d never say that Sweden and Norway and Finland were the same, even though they’re all crammed up there in the Scandinavian peninsula. You’d never do that because everyone would look at you like you had a second grade education.

Don’t do the same in the Middle East.

Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt

Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain

 

Benghazi, Libya

Also, stop being so surprised that the people in the Middle East are standing up to their rulers. I’ve seen it all over the place – from lay people and from pundits on news shows and from writers for news sites. “Oh, wow, I never thought the Arabs would do this!” What? Stand up for their basic human rights? Really?

All that says is, “I never thought the Arabs were capable of doing this.” Because they’re weak and stupid and subordinate and don’t have the same taste for freedom and liberty like we do in the developed world or in the Western world. That they’re just not capable of standing up for themselves.

It reminds me of the romantic paternalism I despise so much. It sounds like a great compliment – “Yay, Arabs!!!1!” – but it’s just xenophobic and racist.

I mean, it’s an easy thing to fall into. I’m sure I’ve done it plenty of times. We generally do do it often enough – like when people remark that an African American is ‘eloquent’ or ‘articulate.’ The implication, of course, being that most usually aren’t, so we’re surprised when a black person actually is. It’s horrible and cringe-worthy but we’re used to it. That’s why few really notice the implication when someone says “I never thought the Arab world would do this.” The implication being, somehow, that they’re used to living in dictatorships, that they can’t imagine living under anything but a dictatorship, and that they could never be stirred to fight for anything more than living under a dictatorship.

And the only way to fix this is to really think about the underlying meaning of what we’re saying. It would be far more appropriate, for example, to comment on how astonishing it is to see regime after regime come under attack by protesters so quickly, like a domino effect. I think that’s what most of us are getting at – we’re surprised that Tunisia fell, and then all of a sudden everyone was packed into Tahrir with roses, and then Bahrainis retook Lulu Square after the bloody massacres there and all crammed into Pearl Roundabout, and then Libyans freed Benghazi and a day later, Tripoli fell.

That’s what we’re surprised about. That’s what we should say.

Click for source

The Democratic Senators in WI (and also IN) should just COME HOME AND DO THEIR GODDAMN JOBS. You can’t say this and support the notion of the filibuster. You can’t. The Democratic senators are doing what they were elected to do – represent the will of those that elected them. And if you can find a Democrat in WI that wants those lunkheads back in the Senate so that Walker can get his bill rammed through, you deserve a cookie, because there aren’t going to be that many WI Democrats thinking that way right now.

And I’m sick of some Republicans saying this and railing against the WI 14 for bailing. With all of the filibuster threats from the GOP we’ve had to endure this past year? Really? What is Boehner’s threatened government shut down but a giant, “Screw you guys, I’m going home?” Some Republicans are just mad because it’s their legislation that’s stalled.

Hell, I’d have been mad if Republicans pulled this over legislation I wanted passed. But again, I understand filibusters and am fine with that, for the most part. Sure, we’ve been seeing a lot of them in our Congressional sessions recently, and they seem to be on the rise, which isn’t a good thing. But too much of anything isn’t a good thing; it doesn’t mean the concept of the filibuster itself is horrible and ungodly and turrible. So I’d have to grow up and deal with it if the legislation I liked was stalled because of a GOP filibuster or mass exodus to another state.

Also, a funny little aside: Abraham Lincoln jumped out of a fricking window so there would be no quorum and a vote couldn’t be held.

I think that visual is a good one to end on, don’t you? Abe Lincoln, hat and coattails and all, jumping out a window? I like it.

I’m sure there are more things that are bothering me. But for now, this will do. Plus, I have a hell of a lot of work to do today. And unfortunately, I can’t hole up in a hotel in Rockford to escape it. Don’t think I haven’t considered that, though.

I’ll end with a picture of a masjid in Cairo.

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Three toothbrushes, photo taken in Sweden

Image via Wikipedia

Would You Brush Your Teeth with a Twig?.

That’s what Gizmodo wants to know, and personally, my answer is a resounding YES. The “twig” being talked about is the miswaak, which Muslims have been using as a toothbrush for almost two thousand years, roughly, if not longer. It’s considered Sunnah, roughly translated as ‘the way of the Prophet (S).’ Muhammad (S) used the miswaak to brush his teeth, and Muslims are supposed to follow his example when and as they can.

It does seem strange, though, doesn’t it? To brush your teeth with a twig? That’s why the miswaak is being rebranded for sale to the Western world. Because you people are so skittish about everything. 😛 It’s a really clever marketing gimmick, actually, and I love the push to introduce the miswaak to Western, non-Muslim markets and I hope it catches on.

It says THIS on the case, which I thought was really cute. Mostly because “THIS” is common lingo on Twitter and Tumblr, both microblogging sites being focused on employing a smaller number of characters to get a message across. “THIS” usually signifies complete agreement, and plays into the minimalist concept of the miswaak. I think it’s a smart, trendy little gimmick that works with the simplicity of the item and the idea.

I mean, you’re using a twig carved from a special Arabian tree. (I forget the name.) Forget the bristles, forget the special thick bristle at the top of the brush, forget the special grip made for your thumb, forget the special bendy neck. Forget all of that. You’re using a freaking twig. It doesn’t get more minimalist than that.

Unless you use your finger. If you’re Facebook friends with me, you’ve noticed that in my “About Me” section, all I wrote is that I know how to brush my teeth using just my forefinger, as any true Pakistani or Indian does. 😉 What can I say? It’s a subcontinent thing.

But the main reason I hope this catches on is because of the many benefits of using the miswaak to brush your teeth. One end is cut up into bristles (the THIS miswaak comes with a trimmer and cutter that does this for you) and you use those like you do the bristly end of your toothbrush. As the twig is worn down, you just cut off the bristly part and create more bristles until the twig is too small to use and then you just get another one.

So let’s flesh this out a bit, shall we? Then you nerds will understand what I’m talking about and will stop looking at me like I’m crazy because I occasionally use a twig to brush my teeth.

Health Benefits of the Miswaak:

it kills bacteria that cause gum disease, and kills bacteria in general much, much better than ordinary toothpastes and mints.

– fights cavities and plaque.

– removes bad breath and odors, and for far longer than normal mints or toothpaste.

– increases production of saliva, getting rid of that ‘dry mouth’ feeling.

– creates a pleasant scent in the mouth.

– since its bristles are parallel to the brush rather than perpendicular, it cleans better between teeth.

– more effective in protecting against gingivitis than toothbrushes.

– decomposes better than plastic, since it’s a twig, and is therefore (obviously) more environmentally friendly.

– prevents tooth decay.

– strengthens gums.

– the miswaak extract aids in digestion, cures headaches, and has been suggested to improve memory.

– whitens teeth.

– miswaak extract strengthens eyesight.

And much, much more. All of these are among the 70 benefits of miswaak in Islamic tradition, and almost all of the benefits I listed above have been proven by various studies done by the World Health Organization.

Several hadith refer to miswaak, too, as you might have guessed already. Aisha (R), the Prophet’s wife, related, “The Prophet (S) said, [miswaak] is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking the acceptance and pleasure of God.”

There are countless hadith recounting how the Prophet (S) always carried miswaak around, and how he used it even while he was fasting more times than his companions could count. Suffice it to say, the use of miswaak by the Prophet (S) and his companions and the early Muslims is well accepted.

I have used miswaak before, but I have mostly used toothbrushes. But seeing the miswaak breaking into Western markets has reminded me of how beneficial it is, and as my toothbrush is wearing out (I go through them so fast because I brush so freaking hard) I think I’ll soon replace it with this handy little twig.

How many of you are with me? 😀 I promise it’s not weird. And don’t worry, Andy will be doing it, too, because I basically arrange his life to suit my needs and purposes. I have the dear boy making his own shampoo, too, because I have forbidden him to buy or use any commercial kinds.

He’s such a good sport.

😐

I wonder what other crazy stuff I can get him to do…

THAT’S IT. From now on, he makes his own sweaters using a loom he must place in his living room. I shall go inform him of this lifestyle change immediately.

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On Women

Muhammad Ali Jinnah is the man that created Pakistan. He remains a revered hero to Pakistanis, and this is a quote from a speech he made at Aligarh University, one of the subcontinent’s greatest educational institutions and landmarks. It’s located in India, but holds special meaning to many Pakistanis, because many are immigrants from the Uttar Pradesh province and that’s where the school is. It’s churned out generations upon generations of fine Pakistani and Indian statesmen and scholars and the like.

It’s kind of a big deal. So is Jinnah.

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Reception for Muzaffar Ali

Image by Salmaan Taseer via Flickr

I don’t normally do this, but recent events merit a discussion. Pakistan is split up into many provinces, one of them being Punjab. Each province has its own governor, and the governor of Punjab was Salmaan Taseer. He was recently murdered by his 26 year old bodyguard, a man by the name of Qadri.

He was assassinated for his outspoken and stubborn opposition to Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws. He was successful in igniting a national debate about the strict laws after the conviction of Aasia Noreen, also known as Aasia Bibi. She is a Christian woman in a rural town in Pakistan. The Muslim women in her town didn’t like her, and very often harassed her, saying things like how she was soiling the well from which they all drew water because she was a Christian. Aasia Bibi had a few choice words of her own, such as, “Your prophet died with worms in his mouth,” by which she meant that the Prophet Muhammad (S) was a liar.

The village women complained to the town maulvi (analogous to a town priest) and he filed a report. He said that tears of joy flowed from his eyes when she was arrested and given a death sentence. Aasia Bibi is currently on death row and was visited by Salmaan Taseer, who famously opposed the strict blasphemy laws and called for repeal and modification of Pakistan’s penal code. It was because of his convictions that he was assassinated, as said by his bodyguard Qadri in his confession.

Taseer upset the fringe religious fundamentalists with his calls for the appeal, as well as the more mainstream religious parties. Which is why, sadly, his assassination does not come as a surprise. There is a pattern in Pakistan, you see.

1. A Pakistani politician tries to do something progressive.

2. Religious right is horribly offended and angered.

3. The Pakistani politician is assassinated.

4. Other Pakistani politicians promise not to do anything progressive.

I don’t have to say that what is going on with Aasia Bibi is horrendous. It shocks and offends the conscience that she was convicted based on the testimony of the women in her village alone. It’s horrible that she was even treated that way in the first place by those Muslim women, when Islam says to treat others, particularly the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) well, except during times of war because, obviously, that’s war. I can only assume that these women were ignorant and completely uneducated about Islam outside of whatever ‘basics’ the maulvi chose to dole out – hate those that aren’t Muslim, women belong at home and should always obey their husbands without question, etc. Again, that’s my presumption. It would hardly be uncommon.

There are already Facebook pages for Qadri, the assassin. The remarks are atrocious. I’m not linking to any of them. But they just show how backwards things are in Pakistan, when that kind of thinking emerges immediately and so strongly after an assassination.

I see one argument that is particularly popular, and I just wanted to use this post to respond to that. I have seen it plastered all over my Twitter timeline from some (a minority) of the Pakistani people I follow. (The majority of Pakistanis I follow are shocked, outraged, and very saddened by this tragedy.) I’ve seen it pop up on these Facebook fan pages for the assassin, and other conversations about Taseer’s assassination.

The argument is that in the days of the Prophet (S), blasphemers would be put to death. And therefore, as an Islamic country, Pakistan absolutely should not repeal the blasphemy law because it is not a ‘man-made’ law, but a God-made law.

I can see how that argument appeals to people of faith. (Not to say I’m not a person of faith. I am. But the argument doesn’t appeal to me.) It’s very simple and very comforting: you insult my vision of God, you get put to death. That means I’m always going to be right! Because there’s no one around to say otherwise!

We’re better than that. Muslims are better than that. People of faith – be it Christianity, Judaism, any world religion – are better than that argument.

And more seriously, that argument ignores the egregious, completely anti-Islamic way in which such a law is implemented. It is well known that in Pakistan, blasphemy laws are unfairly and discriminately used against Christians and other religious minorities.

Well, duh, you say, because they’re the only ones that would have a reason to speak out against Islam.

That still ignores the fact that plenty of Pakistani Muslims challenge maulvis and religious hard-liners, question interpretations of the Quran and Sunnah, and so on, and don’t face swift retribution under the strict blasphemy laws the way, for example, Pakistani Christians do.

Islamically, we do differentiate between man-made and God-made laws. Do not associate false gods with the true God – that’s a God-made law. Do not litter – a man-made law. Simple enough. But God-made laws need to be implemented in that same ‘godly’ fashion – that is, uniformly. Without prejudice.

And until that can be done, we have little business trying to label our laws as God-made or man-made. Blasphemy laws are used to unfairly persecute non-Muslims in Pakistan. And that is why the argument that a law against blaspheming God or the Prophet is a God-made law cannot hold water.

That is what Salmaan Taseer understood. That is what he fought for, and that is what he was killed for. And that is why the blasphemy laws in Pakistan need to be repealed.

I’d like to close with something Taseer said that I could not agree with more, and really sums up my feelings toward the ostentatiously religious, in Pakistan but more personally for me, in my own Desi community here in Chicago, who only use that appearance of piety to belittle and subjugate others.

Who the hell are these maulvis to decide whether I’m a Muslim or not?

Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Rajiun.

We come from God, and to Him we must return.

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Vaccinium oxycoccus (Cranberries)

Image via Wikipedia

You guys, I must admit, I pulled the old bait-and-switch to get you to read this post. I’m not proud of it, but desperate times call for desperate measures and in this economy, in this time of austerity and belt-tightening and adding sawdust to our meatloaves, every page view counts. You see, this post isn’t actually about cranberries.

:-O

I KNOW. I am shocked by my rampant, unchecked deceit, too. I never would have thought I had it in me! (Lies. I knew very well I had it in me.)

There are no actual cranberries in this post. Or in my stomach, but we can only handle one problem at a time. The only thing cranberry-related in this post is the color of the pretty sweater I chose. It’s the only thing we have to go on.

It’s been a while since I put up a Modern Muslimah outfit. For my non-Muslimah readers, you’ve probably figured out by now that Modern Muslimah outfits are simply outfits that are exceedingly modest. None of the hooker-wear with which I normally send you out into the professional world. In MM outfits, we don’t bare our legs, we cover our arms up to the wrist, and we don’t wear plunging necklines. (Note: necklines that you’d consider a V or a deep scoop are plunging for MM purposes.) And if I do include a kinda-low but not too-low scoopneck shirt, I do so with the knowledge that the Muslim girls reading it who might recreate it will be able to cover that scoopneck with their hijabs, so it’s no big deal.

You’ve also figured out that with very slight modifications, these MM outfits are outfits you could easily wear without feeling positively Amish. For example, sometimes I use a pretty top, but since it’s short-sleeved and just short in general, I top it off with a looong sweater. If you look at that and think it’s too stuffy or buttoned up or restrictive, you can easily swap out the long sweater coat for a shorter cardigan or even a cropped cardigan, and the gist of the outfit remains the same. So don’t think that just because you’re not a Muslim girl, these MM outfits don’t pertain to you. I try to structure everything on here to appeal to the widest number of people and personal tastes.

It’s why they pay me the big bucks.

😐

They don’t actually pay me anything.

Anyway, normally, when I post a Modern Muslimah outfit, I try to include a hadith in there. This time is no different. For those not familiar with the terminology, ‘hadith’ (huhh-dh-eeth) is the Arabic word for ‘narration,’ and refers to narrations either by the Prophet Muhammad (S), or from his companions, who lived with him and worked alongside him and basically followed him along all over the place. They give us a look at what he did, how he did it, an account of what he said, and they’re a part of how we practice our religion, modeling our conduct after his. Or at least, trying to.

Here’s the narration I’ve picked for today:

Abu Hurairah (whose name means “Father of the Kitten,” a nickname given to him one day when the Prophet saw him playing with a little stray kitten he rescued and just kind of playfully teased him about how much he coddled the little runt) narrated that the Prophet (S) said,

God says, fasting is Mine, and it is I who give reward for it. A man gives up his sexual passion, his food, and his drink for My sake when he fasts. Fasting is like a shield for the believer, and he who fasts has two joys: one joy when he breaks his fast at sundown, and another joy when he meets his Lord on the Last Day. The change in the breath of the mouth of he who fasts is better in God’s estimation than the smell of the most fragrant musk.

If you guys follow me on Twitter, or if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I fast. Every year when the month of Ramadan rolls around, I fast through the entire month, from sun up to sun down, except for the days that I menstruate. (It’s the same for all women – due to the weakness and loss of iron that’s typical of getting your period, women are absolutely not supposed to fast when they’re menstruating. Those fasts are made up later, at any point before the next Ramadan rolls around.)

I like to think I don’t really bitch about fasting. The fasts are getting longer; this year, they’ll be in August. Long days. We don’t get food or water, and we can’t have sex during the day (big whoop, except for those who like to get it on before work, I guess), and I can’t have one of my treasured cigars. Still, it’s not that bad. Everyone thinks it’s like this huge deal, but it’s not.

The part about the two joys is pretty clear, right? You’re thrilled when you get to break your fast. You’ve prepared awesome food for iftar or dinner and it’s sitting on the table, being awesome, and you’re staring at the clock, which is decidedly not awesome until it ticks its way to the time of sunset, and then you tuck into the food and water. And the second joy refers to a common thread in many world religions: the hereafter, the day of judgment, the reckoning, the rapture, the after life, whatever you call it.

As for the last part … that’s why I don’t really let people get too close to me when I’m fasting. When you haven’t eaten anything since sunrise, and haven’t had any water, your breath is rank. It stinks. And, obviously, you can’t have any gum or a breath mint or brush your teeth (unless you use miswaak, I think, which is basically this twig/stick from a special tree, and you cut up one end of it into these rough bristles, and you use that, and it does actually freshen up the mouth and breath without the use of toothpaste or anything other than the stick). So I always make sure to keep myself at a distance when talking to someone just so they’re not exposed to my stink-breath.

I, um, I have to post this.

But it’s said, as in the hadith, that to God the smell of the fasting Muslim’s breath is preferable to the sweetest musk. Which is basically a great way of saying, hey, geniuses, don’t be self-conscious about your breath. It happens. Plus, you’re doing something that is part of your worship, and for which you will be rewarded. Great.

Okay, moving on to the clothes now that we’ve had our little halaqah (Arabic for “circle,” it means a group discussion, usually about Islam and related topics, or it can be specifically a group recitation of the Quran, etc).

Here’s what I came up with for my sisters.

Straight Leg Dark Wash Jeans ………. $15
Basic Turtleneck in Black ………. $10.80
Cowl-neck tunic ………. $28.99
Very Volatile Clyde Boots in Black ………. $44.99

Ah, the 15 dollar store. It always comes to my rescue when I’m scrambling to get things to work for less than $100. Again, I’m not telling you to run out and buy $15 jeans. Sometimes, the items I use are just an illustration. If I manage to find a $3 turquoise necklace on Etsy to make my $100 budget, that just means, with this outfit, a turquoise necklace would look fabulous. Sometimes, the items are just for show in that sense – like these $15 jeans. I’m sure you already have a pair of dark, straight leg jeans of your own that you like much better. Whatever.

I love the tunic sweater thing I chose. Look at that color. Not truly cranberry, no, but a bright, rosy, cranberry pink. Just a wonderful hue that I like a lot. And I love that it’s knit – that means it’s nice and warm, and that’s awesome for someone who is always cold, like me. I sleep with two blankets on top of my down comforter at night. It’s insane. I need for homeostasis to kick in at some point…or a dog. I imagine that if your dog slept in the bed with you at night, you’d never be cold: those larger mutts give off heat like a frigging furnace!

Dogs are so awesome.

But since the sweater is short sleeved, I slipped a black turtleneck under there so the arms remain covered up. The turtleneck also solves the problem of the loose cowl-neck, though that wasn’t really a problem: tuck your hijab in there and you’re good to go.

And I threw these boots in there for the heck of it. Why not? They’re currently in. I’ve always liked riding boots, long before they were a trend, and I still do. This might be a point of contention. I may very well get some flame about how real Muslim girls don’t wear knee-high boots or whatever because they stick too close to the leg and show off too much of the shape. And to that I say…whatever. I don’t really care.

I put these outfits up trying to appeal to the widest variety of people. To that end, I’ve seen hijabis in skin-tight jeans, and non-hijabis in loose, baggy clothes. If you think something in my MM posts is inappropriate for a Muslim woman, don’t wear it. And also don’t presume that I care to hear a lecture about it.

I’ve been around Muslim girls all my life. We’re an incredibly complicated, diverse group of people, with rich backgrounds and varied perspectives. True, this is a little too ‘srs bzns’ for a post that’s supposed to be pure escapism about cute shoes and pretty colors and whatever random story I can tell you about my mother, who continues to be quite weird, but occasionally, I break out of character.

And I don’t like how everything instantly has to become a war of values, even something as simple as what shoes I put up. As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’ve gotten some rather interesting comments from random Muslim people about my MM ensembles. I’m not particularly bothered by them. I’ve learned not to take things like that personally. Comments like that, more often than not, say more about the person leaving them than the person receiving them, and ultimately deciding to send them to spam. 😛

Putting up knee-high boots as part of an Islamic outfit is not some grand statement about how the religion should be practiced. Like knee-high boots? Wear ’em. Don’t? Wear these, which are pretty and come in under the budget, too.

Ugh. Why do I write long rambling posts? 😡 Everyone except my stalkers stopped reading this a couple paragraphs ago. Okay, let’s do this. From now on, whenever I want to talk and be all blah blah blah and get full of myself about something that has nothing to do with fanmixes or squeeing over a pretty dress, you guys just tell me shut up, and I will go eat a big bowl of chili.

Good plan.

Tomorrow will be more entertaining, I promise. Maybe I’ll share some gossip about people I know and just generally be a horrible person. YAY. Something to look forward to.

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I’m sure you’ve heard about the 99, a bunch of Islamic superheroes created by a Muslim psychologist. They’re based on the 99 names of Allah, all in Arabic, and half of them will be women, and some wear burqas and I believe some will not. The 99 will be fighting alongside the likes of Batman, et al, as a way to combat the negative perceptions of Islam in the media.

Naturally, conservatives have a problem with this, notably, Andrea Peyser of the New York Post.

Hide your face and grab the kids. Coming soon to a TV in your child’s bedroom is a posse of righteous, Sharia-com pliant Muslim superheroes — including one who fights crime hidden head-to-toe by a burqa.

These Islamic butt-kickers are ready to bring truth, justice and indoctrination to impressionable Western minds.

Ah, yes, impressionable Western minds. Because cultural hegemony is only acceptable when it stems from Western traditions, and remains undiluted in its Western-ness. Frankly, I think Ms. Peyser has lost her mind.

Because, remember, folks, when you accidentally slurp down a can of Campbell’s Halal-certified soup or read about one of our insidious comic book heroes in your Western-comic-book-universe, you become a Muslim. That’s how we get you!

Our Da’wah Deparatment has really been stepping it up recently with its religious outreach and conversion tactics. But can you blame us? Mind control is so easy when the mind in question is as feeble as Andrea Peyser’s.

🙂

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