Monday, 29 June 2009

Outbox: June 29th

I sense from your e-mail that you are 'worried' about me. I am not worried ... I'm freaking out. I am not saying I don't believe in Heaven and Hell. I have no doubt in God's ability to create them just as He created you and me. You're saying "Just remember the life of this world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever because WE Muslims seek a better life in the hereafter..." Fine.. so I, without choosing to, was brought here to stay in prison and seek an afterlife. So why not be sent to the afterlife straight away?

I am not a disbeliever. I want to believe using both my heart and mind. My heart tells me that religion is true and it's me who probably doesn't know how to approach it. I am also not one of the scientific minds who wants everything to be experimentally proven. I believe in God although I don't see Him, so I believe in all his powers. It's the questions about why we are here, the choice to be here, the idea of us being here to be tested, etc that tire me. And I can't go back to how I used to be, I'd be fooling myself and going back to taking religion for granted.

I wish I could take your advice and "Just leave it to Allah and practice my DEEN" You have no idea how much I'd love to be able to do that. you have no idea how envious I am of those who have comfort in religion. You have no idea how scared I am of dying before reconciling with myself and religion. Having said all that, again, I don't know where to start or what to do. And again it's not my fault that I started asking and haven't find answers. It's no one's fault actually.

I'd love to hear any advice other than "take it as it is" because I just can't. I also can't take the other advice of "forget about religions and be a good person" because I just can't.
It seems it's either one of these two ways.

Inbox: June 29th

Well let me say this - You are kind of close to say that you do not believe in heaven or hell and I do not want you to do that!!! Please don't - ReallyIn the past I would argue with Atheist in America that did not believe in GOD - Heaven or Hell and they basically say that Satan is a good guy... They are members of the Church Of Satan....In Islam to deny Heaven or Hell is Kufer (disbelief)...The main reason why I became Muslim is that it confirmed things I believed before like heaven, hell, good VS evil etc. and it disagreed things like Shirk and creating things from your own mind etc.You can be happy here with believing in heaven and hell and stayings away from sins to the best of your ability....Just remember the life of this world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever because WE Muslims seek a better life in the hereafter...this is nothing that you have not heard before and of course we have freedom to choose which path to take in this said "But I find the path painful. It's not easy or fun, it's worrying and draining."Just leave it to Allah and practice your DEEN....

Sunday, 28 June 2009


A week ago, I met a new friend or rather ran into it. Yes, it's an 'it'.

I was browsing through Arabic radio stations online and found Monte Carlo Radio, which I had already been introduced to through my father. He used to play it in the kitchen and listen to the news while having breakfast. I was six or seven then. It has changed a lot, ... so have I. But it's kept its Shami/Lebanese accent which I love.

It makes a wonderful world come to me in a fraction of a second away. I loved listening to an interview with Buena Vista Social Club and hear some of their songs live for the first time, hearing my favorite MJ songs in a program about his recent death, getting introduced to Crystle Warren's voice, hearing controversial issues spoken about in Arabic for the first time, breaking the ice with French (for the millionth time) and learning 'quel ca appelle' for 'what's it called' but not knowing how to spell it ... yet.

Have you ever listened to a program and wished you were able to phone in and say something? That's how I felt the other day when listening to a program about a possible future French law banning Muslim women from wearing 'niqaab' or face cover. The radio hostess was so good and managed the conversation so well. The guest, who was a high official in the Paris, sounded like someone who has been trained to state out beliefs even if she was not really convinced by them.

She offered the same logic I've heard before: you have to abide by the law of the country you're traveling to because you choose to be there, which makes perfect sense to me. Those who are thinking about moving to France should understand that it's a secular country and they shouldn't complain once they get there, they can't ask for Islamic law or Christian law to be followed, etc. What doesn't really make sense is how this could be true for someone who was born and raised in France, loves the country, and now feels they have to choose between their religious beliefs and the country they love.

I don't understand how this new law waiting to be passed, is aimed at, as stated by the show guest, protecting those women's freedom and allowing them to have a normal social life. She wondered how they would eat or go out to restaurants with their face covered! And how does a thick-moustached man eat or drink? People manage as long as they are happy. I'd protect them by providing a hot-line which they can phone 24/7 and scream "Plz help, my father is forcing me to cover my face."

Who defines freedom? Is it the freedom of the country to make people do what it wants or the freedom of the people to do what they want?

Don't assume that those women need protection or liberation. They feel the most liberated behind their scarf. They feel liberated just as a woman sunbathing in bikinis does. Ask them!!

I've never been to France and would love to one day. But I know if you ask 'France', she would say that wants those women just to be happy. It's the people who are too scared.

Just let those women be!!

Outbox: June 28th

12:30 pm

Thanks for your support and patience.

I understand what you're talking about. But I find the path painful. It's not easy or fun, it's worrying and draining.

I don't want to have to compare the religions to know that Islam makes more sense. But I also don't believe that the way to prove Islam is right should be by comparing it to beliefs one considers wrong. It should be right on its own and not because it makes the most sense.

I would go on and on this way. To keep it short: I find it hard to believe we're here to be tested and stay away from sins and then be rewarded in the afterlife.

I want to be happy here, I don't want heaven or hell.

Inbox: June 28th

1) 7:36 am
I also pray to God to give me and you strength, guidance, and patience.
Life is not hard and I feel your pain.... But the modern day people are not like the early generations before.... Our tests are much much more harder --- Too much SIN and mis-information around us... My family are on the belief that they will died on the same faith as their parents etc... they never study religion like I do or did in the past... They are like many blind Muslims that do the same... Good people but no mind to even try to understand religions
Everyone is not blessed to be tested like you and everyone does not have a strong mind like yours as well... For me -as I was suggesting to you - whenever I feel pressure - or - doubt I compare beliefs and study the basics of Islam... I know that I will never be a scholar so I do not study the deep subjects or try to understand everything. I think this might be an issue for you?
For me- I try to focus on having a basic understanding of Aqeedah(belief) and Tawheed(monotheism) vs Shirkh (polytheism) ; and to never miss prayer etc...
We did not choose to be here on earth but we are here.... And we must do as much good as we can to get back to the place where our Father(Adam) and Mother (Hawa) were created.... Our enemy from that time only wants to keep us in doubt in his hope to make us to commit - Kufer or Shirkh and not to mention SINS.... This is a test that no one can avoid and I know that you will do good - Insha'Allah
Sorry for being confusing in my e-mails but that is me... :)
O yea, keep making dua'a and spreading that good

2) 11:44 am
Hey - we are not from earth - We are originally from Heaven!!! - kind of like aliens but humans... Here for a short period to try to adovid the evil in our souls and that which is suggested by Shytaan... We have our mind and soul and destiny that only Allah knows...
I ask him(allah) to guide us as stated in Al-Fatiha... And allways keep us on the straight path - Ameen
Yea we are not the same people in 2005 but Insha'Allah we will 1 day be better

Take care

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Outbox: June 27th

ASA Jay,

I've kept looking at your e-mail over the past three days but didn't know whether or what to reply.

I do understand everything in you wrote here but have to admit that I'd have felt it much more a year ago.

Things for me now have gone beyond right and wrong. I'm questioning why we are here in the first place. And if the purpose is to worship Allah, I would love to do that. But I do not think He would need to create people to worship Him.

On my human side, looking at sins, good deeds, human nature, desires, natural disasters, the countless blessings around us, heaven and hell and the afterlife .... etc.. I think to myself "I did not choose to be here in the first place, why was I given a mind to think with the way I am, why was I given desires and feelings, and why million other things?"

You are telling me to go study other religions and then decide. And I don't want to. I just wanted for one religion to be as clear as the sun and that's it. I don't want to spend the rest of my life studying religions and looking for the truth. I know for you it's crystal clear. And I'm sure the truth is clear to your Christian family as well and they might be feeling sorry for you.
Start looking for answers? Where? And in whose interpretation? Consensus? Of whom? Of scholars who wrote their volumes hundreds of years ago? Or of those in the modern world? And which one do you trust? Salafis or Librals? Sunnis or Shia? Sufis or non-Sufis? Which version of Islam? The one in Cairo, Jeddah, Ryadh, London, New York, Morocco, Turkey, Iran?
I truly do not know where to start.

Is this confusion a test from Allah? Well, I really can't take it any more and only He knows what's in my heart. And I didn't choose to take that test.

Is this confusion and sadness a punishment for mistakes I've made? I am weak, human, and not perfect. And that's how I was created. And don't tellme I have the choice. I know I do. But I didn't choose to be here and have the choice and never chose to be human and weak.

I meet people who feel happy for me that I'm questioning my religion. They have no idea how happy I was two years ago when I took it for granted. I was so at peace but don't know how to go back to that peace again. It's a search that has started and not been successful yet. I pray to God to give me strength, guidance, and patience.

I remember very well during group prayers at the mosque some sheikhs saying 'Oh, Allah, You who change hearts, make our heart alwyas set to Iman (faith)' and I always wondered why he would pray that Allah never changes his heart. Now I know. I'm not the same girl you met four years ago. You should be feeling lucky you still pray and feel it. You should always ask Allah to keep your faith in your heart and never test you on that.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Inbox: June 24th

Yeah, sisters in general is a toss up-do not know who 2 trust and men are big kids for the most part....
As you know already - we were created to Worship Allah alone....Everything else will be up and down.... Our religion is perfect but humanity is screwed-up.....
Never try to change what has been given to us by Allah and his Profits.... If you feel that Islam is wrong then try to study other Beliefs and this should increase your Iman (faith) .... I come from a christian background and I am glad that this is out of my heart and mind... It only takes me a short visit to my family to see how blind they are from the truth....
After about 7 years of being Muslim my Faith has gotten weak and I started doing sins.... but I never stop believing and hoping that Allah would forgive me......
I am sure that you will have some good experiences in the States and also look at teaching Arabic as a part time job. Ladies there travel all around the world to study Arabic so I am sure you will have many tudents....
Take care and tell me what you think

Saturday, 6 June 2009


Baz Luhrmann. Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…I will dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked…. You’re not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing everyday that scares you. Sing.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.
Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on.
Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen…"

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A biker-to-be

For a change and for fun, I decided to go back to a place I once enjoyed working at. It seems June is not the month to do so, though. Out of eighteen students in two classes, only two smile. Huh? That was not the deal. To be stuck for five hours, four times a week, for four weeks? Well, at least two smile. It's better than over-relaxing at home with my mom receiving/making phone calls from/to my aunts and my brother either on his phone or wanting to talk to me.

I was in class today, the secretary came to hand me a piece of paper.
"Due to the presidential visit of President Obama to Cairo, classes have been canceled on Thursday June 4th. Make-up classes will take place on Sunday June 14th."
Is it a holiday for the whole 80 million population of Egypt?! Obama will be giving a speech to the Muslims of the world from Cairo University in Giza. Only God knows what other security measures, other than keeping people at home, the government is taking. Interesting!? Or Sad?

I went home after the regular hour drive in traffic. I watched the same half of movie I saw yesterday for the same reason. Can't sleep.

It's 10.20 pm and I'm sleepy with BBC Radio 1 buzzing in the background. Trying to do planning for tomorrow's class. So, I'll be teaching them positions.. Noooo, I mean PREpositions as in 'above', 'under', 'next to'. Still doesn't sound right? I mean the target sentences will be 'The chair is next to the sofa' etc...

Just sent an e-mail to a friend telling him about that possibility that I was misdiagnosed with depression for a year when it's "adjustment disorder", which sounds more serious but is less traumatic than depression. I discovered that possibility after a one-hour session with a psychiatrist who assured me that what I had was directly related to my religion questioning and I needed to make a decision and stick to it: choose guilt or reason, or neither. The latter will most probably take me to losing my mind, in the sense of becoming mentally-ill crazy. Hold on, hasn't my counsellor ever read about this whatever disorder?

I just know I'll be fine. Deep inside, I know it. Especially that a colleague at work, when I told him I'd love to have a bike in NY, mentioned that I can get one of those foldable bikes which I could even take on the subway, "although they look ugly, actually," he said. "But not to worry, you'll have a blast." Got excited and checked bikenewyork website.

I still know there's light at the end of the tunnel, unless it's a train coming my way, as one of my favourite professors once joked with me about an assignment.

A bike, yes, I'll get a bike. Not depression and not whatever freakin' disorder.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Pray for me

Dear Mr. Ahmed,

I know it's been so long since I last got in touch with you. It's been pretty hectic, but still I should have phoned you when my heart told me to. I should have thanked you for smiling at me every morning at work, especially when almost everyone was avoiding me because they stupidly thought they were better Muslims keeping their veils on while I was not. To me, you are the true Muslim, never judging, always smiling, never backbiting. There were days when seeing your smiley face in the morning was the only good thing in that day.

Do you remember when I attended calligraphy classes with you? Again, too busy to keep enjoying this. But I have to say, I feel lucky to have attended a whole month with you teaching Arabic. I still use some of the material you gave me. I've never seen someone as patient as you were. Oh, and I still keep the calligraphy pen you sharpened and gave to me. I can't find the small piece of card board on which you beautifully wrote my name. It is green with my name centered in clear black. I didn't want to have a print out to be on my locker, but rather something as warm as your writing.

I do hope you are in a better world now. You've been far from the crazy one for three weeks now. I hope you are still as peaceful as you used to be, as kind and warm as you used to be. Did I tell you I was going to New York soon? I am. Wish me luck on that.

My mom says things happen only when they are meant to. So I assume I was not meant to hear your voice one last time. Yet, I do believe you can hear me now.

I wish you were there at work when I walked in today, just to tell you that it's not the same without you. I will miss you.

I also wanted to see you and ask you to pray for me. I know you can still do.


Your calligraphy student