10:40 AM

How much Romance in Romance?

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

As Muslims there is a line between what we can say and what we can't say about sex. Or is there? Where are the hadiths, fatwas, Qur'an, about what can be said?

I'm a Romance writer (also sci-fi/fantasy but lets not go there with now). I've been reading romance lit since i was 12 and inherited my g-ma's collection. I've read some simple books where sex scenes are not included and left to the readers imagination (not always leaving the reader satisfied), other books that are so descriptive that I'm left in actual shock. Where did the author think of doing things like that? I've researched medical sexual books to understand things and learn thing better. I've tried to read far and wide for what people and the industry think is moderate sex scenes relating to the plot. The results differ wildly. Some writers write the scene poetically other writers are basically writing smut. But I have a very unique and worrisome position as a MUSLIM WRITER.

If I write a sex scene in my romance novels for sure there will be hundreds of angry Muslims writing me saying how could you blah blah blah. Maybe banning my books from their country (when it's the arab and western countries I want to write for mainly) and holding anti-Brandy A. Chase protests. Or I can remove the sex scenes and let the readers use their imaginations but that is not satisfactory for me. I want women to read my books and know they have the power to have pleasure in their married lives. I want men to read my books and know they are SUPPOSED to be giving their wives pleasure and not jumping their women like animals. (which is a hadith). But the part where people may think it's haram for me to write sex scenes is A) they think I'm basing it off my personal life which I'm not.... B) they think that I'm encouraging people to have sex outside of marriage, which is a good question C) I'm encouraging people with my words to masturbate because they might not have a halal outlet for their excitement and rising feelings, another good question D) a hundred other reasons I can't even think of but someone will be sure to point out.

I'll give an example. In the beginning of one of my books entitled thus far as "Veiled Attraction", the american atheist playboy-type is enthralled with women and has sexual encounters often at college. I want to show his loose morals and careless attitude. When he's thrust into a middle east country and falls in love with a niqabi muslimah he has to follow her dictates about what will take place based upon Islamic Laws and her powerful father. Then he has to choose to either embrace Islam and thus getting a chance at winning the father over for the girl (you'll never know the end til you read the book) or keeping himself in disbelief and she despises him.

To show his loose character in the beginning I need to show him dating, doing haram like drinking, zina, etc... then later to contrast it we have the main girl who is ultra pious niqabi who would never think of drinking or having relationship with a guy much less a non-believer and their conflict of his trying to catch her attention and she is flustered but firm in her faith.

So are the sex scenes needed? Maybe in this book you say yes but what about this book:

Titled thus far "Crescent Rider", an arab man in historical arabia raids caravans and is unmasked by his future bride. He has to keep her silence by wedding her and they fight a lot and obviously sex scenes are not crucial but would add more dynamics and certainly more drama.

This last example is where I cannot write the book without sex scenes I feel they are crucial to the story and no one would read it if there wasn't sex scenes in it. "The 4th Wife" obviously about a (fictional) woman who is the convert fourth wife and has to learn the ropes of not only islam but Poly as well and I'm going to write it in third POV so that the husband's actions can be seen with each wife.

So where is the line I should be drawing in the sand? I'm really nervous about this topic because some of my friends have already condemned my books to haram and other people are encouraging me. So I am just ripped apart and what has that led to? Me not writing dedicated to any of these right now until I figure this out. Remember my goal of wanting to start the publishing process on a book by the end of 2008? How can I do that if by sending out my book i will be doing something Haram and the money I earn from it will be haram and then using that money for food will be haram and so on and so forth. I do want to be a good muslimah but I have over 40 books waiting to be written all stuck in various aspect of plot in my head and sometimes it gets a little crowded up there you know.

So I really really really really need the reader's advice on this one. It's very important to my life that as many of you chime in as possible. Please tell me your opinions and if and where you can back them up with islamic knowledge. If you don't know any knowledge about it then just still tell me your opinions. Would you pick up any of these books on the shelf and read it as a romance book and then see my hijabed pic or autobiography on the back cover and be shocked I'm a muslim writing this. Bring it on...bring the comments and debate/discussion on.

9:14 AM

Believe in Magic?

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

I wanted to buy my daughter some beautiful character sheets and at the time her favorites were the Disney Princesses. So I found some pretty pink and white swirled sheets with the princesses in their dresses. I got them home shook them out and put them on the bed. A month later my husband looked at the sheet and said "get rid of them". I was flabbergasted. "What? Why?"
"This is kufr saying." he replied. I stared at the bed and just then realized scrolled across every three feet was the words "Believe in Magic." I had honestly blocked it out all this time. We can't afford new sheets and we don't believe in using magic as Muslims and my daughter can't read yet so the sheets are there.
It seems everywhere in childland everyone wants kids to believe in Magic. From Santa to tooth faries to Faeries Period, and the "magic" in all the disney movies, UGH! I'm getting sick of it. I keep telling my daughter it's not real and we don't use this. The fairies she loves so dearly don't exist and the princesses who are surrounded by magic and fairies with wands is something we don't like. At first it was hard for her to understand but when i catch her waving a stick going "bibiddy-bobbidy-boo" I ask "what are you doing?" She says "Magic" and I go "We are Muslims, we don't use magic like this." She replies "I know, I'm doing pretend magic."
But still she knows the difference now between real and pretend but I worry all this magic hype everywhere for kids. It's like a story isn't good unless it involves some form of trickery and magic. It's frustrating me as a parents and as a Muslim about what to do to teach her that all of this stuff is plain old BS.
I watch all movies with her and correct her each time about things that aren't good Islamically.
We don't make "snow angels" we make "snow faries" (which she knows are pretend)
We don't say "godmother" we say "fairy" (in cinderella)
Elina in Fairytopia is silly thinking she has an inner magical light tha she can beam onto things.
Johnny Depp is pretending to be a person called Willy Wonka and then another Person called Jack Sparrow but really is Johnny Depp.
Santa Claus is not santa but just a silly man in red clothes and reindeer can't fly.
Fairies aren't real and they don't take your teeth.

She understands all these things and when she sees for example a picture of "santa" she tsks and shakes her head no and goes "silly man in red clothes".... when she hears the birthday song she crinkles her nose and sighs "we don't sing like that cause we're muslims." I applaud her each time she corrects what she sees to show her that it's good to speak the truth.
Sometimes I think about this whole concept of deluding children about truth and then breaking it to them gently when they are older as insane. When you're about 11 you have to come to grips that santa isn't real and the whole world and your own parents have been lying to you for 11 years.... hmmm yeah not something i want to put on my kid's shoulders. I want them to know I will tell them the truth and they can trust what I say is right.
Some might view this as cruel "OH MY! YOU DONT LET HER BELIEVE SANTA IS REAL!" Umm hello do YOU even believe it's real? No? So why should I corrupt my daughter's mind of what's right and wrong.
Sometimes I think not to let her watch all this magic mumbo-jumbo but she'd see it anywhere later and wonder about it so it's better to teach her whats wrong with it now so later she'll be more firm.
Just last night my SIL brought over Anastasia, the Russian Princess. In it the bad guy is a man who "sold his soul for the powers to destroy Anastasia's family with little smoke demon people" He sings cheerily a catchy tune about terrorizing her and killing her and I was sitting there wincing and wondering how to explain this to a 3 year old. "Who's that man? WHat's he saying?" She asked. I laughed falsely "He's such a silly bad man. He thinks he has magic powers but he doesn't really, isn't that so silly? We don't do that in Islam as Muslims." She laughed back, "Yeah silly man! He's not a good Muslim we should call the police and take him to jail." I sighed with relief. (She has a jail and police fixation that I'm trying to ignore right now and I didn't want her to loose focus of the point by lecturing her on the jail theme again)
I don't mind pretend or imagination as long as there is a firm Black and White line between them and reality, no grey in the middle for her to get lost in.
As Muslims we believe there IS magic out there that is used by the jinns and shaytan to trick people but we are forbidden from dabbling in it and using it.

[Thanks to Safiyyah for the idea of this post from her archives about Magic shows for kids-go check it out]

2:52 AM

Polygamy Joke Book

Wrote: American Muslima Writer | (3rd) and I were discussing a joke book on Polygamy in her blog when it struck me that this would be a funny post. Now I don't have the time or inclination to actaully write a whole book on Poly jokes (anyone up to the task?) but Feel free to add some in here. ANything you heard or saw, (even if it's a little naughty), let's hear it. 3rd's example was her husband thought he went to the movies with one wife while the wife he really went with was next to him. (she told it better on her blog I'm paraphrasing).

With so many wives it's easy to make mistakes for the man, especially if he's a bit magoo-ish.... lol so let's see what you guys have to say. Any funny stories from you Poly or Post-poly sisters and brothers?

Has anyone really thought of this word housewife before? WHat does it mean? A wife of the house? Can people be housewives without being married? THEN what do we call them? HouseMissus? What about men who are housewives what should THEY be called? Househusbands? Who said anyone had the right to define me by my house anyway.
You mean because I enjoy cleaning up my house and watching over my children and teaching them from right and wrong that I'm stuck with this label? You mean because I don't earn money in what I'm doing my job title is housewife?
Some like to mask the word by saying HomeMaker.... true I do make my home nice but i would call someone who builds houses a Home Maker. I save my husband money by cleaning my home myself than to hire someone to do it for us. Believe me I'd love not to clean ever again really I would but it would cost a fortune.
But I'm not just a woman who chooses not to "work" at a job. I'm doing what Allah put us on this earth to do. Be a comfort to mankind and be a mother to children. When my husband's had a bad day at work I try to make sure he has a place to go to forget his troublesome day, take a breather and relax so that when he has to return then he can have a calm head and do better.
A lot of people look down at someone who stays home. Especially in Saudi and the Middle East. Now now before you jump on my back I know some people DENY and REFUSE to allow a woman to work and they don't have any other choice, this is not the object of this post. My words mean those who CAN work at a JOB but choose to stay at home.
Many women go and earn themselves a PHD in Brain Surgery then get married and get pregnant and decide to stay home with their children and everyone sees it as a waste of their talents. Is it though? She's doing something she's happy to do. So who are you to judge her for that? She's not oppressed or "popping out babies". She living her life how it best makes her happy. One of my relatives said to me about my daughter, "That girl's got some brains in her head don't let her grow up to be a cow." (meaning a baby-popping milk giving housewife-) There are some women who cannot last a day sitting at home dealing with "home" life, they need the workplace, they need the school place. But others, like me, work best in an environment that they can control themselves without a boss or teacher over their heads.
I could have gone to a number of different colleges if I had wanted to. I'm smart, I'm ambitious, I'm able to work hard and work my way quickly up the ladder of success. But that path in life would not have made me happy. I hate homework, love learning! hate homework. So after my 12th grade was finished and no long HAD to go to school I was happy to stop. The idea of spending another 4 to 8 years of college seemed not only daunting but sickening. My friends have pretty much all gone to college. I met my husband the last month of 12th grade. I spent the next year living on my own and working small jobs here and there. Finally we got married and I moved to Lebanon. My husband asked me if I wanted to go to school or to work and I asked him "do I have to?" He said no so I said NO. I liked being able to stay home and write my novels. After having my daughter I was happy to stay and teach her about life and to care for her. Then when coming to UAE unfortunately it took my husband almost 6 months before he got a job so I had to work for 4 of those months. I chose what I'm best at working with small kids and teaching them fun new games and such. I also am good with organizing and secretarial but you need "education" and "experience" with that and I had neither-though i can do it. So I worked and when my second baby was too far along to work I stopped. Alhamdulliah by then hubby was working again. Sure if I worked we'd have more money for me to get a maid but then I'd have to put my daughter in horrid schools and my baby in a nursery and stop breast feeding him full-time and I'd be exhausted to do much at home much less write (or blog). It doesn't seem worth it. If I find someone to finance my "Dare Your Creativity" idea and my kids are old enough to not be a bother at work then I can deal with them and working, maybe I'll think about it... but for now, no thank you.
I'm a wife-
I'm a maid-
I'm a mother-
I'm a teacher-
I'm a source of nutrients-
I'm a writer-
I'm a creative thinker-
I'm a blogger-
I'm a dreamer-
I'm a idealist-
I'm an organizer-
I'm a driver-
I'm a chef-
I'm all these and more...


10:10 AM

Like a virgin!

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

From Madonna to many Muslim men, they have the same thing on their minds; Virginity.

The word itself congers up a blushing young maidens free from sexual taint with unknown appetites waiting to be learned and explored. Many symbolize virginity as a white sheet freshly put on a bed, pure. Others a newly blooming white rose. Along with the symbolism of white there is the unsaid mindset that virginity is clean. Someone untainted by sexual diseases or problems. Many men are only interested in marrying virgins but how many women are interested in this same mindset. Some women prefer a men to have some experience so at least one of them knows what's going to happen the first time or to be taught properly. How many young men actually last until marriage fully pure? Probably not many in today's society. Many if they are virgin's don't flaunt it. So I was shocked to learn of a certain man who I know through my husband who is PROUD of his virginity and actually tells people about it. I thought good for him! I wish more were like that. With movies like 40 Year Old Virgin where they mock a man who's in his 40's and still a virgin (hence the title duh), and the reality of, at least as far as I know (but I'm sure others), American Society where nearly all boys loose theirs around 13-17 years old (And also the girl they chose of the same ages).... how can we foster a sense of pride in our men and boys to keep their virginity until marriage?

Now say a man is a virgin and he chooses his first bride. What shall he choose a non-virgin or a virgin? For some it depends on Culture. PM wrote a very interesting post about a man being deceived about his wife's lack of virginity after consummation and divorced her. Other's follow their hearts and accept either way. We'll say this man takes a virgin bride and grows old with her when suddenly when he's in his 40's she dies. He needs another wife to help him look after his 5 sweet kids. Should he choose the blushing virginal bride or perhaps a non-virgin who perhaps has a few kids of her own and has experience in raising children?

What about the lady? Reverse roles for a moment and now it's a young lady in her mid twenties seeking marriage and she's a virgin and does she choose a virgin husband or not? If later he dies and she has children to take care of should she marry a virgin man or a non-virgin man? With these simple questions you can see how societies all over would strongly differ with the issue of virginity.

Some people think Muslims are obsessed with virginity. They constantly take the reward for martyrs out of context about the 72 Virgins in Jannah he'll receive. They fling it in our faces. Even my own grandfather said once to me (when I was ignorant enough not to know how to respond) "You see the mOslims running around blowing themselves and others up in the name of their God or worse for their 72 virgins in Paradise." *rolls eyes* Somehow I bet it has more to do with radical beliefs than looking forward to 72 virgins for MOST of these guys.

There is a hadith Qudsiya (sp?) about a man needing to re-marry and the Prophet (SAW) advises him to marry a virgin three times so he can take pleasure there-in. He says no I need an elderly woman to help me care for my children and their needs. I sometimes think about this Hadith. Is it better for a man when he wants to re-marry to marry a virgin? Or should he choose based upon his situation and appeal?

Is it better for virgins to marry virgins and non-virgins to marry non-virgins? Or mix it up? I'm just throwing thoughts out about this and you can come to your own conclusions.

3:37 AM


Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

My mother-in-law and my husband's younger sister are coming to spend 22 days in UAE with her two sons.
They are due to arrive on the 25th of June. Wow such short time left!!! Ahhhh! I've got to get my house in order. They understand I'm not the greatest housekeeper in the world but my dignity wont allow anything than 100% when they arrive. SO this friday was spent re-arranging everything in the house and fixing all the repairs that have been waiting their turn. We literally turned my house upside down. But it's looking better. I now feel I have a proper living room not just a couch a tv and a whole lotta tile. It looks comfortable and elegant and was very easy to do It's amazing what a new rug can do to a room. Now tomorrow (Sat), I have to finish re-arranging the other rooms and finalize a schedule to follow.

My kids are up crazy late and though I try time and time again to re-set them it's NOT working. SO because they keep me up all night we sleep in VEEERY late. So everything is on weird time at my crazy house. While my in-laws are used to early morning schedules for school and cooking and such. I just feel so much pressure to make everything wonderful for them. I want my mother-in-law to relax for once and just sit back and be pampered instead of working hard and dealing with soo many kids and grandkids. I want my sister-in-law to have an adventure here because it's her first out of country trip. Woo HOO!!!!! :D SO I want to have lots of relaxed fun. Things they don't get to see and do in Lebanon. Things I take for granted being an American and now living in UAE. Maybe ice skating at the mall, going for a day trip to AbuDhabi to the beaches there...stuff like that.
Sooo I have to deal with keeping my house spik and span, cooking meals that will satisfy a LOT of people (and have it tasty enough) and variety enough, and getting my kids to bond with my in-laws again. I'm very nervous about the cooking part because I don't want my mother-in-law to feel that she HAS to help me in the kitchen (though it's normal Arab style to help out when visiting) and I want to impress them with my hidden cooking skills. Normally it's basics I make and maybe once a week or once every two weeks I cook a wow dish. I'm now gonna have to make WOW dishes daily...maybe *gasp* multi-times daily. Plus because of my "un"-diet I'm on and the pattern that my kids and I eat that there will be conflicts. We eat like 5-6 small meals and snacks during the day and they eat the regular three type big meals. I cannot get sucked back into that three a day habit or I WILL GAIN MASSIVE WEIGHT. Maybe they will like my schedule?!?!? It will take a large chunk from my cleaning time though to do all this cooking and pre-preparing WOW dishes......
And obviously my blogging time..... so this is advanced notice that I wont be on checking my comments and replying for prob the first week starting the 25th, just posting the comments and I'll get back to replies later. I'll type up some posts for future posting so you'll still get to read while I'm busy busy busy.
I have to just try and remember they are only here 22 days and I must strive for quality bonding not perfectionism.... but I do want them to feel like the trip was worth it.

1:48 AM

Is my Baby Cursed?

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Ya Allah.

Something is definity wrong with my son, subhanAllah. EVERY DAY,
E V E R Y D A Y !!!!
He is getting hurt somehow. Since he's been born he's fallen off the bed 8 tims and bonked his little head leaving a lemon sized bruise each time. Making me feel like a crappy mother for not being able to fully protect him each time. He's into climbing and trying to stand by himself and learning to take a few walking steps by himself. We are going into debt because we HAD to just buy carpets for the floors (luckily we don't have many rooms and they aren't big) so if he does fall he wont hit his head so hard. That's not enough though! Still he's getting hurt!

Yesterday he climbed up onto his short high chair and then didn't know how to get back out and fell backwards from it and bonked his head. Luckily he wasn't really fazed by it and tried to climb it again but I put the tray on it to prevent him access. The day before that while playing with his sister she knocked him over onto his back but he hit his cheek on a toy pushbutton phone and it left a nasty bruise.

Today was the worst though! We got back from getting a carpet for the living room (cause soon he'll be climbing the couches) and we eat but the kids are trying my patience and I'm snappy and my husband is soo tired and getting cranky then my son falls under the table. After eating we are getting ready for bed and I'm putting a new sheet on the bed and smoothing it out and tucking the ends in when my son falls over and hits his head on the sharp corner of a drawer. I rush and grab him up expecting to see another bruise but what I find is a mother's worst nightmare there is a hole in my baby's head. Alhamdulliah it's not big about 2mm deep and 2mm across but a hole nevertheless. ABout two inches above his right eye. Allah saved his eye! Alhamdulliah. Alhamdulliah. I freaked out and started crying my heart out and trying to ask my husband if it looks bad enough to take to the doctor. Masha'Allah when i freak my husband sucks it up and is the strong one. He takes the baby from me, which upsets me more cause I just wanna squeeze him and hold him and assure myself that he's ok but with us both crying it's not going to help him. My husband takes him to the other room to distract him while I cry so hard and wonder why this is happeneing to him. Has someone cursed my baby with the evil eye? Or has Allah willed for my son to be accident-prone? What is going on?!?!?!
Finally my husband orders me to calm down for the baby's sake and I try to but I keep imagining it hit his eye instead of his head. Ya Allah I'll give him my own eye, just please protect my son. Eventually I blow my nose and make the rest of the bed to calm myself before taking my son back. I hug him tight and kiss him over and over so happy he's alright. I curl up with him on the fresh sheets and feed him his milk as I sooth his little delicate fuzzy head. I beg my husband to read Qur'an for him and he does so as my little sweet blueberry cupcake falls asleep. I lay him on his bed area and then hug my husband cause I'm still shaken up. After a few hugs I'm feeling better but still sooo confused. WHy is this happeneing everyday?
E V E R Y D A Y !!!!!!!!!!!
My son's skull is a puzzle of bruises in different stages it's so sad. People are always commenting too when we go out.
"Ohhh what happened?"
"Poor Baby!"
I feel like the worst mother in the world. I'd keep his hat on if it wasn't so hot and if he didn't take it off every two seconds. My brother-in-law after seeing and hearing about his many bruises said we should sacrifice a sheep for his sake to Allah. So Allah will bless him and maybe if there is an evil eye it will be removed. I've never heard of doing this because I'm still new about such things. If there is a sacrifice to be made though, for sure I want to do it. As I layed his little head down and watched his soft chest rise and fall and smelled his milky breath, I felt my squwimishness fade and a hardness fill my heart. I will slaughter a sheep or goat or even a camel, by hand, if that's what it takes to protect my son from this daily harm. I will research how to do a halal sacrifice and the sunnah of slaughtering an animal and I WILL DO IT.

Has anyone heard of being harmed like this before? Do you know how it was stopped? SHould I slaughter something? ANyone know any hadith, qur'an, rulings about this? Let me know please as soon as you can. I'm so tired and my heart is so full of pain looking at his bruised head and seeing his little blue eyes filled with tears.
If you don't know anything then at least keep him in your thoughts and prayers and make du'a for him please.

2:32 AM

Sisters, How Beautiful You Are!

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Women are amazing to begin with but there are a few special sisters in my life who make things much more amazing for me.

My Blood sister J: Though life has always been a struggle for you, you still meet it head on and full of adventure and enthusiasm and when things get rough I will always be there for you to cry with. I wish we had grown up closer but life is how it is and we did the best we could to meet up alot. I know I'm so very far away from you now but I still think of you and gaze fondly at your pictures. I miss you a lot.

My Blood Brother's wife H: You just joined the family and I'm so happy that you are the one my brother chose. You make him so calm and more responsible about life and taking care of himself. I'm so happy he found someone to share his life with and I'm glad that he chose such a sweet and caring and wonderful person like you.

My Husband's Older sister H: Ah, the advices we share and the fun times we've had just sitting together and chatting about annoying husbands, and kids. I still maintain that duct tape would work wonders for naughty kids ;) I don't know how I would have made it so long in Lebanon without your house to rest at and find a friendly face in. Your charming children always brightened up my day and made me look forward to the next stage they'll reach. You are so gracious to always have just what I love to eat cooking and Jam for me in the fridge! You're so full of warmth and genuine caring that no one could be miserable in your house. Thank you for always letting me come by.

My Husband's Younger sister H: The days that felt so crazy were eased by your smile. How could it be that two people from two different cultures and two different worlds could think the same way? From chocolate, ice cream, and games we think on the same lines! You've introduced me to the amazing world of the Arabs and how you think and how you act and sometimes when I was an uppity American you put me back in my Muslim place. All with a simple "La ya Aminah!" You have so many adventures waiting for you in the future and I pray I'll witness every one and watch how you grow up even more than you have in the last 5 years. You're my sister in every way no matter how far our blood is from each other. You're the one person I can be my complete weirdo self around and I know You're destined for greatness, anything less is not allowed for your active mind.

My Husband's Younger Brother O's wife D: You always told me the ins and outs of Lebanese society and in-law's etiquette and where to forget the rules and where to keep the rules. With your grace and style you reminded me we are women and should take the time to pamper ourselves now and then. You're strong and brave and certainly a formidable foe to anyone wanting to step up in your face. With the birth of your son we connected in more ways and had a lot of fun hanging out. Thanks for teaching me the word "^Ayb -Shame" Heh, it taught me alot.

My Husband's Younger Brother A's wife M: I appreciated always your warmness and generosity in inviting us often to stay the night at your house and cooking the most delicious foods. No matter if it was Ramadan or just Lunch any meal was an occasion with you to feast and have a great time. Opening your home and heart to me always made me feel special. I pray that your two beautiful daughters walk in your footsteps and become as sweet as you.

My Husband's Younger Brother W's wife H: Though graceful and proper you always have a place for relaxing and enjoying the moment. You were blessed with an easy birth and although sometimes it isn't easy being a new mother I know you'll make it because you have determination and a lot of love to give. Thanks for always making me feel like your home is my home.

My Mother S: Sometimes I can't believe that we talk on the phone and when you were in UAE we lived a month without fighting now. It's a relief and almost surreal that we get along so splendidly now. Sometimes I look back and wonder why we fought so much to begin with. Thank you so much for spending you time and money on our little family across the world and we love you so much and miss you dearly. (Dad too!)

My Mother-in-Law R: Where have the years gone? We've both changed and compromised so much trying to blend our two worlds together. You've picked up some English and I've picked up some Arabic and in between we just figure things out. We may not always agree with each other's different views but we strive to make it work and enjoy our day together. Just hearing your voice brings me a smile and knowledge that you are out there making your strongest du'as for us. And we make du'a for you too.

My Aunts in USA, and Aunt-in-laws: Thanks for always encouraging me with your wise words and open arms.

My daughter: You've taught me sooo much about life and how to improve myself. I've learned to be a better person for your sake. I've learned selflessness and true meaning of unconditional love. No matter how you try my patience I will always love you and will keep loving you. You're my personal star.

And of course to all my friends out there in America, All over the world, Lebanon, and UAE: You've each touched my life in a meaningful way and I pray that I have left something special with each of you and that if we ever meet again it will be with smiles and a special cup of coffee.

My Blogging friends, advisers, silent readers, commenter's, and other bloggers: Thank you for cheering me up each and every single day. Masha'Allah.

*Three special men: My Dad L: You've always been there for me and helped me up when I've fallen, be it mentally or on rollerblades. You're my true Life Saver. I love you and Miss you sooo much.

*My Husband Z: Thanks for believing in me and not just giving up when things get rough. Thank you for giving me my two beautiful children and taking care of me every day. I love you.

*My Son M: You make every day brighter with your silly smiles and tongue hanging from the corner of your mouth as you laugh. Nothing makes my heart happier than hearing "Allah Allah Allah" from your baby voice all day. You're my sunshine.

Allah gives us such a great capacity to love and masha'Allah I love each and every one of you.

7:00 AM

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Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

In blogland we take daily, weekly, monthly, yearly efforts to write down our thoughts and dreams and anything that we feel we want to share with the world. We reach out and hope that we touch someones life and when we hear back from them in the comment section when they relate back to us how this touched their lives in some way, either expressing an opinion about the topic or sharing a bit of their lives that is relevant. But sometimes, though we poured our hearts out the topic remains commentless, why is that? Why when some people look at the comment section it shows a great big ZERO. Is the topic boring? Did the author go into such detail to render the comment useless?
Also lets discuss the blog followers. Some blogs have a lot of readers and not commenters, other blogs have commenters galore! Why when the same people comment on Blog X then they come to BLOG B and feel like not commenting? Thus Blog X has 54 comments and Blog B has ZERO. We all take the time to comment on others blogs so people should reciprocate and comment on yours.............or should they?
When people make new blogs it is standard that they wont have almost ANY comments for the first posts until they gain a readership. HOW do they gain a readership, some may ask.... By going to other's blogs and commenting in a way that is sincere, knowledgeable, funny, or outrageous enough for the other blogger and their readers to take notice of the NEW name and click on it to see what it's about.
OK so great now we have a few commenters and as we post more and more the comments grow and the readers multiply. You do your part by sending our more thought provoking posts daily and weekly ensuring when the readers come there will be something fresh to comment on.
Some bloggers really don't care about comments though and if they have zero or they have 50 it doesn't matter. They are just getting things out of their heads and off their chest. Should we all think like that or should we strive to respond to what our readers are looking for?
Wordpress has blog stats about which articles are read the most and how many people are reading your blog. While Blogger doesn't have this it does have Profile viewed numbers (which are hard to go by). So you can see where people came to your blog from and why on wordpress but on Blogger you just have to guess.
SO what happens when you're getting around 15-30 comments each post and suddenly they start slacking off? Suddenly you're getting 2-5 comments only again? Why is this? Are your readers too busy to comment or are your posts not interesting enough to gain comment? Should you change what you write or just let it go?
I did a poll of how often readers visit my blog because I wanted to know how often I should be making new posts approx. How often were people coming to me and expecting me to have something fresh and interesting to look at and ponder at. The poll shows that about 10 people are coming daily and about 10 more come around once a week to once a month.... so if I'm making a post almost daily the daily readers have something new to comment on or to read past comments....but the weekly and monthly readers have anywhere between 7 to 15 posts to read...... not likely that they will comment on every single one.
So now that i have an idea of my approx reader base (who answered the poll) do I try to figure out what they like to read about or just keep up my quirky and various topics, to keep them interested and commenting? I've been wanting to write this post for a month now but i wanted the results of the poll first. Do we as bloggers write what we want, write what the readers want to read, or try to "toe the line" between the two?
If we slack off commenting to other blogs will the bloggers still come to our blog? Do we have an obligation to go to other's blogs and comment if we want comments back? I have a lot of cool blogs i like to read and try to comment on! See that growing list on the sidebar hahahha... one night while my kids wouldn't sleep I tried to go through the whole list and read and comment on all the blogs on the list and after 4 HOURS straight not only was I very tired but I couldn't even complete the list! I got down to the S's on my list before giving up and going to bed. Then the next few days I tried to get through the rest of the list but that meant I couldn't visit the blogs that I like to daily. My favorite blogs i visit daily and the others because of the high number I have, i visit bi-weekly or so. I do feel bad because they are all very interesting and thought provoking but where is the time?
So should we not post once a day to give our readers time to comment a lot and absorb what we say or should we just do as we please no matter the number of comments?
This is a post about Comment and Blogging Etiquette... Let's see if it gets any comments....or will I see a big fat ZERO?

10:00 AM

Dreams: The Scottish Man and Julia Roberts

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

I have such memorable and vivid dreams and I usually remeber them. I'd like to share some now and then and give someone else something interesting to think about that is probably really weird hehehe.

The first dream:

My husband and I (looking and talking like Julia Roberts) were having some troubles and he said he had to leave on a business trip for a while.. I said fine! SO he left and went to this snowy and icy country and when he stepped off the boat he carefully guided his second wife (who looked and acted like JLo -Jennifer Lopez) off. SHe shivered and wished to be back on the sandy beaches where it was warm. "I'm not from this setting, I don't like it, it makes me feel weak!" she murmered gently to her husband. "I know but we only have to visit my family for a short while then we'll go back home. I want them to meet you. They've never met my wife."

"WHat about your first wife?" She asked surprised. "No, she's to loud and outgoing, they'd never accept her. I can't take her here. Only you." He replied. SO they go meet the in-laws (NOT looking like MY in-laws let me add!) of a mother, grandmother, and an aunt. ALl of them look alike with medium brown skin, bobbed black hair that was comically poofed up like a mushroom, and nasty twisted faces. "Pleasure to meet you" the mother said as she layed out her tarot cards and began to call upon the jinn. "Pleasure to meet you." The grandmother said and began blowing on knots and sticks casting evil spells against JLo. "Pleasure to meet you" said the Aunt and began reciting evil chants under her breath. After a day JLo succumbed to a fever and illness that no one could explain though my husband brought doctors from afar. Finally he had to take her back to my houe for me to nurse her to wellness. The problem was the three in-laws followed us there and continued their sorcery against my co-wife. (remember I'm looking like Julia Roberts) I got all up in their faces when I saw what they were doing. I called them on it and was shouting and cursing and yelling at them and they were sooo shocked that they remained quiet for once. They took offense and then tried to harm me with their evilness but I wasn't having any of that and told them off again and literally threw them from my house. Instantly Jlo got better and thanksed me profusely. My husband was soo happy that she was better and that I had saved her.

I woke from that going...what was THAT ABOUT! WHy the celebrity cameos? I haven't been reading entertainment gossip for a LOONG TIME.

Second Dream:

A sterotypical Scottish man (I am part scottish) had 4 wives:

A Spanish Woman (sterotyped):

A Dutch Woman (sterotyped):

Julia Roberts (again played by me):

and a quiet mousy girl who looked like Emily Dickenson:
The fourth wife (me, Julia Roberts) had just joined the mix and was learning how to co-exist in the same castle as the others. Each of us had a wing to ourselves. But they liked to get together and put make-up on together and do each other's hair and have he kids running amuck between themselves. I felt really out of place and was like IS this normal? But they swept me up into it. Our Scottish "Lord of the manor" came booming in and sat heavily in the middle of the women and they fussed about him and his kids rushed talking at once but he jovilly held up his hand for silence and they all shrunk back. He called for me and told me to come rub his feet (we hadn't even consumated the marriage yet!) and the spanish woman snickered and tossing me a knowing look like "have fun". He kicked off his boots and sterotypical dirty smelly feet came popping out. I grimaced and did as I was told. He relaxed contended and then let everyone tell him the news of the day. Then finally after al the gossip he turns to me,
"How was your day?"
"I want a divorce." I say abruptly. Everyone looks at me shocked. Now this scottish guy may have been brutish to look at but he's a big softy sweetheart. He took my smeelly hands (from his feet) and held them in his, "But I love you and I give you everything."
"But this is so weird. I don't think i can live liek this."
"Oh she's rattling her bones, we will take good care of her." The dutch woman spoke.
"I wont keep you if that's what you wish." SO he let me go and I married my cousin (a real cousin, that was the creepy part of the dream) but I missed the scottish man and his ladies. SO I divorced my cousin (without having conumated again --thank God or else this would be a nightmare) and re-married the scottish man and his ladies. And lived happily within their mix.
Sooo I'm thinking a lot of this has to do with all these Poly blogs out there LOL. Maybe I have been reading them waaay too much. Obviously the dutch woman came from a blog i read from Holland. But what's up with this Julis ROberts theme?!? So that's why I named my new hamster Julie. If my husband can have Angelina I can have Julie ;) The characters were so vivid and funny I woke up laughing. The scottish man was too funny! Maybe because my g-pa went and visited Scotland recently so it was on my brain or who else would own a castle for his wives? I don't know. It was jsut weird but fun. I did tell my husband about these dreams and of course he liked the Julia/JLo one and just raised his brows about he Scottish Man and didn't say anything. HAHAHA! Dreams are amazing....

1:28 AM

Welcome Julie and Angelina!

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Two ladies have come to stay with us, hopefully long term until Allah takes them from this world. No my hubby hasn't married #2 and #3 hehehe. He bought Angelina, who is a beautiful, White-cheeked BulBul Bird. He accidently let Yasmine, Hamza, and Amber (our last three bulbuls) free a while back. I named the last three and he named this one...three guesses who it refers to...ugh.... I hate the name. (i.e. celebrity).
Then a few days ago we were at the mall looking at pets for fun when i saw these cute little hamsters and begged for one. He said no way. But then the next day he brings me this bird cage as a surprise and tells me to pick out a hamster. I was going to pick a wild funny one but when i let it sniff my hand he bit it so i was like that's not good for the kids. THis tubby little brown one with grey stripes and white belly kept licking my hand obviosuly begging me to take her home so I did. We spent a half an hour thinking up a name that later my babay could get out. Finally the name Julie came to mind (because of my recent dreams...another post). So Julie it is!
THis is the perfect first pet for my daughter at age 3. Not so fragile to be frightened by clumbsy kids not so boisterous to trouble her. My daughter constantly goes to open the cage and feel her. SHe's a calm little hamster and takes it only sqeeling a few times when baby was fast and smacked her (yes I promtly never let him near her again! I'm strict for no animal abuse!) But he likes to stare at her cage. So my daughter is always concerned about Julie. "How is Julie doing?" "Can I feed her?" "Can I give her this, or that?" It's adorable! Right this second she's learning how to cut paper and saying "Julie would love a piece of my cutting." So it's certainly giving her lots to do now. I let Julie out now and then for some run around time suppervised and my daughter squeels as her tiny paws tickle her hands. This is teaching my daughter great hands-on responsability. Though i have to always be on guard that she doesn't accidently hurt her (by picking up the cage and shaking it...ugh my heart)
I'm so happy about our new family members!

1:20 AM

Married to a terrorist...

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Read this very interesting and heart-wrentching story about a Belgium convert.

I sat back after reading it and was like WOW, how many of us sisters could that have been? It is very VERY easy for brothers to meet extremist muslims these days and start getitng involved in some serious stuff and the wife would not be figuring it out. I repeat that story could have had any of our names on it. It touched my heart especially because of a personal matter but still I feel for her and I'm glad she's happy now. Though I do want to add, she should have LEGALLY (islamically and governmentally) divorced her husband BEFORE hooking up AND LIVING with this new man and having his baby. I am not agreeing with that part at all. I do like how she shows the burka to be personal choice and not something fard or suppressive. SHe chose to wear it and she chose to take it off.

2:38 AM

Lebanon: Where's the candle and matches?

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

Nearly everyday the power would go out for increments.
Something like this schedule:
AM: 12 to 6 Power ON
6-12 Power OFF
PM: 12-2 Power ON
2-6 Power OFF
6-9 Power ON
9-12 Power OFF
SO you just have to regulate your schedule (and whats left in the fridge) to coordinate with the power so you can get laundry done and such. If you could afford a generator hook up that was a life saver but we couldn't. Many a evening we spent having a "romantic" candle lit dinner. By necessity. Sometimes though at night I loved it and it made me feel more like how the Companions must have felt. We'd have time to write a little bit or read Qur'an by candlelight then pray early and go to bed early and sometimes just sit and chat in the dark. Sometimes when the electricity would come on unexpectedly my husband would break the spell by rushing gleefully to turn on the TV and news. I wanted to reprimand him for being so unromantic. But he lived like this for years during the war, so a chance for electricity was something good, and not having it made him feel backwards and poor. For me growing up with electricity all the time, not having it was a chance to feel historic.
Now I'm in UAE and having power 24/7 fell surreal at first. Then slowly I became used to it. The other day my power was cut for 4 hours and the first two hours were ok because the room stayed cool but the second two hours were torture in the heat of the day and I had to fan my kids to keep them cool. (ouch my arms hurt so bad from constant fanning). So it reminded me how luxurious electricity can be. In this country we'd be suffering heat stroke without it. Yet there are places and people who go without it and we should feel fortunate to have it.

I have always wanted to wear niqab since I became Muslim. I always saw niqab in new movies like Mummy (i know it's not real niqab now but then I didn't) and old movies where Spaniard Ladies would have their hair covered with a light veil (lace edged of course) and sometimes when the gentleman comes to serenade her she would delicately lift the edge of the veil to cover half her face..... thus he cannot see her blush nor her secretly pleased smile. There was always an aura of mystery about it. You don't know what a niqabi is really thinking. True wearing niqab islamic style has nothing really to do with just culture or just delicate laced modesty. Wearing the niqab for some is a big deal. I'm one of those people.

I feel it is the next natural step in the chain of proper modesty. Niqab can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For some a way to further the idea that they don't need to be judged by their looks but by what they say and do. Others wear it solely for the reward of doing sunnah. Some hate it and don't see why anyone would want to wear something so suffocating. Some view it as mysterious and like to use it as a way to flirt discreetly. Some try it out for a while and leave it others fight hard to keep jobs and wear it. Some wonder if the woman covers her face for extreme beauty or extreme ugliness.

No matter how you view the niqab it IS a part of Islam and many do choose to wear it. I had the opportunity three months before I came to UAE to wear it in Lebanon. I decided khalas this is it! I'm putting it! Iwent to a shop and tried them on and it felt wonderful. A proper niqab. In AZ on a bus sometimes if i felt uncomfortable by the stares of the other passengers i'd flip my hijab's tails to cover my face and surprisingly got less stares and i felt less uncomfortable. So i bought two niqabs and later was given a third by my husband's paternal aunt who has two niqabi daughters. At this time I had newly become pregnant with my second and also my husband and I began having many fights at this time. I was relieved to cover my face when i was angry and didn't want him to see my looks. We grew even further apart though because he couldn't see my rare smiles. He didn't want me to wear niqab since he liked my face and wanted to see it while we were out and about. But he didn't stand in my way and forbid it.

All my Lebanese in-laws had to get used to me being in it and I had to get used to it. It was a little bit harder to get fresh air. It was a struggle to eat anything liquidy like soups or anything messy and not get it all over the inside of the niqab. I wore it beginning in Ramadan and so we had a lot of feast of course and so each meal was very difficult. Also I had to stop being so loud and laughing like a hyena at anything remotely funny. I learned to cast my eyes down more since that is all a man could see of me now. Because I wore glasses I attracted more than a second glance and then people saw the blue eyes behind the glasses and started wondering. Sometimes at the ramadan parties I was shown off a little bit -Oh masha'Allah look at this AMERICAN wearing niqab. Like they had received a better in-law because I wore niqab when many american's don't even wear hijab -in Lebanon.

My daughter got used to it easily. SHe only tried pulling it off a couple of times before she got the hang of it. But unfortionatly it couldn't last. I was getting nauseous from pregnancy and needed more air to breathe properly. SO I took it off with the excuse of the doctor's saying I needed to breath better for the sake of my baby so people wouldn't trash talk me behind my back with the family about me taking it off. Surprisingly my husband and my fights lessened because now he could see my smiles and since he liked looking at my face it calmed him down more. weird effect but ok. SO I was disappointed but still happy I got to try it.

The other day I was looking for a new hijab to wear and was rummaging my hijab bag and ran across my niqabs. I smiled fondly and tentatively held it up to my face. My daughter laughed and wanted to try it on too. I let her and she played with it in the mirror. "Can I wear this to the mall?" She asked. I imagined the looks I'd get for having my 3year old in niqab and laughed. "Maybe you can't wear it." I replied. "But you can?" she asked. I thought about that. True nothing was really stopping me from wearing it now. "Sure!" I told her and ironed a beautiful light blue flower print hijab and my black niqab.

Now some people believe you can't wear bright colored hijabs with niqab but i'm not one of those people. But I did want to test the reactions to it. SO I wore it to the mall. It felt nice and secure and I noticed a lot more people really outright ignored me. I even tried to nod/smile to the other niqabis but they ignored me too. The funniest situation was when i was checking out baby clothes at the BabyShop and this family was carefully avoiding me. I'd move nearer to them and they'd move away. The woman wasn't wearing hijab so I thought maybe she was just unomfortable about it but then I tried an emeratian family some who were wearing niqab and they avoided me too maybe because of my weird fashion sense? Later it was time to meet my husband for dinner and I was apprehensive on two counts, my husband's reaction seeing me in niqab again and eating in niqab again. SO I went to the restrrom and in the stall changed my kids clothes and took them potty and diaper tie and all that then took off the niqab. *GASP* yes i took it off. I didn't want to ruin my night by having a row with my husband. When i got into the elevator I think an emeratian lady recognised my hijab colors and the same two cute little kids that were previously with the niqabi and she began whispering furtively to her friend, obviously about me. I told my husband I wore it and he was like "WHAT? Well I'm glad you took it off." I was disappointed because I do love to wear niqab I just wish i could flip it up for eating and being around my husband.....

I want to wear niqab like only half the time but I know that isn't a good thing to do especially when a lot of people know me at AL-Ain Mall. One day they'd see me in niqab and the other day not....yeah it would be confusing. By the way I do know it's best to wear it only for the sake of Allah. I just hope one day i can wear it all the time. The funniest part though was my son's reaction to it hehehe. He kept lookig into my eyes to make sure it was really me there.

I'm going to post a small part of a post I put on my private blog because I feel it needs to reach wider and everyone neeeds to take the time to appreciate their children more.

*I yelled alot at my daughter today and finally she's getting sleepy after three hours of trying to get her to sleep*.........My mind is working frantically though as she starts to wear down. WHere is this coming from all this hate and anxiety towards my own daughter whom I love so much and would go to great lengths for? Obviously Shaytan is messing with my head. So I begin reading Qur'an for us both and it calms her down to sleep and me down to clearheaded. Finally she drifts off and I march here to the PC to do some major research. I've had it. I'm sick of yelling at my kids and feeling like al-Qaida surrounded by "Kuffar". (ie hot blooded). ..... I feel like crap and they feel like crap and this is all not healthy at all and it has to change NOW not tomorrow. So I'm googling things now and I will post it to both sites the links though not the full story of course. I already hear your critisim beleive me I know what a poophead I'm being. I'm the one who has to look into their hurt blue eyes and trembling lips and so I AM trying to find a way to stop this. I know it all stems from the chaos of life right now but it's such a visious cycle. Kids up all night sleep in the day eat irregularly etc,.. it all ties together but I don't know how to get it to re-adjust itself..... ugh.... ok let me get these links going:
How to Stop Yelling

Oh my god. I really am literlly crying now because I just read this aweful poem about child abuse and it's so terrible and yet so real and true that it kils me all over again that I even shout once at my kids. Ya ALLAH, please have mercy on me and stop me from doing this horrid thing to my kids.... PLEASE!
(about fifth or six comment down on this last link I found this)
"I too yell at my littl girl. Sometimes it's so fustrating and when shes yelling and crying and whining all morning, I feel like I'm not good enough and I'm not a good mom. Then I just break and yell back at her really loudly, and sometimes I start crying after because i feel so bad.. When I yell at her she gets scared and jumps and starts really crying, I just want to die after it happens but it's already done. I want to be more calm and patient, she is only 13 months but I feel so stressed out sometimes. Today was one of the few days that i really yelled back at her and I put her down for a nap, and went and relaxed for a while. When she got up I was trying to be really patient and calm and nice to her cause I felt so terribly auful. I then came to work today and a friend of mine sent me an e-mail called Blue Ribbon Against Child Abuse and I read it, it goes like this:
my name is sarah I am but three my eyes are swollen I cannot see I must be stupid i must be bad What else could have made My daddy so mad? I wish I were better, I wish I weren't ugly, Then maybe my mommy Would still want to hug me. I can't speak at all, I can't do a wrong Or else I'm locked up All the day long. When I awake I'm all alone The house is dark, My folks aren't home. When my mommy does come, I'll try to be nice, So maybe I'll get just one whipping tonight. Don't make a sound, I just heard a car My daddy is back From charlies Bar. I hear him curse My name he calls I press myself Against the wall. I try and hide, From his evil eyes I'm so afraid now I'm starting to cry. He finds me weeping He shoults ugly words, he says it's my fault That he suffers at work. He slaps me and hits me, And yells at me more I finally get free and run for the door. He's already locked it, And I start to bawl He takes me and throws me Against the hard wall I fall to the floor With my bones nearly broken, And my daddy continues With more bad words spoken. "I'm sorry!", I scream But it's now much too late His face has been twisted Into unimaginable hate. The hurt and the pain Again and again Oh please God, have Mercy! Oh please let it end! And he finally stops and heads for the door, While I lay there motionless sprawled on the floor. My name is Sarah And I am but three Tonight my daddy Murdered me.
I know it's too sad and very extreme, but we must try to stay calm with our children, because they sometimes know no better. After reading this poem, I know I will make an effort to try and understand my chilkd more, and get angry at her less. posted 3/29/2006 by Guilty mother canada "

Oh MY, are you crying too? Can you just feel the girl's wanting to love her parents? Don't you look at your own children and think how often they just want our love too? Why am I doing this too my kids? Because I'm stressed about the hosue and marraige and life and everything? It's not even worth one tear from my baby. Maybe this poem affects me more because I have been in abusive foster homes and all I wanted was parents to love me and they wouldn't. We have so much love to give our children and we waste time doing other things. Ya ALlah.
Here's the last link:

8:57 AM

Go to: Daughters of Khadijah

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

This is very important.
A sister is trying to get the word out about Abusive Relationships and Sisters and their Children in NEED of assistance.
Please go there RIGHT NOW!
Tell her how you WANT to help!
It just takes 10 minutes of your time... come on everyone has just 10 minutes to spare!
Help sisters all over the world.
Click on the Post Title OR below:
May Allah reward those who go and try. Seriously.

Imagine if it was your wife/daughter/sister/mother/cousin/aunt/niece in these women's shoes. I'm sure you would help them. So help others too.

7:15 AM

Life Story: Finding the Apple Grove

Wrote: American Muslima Writer |

I finally figured out that I'm a Red juicy Apple in a pile of Oranges. I figured this out one boring night at home, in front of my PC, on August 4th, 2001, when I was 17. I was sick of the chatroom where everything is so false and meaningless. I was sick of my neopets game where you play games to trade for coins to buy things for your pet online. I was so sick of everything and wanted something new and exciting to look up. Suddenly subhanAllah I was flooded with memories of many things that all added up to one thing. **My 10th grade teacher writing the five pillars on the chalkboard because today we would learn about Islam and I doodle the actual pillars into my notebook where for once I listened to her lecture instead of ignoring her daily lesson of the religion of the world.** **How much I was moved by the movie the 13th Warrior.** **My favorite history to learn in school was the Ancient Egyptians.** **The beauty of the movies the Mummy and the scene where she wears local dress of niqab** **My possible future of going to the U of A and studying sociology in Saudi Arabia** **My 10th grade teacher speaking of the charity and helping the needy that Islam follows and there is no one between you and God.** **My accepting that there is a God just a month earlier after being hard core Atheist for 4 years.** And soo much more.

It all pointed towards looking up ISLAM. So I typed it into a search engine and it came up with a few websites (this was 2001 people before the rush of net knowledge about Islam post Sept. 11th) and browsed them and was intrigued with my findings. Lots of praying, lots of charitable acts, "some guy named Muhammad who led them all and revealed their holy book", fasting for a month, once in a lifetime to hajj in Mecca. I felt I belonged with this. I googled Muhammad and found a horrid website calling our Prophet the worst of names and i don't know why I just blindly believed the website but at the time I did but I still loved the principles of Islam. (I didn't know it is Kuffur to believe these things about Prophet Muhammad[saw]). So I read that you have to say "Shahada at a masjid witnessed by two people" I read the shahada to myself to try it out on my tongue and it felt nice. Eager and excited that this is where I'd find my true place finally I rushed to the living room where my father sat reading a book in peace. (Sorry Daddy by the way for shocking you that night.) Normally if he wants to respond to anything I say while he's reading he just looks up from the page and answers then goes back to the book. "Hey Dad, can I have the keys? I need to drive to the mosque at dawn tomorrow and become a Muslim." He looked up slowly absorbing he words I just uttered. He carefully and calmly set down his book on the arm of the chair and folded him hands. "Have you thought about this? Have you learned about this?"

he asked. "Oh yeah I've learned about it in school and just now I was researching (for a whole 15 minutes) it online. I like it and I belong with them and I'm going to be Muslim so I have to have the keys please." I assured him breezily wondering why he wasn't hauling out the keys yet. "This is a big step and it's your life and all but maybe you need to go think about things again before you rush into something you might regret later." He advised and I frowned knowing i didn't need to re think about it. Didn't he understand I just had an Epiphany! But my father knew me way too well that when something is on my mind I just do it.. following my heart at the drop of a hat. So I agreed to think it over for a while. I went back to the PC and knew there was nothing to think over so I googled the location of the masjid and got the address and phone number. I got my father's map and tried to locate the masjid on the map. It was very hard. Then I sat and read a few more sites about Islam and thy said the same five pillars as the first. Finally about an hour had passed and I figured my father would think that was enough time for thinking so I went back. "Yup, I still want to be Muslim!" I said. He sighed and reached into his pockets. "It's your life and you can do what you like but just be careful and know if anything bad happens we will be here for you." He said. I grinned and took the keys and thanked him and then went to my room to check the map again. I set my alarm for dawn. And went to bed.

August 5th, 2001 I woke early to my alarm and woke up excited and happy. I got dressed in a long black skirt and a long sleeve black shirt with a modest neckline since i read they dress modestly. ( I do love black before i was muslim) Then I took my map and keys and climbed ungracefully into my Dad's Chevy truck. I saw the dawn sky brightening and the birds all chirping gaily and there was a crisp feeling in the air. The world knew my excitement. I had see this "odd" building many times in Tucson. It's completely white with a dome on top and I always told my parents I wanted a house like that they said it's a place where some people pray and I thought that was a beautiful place to pray (another clue I was always attracted to Islam). So I went there and it was located on 1st Street or 1st Place on of the two. SO I step out and look around the gated area. There was no one there much less anyone praying. I check the sky and the sun is just rising. I look again at the street sign and my written address. Oopsy the masjid address says 1st street (or place I've now confused the two over the years). I checked my map again and got lost trying to find the real masjid/mosque. Finally I spotted it near the campus of the University of Arizona. So I pull up in front of the masjid and hop out of the truck and lock the doors. I look at it and it is soo beautiful with a shiny copper colored dome. I pass a few men who look at me oddly and I give a tentative smile but keep going up the few stairs. I enter and am totally confused. There are racks lining the room and a large sign saying Please take off your shoes. I guess that is for the carpet area. It's a lovely plain blue carpet stretching without break all the way to the other side of a large empty room. Where are the seats? I wondered. There were about five random men praying by themselves in various positions which i had never seen before. Also there was a group of about 7 men sitting in a circle reciting something. I didn't want to intrude upon their religious things but I DID want to join them somehow. So I carefully kept my shod feet off the carpet and leaned in and looked around the doorway to the seated men.

"Uh, excuse me, how--" I began and was cut off by a man jumping up and shouting,

"No no, go around, you can't be in here. Go the other way." I was all taken aback and shocked and was totally like WTF in my head. At my totally perplexed look and obvious a lack of hijab he calmed down and asked a bit more quietly and a lot less rudely, "What do you want?"

"I want to join you. You know be a muslim." I was really afraid i was sounding quite stupid now. He paused then sighed. "Go sit on that chair and we'll be with you in a while." So I went and sat on a folding chair and watched as guys slowly filtered out and put their shoes on. The whole shoe thing was really weird for me. While I waited 20MINUTES! I checked out the dome and the beauty of it and had lots of time to worry about if I had done something wrong to offend that guy. Finally he and another man came over to me along with an elderly man with a dyed red beard (henna I later figured out). They explained this was a travelling sheik who would witness my shahada. "So did you think about this?" He asked. What was he my father? I sighed "Yes of course" "Do you know about Islam?" He asked. "Yes I researched it on the Internet." I was nervous they weren't going to let me be Muslim if I didn't know anything so I was using my bluffing voice. "OK well you need to say Ashadu-illaha-illallah-Mohammadur-rasulu-llah." He wrote it out and I stumbled over the words but got them out finally enough for them to except it. They smiled now. I sat there like ok now what. Then a african brother came over and was like do you have time for me to run to my house and get a few things for you and I was like sure. (I had all day because I didn't know how long it was going to take to become muslim) SO the man ran off. I waited and watched as the other men too soon began to leave leaving only two. Finally after about 7 minutes the man came back and gave me a book on how to pray and the times of prayer and tried to explain to me how timing goes. He gave me a copy of meaning of Qur'an in English with arabic too (still my favorite version of the qur'an I have and currently opened under my monitor). He also gave me two head coverings one creamy and the other white & a beautiful green colored prayer mat with a masjid on it. I thanked him for it then asked, "So how much is all of this?"

"it's free." he said confused and still smiling. I innwardly rolled my eyes. I wasn't born yesterday. The book alone was very expensive. It's thick well binded and beautifully decorated green with gold decor so therefore it must be worth something. "No, seriously I HAVE money." I explained.

"No, no it's a gift. Really it's free." He said again his smile loosing strength. I looked at him dubiously NOTHING WAS FREE -especially all this. At my expression and stony silence he tried to explain better "It's a gift for you becoming Muslim! We want to help you and make it easy for you. Just put this scarf on and pray like it says in the book." I smiled then warmly.

"Well thank you very much." I then stood and went back to my car feeling so free and light and everything looked so beautiful. I sat in the drivers seat and pulled out the cream colored hijab and folded it to a triangle and tried to wrap it around my head and then tried to figure out how to tie it to cover my neck. I tried a granny knot but my neck still showed. Frustrated of trying for a good five minutes i went back inside the masjid holding it. The brother looked at me confused.

"Umm, how do you put this thing on?" I asked and held it up. He laughed and was like "I have no clue but I think you use some pins or clips. Maybe if you come back at the next prayer then there will be women here to ask them." I said ok and then went to my truck and then tried again. I came back at the next prayer but no women were there still. S0 much for all Muslims praying 5 times a day at a masjid I thought to myself. Though I did see men praying formally for the first time and I admit it scared me a little I actually thought for a moment DID I JOIN A CULT? Then it passed from my mind and I reviewed the pillars in my head. Then I drove home feeling happy and heady and in love with this life Allah had given me and a new way to look at the world.
It took time to adjust to my new life and for others to adjust to me adjusting mine and that will be another post later :)

I stood tired and weary at the supermarket. I only had 10 things so I was in the express lane. Just before I was to put my things on the conveyor belt two twenty year old Arab girls cut in and the girl smiles and asks me in Arabic, "Maleesh, bes heyda -It's ok right, we only have these" She hold up two shampoo bottles. I stare at her coldly and reply in perfect Arabic "Ana bes hayda kaman -And I have only these." And pushed my stroller to block their path in front of me and set my things on the counter. They scooted beside me still staring at me like they couldn't believe I wouldn't let them pass. I purposely didn't make eye contact again. After paying for my things I took my kids who were acting up by then to the restroom to change diapers and potty time. How dare those girls think they can just barge in front of me. We all had only a few things too hence being in the express lane. Sure if I had a cart full I would have let them go in front. The nerve, I swear! Then still at the mall later I needed to get a couple bottles of cold water so I go into the store get my water and again go to the express lane. It was only two bottles. There was a long line. A woman with a couple of kids pulls her cart behind me and then another lady behind her. Then this young arab man comes and pulls his cart in behind me. I wait a few seconds to see if he's going to keep going through the line or wait. So he didn't budge so I turned to him and in English said, "Uh excuse me but the end of the line is over there." And pointed to after the two ladies (who said nothing). "Ohhh, riiight ok, after these two ladies." He mumbled and moved himself to the end. Not two minutes later another big Indian Family tries to move in behind me. "The line is over there." I said and pointed behind the guy who was looking miffed at the Indians. Once they moved (with a nasty glance my way) to the back I turn around to find an Arab lady in her mid-50's had cut in front of me but it was already to late to kick her out of line since she slammed down her shampoo on the conveyor belt first. I did glare at her though. She nervously paid then left. I put down my bottles and paid then left too and went to meet my husband.
First thing he says to me, "I cannot believe these Emeratians, they think they own the world."
"What happened?" I asked. "I was at the Bank which is why I'm late because the lines were so long. We are all standing peacefully waiting our turn when in comes this Emeratian guy and Yalla to the front of the line. Not even thinking for a moment to wait in line with the others."
I tsked sadly and told him my day's stories and we sighed at the state of people these days.

So whats up with this rudeness, especially in the middle east I've seen this more. People think lines are just a suggestion. Though I admit sometimes they follow them but not usually. And when you come across this mob of people trying to reach the one person they all want sometimes you have to join in the throng or get nothing accomplished like at government offices in Lebanon or at fast food pizza pie places in Lebanon. It frustrated me because grown men will be shouldering aside women with babies in their arms and of course a mother has to back off or her baby will be crushed. I've even seen pregnant women jostled. disgusting. Being an American if any guy shoves me wallahi I shove him right back and they look at me startled but I just raise a brow and dare them to say anything. Sometimes they'll reach an arm over my shoulder to plunk their papers in before me and I have to literally grow taller (tiptoes) to keep the papers out of the government officials reach. Another ploy though maybe haram is to just give a good old american smile to the official and of course many times they grin back and go "Please Madam your papers?" I love that routine. The men in line actually step back and stop shoving when you are personally asked to present papers. Sometimes you just gotta use your feminine charms.
I think we all have the responsibility though when in normal lines to stop cutters by correcting them. If I hadn't said anything in the supermarket those two women would have never gotten out of there with their few purchases. This always makes me angry and I try to stick up for those being brushed aside. Learn some manners people. I don't mind letting you pass if I have so much stuff and you have two things but at least ASK me. Don't assume you have the right away.

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