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Tuesday, June 17, 2003


TWO KINDS OF MUSLIM PROMS ( A SEMI RANT)

I'm a bit late writing up on this story, but I ignored it when I heard about it over the weekend and then I got another email. This is a semi-sensitive issue for me - one that i get a little riled up about. So here goes:

An article in CNN on June 12 talks about Muslim students in Dearborn, Michigan enjoying prom night:

"The prom at Fordson High, where the enrollment of about 2,300 is 95 percent Arab, underscores key dilemmas confronting Arab-American youth -- balancing assimilation and acceptance, and being American without being too Americanized.

Like other immigrants, Arab-Americans wrestle daily with holding on to some elements of tradition while adopting or blending in with the culture of their new home.

But in the post-September 11 United States, they face pressure both from Americans who may expect them to conform and from fellow Arabs who encourage them not to abandon their culture."

I dont have a problem with that. I know what it is like to grow up a teenager in this country and experience the internal struggle between your Islamic values and your American identity. In this society, where the educational system, and every other system, works against our Islamic values, everyone has to make their decision about the lifestyle they will follow at their own pace.

"Fatimah Ajami, 17, unaware she's caught Makkad's eye, continues dancing with her friend, Zeina Nasser. Ajami's modest silvery-cream dress and matching hijab are in stark contrast to Nasser's strapless blue gown and the glitter sprinkled delicately at the corner of her eyes.

"I pray, I'm a good student, I do everything I need to do," says Ajami, who is also Lebanese. "My parents trust me, and they know I know what I can and can't do. That's why they let me come tonight." "

Ok. This I have a problem with. This I have a really big problem with. I really don't care about who goes and does what where they want to. I know that's not the best Islamic advice but its really your own decision. However, I do believe that women/girls who wear hijab shouldn't be dancing the night away at a prom night. Hijab is not just a head covering. It's a whole demeanor; it's a whole way of life. It's really nice that you cover your head, but if you can't live up to the behavior that goes along with it, then why bother? I don't want to go on about the hikmah behind hijab, but one thing agreed is that it is about modesty. How modest is it to be dancing the night away in front of guys? I don't know about this definition of modesty.

Why was hijab such a difficult decision for me? Not because I have a problem with how it makes me look. I realized that it would require a lot of changes. Things that were considered ok when I didn't do it would not work. I was not going to be a hypocrite hijabi. And it was a tough decision, but in the end what won out was what was more important to me? What Allah expected of me or fun and games? Real friends respect your decisions regardless of how it affects them. I would say I lost touch with some was close too, mainly because we had different priorities, but its a decision that I've never regretted, and that I'm very proud of. The actual hijab was the last part of it. Just a superficial covering that represents a whole way of being, but without that behavior, it is just a piece of cloth, a superficial covering.

I know a lot of people will disagree with me and say that at least they are doing something, but I just don't agree. You represent a certain lifestyle now. You wear it, you live it.

On the other hand, I don't have a issue with hijabis having fun and partying. That's a whole different issue. I'm all for it. Just don't do it in front of non-mahrams, and let me know where the party's at! I like something like this much better, which was reported in the June 9th edition of the New York Times:

"Muslim high school girls in San Francisco Bay area of Calif hold all-girl Muslim prom; they are embracing American prom culture of high heels, mascara and adrenaline while being true to Muslim identity; about two dozen girls attend, dressed in silken gowns; popular music is played until sun goes down, when music stops temporarily, full-length robes are donned over gowns, and girls face toward Mecca to pray; then party resumes; Fatima Haque, organizer of prom, says farewell-to-high school celebration involved cooking, shopping and decorating rented prom room; Haque and her Muslim girlfriends dwell in world of exquisite subtlety in which modesty is underlying principle; she is among growing number of young Muslim women who have adopted hijab, head covering their mothers rejected; photos (M) The trappings of a typical high school prom were all there: the strobe lights, the garlands, the crepe pineapple centerpieces and even a tiara for the queen. In fact, Fatima Haque's prom tonight had practically everything one might expect on one of a teenage girl's most important nights. Except boys."

That's what striking a balance between prom night and Islamic values would be. Go girls!


Monday, June 16, 2003


SUMMER PLANS : FAMILY FAMILY

My parents are here masha'allah!! yay!!! We all went to pick them up at the airport yesterday. The flight came in at quarter to four. They came out at quarter to seven. I was getting really worried thinking maybe INS is taking time, or maybe something happened with the luggage. But no it was not that at all. There must have been a thousand people in their line. About 4 or 5 flights came in together..literally five or so minutes apart from each other......and thus the wait...anyway, i love having my mom in the same country, and I can call her any second without spending an arm and a leg...

In laws are coming next week insh'allah from Islamabad for about 2 months or so..and sister in laws will probably come for month or so to see their parents...its gonna be a full house.........attempting to look forward to it all :)

Bro's nikah preps are in full gear masha'allah now that my parents are here..who did most of the preps anyway....but still...I"m excited...getting a bhabi!!

... it's gonna be a hectic summer.....

BLOGGER LAZY

hmm..what can I say...I've been a little lazy...I think I'm reaching that point....the low attention span thing..the point of boredom, if u want to call it that...but I think if i get thru this, I'll make it. Its like running up a steep hill - if you can be patient and somehow make it to the top, the rest of it is easy....that's what i feel...so i'll attempt to gain some momentum again....

Thursday, June 12, 2003


BALTAZAR AND GOUMBA JOHNNY

I don't why I'm thinking of the KTU morning show, but these days while we drive into the city, we have the radio on, and wait for the BaltBusters to come on. This is one of the dj's name for his trademark prank phone call which people have him do. Some of them are sooo hilarious. Anyway, I went to their website and they have some in the archives. Go listen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003


TANGRA MASALA AND CHINESE IN INDIA

Today on our way back from work we stopped by Tangra Masala. It's an Indian style chinese restaurant in Queens and its excellent. I've tried a lot of halal chinese places but they are all like chinese chinese. This is one is desi-style suit indian/pakistani tastes just like back home (almost). They have excellent Chicken Hot and Sour Soup, Lollipop Chicken, and their specialties of Tangra Masala chicken, shrimp, beef etc, and much much more. Anyone who is in the New York area should definitely come and try this. You'll love it. (ok enought with the free advertising!)

The restaurant is run by third generation Chinese immigrants to India, and they can speak HINDI!!! I know its really not that big a deal if you've been to Pakistan, where all the Chinese speak Urdu, but it really surprises me every time. Along with Hindi, they speak Bengali (they are from Calcutta), and some Chinese languages as well. I google searched the Chinese in India briefly and found this:

"As China disintegrated in the twilight years of the Ching (Qing) Dynasty and during ensuing civil wars, thousands of Chinese migrated to India, most settling in Calcutta. The communist victory in China in 1949 spurred the largest influx of Chinese, as landowners, merchants and intellectuals fled the revolution. However, because of the Sino-Indian border war of the early 1960s, the Chinese's social and political status declined and the population of Chinese in India decreases correspondingly.

Within India's strict caste system, the Chinese are at the bottom of the heap. Most Indian-Chinese are leather tanners. Because Hindus worship the cow and believe the use of its hide to be sacrilegious, the Chinese population ranks behind even the "untouchable" in the social scale. Nevertheless, the Chinese excel economically. They enjoy high standard of living and hire Indians and Bangladeshis to staff its factories and shops."

The particular family that runs this restaurant has been in the restaurant business for the three generations that they have been in India. After moving to America, they decided to continue.

"The second and third generation Chinese have moved steadily abroad over the past 20 years seeking a better life and future. They emigrate to America, Europe, Taiwan or elsewhere. Only the elderly are left in the Chinatown. There are approximately 10,000 Chinese in India, the smallest group in Asian countries."



SCROLLING PROBLEM FIXED

Hopefully this will be the last post about the scrolling problem. As of now, its fixed, thanks to a tip from Zack. Turns out its an IE bug. So, no I was not going crazy!



EGYPT BANS "TOO RELGIOUS" MATRIX

"The country's censorship board said the film's storyline, about the search for the creator and control of the human race, may cause "crises". The first Matrix movie was released in Egypt but was criticised by Islamic newspapers for promoting Zionism.
The country's most senior film committee, made up of 15 critics, academics, writers and psychologists, watched the sequel on Monday. A statement said: "Despite the high technology and fabulous effects of the movie, it explicitly handles the issue of existence and creation, which are related to the three divine religions, which we all respect and believe in." The movie "tackles the issue of the creator and his creations, searching the origin of creation and the issue of compulsion and free will," it said. " --- BBC

I find it almost amusing and sad at the same time.

Almost amusing because if you really want to bring religion in to the picture, anyone can see that the issue of creation is something many ayats in the Quran challenge men to think about. Its by thinking about the reality we live that we can realize that we can realize that “hey im here cuz God created me�. Where did I come from? Is a question that even kids ask their parents at some point in time. Its a natural question inherent in man. Knowing the creator is a matter for the rational mind. And yet, the censors of Egypt think its too taboo to discuss it, and it should just be believed. Its a pity we as muslims are so ignorant sometimes.

It's also really sad, because Egypt is pretty much a secular country (much like most in the Muslim world today) and this is a perfect example of how religion has been pathetically reduced to things like enforcing bans on movies.

Of course, everyone will end up watching the movie anyway, even though it may be the pirated version of the movie smuggled in, but they'll watch. The ideas the censors were so worried about causing social unrest will permeate in to the society and in the end, they prevented the people from developing any ideas of their own. Pity.

Read the whole thing here.

Link via my hubby, Q, who does not have a blog, but will occassionaly post here.


SCROLLING UPDATE

Apparently, tis nothing to do with blogger itself because I can see the whole page at home and my husband can see it at work. But i still don't know why its happening! oh well..

Tuesday, June 10, 2003


SCROLLING IS ALL MESSED UP

For some reason, my blog is only showing the most recent post and I can't scroll all the way to the bottom (even though it shows up properly on blogger preview) Working on fixing this. Anyone who knows what could be wrong, please help!

Monday, June 09, 2003

Ok I am very very angry right now. I just wrote a whole long post and blogger just lost it! POOF!! It has disappeared!! ...argghh!!...so here I go again:

SPECIAL TRAINING FOR RELIGIOUS POLICE:

Al Muhajabah had pointed us to an article, Does God need a police force?, which was critical of the behavior of the religious police in Saudi Arabia:

"The paper was especially critical of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or so-called "religious police." This "religious police" has been accused by its critics of harassing Saudis for "un-Islamic" behavior. Recently, Al Watan reported that a man who was detained--with his children--for 12 hours after being caught smoking attempted to commit suicide.

In March 2002, a fire erupted in a all-girls school in Mecca, which killed 15. The March 14 edition of the Saudi newspaper Arab News cited a report on the rescue effort by Mecca's Civil Defense Department which noted that religious police "intentionally obstructed the efforts to evacuate the girls. This resulted in the increased number of casualties." Why did they do this? Apparently because the girls were not properly dressed."

Apparently there was a lot of complaining going on, because in today's edition of the Arab News, there is an article about how the religious police in Saudi Arabia (mutawwa) will be going thru special training mainly teaching them people skills (i can't help but chuckle) :

"The Kingdom’s religious police are now undergoing special training aimed at helping them to deal effectively and pleasantly with the public. The training comes following complaints that some officials of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice were dealing with the public harshly and impolitely. “We have signed an agreement with a specialized institute to provide training to our field staff as they are the ones regularly in touch with the public,” Salah ibn Nasser Al-Saeed, acting director of the commission in Riyadh, said.

....Al-Saeed said the training would focus on topics such as communication skills, personnel management and success strategies.

....Al-Ghaith said the commission was selecting qualified personnel to carry out its Islamic mission. “For the past several years we have been appointing well-informed and knowledgeable university graduates,” he added. He admitted that his officials might have made mistakes. “The commission’s officials are human beings and are liable to make mistakes. The commission is now providing intensive courses so that its staff may improve their skills and performance,” he explained. He also asserted that the organization had been the victim of false allegations. "

I find it all a bit amusing. For one thing, this has been going on for many many years. My mom tells me about a market in Dammam where only women and married men were allowed, so if you were with a man, he better be your husband, and you were asked to prove it. Supposedly this was to prevent "dating" or whatever, but that happens behind closed doors anyways.

Another thing is that given that the mutawwa are Islamic scholars, you would at least hope that they have learned the basic Islamic etiquettes, especially since they are representating the Islamic elite in Saudi Arabia. How can continuous behavior over many years be excused as a one time mistake?

I remember Dhahran, one of the more liberal cities in Saudi Arabia, saw an influx of US Marines (both men and women) during the Gulf War. This was much to the dismay of the mutawwa who grew upset and frustrated about how these women were dressing (American women living in Saudi Arabia for the most part take on the abaya at least and try to avoid dealing with the mutawwa). One incident was of a mutawwa going after an American lady in shorts and hitting her legs with a stick. In return, she kicked the hell out of him.

I dont know why people dont understand that religion cannot be forced. All that these ridiculous ramifications of not following the rules create is a bad taste of Islam, both for Muslims and non Muslims. I never even contemplated hijab while growing up in Saudi Arabia, even though I technically did it (kinda) every time I went out side. However there was no understanding linked with it. Ironically, I learned so much about my religion after coming to America.

People continue to do whatever they want to do in their houses, consciously or subconsciously escaping from certain rules, which even though are part of Islam, make you want to rebel when shoved down your throats. Let's see how these training classes work out and if the attitude changes. I am definitely impressed by the fact that there is a recognition that a problem exists, which in another time, would be completely ignored and overlooked. I'd like to see a day where people could understand the pure Islam and love to follow it versus having a skewed version of Islam being shoved down their throats.

Saturday, June 07, 2003


A BIT ABOUT ME

I am Pakistani (by ethnic origin) but was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. I went to Dhahran Academy, the American school in Dhahran until the 9th grade, after which at that time there was no further schooling following the American curriculum. It was definitely a memorable time, and I had such a rich cultural experience there going to school with kids from all different backgrounds. In Sept. 1994, I came to attend Emma Willard, a girls' boarding school in Troy, NY. I spent the rest of my highschool years there. It was definitely an interesting experience to say the least. Maybe I'll write sometime about my days and Emma but for now, this should suffice. I did my Bachelors in Information Systems from S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook in May 2000. Stony Brook is where I had the most exposure to Islam, and a lot of the viewpoints I hold today were formed during my time there. Since graduation, I have been working as a oracle/java developer for a financial firm.

I got married in May 2001. My husband is from Islamabad; My family is from Karachi. It was a cross country wedding fiasco! Ever since, I have been living in Queens, NY.

I used to work at 1 WTC but alhamdullilah did not go into work that day. Since then, my offices have moved to NJ and I trek all the way over to NJ. I really enjoy what I do, but its really too far. But in this economy, can't complain. Our company is doing layoffs, so lets see insha'allah what happens.

I'm also currently contemplating on grad school. I've changed my mind about 3 or 4 times in the past year about what I want to do -from a masters in CS, to a masters in IS, to an mba, to law school, to a doctorate in islamic studies, to a doctorate in information systems, and yes somehow the thought of medical school even crossed my mind. For now, I am thinking of studying for the GMAT and applying to business school.

This blog is about my thoughts on what's going on in the world, current events, and other miscellaneous items. I do have a very short attention span at times and lose interest in things very quickly, so I'm hoping this won't be one of those things. Friends and family say that I have a multi-track mind, that at a time, I might be thinking of 4 or 5 differnet things at the same time. Well hopefully this blog will utilize itself in outpouring my thoughts and potentially get me closer to being sane.



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