Thursday, April 30, 2009

HILARIOUS MINUTE MAID COMMERCIAL


I searched the internet to finally find this! Hope you enjoy it :)

Where in the World Should I Go?



I asked you, earlier this month, where you thought I should go. Here's what 31 of you readers said:


Bangladesh 2 (6%)

Egypt 3 (9%)

Oman 2 (6%)

Morocco 4 (12%)

Qatar 0 (0%)

Saudi 4 (12%)

Turkey 2 (6%)

U.A.E. 4 (12%)

U.S.A.--don't go! 10 (32%)


OK, so most of you thought that I should stay. I hear where you are coming from. I have family in the States and I really do love them.
On the other hand, I am having trouble getting employment and child care. I have run out of money. I need to leave my apartment and move in with my mom.
So, leaving for me, while sad, is also an exciting possibility.
I did get interested in Saudi and Oman before, but the harsh realities of living in either country didn't keep me dreaming of those places. I am perhaps too free-spirited to be in a very restrictive Muslim country.
Qatar isn't really sending a beacon of light to welcome me.
Morocco is less restrictive, but doesn't pay enough. Yemen is both restrictive AND doesn't pay well.
Bangladesh? Man, I feel for those brother and sisters in Islam, but I don't want to live there. I don't. It's too much deprivation AND strife.
Turkey really isn't interested in having hejabi teachers. Even though I didn't put Tunisia on there, the same goes for that country. So, wouldn't that be the pits to make hijrah only to end up in a Muslim country that makes it difficult to be Muslim?
Soooo what haven't I mentioned? Ya, it's the one place I really feel like I'm going.
EGYPT!
Why Egypt?
I went to Egypt in 2002. Ya, it was a dream. I was reunited with AbuBoo in Cairo and married in Port Said and spent my two-week honeymoon there in a kind of happy daze.
But, I'm not planning to relocate there in the hopes of finding memories of the man I once married.
I'm hoping to go in order to find myself.
Since my trip there, I have not traveled overseas. That is CRAZY to me, as I readily identify myself as a traveler. I love being the "fish out of water" and feel the boundaries and explore where I stop and my world begins.
Every time I thought of leaving the U.S., it was to go back to Egypt. In all those years of struggling, you'd find me lying in bed at night dreaming of being back in Egypt. My TEFL certification was obtained so I could someday teach in Egypt.
Every Ramadan I wanted to be there. I felt so strongly about it this past year, that I actually bought tickets for us to go. I wanted and NEEDED to be there. It's been a powerful pull on me.
Sure, it's partly the people. I need to see Mr. Boo's other grandma. I might not have an Islamic obligation to do it, but I feel the burden on me nontheless. I want her to meet her grandson. I want to hug her again. For years, I would pray for her and her husband in my fajr's sujud. I loved them deeply as my family. The divorce forced me to re-examine that. The death of my former father-in-law made me feel the finite nature of our relationships.
And there's aunties and uncles and cousins. I have never felt more a part of a happy family than when I belonged to that family. Honestly, I feel like I still do belong to them, through Mr. Boo, as I am UmBoo.
But, people are not the whole story. There are the number of schools wanting an experienced teacher (but not needing a Masters). There's the amount of pay versus the cost of living. There is the moderate Islam I would be able to practice. There are fun places to go and the freedom to go to them.
When I was sending out a high number of cover letters, I would never cut and paste. I wrote each letter from the heart. This one particular letter was different from the rest. I ended up writing this:
There is nothing I would like more in the world
than to be hired to teach in Egypt.
Seriously.
Wallahi.
I found myself writing that. When I wrote it, I stopped at thought for a moment. I had written, "Wallahi." Did I really feel that way?
Yes, I did.
And I opened myself up to God with my heart's desire and God rewarded me.
Alhumdulillah.
Hey, Gang, wherever you thought I should go (or not go) please make du'a that our trip to Egypt be the beginning of goodness.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Like a Bedouin Beauty


Like a Beduoin beauty I moved on

from a house that could not hold me

and I placed my trust in Allah

but my precious things could not believe

and they fled


No longer needing a house

I had a flat of three rooms

My Lord allowed my things to sit

contained within walls and to be safe


Then He called to me again

so on I went to serve Him

but my wonderful things could not bow

so they broke


No longer needing a flat

I was given but a room

Subhanallah it is full of things

but I look around and fear


For the time is coming when

the Spring's air will turn hot

and then I must leave

with what?


Not a house

Or a flat

Or a room


No


I will leave with a suitcase

for there will be little left

which hasn't run away;

fallen away;

been forgotten along the way.


I was once asked,

"Where did you park your camel?"


And I don't know but

I'm going to find out.


And where

my camel is tied

is where

my suitcase

full of things will be

ready to find a home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Building Our Lives




Living and learning is a lot like building with blocks.

When we are figuring out a new set of skills, we follow the steps simply. Look at how babies or little kids stack blocks. They just build one huge tall tower.

Until it falls and the blocks scatter all over the place.

The blocks sit there in a heap. Unused. It is not going to build itself again.

The builder has to eye the mess and figure out what went wrong. Now, that process can be short or long, but it's a process. It takes a level of maturity.

Sometimes, others can come upon the scene of destruction and view it only as a negative. The tower was good and the pile is bad.

When we view life in such snapshots, we forget that life is a cyclical process. The pile of debris is necessary in order to build a better tower. It actually still is the tower. It is simply the tower waiting to be rebuilt.

What was needed?

More.

More base. Widen the base; just like you need to gain information and widen understanding.

This graphic comes from a nice parenting site.

However, we focus on the building blocks of early childhood development and keep that image in our minds only. We forget that, even as adults, we are continually developing ourselves because we are organic beings. We keep changing because we are alive.

Everytime we learn a new aspect to being our authentic selves, we have to dissemble in order to put that missing piece in place. We can't build higher, higher, higher, or we crash.

We need to take it all down.

Look at it.

Reconfigure.

And when we rebuild, inshahallah, it can be the structure that can withstand the ravages or war and the sands of time. It, or rather we can be the glorious creation we were meant to be.



Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Woman Alone


I didn't sleep at my apartment last night...


He pulled me close and said, "I can't spend another night without you, Habibti."

So I laid down next to him all night, in his strong arms; finally unafraid in the dark.


Ok, I'm fibbin'.

I wasn't at my apartment last night because I stayed at my mom's. It was the first time since I last moved out. I had moved a carload of cr*p--
I mean treasures
and I was truly weak. Mr. Boo was so tuckered out, he had fallen asleep in the car. Mom had gotten a new Netflix and then she offered to grab a thin-crust Mediterranean pizza from Papa John's.

Ya, there was wheat in the crust. I'm no longer thinking ZERO WHEAT. I've decided that I can't be stringent about ANYTHING in my life. I just need to be mindful. I will continue to analyze the amount of wheat and corn that is in my diet and reduce it greatly. Already, I'm down half-an-inch on waist and hips because I eliminated both carbs for a week and reduced it in the second week. Alhumdulillah. Nothing in excess is good---ever.

I made my new favorite drink. My old favorite drink was frozen orange juice concentrate with milk, vanilla and sugar. My new favorite drink is the fresh juice of a lime with sugar and ice.

We watched The Station Agent together. So interesting how my mom kept making comments about the main character who is a dwarf.

"How terrible to always have someone staring at you."

"And they really shout out at him?!"

I finally had to say, "Ya, mom. I get the same thing for wearing hejab, you know. And the most amazing part to me is that those people neeeeeeeeever even question if it's right or wrong to stare or harass. They are sooooo sure that it's within their rights."

It was a good movie.

Loved the character of Joe. He's my kind of guy. A bit of a goof. Good looking. Funny. Talkative. Friendly. Always looking for the next excitement. That's how AbuBoo was when I first met him.

That actor is playing the character of "Cupid" on TV now. I refrained from contacting him on Facebook.

But that was the closest I came to being with a man on Friday.

So, my night away from the apartment wasn't a big romance. Honestly, there are moments of weakness when I wish I could just take the strength from a man and rest.

I was sooooo exhausted. Some days of the month SHOULD NOT be days when you move. I guess I was overestimating my abilities. I would really like to know how Wonder Woman or Bionic Woman handled their Aunt Flo!

It was, however, good enough. Mom actually was happy to have us there. She for real pinched my cheeks upon my arrival and tucked me into bed at night.

The thought crosses my mind about me alone in Egypt and feeling unwell. There won't be a mom. There won't be comfort foods. There won't be help minutes away.

Oh, ya...there won't be a husband.
I always pictured Egypt with a husband---with AbuBoo, and then later with one of the various interchangeable Egyptians who courted me.

Now? I will be A Woman Alone. I'm reading the book with that title now.

But, I've decided how to wrap my brain around it all. I am conjuring up images of summer camp. Yes, I LOVED summer camp. Whether it was the one-week Methodist church camp or the eight week arts camp, I loved getting away from the norm and living a new reality. I loved re-inventing myself with immediate friends.

So, if, inshahallah, we go, then we will go as campers--happy campers.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Y



Asalamu Alaykom,






I'm downloading pics right now so you can see the subject of this posting.


Y

That is the subject.
Y?
Yes! Y!

It's funny.

I've been taking pictures of my pictures from years ago. Cute little girlie with golden curlies. Funny little dude holding up his thumb and grinning in every shot. Ya, my older kids and the life before. Me in my long, long hair---I had wanted to have that one single braid down my back ala' Bollywood heroines. There's the duplex which we lived in for eight months. There's the Montessori school where my girlie was enrolled. And then there's me in full stage make-up from theatre days. Me as a teen with very short hair sitting around in a swimsuit---like I would do either now.

Why?

Well, actually the posting was about "Y" not "why". But I'll answer.

Man! Life is a jumble of times and thoughts and places and people. I truly was meant to go through those times. Seeing those pictures, it absolutely amazes me where I've been. Why was I there? I was supposed to be. Couldn't be here now, if it wasn't for there then.

"Y" starts my name---my new name. Yes, it's my legal name. No, I no longer consider my birth name as being real for me. Real is NOW. And real is Yosra.

When we were living with my mom last fall it was real hard. Sometimes "now" can be that way. We needed to leave and so I made plans to just leave and the only place I could think of was Egypt. Returning to Egypt has always been a dream. I made the plans to make it into a reality. I bought the tickets. And nothing is more real than spending $1,500.

The next day I was offered the job here. Why? I asked God that a lot. Why have me spend the money when a job here was coming the next day? So, I didn't have the money for first and last month's rent and had to borrow it from my mom. I didn't have money for a car and had to walk until one became available.

Then, my lovely friend's daughter passed away in the blink of an eye and my friend needed me and I was able to fly away. Jobless and penniless but with a $1,500 airline credit, I could fly. I did. I know it was right to go. Those 10 days were incredibly meaningful to me.

And now? There is a job offer in Egypt which won't pay my full airfare over and won't pay any for Mr. Boo. If I still had all that airline credit, I could just zoom-a-zoom-a-zoom-a-zoom over there. For some reason, I'm not supposed to.

Why?

I don't know.

But I feel like I'm supposed to be here a little longer. I'm supposed to move back to my mom's. The day I started moving back felt strange. There was AbuBoo loading boxes again. It is the third time he's moved us. Would have been simpler to just stay married to me! But there he was. Moving. Us. Again.

We didn't grab everything. I am still in my own place with my own vibe. I'll miss having that and I KNOW it will spur me on to move once again---and maybe it will be to Egypt, inshahallah.

That day, there was something that I was sad about losing. Somewhere in the move from mom's to here I had lost my "Y". Those alphabet magnets I loved so much had every letter except mine. "Y" was lost. My son couldn't spell "Yosra". I felt a bit like I was lost too; lost in transition.

Back in October, I had checked all over my mom's house for that "Y" and never found it. And honestly (I kid you not) with all that's in my head about money, bills, moving, jobs, documents...I still was wondering if I could send away to VTech for that missing "Y".

As it turns out, there was no need.
This week, after the first load was re-deposited in mom's spare bedroom, I was surprised. Mom called Mr. Boo to her in the kitchen and told him to give something to me. He ran to me.

"LOOK, MOMMY! THE Y!"

Yes, on the day I started moving back. That Y had shown up in mom's rakings. It hadn't been in her house. It had fallen into the leaves outside the kitchen door. It was dirty in the crevices and a little more worn than her brothers and sisters. But she was back. She was no longer lost.

Maybe she never was lost. Maybe she just needed that time to be there.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Tears for Palestine


Asalamu Alaykom,



Sometimes, I feel like I've cried so much for Palestine, that I can't possibly have more. This morning, with the sun shining and making rainbows splash unto our walls, I read this and found new tears.

Alhumdulillah, our brother Basem went straight to Jennah. Inshahallah, we will meet him there.

In the meantime, we all need to do one small thing to create big change: having interfaith dialogue, boycotting, voting, being involved with the policy makers, sponsoring children, and making du'a are all necessary from each one of us.

Time-sucking moments not only take from us and our families, but from our ummah. See what stupidity from Shaytan you can push out of your life so that you can enact positive change in the world. Inshallah.

Ya rab!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Who Should I Marry?



For two years, I've been trying to figure out who would be best for me and Mr. Boo to bring onto, "our team." Finally, in March, I asked the readers and the results were:

American-born Muslim 16 (51%)

American revert 11 (35%)

Foreigner living here 3 (9%)

Man Overseas 0 (0%)


Go back to Kids' Dad 1 (3%)

Go back to AbuBoo 0 (0%)

Go back to Mr. Florida 0 (0%)


Hmmm....what do I think of what you think?

Well, the BIGGEST surprise to me was that ANYONE thought I should head on back (with the figurative tail between my legs) to the kids' dad. It must be someone who hasn't the foggiest about who I am or what I'm about. He's 1) Not Muslim 2) Not agreeable to most things I need or want and 3) Engaged to someone else (who looks just like his eldest sister---calling Dr. Freud!). So, no, that is NOT happening.

No one thought I really needed X2 (AbuBoo) or X3 (Mr. Florida) and I have to agree. No, I don't need them. X2 is all about following the wishes of his 1st and current wife and she says, "LA!". X3 is actually an impossibility as we've divorced three times, or X3 x3=0.

Interestingly enough, no one thought I needed a man from overseas either. I guess it had GREEN CARD written all over it.

But, only three thought that a foreign man living here would work out. If I had to make my own preference known, it would be this. I love that cultural mix and the meeting of two different worlds. It's so mind-blowing to bridge that gap of understanding. I've always loved those newly here---including every foreign-exchange student in high school. And that's boys/girls and men/women. I just am drawn to the possibilities to increase understanding.

Nope, most of you thought I should marry either an American-born Muslim or an American revert. I have met very few of either near my age. I think those in their 20s and 30s might have an easier time hooking up with those brothers. And honestly? It doesn't grab me as much as a foreign-born.

Maybe the best person would be someone who spent time overseas but has lived here most of his life. This would fulfill both what I want and what you say I need.

Allah knows best.


وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُ

And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pray No Matter What


Asalamu Alaykom

I've been pretty upfront about how screwed up things have gotten in my life at various points of time.

HOWEVER!
There is one thing I have not done wrong: I have kept praying.

When I first came to Islam, getting all the prayers done was not my focus. That was wrong of me. After taking shahaddah in September, 2002, there was NOTHING more important than those times on the rug. It took me almost a year, but finally in August, 2003, I made the commitment to never miss a prayer again, inshahallah.

Over the years, I've heard from many readers who say they wished they prayed. On the internet while husband hunting, there were soooooooo many men who didn't cut the mustard because they weren't fulfilling their obligations to Allah.

So, in the interest of helping others get their wishes fulfilled and their obligations met, I will give you my advise on

HOW TO GET YOUR PRAYERS GOING

Use an azan clock

In the U.S., there is only one city I know that allows the azan. Dearborn, right?

So, in the other cities, those prayer time charts are crucial. For me, I stuck them to the fridge and consulted them for years. I was able to do my prayers but not as easily as now.

Now, I use an azan clock and would recommend it to everyone. I use the Fajr brand because the azan is so pleasant. Make sure any azan clock you buy has a sound that you actually like. You'll hear it A LOT! The sound really helps you get off your butt.

Make sure that you instruct the others in your house NOT TO TALK DURING THE AZAN and that you role model that yourself.


Time your life around the prayer times

When is the next prayer? Should you wait to leave the house for 10 minutes so you can catch the next prayer? YES! Think of how your life needs to include the prayers as a lifestyle. Those prayers are not just incidental; they are crucial.


When you are out, don't use excuses

Sometimes, you can't wait until you get home because if you wait, you'll miss the prayer time. So pray! This is America! You can pray while sitting in your car. You can pray in the dressing rooms. You can pray on a park bench.

What if you never made it home? So, pray NOW!


Wear modest clothes and hejab all the time

It is easier to pray if you are already dressed for the occasion.

When you are out in public, it is better for making prayer times if you wear hejab. If you don't wear hejab, you could easily throw one in your purse or the glove compartment. But if you are wearing jeans with a T-shirt that isn't going to do it! Think about toning down how you are dressing so that you could pray at a moment's notice

If you are home, you might be like me and wear less than modest clothing around family. So, have a prayer outfit ready. Easy enough to throw on over the tank top and capris!


When you come home, don't relax until you pray

Coming home from a busy time out is a total fall-down-on-the-couch feeling. BUT! Don't fall down---not yet! For me, if I've been out for a while, it's most likely that I'm coming home with a prayer to do. I help Mr. Boo get in the door (toileting, hand washing, drink or food, TV on etc.) and the whole time I keep my hejab on. I use my outside clothes to remind me how I need to pray before I change clothes and relax (or make dinner).


An OK prayer is better than a perfect prayer you don't perform

There are many Muslims who are intent on being perfect, astragferallah. That is an impossible feat! Only Allah is perfect! You are NEVER going to be perfect in your prayers.

And you know what aiming for perfection brings about? PROCRASTINATION!

When you are scared that you will fall short, you never move at all.

So, be realistic and admit that some days will go better than others. Some prayers will be more focused, or more heartfelt, or more timely. Ask Allah's forgiveness for those times AND also forgive yourself. When you release those unreal expectations, you are able to keep your prayers better.


Children will inshahallah be safe during prayer

I have been raising kids while praying and "yes" I've wondered about their safety. Especially when you have a baby or a toddler, you worry. The truth is that you are doing something that mothers for centuries have been doing. Put the child in a safe situation and then go about your worship.

Truthfully, when you are telling yourself that you can't pray (because you worry about your kid) you are putting your child at more risk than you realize. Moms who rely only on their own strength to get through the hard times of parenting are moms who end up flippin' out. Child abuse is a real issue and being able to pray allows you to chill out and ask for God's guidance and increased patience.


Husbands can wait

Yes, husbands are important but they are not above Allah. You ask them nicely to wait and go ahead. You need to stay good with Allah MORE than staying good with them.

I think this is especially true with husbands who are being lazy and not leading you in prayer. You let them know nicely that you have to pray and be that influence in the house. Prayer comes before all other activities because Allah is Your Lord---your husband is not.


TV is not your idol

"When this show it done."

"Later, I'm almost done."

"I have to see this part!"

No, you don't have to say any of that! Show Allah that TV is not an idol for you! Get up off the couch and go make wudu at one commercial break. Then, at the next break, go pray. It might take you three to four minutes and a commercial break is more like two minutes. Are you going to miss some of the show? Yep, about two minutes, but this is proving you care more about your deen than the screen.


Wash up after using the bathroom

When you are washing hands after using the bathroom, keep going! Do the complete wash-up. It will feel like you are half way to doing the prayer! Then, when the prayer is on, you can just go to the rug knowing and feeling that you made the intention before.


Make the main point the five prayers rather than the timings

Usually now I can do the prayer on time (with the exception of the constant on-again-off-again fajr prayer). Alhumdulillah, I feel better when I do them on time, of course.

On the other hand, I feel better doing the prayers ANY TIME rather than when I was Muslim but not praying yet. In the beginning, I was sometimes doing all five right before bed. Those 17 rakhas all together got looooooooong! Do that a few nights and you figure out a way to space them out better during the day! LOL!

People will tell you, "That prayer won't count now." But hey! They don't know! That's up to Allah to decide!

For me, if the prayer counts or not (according to others) since the time has passed, I still do it. That was the promise I made to myself and Allah. My aim is to do the prayers on time, but the promise is to never go to bed without having done the five obligatory prayers.

I have prayed with a migraine and MIRACULOUSLY had the migraine subside. I could have made the excuse, but Allah knew my hardship and granted me ease.

I have prayed in the first stages of labor.

I have prayed when I was angry, or sad, or right after I did something I was ashamed of doing.

I kept it going!

Why?

Because that's my commitment to God and myself.

I am only a Muslim by my actions.

A farmer who never takes care of his animals can't really be called a farmer. A chef who never sets foot in the kitchen cannot be taken seriously. And so it is with Muslims....

yes we really do need to do five prayers a day.

If you are not currently praying, please take something you have found helpful in my words and put it into action. Just one! Start easy (as Islam is really a simple religion) and see if you can work towards being more prayerful.

Remember: if you do better because of my suggestion, not only do you get the reward, but I do too (and I could use some hasanet coming my way).

Let me know how it goes! Don't be shy! If you write in the comments section about your attempts and it helps someone else, then YOU get the hasanet :)


May Allah make it easy on all of us.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Man on My Mind



Alhumdulillah.

I actually don't have a man on my mind for the first time since...wow! Since EVER!

I don't have any man who is my current situation.

I don't have any man who is a crush.

I don't have any man who is an impossible love.

I am actually without anyone.
And I'm OK with that.

That means...


I can improve myself to be the person I want to be, so that the next man will be the one I want to be with.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Live it LARGE!


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.


Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.


It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.


We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?


Actually, who are you not to be?


You are a child of God.


Your playing small does not serve the world.


There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.


We are all meant to shine, as children do.


We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.


It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.


And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.


As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


~Marianne Williamson, but often wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Knowing Your Address


Caillou is on TV and Mommy and Daddy are trying to teach him his address.

This is NOT something I can teach Mr. Boo.
We haven't stayed in one place long enough to teach him his address.
To be honest? I kind of forget them all.
AND we are about to move again.
YEP! It's back to my mom's in two weeks.
I had the meeting with the Apartment Manager and she can't budge, so I'll have to.
Alhumdulillah, it's a roof over our heads.
The two-month stay this summer at Omar's Egyptian grandma has been completely stopped. Subhanallah. Allah knows how upsetting that is for me, so I'll save you all a rant. It really makes me wonder if this is a red flag for a bad trip.
I have NOT heard back from the school as to my air fare request.
I have applied at two other schools since then. Both of them are places I have been before and both of them are in ideal locations. I am keeping options open and asking God for the best.
I'm being patient (kind of) and giving it all time to get figured out.
One thing I did just figure out is Twitter. Come join me if you dare! It's on the sidebar (along with a new pet hamster and Ramadan countdown clock).
Calliou is done whining, so I better go parent my kid and do my laundry.

Saudi Obama


This article talks about overcoming racism among modern-day Muslims. Obviously, our beloved Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) honored Bilal, with all his plentiful melanine, by bestowing leadership duties upon him.

Islam is perfect and Muslims are imperfect. Alhumdulillah that this Imam can break barriers and bring others to Islam through his observance.



A Black Imam Breaks Ground in Mecca
Bryan Denton for The New York Times

Any qualified individual, no matter what his color, no matter where from, will have a chance to be a leader, for his good and The king is trying to tell everybody that he wants to rule this land as one nation, with no racism and no segregation.
SHEIK ADIL KALBANI

TWO years ago, Sheik Adil Kalbani dreamed that he had become an imam at the Grand Mosque in Mecca , Islamâs holiest city.

Waking up, he dismissed the dream as a temptation to vanity. Although he is known for his fine voice, Sheik Adil is black, and the son of a poor immigrant from the Persian Gulf . Leading prayers at the Grand Mosque is an extraordinary honor, usually reserved for pure-blooded Arabs from the Saudi heartland.

So he was taken aback when the phone rang last September and a voice told him that King Abdullah had chosen him as the first black man to lead prayers in Mecca . Days later Sheik Adilâs unmistakably African features and his deep baritone voice, echoing musically through the Grand Mosque, were broadcast by satellite TV to hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world.

Since then, Sheik Adil has been half-jokingly dubbed the Saudi Obama. Prominent imams are celebrities in this deeply religious country, and many have hailed his selection as20more evidence of King Abdullah cautious efforts to move Saudi Arabia toward greater openness and tolerance in the past few years.

The king is trying to tell everybody that he wants to rule this land as one nation, with no racism and no segregation, said Sheik Adil, a heavyset and long-bearded man of 49 who has been an imam at a Riyadh mosque for 20 years. Any qualified individual, no matter what his color, no matter where from, will have a chance to be a leader, for his good and his countrys good.

Officially, it was his skill at reciting the Koran that won him the position, which he carries out” like the Grand Mosques eight other prayer leaders” only during the holy month of Ramadan. But the racial significance of the kings gesture was unmistakable.

Sheik Adil, like most Saudis, is quick to caution that any racism here is not the fault of Islam, which preaches egalitarianism. The Prophet Muhammad himself, who founded the religion here 1,400 years ago, had black companions.

Our Islamic history has so many famous black people, said the imam, as he sat leaning his arm on a cushion in the reception room of his home. It is not like the West.

It is also true that Saudi Arabia is far more ethnically diverse than most Westerners realize. Saudis with Malaysian or African features are a common sight along the kingdoms west coast, the descendants of pilgrims who came here over the centuries and ended up staying. Many have prospered and even attained high positions through links20to the royal family. Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States , is the son of Prince Sultan and a dark-skinned concubine from southern Saudi Arabia .

But slavery was practiced here too, and was abolished only in 1962. Many traditional Arabs from Nejd , the central Saudi heartland, used to refer to all outsiders as tarsh al bahr” vomit from the sea. People of African descent still face some discrimination, as do most immigrants, even from other Arab countries. Many Saudis complain that the kingdom is still far too dominated by Nejd , the homeland of the royal family. There are nonracial forms of discrimination too, and many Shiite Muslims, a substantial minority, say they are not treated fairly.

The prophet told us that social classes will remain, because of human nature, Sheik Adil said gravely. These are part of the pre-Islamic practices that persist.

BLACK skin is not the only social obstacle Sheik Adil has overcome. His father came to Saudi Arabia in the 1950s from Ras al Khaima, in what is now the United Arab Emirates , and obtained a job as a low-level government clerk. The family had little money, and after finishing high school, Adil took a job with Saudi Arabian Airlines while attending night classes at King Saud University .

Only later did he study religion, laboriously memorizing the Koran and studying Islamic jurisprudence. In 1984 he passed the government exam to become an imam, and worked briefly at the mosque in the Riyadh airport. Four years lat
er he won a more prominent position as the imam of the King Khalid mosque, a tall white building that is not far from one of the Intelligence Ministrys offices.

Theologically, Sheik Adil reflects the general evolution of Saudi thinking over the last two decades. During the 1980s he met Osama bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam, a leader of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan . He initially sympathized with their radical position and anger toward the West. Later, he said, he began to find their views narrow, especially after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Now he speaks warmly of King Abdullahs new initiatives, which include efforts to moderate the power of the hard-line religious establishment and to modernize Saudi Arabias judiciary and educational establishment. He reads Al Watan, a liberal newspaper.

Some people in this country want everyone to be a carbon copy, Sheik Adil said. This is not my way of thinking. You can learn from the person who is willing to criticize, to give a different point of view.

His life, like that of most imams, follows a rigid routine: he leads prayers five times a day at the mosque, then walks across the parking lot to his home, which he shares with two wives and 12 children. On Fridays, he gives a sermon as well.

HE expected it to continue that way for the rest of his life. Then in early September he woke up to hear his cellphone and land line, both ringing continuously. Stirring from bed, he heard the administrator of the Grand Mosque leav
ing a message. He picked up one of the phones, and heard the news that the king had selected him.

Two days later he walked into a grand reception room where he was greeted by Prince Khalid al-Faisal, the governor of Mecca Province . Sheik Adil tried to introduce himself, but the prince cut him off with a smile: You are known, he said.

Next, Sheik Adil was led to a table where he sat with King Abdullah and other ministers. He was too shy to address the king directly, but as he left the room he thanked him and kissed him on the nose, a traditional sign of deference.

Remembering the moment, Sheik Adil smiled and went silent. Then he pulled out his laptop and showed a visitor a YouTube clip of him reciting the Koran at the Grand Mosque in Mecca .

To recite before thousands of people, this is no problem for me, he said. But the place, its holiness, is so different from praying anywhere else. In that shrine, there are kings, presidents and ordinary people, all being led in prayer by you as imam. It gives you a feeling of honor, and a fear of almighty God.

Muhammad al-Milfy contributed reporting.
A version of this article appeared in print on April 11, 2009, on page A6 of the New York edition.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

X2 and X2.5



Be careful who you marry.

Check out this message board! There are a few opinions about marrying a Moroccan man.
Can't say that my issues with X2.5 were the same.

He is currently on the internet with a 20-year-old. Mr. Boo didn't even recognize him. Mr. Boo said the man looked like a cowboy (must have been the black hat and boots). Why wear that on the beach?
Remember that he's a wanna-be photographer? Why be photographing a chickie-poo in her purple sequinced prom dress on the beach? It's soooo ick! And I know he wants me to see him and wish I was back with him. I DON'T! I get disgusted by his attempts

Meanwhile, X2, AbuBoo, is upset.
I emailed the info about the school in Egypt to a bunch of people. I included him. I had NO IDEA that his ex/now current wife reads his emails. Well..she's p*ssed that I am thinking to come to Egypt. She is thinking completely about herself AGAIN OF COURSE.

Kind of makes me rage on her all over again. Dang! How can one person cause so much drama?!

She read his email and then called up AbuBoo to rant. How could I, a former wife, be housed with Mr. Boo's grandma? I need a place to stay when I first get to Egypt IF I EVEN GO and Miss Thang is thinking that it's my ploy to get AbuBoo back.

Say what?!

HUH?

Ya, she is soooooooo sure that I am trying to win him over through his family (who all hate her for how she's ruined his life). It's really not my fault that she treated them poorly for years. She made her messy, stinky bed and now can lie in it AND NOT BLAME ME!

That woman used to send AbuBoo photos of his children. These would be the children she did not allow to go north to see their grandparents. She couldn't even manage to send photos to them.

So, you know what I did? I would scan them, make copies at walgreen's and send them over to Egypt. Talk about hassle! Why did I do that? Because I loved AbuBoo's mom and dad. They felt that and knew.

And now? DANG! I'm so mad about this! Now, AbuBoo is telling me that I MUST email her and tell her some lies so that she chills her big self down. No, it wasn't enough that I was supposed to email her. He had to dictate the lies I had to tell her. He is SO into lies that he can't ever see when the truth is too simple---like telling her to chill and that he loves her; not me.

You know what I offered to write?

What the hell is up with you?! If you want your marriage to break up, then just keep doing this stupid stuff! You read his email then lecture him about making sure his son has a place to live!

And you know what?

IN THE VERY SAME CONVERSATION I was lecturing him too! I was lecturing him after he told me that he couldn't come over for a scheduled visit. I told him that he has to be better when your kids are in the U.S.

This man, your husband, is working like a dog right now to afford you coming over. I don't know where I'll be but I'm planning to be as far away from you as possible.

You're right! I could imagine being with AbuBoo again IF it were him, me and his son. But, it's always YOU YOU YOU. It's always been you and it will always be YOU. You are this huge walking headache and I had one tonight after hearing this whole stupid story.

Now, here's where the headache turns into a nightmare...

Because I wouldn't agree to write the, "make nice," full-of-lies email, AbuBoo pulled his offer to stay with his mom.

Do you know how that makes me feel?

Manipulated?

Caught in a web?

Betrayed?

Angry! Angry that I'm in a never-ending love triangle even after a gut-wrenching divorce, a different marriage AND different divorce and two years of my life!

Be very, very careful who you marry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

OH, BAMBOO SHOOT! I'M DIETING!


I am not enormously fat but I am feeling well...yes...fat. I am feeling fat.
I was feeling so super-fox fine in February. I had been fasting and I looked terrific. I then flew to Florida and ate away some grief and got fed at two households. I got ice cream a couple of times. I didn't totally care...as calories don't count while you are traveling, right?
And then I came back and had to go through yet ANOTHER BREAK-UP. I allowed myself the purchase of the half-gallon of ice cream. Yes, that's a rule which has been in place since I split from X2, otherwise known as AbuBoo. I do not allow ice cream in the house except in case of a break-up.
And I sat on my buttinski trolling the internet for far too long due to the miserable weather (inside my head it was pretty cloudy).
So now? I am not feeling super-fox fine. I am feeling BIG FAT PANDA!
I was reading some info last night about eating based on blood type. I won't tell you my hair color, but I'll tell you that my blood type is O+. And guess what? I am not able to adequately digest wheat and corn. Who knew?!
So, today...gulp! I am....oh gosh....giving...giving...yes, I am giving up wh wh wh wh whe whea wheat. There I wrote it. I am giving up wheat. And corn---including pop...popco...popcorn. I love popcorn! I love tortilla chips! I love cheese puffs! And I really love bread more than you can imagine.

Hey, could this maybe explain why I am a big fat panda?
I'm supposed to eat more protein throughout the week...but not kidney beans or lentils (more issues). I will do that, inshahallah.
And this morning I had oatmeal instead of toast.
This lunch I had a salad of greens and meat instead of a sandwich.
I had to come to terms with it. The truth is: I'm dieting.
I need to see if I can get my bod back by eliminating these foods.
So, hello to rice, oatmeal, rye, and potatoes!
Goodbye to loaves, slices, and tortillas!
Now, I'd better get outside! But I'm thinking to go eat a discounted chocolate bunny...

In God We Trust


There is a moment when Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) was placing his full trust in The Lord and raised the knife to slaughter his beloved son. His son was spared.

I have been placing my full trust in The Lord at various times throughout these last years. I would go down a path which I thought was the right direction---even if it meant sacrificing a significant part of my life or an integral part of my being. Often times, I was stopped and spared.

Now, I am at another crossroads. I can accept this idea to travel to Egypt and be that teacher overseas. It truly is a life’s dream many years in the making. I want to commit to it 100% before accepting. I'm almost there. I want to be ready for the sacrifices: my home, my belongings, my older children, my mother, and Mr. Boo’s father…my friends. Sure, there is the internet connection, which makes all of us tethered together no matter the distance, BUT there is still a loss.

I can’t have it all.

I don’t think I can have this security of people and places around me while really gaining true financial and emotional stability for me and my young son. I am making up my mind to leave. I have to go with God and place my trust in the unthinkable.

However, the truth is: I have always been alone in the world. I’ve told you how my mother is fond of saying, “You grew your own self up”. I did. I never had the home I wanted with the family I wanted.

It was sooooo near to coming true when I was pregnant with my little guy. He was going to be the cherry on the sundae. You know? He was the one thing we didn’t have. We had the home, the businesses, the cars, the jobs, the love and the faith. We just needed him. Once I was pregnant, it all came crashing down.

I have never had it all. Maybe none of us ever do. We are always asked to sacrifice.

So, now I am scared. I’ll ‘fess up. While I am willing to sacrifice, I am scared to hope right now. I need a time in my life when God doesn’t ask so much from me. I need a time when God is easy on me and doesn’t ask me to sacrifice and then spare me. That revving up and then crashing is just doing me in.

My prayers are that I can go to Egypt with my beautiful boy and make a good life for us there. I want to submit myself to this purpose. I want to make hijrah. I want to find that home and make it a place of peaceful simplicity and know that it was my making it happen with God's permission.
Ameen.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eat One Bite at a Time

Time once again to remind you about my favorite show: Religion and Ethics on PBS

Today, they showcased Shariah financing on home purchases in such positive light. Really, if I were to buy a home, I would inshahallah go through Guidance. I came very close to using them before, but we didn't keep the house.

The show also showed President Obama in Turkey visting the Blue Mosque.

And there's some wonderful pieces about chanting in the Orthodox Church and gospel singer Wintley Phipps.

If you are Christian, I wish you Happy Easter. If you are a reverted Muslim, feel free to eat a chocolate bunny anyway.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

D.I.Y. Playdough




D.I.Y. PLAYDOUGH
Into a saucepan or deep fry pan measure:
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons oil
4 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
Food coloring
Stir over medium heat until a solid mass. Remove from heat and knead.
Store in plastic bag or container.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Job Offer


Life is funny.

I watched a movie tonight which I had orginally ordered from netflix for my mom. I ordered it for her because I keep getting her films with some Muslims in the storyline. Call it subliminal advertising. She told me that I would really like it. She dropped it off on Tuesday.

So, in the movie there was an actor I liked.

Guess what I did?

Ok, if I was a normal person, I would be all dreamy-eyed from afar for him.

Since I am not normal, I looked him up on Facebook and wrote him a message.

He responded.

I wrote back.

Eventually, I got his number and I called him. We talked and he's fascinating. I kid you not. Any future for us? Have no idea. I leave it to Allah.

I do, however, think it totally cool that I talked with him tonight.

And...

because I was up late, I saw an email come to my inbox.

I have a job offer from Egypt!

When I was writing the cover letter for this job, I realized that I would rather work in Egypt than any other place. It was where I've been dreaming of going for years and it's hard to rewire my brain at age 40. I've been there. I know the country. I know the culture and it's more open than most places in the Arab world. I have people there I know and love (and can rely on in an emergency). I could actually meet a man there and marry him (as opposed to Oman).

Here's the offer:

Monthly salary for 12 months is $1,500 per month

Work for ten months

Two months paid holiday

Housing 1,500 Egyptian Pounds for 10 months

Air Fair 5000 Egyptian Pounds. 2500 will be delivered upon arrival and 2500 before departure .

I went to the money converter for that and isn't really enough to get us there. I'm going to see if I can get it all up front.

Teachers are expected back to school by August 30th

School starts on September 13

OK, Gang. I will of course pray istakkarah. I will talk to AbuBoo (who ironically is trying to bring his wife and kids FROM Egypt the same time I'm trying to get to Egypt). I will sleep on this. BUT! I need you to be my true sisters and advise me.

Your thoughts? Tell me now!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Muslim Safe Sex

We all have a school kid from our past who haunts us. Call him a bully or call her a mean girl, but it's that pest at recess who needled you. It's the creep who never let you have good answers in class. She's the one who put down your words, your clothes, your hair and tried to lower your self-esteem.

When I lived in the Virgin Islands during eighth grade, I was one of the only white girls in my school. There were four of us in the middle school, but you can't really count Heather, as she thought she was black. I stood out and often being the stand-out means being ridiculed.

This one girl, I'll call her L., was one big bossy mama. She was in my face from the first day. She was cute and smart and wanted to be sure that no one else was cuter or smarter. She was threatened by my sudden apperance in her class. For weeks, she treated me as a lower life form.

Then, one day she blurted out, "When I was in New York last year for school, I got this treatment. Now it's your turn."

I felt sorry for her.

This week I went through my old yearbook. I really wanted to find my former best friend. I went to Facebook and typed in names. I love Facebook! I found my former best friend's sister---still haven't heard back from her. Then I found the girl who, at age 12, had given birth shortly before my arrival on the island. I wrote to her.

She wrote back and YES she is a grandma now. I asked her about various people. I asked about my former best friend. I asked about Maxentius---DANG! He was a honey! I asked about the girl Maxentius liked better than me. I asked about the prettiest girl (Top Model pretty). I asked about the other two white girls who were my friends (not Heather, as we never clicked). I asked about my former nemesis.

When I asked about L., I really thought that I would like to write to her in kindness and let her know that I understood her troubles adjusting to New York and then back home to the Carribean. I was going to....

but you know what?

Maxentius is married with two kids...but not from Marigold.

The prettiest girl went to jail for embezelment.

The other white girls' fates are unknown.

My former best friend left the island.

And my former nemesis died.

She what?

Ya, she died.

L. died and left behind two children. I was shocked a bit. Afterall, I hadn't expected anyone to be dead. We're too young, right? We're like 40 or 41.

I had to ask, "How did she die?"

The answer?

She died of AIDS.

Subhanallah.

I was almost fainting.

Sure, people die of AIDS. I know. I even had a former highschool classmate of mine die from AIDS long ago. But, he was a gay guy. Gay guys die from AIDS not women.

Stupid. It's what we want to believe but it's stupid. Anyone can contract an STD and that includes AIDS.

It really got me thinking.

Before I got married in 2007 to Mr. Florida, I took an HIV test. I knew my conduct, but I wasn't 100% sure that who I'd been with hadn't been with someone else who...GOSH this is hard to talk about! OK, so you get me? I wanted to be sure. I took the test and I was alhumdulillah fine.

Since I got back? I have not been to Planned Parenthood again. This is dumb because this means I have not had an annual exam. I have therefore not had another HIV test. I should.

Then, because I'm a hypochrondriac, I almost passed out from the thought that I could have contracted AIDS. My great imagination can be my worst enemy as I create storylines in my head of events that never happen.

Over the last months, I've worried I had ectopic pregancy, appendix about to burst, tumor in my jaw created by my cell phone, colon cancer, strep throat, polyps in my larynx, tetanous from nicking myself with the razor, strokes from stress and probably more I'd like to forget. I truly know this is nuts how much I worry about my body. I think this all stems from having my body taken from me in the years of sexual abuse I endured from my former stepbrother.

Don't freak. I'm not coming to terms with this past abuse as a new thing. I've dealt with it and gotten counseling for it. I speak about it openly. If I do, then someone else knows that you can be abused as a kid, and grow up in shame, yet come out OK in the end. Alhumdulillah, I am OK.

But, I do know that I have to work diligently to keep my body as my own. I have to remember that love isn't love when a man demands what isn't right. I have to guard against using my body to gain acceptance.

Islam is so helpful in this. I get to clothe my body so that only kind eyes can see my true shape. I get to set limits that keep me safe. I get to say, "No, " to lots of things that could hurt me.

Islam doesn't say that I have to abstain from sex. It only says that I need to be in a marriage to experience it. It's ludicrious to say that anyone should practice chastity. THAT is impossible as a long-range plan. Islam says, "YES!" to sex and that we all need to marry as soon as possible to satisfy those urges. If a Muslim is not able to have sex within a marriage, then there needs to be fasting until that is feasible.

Did you know the things which should never be delayed in a Muslim society?

Prayer
Burial of the dead
Marriage

So, the Muslim version of abstience is much better than that version taught in schools. It says that you must not enter into any of the activities which lead to sex outside of marriage. The schools are preaching abstience to boyfriends and girlfriends who go out every Friday night and kiss goodnight and then touch and then WHOA!

Muslims need to stay away from dating. Yep. Only meeting for marriage is allowed. We are not allowed to be alone together either. It's that slippery slope. Shaytan fools you into thinking that you are only going to sit together and talk or watch a movie. Eventually, you don't just talk. Eventually, the movie ends. Then what? Then there's that moment when you could do more and Shaytan will be there with you...whispering

just holding hands
just one hug
just one kiss on the cheek
just one kiss on the lips
And it's really ripe for the picking: you and a man, who you really like, are sitting there together alone. And there is not going to be enough blood flow going to your brain cells. You are in danger. Even if you avoid it that night, you will revisit the next time where you left off. You will increase the levels each time. Why? Because biology is a strong pull and Shaytan pushes you the rest of the way.
And I feel badly that L. was convinced about safe sex. A condom is only useful if you use it. They don't remove themselves from the package. They must be used from start to finish. I just don't think that happens in reality. Shaytan whispers again...
just once
just a little
just a little more
one more time
I'm not sure what L. did or didn't do. God knows. She is no longer alive to tell us. She is no longer alive. She is not with her kids. She is not with anyone. No one was worth what she went through. There is not one man who is worth dying for.
Her body was hers and no one told her. She was this incredibly angry young woman when I knew her. She must have had this really soft side under that tough shell and that soft side needed to be held.
I think we can all understand that moment. We all have that moment when we would die for a kiss.
But would you?
No.
Practice, "Muslim Safe Sex". Don't even be alone with a non-maharam man. Realize that this is the best protection there is. It doesn't come in a box from the store. It's comes in a book called The Quran from Allah.