Thursday, January 26, 2012

Unbelievable



Egypt is often unbelievable.

This fall we traveled through Ismailia.  This is the Suez Canal city where the planners stayed during the construction.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  In the guidebook, it looked very European in style so I was a bit let down that it was still totally Egyptian.

One of the reasons for going was its museum.  We were the only visitors that morning.  Shelf after shelf of mind-blowing antiquities.  It was so worth the effort.



Do you see the sarcophagus?  It is a transitional piece between the Ancient Egyptian and the Roman.  The body is in the typical style.  However, the face looks more like Alexander the Great than King Tut.  I loved seeing something so instructive about the different Egyptian ages and stages.

I learned in Ismailia why we should all be grateful for traffic jams in Cairo.  If there was as much open road in the capital, as there is in Ismalia, then every driver would be zooming 70 miles per hour.  Yes, I told every taxi driver to slow down or I was going to throw up.  Alhumdulillah for crowded streets. 

We didn't only take taxis.  My husband took a ride from a man...a stranger in his private car...even though you're not supposed to take rides from strangers.  He told us we could cross the Suez by ferry as a fun little trip.  This nice man drove us to the spot just because he was a nice man.  He was right.  Going over the Suez was this wonderfully freeing moment (and it cost us nothing which is the best kind of free there is).


We crossed over; and as fans of Eat, Pray, Love know, that's "attraversiamo" in Italian.  We crossed over for no good reason.  We celebrated that fact by drinking guava juice and watching Mr. Boo unintentionally cover himself in ice cream.

There was a war memorial a short hike away so off we went.  Some whiney minutes later, we came to the entrance of the war memorial.  In we went because we'd come this far so we might as well go all the way.  Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that it wasn't good logic.  It kept being a long way to walk.  When we got there, it was an insane construction of the butt of a gun with a bayonet sticking out of it.  I'd walked a million miles for an ode to weaponry.



The walk back was decidely grumpy; whiney gives way to grumpy after about half an hour of a 6-year-old's complaints.  I was wondering why I had thought that the ferry ride was a good idea let alone the war memorial.  Down the hill we went.

There was a ferry and there was a large ship going through.  It was American!  How cool!  Our moods changed.  We snapped photos.  The ship's name was "Resolve".  I thought that an appropriate moniker.




We walked onto the ferry boat and waited.  Seemed like we could just leave but yet we waited.  What were we waiting for?

Like a bat out of hell, or a pick-up truck out of a wedding celebration, zoomed a local newlywed couple and their families.  Whooping!  Hollering!  Music blaring.  They boarded the ferry prepared to get the party started. 




So, there we were on a hijacked ferry forced to get down and get funky.  It was wonderful!  I can't even begin to tell you how amazing that moment was.  The pick-up driver was singing into his mic which blared out the speaker on top of his roof.  Men were dancing.  The people clapping. 




It came out of nowhere and was both magical and transformative. 




It suddenly didn't matter how hot it was, or how long a walk we had suffered.  We were on the Love Boat sailing across the Suez.


I take pictures when I'm happy.  I took so many pictures of that moment.  It will remain inshahallah as one of my best memories of Egypt.  


When we got to the other side, the happy couple marched off the boat with their wedding procession.  We were all happy and even a bit giddy.  Immediately after enjoying that good feeling a fight suddenly broke out between two of the party goers and we had to make a run for it.

Egypt can be absolutely unbelievable.

Last night, it was true once again.  Our neighborhood was adjusting to the one year anniversary of the Revolution when gunfire erupted.  It was definately guns.  I stopped and listened then moved a sick Mr. Boo from his bed to ours.  No, he couldn't be near any windows.

I called for my husband.  He had been sleeping after dinner.  He woke with a start and realized that this was not normal.  This was unusual; definately unbelievable.  In fact, that continuous amount of gun firing had never happened before in our little area next to the pyramids. 

For about half and hour, it wouldn't stop.  It surrounded us.  I really was scared.  There were no police coming.  We were alone.  I did have Twitter and used it to cope.  You can read more about it there.

The funny thing is, many people on-line didn't believe me.  They were so sure that it couldn't be happening because no one else had reported it.  They discounted me.

Later, Twitter reports of women being sexually assaulted in Tahrir were also scrutinized.  Who were they?  Were they Egyptian or foreign?  As if it mattered. 

What I have come to see is that Egypt is often unbelievable.  It changes so quickly from awful to wonderful; from celebratory to insane.  As much as it feels unsettling to live amidst unimaginable change, it keeps me feeling alive.  I have never felt more alive than when I'm forced to live in the "now" of Egypt.

Either unbelievably good or bad, Egypt will keep you feeling the truth of "inshahallah".

Saturday, January 21, 2012

75-year-old Revert to Islam



Subhanallah! She is totally right on with her comments. I had my doubts when opening this video that she might be too elderly to understand what she got herself into. NOPE! She's a true Muslimah and she absolutely is a fully functioning member of the ummah.

Listen to her describe how she has been welcomed by her community.

Think who you could welcome in your life.

The Funniest Revert Story




Abu Bakr in the video is a charming and disarming speaker. He is very skilled at communication and able to help educate about Islam while making you laugh.

Whether you are Muslim or just interested in how people revert to Islam, watch and smile.

Friday, January 20, 2012

MAKING HIJRAH 40: Running My Own Race

Asalamu Alaykom,




The summer of 2010, school finished and I was on my own time.  I could do as I pleased once again.  I had made the decision long ago that I would not be traveling to America that first year.  I knew my expenses would not allow for it.  Besides that, I needed more time to perfect who I was---not that I'd ever be perfect.

A lot was weighing on me even though I was weighing less than I had in a long time.  I was thinking of getting myself ready for the one year anniverary of making hijrah.  I wanted to be better.  Better at what?  I wasn't exactly sure but I wanted to have achieved some kind of proof that I made a good decision coming here; some kind of concrete affirmation.

While I was sitting home, organizing my life for the first time in a long time, I was slowly getting depressed.  It was depressing to suddenly not have friends. My British gal pal had decided to leave and not come back.  She and I packed up her things in her apartment and talked over life and love, careers and futures.  It was a big moment for her but it really was big for me too.  I was saying goodbye to not only her but to her way of leaving independently.  I could not and would not be leaving.

My gal pal gave me a bunch of stuff to cart back to my apartment.  We signalled a taxi and loaded it up.  There was so much:  bags of clothes, kitchen goods, some food and even a vacuum!  I chatted with the driver a little.  He wanted to ask me about Obama.  I told him how good Obama was and commented that he himself looked a little like Obama.

The driver got Mr. Boo and I back to our house and the stuff was unloaded.  In the house it went, my husband paid and off the taxi went.  I kept trying to figure out where everything was.  Where was the vacuum?  Where was the frozen food?  I called my gal pal to ask if I'd left it at her place by mistake.

No.  She was sure that I'd been tricked by the trunk.  It had happened to her.  The driver loads the things he wants under the false bottom in the trunk and then when you're unloading you don't see it.  He was now the proud owner of shrimp and a Hoover. 

If I ever see him again...

but you know what?  I probably won't.  So, it's best to leave it to Allah.  I must not have needed that stuff.  Alhumdulillah for what I got.  I got clothes for me and for the nieces.  I got some spices.  Really, there was so much and it was nice to have it even if I couldn't have my friend.

What was depressing is that I didn't have internet either.  I couldn't connect with friends and family back home.  I didn't have internet because my laptop had malfunctioned.  There was a whole coping mechanism/addiction in my life which was removed at a time when I was also losing a friend and out of work.

Wow.

That summer was a real test of who I wanted to be.  I got very quiet for the first time in a long time.  I did simple things like reading and writing.  I took walks and had talks and learned more Arabic.  I spent time having a little life.  It was boring!  I knew that I couldn't sustain it but it was okay for a short time.  I needed that slow lane to cool my engines.

We went shopping for used books.

We went to the village Kerdasa to see their market day. They are known for their galabiyas and I bought three.

Ramadan was coming.  I was beyond excited.  That turned out to be a problem.  When we anticipate too much, our expectations go too high.  I was picturing a life of family fun during Ramadan.  I had been cut off from friends and family that summer and really needed the family to rally round me.

They didn't.

They were used to their Ramadan routines and none of those included me.  They were busy doing their rituals.  I was not.  I wasn't really invited in.  No blame.  It simply was that clash of old and new.

I went to bed early...
but they stayed up late.

I ate suhour after I woke up...
but they ate suhour before going to bed.

I prayed fajr...
 but they were often too tired to wake up for fajr.

I spent my days busy...

but they slept alot.
I prayed magrib first before eating...

but they had the food on the table before magrib and then immediately ate.

I didn't like to watch dramas after the fast...

but they got engrossed in the special Ramadan programming. 

I prayed the night prayers at home...

but my husband prayed them at the masjid.
                                                                      
There were differences to put it mildly.  I was as alone as if I had been unmarried.  So, there I was a sad revert at Ramadan---and of course you know you're not supposed to be sad at Ramadan.  You're supposed to have this great connection with God.  Yet, my days and nights were full of wondering why I had made such an effort to come to Egypt.

Honestly?  I missed the masjid, "back home" in The States.  I NEVER thought I would feel that way but I did.  I was missing friends and connections; women who would invite me out or give me a hug in the parking lot of the local halal buffet.  I missed bumping into moms and grandmas of kids I once taught.  I even missed how my mom would suffer through Ramadan grumbling all the way.  I missed dunya.

"Dunya," is Arabic for the world.  It has a connotation in Islam of loving the things and the people more than Allah.  Astragferallah.  As Muslims, of course we can love good food and good friends but we can't love them more than God.  At Ramadan we re-evaluate what is a priority to us and inshahallah we chose our faith. 

In my imaginings, I thought that Ramadan would bring my husband and I closer but instead we were at odds.  I jumped at the invitation from a co-worker to join her for iftar dinner.  I was absolutely sick of the dysfunctional way things were going at our house.

When I went over to her posh apartment full of antiques and old money, it was very quiet.  Though it was late in the afternoon, everyone else was asleep.  It was only my friend and the servant.  After a while it was one sleepy boy and then another who came out to greet me.  Right before the sunset, her husband woke up.  As a smoker, he needed to handle Ramadan that way.  My friend had spent the day alone in a house of sleeping people.

"It's not a cultural difference, Yosra," she told me.  "It's not about you being American and your husband being Egyptian.  Look at us!  Each family deals with the month of fasting in their own way.  Even within one family, each person does it differently.  Some sleep all day and some don't.  I don't but my husband does.  The kids do.  And some watch TV afterwards while some go to the masjid.  I take the kids to the club." 

I'm not sure if you can visualize me in that moment but something clicked in my brain.  There were maybe even a few clicks.  I realized some huge aspects to my Islam were in need of adjusting.  I was not going to link up with a man or with his family and become a better Muslim.  I was not going to be able to "fix" them and their ways of observing.  I had to run my own race.

Yes, even though I was now part of a married Muslim couple, in an observant family and in a country full of believers, I was alone in my Islam.  Though I had looked at that as a negative, I started to really see that as a positive.  Each one of us is to be judged alone by our merits.  I didn't have to be the same as everyone or make everyone the same as me.  We truly could be different people; different Muslims and let Allah decide who did their best.  I could let go of my efforts to be a bandleader who knew all the notes.  I could be a solo act.

Having said that, when I let go, I started to love everyone more and love Ramadan more.  I accepted life as it was.  These people had put up with a lot from me and my son over that first year.  I didn't have to be upset with them.  In many ways, they had accepted me and respected me.  I needed to find a way to do the same for them.  That process connected us better over time.

It hurt to let go; to stop trying to control the world.  Yet somehow the world kept functioning fine with me settling down into my  new life.  I did have a new life. 

Alhumdulillah for a new life and a new chapter.  Even though I'll end this series on Chapter 40, I'll keep living this story.  I'll keep figuring out a way to be a little bit better today than yesterday.  I'll keep praying that I don't leave this life until I've reached my highest level of iman.

Ya rab.

Thank you for reading and for being with me in spirit.  If you wish to make hijrah in your own life then I pray that Allah makes it easy on you.

Alhumdulillah, Allah made it easy on me.

After hardship there is ease.







Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MAKING HIJRAH 39 "Really Living"

Asalamu Alaykom,



My father, God bless him, has had many women who have loved him but only a few of those women seemed to love me:  my grandma, my mom and Judy.  Judy was a lady love and a really caring "giver" who shone with serenity and continued to be a positive force in my life until her death.

It was Judy who listened to me the winter of 2001.  That was the year when I was contemplating so many life changes.  We sat together inside a log cabin deep in the Wisconsin woods.  The fire was burning (out of necessity not for quaint effect).  She heard me when I said, "One of my favorite movies is The Year of Living Dangerously.  I think that could be my motto for the new year."

Judy had gone through cancer and was doubly wise.  She had that gift of taking in my words and savouring them before speaking.  Not many people can actually love you enough to accept your thoughts.

"Why not, 'The Year of Living'?"

That was her response:  "The Year of Living".  It was as accurate then as it would be nine years later.

When I started Spring of 2010, it had been under strained circumstances.  I was a new bride in a new home within a family house and my new husband had just had surgery.  That's a lot of change---and stress.  It came at the end of a long line of stress.  Making hijrah is stressful.

By May, I had to admit that I was no longer in the process of making hijrah.  It was now in the past tense.  I had made hijrah.  I had forged a new life.  I was no longer living dangerously.  I was living.  I was living in Egypt.

This feeling of accomplishment gave me a new sense of freedom.  I no longer had to manically search for ways to stay afloat.  I could relax.  For the first time in a long time, I could actually settle down into a calm.  I knew where my next meal was coming from.  I knew where I would live.  I had a job!  I had money.  I had a husband.  Alhumdulillah I had a halal life.

So I stopped surviving and started thriving.  I began buying things for our new life which could never it in a suitcase.  We purchased that cool bedroom set with all the storage.  Nothing says, "I'm here to stay," like getting furniture.

We started going out to explore more of Egypt.  Sure, we had seen things together but we'd never taken a full day excursion.  Our first big trip was to the Step Pyramid of Sakara.  It was a quick bus ride to the remote location.  As we walked up the enterance, what a magical moment to see it appear up on the hill.  The museum was spectacular with the oldest royal mummy on display (but don't ask me whose).  The winding walk up the hill was going to be hard but alhumdulillah we got a ride.  There weren't many tourists.  We enjoyed ourselves immensely. 


The tombs of the rich families were amazing. 




I took so many photos because I couldn't believe my eyes. 





It felt so good to be doing normal things as a family.

One very normal activity was bringing a pet for show-and-tell.  We didn't actually have a pet per se.  We had a new baby goat which we named Snow White.  She was adorable!  I was on the letter Gg for my Jolly Phonics lesson so it made sense to bring her in.  Would my husband do it?

Yes, Ahmed would, though he was a little nervous.  He asked me what he should wear; pants or galabiya?  My husband Ahmed normally wears galabiya (the long men's shirt) while around the neighborhoood.  He wears pants when we go out of the Al-Haram area.  I told him, "It doesn't matter.  I married you; I didn't marry pants or galabiya."

It was going to take quite some effort that day to load Snow White in a taxi (along with some clover) and make his way to school.  I was so excited!  Not only was this a fun activity for the kids, this was going to be Ahmed's first visit to my school as my husband.  I could introduce him to everyone.

My class got ready to go outside.  The other kindergarten classes had been invited to come too.  When they saw my husband and the goat they decided against.  No one else came.  I was shocked.  I had a docile animal to pet and feed and yet the other two teachers declined.  I had to let it go.  My son was allowed to spend time even if his classmates were not. 

I loved taking pictures of the children enjoying something so simple and sweet.  Later, those pictures would be used in marketing the school.  I still get to see Snow White in those pictures even though she left us this Eid.

I was so happy with the whole event.  I was happy that my husband had gone to such lengths to make me happy and to make the children happy.  There was only one problem.

That galabiya on my husband had caused talk in the office.  Why had he worn a galabiya?  That's what they were asking me.  The only men at school who wear galabiya were the guards at the gates.  So, why would a teacher's husband wear galabiya? 

My righteous indignation rose up my spine and made me stand up straighter.  I started to understand why the other teachers weren't interested in giving their students a great learning opportunity.  There was an undercurrent of classism and a backlash against anyone who seemed too religious and far beneath the upper-middle class.

I smiled as I answered, "He was so nice to come to school.  It didn't even occur to me to tell him to wear something different.  I had no idea that it would be so surprising to others since...you know...we're in Egypt."

It was then that I received a most unwelcome comment.  I was told that Ahmed would be nice in my life for a couple years...maybe three...and then I could move on.  I could get my fun and then find someone else with more money.

I felt sad for sure.  I felt sad that Muslims could act and talk this way.  I knew the difference.  I knew that insides were more important than outsides.  I knew that our commitment was sincere and far above the level of silly diversions.  Honestly, I felt sad but not for me.  I felt sad that someone could be so shallow. 

Alhumdulillah, from that day I got a better glimpse of the life I was building.  It was a good moment to remember that there is no Muslim country really; there are only countries with Muslims in it.  So, I would accept another year's contract to stay in Egypt because I could find Islam better here---though not necessarily with every person I met.


Chapter 40; the last chapter


Friday, January 13, 2012

Validation



I have been digging into everything from film maker Kurt Kuenne these last two days.

This short movie is around 16 minutes long. I promise that it goes at a quick pace and the plot is interesting. You will enjoy, inshahallah, the feel-good aspect to the piece.

No, it is not an Islamic movie but it is in keeping with our belief that even a smile is a kind of charity. I hope it will make you smile.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

In the Pits



Asalamu Alaykom,




"Life is made up of all that you lose
Can't even choose the color of your blues"



"You get a different kind of relationship with God after this kind of thing, because...I was a Pollyanna.


I thought life was wonderful.



I had a great childhood. I had lovely family.



I had a job I loved.




I had a husband I loved.




I had a son




I used to think--it was easy to thank God




And then suddenly you're in the pits,




and then you have to learn that



God is in the pits with you.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sounds of the City


Allahu Akbar!

It's the most beautiful sound of the azan calling believers to pray.  It happens five times a day with the times varying from around 3:00 in the morning to around 8:30 at night during the longest days in June. 

What surprised me in Egypt is that you don't just hear the azan five times a day; you hear the iqama as well.  The iqama is the second call to prayer in order to line up in the masjid.  So, that's ten calls over a loudspeaker.  Alhumdulillah that I like it!  Can you imagine if I didn't?


Clank!  Clank!  Clank!

It's a wrench hitting a metal tank to signal the portogas cart rolling through. 

I used to see family businesses bring the heating and cooking fuel to our neighborhood but not lately.  There is a shortage of the propane fuel in Egypt this winter so the delieveries aren't coming.  Instead, the men of the family (and sometimes the women too) wait for hours in the street to get a government truck to drop off a load of tanks. 


Squeak!  Asel!  Asel! 

It's a megaphone (and some feedback noise) in the hand of the honey seller.


Foooooul Abiyat!

It's the woman calling melodiously as she sells white beans from a basket she carries on her head through the streets.  Her call is usually the first one I hear in the day.  I knew, after the Revolution, that life had returned to normal when I heard her voice once again.


Ring!  Ring!

It's a bell rung by the man with foul medamnes in his big copper urns. He ladles out the hot beans into bags to be eaten for breakfast around 10 am. 


Pataaata wa Tomatum!

That's a cart with potatoes and tomatoes.  Fruit and vegetable sellers with powerful lungs call their wares throughout the day.  Though it varies from season to season exactly what they are selling.  Right now, it's tangerine season.

It's not always easy to decipher what exactly the sellers are advertising.  One man seriously sounded like he was pleading, "I lost my red kimono!"

I decided to ask my husband what was being said and he surprised me by telling me that he didn't know either.


Rabibekia

Megaphone again.  That call of "Rabibekia" sounded so official to the husband of an American co-worker of mine that she got an anxious call from him at home.  What were they announcing?  She must find out!  So, she asked her Egyptian co-workers and found out that the man with the megaphone was picking up reusable rubbish.  In other words, he was the junk man.


Inna wa Llahi wa inna wa rajalun

Loud speaker attached to the top of a van slowly cruising through the populated areas to announce the sudden death of a neighbor, friend or family member. 


AYSSS!  AYSSS CREEEEEEEEEAM!

It's the man with the bicycle cart who brings us gelati.  No, it's not ice cream and I'm happy it's not.  It tastes delicious.  All the flavors of chocolate, mango and guava are mixed-up together.  I pay a pound for two cones.  The ice cream seller usually comes afterschool.  We were giving him such good business that he made our house a normal stop.  He worried about us when we were gone to the U.S. this summer.


Toot!

It's a child's horn blown by the cotton candy seller. These colorful bags are so eye-catching that it's tempting to allow Mr. Boo to buy one. However, my Egyptian-American buddy told me that it's not wise. There is so much hepatitis in Egypt that having an unknown person blow into a bag which will hold food is unsanitary at the least and could even be life-threatening.



Silent Scent of Wood Burning

It's the sweet potato seller.  He doesn't usually call out.  He has a push cart with a wood burning stove.  Inside he bakes the patata asfor; yellow potatoes or what we call sweet potatoes.  They are the best!  They are so tender! 

When you buy the potatoes, he wraps them up in discarded paper which I find almost as worth my money as the edible offering itself.  I've gotten English lessons written by Egyptians, French fashion magazine ads, and handwritten notebook pages. 

I can buy a lot of potatoes and save them in the refrigerator for future use.  My 5 EP goes a long way and I can carry home a big pile of them.  When I last showed my haul to my husband, he got irate, stomped out and re-introduced himself to the potato seller.  Oddly enough, the potato seller quickly decided that he hadn't actually given me my full money's worth and added a couple more to my husband's out-stretched hand.


Helaois! Lissa!

The children are outside playing hide-and-go-seek. Kids are actually safe enough to play together outside in Egypt. It's a simple pleasure.


YANY YANY YANY! MISAMAL KIDA TANY!


It's one of the numerous tuk-tuks weaving through the backstreets blaring music. It's not always Arabic. Sometimes it's hip-hop or rap. I missed hearing the tuk-tuks when I was in America.
Ah! One just went by with a simulated rocket launch sound effect. You've got to love a three-wheeled vehicle with a Napoleonic complex.

Occasionally, the neighbors will demand a tuk-tuk driver to turn down his music or they'll tell his father.  Most tuk-tuk drivers are too young to shave.  I do love when the azan starts and all music (tuk-tuk or otherwise) is immediately shut down all over the city.  That is some respect for deen!

Binti Ayah!

Around midnight, it's time for the mom of the neighbor girl to yell for her daughter to come home.  It's been a long day.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Swimming in the Modest Sea



Yosra:  Even before coming to Islam, I felt shy about appearing in public wearing a swimsuit.  It had nothing to do with my body size or shape but rather about my need to cover up more. 

As a teen, I actually bought a vintage 1960s cotton playsuit which came down longer and didn't cling.

Later, in my twenties, as a new daughter-in-law at my inlaws' pool, I bought swimsuits with skirts.

In my thirties, I came to Islam and really wondered how in the world I could still go swimming.  I tried wearing an Indian shalwar khameez (and you wouldn't believe the amount of drag all that material has).  I tried piecing together Nike sports apparel (and ended up looking like an unattractive blob).

Finally, in my forties, I have admitted that I really needed a swimsuit designed for modesty.  I needed to swim comfortably and not just in terms of physically moving but also in adhering to my own sense of modesty and that of my religion.

It isn't always easy to find the right mix of fashion and function.  So to help us today, we have Lori from Modest Sea.

Lori:  Thank you.  I was hoping you could introduce our colorful, quality and designer collection to your readers.  We are a new brand, yet stand behind the quality and believe it is a great alternative to other available swimwear.


Yosra:  I'll give the website so readers can see what we're talking about:



It is a very clever name. Who thought of that?


Lori:  The name Modest Sea was simple to arrive, for we wanted to provide a Modest line for Swimsuits (Sea). After playing around with a few variations, this one was simple and stuck.


Yosra:  What came first for you: working for a swimsuit company and then thinking about modesty or thinking for modesty and there after working for a swimsuit company?

Lori:  Our designers have been active in high fashion and swimwear for quite some time, and then were presented with the need to add such color and fashion to the Modest section.


Yosra:  Where are you located?

Lori:  We are a U.S. based company but we design our swimsuits at our studio in Bologna, Italy.

Yosra:  On-line, your swimsuits look very fashionable. Have you seen modest swimsuits from other companies? Some of them look quite alien. Who is designing your suits?

Lori:  Yes! We have seen other suits, which is how we noticed the need for some fashion sense ;) Our designers have noticed the need we presented and took it upon themselves to solve the challenge and provide such a colorful solution.


Yosra: What about the nano-technology you're using in the fabrics?


Lori: Our solid color designer pieces are constructed of AcquaZero by Sitip, an innovative Italian-made fabric featuring advanced water repellant technology. AcquaZero is a fast-drying fabric, with high breathability and superior moisture management for a lightweight, comfortable feel when wet or dry. Its strong resistance to chlorine makes swimwear by Modest Sea durable and long lasting.

Yosra: I really learned the hard way in that shalwar that lightweight fast-drying material is key.

When I look at your website it is decidely Non-Muslim. When was it that you realized how big of a market there is within the Muslimah community?

Lori: When searching for modest swimwear, we saw the many results and options available Online, and also realizing the lack of fashionable designs available

While the need may be more apparent in the Muslim community, additional women have shown great interest for such high quality fashion.

Yosra:  Who are your customers?
Lori:  Modest Sea's customers are worldwide from all religions and beliefs. While the need may be more apparent in the Muslim community, additional women have shown great interest for such high quality fashion.

At Modest Sea, we have actually attracted women of various demographics and without any specific religious affiliation, who have just showed an interest in modest covering. We have seen this with new and returning clients who were simply looking for something to provide additional covering and still remain fashionable.

I have many friends who own Modest swimsuits and absolutely love them. Besides giving us great compliments, they appreciate the high quality, the comfort, the color and ability to dress modestly when going to the beach.


Yosra:  The caps with the scarf look like a cute accessory. Some Muslimahs wear caps like this as normal streetwear. Are the scarves able to pin under the chin? Other Muslimahs, like me, wear their scarves like this.

Lori:  Yes! It is also shown as so when clicking on the caps in the accessories area; caps can be worn in different ways and also cover the chin


Yosra:  One criticism I have is that your model is very bone thin and very white. It would be nice to have other shades of skin and ethnic features on a woman's body. Is that possible for the future?

Lori:  All our current swimwear models have already had images and promotional items created for them. In the near to far future, when we add additional items, we have already considered additional models to better illustrate it for the audience.


Yosra: Have you ever thought of adding a girl's line?


Lori: We have considered it but have yet to receive sufficient interest to make it a regular design. Perhaps in the near future we would add it to our ongoing selection.


Yosra:  Lori, I really appreciate you answering my questions and really best wishes for Modest Sea in 2012. 

Readers, I'm going to open it up to my readers in the comment section.  Obviously, we've got Lori's ear.  Take a look at what Modest Sea is offering and give some constructive feedback.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Pledge Under the Tree


Surely, Allah was pleased with the believers
when they took the pledge under the tree.

Allah knew what was in their hearts.
He sent down tranquillity upon them,
and rewarded them with near victory.  

48:18

This moment was so important in the history of Islam.  I read about it when I was researching Uthman (ra), the third Caliph.  Back in the Spring, I had tried to picture the Sahabi under a tree but I couldn't.  I mean...there are so many trees. 

Which tree was it?

This morning, in my Mohamed Asad translation of The Holy Quran, I started reading Surah Al-Fath .  In the introduction, I found my answer.  It was the Acacia Tree!

So, as great as that was, I had no idea what it actually looked like.  I meant to google "Acacia tree" but I had to leave for a promised excursion .  We were going to spend the day traveling back in time to the days of the Pharaoh.

We three were in a group with all Egyptians.  There aren't tourists in Egypt (well there were two in shorts I saw later).  We trudged along from exhibit to exhibit.  We perserved from starting fire to glass blowing.  It was a beautiful day and good fun. 

Yet, half of the group hemmed and hawed when the tour guide reached The Islamic Museum.  They checked their watches and made excuses and walked off.  I told the tour guide that I was ready to see the museum because Islam is better than the pharaoh.  We were richly rewarded by all kinds of interesting displays including replicas of Mecca, Al-Quds, and Saladin; President Sadat's prayer beads and Quran; and even tiny fragements of the moon!

After a sensory overload, I almost forgot about my reading this morning, when I found myself in a garden with a tree marked, "Acacia". 

You've seen it before.  I know I have. 



Most of us have seen Acacia trees when we've seen pictures of giraffes reaching their long necks upward to eat leaves.  Those are Acacia trees!

I found a really interesting blurb about Acacia trees on the Boise State University website:

"In a similar way, trees communicate – maybe not so “consciously” (no, not at all!) but it happens. When giraffes eat Acacia tree leaves, the trees release pheromones that waft downwind to other trees, in a sense “warning” them that the giraffe may be headed their way. The trees then emit toxic tannins to prevent the giraffe from eating its leaves."

Subhanallah, right?

Actually, there is a connection between Ancient Egypt and the Acacia tree.  It was known as, "The Tree of Life".  Here is a papyrus with lots of birds showing the different stages of human beings.  For more explanation click here.




Part of what I was shown today was the making of papyrus from reeds to paper.  My day really has come full circle.  It's at times like this that I honestly feel God's presence in my life.

And what just seems miraculous to me right now is how much of what I wondered, learned and experienced is so seamlessly interwoven.  Subhanallah, really.



Can you picture the believers under the tree? 

I can.  

Subhanallah, I can.