A blog about nothing and about everything

Vacation Time!

On the plane headed to the US, I had a conversation with a man seated next to me. He told me he lives in Kuwait and was now on vacation and headed home to the US. Perhaps to be friendly or to waste time, I asked him how he liked it over there, in which he replied: The entire Middle East is a Hellhole. I am only there for the money.

Then he asked about my situation . The look on his face when I told him I was Saudi was classic. He started giving excused on why he thought Kuwait and it neighboring countries deserved to be labeled as Hellhole. I found myself incredibly annoyed but who wants to get into a heated discussion with a person you will be stuck with for the next 12 hours?

Had I purged my thoughts to him, it would have gone something like this:

What are you complaining about? You probably get a  salary you wouldn’t have dreamed of, live in one of the best compounds, paid by the company of course, have a company car , also courtesy from the company,  your kid’s school tuition is paid for, get free annual  airline tickets, and you probably don’t even pay your taxes. How is that deal a “ hellhole”? What makes it worse is that  pretty much the only qualification you should have, to be entitled to that package,  is to be a western citizen. But you shouldn’t be blamed for this. Why should you say NO to a perfectly good offer?  Instead, it’s the stereotype mentality and flawed system that should be criticized. If things are so intolerable, why are you still here?… Speaking of Hell, does this mean you sold your soul to the Devil to get the job?

I love living in diverse society, where members of the community consists of different religions and races.  In theory, there  is nothing wrong with having expats, provided of course that they  posses skills not found among locals, but unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many companies around the Kingdom and the Gulf Countries, somehow believe that being a westerner makes a person qualified to do any job, even if they only posses a high school degree . End result is that equal opportunity does not exist. This becomes a huge problem when inflation is on the raise and  qualified locals don’t find decent paying jobs, where the salary might not even cover the essentials of life , such as food and rent. Another scenario is the usual case of a local who has spent a fortune on a post-graduate degree from a western University,   now occupies an entry-level position because an expat is deemed to be more qualified. Talk about being over qualified and underpaid.

I find it puzzling when expats announce loudly: I don’t care.. I will be gone in a few years so why should I do the job right. But with all fairness, there are expats who believe in ethics and that the salary they receive  is in exchange for the good work they do. So, over generalization never works.

I have been constantly reminded of this incident ever since I stepped foot in  Los Angeles, a second home to me. Naturally, there is a lot lacking in my life in Saudi Arabia : not being able to drive, going to the movies,  the dress code …etc, yet on the other hand, life in the Kingdom is comfortable, especially on the financial aspects of life. There are fewer worries in my life here. (I only speak for myself since  opinions and life’s preferences change from one person to the other). I also found myself questioning the motive behind my choice of living in Saudi. My initial response was: I am  only there for the money!

Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only one with this attitude. A number of Saudis, especially those who live in Saudi by choice and have a western education,   I discussed the matter with had the same response. So, are we any different from the expats mentioned above?  Perhaps if we have the opportunities granted to them, we would have more hopes in our future. After all this is our country  and it would seem nonsense that we should leave our families behind and become expats because other expats  were brought in to take our places. So, the answer is YES, there is a difference. We do not live in Saudi solely because of the money. We will always have ties to our country and culture, which makes leaving  much more difficult and sometimes even unquestionable. Besides, where would we go? To the countries of the expats? There is a reason they left in the first place.  Or

 

This photo appeared in today’s Alwatan newspaper, a Saudi Arabic language newspaper with a headline that translates into: Women defend in courts and Judges think they have stronger argument..Saudi female Lawyers recover their client’s right and outperform men. (http://www.alwatan.com.sa/Local/News_Detail.aspx?ArticleID=1841&CategoryID=5).

On a side note : in the article, a female  lawyer, Bayan Zahran, shared that her first case was in a demotic violence case where the husband was sent to prison ( impressive!!!)

Until this day, female lawyers unofficially practice their profession. however, they are permitted to study law. (hard to believe in view of the photo).

But there is hope! The Saudi Ministry of Justice is promising a new law that would allowed female lawyers to practice their profession… but only within the realm of family law related cases (no criminal or commercial cases… but its a start).   

To learn  more about Saudi female Lawyers,  check out Tala Al-Hejailan’s article  on 08 march 2010 in Arab News: Judicial reforms give hope to lawyers  (http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article27225.ece)

 

She is a vegetarian, a Buddhist, and an activist, i.e. Human Rights, Tibet, animal cruelty, environment… etc.      

That’s right folks: she is not your regular 8 year old girl and the Simpsons is not really a cartoon for kids.      

 She probably knows what it feels like to be trapped in a body that is not her’s…      

 At times, many I should add, she becomes whiny and self-righteous but her rebellion against social norms is admirable…      

She is a misfit …      

 She knows what it means to have a farfetched dream… She dreams of becoming President of the United States (She does not physically age, so she’s got all the time in the world)      

She is Lisa Simpson….      

Throughout the last 22 years, Lisa has had 7 love interests… A  lot can be learned from her experience….      

1- A girl’s gotta know what’s right for her       

Lisa knows what it’s like to go gaga over a bad boy. (You know it’s wrong but you can’t help yourself.   You believe you see and touch his gentler side but at the end of the day he remains the bad boy.)      

Lisa’s had a thing with Nelson. He is a troubled rebel and a bully, who lives with his alcoholic mother, and his trademark laugh is “Ha ha”. He likes and respects Lisa, but they both know that by doing so he is being untrue to himself… so they separate.      

Lesson learned: 1. sure bad boys add some spice to life but is it really worth it?.… 2. Just because we are attracted to someone, doesn’t mean they are good for us…. 3. Do not try to change anyone.. ITS NOT YOUR JOB…. (note: it could happen even if you don’t intend to.. both falling for the bad boy and trying to change people)      

2- Just because a guy is into you …doesn’t mean you should go for him:      

Millhouse, Bart’s best friend is in love with Lisa, but she doesn’t care much for him… Once he tried to impress her and claimed to care about the environment. As a result, Nelson threatens him and demands he “Say global warming is a myth!” Millhouse does so, and Nelson punches him telling him “That’s for selling out your beliefs.” Lisa almost falls for Millhouse, who is fluent in Italian and is related to Mussolini; only to find out he had a girl on the side.      

Lesson learned: You love who you love… desperation does not work… and a one way love is not enough…       

3- Intense feelings can make you do bad thing.      

Lisa met Luke at the Lazy Ranch where he works. Lisa thought he was in love with another girl and basically good Lisa tried to get rid of her competitor only to find out she was Luke’s sister. Luckily, good Lisa came back and saved the sister.  Luke dumped Lisa when he found out she wanted to drive them apart.      

Lesson learned: 1. Love makes us do stupid, bad and unwanted things…2. being in control is a myth…  3. Never come between a man and his family or friends…/ 3. We ALL do stupid things… GET OVER IT       

4- Sometimes Strangers have the biggest influence on us. Doesn’t mean its destiny      

Colin is an 8 year old Irish boy and the son of a musician and activist. He has denied ties with Bono but it was never confirmed.  They finish each other’s sentences… he fights pollution and Lisa thinks he is her Mcdreamy… He wrote her a “Lisa song”… she had to leave him behind when citizens of Springfield was going after her family. Later they reunite and eat Ice cream… and then he disappeared.      

Lesson learned: there is nothing like a man who dedicates art to you…/ see lesson # 5/ some people enter our lives just to remind us to keep the hope(He was actually pretty charming)       

5- Strangers in the night exchanging glances wandering in the night…  doesn’t quite end like Sinatra predicted.       

Lisa fined herself in the wrong school. There she meets Thelonius. They share a dance and she leaves… she never hears from him again. Personally, I haven’t seen the episode…      

Lessons learned: 1. sometimes the best encounter is between strangers…. Short and sweet… and all we are left with are the memories….2. Life is not as  in the movies or song…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Little did we know… Love was just a glance away… A warm embracing dance away.. it turned out so right for strangers in the night…      

6- Sympathy does not substitute love      

Lisa feels sympathy for Ralph, who did not receive a V day card, so she gives him one. Ralph shows interest in her, but she just finds him annoying… Ralph suffers from severe learning and social disabilities…Being the son of Springfield police Chief, he uses his father’s connection to get what he wants to impress Lisa. He is able to get tickets to the hard to get krusty Show. On live air, Ralph announce his love for Lisa, only she admits that the only reason she is with him is out of pity…the story ends with Lisa giving him a new card suggesting they should be friends. He agrees.      

Lessons learned: 1. Being sympathetic is a good thing…but pity is not/ 2. Don’t toy with people’s emotions for personal gain / 3. Go to the source of power and not his son…      

7- Examine your feelings if you think you like someone you look up to;  such as your teacher.       

Lisa developed a thing for her teacher Mr. Bergstrom. He supports her and encourages But soon enough, she learned the difference between seeing a person as father figure and liking that person…      

Lessons learned: sometimes you need to examine your strong emotions for someone….       

       

Quotes by L. Simpson      

“Romance is dead – it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.”      

“On Nelson: He’s not like anybody I’ve ever met. He’s like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest.”.      

“It’s naive to think you can change a person–except maybe that boy who works in the library.”       

“Solitude never hurt anyone. Emily Dickinson lived alone, and she wrote some of the most beautiful poetry the world has ever known… then went crazy as a loon.”.       

and finallly…      

“I am the Lizard Queen!”

Death is  inevitable and divorce happens…

According to Islamic law, when either one happens, the divorced female or widow must observe a wait period, known as Iddah, before she can remarry again.  Reasons for the iddah are to a) ensure there is no pregnancy and thus confusion of lineage, b) Reconciliation period for the couple before the divorce becomes final. Some might add c) to give a woman the proper space to mourn her husband.

The period of the iddah is:

  • A widowed woman has a wait period of 4 months and 10 days.
  • A divorced woman has a wait period of 3 menstrual cycles.
  • The wait period of a pregnant woman, whether widow or divorced, ends with the delivery of the baby.
  • A female who was separated from her husband for a while before the divorce was final does not need to follow the Iddah law yet it is recommended as a cautionary measure.
  • A divorced woman where the marriage was not consummated does not require observing the Iddah.
  • Post menopause women:  have to comply with Iddah. Their wait period is three months.

Iddah Etiquettes:

  1. No makeup or jewelry.
  2. Be very sad and grievy looking. (the color black is the cultural color for mourning)
  3. Do not leave the house unless you absolutely must (some claim work is not necessary enough)  …
  4. Going out for a walk to smell some fresh air is not an excuse to leave the house.
  5. If you must leave the house, be back by night-time. Always spend the night at your house…(3-5 in particular are not supported with religious texts: Quran and Hadeeths.)
  6.  Not looking at the moon or at the mirror are old wives’ tales but most likely practiced by a few. It has been added to the list  for entrainment purposes.

What will the neighbors Say? 

It is worrisome when Muslims use social factors to explain Iddah. Sadly, many religious scholars have added that Iddah is a social formality to ensure the female’s safety from being judged for not looking or feeling sad enough. God forbid a woman fails to show sufficient mourning over her dead husband or greave over a husband who has abused and mistreated her. Why is a man not required to show sufficient greave over his deceased wife  

What others see is more important than how you feel!

Questions? Doubts?

Financial Support: How can a female breadwinner observe iddah when she cannot afford to miss work for 4 months or even during an entire pregnancy? This is no longer relevant to only non-Muslim societies but a reality that is inflected in Arab/ Islamic countries due to today’s modern day demands.

 Iddah and Modern Science: How does Iddah comply with modern science when the latter can confirm, through simple lab tests, the state of pregnancy and thus, invalidating reasons behind the iddah?

Female grieving: Some believe that the widower should feel   “broken and feel sad because of cruel separation…”– as one website described – doesn’t this enforce a certain way of mourning and grieving as well stereotype of gender roles?

Male grieving: When a man shows grieve he becomes a saint!                                                                                                                                                                              While women are forced to show a certain way of mourning, men are exempt from it. Some claim that this is not necessary because men need to be taken care of and their needs fulfilled. Their social responsibility demands from them to go to work and earn end’s meat. Once again, women’s needs have become nonexistent in order to satisfy the social outlook towards a man’s death. Also, this reinforces the claim to reexamine the need for the Iddah in light of financial support.  

Pregnancy! A Miracle? : In view of the reasons behind Iddah it becomes questionable why a post menopause widow should adherent to the wait period.   Chances of a pregnancy would be deemed a miracle and there is no reconciliation to consider. So, perhaps the only valid reason for a wait period would be to give her the time and space to mourn and grieve her husband before she may move on. However, is the griever given the proper tools to move on?  It should be put into consideration that people do not show grieve the same way (see the Elizabeth Kübler-Ross five stages of grieve) and forcing a person to grieve in a specific way will only prolong the grieving time. In addition, the wait period, also becomes a period of isolation. This could be deemed very harmful, both physically and mentally, especially if she lives in an apartment building, where there lacks adequate space for a woman to move around for 4 months .  And again, what is the the  role of  modern science?

It almost seems as though a woman is punished for the death of her husband … or entirely blamed for the divorce…

Suggestion: the purpose of Iddah, and the religious texts covering issues of Iddah need to be examined, along with input from science and feminine views

 Is there a Computer in you?                                                                        While researching the topic, I came across a website that a claim a woman’s uterus is like a computer that stores the code of men she mates with. Each sperm or man carries a unique code. When the computer is infested with many codes, they become virus like and infect the whole computer. This is why all prostitutes will eventually suffer from cervical cancer. (Disturbing thought!!! This analogy is not new and has been used many times against women to prove that women, as oppose to men, cannot be promiscuous by nature.  It also reinforces the idea that cancer as a divine punishment rather than an illness.)

Thou shalt not Fear God

When I was a youngster, around 4 years old, I asked my father how God looked like. I don’t remember the exact answer he gave but I recall that he calmly said that no one knows how God looks like and therefore i  shouldnt bother with such a question. I felt puzzled. I wanted an adult to reaffirm that the image in my head was indeed of God’s. I wanted to know if all shared the same picture of God. Today, I would suggest that perhaps I wanted to know if my God was  everyone else’s, especially that we lived in a multi-religous society

Without giving much detail, my God was genderless with the softest and kindest face one could imagine. I took my father’s advice and carried this unspoken-of image with me throughout the years.

During that time, I found about the man in the moon. My mom explained the myth of a man who gathered sticks on a day he wasn’t supposed to and therefore was banished to the moon.  I found it hard to believe because the face was almost always smiling at me. Wasn’t he angry at what was done to him?  The man in the moon became an image or a symbol of a gendered God.  Today, the face in the moon has become genderless.

In the introduction of the book The Fall of the Imam, Nawal El Saadawi’s had an interesting observation. People imagine God according to how religion is  represented to them. She recalls of a  girl who believed God resembled her uncle’s angry and mean face.  Her uncle used to threaten her with God’s curses and eternal damnation if she wasn’t a “good girl”. Young Nawal couldn’t understand this  because her God was loving and peaceful, just like her father.

Putting images to the side, it may  be observed that people’s feeling towards God is linked to how religion is passed on to them. It is also shaped through their relationship with the authority figure they grew up with and whom they learned the basic principles of God/ religion  from. Many people are terrified of God because punishment is what is emphasized on. They tend to avoid acts which may anger God out of fear of retribution. Their good deeds are of selfish reasons, to satisfy God and gain a spot in Heaven.  They may also fear the authority figure they grow up with, i.e. one or both parents. While this may work for some, others escape religion because they cannot deal with an angry God and the feeling of helplessness of not being able to please an angry and demanding God. “Damned if I do… damned if I don’t” is their motto. Fear, anger and punishment carry negative emotions which in turn would affect a person’s views on life.

Other people grow up with a religion or belief that emphasizes on God’s nurture and loving side. Their good deeds might be motivated by wanting to please God and in the spirit of love and kindness, both as godly and positive  attributes, towards others. Even if fear is attached, it almost never over weights love. This might also indicate that their relationship with their parent(s) is built on respect and adoration rather than fear and punishment. Their motto is “I do this because I want to … not because I must”.

Of course this is not built on scientific proof but a mere observation which might be wrong….

Your thoughts???

Mid April, Iranian Cleric Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi blamed earthquakes on women.

“Calamities are the result of people’s deeds . . . Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes.”

There is nothing new in his statement. Not so fast in blaming Islam. It seems that almost every religion in this world has/ is blaming women  for the world’s disasters. But  one US college student decided to challenge Sedighi’s claim. Jen McCreight identifies herself as “a liberal, geeky, nerdy, scientific, perverted atheist feminist trapped in Indiana.”

Through her blog http://www.blaghag.com she announced the birth of “Boobquake”.

On Monday, April 26, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. … I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that’s your preferred form of immodesty.

 “I’m asking women to wear their most “immodest” outfit that they already would wear, but to coordinate it all on the same day for the sake of the experiment. Heck, just showing an ankle would be considered immodest by some people. I don’t want to force people out of their comfort zones, because I believe women have the right to choose how they want to dress. Please don’t pressure women to participate if they don’t want to. If men ogle, that’s the fault of the men, not me for dressing how I like. If I want to a show a little cleavage or joke about my boobs, that’s my prerogative.”

Would you join her?

——————

Boobquake and the Cutefication of Feminism

Beth Mann does not share the enthusiasm of the 14,000 who confirmed their participation through Facebook event.

On her blog she writes that this is not like the bra burning movement because it

“…there was a statement there, full of boldness and righteous anger…..Women have been objectified to such an extreme point that even our so-called feminist undertakings include more objectification…”

http://open.salon.com/blog/beth_mann/2010/04/22/boobquake_and_the_cutefication_of_feminism

She point out that not only does this objectify women, but also adds insecurities  to the already poor body image effected women.   Maybe she is right?

———–

What will happen on Monday 26 April?

Will the world fall apart? Will a divine message be sent from above to confirm that women are indeed the cause of all evil in this world? Or will the message come from the ground? Maybe nothing will happen  except for a few laughs? Are the likes of Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi praying to God to punish those involved?

Boobquake could be deemed an interesting experiment, although I wonder how many girls will take this event for granted and turn it into  girl’s gone wild. Perhaps Beth Mann is right about the  difference between burning the bra and Boobquake…

Some boys must be very excited and nervous over Boobquake.   I wonder many new videos will be uploaded on YouTube on that day?

 PS: Living in a conservative country, I challenge these clergies and their man-made statements everyday. Not by walking naked or showing my boobies but  by choosing not to submit  to their man-made “God fearing, good Muslim female attire ” while still dressing according to society’s norms.

Was Aisha a Child Bride?

One of today’s most fascinating controversies among Muslims and non-Muslims is the debate over Aisha’s ages when she married the Prophet and subsequently if that made him a pedophiliac or not.  

Putting the age debate to the side for a moment, If Prophet Mohamed were in fact a pedophile why would he settle for only one child?  Unless perhaps Aisha was not 9 years old has history has led us to believe.

All Islamic sources and historians claim/ agree on the following Islamic timeline:

570: Prophet Mohamed’s Birth.

610: Year of the divine revelation

615: Migration to Ethiopia

622 (01 H): Muslims migrated from Makah to Madina  

632 (10 H): Death of Prophet Mohamed at the age of 63

These sources claim that Aisha was only seven when she was wed to Mohamed, and 9 or 10 when the marriage was consummated right after the Prophet’s arrival to Madina, in 622. (Almost three years later) …

Accordingly she would be born in the year 612 (if she were 10 in the year 622)

————————————–

However, the follow events (taken from the same sources) show a contradiction in Aisha age:  

1)     a- Aisha was among the 12 Male and 12 Female Muslims to migrate to Ethiopia. She was identified as one of the 12 females and not an infant/ child though according to the sources (if she were born in 612) she would have been only 3 years old.

b-  Aisha recalled that she remembers how the Prophet used to visit her father on a daily bases, after the revelation and before the Hijra (migration) to Madina. She also recalled the migration to Ethiopia. Either she had a 3 year old’s über-memory or a big miscalculation has occurred.

2)      Aisha’s sister, Asma, is 10 years her senior. Asma was 14 old during the revelation (in 610). Accordingly, Aisha would be 4 years old in 610 and thus born 606, while Asma born in 596. (This makes Aisha about 9 years old when she went to Ethiopia and 16 when the marriage was consummated)

3)      Asma died at the age of 100 following tragic events in the Islamic history in 692 (73 H). Accordingly, she would have been born in 592 and Aisha 602. (Adding 4 years to her age in point 2)

4)      Aisha died in 678 at the age of 65… Accordingly, she would be born in 613. However; at the time of her sister’s death, Asma would be 75 and in 692 (year of her reported death) she would be 89 years old. (Where did the 11 years difference go?)

5)      Aisha was already a Muslim when Omar bin Khattab converted to Islam in 616….. If she were indeed born in 612, that would make her 4 years old during Omar’s conversion… In this case, it is very doubtful that she would be considered a convert but a child reared in a Muslim household. However, emphasis on Aisha’s Islam, in comparison to Omar’s, might indicate that she was already practicing and aware of a new religion in Makkah.

If she were born in 606: that would make her 10 years old when Omar converted. At that age a child becomes accountable and is required to perform religious duties. Thus, making it obvious that Aisha was a Muslims rather than a child whose parents are Muslims.

The first youngest known person to convert was the Prophet’s 10 year old cousin, Ali. This was in 610. So, where does baby Aisha fit into this? Wouldn’t she have taken the lead as the youngest convert, had she been only 4 years old? Islamic history is pretty good in listing the first converts and it does not shy away from mentioning the female pioneers. So, there would be no reason to exclude Aisha from the list of child pioneers. Unless she wasn’t a child

This would also lead to another question: Could children be considered converts? Although a 10-year-old child 1400 years ago might be more mature than today’s 10 year old, they were still considered children.  

6)      Fatima Al-Zahra’ a, prophet Mohamed’s daughter was born five years before the revelation (605). She is said to be five years older than Aisha, who would then be born in 610) another inconsistency with the above “sources”.

These are just a few of the argument presented by some of those who oppose the traditional view on Aisha’s age. It’s been said that the first person who presented this new calculation was as Egyptian writer Abbas el-Akkad (1889-1964), and again by other such as Saudi Human Rights activists Suhaila Hamad, journalist Islam Biheri.. etc

Perhaps this inconsistency does not give a clear indication of Aisha’s age. But if anything it shows that there is a further need to reexamine history with an objective perspective.

It is believed that one of the main reasons for the union between Aisha and Prophet Mohamed is to legitimize her stay in his house and thus learn from him and recite his hadiths (saying by the Prophet) . It has been reported that she narrated around 2210 but only 174 Hadith are commonly agreed upon by religious scholars. Yet Islam from a female’s perspective is nowhere to be found. Where are the rest of the hadiths? Until this day, there is perhaps only one, and very hard to find, book, that addresses these hadiths. So, why aren’t there more efforts to publish these hadiths and make them known?