Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Ahlan Wa Sahlan

Friday, February 29, 2008

Why I Hated Greece

I'm bored at work so I'm going to blather about my trip last summer to Greece prior to going to Egypt. I also spent a couple of days in Turkey so I might tag on some stuff about turkeys.

Why Greece? Why now? Probably because I promised all my myspace friends a detailed account of my trip and never produced it. I've now pretty much all but abandoned myspace for blogger, basically because myspace is blocked by my employer and blogger is not. And also because myspace is a bunch of bells and whistles and I can just ramble in blogger. Much like I am doing now.

Back to Greece. I have hated few places in my life, Kaukauna being one of them and most of the places in Greece being the rest of them. Sure, the views were maginificent, the villages quaint and picturesque, the beaches more fabulous than any I had hitherto seen before, and the wild interiors of the islands being small pieces of quiet solitude. If it weren't for the Greek I would have loved Greece.

The fact is that as a group of people the Greek are loud, rude, and arrogant. They think their men are the most handsome, a fact I vigorously deny and in fact saw very few good-looking men in Greece; and their women the most beautiful, if one goes for wrinkly old women with bottle-blonde hair of shades I never imagined could exist, and in such foofed-out quantity, wearing clothing tighter than bathing suits (which would have left more to the imagination) and more make-up than a Revlon counter.

In fact most of their women looked like the cuchi-cuchi girl (with more wrinkles and less plastic surgery):

So besides the eyesores of brightly-colored spandex mini-dresses the women ages 40 and up wore, and the rude men, and the quadruply rude taxi drivers, I had never seen so much public sex in my life. My mom and I, innocently walking down a side street to go to Kerameikos one of the oldest cemetaries in Athens (WAY cool and a definite must-see in Athens, even better than the Parthenon and with way less tourists) we were greeted by a couple making whoopy against a marble wall. They hadn't even tried to hide themselves behind a tree, they chose the most out in the open place to do it.

Then there's the abuse my mom and I both endured, because despite Greece living on tourism they are remarkably rude (can I use this word more to describe Greek people?) and ill-mannered to tourists. As well as practically pillaging their pocketbooks. And they apprently hate Muslims, to combat the abuse I had to remove my hijab for my own safety.

Again I would have loved Greece if the Greek people didn't get in the way. I loved driving their winding, cliff-clinging roads in the tiny but surprisingly maneuverable peugots we rented. If I had had a dime, and the space to attempt it, I probably could have turned those cars on one. I loved crawling along the side of an incredibly picturesque cliff to burst out overlooking a hidden cove beach with a tiny village attached to it.

I also saw my lifetime fill of pasty white, topless and wrinkly, Swedish/German/British women on those beaches. Evidently Greece is to Europe what Cozumel/Acapulco is to the U.S. A cheap place to lay on the beach and tan your private bits.

And probably my most ardent hatred involving Greece and Greek people was the astounding amount of times I was fed pork without realizing it. At least until I had put some in my mouth, to which I immediately detected the essence of pig and spit it out. It ruined my appetite for days at a time. However, often not being able to speak enough English with the waiters or cooks, and not reading Greek, I had to take my chances. By the end of the cruise I was mainly vegetarian.

The cruise my mom and I were on started in Istanbul, which was a massively huge city filled with beautiful buildings, but which, despite having some 11 million people, had only two (count 'em TWO) mosques for women to pray in. The Blue Mosque and the Eyup Sultan Mosque were the only international mosques in the city and therefore the only mosques with areas for women to pray. Clearly "Turkish" mosques are no-woman's land and I would have been struck dead by God, or more accurately beaten down by the men I would have disturbed by my offending presence, if I entered. The look on the taxi driver's face when I told him I wanted to go to this AWESOME and ANCIENT looking mosque on the top of the hill by where my ship was anchored was priceless. I don't think he had ever heard of or considered a woman praying in a mosque like that. What a turkey.

He then expounded on the virtue of a hijabless Turkey where women had the choice to wear it or not. I then asked if his wife worked outside the home, to which he gave me a "what are you effing crazy?" look and answered, "why should she?"

Oh, my, the delicious stupidity of gender inequality. She has the right to wear the hijab or not because "Turkey is a secular European country" but she had better not want to work outside of the home because thats just crazy-talk.

The atmosphere I mainly felt during my two days there was one of utter confusion. Muslim? Secular? European? Asian? I couldn't quite figure it out. It was Turkey. And now that I have been there, I can't say I will ever want to return.

Then the cruise hopped a few of the Greek Islands, which again were WONDERFUL except for those pesky Greek people. My favorite was Mykonos. Go there if you can. Its gorgeous.

Then we crossed the big blue Mediterraneanand landed in Alexandria and spent two days there. Once I had been in Egypt, in the bosom of my then husband-to-be and my best friends there, I was miserable in Greece wanting to be back in Egypt.

I definately recommend seeing Greece but only if the country is devoid of actual Greek people. Because its a beautiful country on its own.

And visit Egypt. Maybe Turkey if you really want to, but if you're a woman don't expect to be able to pray anywhere.

But everyone should visit Egypt. Everyone.

I promise to post pics when I get home.

These pics are all taken by me and my mom and are therefore our property so
if you take them and post them somewhere else give me credit!

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul. A little bit tilted...

Inside the Blue Mosque

The Haga Sofia

The quaint downtown on Mykonos,
the paths were as topsy turvy as Alice in Wonderland.

The interior of Mykonos, perfect peace and solitude

Mykonos again, it was my favorite island

Santorini is overrated, beautiful, but overrated.

Qaitbay Citadel in Alexandria Egypt

Qaitbay Citadel

ZOMG look! Its a pyramid!

Back in Greece (pics are in temporal order), the beaches are truly magnificent

Church next to the Kerameikos Cemetery

A 2,000 year old tombstone WITH THE NAMES STILL ON IT. Too bad I can't read ancient Greek, anyone know what it says?

Someone who died in the Peloponnesian wars.

The Parthenon from the Kerameikos Cemetery

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Inty Aasel Part Two- cuz' there's two of them

My neices Gameela and Nunu*



Just so you can see how irresistable they are, mashAllah.

*obviously not their names.

The Color of Our Souls

"Do our souls have skin colors?" he asked folding her tiny five year-old hands within his large, age-marked, callous palms.

She looked at him perplexed, wrinkling her tiny forehead in concentration.

"Have you ever seen your own soul?" he prodded further, looking into her eyes as they watched him intently.

"No..." she ventured finally, uncertain whether or not she ever had and what a soul looked like.

He smiled at her benignly in his wonderful grandfatherly way and she smiled back, bubbly with happiness that she had figured out the right answer.

"Poppy," she climbed into his lap and rested her head against his wide chest listening to his heart beat. He smelled like cinnamon. "Have you seen your soul?"

"No sweetheart, I never saw m'soul. But I just wonder whether we should be judgin' people by the color of their skin, or the pureness of their souls instead."

Later she peered deeply into the hallway mirror at herself trying looking past her blue eyes and brown curly hair to see if she could see her soul. Wondering maybe if it had a skin color.

(c) Molly Ann Elian 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Disconnected Verses

Used one of my pieces as a "visiting writer" post on their site.

Check out my work "The Opening" posted on Disconnected Verses.

I'm so excited, let me know what ya'll think of my creative writing skillz.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Inty Aasel

For a brief second today I was strongly reminded of a moment with my 2 year old twin neices.

Mr MM had them on the webcam and was asking them:

"Meen dee?" (Who's that?)

And N said,

"Tante!" (Aunt)

To which G grabbed the mic and, practically swallowing it in her excitement, said,

"Inty aasel!" (You're honey!)


I miss Egypt just a little.

I Done Been Tagged

Assignment: Write 6 things everyone should do before they turn 18. Oh that seems so long ago...

Da Rules: List 6 actions or achievements you think every person should accomplish before turning 18.
I'm going to kind of adjust the age a bit, lets say to 20 years old cuz everyone knows you can't do much when you're underage. There are no conditions on what can be included on the list.At the end of your post, choose 6 people to get tagged and list their names.People who are tagged write their own blog entry with their 6 suggestions.Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.

1.) You absolutely must speak a second language before you turn 18 because both your brain starts getting too old to be able to fluently speak it and because your aptitude for accepting opposing ideas becomes smaller. I think cultural/linguistic immersion should be mandatory in schools k-12.

2.) I also think you should travel to a foreign country at least once. I barely made the cut off myself traveling to Spain and France during my eighteenth year. Canada doesn't count, Mexico does. The catch here is that it be culturally and linguistically different. Once you're over eighteen I think you should spend a period of at least 2 months living in said foreign country.

3.) Rebel. I don't mean do something dangerous, or illegal. I mean do something that challenges your assumptions and the assumptions you were spoon-fed growing up. Move outside your comfort zone and learn something. Join a hippie commune or backpack through a mountain range working odd jobs as you go. Work as sheepherds in New Zealand. Something.

4.) Join a cause. Have a REASON for living and something to fight for. Realize that the world is big and bad but not everyone within it needs to be. And be religious; understand God and God's place in your life and live righteously.

5.) Vote once you're eighteen. And vote intelligently. You're never too young to understand whats going on.

6.) Most importantly, make a list of 100 books you want/should read, and then read every single one of them. And then make a list of 100 more.

I'm not going to tag anyone because I honestly don't know of anyone left on my blogroll who hasn't done this tag. Feel free to gank and post it on yours gentle reader.

I Hate Hotmail

So I'm packing up and moving my emails someplace else.

Like gmail.

Those of you who have my email, its the same but @gmail.com instead.

Those of you who want my email for nefarious or any other reasons, click contact on my profile page.

Up yours hotmail.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Today is going to suck at work. I had meant to post at some point during this afternoon but work is really going to suck instead.

And I forgot my lunch at home.

Sad, sad, sad.


****** lets make this post more random

I walked into the bathroom after one of our doctors this morning and was almost knocked over by the pervasive stench of raw vodka.

Hm...... He LOOKED sober... maybe it was his aftershave...


Why is it so yummy when I dip my french fries into MCD's "ice cream"?


Despite laughing uproariously about it in Egypt, and teasing my husband everytime he said it, I have been infected by the dreaded "ya3nee" that peppers all Arabic-speakers' conversations and monologues.

Ya3nee, I just can't get rid of it.


I have a coworker who insists on calling me Molly-olly. I just might get physically violent if she does it again. I should probably warn her.


Someone mixed a large handful of small paperclips in with my large paperclips. This is cruel and unusual torture and therefore illegal by the Geneva Convention. Just saying... I could press charges.


I had a bunch of other random thoughts buzzing around in my head. When I think of them I'll add them on.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Too Many Phone Calls and a Lack Thereof

I think its interesting that within a week of posting about my many father-figures I have had two very significant things occur.

The first was at a party for my two cousins (sisters) who are having a double-wedding this summer. I happen to be the MOH of one so I, of course, was there. As was my grandmother: the long-suffering parental unit of, and bail-source for, my father. She asked me if I have spoken lately with my old man and I admitted that I hadn't spoken to him in about a month, to which she stated that she wasn't going to call him again until he called and apologized.


It appears my dad has stopped paying his bills and the creditors are hounding my poor defenseless, and decrepit, old grandparents as my father doesn't like to update his address and their's is his last-known residence.

This is generally a big fat signal that my dad is using again. Joy. Apparently when my grandmother called to scold him into paying his bills he hung up her.

I'm assuming that if I try to call his cell phone it will be turned off, and because I haven't spoken to him in so long I have no idea if he has lost his job.

I don't want to call him because I feel that if he needed to speak with me, or wanted to for that matter, he knows my number.

Then again if he sold his phone for crack money, he wouldn't have it written down.

And... I wouldn't be able to get a hold of him either.

My only anxiety out of this situation is the possibility that he has overdosed, or been evicted, or committed suicide. Being mildly reclusive means that not many people would knock on his door to see if he's ok, and if his dealer looked for him and found him dead there's a slim chance that it would be reported to the police.

These are the things that float around in my mind, occasionally bumping into the rebellious I-won't-call-until-he-does thoughts.

I think I must drive over there after work.

And secondly I got a call from my Padrino (godfather) last night. The one I haven't spoken to in roughly a year. The family that doesn't ever call me to ask how I am, or to let me know they're going to Mexico... or coming back from Mexico... or anything.

And what did he call me for?

Money. Apparently the family business took a nosedive and they're hurting financially.

I just feel so dumped on. Please, ask me how I am from time to time, or make sure that MY life is going ok. Don't call me only for money and think that feeble attempts to find out about my life are going to change the fact that I left numerous un-returned phone calls a year ago and never heard anything since.

And what hurt my heart the most was the shame I heard in the voice of what I know is a very proud man.

But out of all of this at least I have a walee (Islamic guardian) who demands that I come over to his house at least once a week so that they can feed me because I apparently am too skinny.

And I have a husband who loves me more than the world.

Alhumdulillah for everything.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

To Hijab or To Not Hijab

This is such a sensitive issue that I'm sure I'll get a flutter of angry comments regarding it, but I would like to preface it by stating that I am NOT God (in case anyone was confused) and I can NOT judge nor will I willingly judge anyone. There are pious women who do not cover, and completely black-hearted women who do. I have met both. If I offend you, this was not my intention. And if I offend you deeply, you might want to explore why the subject is so sensitive to you. I welcome any and all comments or discussions that this might bring up because I will attempt to outline my opinion while keeping both sides represented.

I am a hijabi. Does this make me a saint? Certainly not. Does this make me better than you? No, I would never be so vain as to ever consider it. I have my inconsistencies and my own sins and the fact that I cover my body and my hair does not automatically make me the best Muslim out of a group.

But every Muslimah who does not cover is submitted to a silent discrimination from the Ummah. It is assumed that they lack deen (faith) and are not good people. This is often ungrounded and unfair.

Or there are times when they actually suffer discrimination against the scarf from their families or their culture. I met one such sister whose husband refuses to allow her to cover although it pains her to not submit to what she considers the will of God. Or another Turkish sister I knew whose mother threatened to turn her out of their house if she took the hijab.

While I believe that every sister has her personal reasons for covering or not for covering, I can say that I, for one, don't agree with not wearing it.


Because its mandated by God. Simply.

Now, there are definite obstacles that many of us face. Like the sister whose husband doesn't allow it; I would absolutely not tell her to leave her husband in order to wear hijab. Why cover one bad by instigating another? Or the sister from Turkey who would have no place to live, and on her own with two small boys it would be a miserable life, what should she do?

Surely hijab is obligatory yes, but only God can judge their situations, and some are terrible situations, and then make the final call.

But the other sisters who are not in situations like these, I truly cannot understand what their motivation for unveiling is. What is in this world that can drive them to ignore something written in the Quran?

I am not saying that they are less pious for it, I'm just striving to understand why they make that decision.

And I have to be honest that, with the exception of a few convert friends- who deal with family issues that keep them from wearing the hijab- and a few sisters I know who are in similar situations to the two I mentioned above, most of the women that I know who do not veil do not pray as well or adhere to many other pillars of Islam.

While in Egypt, where wearing the hijab is as cultural as it is religious, I found many women who covered but did, said, and believed things that made my hair curl. I was sexually hit on by a woman who confessed that she ached to remove it but couldn't because her family wouldn't allow it.

But here in the US I have found that it is a different story. Many of those women, who are forced into hijab by society back home, take it off here and leave a religion they didn't believe to begin with behind in the process. While myself, and many other women, fight OUR society in this country to be able to wear it.

I have faced obstacle after obstacle. I have been shunned for it. I have lived penniless because of it. But, except for a miserable five week period, I could not bear the thought of removing it.

I'm not saying it makes me a saint, but I am using myself as an example. I have dealt with family shunning me, I have been without a job, I have been harassed, I have faced discrimination, but most of all I have taken pride in following my religion and, for me, wearing hijab was the easiest commandment to fulfill, second only to the commandment to believe that there is no God but God.

I am not saying that it is ok to judge someone's piety by the hijab because obviously this is both faulty logic and obviously not our place to do so. But I can honestly stand up and wonder what exactly is the reason that some chose not to.

Please, enlighten me. I am not here to judge, but to understand.

If you do not wear the hijab, why?

Because to me it seems like both the hardest and yet still the simplest decision to make.

I want to know, and I want to understand.

Monday, February 18, 2008

*wink wink nudge nudge*

I just had a patient call to ask what time his appointment is this morning and where we are located. As I am explaining it to him I can hear doors closing, faucets running, and children laughing in the background.

At the end of the call he tells me, "I'm stuck in a traffic jam so I might be a little late."

Uh.... sure you are.

Apparently I was born yesterday.


After my past few, very serious, posts and their subsequent publishing/accolades I tried to convince myself that I would make this a "serious" blog with "serious" topics. (On my off-days I dress like Jorge Ramos and stand in front of a mirror discussing world politics.)

Then I remembered that its very hard for me to be serious two days in a row.

So for those of you coming to my blog expecting deep and profound thoughts, I apologize.

It will just be an extension of me:

Weird. Random. Usually absurd. And only occasionally on the mark.

Anything else is a fluke of nature and/or heavy medication.


I just got this wiff of memory from the last elections when I was in my community college.

The Republican Students Association (or whateva it was called) brought in someone to campaign for the Reps about a week before the elections.

The only thing I remember about the delegate was the fact that he was wearing foundation and blush, and that he had quite obviously gotten hair plugs put in because his scalp was sprouting tufts of hair in a perfect 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch grid.

Why did I remember this?

I have no idea.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Thousand Fathers But My Own

Who is a father, exactly? What little parts put together make one whole? Muscle, bone, tissue; is it a body? A thing of genetics? Or is it of heart? Love? Responsibility?

And among this, who is my father?

As I've grown older and gradually left the young child behind, this issue of father has become less and less important. I don't think about it, I don't ache for it, and I don't search as I did when I was young and vulnerable.

And so the other day when I was filing with a coworker, and in the give and take of our personal discussion, I let drop that my father was a drug addict, it almost seemed to me like I was discovering this fact anew.

As if I had long ago catagorized, compartamentalized, and filed it away like library reference books. It was me, but it no longer had any effect over me and it startled me as it hung in the air between us.

Oh yea, thats right. My father is a drug addict.

My coworker seemed as startled as I was, though with more reason as it truly had been hitherto unknown to her.

"You dont seem like someone who would have dealt with something like that," she observed, "I would never have known that about you."

Maybe I come across too urbane for something so bourgeois?

"Yea," I replied, "I guess its not something I think much about anymore."

Whether my father continues to be a drug addict, a highly-functional one if he is still using, or if he has somehow cleaned himself up I can never really know. I don't think a child should be privy to that sort of knowledge or insight into the fallibility of their parents. I made a choice a few years ago to no longer put myself in that situation.

But there were years and years before that where I was the one who dealt with his short-comings directly.

He left my mother and I when I was nine. He had been using hard drugs for a year or two prior to this but as a young child I never knew. Even having been brought to drug houses with him meant nothing to a sheltered girl from a small city, I had no idea what the grown-ups were doing locked away in that room filled with odd smoke. What made an impression on my young memory was the toddler left to run around in what had to have been a diaper one day or two old.

At nine I didn't know what drugs were, or what they did to you, all I knew is that one day my daddy never came home. And I was left with a void I had no choice to to search for alternatives to fill:

My thousand fathers.

My first substitute was a kind man from Colombia who went to the same church as my mother, a born again Christian after the divorce, and I. He showed me kindness like I imagined a father would, hugs when I needed them but really nothing more. I was eleven and I wasn't sure what exactly I was supposed to be looking for, prior to this my father had been supplied without effort on my part.

I soon moved on to another virtuous man who belonged to the church and later became our landlord. He treated me like a daughter without me having to work for it and I became good friends with his own biological daughter attempting crudely to fashion a family from what little I had to work with.

Eventually when I was fourteen we moved away, returning to Minnesota and to our family. Returning me to a wounded father I had briefly gotten to know during my summers spent back home. A father who fought deep depression and often locked himself in his room, emerging at two or three in the afternoon without thought to whether I had been able to feed myself or do something productive with my day.

One Easter Sunday when I had been sent back to Minnesota for the holiday he roused himself enough at 11am to give me some money and send me walking a mile to the store to buy food since there was none in the apartment. I think I was twelve, maybe thirteen at the most.

Returning to Minnesota brought me back to my biological father but left me devoid of what father really meant. In the most crucial years of my life I turned to my writing and my studies in an attempt to find meaning. Both of us wounded, my father and I sought to paste together a relationship from the fragments we had left.

There were many happy, golden moments where we were content in the present. Afternoons of speeding with the windows down and him teaching me how to drive his beat-up stick-shift pickup in the Walmart parking lot while at the same time clutching a Mountain Dew bottle between my thighs as all good drivers can.

But there were as many days when I would be waiting until midnight for him to come pick me up for our weekend only to finally admit that he wasn't coming, that he was somewhere in his drugs again, and that in two or three days he would call from some payphone penniless and hopeless for someone to come pick him up. It would be two days after that that he would get over his shame enough to call me to apologize. And it would always be the same promise to never do it again.

Eventually it happened so much that I no longer believed him, a final breach of trust that would eventually emerge many years later in other relationships.

And eventually it got to a point where I was the only one left in the family who was trying. At fifteen I became adept at calling rehab clinics to get him checked in even though most times he refused. And each time the receptionist would be provoked enough to ask, "Just how old are you exactly?"

"Fifteen," I would reply sheepishly as if it were my own faults that put me there.

I was older than I should have been.

While continuing the feeble attempts at making some semblence of family out of the ruins of our relationship I still sought that support of a father figure from other men around me. I had a father I was supporting but I needed a father who supported me.

When I was nineteen I was brought to a Mexican-Catholic Church and introduced to my Godparents. I was accepted and embraced without a single word and called la hija adoptiva (adopted daughter.) I found a father and a family unit to cling to with all the ferocity of a shipwrecked sailor miles from shore. I took the relationships, the ethnicity, the culture, and the identity from my first real example of a stable household and made them my own.

Those years with them will always be some of my most precious but some three years later I would again be introduced to an even stronger father figure who would have as much of an affect on me as my Padrino (Godfather) but in a completely different manner and at the exact moment when my relationship with my biological father became the weakest.

I was introduced to my walee (Islamic guardian) when I was 21 and from the instant I met him and his family I felt a peace that I had never once encountered among the other fathers I clung to. I felt a sense of unconditional love and acceptance, a guidance, a teaching presence, and the foundation of support I had been searching for those twelve years gone.

A month after I met them my biological father disappeared and was gone for a year.

The juxtaposition of losing my father and finding Islam played out strongly in my identity of who I was and who I wanted to be. I spent hours driving around the roughest neighborhoods in Minneapolis hoping to find him alive, terrified that at any moment, during the coldest part of the winter, I would hear on the news of some John Doe found dumped in the river or frozen to death on the street. And by the time that he returned, again penniless and hopeless at a payphone for my grandmother to go pick him up, I had said goodbye to him in a multitude of ways in my mind.

When I got the call from my grandmother's house and heard his voice I broke down in tears and dropped everything to drive out to see him, I was twenty-two years old.

I hugged him and I kissed him and I cried to know that he was alive but I had come to a decision during the year that his choices in life would no longer have anything to do with me and my life. I had said goodbye to him in that time he was gone, in the second abandonment he had put me through, and that goodbye was more powerful than anything else. I had decided it was enough.

I told him that if he ever left again that I would not search for him or attempt to contact him in any way. If he continued to make these type of choices he would lose whatever connection we had left.

Maybe I scared him straight, who knows, but since then he has not committed the same error. What he does in his alone time no longer concerns me, and maybe its that break that means I don't have any idea when he disappears or reappears because he is no longer letting me down. And he is no longer letting me down because I refuse to allow him to let me down.

He is my father and he always will be, but I no longer pay for his sins. We still have wonderful afternoons and meet for lunch or dinner, but our relationship is not the typical one of a father and a daughter. And when I look for paternal support I find it on the shoulders of the thousand fathers I found without him.

I find it in the home of my walee.

So what makes a father? Is it a blood bond that never breaks? Or is it the support and love that one may give to another freely and without the ancestral ties?

Is fatherhood genetic or emotional?

My idea of fatherhood comes not only from my biological father but from the father-relationships I sought comfort in while growing up.

I found a home in my thousand fathers.

**This post relates directly to the idea of fatherhood, but I would not be who I am today without my mother. She is an amazing woman who sought to provide me with house, home, mother, and father all at the same time. I found a father in my mother as well.

Friday, February 15, 2008

You like me! You really, really like me!

I had some good news brought to me on my sickbed yesterday, my post "Three Years And All My Life" was posted on Ijtema.net, a site which showcases Muslim voices and talents in the blogosphere. So I'm guessing that I have a lot more traffic on my blog than I had before, so to all of you who are new to my site, thank you! I hope that my idiosynchresies make someone else, besides myself, smile. Alone, I crack myself up all the time.

And I also found out that I have been considered in the final round of the Muslim-American Relationship Anthology! If my writing doesn't fail me now I could possibly become a published author along side many of the best female Muslim-American writers. InshAllah.

Some of my greatest dreams are coming true, alhumdulillah.

So, to everyone who reads me, and comments, and partakes in the general chaos that is my mind and writing, thank you.

*And thanks to M, who is my unofficial editor by virtue of having to sit by me all day at work. Pity her, its a hard life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Who-Wha? The life of a new day in new shoes.

So I have what is colloquially termed as 'the crud' which consists of random aches, pains, nausea, and other icky-no-good things but which cannot actually be attributed to an AMA-recognized disease. Mine also came conveniently packaged with sores on the back of my throat which spawned overnight while I was sleeping. I don't recall eating barbed-wire last night for dinner, but apparently I did because my gullet feels like a battlefield. I decided to slap my two fifteens together and go curl up on a couch somewhere secluded in the massive patient waiting room. And evidently its normal in some people's world to approach unknown women curled into armadillo-like balls and strike up a conversation.

Strange/Creepy Man: So, how are you? (a la Joey Tribbiani + x5 creep factor)

Me: *sitting up immediately and searching for my shoes* Oh, just fine.

Creepy McCreepster: Oh no, you don't have to leave.

Me: *with a shudder and a new world record for putting on shoes* Well, I should be getting back.

C McC: So, are you waiting for a doctor?

Me: *getting up to leave* No, as unprofessional as this sounds I actually work here.

I instead pestered a CA and commandeered an unused consult room that I could securely lock with a couch upon which I sprawled haphazardly like a dying walrus and proceeded to snore away my break. Much better and more comfortable than having to demurely roll myself into a ball in a public place. Thank you, Creepy McC.

I emerged from this cave looking bleary and tousled, much like a receptionist who just had a quick amorous scuffle with the mailroom clerk- without the clerk or the amorous scuffle.

I was generously offered the afternoon off- I wonder if this is more because my coworkers want to fumigate my station rather than actual altruism- but I decided that spending the next few hours fighting with my stomach about unloading the mashed potatoes I was able to choke down for lunch would go better if I was paid for them.

Call me capitolistic.

And just to make my day so much more enjoyable I am walking around in new shoes which haven't been stretched to fit my feet giving me cramped toes and blistered heels. Payless was having a BOGO sale and it prompted me to finally retire my favorite red and black shoes (which have long ago seen their best days.)

(rockstar shoes)

These shoes have been loyal to me for five years, crossing many borders and seeing many sights. They've taken me to three continents and carried me through many airports. They were also the worst shoes I could wear out of my arsenal because with their platform soles and my curved feet I constantly rolled my ankles at random moments to the point that my husband actually looked at me and asked, "are you sure there's not something wrong with you?"

But I digress, these shoes have been the object of much envy and admiration through the years, and I will miss them.

And with the BOGO sale I am now the proud owner of a sophisticated pair of heeled mules and these devilish(ly cute) mary-janes which are causing me so much suffering today.

(the SOH shoes)

(and by SOH I mean Spawn of Hell which I lovingly named them on the long hike back to the parking ramp.)

I knew they were going to be trouble-makers and stood for a good 5 minutes this morning deciding which shoes to wear today. However since the mules looked positively preposterous with my wicked-awesome flagrantly-colored toe socks, I opted for the mary-janes. It usually hurts to look this cute.

So farewell to the marvelous red and black shoes I long ago named Mickey.

It was a good five years.

Can I go home and sleep now?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Work it girl!

Seriously peoples,

Look good for Jesus.

(You've GOT to be kidding me.... the virtuous vanilla really cracked me up.)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Three years and all my life

Its coming up on three years of being Muslim for me, only three years. See, I feel like its been my entire life already, like I was never anything else but Muslim. How is this that in three years I've lived one whole lifetime?

Maybe it was because I was half-Muslim for about 4 months before I took the plunge.

Maybe it is because the sleeping soul inside of me was Muslim long before I ever existed.

Maybe its because I really was recreated and born again the moment I took my shehada.

I don't know, but to me its been a lot longer than 3 years as a Muslim.

Its been my whole life.

* * * *

I don't remember the exact date I took my shehada, I think this is better and it may have been subconsciously intentional to not mark the day. I feel like to have marked it would mean I would have had to celebrate it every year that it came around. Like a birthay, I guess, which it is in its own right. But I don't think it is the day which is remarkable, but the event instead that changed my life.

As I said above, I playacted at being Muslim for about 4 months before I actually converted. It was like I knew I was, but my heart hadn't yet told my brain. I had never really been in denial before then so I didn't realize that while I was putting on hijab for an Islamic History class at the U I was really being who I was, and everything else was just an act.

I don't know how to explain it, its a singular insanity that is all my own.

I would be at halaqas in abaya and khimar and when other sisters asked me, "So, how long have you been Muslim?"

I would pause for a second and then answer quite matter of factly, "Well, actually I'm not."

What a strange creature I must have seemed.

And when that moment finally came where I realized that my thinking had changed from "if I ever became Muslim..." to "when I become Muslim..." it hit me like a bucket full of cold water. I probably even made a funny face.

I had denied it while living it for far too long.

I was reborn in my life the moment I took shehada. Wiped clean like a slate pockmarked with ground-in chalk. I swear I even felt like I sparkled from the inside. And thats when the real change began.

I made baby steps, I stumbled a lot, I never fell down but I emerged with the same scars an adolescent would carry on her knees. Bruised but still striving to become a fully-fledged adult. I even carried my Muslimness like the awkward limbs of a post-pubescent, unsure and wobbly, and not exactly comfortable inside her skin.

I grew and I rebelled, and I hit the point where it was fight or flight. I took off my hijab and tested the strength of my convictions, and in the end the only person I could rebel against was myself.

I put the hijab back on unhappy with the absence of what truly defined 'me' and I knew at that moment that there was nothing on earth that could make me return to what I had been. Not even the empty promises of a spit-shined dunya could tempt me away from the beauty of my religion.

And the instant I stepped out of my door and faced the world with my hijab again, the stares of my uni mates who had seen me with and then seen me without and then saw me again with, I grew up in my Islam. Like a graduation, I had passed.

I married my soulmate, possibly the only man who can tell me what to do and still have me love him for it. My patient teacher, my lover, my best friend, and my confidante.

With him I fulfilled the final half of my deen.

And in three years I find myself an adult in my Islam, having lived an entire life in so short a time.

So pardon me if, when asked, I reply that I have been Muslim my whole life.

Because in a sense, I truly have.

Sunday, February 10, 2008




Thursday, February 7, 2008

Ya Masrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

مبرووووووووووووووك يا مصر

Congratulations Egypt!!!!!!!!!!

"Pardon me, you're icky."

Its a very slow day at work so I'm going to blog about something that really bothers me.

As a hijabi, despite some of its setbacks, I find that non-Muslim men will respect me more than "Muslim" men will. I, however, use the label "Muslim" in a mainly loose and generally ethnic fashion.

Non-Muslim men* usually regard me with the same disquieted, nervous, respect that they regard nuns with: as a God-bound woman who will rap their knuckles for misbehaving. There is nothing overtly sexualized or needy in their gaze because, to them, I am relegated to an untouchable realm of femininity. This is exactly the reason for wearing the hijab, and during my closeted Muslim days when I would wear it in Arizona and take if off when I returned to Minnesota I would study the differences in how I was treated and looked at. Needless to say I got lots of free stuff from random males (coffee, sodas, etc) when I was not wearing the hijab, but had more doors held open for me and more quiet gaze lowering when I was.

Free stuff with leering gazes VS disquieted respect. Hmmm, tough choice (not).

But I find that "Muslim" men regard the hijab in total contrary fashion. For them it does not say, "please, respect me," it screams, "I'm Muslim and available for you to look and accost me at your leisure!"

Working here in the hospital we have a valet service that is made up of 75% Somali** men. I hesitate going past the front enterance because of the way I am watched as I walk, and I attempt to enter the meditation room at random times for prayer in order to be there when none of the valets are praying. One brother, who seems to be the quasi-imam, has possibly the best attitude towards me (in that his gaze does not hold some sort of sexuality) but he still thinks it is quite alright to come up to me and engage me in random conversation for no reason at all. I made sure to mention my husband at various points in his interrogation.

Since I took the hijab I cannot count the number of times that I have been approached by "Muslim" men to ask me if I was really Muslim. Uh no, I wear this scarf for the sunscreen effect...

"Oh," says he, "MashAllah sister, mashAllah. So... how did you come into Islam?"

"Blah blah blah shortened synopsis of story blah blah," as I edge away towards my car/door/any exit nearby.

"MashAllah, mashAllah! So sister, are you married?"

When I was not married I would answer that I was engaged and/or any other thing that would mean continuing to pester me would not in any way be productive for him. Some of them got the hint and took their leave, some of them were obtuse and continued to follow me wherever I was attempting to flee to.

Now that I am married I must admit that the big shiny ring on my finger has greatly decreased the number of men who approach me. But it hasn't ended.

The other day I was driving, to the mosque for Arabic class incidentally, when I realized that the taxi in the lane next to me had slowed down to drive by my side. I ventured a look to find the driver waving to me and smiling in a very suggestive "please write your phone number in lipstick on your window so I can call you" fashion. Again 75% of our taxi drivers are African Muslim men**, and in response I shook my head in disgust and flagrantly broke traffic laws by speeding up and leaving him in my dust. Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Once, a few years ago, I was walking to the grocery store in Tempe, Az, and took a short-cut through the liquor store parking lot. While doing so a car that had been parked there, quite close to the front doors, came roaring around to cut me off. Leaning across the passenger seat to leer up at me through the window was a crusty old Arab praising my jilbab and khimar saying that the girls at home didn't take hijab as seriously as we converts did. He also then offered me a ride to wherever I was going.

I declined.

Really is it too much to ask that the "Muslim" men out there acknowledge the true purpose of hijab and lower their gaze? True Muslim men wouldn't look a hijabi in the eyes while talking to her let alone watch her walk down the hall or accost her in the streets.

One example of a true Muslim man: I was helping out at a bazaar at a Muslim commmunity picnic when a friend of mine came up to me with her husband to say hello. While I sat and talked with her he stood about 5 feet away watching his feet and patiently waiting until we finished talking (C you know I'm talking about your habib). He never spoke to me, or looked me over, or interrupted our conversation. Some non-Muslim women would consider this disrespect, as if he considered me too low beneath him to greet me. But they misunderstand the true intention of his actions, he in fact respected me so much as to consider himself disrespectful to force his attention on me. In this lays possibly the deepest misunderstanding of Islamic culture and the hierarchy of the sexes within it.

I wear hijab because I don't want men to look at my body or my beauty and desire me. I am, in totality, for my husband and my husband only. Thats why I wear hijab, and it pleases my God.

So, please, pardon me, but you're icky.

Fear Allah.

*Not all non-Muslim men respect hijab. There are the knuckle-dragging chauvinists who think hijab is a personal affront to their right to oggle women at any moment of any day. They are usually of the species that refer to Middle-Esterners/Muslims as towel-heads. I also once, while sitting at a bus stop innocently waiting for the bus, was approached by an Hindu Indian who, after telling me about his new wife and bragging about his great job, complemented my kohol and asked for my phone number.

I declined.

**Not all the "Muslim" men who accost me are Somali or of African descent, it was just in these particular cases that they happened to be. There are bad Muslims of every race.

Check out UmmAbdurahman's blog about the same phenomena.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gag.. And in other news

Drug reps are slimy!

Drug reps are slimy!

Drug reps are slimy!

They make me want to take a bath whenever they are within 5 feet of the front desk.

Their lizard smiles, the soul-less eyes, the I'll do anything to make you buy my drugs attitude.

They're like legalized dope dealers but with less conscience.

I do like the pens and the coffee mugs though and they bring us food all the time.

I feel dirty now.

In other news:

I caucused last night. Minnesota had a record-breaking turn out this year and the Dems definately beat the flood-water pants off the Republican party. I think something like 200,000 Dems turned out to caucus while Reps could only muster a pathetic 70,000. I know my own Rep mother went home without caucusing because she would have had to miss "The Biggest Loser" *dramatic gasp* if she went to vote.

It all goes to show that the Dems are much stronger in this state than the Reps. The Dem candidates have won this state every presidential race since 1972.

Yep, I'm a proud Minnesotan.

Sound off.

And in one more random turn of topic, the "No" calls have stopped (alhumdulillah for arabic). Woot.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I used my non-existent Arabic today at work.

How marketable is that?

For the past week almost everyday I have been receiving a phone call.

Me: M***** ***** Institute, this is Molly.

Caller: No.

Awkward silence and background noise.

Me again: M***** ***** Institute, this is Molly. (No really, I'm not kidding.)

Caller again: No.

Me: ¿Hello?

Caller: No.

Awkward silence. And I hang up.

Today they took a different route, they called twice. But this time they rounded up enough English to ask "Somali?"

The first time after going through the same routine negation that we had done daily she asked "Somali?" and I answered "No" and hung up.

The second time in I answered in exasperation, "La2, msh Somali." (No, I'm not Somali)

Caller: Mefishe Somali? (There's no Somalis?)

Me: La2, mefishe Somali.

And I hung up. Hopefully this will take care of the problem. I don't like to be informed daily that I am not Molly and I apparently don't work at M***** ***** Institute.

Sometimes we need to be reminded...

That there are other things worse than those we are going through.

If you get a chance, check out this blog Impossibly Blue Skies and remember that no matter what happens in life: from God we are created and to God will we return.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon.

Making Nice With the Joneses

I'm getting a little bit tired of this situation with my hijab. Not with wearing the hijab, but with other people having a problem with me wearing the hijab.

As my grandmother once informed me, I am pushing my beliefs onto other people by covering my own head.

Seriously, how does that work exactly?

Three separate incidences this past weekend:

On Friday after work I went over to meet my mom and my aunt, who had gone shopping that morning, for lunch. Once my aunt realized I would be coming with them, and that I would of course be wearing my hijab, she found that she had an urgent matter she needed to attend to instead. My aunt loves me, I have no doubt about this, but she would prefer to never spend time with me rather than overcome her own narrow-mindedness.

On Saturday my father's side of the family threw a birthday lunch for my great-grandmother, but I wasn't invited. I'm still blood the last time I checked, but I guess when I converted my genes did too.

And the third incident was just yesterday when I went over to my grandmother's house for the Superbowl party. I had assumed it was a family-only party but I was anxiously informed by my grandmother that she had invited the next door neighbors as well. I'm fairly certain these were the neighbors she hates because they're bigoted and stuck-up and treat many of the people in the neighborhood badly. But she invited them, and on top of that she was so worried about what they would think that she demanded that I don't go downstairs with my hijab.

"You know, they're just so against this." (add in thick Minnesota accent as you please)

Well no actually, I didn't know that, but thats beside the point. I don't care what they think about it because I don't know or like them. I offered to leave and go home, an option I would have gladly taken her up on at that moment, but she demurred and I stayed, hijab and all.

If I'm not willing to take off my hijab to spend time with my aunt, who I actually love, I'm certainly not going to do it for some stuck-up neighbors that I'm not even fond of.

I'm getting sick of this, I'm covering my own head so GET OVER IT.

What kind of people get stuck on someone dressing modestly but are quite alright with people walking the streets and showing up on TV half dressed? What kind of people complain about teen-pregnancies and the hyper-sexualization of the world today, but can't get over a simple scarf?

Where do your morals lay?

I know where mine do, and its not in making nice with the snobby Joneses.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Caucus? Well, Caucu!

Oh, politics, politics everywhere.

I'm not sure but, have I ever mentioned that I hate politics?

I'm putting myself out and calling it right here: an Obama/Clinton ticket for the Whitehouse. I'm certain of it especially after Thursday night's debate in LA. Reading the transcript of the debate you can really see them foreshadowing it. If they haven't already come to an agreement I'd be incredibly surprised because the overall impression that I got from the debate was "look we're friends and we agree on EVERYTHING!" and Clinton really took a low key backseat on most of her points. I feel that she allowed Obama to take precendence and come out stronger.

I have to admit that I have a lot more hope walking into Super Tuesday than I did before. And I, also, have to admit that I'm eating a bit of crow. I'm not sure what it was that made me dislike Obama so much from the beginning, but now that I have read more on his political standpoints I am finding myself agreeing with him.

And honestly I think that an Obama/Clinton ticket could be an awesome thing for my country.

Maybe, just maybe, I can see a bit of hope on the horizon.

What is everyone's take on the candidates? Who do you think is the best candidate for Prez?

ps- Why do we have to host the Republican Convention? We didn't do anything wrong! We don't deserve it!