AUTONOMY Q2:223

I was surfing the TV channels when a channel caught my eye so I paused to listen. It was a Christian station and I cannot remember what made me stop. Being one who is eager to learn from anyone and everyone, I paused with my finger on the remote control, ready to change it if he was spewing something irrelevant to me.

The preacher was walking through the congregation holding a microphone and shared this joke (which I am paraphrasing):

A lady came to her pastor and said, ‘Pastor, I need you to pray for my husband. He has a demon!’

The pastor probed further to assess what kind of demon it was and she replied exasperatedly, ‘He wants to have sex in the morning, noon and night! Every time of the day, he wants to have sex. He has a demon, please help him cast it out!’

Then the Pastor replied, ‘I am sorry I cannot help you, young woman, because I too have this demon!’

 

I first felt the need to write this post when I was toilet-training my first son. I woke him in the middle of the night when he was either 2 or 3 and took him to the bathroom to pee. As is the Islamic tradition, after he urinated, I fetched some water to clean him up with and felt an erection/boner/stiffness or whatever you want to call it. I was amazed! I thought I knew the human body but apparently, I knew very little about the male anatomy and physiology. The books never mentioned toddlers were capable of a hard-on. Was this normal?

And I am not the only one. At the programme I mentioned in the previous post, a haematologist also sounded surprised that a sickle cell disease patient was brought in with priapism (a non-sexual painful erection) and he was only 4 years old.

When I encountered that reaction in my son, who sleepily returned to bed blissfully unaware, I spent some time awake, thinking about men and felt some sympathy for them. I felt it was not really their fault they were wired that way. Putting it as delicately as I can, men have a piece of flesh that basically has a mind of its own. It is autonomous. I believe that as boys become men, they are able to control it better but I doubt if the effect lessens. I am betting it increases as male hormones (which drive libido) kick in at puberty.

Allah knows best.

Before I got married, I knew guys are crazy about sex. We had sisters-only events where married women advised us about courting and marriage and emphasized the importance of sex. During my friends’ nikkah khutbah (wedding sermon), the imams mentioned it. During my own preparation, friends reminded me. All the books on marriage swore by it. I guess like with every oft-repeated advice, it loses its potency after a while and becomes cliché.

We women are quick to blame men for thinking with their phalluses but if you were deprived of eating for days with a feast in front of you, you would tear into that juicy piece of chicken once the flag goes down signalling ‘Eat!’ Besides, for a lot of African, Arab and Asian men, their self image is tied to their sexuality.

I once had a newly-married couple visit the hospital. They were crazy in love. The man seemed shy, the woman more willing to talk (perhaps, because she had encountered a female doctor). She explained how quickly the man ejaculates when they meet and they were worried he had an anomaly. I had to explain that it was normal especially because the man had married as a virgin. (Virgins are not as rare as we think). Imagine denying such a man who had kept his virginity until marriage where he finally feels he can let go of the reins and bask in his sexuality.

To women married to good non-philandering men, consider this:

Our men decided to select us out of the multitude of women they encountered for reasons best known to them. They could have followed the Order of the Phallus to wife a professional vixen with a PhD in Bedmatics but instead, they made an effort to practise Islam and married us. Instead, we punish them for making the right decision to think with their heads and marry a good woman and prospective mother of good Muslim children. We withhold sex to get back at them; simply because we feel we cannot match their libido; or because we are scared of pregnancy/childbirth.

The basic religious reason for marriage is for procreation with permission, or as a lecturer of mine put it ‘Marriage is a license to have sex’. The major world religions discourage (even forbid) sex outside the confines of marriage. If you have a man who has a healthy fear of God and you starve him of sexual intimacy, it seems unfair, callous and even, wicked. Of course, we are tired, over-worked, unappreciated, not in the mood etc. but we should consider that this is one of the halal ways a man can let his hair down after a day of the world hammering on him, beating him down with disappointment upon disappointment, challenge after challenge, temptation following temptation.

Some men are out there getting their grooves on with strange women; others are drinking or gambling their lives away. If your man returns home to you every night, in spite of your attitude because he hasn’t fulfilled your demands, you should hug him and welcome him home. No matter how much he pretends to behave macho, I believe men just want to feel desired and loved; encouraged to go back into the ring tomorrow to fight valiantly for the family’s survival.

Of course, I am writing this because I am in a good place with my husband today. Perhaps I would be less charitable when he’s annoying the heck out of me! 😄 #remindertoself

Seriously though, it doesn’t change the truth. We should appreciate our men more (especially if they are good men). I know the comments would not roll in because this is a bit personal but I would be glad to know that you surprised your man today (or better still, early in the morning after Fajr) ;). It is a weekend so unbuckle your chastity belt and ‘go to town’ and remind him of how happy he was when you guys decided to tie the knot. Let him be reassured that YOU are the best decision of his life!

BIG BREAK Q12:46-49

I had spent the day seeing patients this past Sunday and was in a vehicle on my way home. As we drove by a bus-stop, I looked at people’s faces and my heart felt sad and my eyes clouded over. Don’t we deserve a break?

Life in Nigeria has become very tough, for majority of the people. I can categorically say that the Middle Class has been annihilated. We only have the rich and the poor. Even the rich cannot enjoy their money because of the eagle eyes of the new government, eager to prosecute looters of the Public Treasury.

This is the analogy of Nigeria I have in mind:

A woman is given a couple of Naira by her husband to procure foodstuff to make meals for the family. This was the first time in months of scraping to get by. Elated, she hurried to an open market some distance away with her child strapped to her back. After she went round to settle her debts, she returned home to make a variety of meals and set them aside in the earthenware pots to cool. She had stretched the money as far as it could go and was satisfied with the outcome. They had enough food to last them a fortnight.

While she hung the second-hand clothes she bought for her older children to dry, she heard some commotion in the house and dashed to check it out. To her dismay, her infant (previously asleep) was now awake and with the help of their only goat, had broken the clay pots and eaten/spilled all of the food. The poor woman stood rooted in the doorway with pain on her face, unable to do what her heart was inclined to: sit down in the middle of the mess and wail. She could not afford that luxury. She had to clean up the mess and decide what to tell her older children and husband when they returned home hungry. Again.

This is the image I have of Nigeria at the moment. Our President is making a lot of effort but we want to see magic! We are hungry and do not want to hear how the previous administration is responsible. Indeed, we all suffering – both the rich and poor alike.

I had a patient that Sunday who said: The rain that beats everybody is not a bad rain. He said this after telling me to check his blood pressure because his landlord was the first person on their doorstep that day, demanding that they moved out of his house because they were behind on their rent by a mere 6 weeks when tenants typically owe several months of rent.

I disagreed with him but did not say so. This was a bad rain, flogging everyone mercilessly. Lawyers, doctors, teachers, business-owners, cab drivers, even beggars are not immune from the economic downturn in Nigeria following our undiversified economy, plummeting oil prices, pillaged public coffers, and chronic poor governance.

Thinking deeper about that saying though, I found myself beginning to agree. With this rain, we are becoming more understanding, more tolerant, more introspective. We are beginning to realise that when the sharing of the National Cake was going on, tribe and religion did not matter so it should not matter now. We now know that we are all in this together and gradually, we are coming to see that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ Even the landlord who was threatening to evict my patient tried to make him see reason that he had a genuine need for the money. His company owes him millions and cannot afford to pay him now.

He is not alone. Many civil servants are owed months of salaries. They have accrued debts so large they fear they may die bankrupt. Private companies also owe their employees at the moment. Big companies like Shell Nigeria are planning to lay off about 100,000 of their workers while a number of companies have already beat them to it by downsizing their workforce. Pensioners are dying without receiving their due. Senior citizens are following in their steps as their children cannot afford their healthcare.

You see, the entirety of the Nigerian economy fed off the Oil wealth. As the politicians shared their loot, some of it trickled down to the masses. They were acquiring land and building property. They were investing in businesses and building companies; employing citizens and sharing their largesse. Some of these thieves justified their stealing by sponsoring their wards’ education. They employed a lot of domestic and official staff, many without a clear job description. They were disposing of their barely-used belongings and buying new possessions. Money was leaking everywhere and the mosquitoes were feeding fat on it.

Now that the party has come to an end with the dwindling Oil Money and new thrifty government, the wailing is loud. Nigerians are striving to be patient but I wonder how much more we can take with new policies like the increased electricity tariff, increased cost of Kerosene and the banning of small generators.

As we drove by that Sunday, I felt we needed a break – a big break. Nigeria should win the World Cup or the Olympics. We cannot all win the lottery but I wish something positive would happen, anything really….I just want to see a smile on everyone’s face and the relief that there was truly hope; that everything will be alright, eventually.

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TO YOUR PLACES Q2:238

There was a time I was missing praying in a mosque so I decided to go for Juma’a in a masjid. In Northern Nigeria and a couple of countries, the women’s section of the mosque is minimal, poorly lit, poorly maintained and sometimes, away from the masjid itself, seemingly like an afterthought.

I did not want to pray in such a space.
I wanted to pray in a magnificent masjid, and stare up at the elaborately detailed dome, admire the glory of the geometric designs, bask in the beauty of the masjid’s ambience.

I wanted to pray in congregation as I hadn’t in a long time. I needed to stand side-by-side with other Muslims, shoulder-to-shoulder, praying fluidly in unison – like we were one body. I needed to bond with fellow sisters in Islam on another level…

An-Nu’man ibn Basheer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The example of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5665

Of course, I did not communicate my feelings in detail so I was invited by a friend of mine to her masjid for Juma’a and of course, I was disappointed.
However, I was able to reignite this feeling recently. I had forgotten the magical effect praying outdoors has on me.

 

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The entire earth has been made a place of prayerexcept for the graveyards and the latrine.”

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 317

I had the opportunity to pray outside my home (and workplace) for the first time in a long while. I was attending a week-long programme and the mosque within the premises was some distance away. A new friend and I decided to pray in the car park and it was so tranquil, quiet, secluded; and serenity washed over me. I wanted to sit there all day, perhaps, I could lay on the prayer rug and take in nature through all my senses, admire the drifting clouds, the beautiful hue of the sky…but it was short-lived. It was a car park afterall, no place for fantasies!

It is such a blessing to us to have the opportunity to recharge with Allah during the day. It’s refreshing, fulfilling and relaxing. I wish we would stop our rat races long enough to smell the roses.
Anyway, I think that car park was the strangest place I have prayed so far…and that’s so boring. I need to pray in some really weird place. Let me add that to my bucket list! 😀
So, where is the weirdest place you have prayed? Do you have a bucket list of strange places you would like to pray?