BARRED Q28:24

I knocked on the intricately carved door,

Delicately;

No one answered.

I rattled the heavy ornate knocker,

Boldly;

Footfalls approached…

Then faded away.

My fists pounded on the door,

Persistently;

A call from within,

I respond from out here.

Yet, no one came.

 

As I made to leave,

I heard a key in the hole,

The latch slid, and the hinges moaned.

I returned and the door creaked opened.

I had access!

I caught a glimpse of the elaborate garden beyond,

And a heady whiff of fragrant petals.

Oh, how I had missed this!

He took a long thorough look at me,

Sized me up from head to toe,

Then shut the door in my face,

Rudely.

My elation crumbled to ashes

As I collapsed to the ground.

It hurt me more

Than if he had not opened that door

At all.

‘My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!’

Last post of 2015

I wish to acknowledge you guys, all 510 wonderful people receiving notifications of my posts (and hopefully reading them.)

It has been a good year but I am looking forward to a better 2016, in sha Allah.

Thank you for hanging out with me from time to time. I appreciate your comments, every single one!

May Allah bless you and your families with an abundance of good 🙂

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM Q4.34

Sequel to my previous post, this is also a post on marriage.

I mentioned here that I avoid giving marital advice because I feel unqualified. Most times, I ignore the thought but sometimes, like now, I cannot get it off my mind so here goes…

Due to this endemic problem of role reversal for men and women (husbands at home while the wives become breadwinners) as highlighted in my previous post, marital conflict has rapidly increased and divorce rates are skyrocketing.

While we are struggling to come to terms with this, I have a suggestion; but first, permit me to share a story.

My brother and I have a 15-month gap between us and growing up was a bit rocky. We bickered a lot and I did not respect him much but he (being easy-going) did not seem to mind. My dad was always berating him for not ‘knowing book’ like I did. I hated this but at that age, I could not fathom why he was not as studious as I was. We had a year gap in school too but I wrote my common entrance exams in Class 5 while he wrote his in Class 6 (final year of Primary/Elementary School).

We began JSS1 together and I dreaded it because I knew Daddy was going to compare our performances (even though we were in different schools) and my brother would fall short. In our third year of Secondary School, it happened! He failed while I was to proceed to senior secondary school. Even as a teenager, I was quite stoic but I cried that day (to my mum’s surprise). I was heartbroken for him. He was such a good guy, he was making so much effort to be better. It was so unfair! And I knew my dad would blast him with ‘tough love.’

I remember making a resolution that day never to call him ‘stupid’ when we quarrelled. Of course, like any dutiful teenager, I still thought he was stupid sometimes (like all boys), but I told myself I was no longer allowed to call him that or any other epithet referring to his cognitive skills. It did not matter how angry I was, it was the elephant in the room I was to ignore. Our relationship improved after that.

My marital advice is actually not new; it is what our mothers and grandmothers have been doing. One of the top reasons for marital conflict is finances. When the balance tilts in favour of the woman being the breadwinner, no matter how angry or irritated she feels, she should ignore the elephant in the room. For men who take their gender roles seriously (typically African, Arab and Asian men), they like their egos massaged (I am a learner in this aspect, and many other aspects actually). They want their efforts appreciated (no matter how little), their matters kept private and their advice and opinions sought – who doesn’t? I believed we were in modern times and waved off such silly advice when I got married. Ain’t nobody got time for all that crap, I thought. My grandmum actually advised me to kneel when serving my husband his meals. Warraheck?

Now, I realise the point she was trying to make was that a woman needs to stoop to conquer. As the saying goes ‘The husband is the head while the woman is the neck’. The neck turns the head in the direction it wants but it is subtle; you don’t see them in conflict.

Men have classified their wives arrogant (and all its synonyms) because she mentioned that she was tired of doing everything and needs him to pull his weight; or because she asked him of who would foot the bills now that he was insisting she quit work; or she told him the money he provided for housekeep was insignificant. It is supposed to be the elephant in the room that she is now the breadwinner. No matter what happens, SHE SHOULD NOT MENTION IT! 😀

The key to bringing up the elephant though, is humour. However, bear it in mind that the lack of finances is already fraying on your man’s nerves making him unreasonably sensitive so tread carefully.

On the other hand, you are free to dance a salsa with the elephant if your husband does not take his role as provider and ‘Lord Master’ seriously; or if you are past caring about your marriage; or you are a feminist insisting on equality in marriage. It won’t secure your union, I assure you; but then, maybe marriage is over-rated? 😉

PS: I have to include this: It is counter-productive to fend for your husband completely and provide all his needs because he cannot provide at the moment (and you want to show you love him). You should use your resources to provide for the family but still leave some room for him to contribute. Appreciate his contributions, no matter how small and encourage him kindly. Don’t flaunt your money in his face but don’t be stingy about it. Balance is key. Keep figuring it out; I am too. 🙂

EQUALITY/EQUITY Q3:36

Someone close to me remarked me about how she trains her daughters to sleep with or without the lights on, because either of her girls could end up with a man who had a preference. I have boys so I had never considered that, but I began to do so from that point on. They sleep with the lights off but what if they got married to a woman who prefers to sleep with the lights on, would they expect her to bow to their preferences because she’s female? Was that right?

Men are different from women; but should one be treated better than the other or should we be treated the same; hence the debate about equity versus equality.

Equity versus Equality

image credit: http://www.maine.gov

I have observed the recent trend in homes because of the worsening economy. I cannot comment on other parts of the world but for Nigeria, an increasing number of women are entering the workforce and this is affecting marriages. The world has been beaming the spotlight on women since the Beijing Conference of 1995 to ensure gender equality. More girls are being educated, more girls are getting scholarships to college, more women are getting jobs, more women are becoming the breadwinners, more women are becoming more vocal about their rights, many are struggling to get married and fewer are staying so.

It is a wonderful thing educating a woman, empowering her and informing her of her rights but while we do this, we are beginning to neglect the boys. A woman is more likely to shelve her degree (in Nigeria) and learn a trade to make ends meet that an educated man would. He is more likely to dust his CV, type out more applications and wait to be called for interviews.

From the get-go, girls are taught to be more industrious, more resilient and more focused than boys are. Responsibilities are quickly piled on the head of the first born if she’s a female. She is expected to learn house chores, show manners and respect, fend for herself and her younger ones, prepare meals, protect her virginity and excel in school. More often than not, it is alright for the boys to simply excel at school.

By the time these girls are through with tertiary education, they are piling on the postgraduate degrees and amassing skills in the workplace. If jobs (and suitable men) are not forthcoming, they are learning to become self-employed by sales of wares, or learning a skill or two like make-up artistry, hair styling, fashion designing etc. When Cupid shoots his arrow, they contribute meaningfully to the wedding and eventually, the family upkeep. Soon, the dark clouds begin to drift toward the new home. Husband is laid off, or resigns because he cannot stand his boss then wifey steps in to juggle all the balls. Husband marvels at his wonder woman for a while then resentment kicks in as he no longer feels needed. From then on, everything goes downhill fast, unless Allah steps in.

As I said, female education is a wonderful initiative to balance out the disproportion of literacy between men and women but while we aid the women, the boys are becoming weak and cannot handle the empowered women. In an era of raising Khadijas and Aishas, we are neglecting to raise Muhammads. Educated and successful women are written off as arrogant. It takes Allah’s Grace for a wise woman to remain humble under such circumstances but even her humility may be misconstrued for stupidity. In this part of the world, the man is king; he is the boss and used to getting things done his way. Wifey would not remain subservient to a petulant brat for long.

Balance is very important in nature: Night and Day, The food web, the seasons, life and death. The man provides, the woman nurtures. The man is the head of the home. When that balance tilts, it rarely bodes well.

 

MY VIEWS ON TERROR Q5:32

Assalaam alaikum, dear readers.

I often do not comment much on the ‘terrorist’ attacks around the world because, I am tired of them. Opinions abound on the topic and I have read articles which echo my thoughts on the topic so I did not want to over-flog the topic. The attacks are becoming rampant with even more lone wolf attacks than before, and the effect on the ummah is painful.

Also, I have not particularly commented on these incidents myself because the information we receive from the media and online is always skewed and flawed, unreliable and seeking to enforce some propaganda (like the linking of the Paris bombing with the Syrian refugees). How can one make an accurate analysis when our sources of information are filled with spurious tales?

Every time I hear of an attack, my heart sinks. My heart always goes out to all the people involved: the victims and their families as well as the killers’ families and the Muslims living in that vicinity. The most recent one in San Bernardino was first brought to my attention by a fellow blogger, Anum. At first, I was filled with trepidation when she mentioned the gun attacks but to be honest, I was secretly relieved there was no mention of terrorists/Muslims…but not for long.

When terrorism began, the group (not neccessarily Muslim) responsible for the attack would release a video of the attack before and during the occurrence. It lent an air of authenticity to the group. Even after the video, the FBI/CIA would analyse if it was genuine or not. Now, all it takes is simply to claim responsibility which personally, I feel anyone can do. Isn’t the game about how many people they can kill in order to strike fear into people’s hearts? Even before the group claims responsibility, the media is already insinuating that it’s Muslims. Heck, even we Muslims think it is one of us!

It is true that most of the terrorists bear Muslim names but surely, if there is anything I have learnt about international (even domestic) politics, it is that things are not always what they seem. However, taking these issues at face value, it seems that the vast majority of these suicide bombers are youngsters, fiery with a new sense of misguided purpose, sorely deficient in sound Islamic knowledge, eager to be brainwashed. For most of the Muslims reading this, terrorism does not make any sense in whatever shape or form but our youth are voluntarily being recruited into ISIS and other terror groups.

‘Abdullah [bin Mas’ud](R.A.) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:
“In the end of time there will come a people young in years, foolish in minds, reciting the Qur’an which will not go beyond their throats, uttering sayings from the best of creatures, going through the religion as an arrow goes through the target.”- Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2188

The onus is on me as a mother to ensure that those I can directly influence – my children- are positively impacted with the proper Islamic knowledge. (How can they imbibe this knowledge if we the parents do not possess them?) They should integrate with the community, both Muslim and non-Muslim and know that hurting people is unacceptable. Terrorism is abhorrent, plain and simple. No matter how thinly we slice it, no matter how different we may seem, we all bleed the same and hurt when our loved ones are taken from us. They must grow to understand that oftentimes, Islam is rational and if something doesn’t seem right, they should trust their instincts and verify further before they act. They must inculcate strong values which would guide them throughout life and help them manage pressures from their peers.

 

Jabir (R.A.) reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Iblees placed his throne over the water and then he sends out his troops. The nearest to him are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done this and this. Iblees says: You have done nothing. Another says: I did not leave this person until I caused discord between him and his wife. Iblees says: You have done well.
– Sahih Muslim 2813

Finally, it is my opinion that a sound home with the parents working together as good role models for children will help to stem the tide of terrorism. Every organization needs foot soldiers, recruits and (with the exception of those being forced into these groups) our children should not be susceptible to such brainwashing if we have done our jobs well as parents, with Allah’s Help. We need to sit up and pay attention to the plethora of information available out there corrupting our children. We must censor the TV and the computer; know their friends and visit their schools. It is not enough to be out there raking in the money. It is not all about the money. Children need love, attention, approval. If they get it from you, they are less likely to seek it elsewhere.

In as much as we are having more Islamophobic attacks, we should stand strong, educate people about Islam through our actions and perfect our character. This too shall pass. There was a time in history when Jews were heavily persecuted by the Nazis; Japanese were also humiliated in the US following the Pearl Harbour bombing; Blacks did not have the opportunities they now have in Europe and the US. It is our turn now and in sha Allah, it will become a fading memory. Nothing ever lasts forever. Unfortunately, this may mean that another religion or race may be picked on.

May Allah help us all.

FLIP IT AROUND Q16:90

I used to write in my diary journal, or listen to music to quell my anger in my late teenage years. After a while, I moved to nasheed (Muslim songs) to return to my happy self; no time to indulge in writing. Soon, I did not have the luxury of easily removing myself from the object of my fury as I got older. I learned to contain my anger and ruminate on it after I left the environment. I would stew in resentment and consider all the witty retorts I should have given – retorts I would have regretted anyway. This would upset me further and I would look for someone unfortunate to dump my emotions on.

anger insideout

I know listening to the Qur’an and making adhkaar is laudable but they do not appeal to me when I am well and truly pissed incensed. Now I have learnt to channel my emotions.

After removing myself from the scene, I have to find somewhere or someone to vent to. Secondly, after ruminating on the offense,  I consider whether or not to confront the person; oftentimes, I decide against it. Thirdly, I channel my grievances to Allah. I am fuelled by the anger to read more Qur’an, pray with better zeal, make extra nawafil etc so that Allah can answer my prayers to overcome the oppression I feel.

So, the source of my ire becomes my inspiration and motivation to be better 🙂

Side effect: It takes longer for me to forget even if I have forgiven. Hmm…still working on the right formula for me.

Any suggestions?

PS: I know I have an early post on anger but then, it’s easier said than done 😉