Women's nature?!

{ Wednesday, March 30, 2011 }
During my research about women's rights in Saudi Arabia for my bachelor paper, I keep on bumping into this term called "women's nature", solely used by men. It's used as an excuse for everything. 
"It is essential that female students be steered toward feminine disciplines. There is no need for women to compete with men in disciplines that are not suited to their nature." said former Superintendent General Mohammed bid Adwah. My interpretation of what is meant with a woman's "nature" in this particular use is that women are weak, emotional, and not up to anything that requires work or stress. Women should stay at home, serve their husbands, look after their children, and not fill their minds with dreams and plans that are against their "nature". Studying sciences or engineering? My dear, you are too weak for that! 

I wonder, did these men ever ask if women agree with their description of women's "nature"? Or do they think they are right and women are always wrong? I, as a woman, do not agree with this definition. 
Also, how many books are written to help men (in vain) to try and understand women? We are complex creatures. We give birth, experiencing tremendous pains, and still we are considered weak and fragile?! 
I wish that those men would stop trying to put women in a simple box which they can easily control, and open themselves up to the possibility that we can be more. Yes, we love our family and our men, but we don't live just to serve them. Islam encourages us to seek knowledge, to do good, and to participate in society. I don't want to be treated as a fragile princess, who will fall into sin the moment a man looses a bit of his control over her. I'm not a disgrace in disguise. I don't need a man to tell me what's right and wrong. I can read and understand myself. I'm sure all women can. To me, the definition of women's "nature" is not valid, and I wish they would stop using it as an excuse to hold women back. 


{ Tuesday, March 29, 2011 }
I saw this video on YouTube and it really brought tears to my eyes.
I think this is a good example of music that brings you closer to God, and to doing good things. 
The message of the song is clear: be kind and helpful towards others, bring a smile on their face.
A very beautiful message, but what I'm sometimes struggling with is my shyness. I'd like to help others, but feel too shy to really talk to them. I know it's not a bad thing to be shy, especially towards men, but it's preventing me from doing good, so it's not good in my case. I pray that God will help me with this, to lift my shyness in a way that I can be a blessing towards others.
Although of course this is not an excuse for everything, because I don't feel shy towards my best friends and family, and I can definitely do more for them and be kinder to them. So I think I will start with that, inshaAllah. Another item on my long list of resolutions hehe. 
But seriously, it's very important, and it's also very pleasing to God. This should be our main goal in life, to please God. So let this song be a reminder and a way to change the life of others for the better, inshaAllah!

Feeling sad :(

{ Sunday, March 27, 2011 }
When I opened my Google page this morning, I read in the news that Israel killed another two Palestinians, and I felt the familiar mixture of sadness and anger that I always feel whenever I read about the cruelty and selfishness of Israel. To me, they are the embodiment of all the evil in this world. Not because they are Jews. I'm so tired of their comments that if you attack Israel, you are actually a fervent Jew hater who wants to be the new Hitler. I'm judging them by their actions, not by what kind of religion they belong to. They are doing wrong, they are killing innocent people, and the world is just watching and letting it happen. Even the Arab and Islamic countries are not supporting the Palestinians, or not enough. Most of them even have relations with Israel. Really, what would happen if all the Islamic countries would unite and take a stand against Israel and the US? I think it would really make a difference, especially since the Middle East has an important weapon: oil. The problem is that this little scenario will never happen, since the Arabs are even discriminating each other. All this makes me so sad. I feel so powerless. There is so much evil in this world, evil that goes unpunished. People's words and actions are so different. Some support the Palestinians with their tongue, while buying things from Israel and supporting them economically with their hands. I have no uplifting words. I feel it's all so hopeless. When will it end?

Praying in group

{ Saturday, March 26, 2011 }
Maybe it's because I grew up with the idea that praying is something you do in private, but I don't really like to pray in group.It's not that I don't like the company, it's more that I can't concentrate when I pray with other women. I pray rather slow when I'm on my own, so when another woman is leading, I'm always thinking to myself "oh no, she will finish her sura before I finish mine, go faster, go faster!" It's like I don't have time to focus on what I'm saying, and that's what I don't like. I also don't pray in group very often, so maybe I'm just not used to it. My favorite place to pray is in my room, alone, following my own rhythm.
Another thing I don't like (how picky I am! :p) is to pray at someone else's place when the sister(s) in question don't need to pray and are watching your every move. Once it happened that I was done praying and a sister came towards me and started giving comments on how I should improve my prayer. I'm sure her intentions were good, but I felt a bit hurt and offended (especially because every one else heard her comments too!)

What is your opinion? Do you like to pray alone or in group? :) 

My love for classical music

{ Friday, March 25, 2011 }
I have to admit, when I was a kid, I didn't like classical music at all. Whenever my parents took my brother and I to some concert, I always protested and prepared myself to be bored to death. But as I grew older, and my brother grew into electro music (which is more often than not a pain to my ears), I learned to appreciate it more and more. It's a real luxury for me to put on a piece of classical music in the morning, when I'm having my breakfast. It makes me feel so peaceful and in touch with the universe. I look outside of my window, and I see the birds and the sky (not much green going on in the city, I'm afraid), I get really touched by the beauty of it all, mashaAllah.
I also listen to it while I'm studying or doing an assignment, because it helps me to concentrate. 

I went to a classical concert recently with my parents (my brother refused to join us) after many years, and I found myself enjoying it. Except for the part where they played Debussy. I'm sorry to say, but I don't like his music. My favorite composers are Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart and Grieg, so I guess I'm a bit of a traditionalist hehe. 

To end, I'd like to share one of my favorite pieces. The 7th symphony, composed by Beethoven. It's also the music played at the end of "The King's speech", when Colin Firth delivers his speech. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by that when I was in the cinema :-)

Allah's mercy and love for His creation

{ Wednesday, March 23, 2011 }
I just came across this hadith qudsi, and mashaAllah, what a beautiful one!

The Prophet SallaAllahu ‘Aleyhi wa Sallam said
that Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala said:

Myself, humanity and the jinn, 
are in a great serious state. 
I created them, then they worship other gods that they themselves create. 

I bless them with my gifts, then they thank someone else for what I've sent them. 
My grace falls down on them while their evil deeds ascend to Me. 
I express my love for them with my gifts, even though I not need them. 
While they themselves avoid to Me with their sins and they desperately need my help. 

Anyone who turns to Me, I accept him irrespective of how far it is, 
and anyone who turns away from Me, I approach him and ask him. 
Any person who fails a sin for Me, I reward him with many presents 
and anyone who tries to please Me, I try to satisfy them. 
Anyone who acknowledges My Will and Power in everything he does, I let him bend the iron. 

My dear people are those who are with Me. 
Anyone who owes Me, I give him more blessings. 
Anyone who disobeys Me, I lift him, and caress him more. 
Anyone who disobeys Me, 
I keep the doors of My Mercy open for him; 
if he turns to me, I give him my love, because I love those who repent and cleanse themselves before Me. 
If he does not repent, I treated him still by placing him in a difficulty to clean him (his sins). 

Anyone who gives me the preference over others, 
I give him preference over others. 
I reward every good deed of ten or seven hundred times to countless times. 
I count every evil deed as one unless the person repents and asks my pardon, in which case I forgive even that one. 

I take every little good deed into consideration 
and I forgive even major sins. 
My Mercy surpasses My Wrath. 
My tolerance exceeds my reprimand. 
My Pardon surpasses my punishment, 
More gracious as I am with My Servants 
than a mother to her child.

Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah
From Madaarijus-Saalikeen

I received a Stylish Blogger Award! :)

{ Monday, March 21, 2011 }

Rules connected with Stylish Blogger awards:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave me the award
Thank you, Moon from the blog 
http://themoonsmile2.blogspot.com/  for giving me the stylish blogger award! I'm very happy with it! :)

2. Share seven things about myself

  1. I'm a vegetarian and proud of it!
  2. My mood is very much dependent on the weather: sunny-> happy, rainy and gray -> grumpy
  3. I'm rather shy and silent in real life
  4. I played the piano for 10 years
  5. I love my fiancé from Medina so much it hurts, and I hope I can marry him soon, inshaAllah.
  6. My dreamjob is to become a writer
  7. I can't cook (or rather: I didn't spend much time trying to cook yet :p)
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.

15?! That's a lot! Too much! 
Ok, I give the Stylish Blogger Award to:

  1. The Light of Islam 
  2. Striving to be the best me
  3. Diary of a Muslim Feminist
  4. Starry-Eyed
  5. Blue Abaya
  6. Steadily Emerging with Grace
  7. Alnisaa
That's it for now ;) I did take into account the blogs that already got this award (for as far as I know), so they don't get it double.

4. Contact these bloggers to tell them of their award

I will do my best, inshaAllah.

Thanks again!:)

Feeling Annoyed With Myself

{ Sunday, March 20, 2011 }
I just had a huge discussion with my mum about the headscarf. This took me by surprise, and it seems to indicate that maybe my mum is aware of my conversion, but just doesn't literally want to bring it up.
What frustrates me in discussions like this, is how poorly I can defend my points of view. I'm not good in standing up for myself. I want to change, but how? I feel like I was born with this inability to orally defend myself.

My mum brought up points like how Muslim women who wear headscarf in our culture and society only draw more attention to themselves, and how it would be wiser for them to just wear long clothes. It's true that in this society, people will look at you if you wear a scarf on your head, for surely you must either be a terrorist or oppressed. I told her that the hair of women can also be beautiful and an attraction to men, but she dismissed this, and said that the headscarf was an invention by men to oppress women. She also believes that a god would never keep himself busy with which woman wears headscarf and who doesn't, and that it was all ridiculous. I just sat there, not knowing what to say. Of course I didn't agree with her, but it all felt pointless. I couldn't find my words, although I perfectly know why I would like to wear headscarf, and it isn't to draw attention to myself or to be ridiculous.
I also think it's rather arrogant of her to assume what God will "keep Himself busy with". Ok, I don't believe you will automatically go to hell if you don't wear headscarf, but He told us women to wear it, so if we wear it, we do it to please Him. My mother doesn't believe in the Quran, or its verses, so what's the point really? I don't know how to change her mind, and I know if I would name the reasons why a Muslim woman would wear headscarf, she would find them ridiculous.
I dread the day that I will tell her I want to wear headscarf too, because she will find all sorts of reasons why I shouldn't, and maybe I will just sit there not knowing what to say. That doesn't mean that I think she's right or her arguments make sense. My mind is just blank at that moment, and all the reasons why I want to wear it, are suddenly out of my reach to remember.


Interesting Site

{ Saturday, March 19, 2011 }

A site by Muslims against extremism!

The Importance Of Remaining Conscious

{ Friday, March 18, 2011 }
The world of today is filled with shiny distractions that make us forget about our true nature, and why we are here. It's hard to stay focused all the time, but it's something we really need to strive to achieve. 
A wise man was asked once what he would prefer: being extremely poor or extremely rich? He chose the first one. Why? Because the first one would keep him close to God, whereas the second one would make him forget God, and make him blinded by the splendor of this world. Wealth is a blessing, but also a test. It's easy to forget when you can buy anything you want and bribe anyone you want. It's so important to remember that when we die, we won't be able to take our money, our power, our diamond rings or anything that belongs to this world with us. The only things that will stay with us are our good and bad deeds, and the faith we showed in God during our lifetime. All the rest is only temporary, and will vanish eventually. 

Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes in her book "Women Who Run With The Wolves": 

The Koran wisely advises that we will be called upon to account for all the permitted pleasures in life we did not enjoy while on earth. However, too much or even a little bit of a good thing at the wrong time can cause a gross loss of consciousness. Then, instead of a sudden rush of wisdom, we walk about like an absentminded professor muttering, "Now where was I?" It takes weeks, sometimes months, to recover from these distractions of ours. (...)
We begin to understand that this process of remaining conscious, and particularly of not giving in to distracting appetites while trying to elicit psychic connection,is a long process, and one that is difficult to hold on to. We see the wily little dog trying his damnedest. Yet it is a long way from the deep archetypal unconscious back to the conscious mind. It is a long way down to the names, and a long way back to the surface again. Holding knowledge in consciousness is hard when there are snares along the path.
The kumquat pie and the bone represent distracting seductions that are in their own way delicious...in other words, there are elements of everyone's psyches that are devious, trickerish, and scrumptious. These elements are anti-consciousness; they thrive by keeping things dark and exciting. Sometimes it is hard to remind ourselves that we are holding out for the excitement of the light." (1)

We are allowed to enjoy our life, but not to be blinded by it. It is a mercy from God that we as Muslims are called upon to pray five times a day, to be strongly grounded in consciousness of our own limitations and Gods greatness. But still, it's not enough to just mumble our prayers and be done with it. We need to be present when we pray, so that our hearts can feel the words we utter too. It's the only way our prayers will be accepted too. This is hard to do sometimes. I notice that my mind likes to use those times of prayer to go over the events of the day and what I still need to do. I try to fight it, but sometimes my mind wins over my will. Maybe that's what the author C.P Estes means with "trickerish elements of the psyche which are anti-consciousness". I always feel a pull to make excuses to not pray, like something in my mind tries to lead me astray. What we need to remember is that God is more important than anything. Prayer is more important than anything. All the things we have in life is thanks to Him. He can take it away too, if He wills. If you look around, and read the news, you notice that a lot of people have forgotten this simple fact. I always shake my head when I see how people adore popstars and moviestars nowadays instead of turning to God. Newsflash: all those celebrities are just as humane and mortal as we are, and they can't help us with anything. They are often arrogant and filled with self-importance. They see their mere presence as an absolute blessing for their fans, and their fans see it that way too. It's true that some are very talented, but who gave them that gift anyway? And who can take their fame away just as easily as He gave it to them? If people would only be a bit more modest and humble, the world would be a whole lot more beautiful and fair. 

(1) C.P ESTES, Women who run with the wolves, p122

If You Wish For Light...

{ Tuesday, March 15, 2011 }

post from my old blog http://goldenraindrop.wordpress.com
22 February 2011
If you wish for light, be ready to receive light. 
Nourish your ego and be deprived of light. 
If you wish to find a way out of this prison, 
do not turn away; 
bow down in worship and draw near.
- Rumi
If you want light, be ready for it. That’s what the great poet Rumi is trying to tell us. If we only think about ourselves, our life, our career, our needs and greed, we will not receive light, because as the Buddhists say, our cup is full! 
We can’t see anything beside ourselves, and our thoughts are firmly grounded in daily life. We are all guilty of it, myself included. Life can be so hectic, and sometimes difficult, that I don’t have much energy left to think about “higher” things. I mean, hello, I have a paper to finish!
Still, Rumi warns us, do not turn away, bent down in worship and draw near.
How easy it is to forget our blessings, and to focus on what’s going wrong in our lives! If I only had more money, I would be able to buy this and this, and then I would be happy! If I only had a partner who’s here to take care of me, and to love me, my life would be great! If I only had more friends, I would feel so much better about myself! And the list goes on…
The truth is that peace, fulfillment and happiness, are not somewhere out there in the world, waiting to be triumphantly snatched by us. They are attitudes, a way of living. They come from within. If we are focused on always wanting more, we will never be satisfied, no matter what. If we are grateful with what we have, we will always find things to be happy about.  I’m sure you heard this many times before, but we forget so easily… Our culture is based on buying happiness, just look at all the ads on TV or in the magazines. 
Me too, I’d buy a new cellphone, computer or eyeliner, thinking it would add something fundamental to my life. But the more we “nourish our ego”, the further we are from our goal, i.e. to find peace and fulfillment.
That’s were (for me) religion kicks in. No matter how busy I am during the day, I’m a Muslim, and it’s expected of me to bend in worship 5 times a day. This obligation is a mercy from God, to be sure. It helps to keep my focus on the important things in life, on what really matters. It helps me to grow a feeling of gratitude, as I thank God for my blessings. Gratitude leads to a feeling of contentment, and therefore peace. If we just take a moment to think about all the things we have in life: our family, our friends, a roof above our heads, education, food when we are hungry,… we realise we are very blessed indeed! If we forget to show gratitude, we can get caught up in a spiral of moodiness, feeling inadequate, and even depression, because the days can seem so dark! But all it takes is a shift in perception. There is always something to feel grateful about, even if we feel we are lacking so much. When we bow down in prayer, our perception changes, and we are finally ready to receive the light. And then, there is nothing that can’t be done.

Why I'm a Vegetarian

{ Monday, March 14, 2011 }

Post from my old blog http://goldenraindrop.wordpress.com

13 january 2011

“I am a very strict vegetarian…I just really really love animals, and I act on my values. I am really against cruelty to animals.”
-Natalie Portman
“If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat.”
-Sir Paul McCartney
I’ve always felt a tremendous fondness for animals,whether it’s a cat, a cow or a horse. They are so innocent. They are not affected by human’s greed and evil. They don’t judge you based on how pretty you are (which happens a lot in human society), but based on the kindness and warmth you carry on the inside. A lot of times, they are a better judge of character than we are! I believe they have a lot of wisdom and things to teach us, if we would only look past our belief of being superior to them.
Some people still consider animals as soulless and without feelings. I cannot imagine a statement more wrong and ignorant than that.
There have been times in my life when I loved animals more than humans. Humans disappointed me with their cruelty and selfishness, and I found comfort in the sensitivity, gentleness and kindness animals were capable of.
I respect the earth and the creatures living on it. I even find it hard to kill a fly, and I try to avoid killing anything as much as possible.
I’m against the way a lot of animals are only treated as  meat. They are born in a small cage, force-fed, and then slaughtered without perhaps even ever having seen daylight.  How anyone can do this to a living being is beyond my imagination. Do people realise what they eat? Do people realise that the animal they are eating might have been treated in a cruel way?
You might say that animals in the wild are eaten too, by other animals. That’s true, of course, but at least they were born in the wild, and not in cages, and they had a chance to escape. A lion will only kill when he’s hungry, while mankind kills for profit. Not only for food, but also for clothes, bags, luxuries,… Just from the indifference people show towards animals and how they mistreat them, you can tell that there is something very wrong with the world.
When I was in Turkey last summer, we were on a guided trip, and apparently it’s a policy of the Turkish government that tourists on guided trips have to visit two Turkish companies. One of the companies we visited was a leather and fur company. The man who did the introduction was proudly telling us how the fur they produced was only from real animals like cats, foxes, rabbits etc.  Oh, how I hated that guy and wanted to reduce him to dust with my gaze. They even did a bloody fashion show after that! Really, tell me, am I the only one who is enraged by the fact that animals are killed (and sometimes skinned alive) for a stupid coat?
Some of my muslim friends told me that I can’t be a vegetarian and a Muslim at the same time, and even tried to hush me when I criticised the slaughter of animals.  I strongly disagree with them. Since when is eating meat obliged in Islam? It’s not. And although Islam allows humans to eat meat, the killing of animals should be done with the utmost consideration to their well-being.  Islam teaches us to be kind and merciful towards all creatures on earth. Islam does not tell us to mistreat and abuse animals, on the contrary! Don’t believe me? Let’s just look at the following hadiths and Quran verses:
“The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was asked by his companions if kindness to animals was rewarded in the life hereafter. He replied: “Yes, there is a meritorious reward for kindness to every living creature.” (Bukhari)
“There is not an animal on earth, nor a bird that flies on its wings-but they are communities like you.” (The Quran, 6:38)
“The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) admonished: ‘Avoid the seven abominations (sins), and for one of the sins he recited the following verse of the Quran: “And kill not a living creature, which Allah has made sacrosant, except for a justifiable reason’.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Al-Nasai);(The Quran, 6:151 and 17:33)
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘One who kills even a sparrow or anything smaller, without a justifiable reason, will be answerable to Allah.’ When asked what would be a justifiable reason, he replied: ‘to slaughter it for food-not to kill and discard it’.” (Ahmad an al-Nasai)
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) told of a prostitute who, on a hot summer day, saw a thirsty dog hovering around a well, lolling his tongue. She lowered her socks down the well and watered the dog. Allah forgave all her sins (for this one act of kindness).” (Muslim)
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated a vision in which he saw a woman being chastised after death because she had confined a cat during her life on earth without feeding and watering it, or even letting it free so it could feet itself.” (Muslim)
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) forbade the beating, or the branding of animals. Once he saw a donkey branded on its face and said: ‘may Allah condemn the one who branded it’.” (Muslim)
The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “it is a great sin for man to imprison those animals which are in his power’.”(Muslim)
Ibn ‘Umar reported the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as having condemned those who mutilate any part of an animal’s body while it is alive. (Ahmad and other authorities)
On religious sacrifice of animals: ”Their flesh will never reach Allah, nor their blood-but your devotion and piety will reach Him.” (The Quran, 22:37)
And here are two sites that deal with being vegetarian ànd Muslim:
And here is the link to the Peta vegetarian recipe database! :-)

Being A Muslim In The West

{ Sunday, March 13, 2011 }

I was born into a Christian family, although only by name, since my parents aren’t really religious. After years of reading and research, I converted to Islam last summer (alhamdulillah). I’ve been familiar with the Islamic lifestyle for a while longer though, because I purposely started to spend time with other muslim girls. And in the end, I was so familiar with it that it seemed to become my own lifestyle. I still didn’t convert at that moment though, because I was thinking about my parents, family,…just everyone except myself really. I believed in God, and I felt at home with the Islamic lifestyle, but I was afraid of the consequences of my decision. I was waiting until I suddenly had the courage to tell my parents I wanted to do this. Courage that never came, and that still hasn’t come.
In the end, I came to the realisation that it was my life, and that I should live it for me (not very original, I know).
I converted in August, and something strange happened for a short while. All the things I hadn’t been doing voluntarily for a while, because of my interest in Islam, suddenly became compulsory for me not to do (not drinking, not wearing T-shirts, but long clothes, not going to parties, etc.). I don’t know about humans and their inclination to fight against any obligations, but I was starting to feel afraid I made the wrong decision, because of all this obligations that “suddenly” fell on me (while I had been living by this obligations for a year or more). Luckily, it was just a feeling, and it passed, when I started to look again at all the beauty that Islam is. I realised it was not an easy choice, but it was MY choice, and I felt proud of myself.
But I live in an European country, and the majority here has a very different lifestyle. I’m not complaining. It’s not because I’m muslim, that I think everyone should suddenly follow me. I also think the West has achieved a lot of great things, like freedom of speech, critical thinking, and democracy. But it does mean that it was my job to set boundaries for myself, in my dealing with others. I’m a student, and I’m staying in a student-house, where I’m the only muslim. There were going to be a lot of times I would have to say “no, thanks” to other people. Luckily I have friends who respect the way I want to live my life, and don't press me to drink alcohol for example.
I developed this kind of compass inside of me, that pointed me in the right direction. It’s my guide in knowing what’s acceptable to me as a muslim, and what isn’t. And at times, when I ignore this compass, I feel it very strongly, because I end up feeling bad, and not wanting to repeat the experience again. It’s still challenging, and sometimes I find myself longing to live in an Islamic country, to not always feel like the odd one out. Maybe I will someday, God only knows.
More and more people start to know about my conversion, but I still haven’t found the courage to tell my parents yet. I’m scared of how they would react. They haven’t done the same research that I have about Islam. They only came in touch with it through the media, and I think I can safely say that that’s not a good thing. I’m also not very good at explaining things, like expressing the knowledge that I have inside of me, and I fear their questions and my inadequate answers.
I also want to wear headscarf, but I know this is impossible, until I’ve told my parents. They might never accept, but at least they would know.
It’s still a long way to go, but I don’t regret my decision, because I think this lifestyle really suits my nature. Religion is also very important to me, and I consider myself a religious person. Not as in conservative and strict, but a person who needs God in her life.
I just hope that one day I can live my life fully, as I want to live it, and not feel afraid of other people’s judgement anymore.

Post from my old blog http://goldenraindrop.wordpress.com

My thoughts on "women who run with the wolves"

{ }

Post from my old blog 

24 August 2010

“Women Who Run With The Wolves” is a fabulous work of art about the inner lives of women. Every chapter of the book tells a story that has to do with the psyche of women, their seasons, struggles, temptations,… The author, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, shows us that stories can be a map for us, leading the way, showing us in a gentle way where the traps are, and how to avoid them. They tell us about the seasons of a woman’s life, and how we can use them to the fullest. They warn us, lead us, inform us, nurture us, heal us.
I’m reading this book for the second time now, and I wanted to note down my thoughts after each reading session. I think it will be a great help to myself, and who knows, maybe for others too. That’s why I wanted to post this on my blog, and not keep it to myself. So let’s not waste any time anymore and get started!

Chapter II : Stalking the Intruder: The Beginning Initiation:

This chapter tells the story of Bluebeard. Bluebeard is a failed magician, and has a blue beard. He marries a young woman, who felt fearful of him first, but agrees to marry him because of his charming manners. In the end she discovers that he has killed all his previous wives, and she only escapes a similar fate by calling her brothers for help. Bluebeard represents the archetype of “the Predator”. This force can haunt women from within as well as in the outer world. This force is “filled with hatred and desires to kill the lights of the psyche”(1). Young teenage girls especially, who have not yet learned to recognise, trust or value their inner knowing and intuition, are a vulnerable prey.
This force is a natural part of our psyche, that tries to lead us away from our aspirations and dreams, and tries to trap us in a state of negativity and failure. We cannot deny this presence, but we can learn to recognise it, with experience being the best teacher. It can also be a force that creeps into our lives from outside. A presence, whether a person, a culture, a conviction, … that comes to infiltrate us and steal away our creativity, and makes us feel small and trapped.
I wonder if we can ever learn our lesson without coming into contact with this archetype and without making the mistake of letting it into our lives. I like to believe that as a woman who’s been down that road before, it would be easier for me now to avoid and contain the danger of falling prey again. God knows that I would like to protect my loved ones, like my friends, family and my daughter,if I would have one later, from such a destructive force, but again I wonder if this is possible. We can only ever learn through experience, through plunging through the water ourselves. It’s almost like a phase that every woman has to go through, to a more or lesser extent, to acquire the knowledge and maturity to not fall prey again, and to oppose this force, whether in her own self, or from outside, and to finally listen to what she has known all along.
I recently saw an episode of “Sex and the City”, where Carrie is in a loving, nurturing and “perfect” relationship with a man named Aidan. But at the same time she is being haunted by the man who broke her heart, and couldn’t commit, named “Big” (which is a nickname she gave to him in the beginning, we don’t know his real name). Aidan helped her to stop smoking, while when she was with Big, they smoked together. While she was in bed with Aidan, we hear her say something like (can’t remember the exact quote):” here was a man next to me who wanted to build my home, but out there was a man who wanted to tear it apart”. She knows that Aidan is good for her, but still she can’t resist Big. Big is in my eyes the ultimate predator. He is charming and funny at first sight, but lethal to be in a relationship with. He hurts Carrie over and over again, but can’t leave her alone afterwards. He brings out the worst in her, and makes her fall back into her destructive habits. She doesn’t really seem to recognise him as such, and as a consequence, is not strong enough to say no to him.
The fact that Bluebeard is a failed magician is an important aspect of the story. He has tried to make himself more important, more magnificent than he actually was, and had to pay the price for it. The author also mentions the Christian myth of the fall of Lucifer, who tried to claim equality with God, and was punished by having to dwell in the underworld forever. This struck me, because in Islam, we have a similar story, about Iblis who refused to obey God by bowing for His creation, human kind, and was punished accordingly. The author goes on saying “It is not hard to imagine that in such a malignant formation there is trapped one who once wished for surpassing light and fell from Grace because of it. We can understand why thereafter the exiled one maintains a heartless pursuit of the light of others. We can imagine that it hopes that if it could gather enough soul(s) to itself, it could make a blaze of light that would finally rescind its darkness and repair its loneliness.”(2)
In Islam, Iblis (or “Shaytan”)is seen as a figure who tries to lead us astray. A presence that is always near us, trying to makes us dumb and blind for the guidance of God. So the Torah, the Bible and the Quran all try to warn us for such a destructive force. But they also assure us that the “Predator” cannot get a hold on us if we stay close to God (or the good in us, and around us), for it has already tried and failed miserably to be equal to Him. So there exist a counterforce in and around us that can protect us from this archetype, if we will only listen to its guidance.
(1) Women Who Run With The Wolves, C.P Estés, p 42
(2) Women Who Run With The Wolves, C.P Estés, p 42

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