Marriage is not a prison!

{ Wednesday, June 29, 2011 }
Lately, I've been reading some blogs with, I'm sure, some well intended advice to other women about marriage. Basically, the advice comes down to this: forget about your own needs, your own feelings, keep them all inside, and keep smiling to your husband. His needs are all that matters. The word divorce is never mentioned, as if it doesn't exist. No, a woman should put up with her husband's behavior because he is the man, period.
I'm not saying I am a marriage expert, but am I the only one who doesn't admire or appreciates this kind of advice? It's not about being patient and pleasing Allah swt. Why would He want to see you suffer because of the selfishness of a man? With this kind of advice you are actually saying that a man is more valuable in the eyes of God, and that the sole reason for a woman's existence is to please her man and to put up with his abuse.
This is dysfunctional behavior, wrapped in religious zeal. I'm sorry I'm being so harsh about this, but I just wish those women would get a different credo than "I made my bed and now I have to lie in it". It is YOUR life. You only live once, why do you have to let it be ruined by a man? You won't die of some disease when you divorce him. You won't end up in hell for daring to think about your own needs. God loves you, He wants you to be happy!!!
I'm not saying we should leave our husband if he's wrong from time to time. I'm not imagining marriage as some kind of fairy tale where the man is like Prince Charming who will always make you happy and never hurt your precious heart. But the key word is respect. He should respect me and my feelings, and not expect that I suffer so he can have his needs met. I've learned the hard way that if you have to choose between losing respect or losing love, that you should always always let the love go. The truth is, there is no love without respect. You cannot claim to love someone and then hurt them intentionally. When it comes to men, you should look at their actions, and not at what they tell you. The words "I love you", don't mean anything if they aren't backed up by actions that show his love for you. Some men are very clever in this. They hurt a woman on purpose and then try to smoothen it out by telling her nice things. We want to believe so badly that he loves us that we accept it. I have the impression that every woman needs to have at least one very bad experience before she learns to untie herself from her self-made chains. Then again, there are women who never release themselves. But I've had mine, and alhamdulillah, I have learned to put respect above "love". I'm no longer prepared to make sacrifices that a man wouldn't make, and I take my own needs in consideration too. If that is such a crime, I ain't apologising for it.

A Chinese proverb

{ Tuesday, June 28, 2011 }
I got the following quote from the very inspirational blog http://inspirationalquoteseveryday.blogspot.com/ :-)

Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness

How true this proverb is! Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by all the bad things happening in the world, that we forget to turn on the light. When I hear a lot of bad news about injustice, violence, hatred, intolerance,... the lights in my eyes dim, and I breathe in despair and hatred for those who hurt others. The worst of it all is that I can't do anything to change a woman's faith at the other side of the world. I can't feed all the poor people in the world, or protect all animals from abuse. That feeling of helplessness is what gets me down, really down. So I stamp with my feet on the floor and curse the darkness, and lower myself to the level of wishing ill and bad to some others. But when did hatred ever solve anything? When did cursing others ever lead to a positive change? It's true, some people commit injustice and don't care about their actions. They wander in the dark and are blind to any light. They spread darkness like wood spreads fire and they cause misery and hardship to this world. But darkness cannot stay where light is. Darkness is only the absence of light, nothing more. Likewise, when we love and bless others, hatred flees. It's therefore important to not only pray for victims, but for perpetrators as well. For example, instead of hating Israel (which I often fall into if I'm not careful) we can send them love, light and God's blessings. Israel is obviously a country that lives in fear and hatred for the Arabs around them. They respond to the least bit of resistance with merciless violence, because they are scared that their Jewish state will perish if they don't constantly show their muscles. We cannot respond to such behavior with more hatred and violence, because where will it end? Instead, we can show Israel that there is a different way of dealing with people, and that respect, tolerance and patience will lead to much better results. It's hard to stay loving in the face of so much hatred and intolerance, but it will be worth it in the end. God loves those who replace evil with good. There is always a side that needs to be brave, stop the hatred, even if it's one sided, and start being tolerant and loving. There is always a party of a conflict that needs to stop wishing ill to the other side. Let that party be us.


As I mentioned before, it's easy to feel helpless when we are confronted with all the evil in the world. But we are not completely without power. We can help our environment and the people we know personally. If you look around you, instead of to the other side of the world, there is always work that you can do. And if everyone looks around and tries to help, instead of keeping their eyes on the far horizon, much good can be done. We can bring a smile and kind words which could make someone else's day. We can give money to a beggar on the street. We can help our mother in the kitchen and lift her burden. We can put some food out for the birds during winter. We can go by bike instead of taking the car. We can refrain ourselves when we want to criticise others. We can give up our opinion about what's best for others, and give them a chance to be themselves and to achieve what they want to achieve in life. We have the power to make others happy. And it's this power to help others that will make ourselves happy. It's this power that can and will change the world. It's the small candle light, first shy, unsure and quivering. The darkness is so vast and powerful around it. But then it sees another candle light, and another, and another. Together, they grow more confident and the darkness has no choice but to retreat further and further. Look at Prophet Muhammmad (PBUH), his light is still shining through the ages! As Muslims, we are to follow his sunna, and there are ample examples of his love, mercy and patience for others. So let's stop bickering, fighting, hurting, and let there be light!




Your advice please ;-)

{ Monday, June 27, 2011 }
So, I've been "officially" Muslim for almost a year now (I converted beginning of August 2010), but I've been praying, wearing long clothes etc. for a whole while longer. I postponed converting because I first wanted to tell my parents that I would become Muslim. It seemed fairer. But I never had the courage to tell them and ended up converting anyway.  
A few months back, my mother asked me if I converted, and although I didn't say "yes", I didn't deny it and it was obvious that I had. She acted surprised and I thought I could see tears in her eyes (Nope, not out of joy), but she didn't become angry. I think the rest of my family (my father and brother) know too, because I'm always wearing long clothes and my brother's remarks about Muslims and how I'm always "defending them", does suggest that he at least thinks I have an affinity with Islam. 
I don't really have a "talk talk" relationship with my parents. Sure I chat with them about daily things, but when it comes to more emotional or personal things, I don't really like to share, and they don't really like to share either it seems. We are not exactly close knit. 
Coming to the point, I've felt the longing to wear headscarf for quite some time now. I've read different theories about it being compulsory or not, and from my reading I concluded that yes, women should cover their hair and neck. That doesn't mean I don't respect other people's opinions or theories, and whatever happens, I will certainly never look down upon a Muslim woman who doesn't wear headscarf, because faith is in our hearts, and only God can truly see how dedicated we are. 
So, I want to wear headscarf, but I've always told myself "wait, it's too early". I'm starting to feel like I can't wait anymore, but I'm terrified of telling my parents (which would be inevitable in this case lol). I don't know how to bring it up, and I'm sure my parents will disagree with me, and maybe forbid me from doing it. 
Therefore, I want to ask you, my dear reader, about your advice on this matter. Feel free to share whatever you think is useful, and don't be afraid to challenge my views on the headscarf, I'm open to anything, as long as it's said in a respectful way ;-)
Thanks so much! :-)

The danger of weak hadiths

{ Friday, June 24, 2011 }
A couple of days ago, after an exam, I passed by a Muslim friend of mine. Since I'll be inshaAllah inshaAllah inshaAllah getting married in the nearby future, she had put her collection of  Islamic books on the subjects ready for me to browse through. While she was talking with another friend, I picked up the first one and started to browse through it. I have to be honest, I don't like most Islamic books on the subject, because it's usually written by a man, telling a woman how to behave as a wife. I am in no need of a man telling me how to behave, thank you very much. Anyway, the book I picked up was no different. It was called "Mistakes of the wife and how to correct them" (or something like that, the book was a dutch translation ;-) ). I knew I wasn't going to like what I read, but I decided to give it a shot. After all, I'm not too proud for some constructive criticism. I came across a particularly distasteful hadith that really stunned me. The writer had put it as an example of the importance of obedience from a wife towards her husband:


"...By Him in whose Hand is my soul, if from his foot to the crown of his head there was a wound pouring forth pus, and she ( the wife ) came and licked that, then she would  still not have fulfilled his right….”


I could not believe that the Prophet (pbuh) would say something like that. So when I came home I went straight to my PC to research it, and I found this:




According to the source above the hadith was classified as sahih by al-Mundhiree in at-Targheeb 
wat-Tarheeb. al-Albani also accepted the complete hadith as authentic [ sahih ]. Others scholars 
however disagree with this view. They point out that the last segment of the hadith in question  
that reads: “…By the One in Whose Hand is my soul ! If the husband were from the bottom of his  
feet to the top of his head one big wound oozing with pus and matter , and she were to receive                    
him and lick him, she still would not be repaying him his right in full..” is in-authentic [ da’ef ].



Shu`ayb al-Arna’ût, in his marginal notes on Musnad Ahmad considers the addition about pus to 
be inauthentic. He writes: “…This phrase is narrated only by Husayn al-Marrûdhî from Khalaf             
b. Khalîfah. Khalaf was a narrator who tended to mix up his narrations before the time of his death .” 




So why, I wonder, does a hadith which is not considered authentic by all scholars get published in an Islamic book? It makes the whole book untrustworthy to me, since the author didn't (or didn't want to) check his sources. I sent a message to my friend to say that there was at least one weak hadith in the book, but she answered with "So what? that doesn't make the whole book bad". Apparently she likes to be told what to do by an author who doesn't check his sources. 
I am aware that Islam asks of women to be obedient towards their husband, but not in such an extreme way. 
I think a lot of hadiths are cited outside of their context, and worse, weak hadiths are being represented as authentic ones. I also saw it on an Islamic forum the other day. There was a topic called "The rights of the husband", supported by a bunch of hadiths, and at least two of them I knew to be weak. It's sad to see sisters replying with "we need to submit ourself to Allah and his Prophet" while some of those hadiths weren't even uttered by the Prophet (pbuh)!! So I want to give all my readers a word of caution (which I'm confident you already know ;-) ): not all hadiths out there, even on Islamic forums, even in books, are authentic ones. If you come across a hadith you feel bad about or doesn't seem like something the Prophet (pbuh) would say, it's best to check its authencity before you choose to submit. ;-)







Good luck, Saudi women!

{ Friday, June 17, 2011 }
Today is the 17th of June, D-day for the women in Saudi Arabia. A national campaign has called on all Saudi women who have an international license to go out and drive. Please pray for them that everything will go well, that they are protected from harm and that they will get what they want: the right to drive!


If you are interested, you can follow #Women2Drive on Twitter, or show your support on Facebook by joining Support #women2drive and other pages. Please do so! 


May God be with you, women of Saudi Arabia!







God help us women

{ Wednesday, June 1, 2011 }
Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but I've been busy working on my bachelor paper.
I hope it's over soon, because I'm tired of feeling angry and sad the whole day.
My subject is women rights in Saudi Arabia, and my research has left me feeling disgusted.
The imprisonment of Manal al-Sharif for driving is a case in point.
I also read a report on domestic violence that made me want to scream.
All this has left me with the burning question: what did women ever do to deserve such mistreatment?
To me, Saudi Arabia is no longer an Islamic country, but a state that holds tribal values and misrepresents them as being based on the Quran and Sunna (and no, I don't want to get into any discussions about Islam being women friendly or not, I know the truth and so do you if you READ the sources and NOT look at so called "Muslim" countries)
As you can see, I'm in a bad mood and this is not likely to change as long as I read about the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia. A country where a woman driving gets imprisoned, a woman who got raped sentenced to 200 lashes and a member of the religious police who stabs someone half to death walks free.
Shame on you, Saudi Arabia, birthplace of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), shame on you!


May God help all the women in the world who are facing difficulties and may He lighten their burdens and shower them with hope, light and love, ameen.



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