The Beauty in Women

{ Saturday, July 30, 2011 }

Every woman is beautiful in her own unique way. Whether she is slim or curvaceous, her beauty is apparent and unmistakable. She has her own light, that shines whenever she smiles, with twinkling eyes.

Women are the caregivers of this world. Imagine a world without women, how dark and unloving would that world be? Women nurture their loved ones, and make them a home to relax and be at peace in. 
Women are soft and kind, and make others feel at ease.

Women are resilient, and go through suffering and pain with their head held high. Women have strength and tremendous patience, and even when they shed tears, their heart remains strong and determined.

Women feel the suffering of the world the strongest, and are emphatic beings, always ready to support, listen and care. They may be called "emotional", but it's a gift rather than a weakness. They can feel the pain and joy of others and truly understand what someone is going through. 

Women are smart and can use their heads perfectly. Women enjoy education and perform very well in their jobs. Women can be rational and feeling at the same time, but don't make decisions without using their hearts. 

Women are closest to nature, and are like the tides of the sea connected with the moon. Women follow the cycles of life, like the seasons of the earth, and are most sensitive to it. A woman in touch with her intuition knows when it's time to let something live or die in her life. 

Women talk with each other to make connection, and are always ready to give kind advice and provide a listening ear. Their primary focus is on compassion and understanding, and they are well aware of the importance of being there for someone, even when there is no immediate solution to their problems. 

Women are beautiful creatures, in every single way. Kind, loving, patient, tender, strong, resilient, feeling, compassionate, humble, and ever ready to improve themselves. So let's be proud of ourselves and not allow anyone to insult our qualities and call them weak.

I love you, my Sisters (all my Sisters, Muslim and non-Muslim!)

*I was here*

{ Wednesday, July 27, 2011 }

I wanna leave my footprints on the sands of time
Know there was something that, and something that I left behind
When I leave this world, I'll leave no regrets
Leave something to remember, so they won't forget
I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

I want to say I lived each day, until I died
I know that I was something in, somebody's life
The hearts I have touched, will be the proof that I leave
That I made a difference, and this world will see

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know

I was here...

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I will leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

I just want them to know
That I gave my all, did my best
Brought someone some happiness
Left this world a little better just because

I was here

I was here
I lived, I loved
I was here
I did, I've done, everything that I wanted
And it was more than I thought it would be
I wanna leave my mark so everyone will know
I was here

A wise Prophet of God: Jesus of Nazareth

{ Sunday, July 24, 2011 }
In Christianity and Islam, Jesus (Isa) is a beloved prophet of God. He was very wise and peaceful, and I have great respect for him. That's why I decided to fill my post with some of his sayings :)

Are not sparrows sold for very little? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.   The very hairs on your head have been counted. Fear not. You are worth more than a flock of sparrows.
Lk 12:6f  Mt 10:29-31

Don't be anxious about your life,  what you are going to eat,  or about your body,  what you will wear.Think about the ravens. They don't sow or reap. They don't have storehouses or barns,  yet God feeds them. Consider how the field-flowers grow. They don't toil or spin. And yet even Solomon in all his splendour wasn't adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass,  which is there today and tomorrow is thrown in the fire,  won't he all the more clothe you?
Mt 6:25-30  Lk 12:22-28   

The kingdom of God is like a woman mixing yeast into dough and turning it all into large loaves.
Th 96  Mt 13:33  Lk 13:20f 

If your son asks you for a loaf of bread who among you would give him a stone? Or for a fish would you give him a snake? If you know how to give good gifts to your children,  how much more will God give good gifts to those who ask?
Mt 7:9-11  Lk 11:11-13

The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It's a tiny seed,  but when it falls on good soil it produces a large plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.
Th 20  Mk 4:30-32  Mt 13:31f  Lk 13:19

If you have money, don't lend it at interest. Give it to someone who won't be able to return it.
Th 95  Lk 6:34 

Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Mk 11:25  Mt 6:14f  Lk 6:37 

Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.
Lk 6:31  Mt 7:12  Th 6 

You notice the speck in your brother's eye,  but you don't see the log in your own eye.   When you take the log out of your own eye you will be able to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Lk 6:41f  Mt 7:3-5  Th 26  

The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed. They won't say,  "Here it is!"  or "There it is!" The kingdom of God is among you.
Lk 17:20f  Th 113 

Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?
Lk 6:44  Mt 7:16  Th 45

No one lights a lamp and then puts it in a cellar or under a bushel. It goes on a stand so that those who come in may see the light.
Lk 11:33, 8:16  Mt 5:15  Mk 4:21  Th 33 

Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened for you.
Lk 11:9  Mt 7:7  Th 2, 92, 94 

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted
Lk 14:11

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you 
Mt 5:44f

Love is patient

{ Monday, July 18, 2011 }
I believe this excerpt is not only about romantic love, but also about love for ourselves and everyone around us. Let us be a light and a blessing to ourselves and others :-) 

Love is patient, Love is kind,
It does not envy, it does not boast,
It is not proud, It is not rude,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil,
but rejoices with the truth.

Love always protects, always trusts,
always hopes, always perseveres.

Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.
L o v e  N e v e r  F a i l s.

 Corinthians 13 : 4 - 8

All shall fade

{ Saturday, July 16, 2011 }
Being confronted with death in such a close way, was a real shock for me. It makes all the small things we worry about seem so insignificant. All day I've been very conscious of how time takes everything away, no matter how hard you try to hold on to it. Some people are so in love with the world and material things and never think about what exactly they will take with them after they die. What does it matter to be rich when you can't keep a penny after death? Religion warns us for this: don't get caught up in the splendor of the world, for all shall fade away and be brought back to God. I think it's important to remember this. The only things we can take with us are our good and bad deeds. So is it not much more important to do good? To be a blessing to others? What does money or power mean anyway, in the end? Yes, we need money to survive, but do we really need to keep all our money to ourselves? Do we really have too little to share? No, because God is the Sustainer, and when you give to others, you will receive. The priest said it well during the service: "How can you find God after death when you never looked for Him when you were alive?" 
So, how can we look for Him? By doing things that pleases God, and make us closer to Him. I believe that we were all given free will, and that we have a choice to let God's presence in our lives or not.
Of course it's only natural and human to think about things we want to achieve and have during our life here on earth. We think about our studies, work, possessions, spouses, children etc. But our days pass so quickly, and we spend them in a rush, running from here to there, without paying attention to our soul, inner life and God. It takes a conscious decision to slow down and listen to yourself, listen to the deeper meaning of life. Don't wait until you are laying on your death bed to discover that everything you did in life was meaningless because they don't have any worth after death. Let our life be a blessing and light to others, let us always remember to let God into our lives, because He is the best Guide, and knows what is best for us in this life and after death. Let us be grateful to Him, our Creator, who loves us more than a mother loves her child. Let us remember our blessings, which are always plenty. Let us enjoy our lives but focus on God, the One who will be with us forever, inshaAllah.

In Memoriam: My Grandmother

{ Saturday, July 9, 2011 }
My grandmother passed away in the night of 8th July 2011. She held out a long time, since she didn't get any water or food from Monday because her body couldn't process it anymore. She was a strong woman, and may she rest in peace.

I decided to dedicate this post to the life of my grandmother. Of course my post will be very incomplete, because I only knew her the twenty last years of her life, and she didn't like to talk about her past.
There are a few things I know, and I want to write about them here.

My grandmother J. was born on the 19th of February 1927 in a Flemish village, in a time where each village still had its own dialect. Her parents were small farmers and she had one sister. She told me once that she hated to eat spaghetti in her childhood, because she thought the spaghetti strings looked like worms. She also told me that in that time oranges were seen as precious candy, because they were expensive and rare. She was thirteen when World War II started. The Germans occupied her village and her family was obliged to let German soldiers stay in their house.
She met my grandfather on the local fair and they got married. She had two sons. When my father, the youngest, was six, her husband died from cancer and she was obliged to raise them by herself. She also never remarried. To have some money, she went to work at the rest home for seniors. She and her sons slept in the same room. When her parents got ill, she took care of them until they passed away.
Since I spent most of my childhood in her house, which was over a hundred years old, I have very vivid memories of the place. Unfortunately, she was obliged to sell it about seven years ago, because the house was not suitable for people of old age, because of its steep stairs and little provisions. The only toilet was outside, for example, and there was no shower, bathroom or central heating. I remember that we always washed ourselves in the kitchen, at a basin, with good old-fashioned soap. She also had a larger basin, in which she poured hot water to take a bath. To keep herself warm, she had a stove in the living room, which was heated with coal.
When the house was sold, the new owner took everything down, including the garden, and built apartments on the ground. But her house will always exist in my memories. I also believe that historians would have loved the place, because it really showed how people used to live in the beginning of the 20th Century, and before. I remember that in one room, there was a big, old sewing machine, which fascinated me endlessly. I also remember that she had a bust of Mother Mary, and that I was always polishing it, because I felt drawn to its beauty. Until I was seven, I went to school in her village and before and after school my brother and I stayed with her. Sometimes we went to the city by bus, where she bought the things she needed. She had a dog and I played with him a lot. I loved horses, but because I didn't have one, I pretended her dog was a horse, and I taught him how to jump over obstacles, like horses do (but of course without me sitting on top). My brother or I used to hide somewhere, and then we let the dog sniff something that belonged to us, and he used to find us immediately.
Like all people who lived during that time, my grandmother was very catholic, and went to church every Sunday. She had crosses hanging on the walls and figurines of Jesus and Mother Mary. She had this old little book, which she was given when she was twelve, with the Church's answers to all questions, like “Who is God?”, “What happens after death?” etc.
We never really discussed religion, unfortunately, so I don't really know what her exact views were.
She was always really worried about her health and ate without salt, because her blood pressure was high (contrary to mine, which tends to be low).
She liked company and greeted everyone with a smile. She stayed in the hospital for a month, and I know that the nurses really liked her, because of her kindness. They also came to sit and talk with her in the evenings. Even after it became obvious that she would pass away, they came to check on her several times during the day, making sure she was as comfortable as possible. There is also a special department in the hospital where people who will pass away are transferred to, but the nurses allowed her to stay with them.
There was also a Christian lady, who works at the department to pray with the patients and offer them support. She visited a few times, even after my grandmother was not really conscious anymore. During one of those visits, she told me that while she was visiting my grandmother when she was still fairly well, my grandmother asked her: “Do you think I will go to heaven?” I was really touched by this. She'd told her “yes, I think so”. Then she told me that she never really found hell such a great idea, and I told her: “yes, I can't really imagine God as someone who tortures people” and she agreed. I'm glad she reassured her, and not told her something like “Well, I really can't say to be honest”.
Of course, when someone passes away, we often feel regret for not spending more time with them while they were alive. I feel this regret too. I feel sorry that I didn't ask more about her inner life and her past, but we are often so caught up in our own lives that we don't realise what we have until it's gone.
Because I spent a lot of time in her house when I was little, I can understand the dialect of the village, although I can't speak it myself. My father and uncle speak it to each other, and I feel good whenever I hear it, because it sounds really familiar and it reminds me of my childhood.
I pray that God will keep my grandmother safe, wherever she is now, and that He will surround her with love, mercy and light. I pray that all her worries and pain are gone now, and that she can live eternally in Heaven.

Please pray for her!

{ Sunday, July 3, 2011 }
I'm going through a hard time at the moment, because my grandmother is in hospital. She's very ill and the doctors believe that these will be her last days. I held her hand yesterday, trying to keep smiling and fight the tears, but it's really hard. My grandmother is a very good person and she's a devout catholic. The priest came yesterday to pray for her. He was a really nice man. I prayed the christian way because he asked us to make a cross and say christian prayers with him. I did it out of respect for my grandmother and her religion. 
I haven't been able to read the comments on my previous post yet, I'm sorry for that. All I know is that I remember the words of some of my Muslim friends who said that it's even sadder when a non-Muslim dies, because they will most likely go to hell. The thought of my grandmother going to hell seems just so cruel and unjust, and I don't believe any of this. It just makes me angry that some people think like that. My grandmother was poor and she raised her two sons all by herself, because her husband died very early. She used to babysit us when my brother and I were little and my mother used to drop us off there when we were sick. She's very kind and always worried about us. I love her dearly, she's one of the best persons I know. Please pray for her, that she may be surrounded by God's blessings and that He will take away her pain. Thank you very much!
We are going to the hospital now again.

Lowest imaan ever :-/

{ Friday, July 1, 2011 }
Seems like I have gone and done it. Only two posts ago I was talking about wanting to wear the hijaab, and now I'm facing one of my deepest imaan dips ever. I guess it has been boiling for a while, but I always dismissed my doubts. But the answer “it's part of Islam and you just have to submit to it” just doesn't do it for me anymore.
I think it really surfaced when one of my Muslim friends sent me a text message (and to others too, I presume) with dua's. That's all fine, but her last sentence was “Today might have been hot, well, hell is much hotter”. I remember just staring at that sentence for a moment, and feeling really uncomfortable. I know she has some Salafi tendencies and that helps to put her words into context, but still. I guess it was just the last drop. I need to spill my doubts or I'll just explode.
To be clear, my issue is not with God. I'll always believe in God. I just have some problems with how Islam views God. 
So in short, here are some things I see differently.

1) The notion of Hell
It is my personal belief that when people do evil things, they turn away from God and from the light. So when an evil person dies, he just can't stand the light and the presence of God, so it hurts him, just like your eyes hurt when you've been in the dark for too long and then you are suddenly exposed to the daylight. But just like your eyes adjust, his or her soul will be cleansed and there will come a time when he or she can appreciate God's light. This is my notion of Hell, and of course go against the very vivid descriptions of Hell found in both the Quran and hadith.

2) Homosexuality is wrong
I believe that most homosexuals are born with it. They are born with their desire for the same sex, and it's impossible to them (or for most) to fall in love with and marry someone from the other sex. To tell them they are wrong and should be put to death is just incomprehensible to me. It equals racism. You loath a person for being black while he can't help it. If my child would be gay, I would never send him or her to a therapist or the local imam to be "reformed". I would give him or her the chance to live as makes him/her happy, and I will not change my view on that. 

3) Obedience towards your husband
There are numerous hadiths on women and how they should be obedient to their husband. There is even this hadith:  ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) asked Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “Who has the greatest rights over a woman?” He said, “Her husband.” She asked, ‘And who has the greatest rights over a man?” He said, “His mother.”
So we as wives, do not even have the greatest rights over our husband, while he has over us. That hardly sounds fair to me. I also read that a woman cannot leave the house without her husband's permission, not even if she wants to visit her sick mother.
Then, there is this hadith: Woman has been created from a rib and in no way will be straight for you; so if you enjoy her you will do so while crookedness remains in her; but if you try to straighten her you will break her; breaking her being divorcing her." (Sahih Muslim) Doesn't it say in the Quran that men and women are equally created from one soul? Why does this hadith says differently? And I have "crookedness" in me just because I am a woman? This is an issue that really troubles me. I'm not saying we shouldn't respect our husbands, but they should respect us too.

4) Polygamy
Big issue with me. Is there anything that hurts women more than to think about our husband taking a second wife, and loving her as he loves us? Yet, in Islam, it is his right to take up to 4 wives, without even having to ask for permission. I know there can be benefits, but it completely fades into nothingness compared to the hurt and suffering it causes.

5) God sits high in the sky on a throne
To me, God is everywhere, not somewhere high in the sky completely separated from His creation, watching us as we mess up. This may sound as blasphemy to some, but it's what I believe. I believe God is Mercy, Love, Beauty and I believe He is everywhere. 

6) Is God male?
I know that Islam doesn't say God is male, rather that He is above everything and therefore neither male or female. But still, if that is so, why is it always He, Him, His? It would be blasphemy to call Him Her, it is never done. Why is that?

These are my main issues. There are some other things I have problems with, but I'm not going to name them all. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, it was not my intention.
I don't know what to do with these feelings. I can ignore them, and just accept everything Islam says, but that's just not me. I need to live an authentic life, based on what I believe in. Whenever I discuss this with my fiance, we end up having a big fight. It's really hard for me because the stakes are so high. *Sigh*
I just want to ask, what do YOU believe? :-)

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