My Best Friends are Kufar

Let me tell you about my two best friends. 

They know who they are. 

They came into my life at very different times, and I believe, very different reasons.

  One of my oldest friends, let’s call her Brown Eyes, went to high school with me.  Funny enough, she was a relative of someone else I was friends with, and we never really spoke until we ended up in the same homeroom class. She saw me through a lot of my firsts (first real boyfriend, subsequently the first heartbreak, first time moving away, first year at uni, and when I first met my hubby!)… And I’ve seen many of hers as well.  

 My other best friend, let’s call her Blondie (which she embraces fully, don’t worry), dropped into my life unexpectedly in the last year of my undergrad. This was also one of the hardest times in my life, because my husband had to move to another state for school.  But she filled a hole in my life and brought a lot more than I had expected. We both were in the middle of our personal growth, and we kind of fed off each other and took the best from each other and left the worst. I was looking for a roommate and she was looking for a place to live.  Funny enough, she overheard me telling someone about my problem during class (we were both food science majors, but never really talked before)… And the rest is history! 

Oh yeah, 

And they are kufar. 

For those who don’t know, kufar means “non-Muslim”  in Arabic, and if you didn’t already know,  it’s not very nice.  Honestly, I hate that word. 

 (I’m using it now to make a point) 

 We became close (my best friends and I) before I converted to Islam.  And they are STILL my best friends afterwards. Even though they are still in the states! 

Why? Isn’t their lifestyle contrary to my religious values? 

Maybe.  But they don’t bring that part of their life into our friendship.  

They’ve never tried to bring me to a bar.

They’ve never tried to make me hang out with guys (beside saying hi to their significant others).  

They never questioned my wearing hijab or hinted that I don’t have to wear it. 

They never judged me for the level of Islam I’m at right now. 

And they have always encouraged me to keep learning about my faith, even though it isn’t theirs.

They enjoy talking with me about it! 

They even say Maşallah and ask me to pray for them. 

An atheist and a  Christian have been more understanding and supportive of me than most Muslims I have met (particularly the ones in Turkey).  

And that’s why they’re still my best friends. And why (outside of this post) I won’t call them or any other non-Muslim kufar.  

Being Muslim isn’t necessary to be a good person and a good friend. 
 

Advertisements

The Obligatory Election Post

As an American blogger (particularly  an expat one) , I’m required to post about the election this week. 

Am I scared? Some. 

Am I angry? A bit. 

Am I disappointed ? Yes. 

Am I surprised? Not really. 

I mean, after the initial shock,  I sighed and shook my head.  America has always had an unfortunate undercurrent of all the -isms . . . Racism, sexism, exceptionalism , and a number of phobias and bigotry.  I’m a big girl and I can acknowledge our downfalls as a nation. 

At first I thought that these election results meant that these horrible things had reached a majority and were socially acceptable now. I was even worried about my own safety when I return home this summer. But then I talked to some people who voted for trump. They didn’t vote for him because they agree with him, they did it because they hate Hillary and the current system.  So instead of being directly terrible, some people just lack empathy and are a bit ignorant to the concerns of the minority. 

It’s better than being hateful. . ? 

So I have hope still that my country won’t fall into total disrepair.  Will there be setbacks? I think so. But hopefully we won’t crash and burn.  

Now it’s up to the rest of us to kick into high gear, write our representatives , and keep up to date on every bit of legislation that comes across the executive desk. Make our voices heard.  We are not a nation of jerks . We are just angry. 

I am American,  hear me roar. 

Ramadan Mubarek!

That time of year has come around again…

It’s Ramadan!

image

I hope everyone has a blessed and accepted Ramadan this year.

And also I hope to make it through, since my all-day-every-day CELTA course takes up the entire holy month…

More to come!

For general information about Ramadan, check out an older post here.

Hijabi problem #99: I am oppressed

I am a hijabi (wearer of the hijab)

And I am oppressed.

image

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term hijab, let me clarify (but most of the world probably is by now). The term hijab technically refers to a scarf, but the way it is understood by Muslimahs (female practitioners of Islam) is a little more inclusive.  When we (muslimahs) refer to hijab, or call ourselves hijabis, we are referring to a style of dress which includes a scarf on the head in some fashion, and a certain etiquette by which we live our lives.  Different cultures will define proper hijab in different ways…some more “conservative “, some more “liberal”.  While I feel comfortable in the way I physically wear my hijab and socially practice it, I don’t feel the need to judge others on theirs. Is mine perfect? Hardly. But I consider myself a hijabi none the less.

And like the media loves to trumpet, I certainly am oppressed.

My attire doesnt stop me from physical activity (hiking, swimming, riding bikes, etc).  My dress doesn’t keep me from being fashionable/feeling beautiful (quite the contrary, I’ve never felt so good looking in my life!).  My social etiquette doesn’t keep me out of the work place or secluded at home (I’ve worked with both men and women with no awkwardness, and I’ve gone on outings on my own).  I’m not oppressed by my hijab.  But as a hijabi,  I am oppressed.

I’m oppressed by you.

Not you, specifically, dear friends.  You support me and my right to practice my faith, my way.  I love you all! By “you”, I mean the traditionally “western” concept of hijabi oppression.

Being glared at on the street and whispered about; constantly fearing a violent outburst from a stranger keeps me at home.  The current fashion of see-through blouses and crop tops makes it hard to dress myself.  Requiring I remove my hijab before I can work keeps me out of the workforce and dependent on a man to care for me.  You consistently, relentlessly telling me I am not a strong woman because of the choices I made for myself makes me feel secluded and weak.

I did not oppress myself.  I would not choose a way of life that makes me feel poorly about myself.  The only thing about being a hijabi Muslimah that is oppressive is other people’s attitude towards me and the difficulty of living in a society that doesn’t want me in it.

So when you see us on the street, don’t cluck your tongue and shake your head.  Smile.  Nod.  Maybe a little wave of “hello”.  Make us feel included.  Makes us feel welcome.  If you are so concerned about the oppression of hijabis, maybe you should stop doing it.

image

I got 99 problems but my scarf ain’t one.

#hijabiproblems

*light-hearted notes below
1. Like I said before, not everyone does this. If you are reading this and are a hijabi supporter,  hey girl/dude! You’re the best!
2. The new style of “shirt dresses” is great for hijabis and am all about that fashion trend right now! Yes!
3. No, I don’t expect everyone to bow down to hijabi style and not wear sheer shirts and crop tops.  You do you, boo. We just want some fashion options that aren’t boring black Abayas*.
4.*if you like boring black Abayas that’s OK too. 🙂

Bathroom Monitor

So apparently there’s a new movement in the US about transgendered people using the bathroom?

I guess it creates jobs because we will be needing a ton of bathroom monitors?

I was discussing this with my friend(s) and I thought it would be an interesting blog post,  since I normally don’t post much on social commentary and Politics.

OH boy! An opinion piece!

So, my feelings on transgendered people using the bathroom of their choice… Who.  Flipping. Cares.

If you look like a chick, use the chick bathroom.  If you look like a dude, use the dude bathroom.  If you are a guy in a wig and heels living the feminine life and you want to use the ladies room because you identify as a woman, I honestly could not care less. There are stalls in there for a reason.

Maybe that makes me a bad Muslim, but I don’t expect other people to live their lives by my standards.

But what about safety?

Maybe I’m confused, but the last time I checked… Transgendered was not a synonym for pedophile, pervert, or deviant.  If someone identifies as or wants to be another gender doesn’t automatically mean they want to rape you or molest a child.  That’s a whole different thing.  Could there be overlap? Well,  sure… Just like any group of people can have some bad seeds.

For example, a friend of mine told me about a man who said they were transgendered (lied), went into the ladies room, and attacked a young girl.

Well, they weren’t transgendered then… Were they? Does that mean we need to police for LGBQ people too since they will be around the sex they are attracted to in the facilities? Do we need to ban all Muslims from the US because some are terrorists? Do we need to deport all Latin people because some are here illegally? I don’t think so…

But what about exposing their bits (transgendered females who have not changed their anatomy)?

First off, there are stalls in the ladies room.  There is no need to whip out your dingaling in a ladies room. If you are pretending to be trans so you can wave your pee pee at women, you will go to jail.  That’s called public indecency.  If you actually are transgendered and uncomfortable with your body,  I don’t think you’ll be whipping out the family jewels to share with everyone.

But what about hijab?

If you know about the rules of hijab (which I’m not here to argue about, these are the rules I know and apply to my life), Muslim women are advised to cover from head to toe with only their face, hands, and feet are shown.  So, if a transgendered person is using the bathroom or locker room with you,  what are you to do?

Well, if you honestly can’t tell if they are transgendered, then it isn’t your problem sister. You can’t be expected to do a cup check on every large female to make sure they aren’t a man.  Islam is about intention, and if you unintentionally take off your hijab infront of a man because you thought they were a woman, I honestly believe you are in the clear.

If you don’t feel comfortable, then you will have to make due with a plan B for your un-hijabed self.  Yes it sucks. Yes it’s not fun.  But it’s the world we live in. Our hijab is our responsibility and noone else’s.

But it’s all a lie!

Are you transgendered? If the answer is no, you can’t say if they are lying or not. You don’t know. You can’t know. You don’t have their experiences to base your opinions off of. There is a reason sympathy and empathy are two different words.

I mean, I’m honestly more frightened of people in an islamaphobic sociey carrying weapons all over the place than I am about a man dressed like a woman (or visa versa), but that’s another story for another time.

Spring Cleaning/What’s In My Bag

Spring has sprung and it’s time to air out all the winter funk!

I’ve been busy stripping all of the linens from EVERYWHERE (including curtains), restuffing pillows and brushing out the rugs! It never eeeends.

And now I need to start reorganizing my scarves, and going through my luggage full of summer clothes that had been put away for the winter.

But first…

I think I’ll start with my purse 🙂

image

I love my bag!  When we first moved to Turkey I had to leave my small collection of purses behind because there simply wasn’t enough room for them in my suitcase.  Not having a bag for a month was just… Ugh.  It was awful.  But I love the one I have now! I bought it at the beach pazar for 25tl, and the leather (fake or not) is so soft and I imagine won’t tear any time soon…

Anyway,  let’s dig in there and see what we need to keep vs throw away!

image

Can’t go anywhere without a little notepad and pens! I originally bought this for writing down new Turkish words, but somehow it has morphed into my “anything I need to jot down”  notepad…particularly because I don’t have a cellphone to keep track of things yet.  This stays.

image

My sad old wallet I bought from Ross a hundred years ago… And my camera! Goes without saying,  both are necessary.

image

I haven’t seen fairly priced chapstick (or the chapstick brand at all) in Turkey… So I’ve been guarding mine with my life! Also, a staple to any hijabis bag… A box of extra pins and bobbies

image

You never know when someone is gonna need a teşbih… So I keep mine in my purse.  And candy is always good to have around… I’ll just leave that in there too.

image

Yeah… I’m that person who keeps bags within their bags.  I mean,  it’s obviously a genius storage idea! I try to always be prepared by keeping things like toothpicks, a toothbrush, moist towelettes (unscented), measuring tape,  deodorant, and lots of lip products on me at all times.  This is city survival 101 people!

image

Of course you need to have several hygiene items with you at all times! A bag of feminine hygiene products is a total given.  Maybe I’m showing my age by keeping small packages of tissues, but you know what? It’s spring.  Sneezing happens. Snot flying everywhere doesn’t have to be my fate.  Lastly,  and if you live in a hot country you will know, scented towelettes is a must.  I never carried them in the US but now I sure do- nobody has time for B.O., and your deodorant will certainly fail you at some point in the day.

image

Last but not least… A compact mirror and a prayer.  Anne gave me both of these.  The compact is obvious,  but if you didn’t know, these charms hold prayers written inside that are supposed to protect you from bad spirits/nazar.  Whether or not you believe in that stuff… It doesn’t take up much space in my purse.

Wow,  that’s a lot of trash… How do I end up with this much paper in my bag?

image

Well,  I feel ready for spring now! What are some necessities that you keep in your bag? Does it change with the season? Let me know in the comments below!

Hijabi problems: “you don’t meet our dress code”

So, I had originally prepared a draft stating I would soon be gainfully employed.

But then, I forgot discrimination is legal in Turkey.

I applied for a job as an English conversation teacher at doğa koleji, and all of the phone interviews went well.  It was basically a sure thing.  But then I went in for the face to face interview and I could feel the eyes boring holes into my head. Still, I didn’t let it get to me. The principal seemed nice and the kids loved me, but I made sure to ask if it was a problem to wear hijab (because I’ve heard stories, you know.) and they said “no of course not.”

No,  of course not.  Because discrimination is messed up. Why was I worried?

But then they didn’t call me back. I called them in a week and got an email saying that I “unfortunately didn’t meet their dress code. ” uh… Huh.

It doesn’t take a genius to know what it was about my outfit that didn’t meet their dress code.  What makes me livid is that the secretary was wearing a miniskirt that exposed her butt, but somehow my dress is not up to code?

Don’t make me laugh.

This is one of the problems I didn’t forsee in Turkey.  In a predominantly Muslim country  with at least half of the female population wearing the headscarf, I thought things would be easier for me than in the US.  Oh my, seems I was wrong. I should have listened to my husband when he warned me the first time.

I looked up the legality of this discrimination, and apparently it is all above board. Even cell phone companies and banks can ban headscarves on their employees. In case you were wondering,  those companies are garanti bank, iş bank, turkcell, and Vodafone.

I’m sure you can guess who isn’t getting my patronage.

I kind of laugh about it now, sitting in my bed sick as a dog (I’ve been throwing up all night from food poisoning, so this headache has made me worse).  “Progressives” whine about “conservatives” being all kinds of bad things,  including dumb and trying to ban the progressive way of life (demanding headscarves, banning alcohol, birth control,  etc ).

But here’s the thing, progressives.  Take a good long hard look in the mirror.  Who is obstructing who from living their lives how they want?

Well,  it’s back to the drawing board for me.  Maybe I should focus on food science jobs,  where covering your hair means a lesser chance of contaminating your samples rather than a reason to hate me.

God’s Not Dead: A response.

  When I first saw the trailer for God’s Not Dead I thought to myself, “This could be really good, or really bad.”  I recently took to watching the film and couldn’t finish the last 40 minutes because I was too offended to watch further.  What I had expected, in all my naievety, was a movie where people of different faiths could all join hands and say “God’s NOT dead!” and celebrate the different views people hold of God- but all agreeing that God exists. What I got was a load of anti-everyone-but-christian propoganda that made my cheeks flush with frustration.  Obviously, the part that was most offensive to me was the muslim family.

  In the scene where the girl, Ayisha, was being dropped off by her father I could sense a feeling of discomfort from the girl over her hijab/niqab that she was wearing.  When she removed it hastily upon her fathers leave,  I saw what could have been a great opportunity to explain hijab and its importance in Islam (majority opinion) and how it is an act of worship for a god that is not dead.  When she dawned the hijab again before her father’s return and another student commented how pretty she was and how she wished the girl didn’t have to cover, followed by a comment about “old fashioned” from Ayisha, I knew it was all down hill from there.  This showed a blatant misconception and misunderstanding of hijab in Islam- how it isn’t cultural, but scriptural (again, the majority opinion of scholars. I’m not looking for a debate, just stating my understanding and beliefs).  Additionally, the idea that her father made her wear a head scarf and veil herself is contrary to the “No compulsion in religion” part of Islam.  Even more, the short sleeved shirt she wore didn’t really fit into the additional requirements of hijab.  Well, if you’re going to misrepresent something, you might as well completely screw it up.

  Oh, well, maybe they can still save the movie.

  Then, when Ayisha is caught listening to biblical scripture (ironically, 1 Corinthians, which also states that a believing woman should cover her hair as to not shame her head…but of course that wasn’t included) her father smacks her around and throws her out of the house. Oh yes, how very islamic of him.  I’m not saying this doesn’t happen.  It’s unfortunate, but it is not limited to Islam.  A dear friend of mine, raised in a Christian home, has recently come to words with her mother because she has been studying religions besides Christianity as of late, looking for the truth as she can see it. The Qu’ran says to respect Christians, Jews, and other faiths.  Somehow, I didn’t get a sense of “respect” when a young girl was slapped by her father and physically removed from her home.  A Muslim father is responsible for the safety and well-being of his daughter, whether she is Muslim or not. 

  It was at this point that I turned it off.

  I’m not sure who paid to have this film produced, but it was incredibly unfortunate to take this stand.  Islam isn’t the fastest growing religion (with the largest number of converts being women in the west- according to a discussion I’ve heard previously) because of patriarchal, mysogynistic BS.  While people are free to believe what they want about God and their own faith, they are not free to make up whatever they want about other cultures and peoples faiths.  As if Islamophobia wasn’t already a problem in the US, a film such as this fans the flames.  Muslims are your/our neighbors, teachers, coworkers, family, and friends.  They aren’t going anywhere.  It’s about time someone extended an olive branch of peace and tried to understand Islam instead of demonizing it.