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.

An Open Letter to American Christians

Dear American Christians,

Let me start off by saying- I love you.  The Quran teaches Muslims that Christians and Jews are our brothers and sisters in faith, and for that reason I love you and respect your beliefs.  I want to make it clear that I do not hate you, and I do not mean to insult or offend you- but I have to put my foot down.

  You are privileged.

  Particularly white American Christians.

  I’m not angry at you for being privileged, I myself spent the majority of my life under this demographic.  I still enjoy 75% of my white privilege despite my hijab, since I am whiter than mayonnaise.  Your privilege is not because you as an individual made it that way, therefore I cannot be upset with you for that.

  I am upset because you don’t recognize your privilege.

  Not all of you are ignorant of your privilege.  Many of you are very aware of it and are grateful for it every day- using it for good and not to harm others.  So this letter may not be aimed directly at you.

But isn’t that part of your privilege as well?  That you maintain your autonomy from your demographic, while others are painted with the same brush as the worst of us?  For example, when terrorists who call themselves Muslim do something despicable, all Muslims must answer for their actions and vocally condemn it…but when terrorists who call themselves Christian do something horrendous, no one looks at the Christian community with a cloud of anger behind their eyes.  Similarly, I recognize your autonomy from your demographic, and everyone who accepts their privilege is excused from this letter.

But for those of you who are convinced you are victimized, for those of you who believe that the American public at large is out to get you…

you are the American public at large

  Do you not realize that you are in the majority? Do you not know that 83% of Americans identify as Christian?

 I read an article on my Facebook feed this morning that sparked my outrage.   It was about an actor in Jurassic World talking about his faith in an interview…and he was called brave.  Are you kidding me?  How is that brave?  Identifying as the majority demographic is not brave.  I’m not saying that it is bad that he is Christian, no.  Good for him!  I have no problem with his expressing his beliefs in an interview- that is all well and good.  Good. For.  Him.

  But it isn’t brave.

  Furthermore, you are not under attack.  Just stop.  There is no war on Christmas.  There is no attempt to stifle your beliefs.  And don’t view a law to protect the minority as an attack on the majority.

 Making a wedding cake for a gay marriage doesn’t mean you have to marry a gay person yourself.

 Allowing Muslimahs to wear the head scarf doesn’t mean you have to put it on.

 Legalizing abortion doesn’t mean you have to perform one.

  And the fact that you expected a law that gives you a religious exemption from anti-discrimination laws makes me sick.  You have to get along with everyone else.  Christianity does not give you a pass for being a bigot.

And did Jesus not say to love the sinner?

Could you imagine if I opened a shop that had a dress code in order to shop there?  If I had extra scarves and abayas (think baggie maxi dress with sleeves) at the door that women had to put on to come inside?  Can you see the picket lines?  The protests?  The angry news anchors?  The arson?

  No one is out to get you.  No one is out to harm you.  You can wear a cross around your neck without being leered at.  You can leave your house without having to be afraid that someone will attack you physically for your beliefs.  You don’t have to worry that a police officer is going to stop you on the street because of ethnic profiling.  You don’t have to look for wire taps or spies in your church.   You don’t have to wonder if you will wind up in Guantanamo like the other 60% of inmates that were innocent just because of your faith.

And for that you should be grateful.

You are privileged.

Don’t act like you aren’t.

  This post may make me unpopular.  People may unsubscribe and leave angry comments (which I won’t approve- just letting you know right now), but this has to be said.  Someone needed to say it, and it might as well be an American Muslim with 75% of her white privilege remaining.

P.S. there may be some instances of anti-Christian behavior in the US, but those are very small and rare.  I would like to just take a second to recognize that some people may have indeed suffered for their Christian beliefs- but it is not the majority, and that is the point of this letter.

When is “enough, enough!”

  Dangling at the precipice of a looming graduation, we stare down the barrel of a big decision.  

While a May (Spring) graduation was not meant to be, I will most likely be graduating inshallah in August 2015.  Yes, that is only a few months away!  While I am very excited to take my degree, that leaves us in a precarious situation.  The time has come to make a decision about Turkey.

The hubster has shot his final bullet, attempted the last remaining problem that he could think to take on.  His adviser was very supportive of this topic and he has been working on it since November 2014.  Come to find out… it has been solved already, two years ago by a research team that he knows, in Turkey.  The day we found out was devastating.  I can’t even find a stronger word to describe the inner turmoil.  With only one year left on his visa/ scholarship and nothing to show, we are left with the soul-crushing decision of “is enough finally enough?”  When is staying in the US doing more harm than good?  For me? Well, I will be graduated in August inshallah and it makes no difference for me.  To be quite honest…this would be a good time for me to uproot and leave.  If we were to stay another year, I would have to find a job and a source of insurance due to the new “you must have insurance” law (at the moment, the school provides it for me). This would be the ideal time to make a clean break…well, as clean as it can be when you are leaving your home country to start a new life.

But for him. For him…no.  There is no clean break.  There cannot be a clean break until he obtains his PhD.  At this point…is it even feasible?  That is the question we are saddled with.  The psychological damage caused by our latest revelation, along with years of abuse from his adviser (see previous posts for those stories…some were not even mentioned), he can see no shining light at the end of the tunnel.  This leads us to ask- is staying in the US another year worth the time? We aren’t getting any younger.  True, if we stayed another year that is more money in our pocket to help start our lives in Turkey…but that is a year of “working debt” that he has to endure, regardless of what degree he returns with.  Even more, if he wants to continue pining for his PhD in Turkey, that is a year he could have been working on it there.  We are wondering if staying is just prolonging the inevitable defeat.  Of course, being the optimist, I am always encouraging him and telling him that his degree is still possible.  But it would take a miracle.  I’m constantly praying for one.

At the moment he is saying that going back to Turkey is the likely choice (we’ve given ourselves until April to decide).  But we both know that his heart is not in this decision, and it is still clinging to the chance at a PhD.  I can’t even describe my frustrations at this situation.  He isn’t lazy, he isn’t stupid.  He is one of the smartest people I’ve met in my life mashallah and if this life was fair, he would have his PhD in hand by now.

Please keep us in your prayers as this life-changing decision looms before us.

——-~———

As stated above, the time is coming for our departure (either now or a year from now), and we could use your help.  If you are looking for someone in need to donate your sadaqa (charity) to, look no further. In order to start a new life abroad, it costs money.  Beginning your life over with nothing but two suitcases is a challenge.  We have some funds, but two plane tickets would go a long way in helping us out.  Visit the link below to donate.  Even $5 can help us.

When in Turkey… we need a hand!

All American Muslim

No, not the TV show (that was canceled)…I just like the picture

On many of the TV shows, youtube videos, movies, etc., that I have seen featuring western converts to Islam, many of them forsake their old identity for a new, Islamic centered one.  Changing their name, their style of dress (not just halal-ifying it), picking up a new language in the hopes of moving to an Islamic country….yes, I’ve seen all of (or many) of these things occur.  Let me just take a moment to remind everyone:

You are still you.

Islam is both a guidebook for living and a religion- but it is not a culture, per se. I think that many of us have identified Islam with the middle east and, when converting to Islam, many people will pick up the culture-ways of the middle east as well.  While I do subscribe to the notion of all muslims being of one ummah (nation)I don’t think that means we should forget who our families raised us as.  While some converts/reverts embrace a new culture because they married into it (like myself- who embraced Turkish culture BEFORE I embraced Islam),  I am troubled by those who seek to isolate themselves from their western identities because they feel Islam is not amenable to their culture.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.– Ch 49, vs 13 of the Holy Quran 

I whole-heartedly believe that Islam can fit into any culture, and therein lies its beauty.  When people seek to release their previous culture in favor of a more Islamically rooted one, they are propagating the sense of “otherness” that many Western societies associate with Islam.  Muslims are “the other”, “the odd ones”, the mysterious eastern people with their strange customs and strange ways…as seen through the eyes of the US and others. But, here’s the thing… Muslims can be American too. Americans can be Muslim.  Please, go to the mall in your hijab, go out for coffee and lunch with your friends. Be SEEN. Interact!  You are no less the person you were born as before accepting Islam as you are after it.  In fact, you are only a BETTER version of yourself. But you are you.  Remaining an active part of your society after converting to Islam can be one of the best acts of dawah (inviting to Islam) you can do!

So, I don’t know about you, but I plan on keeping my name and my identity after my conversion.  I’ll always be that All-American girl next store…with a head scarf!  What about you?

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.

 

A change of opinion

My husband and I have been enjoying the first two days of our vacation (mashallah), sunshine and blue skies!  This has been more than a break for us thusfar, it’s been a chance for us to think about our current situation as far as school is concerned. and where we want to go from here.   Last night we began looking at real estate for this area, just for fun.  How expensive is it to live on an island? Ofcourse, as you  can probably imagne, the prices ranged between 100k-300k, regardless of location on the island.  Well, what about in Turkey?  We then looked up real estate in the small ocean town where the in-laws have built a beach house (a long project that’s been around since before the hubby was born).  The price was still around 100k…turkish lira.  If you aren’t familiar with the conversion factor at this time (April 2014), it’s 2.13 (USD->TL). So that means… about 50K dollars.  WHAT?  yes. An Agean sea view apartment, 2 or 3 bedrooms, 50k dollars.

At this point the hubby shared with me that if we both could work in the US, even for one year, we could make more than twice that much together.  He expressed a desire to work in the US, even if it’s only for a few years.  Surely, he stated, this would give us a huge leg up financially in Turkey.  I nodded my head, smiling, then opened my mouth and said:

“But I wan’t to live in Turkey.”

Hm, since when did THAT happen?  I surprised myself with this candid statement.  He smiled and said that he knew that I would be happy living in Turkey.  But I still can’t help but wonder when my opinion on this matter became so concrete.  Turkey seemed like a cloud on the horizon, perhaps there is a silver lining somewhere- but it was a cloud none the less.  But now,  there is no doubt in my mind that I want to experience life in Turkey!  The food, the culture, the life style…I want it all!  Whether or not I could work in Turkey, I don’t know, but I know I wan’t to try!  Additionally, I miss my in-laws!  Being in University,  I am not close to either my in-laws or my own family.  Indeed, I don’t even hear from my own family as frequently as I hear from my in-laws (once a month/ every two weeks vs every weekend).  I’m not angry or accusing my family of not caring, they are simply busy, working, while my in-laws are retired.  Still, there is no doubt that I love them all, and living further and further away from my own family makes living in Turkey seem less difficult (on a personal front).

So where does that leave us now?  Well, struggling to finish our degrees seems to be the case.  He is still unsure if he can take his PhD at this rate, but I am always the encouraging voice in the background.  Hayirlisi olsun.  Whatever comes next is nasip.

And here we go again

Image

And right when you though it was over, it starts again.  This time with more to lose.  Things have been going well for me on the academic side, even a little on the personal side as well.  My classes are challenging but interesting, my advisor seems great, and my labmates are all friendly and easy to get along with.  This is a much better start than I had in my undergrad, where I was basically a loner for about half of my time there and struggled to get a foothold in the university system.  I suppose that’s the good part of graduate school, you know how school works and the department is smaller.  I wish I could say the same for my husband though…

Now his advisor has basically refused to give him any more intellectual support. “Oh thats not my area really…you’re on your own”.  What the hell is that?  Why did you tell him to change his area if you were going to turn around and say its not your area and not help him?  That is the only reason he changed- so that he could get the support he needed from his advisor.  Now the hubby is saying he is going to talk to the international office lady (who has helped him through all his paperwork and problems) about whats going on and if there is something more that can be done.  Doing a PhD on your own is…ridiculous.  So will it be here? Or Turkey?

The thing is,  I’m not sure he realizes that there is very little difference.  Seeing as the classes are not his problem, its the people.  People have been his problem since day 1, even during his undergrad experience in Turkey.  Sure, when we think of Turkey we think of sunny skies, picnics, the beach, delicious food, and spending time with his family…because that’s what we did two years ago when we visited last.  Turkey was a vacation.  If we leave now, however, it won’t be.  Turkey will be life again.  Same people, same problems, different language.  He’s too busy here to go on picnics, go to the beach, go to see my family (that are now 7hrs away)…the story will not change when we go to Turkey. Working in his PhD there, he will be too busy for fun and his family, also, will be around 7hrs away.  It seems to me that Turkey as a solution is not all it is cracked up to be.  I hope he realizes that before he makes a decision that changes both our lives completely.  Maybe for the better. Maybe for the worse.