Don’t Hide Your Islam My Muslim Sister

And the turmoil still continues here in North America and around the world, unfortunately.  And like many Muslims, I too say when there’s breaking news, “Please don’t let it be a Muslim.  Please don’t let it be a Muslim.” Sometimes, I struggle between being informed and maintaining my sanity.

12347794_10153897144140572_5147819454704333641_nTo read the news, or not to read the news – that is the question.
Whether tis nobler in the heart and mind, to suffer the slings and arrows of the media,
or to be misinformed and stay in la-la land.

And not just my sanity, my heart aches every time I see a senseless loss of a life.  It doesn’t matter where that person’s from, where they live, what social class they’re from, their religion, their ethnicity – it hurts all the same.

I can stick my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening and ignore it all, but ultimately, I also want to be informed.

So now we have, yet again, another Muslim backlash after the San Bernardino shooting due to all the media hysteria.  And now, unfortunately, many Muslim women are being told to hide they’re Muslim, put on hoodies, hats, beanies, etc. instead, not to be out alone, not to be out late at night, and not to be out unnecessarily.

Sorry, but that’s bollocks.  It’s enough already that the media and politicians are telling us to denounce the acts of terrorism of people we don’t even know nor relate to, etc. but now Muslims are telling other Muslims how to dress and behave?   This is outrageous.  Why?  Because by telling a Muslim woman to cover her hijab, you’re giving in to fear and hysteria and playing in the hands of bigots.

It’s kind of like non-Muslim Westerners not eating out at restaurants or going to concerts anymore because they’re afraid of possible terrorist attacks.

Or black men either hiding their blackness or just not walking anywhere where police officers are.

Will some Muslim women be targeted?  Yes, it’s the unfortunately reality.  But don’t give in to this fear mongering.

While Muslim women should be told to be vigilant and exercise precautions, please and I say again, please don’t tell Muslim women to cover their hijab out of fear with hats, beanies, hoodies and whatever else.

But instead, tell them to be themselves, the same person they were before all these hate crimes against Muslims were happening. Tell them not to stop living their lives and allow fear to overtake them. Tell them to take pride in their religion, not hide it, and be unapologetically Muslim.

By hiding our Islam, we’re giving into bigots, by letting them take pieces of us. If we do that, then they win. Don’t allow these ignorant people filled with hatred intimidate us and instil fear in our hearts. We should put our trust and faith in God and remember that nothing can harm us unless it was already written to happen.

If anything, we should be better Muslims and reach out to our neighbours and communities. Show them what Islam is. Be a part of our greater community and show them that Islam is not what the media portrays it to be, but truly a religion of justice, tolerance, acceptance and peace. Show them through our actions.

Don’t hide your Islam.

And if you’re experience of being a ‘hijabi’ is like mine, then you know that wearing a hijab is actually one of the best ways to outreach to others. Because yes, they see the hijab as a symbol of Islam and come and ask questions. You might be talking to one person. But that person has a family, they have colleagues, they have friends. This is how to win over people and stop prejudice; through education. Don’t give into fear and be proud of the Muslimah you are.

Stand up tall my sister, and don’t let hate and fear stop you from being you, and wearing your hijab.

 

34 and Never Been Kissed

wedding-rings

So I’m 34, still single, and a virgin. Yep, contrary to popular belief, those of us still exist – I owe it to my faith and my human biology background (well, the virginity part i.e.). I’m sure you’ve heard that in Islam, we’re not allowed to engage in pre-marital sex before marriage. I take that to heart. Moreover, I’ve studied the effects of different hormones on our bodies and mind from sexual intercourse, and thus, don’t want to offer the cookie, so to speak, unless he’s the right one, which I’m on the look-out for.  Besides, I’ve seen way too many heart-aches to want to intentionally put myself through it.  I’m not ready to start writing poems about it either. 😉

This year, I’ve had better prospects when it comes to love and marriage. (And no, I don’t do that whole arranged marriage thing.  That’s not even from Islam, it’s more of a cultural thing – the subcontinent to be more specific.)  I’m meeting better guys (thankfully), however, I still haven’t met the one that I’m willing to sacrifice the rest of my life and happiness for.

While they teach you that marriage is happily ever after, it’s truly not. It’s a roller coaster ride where half the time you’re preventing yourself from killing this other person whom you somehow once loved, and trying to remember why it was you loved them in the first place. So, if I’m going to put myself through that, then he’d better be the right one. While marriage has it’s challenges, it’s also equally as amazing, wonderful and rewarding too, making that sacrifice worth it. As with anything in life, it has its pros and cons.

Getting married is easy. It’s the staying married part that worries me, especially in our society today where most people carry divorce in their back pocket. People no longer try to fix a relationship. And with Muslims, marriage has become synonymous with having sex. If you want to have sex, get married. While it is one of the perks, marriage is more than sex. Many divorces have happened because couples realized they really weren’t a good match and were merely driven by their hormones. Generally though, many people jump right into marriage blindly to begin with, not really realizing what they’re signing up for.

I guess for some people, it’s just one of those stages of life you’re supposed to go through. You go to school, you go to college, you get a job, and you get married and have children. So, they end up getting married to the first person they fall in love with and figure that love is enough to maintain a relationship. If it’s love as in the verb where you’re constantly working on it, then yes. But if it’s love as in the abstract noun and infatuation, then you’re going to need a little more than that to sustain a relationship in the long run. Many, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way.

And then of course, you have that pressure from others who expect you to have that box ticked by a certain age or stage in your life. When are you getting married? You can’t keep saying no. You’re clock is ticking. If you want to have kids, you better get on that soon. And even worse, you’ll get these: Don’t worry about finding the one. Just get married. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have a child out of it and you can raise him/her on your own. It’s no biggy. It’s kinda the norm now. And sadly, it’s not only older women who are saying this, but younger ones too.  So, the whole purpose of getting married, apparently, is to have a kid? Not to have a life partner, nor to love and be loved and share your life with someone you consider not only to be your lover, but friend too.

While I love kids and would love to have them, I’d rather raise my kids with a loving husband, who will be there till death does us part (and no, I don’t plan on killing him ;)). I won’t rush into marriage just because my clock is ticking and I want to have children. I believe that every child deserves to be raised by a mother and father and it’s healthy for them to see their parents modeling how to be a mother and father, and wide and husband. I want to marry a man who I’d want my son to grow up just to be like, and my daughter wanting to be married to a man just like her father – setting her standards as high as they should.

Now, because I’ve had many prospects, people assume that I’m just picky. But that’s far from the truth. Every time I sit with someone and go over my mental list (I’ve never written it down), they agree that I’m not asking for too much.

And no, I’m not a gold-digger nor high maintenance.  A man with good character who is kind, generous, educated, puts in effort and chooses to put me as a priority trumps a man with fancy cars, loads of money who pampers me with gifts but doesn’t have character and puts himself first. Well, while I’m at this, I’d also like him to have a fun-loving personality, a good sense of humour, to be athletic/active, family-oriented, and intelligent – yes, I’m a saposexual. Feed my brain and my heart, and I’m sold!

Then, once I’ve established that I’m not picky, I get the… but men are intimidated by you. Look at all the places you’ve been to. Where you’ve lived. What you’ve accomplished in life. To that, I’d have to say, boys are intimidated, but not men. Moreover, it’s also those who come from a different paradigm than me.

While I travel a lot, I’m not rich. For the love of God, I don’t even have a car or house. Women who travel, believe it or not, are actually less materialistic than women who don’t.

While I’ve always been a strong woman, due to my life circumstances, I’m actually not as intimidating when people do get to know me (outside of all the boxes they decide to put me in). Because of my job and where I’ve lived, they assume I was this STRONG BLACK WOMAN, until they speak to me and realize I’m this big kid in a woman’s body – lol – not but seriously, I am.  The Toys R Us commercial jingle was made for me – I never grow up.  Unfortunately, if you’re a single woman and successful (and black in my case), you’re automatically put in the STRONG BLACK WOMAN or the “she’s definitely out of my league” box, shooting themselves in the foot before even trying – smh.

Thankfully, I know who I am, and what I want in life. I won’t rush into marriage, nor settle, just to be married and have kids. Yes, I want to love and be loved, but that’ll just have to wait until I find my Mr. Good-enough. I know he’s out there somewhere; our paths just haven’t crossed yet.  Or as one of my good friend joked, “he’s busy trying to figure out which countries you haven’t been to.” 😉

Marriage to me is a serious commitment, one were both parities have to equally invest in. And, until I find that person who is willing to put me first (as I would him), and puts his words into action, then I’ll continue my life as a happily single woman who lives life.

And to all those 30ish single women who have yet to find their one, don’t rush and give into fear. You’ll find him; he’s out there somewhere looking for you. In the meantime, live your life, follow your dreams, and do anything and everything you wouldn’t be able to do once you get married, settle down and have kids. That’s why I travel a lot. ☺

Hate and Intolerance Has No Place in Canada

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Since the Paris attacks last Friday, a mosque in Peterborough was set on fire, and three Muslim women have been attacked here in Toronto on two separate occasions, days apart.

Just as the ISIL terrorists spew hate and terrorize, we have their equivalents doing the same, ironically, in defense of freedom and liberty.  Whenever Islamophobia is rampant, unfortunately, it’s us women who are at the receiving end of hate crimes.  Well, us and Sikh men (sorry Sikh men, but people mistaken your turban as being Muslim.  My sincerest apologies).  Because we are visibly Muslim (those who wear a hijab i.e.), people who want to take their frustrations out on Muslims or Islam take it out on us women.  And it’s almost always men, which I always find mind-boggling – very manly of them indeed.

The first attack was on a mother picking up her child from school who was attacked by two men, who punched her in her stomach, ripped off her headscarf, and stole her phone.  They hurled anti-Islamic and racist slurs at the lady before running off.

The second one happened last night where two women, also wearing hijabs (headscarfs), were verbally assaulted on the subway by three assailants, and one of the Muslim women pushed, before the perpetrators took off when a bystander pulled the emergency alarm.

Both incidents are being investigated and treated as hate crimes, and thankfully, the police are looking for them.

As a Canadian, I can’t begin to imagine how something like this could happen here, especially in Toronto where we are heralded as being one of the most multicultural cities in the World.  I am shocked beyond disbelief as this is very un-Canadian like.  The Peterborough residents who came out to rally around the Muslim community after the attacks on the mosque there, that’s Canadians for you.  These other people attacking innocent women and places of worship has nothing to do with the Canada I love and adore.  We don’t do things like this.  Hate an intolerance is very unCanadian.  But unfortunately, it’s happening, and it’s happening more and more now.

It was only three years ago that I got into a fight with some Islamophobe myself here in Toronto on Canada Day.  I was taking my younger cousins and niece out to watch the fireworks at Woodbine beach, and as we got on the streetcar from Woodbine station, I noticed a cellphone left on one of the seats on the bus.  So I grabbed it and headed up front to give it to the driver while my niece and younger cousins (4 altogether) headed to the back to find seats.  When I returned, my niece told me that the lady sitting two seats in front of us hurled some insults, which I wish not to repeat, at them (mind you, this women was in her mid 30s, my niece and cousins are all under 19 ), while I was gone because of their hijabs.  So I decided not to remain quiet and respond to this lady, who wasn’t at all amused.  How dare I respond?  I should just sit there and allow her to insult my family.  She threatened to come to the back to beat me up, and although I haven’t gotten into a fight in a long time and was probably rusty, I told her to bring it (thankfully, my mom put me in karate as a kid so I had something going for me).  She jumped from her seat, leaping obey the people between us and threw a punch at me, which I stopped.  She tried to hit me again, but I held her in place, holding onto her arms.  As people pulled us apart, she continued bad mouthing me.  Afraid that she would get arrested, her male companion ushered her off the next stop.  I had a talk with my niece and cousins after, telling them that they should never allow others to intimidate them, and to always stand up for themselves and others.  I also told them to always be aware of their surroundings.  Here on the bus, there’s cameras, and there’s a bus driver who’s responsible for your safety, so it’s a safe place to stand up for yourself.

Now some of you may say that I should’ve just ignored it, especially since I had children with me.  We’d have to agree to disagree on that, as I feel it’s important to respond and not allow people to intimidate you.  I actually get frustrated when I hear Muslim women being verbally assaulted on the buses etc., and them not responding back.  You don’t have to respond with profanity.  I never do.  But respond,  even if it is, “I’m sorry you feel that way.  Perhaps a little more knowledge and understanding would help you.”

The unfortunate reality is, whenever there is a Muslim backlash, it is us Muslim women who will be targeted.  Like, when Muslim women were being harassed here again in September during Stephen Harper’s niqab scare mongering debates to try to win votes in his failed attempt (thank God) to get re-elected as our prime minister for a third term.  Canadians let him know loud and clear that they weren’t going to let him divide us like that.  And now, after the attacks which shocked Paris and the entire world, we have it happening again.

As I’ve said before, I blame the media for this, as well as the politicians.  You want to increase your rating?  Get more votes?  Target the Muslims. Their great for ratings and getting votes since we are now the “other”.  That’s the perfect political strategy.  You see, before us Muslims, you had the blacks (and still do), the Japanese, the soviets, the Jews, you name it.  There’s always an “other”.  Just look at the movies and tv series over the years.  You’ll see who the others are over time.  Right now, my faith is up front and centre – Yippee.

So, in order to get better ratings, you have the media perpetuating the idea that Islam is behind these terrorist acts, like the CNN anchors, who expect all Muslims to take responsibilities for the attack.  And then you have politicians like “the Donald” saying that mosques should be monitored and that he’d possibly shut them down if he became president.  Funny thing is, whenever school shootings happen, or churches are burned, and people are killed by white Christians, the media never asks white people or Christians to take responsibility for those actions and apologize?  So why is it expected that us Muslims or anyone who is Middle Eastern apologize for the actions of mad men/women who if anything, oppressed and assaulted us by abusing and misusing our religion that we hold dear.  It’s clear that this has nothing to do with Islam.  Read the Qur’an yourself if you want to verify.  And do yourself a favour, stop blindly believing and passively listening to what the media and politicians are telling you to believe.

Due to the recent incidents here, I now have people calling me and telling me not to go out alone, to be careful, not to go on my daily jog in the paths near my home; but I’m sorry, I won’t.  I will not live my life in fear nor let those who are spewing fear and hatred get the better of me.  That’s what these ignorant hate-mongers want.  They’re not any different than the ISIL/ISIS terrorists who were behind the Paris attacks.  Hate is hate,  no matter what your religion, creed, colour, or nationality is.  Maybe I’m being naive, but I don’t want to believe that my fellow Canadians are intolerant and hateful people due to isolated incidents.

This Muslim chic will continue living her life the way she always has – without fear.  She’ll pray not only for Paris, but for Kenya, Iraq, Nigeria, Lebanon, Burma, heck the world.  The entire world needs prayers and healing right now, and we need to stop looking at our differences and go back to our shared humanity.  Better yet, as the Dalai Lama said, let us work for peace and not just pray.  I’ll leave you with some of his most recent statements in an interview with Deutsche Welle:

We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”

 

Furthermore, the problems that we are facing today are the result of superficial differences over religious faiths and nationalities.We are one people.”  Dalai Lama

 

________________

On Fridays (this is the ‘holy’ day for Muslims), I’ll be putting my Muslim hat on and posting posts dealing with the realities I’m facing as a Muslim.  This is the first of many to come. 🙂

My Experience at the Allenby Border Crossing into Palestine/Israel

waiting area.. Rahma and Danielle in the picture

Allenby Border Crossing waiting area

So for my writing task today, I had to pick a day to write about (all 24 hours 😉 ).  Didn’t really know which one to pick.  I guess there are many days that I can focus on, but then I decided to pick a day that I’d never want to repeat.

In all of my travels, the most interesting experience that I’ve had with customs was four years ago. Never had I ever experienced such interrogations and counter interrogations in my life. But hey, it is these life experiences that give us great anecdotes at parties.

So, my day began quite early Thursday morning, April 14, 2011. I had to be ready by 7:00am to catch my ride with my friend Rahma and her nephew, Ali, to head to the airport.

Once we reached Dubai International Airport, we met up with our friend Danielle, and we all checked in. We weren’t sure what to expect from this trip, but we were just as equally excited as we were apprehensive. It was going to be our first time going to Palestine (to the rest of the world, known as Israel).

The easiest way to get into Palestine would be to catch a flight into Tel Aviv. But due to the political situation in the Middle East, there aren’t any direct flights from Dubai. Moreover, the UAE restricts entry into its country if you have visited Israel. So, the best way for us to get in would be to catch a flight to Amman, take a taxi from the airport there to take us to the Allenby border crossing between Amman, Jordan and Palestine/Israel. And once the Israeli border officials clear us to be able to enter, then we’ d have to request for the entry stamp not to be placed in our passports but on a piece of paper, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to get back into Dubai, and thus jeopardized our jobs there.

The Allenby Border Crossing isn’t the best place to enter, as many people are turned away on a daily basis or held at the border for hours on end. As a Westerner, your best bet is to get in from Tel Aviv. Well, on the plus side, at least we get to see what Palestinians and other Arab countries have to go through to get into Palestine.

On the flight, we discussed our travel itinerary. We were heading there to go see Masjid Al-Aqsa (one of the three holiest mosques in Islam), Masjid Al-Quds, Jerusalem and the Old Souq (market), Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity, Ramallah, Hebron, and see first hand how the refugee camps were. We were also going to attend TedX Ramallah, first of it’s kind there with Alice Walker – the author of The Color Purple – as one of the key note speakers. We decided not to mention to the border officials that we were going to TedX Ramallah as well as the refugee camps, but just to say that we were going sightseeing, to visit Masjid Al-Aqsa (one of the three holiest mosques for Muslims), and the cities we were going to visit. We had already booked the hotels we were staying in, and done all our due diligence, so we figured, it shouldn’t be bad at the border. Should be pretty much straightforward.

We arrived at Queen Alia International Airport just after 11am. Once we paid for our Jordanian visas and picked up our checked-in bags, we headed out of the airport and got a taxi from the taxi stand. Luckily, we didn’t have to negotiate since it was a fixed fee and off we went to the Allenby Border Crossing.

The drive to the border took about 45 minutes through the Jordanian desert. It was quite harsh yet a beautiful landscape.

When the driver dropped us off at the Jordanian side of the Bridge, we entered this building to go through Jordanian customs. We found it quite interesting that we didn’t have to get an exit visa, as apparently, the Jordanian side does not officially recognize Allenby as a border crossing. It was good for us though, since we wouldn’t have to pay for another visa upon our return. Once we all went through Jordanian customs, which was a quick and easy process, they had us board a bus to cross the bridge on to the “Israeli” side of the border.

Now this is where all the delays tend to take place, especially if you are a Palestinian, an Arab, a Westerner who has visited the Middle East, or a human rights activist of any sorts. Upon arriving at the building, there were about three different lines beginning at the doors and extending all the way to the side of the building. The best way to describe the lines was Black Friday, except people were lugging their bags with them and surrounded by fully armed IDF (Israeli Defense Force) soldiers.

They say it can take a minimum of 35 – 45 minutes. Looking at the lines, we figured it may take an hour, give or take. After all, they usually give a hard time to Arabs, and none of us were Arabs, by passport nor ethnicity. We figured they wouldn’t make much of a fuss with two Canadian and two American tourists.

So my friends and I joined one of the lines and waited. As we were queuing, Israeli border authorities with their AK-47 were walking through the lines examining everyone. As they approached our line, they pulled Ali aside and asked him for his passport, which he gave them. Then, they pulled my friend Danielle out of the line demanding to see her passport as well. The soldiers then told them to walk to the front of the building, with their passports in hand. My friend Rahma and I are now looking at each other with an expression of both amusement and concern, wondering what was gong on. As she’s being walked to the front of the building, Danielle looks back at us with a puzzled look on her face.

I shrugged my shoulders and told her we’d meet her inside. At that point, another IDF soldier asked us if we were with them, and when we replied in the affirmative, they ordered us to step out of the line as well, took our passports from us, and told us to go join our friends.

We were ushered inside the building and told to go through the security check. We weren’t told why we were asked to leave the line, but we figured, hey, we no longer have to wait in those long lines, so it’s all good. Or so we thought. We put our bags on the belt and walked through the metal detector. All was good. As we were picking up our bags, they told us to put them back down and to give them any cellphones/mobile phones that we were carrying which we complied to.

The IDF soldiers separated us and put us in different holding areas where we were individually interrogated by officers who looked no older than 22. They asked us the usual questions, who we were, were we lived, what we did, etc. and a whole bunch of mundane, repetitive and irrelevant questions like if I thought my friend Danielle converted to Islam because of her husband, or why out of all the countries in the world that I could travel to, I wanted to come here, etc. So for the first question, I informed them that Dani became Muslim before she met her husband, then got married years after, then got divorced, and now, even after the divorce a year later, she’s still Muslim.  So hopefully, that answered their question.  But then again, tourism didn’t satisfy the officer’s queries about the purpose of my visit. With my fully-stamped passport in his hand (and by then, I had at lest 15 different countries stamped on my passport), I advised him to check my passport and see all the other countries I’ve visited, 8 within the last year alone; he finally conceded.

I was asked to leave the holding room, and was given my passport phone and bag and told to go sit in the waiting area. One by one, my friends joined me. Two hours passed, and we’re still sitting in the waiting area. By this time, we’ve seen loads of people come and go. There were others also in the same predicament we were in. To pass time, we munched on the snacks that we brought, thankfully paying heed to the suggestion of one lady who told us to have some snacks and refreshments just in case they held us, as they didn’t have any place to buy any refreshments there.

One by one, people were being called up. The fortunate ones were given a paper clearing them, ending this useless wait. They called my friend Rahma, and just when we thought it was all over, they took her back into the holding room to be further interrogated. She was gone for a good 30 minutes. When she came back, we asked her what they were asking her, and she said, “The same questions as before. What’s your grandfather’s name? Are you a Muslim? How do you and your friends know each other? Etc.”

Honestly, all we could do was laugh at the sheer stupidity of the situation. Clearly, we were being held for no reason at all. We weren’t posing any threat. They’ve already called the hotels we said we were staying at and verified everything, so why keep us here still?  It was already 5 pm now, and we figured we wouldn’t be able to get much sightseeing done on our first day anymore, which was quite upsetting considering we only had 5 days including our travel days.  But then it got me thinking. We were just coming here to visit. What about all those who live here and have family here who have to go through this every single time?  Like the mother and daughter who were sitting across from us, Palestinians, who were going through this just to get back home. I definitely started to count my blessings and started to make light of the whole situation.  I would hate to have to go through this every time I was going home.

Another half hour passed and then Danielle was called in again to be further interrogated. She took longer than Rahma. Ali and I figured we’d be called in next so we braced ourselves. Danielle finally came back, and it seemed that her interrogation was focused on her conversion, as a Canadian, why she would want to become a Muslim, who inspired her, and why she wore the hijab.

Time continued to pass. At one point, the alarms went off and the whole place went on high alert. Apparently there was a bomb threat so they shut the whole place down. We were told to stay put and just watched as they closed everything off and went running – walked actually – around the facility. When it was cleared, they opened it back up and were back in business. Personally, I think it was more of a drill than a real threat, as we would’ve been asked to leave the building if it was. It helped pass time though.

Ali and I were wondering which one of us they’d call first. They called Rahma and Danielle in again (separately of course) for further interrogations, while Ali and I sat there counting the tiles. I started to clap every time someone received that piece of paper, and then it became a thing we all did in the waiting room. The IDF soldiers weren’t too pleased with it, but hey, with not knowing how long we’d be there and whether we’d even get in anymore, we had to have something to look forward to and make the time passing a little more enjoyable.

It seems like the whole purpose of these interrogations was to kill time really, demoralize and intimidate us in the hopes of us not wanting to return to Palestine. If it was something serious, I’m sorry, but you’d have older and more experienced officials interrogating us, not 18 – 22 year old kids who have yet to experience life.

Nine tedious hours and three rounds of cross-examinations later, we were finally permitted to enter Palestine.  We were the last ones to be let through, and by then, it was 11pm. We nearly missed the last bus into the city, and had to run for it.

When the bus dropped us off, we hired a taxi to take us to our hotel, and crashed in our rooms. What an end to a long and tiring day.  But thankfully, I will never have to go through this again, unlike the many Palestinians who do.

Advantages and Disadvantages of being a TCK

So, being raised in Canada and other countries, I’m definitely a TCK. As with everything in life, there are advantages and challenges with being a TCK*.

Advantages:

1. You’re a global citizen.
You have friends from all over the globe.  You can even start your own united nations if you wanted to.

2. You have no problem making new friends.
There’s a party, sure, I’d love to go with you.  You can’t make it anymore, no worries, just tell me the address and I’ll go on my own.  

3. You embrace change and know how to let things go.
We’re moving again?  Okay, when are we moving? I want to invite my friends over one last time before we leave.  Just tell me when to start packing.

4. You have a better understand of people.
Yeah, they’re celebrating Diwali.  It’s quite an interesting celebration. I love the colours!

5. You’re more openminded.
Well, you probably know people from all walks of life. So, nothing really surprises you. And you learn to focus on the similarities rather than the differences.

6. You know how to be vulnerable, which is great in relationships.
Moving around a lot and having to make friends quickly makes you quite vulnerable in ways you couldn’t have even imagined.  And then you realize, it’s because of your vulnerability that you were able to connect with people so easily and quickly.  And as science has shown it some recent articles, being able to be vulnerable within the first hour of meeting someone creates an immediate bond.

7. You live your life to the fullest, living in the moment.
Your inner child always comes out, and whether you’re traveling or at home, you make the most of your life.

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Disadvantages: 

1. Your parents want you to attribute yourself more towards their culture as you get older.
Nope, not happening.  Kinda too late for that. 

2. Your parents want you to go back ‘home’.
 Really?  Now how’s that home?

3. They want you to marry someone from their culture?
If they’re like me, okay.  Otherwise, na ah!

4. You have to constantly explain away the weird stuff your parents do, to your friends.
Yeah, umm… that’s not a skirt my dad’s wearing… and my mom does have fashion sense, it’s just how people dress back ‘home’.

5. You don’t really know which culture you belong to.
You seem to have a foot in each culture.

6. While you’re comfortable with your parents’ culture and are proud of it and align yourself with it, once you get off the plane when visiting your parents ‘home’, you quickly realize that those people are not like you.
Did I say I was from there?  Yeah, I’m definitely not.  When are we going back home???

7. Visiting relatives and keeping in touch involves hopping on planes and a gazillion  phone cards over the years.
And, when speaking to them on the phone, you have to pretend you know exactly who they are and be polite all at the same time, while struggling to maintain a conversation in their native tongue.

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* A TCK is defined as an individual who has spent a significant part of their childhood years outside of their parents’ culture.

“I’m insecure because I have to think of what I look like everyday.”

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I came across this video today and thought I’d share it and my thoughts after watching it. I found the model’s earnest revelations quite interesting. But the one that hit me the most is Cameron Russell’s statement, “I’m insecure because I have to think of what I look like everyday.”

You see, this is why I love my hijab. I don’t have to worry about how I look. I don’t have to worry about being objectified or have people treat me a certain way because of my image.

Alhamdullilah, I never had issues with insecurities with my looks. I LOVE me, I’ve always LOVED me, and I still LOVE me. I really feel that wearing the hijab has given me this strength to not care about what others think of me, especially pertaining to beauty.

I started wearing the hijab when I was 11 years old in Richmond Hill, Ont. No one told me to do it. I just woke up one morning, and put it on, and haven’t gone out without it since. Because of this, I never went through that stage were you’re plastering a whole bunch of make-up on your face as a tween or teen, trying to look more appealing thinking that if I looked better boys would like me or girls would say I was pretty (and then envy me, and then backstab, etc. :p), or spent hours in front of the mirror before I heading out of the house. Why? Because I didn’t care what others thought of me. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips, and I still do. I might not be the pretties girl out there, but alhamdullilah, I’m beautiful I’m not claiming anything here – as I didn’t create me – God did, and I’m happy in my own skin. You can thank him, or my parents for selecting eachother. That’s my legacy. :p

Moreover, because I wore a hijab, I never really did get sleezy guys making cat calls or coming up to me with their sleezy pick up lines. The men who approached me where men of character; men who came up to me right and were respectful, not tryna tap no @$$ or treat me like an object. They were men who understand that you don’t have to put your beauty on display to be someone. They were men who saw through the scarf on my head and the clothes I wore, and saw what was inside – ME. Now that’s real beauty and those are real men.

Islam is a religion of reason and truth

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Islam is a religion of reason and truthI came across this meme today and couldn’t help but think how unfortunately, as an ummah (society), we have retracted from one of the glories of Islam, that Islam is a religion of reason and truth. As Muslims, we are supposed to be a nation of people who think and contemplate.

We are encouraged to seek knowledge, think at a higher level, and always taught to question things and not just to accept them as is without any proofs and reasoning. Allah tells us in Ar- Rum (chapter 30: verse 8): “Do they not reflect within themselves…” and in Al-Anfaal (chapter 8, verse 22): “Verily! The worst of (moving) living creatures with Allah are the deaf and the dumb, those who do not use their reason to understand…

So let us question what we are being taught and told, my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, and seek knowledge. Indeed, knowledge is empowering! For instance, if someone tells you you’re praying the wrong way, ask them for their proof. Don’t just accept it! It doesn’t matter who they are, whether they are our parents or a teacher. More importantly, study and read about why you’re praying and why you pray the way you do. Open the Qur’an, read the hadiths from Sahih Al Bukhaari and Muslim, go to the local mosque and attend the classes there. It’s not just enough to be a Muslim and just do as you see and are told. Understand what it is you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Reflect within yourself! And this doesn’t only apply to aspects of our religion, but everything! That is when you’ll be upon the truth.