My lovely visitors :)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Casual Post... :)

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I just thought I'd do a really casual post today and post up some pictures of some things I've baked recently :)

for some strange reason, I love to bake sweets and breads when I am strictly eating really healthy. And I don't eat most of the things I bake during those times. If I am eating unhealthy for a while I have no desire to bake at all LOL

mini banana nut muffins

mini strawberry-pecan muffins (the mini muffin cups are clear and I now realize I should only use these for darker colored muffins to get the full effect :)

mini cheesecakes

some mini cheesecakes I sent to a friend one day

rainbow cake (doing it this way gives a really cool effect but it is a pain in the butt and my hand was hurting by the time I finished adding all the colored batters in turns)

homemade madeleines I packed to give to some friends :)

sour cream pecan muffins

butter-sugar rusks (just thinly sliced soft baguette brushed with butter, sprinkled with sugar, baked to toast slightly, then baked at a low low low temp for 2 hours until completely dry)

onion braid loaf

breadsticks and marinara dipping sauce

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dubai Trend Rule #1

at a cafe,

it is cool to "see and be seen."

I used to only see this scene with only guys --but now there are some gals who are starting to sit at cafes like this as well.

and yes, you do see 2, 3, or 4 guys squeezing in on one side of their table so they are all facing out just like that!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

We All Have Secrets...

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

one of my dear best friends Texan in UAE told me I should write about this... and I thought it was a great idea Mashallah!!

yes we do--we all have secrets. dark ones, humorous ones, sad ones, angry ones.. etc...

have you ever wondered if you were the only one who had a secret like your own?

there is a wonderful project called Post Secret (this site is not for children as some weeks there are a few mature topics as secrets--even some of the secrets I have posted here in the collages are too sensitive for children, but not as "mature" IYKWIM as some secrets get on the blog site):


people write their secrets on homemade postcards and mail them in to Frank Warren, owner of the project and site. it started out as a local project and a few cards trickled in here and there and so he started posting a selection of them online. this slowly gained more and more attention and now people from all over the world are sending in their secrets to him.

there are so many postcards he receives that they cannot all be published so he holds Post Secret events in different cities and the audiences can walk around and read hundreds, if not thousands, of different secrets displayed. afterward Frank Warren will have a gathering with everyone where they may discuss the secrets or reveal their own secrets etc...

every Sunday the site is updated with new secrets. some will disgust you, some will move you, some will horrify you, some will bring you joy and other will bring you to tears. You can see a very small collection of them at the end of this blog post.. you will have to click on the images to see the collages in full-size. It was very hard to choose just the ones I did as there are just too many to choose from.

for those who would like to see even more secrets here is an archive site:

Post Secret Archive

let me know what you think... you might even be surprised and see a secret that you can relate to. maybe some of you will end up mailing in a secret of your own.

your secrets are all your own
but you are not all alone

here is one email sent to Frank Warren from a woman after she attended a Post Secret event (and a couple of responses from readers of the site):

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down!

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Double standards in societies start.  Women are controlled--set to a level of standard men don't have to worry about.

Double standards continue and eventually, the women want a piece of the action as well.  And a revolution begins.

It starts slowly, women who "rebel" are at first are called names, put down, punished, harassed, beaten, tortured, or even murdered.

Over time, as more women start to follow, the changes slowly become accepted in society.  Then they take the next step in...and the next, utill eventually it is equality for men and women.  What equality you say? It is that women get to have the same "fun" and "freedom" as the men--forget about what religion has to say about it.

This is what happens in most societies and what will happen in the future in the societies where the women are still being controlled by their men, who have always been free to do as they please.

We are in the midst of this revolution here in UAE as we speak.

Is 100% of the blame on men?  No-- because not every man is bad and not every woman is good.  But society-wise, or culturally, a big part of this starts with the men.

At first, the women are behaved, sitting at home, waiting for their husbands, teaching their daughters to be the same way as they grow up and eventually marry.

The men--while they do work, are also out hanging out with the guys, frequenting coffee shops, "people watching" when it really is "staring down at all the girls/women."

They are also out at sheesha cafes , or billiard halls, where pretty women are waitressing and serving them.

They are out flirting with women, dating, having pre-marital sex.  It's all ok, everyone turns the other cheek, because "boys will be boys"--but they will only marry virgins.

Eventually, the girls want to have the freedom to go out as well.  To go out with their friends, go out to the mall (without any male escort), and to frequent cafes etc...   And if they want to smoke sheesha or cigarrettes, at the beginning it is a huge taboo for them to do so.... but over time, it slowly becomes more normal to see girls smoking it as well.

Girls then start to want to have the fun of flirting with the boys as well.  It is not only boys/men who have these urges.

Although virgin girls choose to not question that they are marrying men who have been sexually active, they start to get sick of this double standard that the men get to sew their wild oats while they are being "good girls" and saving themselves.

Girls start wanting to get to date...  and then to get to have pre-marital sex as well.   At first, of course they will do it as secretly as possible.  But eventually they will become more bold and start flirting and dating in public.  And they will eventually demand that they shouldn't be labelled as sluts for doing so, if the men get to do it too without being labelled.

 It all eventually becomes normal in societies that boys and girls will be out there flirting, dating, and even having sex before marriage.  It might happen more slowly in some societies, but it eventually does/will happen.

 These are the wrong rights to seek.  They are not rights given to men or women in Islam.  It should be women demanding that men conform to the same moral standards women are expected to conform to.  But reality is different.  Men don't want to change--they want to upkeep the "boys will be boys" mentality, so eventually the women will rebel, and want to be free to do as the boys do.

 It is different from the rebelling of women against oppression, or equal pay for equal work, equal educational opportunities etc... in Islamic societies for instance, educated women start learning their rights and fight the fact that culturally, men regularly disregard womens' rights. These are rights we shouldn't even have to fight for, but unfortunately, reality is very different in so many societies.

 Maybe if more men really practiced Islam the way it should be, more women would not end up bitter, disappointed, and sick of the fact that they are the only ones expected to follow these morals in Islam more strictly.  People need to stop turning the other cheek to the wrongs that men do culturally---but it is a sad reality that this will not happen in most cases.

 Before anyone goes up in arms over the statements I have made, I am not saying that each and every person is like this.  There are both men and women who will always strive hard to stay on the right path morally.  I am talking about societies/cultures as a whole.  It is a reality that has happened in some countries, is happening right now as we speak in other countries, and will happen in the future in other countries.

 It doesn't mean we should all just give up and go with the flow.  Let us at least start with ourselves, our families, and raise sons and daughters with the same moral teachings and expectations, and be good examples to others.

May Allah keep us on the right path.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Like all Muslims, I love Jesus (peace be upon him)

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Narrated 'Ubada:

The Prophet said, "If anyone testifies that None has the right to be worshipped but Allah Alone Who has no partners, and that Muhammad is His Slave and His Apostle,and that Jesus is Allah's Slave and His Apostle and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit created by Him , and that Paradise is true, and Hell is true, Allah will admit him into Paradise with the deeds which he had done even if those deeds were few." (Junada, the sub-narrator said, " 'Ubada added, 'Such a person can enter Paradise through any of its eight gates he likes.")

Sahih Bukhari- Book 55, Hadith #644

Please go and read this excellent post by one of my dear best friends made about what Muslims believe about Jesus:

Texan in UAE-Muslims love Jesus (peace be upon him)

Another hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): -- 'And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them." (4.159)

Sahih Bukhari- Book 55, Hadith #657

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Reverse Discrimination

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Please go and read this excellent excellent article (Mashallah) by a UAE local sister named Maryam Alhamly:

Dubai Belongs to Us ALL

Some of the stereotypes of Emiratis.... arrogant, spoiled, unreliable, lazy, racist....

How many people agree with these stereotypes? I am not so sure but some of these stereotypes might spoil over to most Khaleeji locals... but again, I have only lived in UAE so I can only speak about what is happening in UAE.

How many who agree with these stereotypes have friends who are Emiratis? How many who agree have interacted with local families in UAE? How many who agree have made efforts to befriend and/or converse with Emiratis?

If you were invited to an Emirati home, or to an event like a local wedding, would you accept the invitation? Or would you automatically decline based on how you feel or based on what you have heard about how bad the locals are?

I believe that there are many many people who come to live and work here and end up reverse discriminating against the Emiratis. Are all Emiratis angels? No, of course not. There are good and bad people in every single country in the world.

Are there stories out there that reinforce these negative stereotypes of Emiratis? There sure are.

But does that really mean its ok to go and label all of them with these stereotypes? Of course not!!

I believe that many of the people who are racist toward the locals don't even have local friends. It is all just from the fact that there isn't enough interaction between everyone, and the negative stories fly all around and everyone keeps focusing on all of the negative, because it is all they hear since everyone else also doesn't interact with the locals very much.

Is this all the faults of the expats? No, of course not. But if you think about it, in many countries where they have large immigrant populations, one of the biggest complaints is that so many fail to integrate with the rest of the local population, and just stay huddled in their cultural groups.

Is this not the exact same kind of thing happening in UAE? It is important that both the locals and the expats make efforts to integrate. And this effort has to come from both sides.

Reverse discrimination is a reaction of many people but it is wrong because it blocks those bridges that could be built to integrate.

I am an American married to an Emirati and Mashallah I was welcomed with open arms by my in-laws and the family's friends. To this day when family and friends of the family come over, I am always greeted with a warm smile and it is my own fault for not being able to speak Arabic by now to truly be fully integrated with them all in all of the conversations.

I am invited to other homes and weddings and get-togethers. They have truly accepted me Mashallah Alhamdulillah. Besides any language barriers, they have never given off vibes that they do not like me and/or my culture. If any of the expats came over to my in-laws homes they would be truly greeted just as warmly.

Monday, February 8, 2010

How Far Can You See? Just the Cultural Practices, or the Real Islam? Part 2

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah,

There are, unfortunately, just so many things so many Muslims are doing that non-Muslims think are part of Islam when it really is all from their cultures.

One of the biggest things that the non-Muslims see and hear is that there are a lot of Muslim men expecting to marry virgins but they themselves are out "sewing their wild oats" (with Muslim and non-Muslims women) before marriage. For the men who expect to marry virgins, they consider the women having pre-marital sex as whores, but only the women.. not themselves.

as I have pointed out that one verse in my last post, keeping your chastity applies to both men and women. for instance, this hadith:

Abu Dharr reported:
some of the people from among the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to him: Messenger of Allah, the rich have taken away (air the) reward. They observe prayer as we do; they keep the fasts as we keep, and tray give Sadaqa out of their surplus riches. Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) said: Has Allah not prescribed for you (a course) by following which you can (also) do sadaqa? In every declaration of the glorification of Allah (i. e. saying Subhan Allah) there is a Sadaqa, and every Takbir (i. e. saying Allah-O-Akbar) is a sadaqa, and every praise of His (saying al-Hamdu Lillah) is a Sadaqa and every declaration that He is One (La illha ill-Allah) is a sadaqa, and enjoining of good is a sadaqa, and forbidding of that which is evil is a Sadaqa, And in the sexual act of each of you (with your spouses) there is a Sadaqa (charity, or gift). They (the Companions) said: Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual passion among us? He said: Tell me, if he were to devote it to something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to devote it to something lawful, he should have a reward.

Sahih Muslim Book 5, Hadith #2198

so you see, Prophet Muhammad (slallahu alayhi wa salaam) here even makes a point that unlawful sex is a sin (and in this hadith, he is speaking to men).

--That women have no choice/say in marriage and have to marry whom their parents choose. Sadly, it is something that sometimes happens, but it really isn't only the women who are affected by this. There are families that force their sons to marry women they do not want either.

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How can we know her permission?" He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission)."
Sahih Bukhari, Book 62 Hadith #67

Narrated AbuHurayrah:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: An orphan virgin girl should be consulted about herself; if she says nothing that indicates her permission, but if she refuses, the authority of the guardian cannot be exercised against her will.
Sunan AbuDawud Book 11 Hadith #2008

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
A virgin came to the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) allowed her to exercise her choice.
Sunan AbuDawud Book 11 Hadith #2091

--Women who are basically slaves at home. Even worse is when the women have to move in with their husbands' family and are expected to slave away for the whole household!! Please read these links:

Housework is not a legal obligation for wives...

Women are not obligated to live with, or to have to serve her in-laws...

Another on living with in-laws

of course, it is only fair if a woman is a housewife that she do many household chores but it does not mean the husband should come home and order her around. And it does not mean he should get to completely relax the whole time he is at home while she is running around caring for the children and the home almost 24 hours a day.

-- In some households, women have no voice in their marriage and are completely controlled by their husbands. The husbands completely disregards their wives' opinions and walks all over them telling them things like "what have you done all day?" or "Its MY money because I am the one who works!" etc...
please read:

--consulting one's wife and listening to her advice and accepting it is part of living with them honourably and treating them with kindness.

if you do read that link page, you will see the questioner obviously has issues with women having a voice of their own.... inshallah this questioner studied the fatwa and changed his attitude.

--That women have to shut up and put up in their unhappy marriages, or abusive husbands.

There is way too much advice that a woman always has to stay patient even if she has tried everything she can to get her husband to change. for more on this, please read a previous post of mine:

be patient, be patient, be patient... our final choice??

I would certainly never ever ever ever follow a religion that condones any of these attitudes toward women. And these things are certainly NOT from Islam.

Just because someone calls himself/herself a Muslim, it does not mean they are practicing Islam correctly. When we become practicing Muslims, we have to look at our cultural practices and only take from the good and leave the bad. And mistreatment of women goes against Islam. Sadly, there are too many people who don't leave the bad...

And just because a girl/woman is from a more Christian country like the USA it doesn't mean there is no mistreatment of women. I know because I grew up in the USA and my mother, sisters, and I have experienced physical abuse from my very own non-Muslim father.

It has nothing to do with religion, it is something that happens in families and most of the time it is a cycle of mistreatment passed down from generations before.

Also, many times in cultures like these, people tend to blame women automatically for mens' sexual sins-- and since many families allow their sons to go out freely while the daughters have to stay at home and behave, boys disregard the part of Islam of how they are supposed to behave around girls, and then they grow up and get to blame women for their sins.

And on top of that there really is an inbalance of dawah, or advice, when it comes to marriage. There is so much more out there for women on "how to be a good wife." compared to men being advised on how to be good husbands.

The double standards are not only passed down through generations from the men. Women continue it as well.

This is the mother who watches over her daughters like a hawk but gives her sons full freedom to do whatever because "boys will be boys."

This is the mother who, if her daughter goes out, she is constantly calling her cell phone asking her "where are you?" "who are you with?" "whose voice did I just hear in the background?" --while her son's cell phone only rings when.... his friends call him.

This is the mother who gives her son his privacy when making a phone call, but when it is her daughter, she asks "who are you talking to???"

This is the mother who does not allow her daughters to go online onto any socializing sites, or any chatting programs like Messenger--yet she has no problem if her sons do so.

And this is to the mother who will constantly lecture her daughter how to be a proper girl and to not dare look at boys etc... yet there are no lectures on how to be proper boys for her sons.

And this is to the mother who will make sure every part of her daughters' bodies and hair are properly covered all the time when out, but the same rules don't apply to their sons-- for instance, if their sons go out to play soccer and wear shorts that come above the knees. Its ok even though shorts above the knees is not proper covering for Muslim men.

Of course I am not putting all the blame on mothers, just pointing out that women also teach their sons and daughters these double standards, its not all from the men only.

I personally know women who are like this with their different attitudes toward their sons and daughters. And most likely these parents were raised by their parents the same way... their parents before.. and it just becomes sooooo normal to them that it is hard to break the cycle. But you know what???

None of these double standards are Islamic!!!! Muslims boys have to learn to behave like proper Muslim boys as well!!

And guess what?? There are so many Muslims who do leave the bad from their cultures and bring up their sons and daughters with the same moral responsibilities. So many Muslim men do not oppress their wives and ignore their wives' opinions.

The media right now focuses on the negative things that Muslims do and unfortunately for all of us Muslims who are striving to be on the right path, all of the good Muslim men, and all of us Muslim women who are not being denied our rights get such a bad rap because of these cultural Muslims.

And as much as it makes me sick at how the media is toward Muslims,  if there weren't Muslims doing all of this bad stuff to women, there would be no stories to tell.

These cultural practices aren't all Arabic things. There are many more Islamic countries/communities that are committing horrible sins against women in the name of Islam when they are not Islamic.

Women in Malaysia just recently got their voices heard in divorce court (for women wanting divorces) because some women educated themselves and demanded they be given their rights to divorce.

In the UK, the government has set up a task just for dealing with forced marriages... and many of these forced marriages in the UK happen with the Central Asian communities... I have heard so many stories with some Pakistani brothers and sisters who are being pressured and forced to marry people they do not want. Either force them with pressure and abuse, or they trick their sons and daughters with vacations to visit family back "home" but they are force into marriage while back there!!!

In Afghanistan... the Taliban has recently bombed 14 girls' schools!!! its like the attitude is "keep the girls undeducated and they will never ask for their rights." --when girl/women have rights to education.

ohhhh there is more but I will stop there for now.

of course there are many in all of these countries/cultures that are not like this... just pointing some stuff out I have seen and heard of.

Alhamdulillah for my husband and my in-laws who are wonderful people and to all of the friends and family of my in-laws who I see and observe how their lives are. It is NOT filled with oppression like the media portrays us Mulsim women. Alhamdulillah for my friends who have wonderful husbands and family who treat women right.

May Allah guide the cultural Muslims to practice the right way and treat women the right way. And may peace and blessings be on Prophet Muhammad (salallahu aleyhi wa salaam), his family, and his companions. Ameen.

And to my readers.. I am terribly sorry for the length of this post... I know its very long--and there is even more to discuss on this topic, but perhaps another time in the future inshallah.