Category Archives: Islam

The old and the new; self definition within cultural norms

Though we no longer reside full time in Kuwait we certainly make an effort to keep up with the daily happenings there considering we do still have family and other interests there. Let me rephrase that, I keep up with the daily happenings. My husband has almost zero interest in what’s taking place in Kuwait. He’s never really ‘meshed’ with the culture so to speak, he’s often had to pretend certain behaviors and put on the fake smile, and always knew he just didn’t belong in some odd way. In my humble opinion, and in no way trying to offend anyone; I think, over time, he just consciously educated himself beyond what was/is accepted in his culture. He not only thought outside of the box, but he left the box all together.

Perhaps it’s because I’m away from Kuwait more than I’m there I see it through different eyes. But over the past few years it feels as though Kuwait has become divided within itself. There’s the older generation who want to lean more in the direction of big brother Saudi Arabia, and the younger generation who want to follow the lead of the UAE. And if you’re familiar with Saudi and the UAE you’ll understand the stark differences between the two though their foundation of beliefs are the same. Just like the population of Kuwait.

The elders in Kuwait are also divided on some level — the open minded and those with a beard. OK, not nice, but you get the idea.

The open minded older generation are all for change in Kuwait. The type of change that resembles their childhood when Kuwait was ‘pre-invasion’ and there was a sense of freedom and equality in the country. Women didn’t always cover their heads, married couples attended mixed gender events, and people even danced without finger pointing or the fear of being arrested.

The other half of the older generation, those sporting a beard, well, they want change too. However, while their idea of change is also a glimpse into the past, it’s so far in the past few would even recognize it. In their minds Kuwait should revert to a primitive lifestyle where every action is dictated by religious beliefs.

You can see how this could lead to conflict both personally and politically. Now throw into the mix the Kuwaiti youth. Those who truly want to see a change which resembles something from the future. They’re proactive, progressive, intelligent, and educated. But sadly, all of this forward movement makes them appear to be running from the past. Obviously upsetting the elders who cling to the past like a lifebuoy preventing them from taking their last breath.

All of this internal conflict isn’t good for the country. It leaves them discombobulated, confused, and lacking any real direction. And from the outside, they appear to just be a mess. Imagine what other local governments must think of them. Saudi has managed to hold onto their ancient past… and even enforce it for the most part. And the UAE has managed to seamlessly bring modern day freedoms into their Islamic country while maintaining their values and culture. Bravo!

Kuwait? Well, Kuwait is just struggling from within to find its identity. Quite similar to many of those Kuwaiti (and non-Kuwaiti/expat) youth who are dying to be trend setters yet are only following things the modern world accomplished decades ago. And while I watch them face a number of interior challenges, I’m always rooting for their win. Kuwait holds a piece of my heart and will always be a part of my life. I love Kuwait and beam with pride while sharing stories with friends here at home. I long for the day the country finds itself and unites — because I do believe that can happen. Until that day comes change will never happen, whether it be forward or backwards.

Below are a couple of videos entitled ‘Kuwait Then & Now” (parts 1 & 2). I’ve only watched the first few minutes but found it to be quite interesting.

 

Ramadan Mubarak [2014]

Wishing you all a wonderful Ramadan with family and loved ones.

Remember, Kuwait is an Islamic country and eating, drinking, chewing gum, or public displays of affection could result in a month in jail, a 100 KD fine, or both. Be respectful of the law and those who are fasting.

We’ll be celebrating the Holy month in America and I’m already looking forward to preparing fu6oor for my wonderful husband 5 days a week (we’ll be eating out the other 2 days). We just had a fabulous graish together while discussing some things we plan to focus on this month. I’m so blessed to be spending my life with one of the kindest, most compassionate, generous, empathetic people I know.

Ramadan-Mubarak-2014-B

Ramadan is coming! [2014]

Every year around this time I get super excited about Ramadan. I always love the preparations; having dara’a made (loving the Emirati ones this year), preparing the menu, reviewing fasting times, and shopping for necessities. Ramadan is also the time of year when families gather more often than just Fridays. I miss that! Though a handful of locals may vacation during Ramadan, the more devout, family oriented will opt to stay in the country and embrace Ramadan on every level.

My husband and I will be in America for Ramadan this year but we’re already starting to prepare and review our upcoming schedules to ensure we make the most of the month. It’s always a special time of year for us — regardless of where we are. Though there’s absolutely no sign of Ramadan here in America, we’ve decided we’re actually going to seek out some gatherings and events this year. Should be interesting.

I’ve always felt that we should be the best people we can be the entire year, not just 30 days of it. But Ramadan is a time when we’re more conscientious of our actions and have the opportunity to develop new, more positive habits. We all have room for growth. As Iv’e said many times before, it’s almost a month of meditation for me… and it’s nice.

Saudi women staging grass roots movement to drive

I am incredibly late at getting this and several other things posted.  However, this is such an important topic and I definitely wanted to share this before the day ended.

Below you’ll find a beautiful statement by Rotana as well as her cover song ‘Team’.

Wishing the women of Saudi Arabia all the best!

“I have recently been so moved by the brave Saudi women of my generation, and the generation of women that laid the foundation before us. As an admitted ex-cynic when it came to issues of women’s rights in our country, you have showed me what it is to try, try again, try harder, try again, and never stop trying. No matter what. 

I recorded my version of the song “Team” by Lorde with tailored lyrics in solidarity with the cause of women’s right to drive. But to me, this song is bigger than that. It is a salute to any woman brave enough to stand up for her right and follow her dreams despite cultural barriers, and a nudge to all those who are on their way. 

To all the women living through their authentic self, and scratching the surface for others, thank you. You have inspired me to follow my dream. I sing for you. I salute you. 

On October 26, and every day. I hope we all drive, dream and stand up. We are on each other’s team!”

The Liberal Muslim

I’m not one to blog about religion, nor am I one to incite a religious debate. I have no interest in being attacked or attacking anyone else for their beliefs… regardless of their religion.

I’m quite open about my ‘liberal’ standpoint on pretty much everything in life. It’s all very simple to me; as long as you’re not hurting another person or animal, then do as you please. It’s not my place to judge.

Some would argue my point of view by stating there are certain things which are a ‘sin’, such as homosexuality. My own religious beliefs were even questioned by a random stranger when I posted the Macklemore ‘Same Love’ video during Ramadan. Their judgment reminded me of a time I asked a friend what they would do if one of their close friends got addicted to drugs or alcohol. Their response was shocking, “Never speak to them again. Never allow them to come near me. Ignore them and tell other people to do the same”. Wow, how is that considered religious behavior?!

*Click image for source

*Click image for source

It’s my belief that it’s not our place to judge. And no matter what religion you practice (or if you’re an Atheist) none of us have the right to point fingers at someone else’s behavior. Isn’t it our place to encourage those who are struggling? And give a helping hand to those in need? Since when does tolerance translate to being ‘bad’? And since when does hate and degradation imply the finger pointer is the ‘better’ religious person? Isn’t that all so backwards?

At the end of the day I believe it’s important we all be comfortable in our own skin. After all, there’s never gonna be another ‘you’. We should fully embrace our existence, flaws and all. Because isn’t it really our differences that make us so perfect anyway?

Finally, attacking someone for their lifestyle, gender, age, weight, physical appearance, etc. is really just bullying. And didn’t we all know better than that by age 6?

Ramadan 2013 — American Style

Wishing all of my readers around the world a wonderful Ramadan!

This will be the first year in a very long time that I’ve spent Ramadan in America, and the first time for my husband. It’s odd. Definitely odd. There’s not an entire country running around making huge preparations and discussing the upcoming month. Nor are people reminding one another of the days to come. No one is asking anyone if they’re fasting or judging those who aren’t. Not one sign or indication Ramadan is upon us. Kinda like Christmas in Kuwait. And though a part of me misses all the hoopla surrounding Ramadan, it’s almost refreshing to be away from it all. It’s a religious holiday and to me religion should be personal. Everyone has their own level of practicing their religion, some not at all. In the end it’s their choice and not one to be judged by others.

Photo Credit: My husband

For me Ramadan is significant because it acts as a gentle reminder to improve on areas I’ve maybe been neglecting. I like to use the month to reflect, review, and change in positive ways. Almost like a month of meditation. I would like to believe I live this way daily but I know better.

‘Optimistic’

Lately, when I find myself slumping off into the land of stress, I whisper gentle reminders in my head about how wonderful life is as long as we remain optimistic. So much really depends on our attitude, how we handle issues, and on what level we learn to overcome… or even embrace challenges.

Moreover, I’m surrounded by positive people. I’m truly blessed to have family, friends, and even strangers who support me and love me unconditionally. I only hope I provide them the same level of comfort. Their greatness is so very genuine and they exude such compassion in all areas of their life. I can honestly say the group of people in my life are those I admire. I can only strive to be as wonderful as them one day.

On the rare occasions I encounter someone judgmental, negative, or critical, I try to focus on why they must be this way. I’m slowly learning not to take it personally, but instead to understand those behaviors are caused by a deep unhappiness. When I’m capable of seeing them in that light it’s far easier to show respect and compassion as I know a part of them is truly suffering. No one can really like being negative and critical… can they?

I won’t apologize for being happy, nor will I be judged for it. We all deserve to be in a good place and with the right attitude we can be. If I had the power to bring peace and happiness to everyone’s life, it would be my honor. But since sprinkling magic fairy dust isn’t a reality, I can only hope to bring the occasional smile to the faces of those I love so dearly.

Ramadan

Wishing all of my readers and everyone around the world a wonderful Ramadan this year.

I personally like to use this time of year to reflect on who I am, my previous experiences, and what I can do to make better choices from this point forward. I believe our religion is carried in our hearts and our behavior, in every aspect of life, reflects this.

For those non-Muslims living in Kuwait, please observe the law and respect those who are fasting. Eating, drinking, smoking, chewing gum (in public), and public displays of affection can result in legal action. Please be aware of your actions at all times when in public during this holy month of Ramadan.

Image source: My wonderfully talented husband.

Ramadan On July 20

KUWAIT CITY, July 12, (KUNA): Astronomical calculations indicate that the holy month of Ramadan will most likely start in Kuwait next Friday, July 20, Meteorologist Dr Saleh Al-Ujairi said Thursday.

Al-Ujairi pointed out that the new crescent will be observed next Thursday.

While the crescent would only be visible for one minute in Kuwait, other countries will be able to witness the new crescent for up to 18 minutes.

Al-Ujairi added other countries will be able to witness the crescent in one night for a period of 32 to 47 minutes, adding that this year’s Ramadan would complete 30 days.

The Kuwaiti meteorologist noted that people will be able to see the new crescent on first day of fasting with naked eye for a period of 41 minutes.

Al-Ujairi said that the period of fasting on the first day will be 15 hours and 18 minutes, gradually decreasing to 14 and 33 minutes by the end of the month.

The holy month of Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims across the world.

The beginning of the fast is announced upon the actual sighting of the crescent, and not based on lunar calculations only. It is a month of great boon in the Islamic faith, and fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Easter At The Mosque: Sacramento Muslims Lend Space To Churchless Christian Congregation

Absolutely fantastic! It’s always so nice to hear about people who really practice their religion — no matter what their belief.

_______________________________________________________

Hundreds of worshippers in Sacramento, Calif., were able to celebrate Easter together this Sunday thanks to a local Muslim organization that let the Christians hold services in their mosque, the Sacramento Bee reports.

For the past 12 years, members of the Spiritual Life Center of Sacramento had rented out space at the Pioneer Christian Church, according to the paper. But when their lease expired on March 31, the 500-member church was left with little time to find somewhere else to hold their Easter Sunday service, which is traditionally the best-attended of the year.

Reverend Michael Moran told reporters he had tried desperately to find a temporary meeting space before the solution came to him in a dream.

“We were desperately looking for a place to hold our Easter services. I had a dream and in the dream I saw a newspaper headline that read, ‘Easter at the Mosque’,” Moran told KXTV. “But when I awoke, I said that will never happen.”

Putting his doubts aside, Moran called Dr. Metwalli Amer of the Sacramento Area League of Associated Muslims (SALAM) to ask for permission to use the SALAM Community Center.

The Islamic Center had never allowed non-Muslim church to worship inside the mosque, but after consulting with SALAM’s board of trustees, Amer decided to let the congregants use the center’s community hall for services, according to CBS Sacramento.

“This represents the true peaceful essence of the religion of Islam,” Amer told Islamophobia Today. “I am an advocate of interfaith work.”

The plans were not without controversy, however. Michael Tate, a member of New Season Christian Workshop Center in Elk Grove, told KCRA 3 News he believes the event was deceptive by leading people to believe the Quran is consistent with Christianity.

But objectors like Tate didn’t stop worshippers from flocking to services at the mosque. Members of SALAM Community Center said there was so much interest in attending Easter services at the mosque that they had to schedule two services, one at 8:30 a.m. and another at 11 a.m.

“I heard people are coming from the bay area — all over the place just to witness this one-of-a-kind event. And we’re just happy to be a part of it,” Adnan Syed, a spokesman for the mosque, told CBS Sacramento.

Reverend Moran told reporters that be believes the collaboration between the two religious communities was successful far beyond its original goal of helping the Spiritual Life Center congregants find a place to celebrate Easter.

“Our mission from the very beginning was to bring the different faith traditions together in cooperative efforts,” Moran told KXTV. “I love what the Dalai Lama said, he said, ‘Until there’s peace among the world’s religions, there will never be peace on earth. I think this is one of those steps towards peace.'”