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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Burden or Blessing

"Damn my situation. And the games I have to play with all the things caught in my mind. And damn my education. I can't find the words to say with all the things caught in my mind."--Oasis.

Burden or Blessing? Burden or Blessing? That is the question! It's obvious from my last post that I am in a spiritual slump. Spiritually OUT OF SHAPE. And just with being physically out of shape, one can't just decide to run a 10K Marathon the next day. The person has to train to get in shape. So the same thing goes with spirituality in a way. So I do want to share some spiritual "excercises," that are good for starting the training, or at the very least, a walk in the park to stretch one's legs, get some fresh air, get the heart pumping.

I find that watching videos on Islam and videos about Muslims, made for Muslims, made by Muslims are often inspiring (as opposed to going to the Islamic center, which often is not as inspiring -- at least on the ladies' side -- but that's another story). Here are a few that I like:




313 The Movie

KARBALA: When Eyes Wept Blood

Also, to marvel at God's power, just:
Read books & watch shows
about the anatomy of the human body and its systems

about specific animals and how they function:

about natural disasters

about space:

And my favorite: about the human development in the womb:

Wow, that's amazing, MashaaAllah, Alhamdulillah! Still, I wonder why it is so easy for me to get lost in the haze of the mundane when staying home all day and dealing with housekeeping (constantly picking up THINGS, cleaning, scrubbing, sweeping, mopping, dusting, --and that's just if you can get to it all) and cranky kids and having little uninterrupted time to focus on "improving" oneself. Of course, Alhamdulillah, there are dozens of moments in the day when I just stare at my kids and say, MASHAA'ALLAH, ALHAMDULILLAH. THANK YOU ALLAH. Often, the things that are the most burdensome to me, are my greatest blessings. Such is life. Such is Ramadan. Such is the headscarf. It can seem a burden, but also a blessing. It takes awareness, and some fresh air, to experience the difference. My admiration goes out to all the stay-at-home Moms because it is truly a difficult and respect-worthy lifestyle that deserves recognition for its many blessings--and an acknowledgment of its real burdens--in order for its true experience to be a blessing. And subsitute the words HEADSCARF, HIJAB, WOMAN, AND MUSLIMS with stay-at-home Moms--and it's the same. It takes courage and confidence to do/be a SAHM, a Hijabi, a Woman, a Muslim. With some things, like the headscarf, it's obvious--one needs courage and confidence to do it--but with other things its less obvious--for example, when I think of fasting for 30 days, I think, "I CAN'T DO IT" and "WHAT IF?"--it's interesting that my lack of courage and confidence plays into my practice of Islam. And the more courage and confidence one has, the less miserable one will feel, the more successful they will be. It's difficult. It requires help...


And, God knows, I need more time. I hope I have more time.

"Yes, I need more time just to make things right."--Oasis

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not to Mention

Ramadan is really kicking my butt this year. It wasn't so hard when I was a teenager. I'd fast for 2 weeks, then get my "monthly visitor" break for a week, then fast again for another week. Back then Ramadan was in the winter months, so the day would fly by in the distractions of school and work, taking long naps after school and on the weekends, then suddenly around 5:30 PM, it was time to eat. No big deal.

Things are different now. I have two little kids with me all day, every day, rain or shine. Most of the time it's just me, no other adults around who are also struggling with fasting. And I'm sure as all stay-at-home Moms with little kids can understand--food and drink is a great comfort, pleasure, de-stresser, and necessity during the long days of childcare. Not to mention that Ramadan is now during the long days of the end of summer (and it's going to get deeper into the summer for the next few years!). Not to mention that while childcare (and double not to mention housekeeping) is demanding--it is often boring and tedious-- and mind-boggling in its frustration--so there is not much mental distraction to help tide the time. And let's not forget that with young kids---naps no longer exist for me--the MOM--who must keep working while Dad and everyone else can fall asleep like kittens on couches.

And let's not forget that often, people like me (anxious insomniacs with 2 kids who awaken at night) get litle to NO sleep at night either, so talk about feeling miserable--add on not being able to eat and sleep and I've got a recipe for a big time butt-kicking.

All the above reasons (I know what you're thinking: BLAH BLAH BLAH enough of your pity party, woman! My life is difficult too! Suck it up, Sister!)do not validate skipping the fasts, although I would like to argue that the NO sleep is equivalent to being ill--but alas, my arguments fall on deaf ears. And what's the point of arguing with the rules? I may think that God has mercy on me, but the rules sure don't. Still, I've given into my misery and broke my fasts in the middle of the day several times this Ramadan. God Forgive Me, I just can't do it all the time.

Makes me wonder. Maybe Islam is just too dang hard for me. I still struggle to get my 5 prayers done every day. Some days I don't. And we all know the trouble I have with the simple headscarf.

Actually, it probably just means I can't hack it as a SAHM. If I had some kind of job out of the home, there would be structure all around me and thus, my Islamic demands could fit in schedule somewhere. I wouldn't have to depend on my own pathetically weak internal motivation and discipline to fulfil my religious duties.

I think I am one of those so-called "moderate" Muslims--the ones that will espouse the "beauty and logic" of Islam, while still listening to music, watching TV even if it has "trashy" commercials every 30 seconds, and yes, even skipping a prayer, a fast, and a head-scarf.

My husband scoffs at such "moderate" Muslims. They're not part of a "pure" Islam, a "true" Islam. Sure, we're all weak humans he'd agree, but that's no reason to give in to the temptations of the flesh--food, sleep, vanity. Lucky for me, he's too busy giving his time to the Islamic center and devouring scholarly Islamic texts to have time and/or interest in reading my simple, chatty blog, so the secret is safe with me. For now. Actually, I've told him before that I've skipped a fast due to my shear desperation--arguing that indeed it is bad for my health when coupled with the very unhealthy issue of NOT SLEEPING. He replied by telling me that's not really unhealthy--and an invalid skipping requires that I feed 60 hungry people. But then someone else told me it means I must fast 60 more days for each skipped fast. Well what's the rule for breaking the rule? I forget.

So nowadays it seems like it's a more "don't ask, don't tell" policy. You don't ask me if I'm fasting, and I won't tell you that I'm not. I like that. Saves me from offering my pathetic reasoning up for dissection and judgement. Same goes for praying. He doesn't ask me if I've done all 5 prayers, and I don't tell him if I have. Same goes with the scarf. He doesn't ask me if I let my ear show when I'm out without him, and I don't tell him that yes, sometimes, I do. I'm all for being friends with your spouse, but what's the point of 100% disclosure that will just push both people's buttons and create bad feelings? I mean, it's not like I'm out living a secret, double life. Am I? Hmm. And if he or anyone were to ask me, then, yes, I would say, NO, I'm not fasting. Still--the thing is, he knows how I am, so we don't need me to mention it every single time when I fall short of the expectations--do I? Hmm. Of course, God knows all the details. I know HE knows. That's something I can't forget.