Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The DOs and DON'Ts of Raising Kids

I'm not a mother and I'm no expert on raising kids. But I’ve learned lotsa important things from raising Kashmala (she lives with me and my family) and, before her, her brother. (I have another nephew as well, who’s now 1.5, but I rarely get to see him, unfortunately.) Below are some of the things I’ve learned about children (e.g., things to do in front of kids, things not to do, etc.) from my own experiences, from a Psychology class I took a long time ago, from movies/books/tv shows (like Law & Order – SVU), and from the Internet. Many of us already know that kids are very observant, but we still tend to forget that they pick up things quite fast. Experimenting is normal for them, and so it’s not uncommon for a child to do something just to see what it will result in. In such moments, we tend to yell at them and/or punish them, make them realize that it’s wrong – but we don’t do the more important thing: explain WHY it’s wrong.

Lately, Kashmala has been asking me “why” every time I tell her something, even if it’s not about not doing something. She once asked me why people cry. And I gave an answer and she said, “Why?” And the “Why” went on and on and on and on … till she was distracted by something else.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Interest in Islamic Studies - Part I: the beginning

Ever since I entered Islamic Studies, I have been having the hardest time with Muslims ever. And no one seems to understand completely--because they are not in my exact situation, because every Muslim who is pursuing Islamic Studies in the West has different experiences with it, because everyone practices and understands Islam differently, because everyone’s families are different, because everyone deals with the same situations differently. And few really understand what "Islamic Studies" means (I myself am still exploring this, so that's not to imply that I know and no one else knows), and there are many, many misconceptions about the field, as is the case with many other fields. I have therefore decided to discuss the matter here on my blog in an effort to dispel some of the misunderstandings and  to initiate a dialogue with those who cannot understand why a Pashtun Muslim female would be interested in Islamic Studies and strive to pursue it in the U.S.-- or anywhere in the West.

I thank you in advance for your readership! Please feel free to post any questions and express any feelings about it, even after I have finished with the series (a series of about three blog posts or so); you may pose your questions/comments anonymously if you'd feel more comfortable doing that.

This first blog post will be on how I got started. Part II will be on why I have decided to pursue Islamic Studies in the U.S. and not in any Muslim country like Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. Although I do intend to study certain Islamic Studies courses in traditional Islamic institutions as well (e.g., Al-Azhar in Egypt or the Islamic University of Medina in Saudi Arabia), I have learned that a traditionally Islamic institution will not be the better option for me (again, to be explained in the next post). In Part III, I will discuss the consequences of my entering Islamic Studies, how my family/relatives/friends and many other Muslims have reacted to my decision, and how I continue to struggle with it as I explain to others what exactly I am doing and why and how either they simply refuse to understand or I am unable to explain it clearly. You see, when people ask me what I am studying and I tell them I'm doing Islamic Studies and Gender Studies, they ask why I would want to pursue Islamic Studies in the west (and many often even dare to claim to "know" my intentions). In the third post, then, I will share with my readers the struggles and consequences I continue to face, especially from Muslims who, even after I explain to them what I'm doing and why, don't seem to tire from asking, rather unpleasantly, "But why in America? Why not in Saudi Arabia?" or "What - you don't think Zakir Naik is the most brilliant, most knowledgeable Islamic scholar of our time????? You must not be studying the correct Islam, that's why." Or "WHAT?!! You mean you don't believe Shi's are not Muslims??? What kind of Islam are they teaching you?" And, my favorite one: "Are your teachers Muslims? ... Hey, do your female teachers wear hijab [cover their heads]?"
Yeah, that kinda stuff.

To put it very simply, I was aware of the consequences of my decision to pursue Islamic Studies when I decided to go for it in the beginning, but I was honestly not prepared for what it has come to: it's simply too difficult to understand myself let alone to explain to anyone else. I entered the field hoping to liberate myself intellectually and spiritually, but instead, I seem to have smothered myself.

Now, let us proceed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Things to Do Before I Turn 30

So, a very common blog post is the list of things to do before one turns 30/40/50/etc. I'm about 5 years away from turning 30, inshaAllah, so I figured I should write a list of things I'd like to have done by the time I'm 30. If they don't happen, no worries - I'll do them later on, ka khairee. But hopefully, they'll all get done! Some of these things may seem very small and silly to many people, but that doesn't bother me. They're all important to me.

I'll add to the list as I remember more. Oh, and I decided not to number them so as not to overwhelm myself - haaa haaaaa.

They’re in no particular order. Just the order in which they came to my mind.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Regretted. Tortured. Empowered.

In my Sociology of Sex and Gender class in summer 2009, my teacher asked us to share some of the discriminations we have encountered as women, men, both, or neither. Although I was the second person to go, I asked if I could go last to see what the other students had to say or how they defined and experienced discrimination in 21st century America.  As I listened to stories about males preferring “feminine” movies or cars to masculine ones and being judged for their preference and about females being considered “bitchy” for wanting to be leaders, and other similar stories, I was reminded of the burdens that the Pukhtun woman brings to her Pukhtun family and to her Pakistani/Pashtun society as a female. Consider the following.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A List of Haraam Things

The Haraam List

Update (October 27, 2014):

Dear readers, as of late October 2014, I've migrated to Wordpress and have slowly been moving some of my personal favorite posts there as well during the last couple of days. You can read this list of haraam things on the new blog by clicking here: The Haraam List


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kashmala singing and telling spooky stories

Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- calms me down better than The Kashmala! Who cares about the stress that comes with school when I have her to look forward to seeing in a couple of days! Peace! Love! Happiness! Delight!

Enjoy :)

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