A media as bleak as the weather.

It is that time of year again. I haven’t seen the sun in days. The sky just slides from being black to grey and back again.

For Muslims in MediaLand, things are equally bleak. There must be a (metaphorical) forest that exists to produce sticks to hit Muslims and Islam with. Rape case in Saudi, ludicrousness involving a teddy bear, there’s always something, even if it has nothing to do with, or is condemned (yes condemnation , that activity all the Islamophobes claim we never do) by 99.9% of Muslims.
*whack*

“Bad Muslims!”

*whack*

“It’s all the fault of your religion! + Hopelessly misquoted excerpts from the Qur’an and Sunnah”

*whack*

“You are so backward”

*whack*

“You are a threat to our way of life”

*whack*

Which invariably leads to

“Clash of civilisations”

*Frenzied whacking*

It is both bewildering and sinister. It seems no branch of the media is free from this disdain of Islam and Muslims.

So it is a pleasant surprise to read of someone defending Muslims or at least, challenging one of the newest pretenders to the “I hate Muslims more than you ” throne.

When I read this article (massive, yet ladylike hijab flutter to Sunni Sister), I looked at the name of the writer and pondered whether it was that Chris Morris, the creator of the frequently funny but often boundary-pushing and gleefully tasteless Brass Eye. It was and the article is worth a read, even if it does nothing to stem the tide ofIslamophobic bile in the comments section.

It is tiring sometimes. Is it worth fighting with?, Engaging or correcting? There are so many things I would rather write about, especially since this post is little more than the squeaks of a mouse in the middle of a zoo.

In the midst of all this, a slogan comes to mind:

Islamophobia: The choice of prejudice for a new generation

There have been other groups in a smilar situation. What we are experiencing is not new. So we know that we have to fight it, however tiring and in what ever way we can, we must speak out and challenge and never let our silence suffocate the truth.

Juicy q’s from the D.P

Dictator Princess is doing an interview meme.

These are her questions and my answers.

1. I too followed the Vicky Hamilton story. I was so sad for her, I really wanted her to be out there somewhere with amnesia or just wanted to think she was a punk kid and needed a few years away or something. What did you think happened to her before the truth came out this week? Do you follow other missing persons stories (I do)? I have two that bother me the most. One involves an Algerian girl kidnapped from Finland. She’s like 19 now, I wonder where she is. I hope she’s not holed up in Kabylie somewhere. Another one I have blogged about, a European girl who was thrown off a bridge in Kansas. Nobody knows who she is, and it hurts to think of her family looking for her.

I can vividly remember reading about the Vicky Hamilton case in about 1992 in a magazine. It was an interview with her mum who died, as her family describe it, of a broken heart, about a year later. From the interview and as strange as it sounds, just looking at her photograph, I knew she was dead. She just did not look like the sort of girl who would run away.

I was about twelve then, and it struck me, that her being missing, suspected murdered, was worse then her being murdered, as the family were not able to grieve. Also, the family suffered numerous malicious calls saying that she had been spotted working as a prostitute in various locations. Her sister even received one such call on her wedding day. As she put it “I never knew how sick some people could be.”

It is absolutely horrifying that she was waiting for a bus, eating some chips and then not seen until now. It angers me, that someone made her suffer and stole her life like that. Why? What a waste of a beautiful young life.

I will leave the final words to her mum: “Vicky was a very, very nice person”.

I do follow missing persons’ cases. I find unidentified cases so sad and shocking and most of all unnatural. In this age of hyperinformation, how can someone not be identifiable? I blogged about this more here.
2. Preach on about advice you recently gave in your blog about accepting your spouse as they are when you get married. Is there anything besides that jewel that you know now that you wish you could have known from day one? You have mentioned on your blog the steps you take to make it work in an interracial marriage from the inside. From the outside, how have people in your entourage/community reacted to your marriage?

Sometimes things are personal, sometimes they are cultural, so it’s important to differentiate between the two. Communication is always key. Don’t be afraid to spell things out to each other. If x behaviour is deemed as rude/acceptable in your culture, say so, don’t leave it for the other person to guess.

I’m going to make a big extra point here. Do not marry someone who does not respect of appreciate your culture, because it will lead to them not respecting or appreciating you.

Don’t buy this “I only follow Islamic culture”. 1, Islamic culture is as varied as the rainbow, as it should be, as Islam is for all people for all times. 2, We all have some cultural heritage, it is a natural thing and I believe that as long as it’s compatible with Islam, then it is not a problem.

I think converts are sometimes made to feel bad about their past, not being from a Muslim family e.t.c. Send this nonsense back to the shop! We are as Allah swt intended us to be. Again it comes down to acceptance, accept yoursefl and ensure that those in your life accept you too.

Also, if you love your non-Muslim family, do not marry someone who views non Muslims as Kaffir and a lower form of life. This will not bring you happiness and indeed you may well resent that his family could be full of non-practising, morally dubious people, yet they will be deemed as far better then your own family who are lovely in every way, but not Muslim.

If Mr Outlines had this attitude, he would not have become Mr Outlines! For me this was non-negotiable and Alhamdulilah he loves my family very much and they love him too.

As for the reactions of others. Mr Outlines and I met one weekend, got engaged the next weekend and were married two months later. It is fair to say we made our families fairly anxious. Insha Allah, if you are sure of yourself and your reasons, your family will come round. Once my family met Mr Outlines, they calmed down. Again, top convert tip, involve your family in the wedding.

This sounds obvious but people seem to think that Muslim occasions can only be organised by Muslims. Not true, and remember that their child’s wedding is a day parents dream about. Alhamdulilah, the imam who married us, was so understanding and made my parents feel so welcome, my Dad wrote him a thank you letter afterwards. Think of the dawah potential!

Mr Outlines’s family are lovely people, masha Allah. As I’ve said before, my M.I.L is the sort of person who will pray in the middle of a hairdressing appointment, masha Allah. I make their son happy, so they are happy with me.
Farouq get to share this question because I want to hear all three points of view. What do you know now that you wish you had known before you converted? I am not talking about “big bad Islam”, I mean like what do you know now that could have made the journey easier?

Phew! Where to start! The first thing that springs to mind it that you will be ready for different things at different times. Don’t expect to be super pious straight away. If you “fall off”, make tawba and get back on. Trust yourself.
I will also name drop here: Sunnipath.com (Don’t get all cliquey on me folks, I’m not into -is and -isms, I promise). Everyone needs basic fiqh and aqida and they are excellent at teaching it, may Allah swt reward them. I wish I’d discovered them a lot sooner.

4. Its the Outlines version of the Brass Crescent. What is your favorite Muslim blog that doesn’t have as large of a readership as it should?

That’s a tough one, alhamdulilah, there are so many amazing blogs out there.

I think I’ll go for Foreverloyal’s blog, On My Mind. It’s down to earth, very witty and most of all written by someone who loves being a Muslim.

5. You don’t like to talk about Mr. Outlines that much and I don’t want any hassad up in here (everyone say Macha Allah right now!) if I make you talk about him so I am going to ask a really stupid question instead. Did you ever learn his national anthem? In my experience, “Kassaman” comes in handy at border crossings and police checkpoints.

No, I haven’t. It always makes me sad when Muslim countries have anthems which don’t mention Allah. Even ours mentions God!

Jazak Allahu Khayran for your wonderful questions DP. If anyone wants me to set them questions, let me know.

7 random and rather large things

Tagged by Mona. You all know the tag’s rules and I’m too lazy to write them so..

1, I promise I am not a cutsey pink wearer, but my current screensaver is Yoshi and before that it was Miffy.
2, Sometimes I will read about something or hear about something and it will upset me for ages. I’ve just written a more in depth post about that here.

3, Welsh/Cymraeg. I have a deep love of the Welsh language although I know so little of it. It is just so beautiful and it has mutations! I love speaking it although I so rarely get the opportunity. You Tube doesn’t work well for me, but to hear a song sung in Welsh, click here.

4, My favourite surah to recite is Al Asr. Not because it is short, but you really have to have to move your mouth to recite it, it can’t be muttered, so the recitation feels really emphatic. Also the meaning is an absolute truth worded very simply.

5, If I could change one thing about myself, it would that I could pray every prayer with full concentration. What a gift that would be.

6, One of my favourite questions to ask people is:

Which of the following abilities would you choose:

1, The power of flight

2, Being able to breathe under water

3, Communicate with animals

Myself, I would choose either 1 or 3.

7, I love Post Secret. Every Sunday, I’m there to get my fix. It’s not been updated this Sunday, which I was disappointed about until I discovered that there is Post Secret France. So with the help of Bablefish and Google France (to copy and paste letters with accents into Bablefish) I was still able to see some secrets.

I was also able to increase my French vocabulary. J’ai peur means I am afraid. Lots of people’s secrets are really their secret fears.

So I am going to break the rules of this meme. Instead of asking for seven random facts, I will ask:

What is your secret fear?

I tag everyone who reads this and the folks on my blogroll (still at old site, will update soon.)

Fear of a bad man

Back in the early 90’s, I read an article about the missing schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton. The devastation of her family, not knowing what had happened to her, but knowing that it was most likely something horrible, it really stayed with me. In my young mind, I had never really thought about such things. I realised that having someone you love go missing must be one of the worst things that can happen to you, I still think that now.

In 1994, Vicky was one of the missing children featured on Soul Asylum’s ”Runaway Train” video and I thought of her again, the pretty, smiling girl who went to catch a bus and never came home.

Last week, I was checking the news on my mobile, when I read the headline “Body found is missing schoolgirl Vicky Hamilton”.

I felt so relieved for her family that she had been found, but at the same time so saddened at finding out the horrible reality of what had happened to her. Hers was not the only body found in that house. Dinah McNicol was also found there, having suffered a similar fate.

It is such an ingrained fear, that of The Stranger, The Random Murderer. The reason, you don’t travel alone after ‘x’ pm, you fear deserted areas, footsteps behind you at night. All women live in fear of this to varying extents, how rational that fear is in light of statistics is debatable, but I think every woman has felt that fear.

The prison sentences given out to those who harm women do not allay these fears. The murderer of Vicky and Dinah, later raped two teenage girls. For this he was given a sentence of 14 years imprisonment, of which he served 10 years.

Two years after his release, while living under a false name he raped and murdered Angelika Kluk. Such was the brutality of this crime, police doubted it was his first murder and so proceeded to re-investigate several other murders.

When will the judges who pass these sentences realize that sex offenders do not ‘get better’, that they are likely to re-offend endlessly. Why does someone get longer in prison for armed robbery then for rape or murder? Are women’s lives so cheap, worth so little?

I once saw a plaque in remembrance of a female murder victim. It stated “She died because she was a woman”. That is true, but also true would be a statement that “She died because an evil man murdered her” and while light sentencing trends occur and monitoring of offenders on probation continues to fail, women will not just live in fear, they will die in fear too.

Vicky Hamilton 1976-1991

Angelika Kluk 1983-2006

Dinah McNicol 1973-1991

Rest in Peace

Better doesn’t make your life better

One of the reasons I moved to WordPress, is because it’s easier to do the whole trackback thing when you’ve seen a post and been inspired by it. At Umar Lee’s and Margari’s blogs there have been big discussions on suitable partners for marriage, looking abroad for a spouse and so on.

Should you marry someone from this country? That ethnicity? What about the children? Which leads on to the whole concept of Muslim identity, can there be a British/American/Western Muslim identity.

We cover each other with labels : Arab, Pakistani, British, American, Born Muslim, Converts.

Then we plaster over slogans: Arabic speaker (will help me learn Arabic), Modern, Traditional, From my culture, not from my culture, Educated, blue collar…
So people have all these ideas for marriage, that it is a big magic wand that will change their lives and will surely improve them as a Muslim.

So many issues and it’s easy to get caught up in it all and people forget what marriage is about.

Firstly. Intention. It is such a powerful thing, in this life and the next, so make it a beautiful one, for the sake of Allah swt.

Secondly, You marry a person. A human being with issues and deficiencies, good points and bad points.

I recently read that marriage means you have to face all the problems in your life times two. To me, that is a really good way of describing it.

If you are struggling in your deen, marriage won’t necessarily improve things, even if you are married to a good brother.

Alhamdulilah, I am very happy with Mr Outlines, but when we first got married and I was crazy-in-love-shiny-dress-dance-routine-wanted-to-sing-it-to-the-world*, I found that these feelings were so overwhelming, plus newly married life is very busy, that it really affected my conectedness (not sure if that is a real word) to Allah swt. I really had to evaluate and set myself back on the path and Alhamdulilah, Mr Outlines was a real help with this.

Actually that brings me to another point. So you’ve met the wonderful spouse to be they are pious, you have the same attitudes in Islam, so it’s going to be wonderful, right?

Masha Allah, this is a great start, but you have to take into consideration the differences in each person’s journey to Allah swt. You might like to go to every halaqa ever and they like to read Qur’an by themselves all night. You need to make space for each other. We are all trees in a forest, there is room for us all to grow, insha Allah.

Back to the labelling issue. We need to make less assumptions about what being this or that race/ethnicity/background someone is. None of us were made in a factory, we are all complex. It pains me to read when people write/say ‘x’ are backward. ‘y’ are dominating, ‘z’ make bad wives.

You are not marrying Arabs, Pakistanis, whatever, you are marrying that person, so find out what they are like and their opinions. Look to their deen first and then be realistic and be prepared to accept that person as they are. You are not ‘doing someone a favour’ by marrying them and vice versa. Respect is key, if you do not think they are good enough for you, it won’t work and they deserve better.
Above all, it is already written.

Astagfurallah, I forget the reality of this sometimes. You think about different decsions: what if? There is no what if, no fork in the road, no alternative reality. So alhamdulilah, we have the Qur’an and Sunnah to guide us and help us gain the good in this world and the good in the next, insha Allah.

If I have written anything good it is from Allah swt, if I have written anything bad, it s from me.

*Actually, I do still feel like this, Alhamdulilah

Yes, WordPress

I feel so traitorous for leaving Blogger, but WordPress blogs look so much nicer.

Anyway, Outlines 1.0 will remain in place, but insha Allah I will be blogging here from now on.

I will update my blogroll soon, insha Allah.