This article was previously published at Patheos.
At the age of 12, my father decided to put me in Islamic Sunday School at our local mosque. Since I was new to Sunday School, the teachers put me in the kindergarten class. Within one year, I was skipped to second grade and then to fourth grade, before I was ultimately promoted to instructor in an alternative Saturday school. Can you say, “lowered expectations?”
It is not uncommon for mosque Sunday Schools to be staffed by volunteers as young as 13 who just parrot what they’ve heard. As for the content, I learned about how birthdays are prohibited in Islam, that only prostitutes pluck their eyebrows, and how a one-eyed monster will come and get me on the Day of Judgment. In short, I left Islamic Sunday School with the perception that God was a big scary being that was going to throw me into hell.
The experience, however depressing, did inspire me to read the Quran for myself. It was only then that I realized that the vast majority of fairy tales they teach you in Sunday school are not in the Quran—which, by the way, is what Muslims believe is God’s message to humankind. In fact, the lessons taught in my Sunday School growing up didn’t come close to capturing the spirit of the holy book.
Back when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Massachusetts, I took several women’s studies classes and worked/interned at the Media Education Foundation. I have to say that throughout all my coursework and learning, one of the things that struck me the most was the blatant hyper-sexualization of women and girls in media. Sure, it made me want to puke back then, but as a single man, I never had to deal with that sort of thing.
It’s also been about a decade since then, and I haven’t ever owned my own television… so I’ve been kind of out of the loop.
Then, the other day, I read an article that got my wheels spinning again: The 7 Most Baffling Things About Women’s Clothing.
Now that I’m the father of an almost 6 year old WarriorPrincess, this stuff is back in my face. When buying jeans for her, I noticed that they didn’t feel right. They felt stretchy. And when she put them on, they hugged her bottom and her thighs and flared past her knee. I must’ve not been thinking straight, because I didn’t stop to check the label (like I do with all of our food) or question the cut of the jeans (riding low, accentuating curves she doesn’t/shouldn’t have). Against all signs from the universe, I bought them.
HM’s Note: This post describes a situation of domestic violence.
I was just reading the latest article on AltMuslimah, where the author describes her experience with domestic violence. It reminded me of a chilling experience I had three days before we left Malaysia… I wrote this immediately after it happened for a newspaper there.
“It’s personal issue. Sorry. I appreciate you telling me.”
With a pat on the back, the guard in front of the KLCC Mall Taxi counter dismissed me, and let an abusive man walk away with his battered wife.
Just hours ago, my wife, 4 year old daughter, and I walked into an elevator lobby right below the Petronas Towers to find a man pummeling a woman’s head repeatedly. Her face was stained with bruises and tears were rolling down her face. Other people present were standing around as if nothing was happening.
I stared at him for a moment in shock before I ran outside to the restaurants near the water fountain. “HELP! A man is hitting a woman! Call the police, call the guards!”
While I was outside, my wife heard him say in Malay, that the woman was a ‘worthless wh**e’ and he had her number, if anyone wanted it.
I ran back into the lift lobby just as the man escorted the woman into the lift. Without thinking, I stuck my hand out so that the elevator doors wouldn’t close and continued to yell, repeating,
“THIS MAN IS HITTING THIS WOMAN. CALL THE POLICE, CALL THE GUARDS.”
Note: This is the 4th part in a series about how I met my wife (and daughter). Just joining us? Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5.
“Beta, she’s just like you kids–opens the fridge and everything! She even saw that the papaya was almost done, and cut up a new one!” – My Mother
HijabMan: Two months after I left Singapore for the second time, EyeDot submitted a poster presentation for The Fancy-Named Conference in Baltimore. Surprise, Surprise, her poster was accepted, and she enjoyed a fully funded week-long trip to (you guessed it) Philadelphia! Even more exciting was that her trip coincided with Eid-ul-fitr!
Have you been counting? Two out of our three trips, over six months time were fully paid for. How’s that for divine intervention?!
I’ve been thinking about getting pregnant.
Pregnant bellies have started looking really good to me and I’ve actually felt some jealousy when shopping for baby items and bumping into random bumps. I loved being pregnant and alhamdulilah I had a great birth experience. And of course it’s something that I’d like to experience again.
Naturally, there were definitely some things about my birth experience that I’d like done differently a second time around.
The hospital we chose was AMAZING. Apparently the labour help is top-notch, allowing labouring mothers to walk around and not to be tied down to an IV; no invasive baby monitoring; a low use of invasive delivery techniques such as forceps or episiotomies; and a dedicated nurse to coach you through labour (I wouldn’t really know first hand though, since we essentially walked in and delivered on the spot).
They don’t routinely suction newborns and will hold off administering any injections or clean-up if you request it. And the first place baby goes after being born is directly onto mama’s chest. There baby is left to calm down, breathe, and get some help latching on from lactation consultants if necessary. The aftercare is also brilliant — with daily group breastfeeding help sessions with one-on-one help available. I ended up using their breastfeeding clinic’s helpline almost weekly until Eryn was about 2 months old. They’ve also gone through extensive renovations and now have birthing units so that you deliver and recover in the same room. Each birthing unit is also equipped with a specially designed tub for water birth — which would be really neat in my mind.
Now, there were some things that I could have gone without. Read more
A while ago, On Point did an interview with Maya Frost, author of The New Global Student, a book advising teenagers to quit high school and go abroad, where they can pick up college credits, foreign languages, and global skills. I bought her book and had finished it by the time the program re-aired in the evening.
I followed a path similar to the one she recommends and I agree with most of what she says (although how she says it sometimes grates — more on that below). When I was fifteen I studied abroad in Germany, but not on any formal exchange program. Read more
Note: This is the 3rd part in a series about how I met my wife (and daughter). Just joining us? Check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5
Question: How do two fairly practicing Muslims with limited financial means make an informed decision about marrying each other when they live on opposite sides of the world?
Answer: They live together for a month.
Was that the collective bunching of a billion Muslims’ panties I just heard?
What we did is not for everyone. Our situation was extraordinary. This is where traditional approaches to courting fail.