“No one is perfect Ami [mom],” I stated somewhat harshly. “No Maheen, you HAVE to be perfect,” my mother responded with a faint smile.
I was in middle school when my precious mother declared these words, and demanded perfection from me. Back then, I never let on how much her words affected me, and to what extent I felt pressured. I feared not meeting her expectations, or failing to make her a proud mother.
Back then, I didn’t understand her, or her words.
Four years after her death, I ponder her same words and I can’t help but smile at her wisdom and unconditional love for me. Maybe I didn’t understand my mother back then, but she without a doubt understood me. She knew me better than I knew myself, and with a few simple words she left me with a world filled with endless challenges.
It seems cliché to say “Life is a journey”, one littered with challenges and tests. Scratch that. It IS cliché, but then again…we all secretly love clichés. So, let me explain. My mother knew that by making me question myself, she instilled within me the desire to always strive for perfection. I, however, misunderstood her words, and took them to heart rather than exhuming their buried wisdom. You might attempt to argue that maybe I’ve still failed to understand my mother, but as much as I regret it, I know I have begun to understand my mother more after her death than I was able to over the course of the 16 years that I had her in my life.
This is what she taught me with her few, but ever-lasting words:
Fear is a dangerous thing. It has the ability to cripple us and disease our minds’. However, fear can also prescribe us with the challenges we need in order to succeed. A matter of perspective is really all it takes to take a bad situation and transform it into something beneficial. At some point in our lives, we’ve all been dealt terrible cards, granted some worse than others. This is something that unifies us all. However, bad cards don’t necessarily mean a bad hand. Take a look at those cards and position them to your liking, to whatever hand best fits your current situation, and play that hand with unwavering confidence. Sure, maybe Life isn’t as simple as a game of cards, but I’m sure it comes pretty darn close, right? ;)
Faith is a powerful, even spiritual concept. It goes without saying that faith is the foundation upon which we build our characters’. Faith can mold us, transform us, maybe even control us. It is in and of itself, a belief system based on whether we believe in ourselves, in our lives, in the world around us, and ,of course, in a higher power. Faith is what sustains us, energizes us. Many of us, including myself, take faith for granted, never truly opening our eyes’ to its power. Again, perspective plays its part. Do we choose to be “faith-full” or simply “faith-less”.
Friendship is what many of us base our meaningful relationships off of. I have learned that friendship is one of the hidden secrets to unlocking a lifetime of beautiful and happy moments, and memories. Friendship is love, hope, strength, and happiness. It connects us, links us, ties us together. Forever serving as a “friendly” reminder that we’re never alone in this journey called Life. That there is always someone, or if you’re really special, many someones [ ;)] out there who have chosen to walk beside us as we face whatever Journey has been laid out for us.
So what exactly did my mother teach me with her words? Sure, she provided me with a lifetime of endless challenges. The silver-lining is that the wisdom of her words, and the lessons embedded in them gave me the tools to face these challenges. Fearlessness, Faith and Friendship. The question I ask myself now is, how can I NOT strive for perfection?
As I enjoy my Sunday, jamming to Nickelback, unpacking, and trying to combine my two lives back into one, I'm overcome with frustration with how much stuff I have and how I wish I had more space. With these thoughts in my mind, I hear my mom's cell phone ring. It's my dad. We need to call Pakistan. Why the sudden rush? Why the urgency in his voice? I have not a clue. I know there has been a lot of rain and flooding going on, but it can't be that bad, right? It can't be affecting my family, right? This could never happen to us. Oh boy, I'm wrong. We call Pakistan, only to hear that the flooding is getting worse by the second, homes are being destroyed, there's a scare of the bridge breaking, the bridge which connects Hyderabad and Karachi. This bridge is the only hope for my family in Hyderabad to get to Karachi. How is this going to work? How many people can travel on this bridge before it collapses? These bridges and overpasses weren't built with the thought in mind that, one day, the entire city might be on it at once, trying to get to the other side. Prayers are being recited, Independence Day celebrations were at a minimum, families are just trying to stay safe.
Hearing of these floods took me back in time, my family in the US has been affected by hurricanes as well. Katrina, Rita, and Ike all affected my parents, my brother, and me. Katrina caused my brother to lose his home in New Orleans. Rita caused me and my parents to evacuate for 8 days, making me miss 6 days of school. Ike caused a loss of fence. But all this seems like nothing compared to what the situation is in Pakistan. Losing a home or a fence is one thing, but realizing you might not have anywhere to go because the floods and rain are predicted to affect the entire country, that's got to be ridiculously scary. From what my family says, there are rumors that after the flood is over, the map of Pakistan is going to change. What a scary thought! From what the government and the UN has predicted, the situation is only going to get worse. The rains are continuing to fall and it could continue to for weeks.
After hearing this, I go back to cleaning/organizing my life and my room, only to realize that my frustration is gone, and all of a sudden, I am thankful. Thankful that I have a roof over my head, a place that I can call home. The clutter in my room suddenly doesn't seem so bad anymore. And all of a sudden, all I can think about is my family, and the many, many, many other families being affected by the rain and floods in Pakistan.
Please keep the millions of people affected by these floods in your thoughts and prayers. Insha'Allah, it will all work out.
-- Sobia Boolani
Today marks Pakistan’s Independence Day, and it makes me wonder if the sacrafices people made to make Pakistan an independent country were really worth it. Families were separated, so many were killed and raped just to go to a land where they would be able to have social equality and practice there religion freely. Did the people of Pakistan carry out the vision of the founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah? I keep thinking next time elections come around, people will choose a decent and educated prime minister that seeks out opportunities of prosperity for the country not for him or herself. Year after year I am disappointed to think the land I hold so dearly seems to be deteriorating. I know in my heart that Pakistani people are one of kind, we have soul, spirit, a will to succeed, otherwise we wouldn’t have gained independence in the first place. I guess we just need to find a way to better our situation by taking it one step a time. I know there are better times around the corner, we simply need to take a look at ourselves and be the change that we would like to see.
-- Saba Ali
When girls start talking about the Hijab, as a guy, my official response is to give a smile and nod of approval, sometimes followed up with a, "yeah that makes sense".....regardless of what was just said.
Alhamdulillah, thanks to the anonymity of the internet, I can be a bit more open with my true beliefs on the hijab.
Before I continue, I would just like to emphasize that this post only reflects my personal opinions, nothing else. I'm not a scholar, heck, i'm not even that smart of a guy. I was asked to provide a guy's pespective on the hijab, so thats what i'm doing: providing A guy's perspective, not THE guy's perspective.
Now that i've gotten past the saving-my-behind part of the post, lets get down to it. My personal opinion is that I'm kind of jealous. Yep, you read that right: jealous. Sisters have the opportunity to express their faith, a constant proclamation to everyone that they're muslim. The closest male equivalence is the beard, but frankly, thats starting to catch on so it's not just a "muslim" thing anymore. I am proud of being muslim, but I have to always say that I'm muslim, always try and prove myself as a muslim. I'm reminded of an episode of Tool Time, where Tim Allen, a man's man who loves to build things, realizes that he, along with all other men, feel the need to prove themselves because of the fact that they were not blessed with the ability to bear a child. In a similar manner, sisters are given a method in our beautiful deen to express their faith, whereas us brothers are not. Because of this, brothers will try and express their faith through other methods, such as beards, islamic jewelry, or islamic clothes, but ultimately, none of them can match the beautiful method given to the sisters.
Some ways I've personally tried to express my faith is through having a beard, and even by keeping all my "muslim-y" things on my resume. I started keeping the beard after going for Hajj, and in all honesty, I don't keep the beard to "express my faith," that was more a by-product. I keep my beard because it is my own personal souvenir of the blessed pilgrimage I made.
As for the "muslim-y" things on my resume, I'm referring to activism in different muslim organizations or things of that nature. Often times, people tell me to take that stuff off, but I tell them, that's who I am. If i take it off, then I don't feel proud of my resume cause it's not a proper reflection of me. In this small way, I'm proclaiming to potential employers all across the nation that I am muslim, and I am proud of it.
I've rambled a bit on my own personal "male alternatives" to hijab, but lets discuss, as a guy, my opinion on sisters wearing hijab. I do believe the hijab to be mandatory. I think the Qur'an and sunnah are clear on this aspect and don't leave much wiggle room.
That being said, I think the hijab can never be forced. I've seen cases where girls were forced to wear the hijab early on, and they either don't wear it properly (with half their hair showing), they wear clothes with it that shouldn't ever be worn by anyone ever, or, once out of their parents view, they take it off altogether. Sisters need to choose to wear the hijab on their own accord, because only then will they "wear" it properly and do it justice. A similar case is with salah: we've all seen little kids who are forced to pray, and, because of their young age, they will joke around, laugh, and giggle while "praying." However, once they grow up and (inshAllah) see the beauty and the importance of salah, they'll take it upon themselves to pray. It won't be the case anymore where the parents are forcing them to pray, but rather they'll want to pray on their own. And I assure you, the prayer they made on their own accord is going to be much much better (in terms of sincerity and khusu) than the one where they are forced to pray.
We need to keep in mind that hijab is an individuals decision, and should not be forced. We should never judge someone based on whether she is a hijabi or not. Just because someone is not a hijabi, doesn't mean she is not modest. Sadly, the converse is true as well, just because someone is a hijabi, doesn't mean she is modest.
Hijab is like a cup of hot cocoa: if you jump right in too early, you'll burn your tongue, and possibly be turned away from its chocolaty goodness forever. If you wait until the right moment, then can you truly enjoy the sweetness within.
*Anything I said that has been beneficial came from Allah swt and Him alone. Anything that might have offended you is from my own shortcomings, and I pray that you can find it in yourself to forgive me.*