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Category: Social Issues

Depression Hurts but Kindness Lives

‘The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.’

I came across this quote through my recent interest in understanding the medicine-death relationship. It of course comes as no surprise that recent day medicine has failed horrendously in psychological disorders – namely depression. We, as a society, fail to understand the significance of a certain ordeal without having previously experienced it. We do not look to a depressed person as being ‘sick’ or ‘ill’ only because he seems physically well. No wounds. No bleeding. No nothing. And so we completely disregard depression as being a serious illness. We even go to the extent of calling it a ‘phase’ to deny that it even exists.

Some of us don’t quite understand the importance of letting go of the mythical beliefs inherited by our ancestors, whom weren’t fortunate as we are today with the accessibility of information just by a click of a button. What I’m trying to say is that when somebody says they’re depressed you should not counteract it with a “you’re probably not so close to God” or the infamous “Pray more and God will soothe you.” Yes of course faith is an important aspect in your will to live, however the absence of faith is not the synonym of depression. Depression is a complexity of things that, till this very day, nobody can properly define. I truly believe that there is a deficit in the understanding of depression (and similar psychological diseases) and counteracting with inappropriate responses make things a lot worse.

My advice to you is that even if medicine has failed us -when it comes to depression, that is no green card to allow yourself to indulge in the failure as well. Be part of your depressed family member’s/friend’s success story. Depression is an illness. And if you feel like a person you know is suffering from depression, do not ask him to ‘change his attitude’ or to ‘get over it’. Try showing honest support, and let it not be out of pity. Let him not feel pitied for the person he unintentionally has become. Let him not feel alone in this world. We need to learn that the easiest, cheapest and must humane medical treatment of all is being there for one another. You surely don’t need a degree to teach you the basics of humanity.

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“4 Reasons Why I Wear the Muslim Headscarf” – Aaminah Hernandez

 

” I have never written anything personal on the subject of hijab because it seems like an overdone issue.

Sometimes I think so much focus is put on this one little aspect of being a Muslim woman, to the detriment of more important Islamic knowledge and practice.

Because the headscarf is such a visual symbol of the Muslim woman, many non-Muslims are the ones who make a large issue of it, spout ill-informed opinions, or ask questions in an attempt to understand. This has been answered to by so many Muslim women, and even Muslim men, that I did not feel the need to throw my opinion or feelings out into the fray.

Lately I find I am being asked many questions, even by other Muslim women who choose not to wear hijab, and by non-Muslims who know other Muslim women who choose not to wear hijab. So, the following is my answer to the many questions that have been coming up.

The most common question I have been asked in the past seven years since I became Muslim is “Why do you wear that thing?”My intent is only to give my own opinion and experience. I do not mean to be judgmental of those women who struggle with the issue of covering or to suggest that only one form of covering is acceptable. I can only tell you what I think and feel about the headscarf. If you want to know why someone else does not cover, or covers less or more fully than I, you would have to ask that person to share their experience with you.

“That thing” is a headscarf. I have worn many different styles from bandana coverage all the way to a full khimar, which is a very loose and long head-covering, with a face veil. I enjoy playing with my head cover to match the style of my clothing and to find more comfortable styles.

Right now my favorite style is very loose and draping. I tend to dress more multi-cultural than most American women. In fact, many immigrants who have taken to the American dress code even look at me in surprise that I like to wear many traditional clothing styles. My headscarves reflect my overall style.

The reason I began to wear hijab was simply that I believed (and still believe) it is mandated in Islam. When I first became Muslim I lived in a town that was full of Muslims, most of whom dressed in the traditional ways. Putting on a headscarf (and at that time even a veil) was not a hardship. It was the norm where I was, and I understood it to be required.

There are verses in the Quran and in the collected words of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as collected norms and behaviors of the wives of the Prophet and his Companions that show clearly that covering of the entire body and head was enjoined upon and practiced by the early Muslim women.

Besides the simple answer that I am Muslim and believe that the headscarf and covering are required in Islam, many people want to know more detail about why I actually wear it and what the purpose or point of the covering is, particularly if they know other Muslim women who do not wear it.Like most women, I have at times struggled with the issue of covering, but never because I did not believe it was required. There were points in my life where I did not wear it either because of jobs that did not allow it (it is a legally guaranteed right here in the U.S. and your employer must allow it) or because I was tired of being so “different” all the time. But I always felt guilty not wearing it and knew that I must go back to it.

I cannot speak to why so many Muslim women do not wear it and what their state of mind or opinion on the matter is. I refuse to judge them for being in the stage they are in and I do not know what their personal circumstances may be. I can only answer to what I believe the purpose and benefits of my headscarf achieve.

  1.  Modesty. When dressed in a covering way, I am not showing my physical attributes (or perhaps lack of) to anyone. People are forced to judge me by my actions and speech, by how well I do my job or how I interact with others, rather than by whether or not I am “good looking” and interest them.
  2. To that same end, my beauty is then saved for my husband’s full enjoyment and he knows he does not share me with anyone. I am not out getting a lot of attention from others that may make him feel insecure or that is disrespectful to me.
  3. I am noticeably different, a Muslim. Most people respect that. They can clearly see that I am not the kind of woman that you whistle or cat-call at, nor am I going to agree to meet you in a bar or club, nor can you proposition me on the street or in the office. There is a level of respect that men give me whereby they do not treat me in the same way they might treat other women they meet and believe they can “get with”. In fact, in my case, I find that many men (yes, non-Muslims) are more gentlemanly with me in general. I have more doors held open for me, paths cleared for me, more assistance when needed, and an overall respect given to me.
  4. Wearing the head covering works to remind me of my duties. I am more likely to be a better person when I am covered because the headscarf is a potent reminder to me of what type of behavior and attitude is expected of me. I am less likely to lose my temper, more likely to be kind and forgiving, in difficult situations.

In my experience, the hijab or headscarf is beneficial to me. Not only do I have the security that I am following a mandate set by God and thereby pleasing God, but I also experience great comforts in this life because of my coverage.

Contrary to what many think, I am not forced to wear it (I chose it for myself while still single, and as a convert I am not being forced by family to wear it), it is not an obstacle or a discomfort to me, and it does not in any way impair my opportunities or abilities.

I am an independent American woman with a high degree of personal freedom and fulfillment. The headscarf has never stood in my way of doing or achieving anything, but has instead made me more comfortable as I interact in society and my community.

 

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 This article was not written by me. 
Source – http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/growing-in-faith/447376-why-i-wear-the-muslim-headscarf.html

When will Obama be returning his Nobel peace prize?

Until now, I’ve refused to comment on foreign intervention (yet again) by Western forces in Iraq and Syria out of sheer hopelessness, and due to the fact my words will be of little consolation to the slain victims.

Westminster has overwhelmingly voted to join French and U.S. forces in obliterating ISIS, which if I’m going to be quite frank, find utterly hilarious. The two forces (Great Britain and France) who are singlehandedly responsible for indiscriminately drawing up borders with no attention to ethnic and religious divisions, are the reason the Middle East is embroiled in this very war they claim to be saviours of. As for the U.S. (which can lay claim to more casualties than ISIS will ever attain) and its impressive foreign policy, will always be held accountable for giving rise not only to ISIS, but to Taliban and Al Qaeda. But in spite of this, that is not the issue at hand. If this war on ISIS was to truly eradicate religious extremism in the Middle East, then by all means, wage yet another war that ever so proudly claims to stand on humanitarian pillars. But lest you deceive yourself in believing this to be true, you are greatly mistaken.

Compare the number of cities levelled, civilians murdered (many of whom through chemical weaponry) and the refugee crisis caused by both Bashar Al Assad and ISIS, and you have an obvious champion. Assad has managed to inflate his very impressive abhorrent human rights record with a three year civil war that has left Syria in ruin. Footage of entire districts leveled, thousands upon thousands of Syrians tortured, raped and pillaged, and yet not a single country intervened due to “lack of evidence in regards to use of chemical weapons”. You can murder two hundred thousand civilians, but God forbid you do so “chemically”. I wonder if third world dictators have instruction manuals outlining how to murder their own people without warranting international intervention? Surely Bashar must have the very best. I digress.

Compare the number of journalists murdered by Israel in the Gazan war and those murdered in cold blood by ISIS, and again, you have an obvious champion. The difference, you see, is the obvious bias in media. 18 journalists were murdered in Gaza by the most humanitarian army in the world, compared to 1 by ISIS. Of course we could discuss the brutal manner in which ISIS executed Steven Sotloff, but the issue here is the evident hypocrisy exhibited by world powers in relaying the “news”. — I could go on further to compare the refugee crisis of Yazidis in Kurdistan to that of Palestinian refugees, but I guess that’s old news, surely the world needs something new to gnaw its teeth on. — Again, has a Western nation intervened or even so much as issued a single condemnation against the Israeli state? If anything, the same country that now claims to spearhead the war that will enlighten the Middle East, has outlined endlessly its undying support for Israel. Thank you, Uncle Sam.

This brings us to my final point: France, Great Britain, and the USA’s interests lay nowhere else but in Middle Eastern oil. Had ISIS murdered and pillaged without obstructing oil supplies, would they have been granted the very same rights Assad currently enjoys. Should any of your future plans include committing genocide, just ensure Western powers are unaffected; that way, you can ensure at least 10 years of crimes against humanity with no more than “condemnations”.

If this war was to truly put an end to ISIS, end the Middle East’s abysmal human rights record, and ensure a transition towards democracy, then I would throw my full fledged support towards it. But this is no more than a hypocritical excuse by Western powers to control more natural resources in developing countries. This war will only give rise to more Bin Landens, more ethnic and religious tension, but above all, more death. So by all means, continue to support a war that claims to rid the Middle East of ISIS when it will do no more than desensitise a region that has endured so much at the hands of Western powers. Enough is enough.

P.S. When will Obama be returning his Nobel peace prize?

Muslim Women Need to Make Their Dreams Come True

Assalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakaatuh

In the first few years of my life, until I finished my ordinary level examinations I went to an all girls Islamic school. It’s been five years since I left, and the friendships that I’ve made then with those people happens to be many of the strongest bonds I have even today.

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Majority of my friends there grew up or still grow up with the notion, “You can dream, but you can’t *really* pursue your dreams.”  This isn’t something that they themselves came up with, but from their parents or culture. This is something that really bothers me  and makes me angry even today. But that’s basically how it is.  Their parents know they are smart. They know they are ambitious—but that’s good enough. They don’t have to seek the success they can get.

Muslim girls (majority of them) grow up with this expectation of marriage. You know you’re going to get married, so everything in between now and your wedding day is leisure time. Many girls become productive and acquire a degree, or degrees, depending on how much time you have. You can even think about what you want to do with your degree. You can plan your future, and you can start your future—again depending on how much time you have. But then marriage. See, your plans can’t get in the way. Once you get married, or start having children, your dreams should just remain dreams. “Your husband should be able to provide you with everything you need.”

No. It is God Who provides and we need to show God we are ever grateful by using what He has given us.

They say, “Your husband is your ticket to Jannah.” But, that’s not the core value Islam has instilled in us. Islam wants us to be good. To me, being a good wife is not good enough, because women have so much more potential than that. We were not born and raised to be wives. God gave us life to serve Him by doing various acts of good.

Let’s look at it from a financial perspective: you spend thousands of dollars or pounds on a degree you’re not going to use. They say, “What’s the point of getting a degree when you’re going to be wiping the butt of your baby later?” Firstly, I’m not going to clean my baby’s butt because they think I have to. I’m going to do it out of the goodness of my heart and because it is in the nature of a caring mother. Your excuse is that you’re getting an education so that you can help your children with their homework and to maintain a conversation with your husband. Sure, those are beautiful reasons for others, but is that really using your education to its potential? What about for yourself? You did invest so much time, effort, and money into this. Don’t you want to use it? Of course, having a degree doesn’t mean you have to work in a corporate environment, but it means you have learned tools that can help start an organization, a movement, a private class, or any other source of benefit for society. You want to be an athlete and motivate other girls? Be one. You want to start a designer business? Open it. You want to be a doctor? Wear that white coat. Seriously, just do something. We try to use the excuse that working towards what we want is selfish and will jeopardize a happy family structure. But…

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Aishah bint Abi Bakr RA is known for memorizing ahadith, having knowledge of judicial Islam, being skilled in medicine, and advising Muslim leaders in war. Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan came to Aishah for advice before pursuing a war. Later, during his Khalifah he consulted Aishah, who told him, “Please Allah and you shall please His people. If you please the people before pleasing Allah, know that Allah will be displeased with you and eventually the people will soon be displeased with you.”

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid RA was the ambitious woman we know to have proposed marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) while he was employed by her. She managed a business and raised the children of the Prophet (pbuh). He ran for hours down the mountain, Jabal Al Noor, to her when he needed comfort and advise after the first revelation. She went to her cousin, Waraqah bin Nawfal to discuss her husband’s revelation.

Umm Amarah Naseebah RA was one of the first two women of the Ansar to accept Islam. One of her most important activities was taking part in the fighting of the battle of Uhud with her sons and husband. They always surrounded the Prophet (pbuh) and continued to protect him when the Muslims were threatened with defeat. The Prophet (pbuh) told Umar bin AlKhattab RA that wherever he turned, right or left, he saw Umm Amarah fighting to defend him.

These women and all our Sahabiyat are our role models. They were amazing wives, mothers, business women, and advisers. They didn’t wait for the Prophet (pbuh) to tell them what to do—they did it. We need to apply their historical examples today. Also, I think it comes down to having Barakah (good fortune) in our time. We need to be more productive. We need to be better at time management. We need to be better planners and executors.

You don’t have to abide by today’s cultural standards of womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood. Marriage is not something that shouldn’t be sought, but it is not something that should hinder your performance in anything you have dedicated yourself to. Just look at what the best women of Islam have done for us, because without them, we would not be Muslim. Prove to our society today that we can be just as influential, vital, and powerful towards the success of Islam. So, please pursue your dream. For the sake of God and for yourself. Be a good wife, mother, and member of society. Don’t ever settle, because we are travelers in this life and we must keep moving and changing and trying.

 

Image Source – Iranian photographer, Shadi Ghadirian, from her “Qajar” series (http://shadighadirian.com/index.php?do=photography&id=9#item-1)