How to Define Yourself

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These past few years I’ve been having this personal struggle on how to define myself, other than using my religious. cultural definitions. I’ve been growing as a Muslimah, but also as a person, Alhamduliliah. I was introduced to struggles in my life that usually ladies my age and younger don’t go through (not that I’m old at all lol ) I am the second mom in my house of 8 people. You can only imagine the responsibilities having 5 younger siblings, all of different age ranges. My parents, especially my father, always had me engaged and involved in “grown up” talk ever since I was little, I mean watching Barney little. I used to watch the classic action films with my dad, and he always tells me that whenever we watched “The Professional” together, I would beg him to replay it over and over. If you haven’t seen this classic 90’s film with Jean Reno, my older-man-heart-throb Gary Oldman, and Natalie Portman, then you’re really missing out! To this day I can say it makes me emotionally distraught :'(. Anyway, I’m always interested in what I don’t know, and I refuse to accept being taught something that does not have any merit that betters my life or someone elses. But subhanAllah, some interests we have are just plain human. I love alternative and Indie music, and if I wasn’t a hijabie, I’d probably wear boots, have red hair sorta on the Julianne Moore/Ariana Grande level, and ripped jeans. I have a habit of over analyzing movies and books, and sometimes people, which I’m learning not to. I guess that’s the Liberal Arts English major in me speaking. I’m always the girl that gets picked on to answer questions during an Islamic lecture, but at the same time, I’m always the one to speak out with the Imam, ask new questions, and answer questions as well. I talk a lot. But I can reserve myself to the extreme when I want, zoning out everything. I consider that a skill, but not when you need to pay attention in University or to your mom repeating the same cleaning instructions over and over again.

I’ll admit that sometimes, I am intimidating. I’ve had my own friends tell me that their first impression was that I looked mad all the time, that I looked extremely smart and pious, and that I don’t pay attention when they wave to me in the halls. First, I never seem to get mad subhanAllah, annoyed, frustrated, but never mad for a long period of time. As for me looking mad, maybe it’s because it’s my face, and because I’m always thinking, just thinking, I have no emotional expression on my face. My closest friends know this about me, and Alhamdulilah I really am happy and content when you see me this way. I also cannot see from far way, I wear glasses, so usually my friends start to laugh and say “You don’t have your glasses on do you?” lol so if you wave, and I don’t see you, forgive me.

I do speak out when I see others hurt, I stick up for my friends, people I don’t know, and I use a lot of sardonic comments in class when I come across ignorant people who insult me for my faith. If you’re smart, you’ll usually understand my comments and puns, this is why my professors like me so much lol. I’ll admit that I used to get so worked up over how ignorant and arrogant people can be, about anything. But I’ve learned this lesson for sure. Don’t argue or debate with someone who has no armed whit. There are people out there that will converse with you, and respect your beliefs, and those people I feel are worth the passion and heated debates. Other than that, I think ignorant people are funny, I laugh at them, laugh with them. Because honestly, there is no reason to waste your energy on them, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him) dealt with THE worst of the worst of people. Who am I to lose my patience? Who am I to disgrace the message he worked so hard to spread, just because of a minority of idiots? Yes, you are a minority, sorry for that.

The other side of me is very sensitive. I have empathy for anyone who is sad or mad around me, if you’re having a bad day, I will turn my mood around for you so I can suffer with you so that you’re not alone. I offer positive advice, but I’ve come to learn that sometimes friends just want you to be negative with them, and show them that you are affected because you care. It seems complicated, but trust me, it works. I absorb other people’s problems, I stress and I worry for them, I take in their emotions, get into their shoes and make dua that Allah (swt) helps them, and helps me so that I am not put into those situations. I invest in people quickly, hoping they would follow the Golden Rule like I try to. But I’ve come to learn that you cannot always be that person, you have to invest in those who do the same if not more. You have to invest in people who truly do not have the capabilities to do the same for you, so if I invest some cash into a refugee’s family, I know they will appreaciate it. But If you have cell phone, and can’t check on me when I’m sick or having trouble that is where I draw the line. I went to a Halaqa yesterday, and the speaker talked about how we should keep company, because those people will be at your death bed, and your funeral. Powerful message beyond words.

Truth is, I can’t tell you how to define you. But for me, for now, I can say I’m a hard candy with a soft center.

The picture above is one of a little kitten shaved to look like a Lion. There’s some metaphorical sense to it I promise. 🙂

Close to the heart 1

Love the lyrics to this song. I was looking back at old photos and current from Palestine. I got the chills, beautiful place, my home, that changed me as a person I can honestly say.

my heart aches without my family and friends there, and all the amazing people and places I have met/seen along the way.

Final scenes from Gaza

Chills. I want to back to my home. Palestine you are always in my heart.

Sixteen Minutes to Palestine

Here is the third and final set of photographs from my visit to the Gaza Strip this summer. There might be more photographs lurking around on my computer but for now, these are the ones I think do the best job of depicting some of the scenes and experiences I faced.

I miss Gaza, its sights and sounds, and its beautiful people who will invite you into their homes, feed you from their own hands, and show you that you are one of them. Life is certainly not easy in Palestine. But it can still be beautiful.

These photographs were all taken in July 2013. See the first photo set here: Gaza in life, love, dignity, and strength. See the second photo set here: Timeless stories in Gaza in black and white.

The sun sets behind Gaza City’s grey concrete buildings.

Rami, a young Palestinian boy from the…

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Hey free Fitnahs! : One of the Biggest Lessons I Have Learned.

One of the biggest lessons I learned:

If Allah (God) (swt) did not put you in a certain test then don’t put yourself in one. Meaning, if He didn’t put you in a test of moral strength, examples for us teens and young adults: party’s involving drugs/drinking, unlawful boy-girl relationships. If He has not given you the test its a mercy. Don’t put yourself in it by getting involved in things that He doesn’t approve of, you’ll only make it harder on yourself. And in the end, you’ll be accountable. Putting yourself in a test of your own concoction and yet you don’t have the answer to it or easy solution already set. How will you get out?

Leave the fitnah giving to Allah (swt) He has the answer keys after all (:

*Advice to myself first

DROP the victimization, and go for a VOICE.

I know many Muslims are anti Facebook anti Twitter blah blah. Well, in my opinion, I stay in sync (try to) with all kinds of social media because as a Muslim (you’re supposed to give Dawah) and as an American, you should have a voice and push for one. If we don’t show up on the scene of protests, community outreach, the internet, than NO ONE will hear us. Quit the victim attitude and get on having a voice. We’re in the best country in the world for that. Anything can become haram if YOU make it so. Use good for good. We will be accountable for ourselves. If we can do more why not? Personal opinion, to each his own.