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Conversations with a Pregnant Wife, Part 3: What’s in a Name?

Choosing a baby name.

Choosing a baby name is not always easy.

By Yasser Aboudouma
Writer, Civil Engineer – Egypt

Part 1: “Honey, I have a craving!”
Part 2: Watch out, she’s moody!

Husbands, you have reached the final stage of the pregnancy marathon! The last three months of pregnancy can be called the months of mass destruction. The pregnant wife will be fond of knowing the baby’s gender; you too, of course. She will start shopping for the baby. She will have emotional “alterations” — in some cases, depression!

Month Seven (Boy/Girl)

Sure, the doctor can tell the baby’s gender. It is common in Egypt that most families dream that the first baby is a boy, which means your wife will dream of that too

Wife: That doctor is really weird. She is telling us “may be a boy, may be a girl.” What does she mean that the baby can be a girl? I want a baby boy, and all my friends and family are prepared for that. If we had gone to a male doctor from the beginning, he would have told us, easily, whether the baby is a girl or a boy.

Wife: Huh! I need to think about baby girl names. What you do think? Layla, Dalia, or Du`aa’? or let’s call her after my close friend. You know, I want her name to be unique — something that combines Arab, Egyptian, Western, Islamic, and Pharaonic cultures all in one name!

Husband: (teasing her) Don’t worry about the name. we’ll give her the name “Saffron.” I’ll complete all the official paperwork before you leave the operation room after delivery.

Wife: WHAT? Saf … what? No, please. Let me choose her name. I want to name her after my mom, your mom, or your sister — just don’t choose that name.

Of course, the name choice argument will give you some power to control her mood, but remember, don’t use it too much ; otherwise, you will find yourself flying out of the window!

Month Eight (Clothes)

Various researches describe this month in different ways, but they all agree that the pregnant woman wants to buy the entire world for her baby. She will feel jealous if she knows or hears about other mothers buying something for their babies, and she will do her best to buy the same or better. You as a husband have to accept that and get prepared to spend your savings on it. Husbands, never ever dream of saying “no” or complaining if she asks for baby shopping.

Wife: My colleague came to work with her baby today, and the baby wore a very sweet, pretty outfit that made her look like a princess. In the evening, I’ll go shopping.

Husband: OK! We can shop at the weekend.

Wife: Thank you, honey. I knew you would agree, so today I bought fancy brand-name clothes for her from that famous store. Our daughter must get the best!

Husband: I thought we were going to do the shopping together.

Wife: Don’t worry. There’s still a lot to buy. Hey, see this is a shampoo for the baby when she sleeps and that shampoo is for when she wakes up. These are diapers from the US, and this is a brush for her hair.

Husband: WHAT? Shampoo for what? How do you know that the baby wants to sleep or not to and how to decide ahead of time which shampoo to use? You might bathe her with shampoo used for waking up and then she will want to sleep… oh yes, then you’ll wake her up quickly and give her a shower with the right shampoo?

Who told you that the baby will be born with hair; as I understand it, a lot of babies are born without any hair, so that hairbrush is useless. In addition, why did you buy diapers made in the US? What’s wrong with the ones made in Egypt? It’s just a diaper, not a fancy thing!

Wife: Arrrgh! Don’t worry, babies know the right shampoo! She’ll sense which is the correct one and then act accordingly; that’s what’s written on the bottle. And I got the US-made diapers because I want my daughter to feel unique. Anyway, I bought three towels for the baby, one to use after shower, the second to dry her as the first one will be wet, and the third to cover her the second we are sure she is properly dried. Also, I got her hair clips, skin cream — one for night and the other for the morning, three pair of shoes, socks, underwear, and four dresses.

Husband: Are you sure you’re shopping for a baby, not a girl who is getting ready for marriage?! By the way, did you buy her a make-up box? There’s something especially for babies. You have to run to buy it now, and don’t forget the baby’s teeth brush, too!

Muslim family

Wife: Oh my God! You’re right, I really forgot that. I’ll arrange with my mom and sister to go out with me to complete my shopping.

Wife: By the way, you have to be more careful; my close friend told me that anger and nervousness are not good for pregnancy. Today at the meeting, all my colleagues were perfectly behaved; once any one just thought about arguing with me, I told them that I was in the eighth month and the baby would be delivered prematurely if I argue! There were no arguments, and the meeting ended in 10 minutes!

Husband: I think you’ll get fired soon.

Days pass slowly, and the pregnant wife returns home with many things she bought from different stores. The husband gets used to seeing his wife sitting on the floor and spreading all the baby’s stuff around her to check, kiss, hug them and find out what is missing!

Month Nine

Husbands, congratulations! You’re in the ninth month. You have waited eight months to reach that final month. You controlled your temper throughout, you worked and helped with the housework, And you are tired; you deserve some relaxation.

The pregnant wife knows that the time of her being spoiled will end; finally, she will be responsible for a baby, so she will start acting as poorly, trying to show you that she is weak and powerless. Do understand that she is worried about delivering her baby — it is her first time, and she knows virtually nothing about giving birth. So you will have to –be, even more, patient!

Wife: Honey, I feel sorry for you! The past eight months have been very hard for you. I rarely cooked and you stopped eating dinner, while your breakfast was just a cake; you lost 20 kg. I have to cook today. I’ll make a surprise for you. I’ll boil some eggs and prepare white cheese, but would you please prepare the salad for us?!

Husband: … .

Wife: Do you think I’ll deliver the baby naturally or will there be a C-section? You know, most of my pregnant friends had a cesarean. Maybe my doctor will deliver it naturally as she is a female doctor.

Husband: Ah yep, but the doctor’s gender doesn’t affect the type of delivery.

Wife: Anyway, I prepared two suite cases for the baby and me.

A natural phenomenon: All pregnant women become nice and kind to their husbands just a few days before giving birth. So be careful, because that kindness will turn to hell if you were at work while she starts labor.

Wife: OHHH, HELP! Mom, Father, Brother, Sister, Uncles, Aunts, United Nations, Egyptian people, the Universe, … any one! Help me, I’m in pain! The baby!

Wife: (addressing her husband) Honey, I’m in pain, tell that doctor to give me any painkiller. I can’t handle it any more. I feel weak. Promise me if anything happens to me, never ever get married again! Don’t give our baby a stepmother. Please, promise me!

Husband: You’ll be fine, and everything will be OK. It happens to all women; you’re not the first one. Just a few minutes from now, and you’ll hold in your arms a sweet baby girl.

Wife: Did you bring a video camera with you? Don’t take any shots from my left-hand side; my right side is more photogenic! Choose good angles for the shots, I want to look pretty in the video. Take shots while I’m not screaming and before my face appears in the video screen, just tell me to smile.

Husband: We’re recording the birth of our baby, not making a movie! You’ll be in the operation room, and you won’t care about anything of that sort.

Wife: Labor hurts. I’m crazy and stupid; I don’t want to get pregnant again. This is the first and last time. If anyone had told me about that pain, I would’ve never thought about marriage.

A big scream from the pregnant woman calls for the baby to come out and get introduced into this world to join the mother’s community.

Wife: Honey, what is the gender of the baby?

Husband: What? The baby is a girl. We knew that a long time ago.

Wife: Yipeeee… I thought the doctor would change her mind. Is she pretty?

He: (Teasing her) Who, the doctor? Yes, very.

Wife: No, silly! I mean the baby.

Husband: Oh! yes, she’s very, very pretty.

Wife: OK, next time we’ll have a baby boy. Now tell them I want to hold her.

Husband: (in amazement) Next time? You just said … You were … What happened? Women! Women! Women!

Husbands, don’t worry. Pregnant women are all like that — in a state of confusion and amazement. And they will continue to be like that until the last second of their lives. Congratulations!

Part 1: Honey, I Have a Craving!
Part 2:  Watch Out, She’s Moody!
Part 3:  What’s in a Name?

***

Yasser Aboudouma is an Egyptian-Canadian who lives between Cairo and Ontario. He holds a B.Sc. in engineering and a diploma in project management. He is interested in issues of social and cultural differences.

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From Heinz 57 to Islam

Heinz 57 ketchup

Before Islam, Mary was a “Heinz 57″ of religion

Zawaj.com Editor’s comment: I want to state clearly that I don’t approve of the way sister Mary went about things here. She and Ahmed carried on a secret affair and were unfaithful to their spouses (in spirit, if not in deed). I understand that she was abused by her first husband, and I’m happy that things worked out for her, Alhamdulillah – if indeed they have worked out. But it could easily have been disastrous. She could have ended up in a secret relationship, not given her full rights, and with a new husband she could not trust. With that said, here’s the story:

By Mary Farrag

Reprinted from ReadingIslam.com

Before reverting to Islam I was, well, let’s say Heinz 57 (Editor’s note: for those of you not familar with American colloquialisms, Heinz 57 is a sauce with a lot of different ingredients – in other words, a mix).

I was baptized Catholic, made my confirmation as a Lutheran, and we attended whatever church was near to our house. Which probably turned out to be a good thing.

I left my family’s house when I was the age of 17. As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved into the one bedroom apartment that my boyfriend had. We only lived there for a very short time. Then we moved to a larger apartment.

At this time I really wasn’t going to church anymore because I was too busy working for God. My boyfriend wasn’t religious at all. Actually he was agnostic. Always, he needed things proven to him.

Well, eventually we married but never had any children. We stayed together a total of 18 years.

I didn’t know anything about Islam at all until my current husband wanted to start chatting with me. We were both using a program called Freetel. I don’t think it is even available anymore.

I was used to chatting with many people but never chatted with an Arab. One night I saw on the top of the screen: Ahmed is Calling. I had never even heard of this name before, so I was reluctant to accept the chat.

After a few times of him trying to call me, I accepted. We started off with the usual chat. Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have any children? Then we continued from there.

We were both very unhappy in our marriages. So we became friends. After six months of chatting everyday, I decided that I needed to know this man that I was now in love with. So I came to Egypt and stayed for 23 days.

It was confirmed that yes, we were actually in love. Neither one of us could imagine this was true. We toured most places in Cairo and some parts of Alexandria. At this time, I still didn’t know very much about Islam.

So after the 23 days, I returned to USA. My visit to Cairo confirmed what I needed to do. I needed to get a divorce from my current American husband.

He was very bad to me. He physically and emotionally abused me. During the next six months I was away from Ahmed and fell into a very deep depression.

Learning About Islam

Also during that time, Ahmed, now my husband, started to tell me about Islam. I was interested in anything he had to say.

I was working for low income public housing at the time of all of this. One day, one of my tenants came into the office to pay her monthly rent. Her name is Aminah.

She said to me “Miss Mary, you look different, something has changed in you.”

I told her about my trip and how I was in love with an Egyptian man who was a Muslim. She said that it was so cool. She said that her mom also is a Muslim and she asked me if I would like to meet her mom.

So I agreed and I met Rashida and we instantly got along. She also was a revert, but had reverted 25 years ago. So we started to meet more often, and she also started to teach me about Islam. So between Ahmed and Rashida, I became very interested in Islam.

I started to also study on my own. I started to go to meet Rashida; she had a shop that sells incense, oils and Islamic clothing. So now I was on my way with Islam.

One day I asked my husband-to-be, Ahmed, if he was going to make me become Muslim? On my trip here to Cairo, we got engaged, even though he was still married. So, he said “Mary, look I love you, but I can not make you become Muslim”.

He said, “That is between you and Allah.”

This is exactly what I needed to hear. So, Rashida started to take me to many places where Muslim sisters were. I loved them. They were so nice and peaceful and loving.

Declaring Shahadah

So 3 days before I was to move to Egypt to marry Ahmed, which was 6 more months after getting engaged to him, I called Rashida and told her that I wanted to become Muslim.

She told me to come to her and bring a hijab. So off I was to Rashida’s house. We stood outside on her balcony and she started to say “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllah”. I said, “Wait, please.”

She said, “Ahh, you have changed your mind.”

I said, “No, no, wait.” I went into my purse and took out my cell phone and called Ahmed in Cairo .

I said, “Ahmed, I want you to hear something.”

He said, “What is that?”

I said, “Here, listen.”

So Rashida said, “Ash Hado An La Ilaha IlaAllahwa Ash hado anna Mohammadan Rasollah,” and I repeated after her word for word.

I started to cry and heard Ahmed crying on the mobile and looked at Rashida and she was crying, Masha’Allah. So then I left Rashida and went home, took my ghusl (special shower). I am sure I did it wrong but Allah knew my niyyah (intention).

So then three days after, I came off the plane. I didn’t tell Ahmed that I wore the hijab.

I walked past him just a little to see if he would know me.

He didn’t, so I walk back and said, “Excuse me, are you waiting for someone?”

He looked at me and just kept saying, “SubhanAllah”, maybe four or five times. I thought he was going to have a coma. I told his friends to watch him until I came past the people to make sure he wouldn’t fall.

Then we were off to get married.

So that is basically my story of coming to Islam. It was so hard for me in the beginning, but now I am so happy and thankful to Allah for guiding me to the straight path.

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Ramadan Recipe: Fish Sayadiya

Ramadan recipe: Fish sayadiya

Ramadan recipe: Fish sayadiya

At the Silk Route restaurant at the Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, comfortable couches are strewn with colourful satin pillows, and the setting is bright and airy, with a relaxed, informal atmosphere.

In the kitchen, head chef Abdul Salam Hamedi works to create nutritious and delicious recipes for Ramadan, utilizing the abundant seafood of the region.

The Asian-Arabic theme of the restaurant is apparent in one of his creations, Fish Sayadiya.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

500g white fish
250g basmati rice
50g onion
250g fish bones
15g cumin
15g cinnamon
25g salt
5g black pepper
5g pine nuts
15ml olive oil
150g carrots
150ml water

Method:

Wash the rice three times, then strain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180C. Mix the fish bones with the salt, pepper, half the cinnamon and cumin, the carrots and leeks. Tip onto a baking tray and place in the oven for ten minutes.

Slice the onion and saute gently in olive oil until golden.

Add the roasted fish bones to a large pan, cover with water and boil for 30 minutes.

Strain the stock into a new pan and place over a medium heat. Add the rice, season with salt and black pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes.

Marinate the fish with the remaining spices and and roast for 12 minutes at 200C.

Serve the fish and rice with the fried onions and pine nuts scattered over the top.

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The Importance of Making a Good Space for Women in the Masjid

Muslim students praying at CSU Sacramento

Imam Umar Aboul Sharif
Adilah S. Sharif

Challenges of Women Space in Masjids

Last Friday, I was all set to give a Khutba about the need for Muslims to plan ahead on an individual and community level. My notes were ready and I was in full “Khutba mode”. But before sermon time, I decided to change the topic completely — to talk about the exclusion of Muslim women from the mosque and community life.

It wasn’t an earth-shattering event that made me change the topic. It was an email. And it proved to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. It was one of five emails I received last week about Islamic events with a clear “brothers only” statement. One notice for a regional conference even stated categorically that there was no space for women and children under 15 at the event.

But the emails were only part of the story. A week before, I had given a Khutba in another, brand-new mosque in the heart of Chicago. After the prayer, while in the elevator, I overheard four Muslim sisters speaking angrily about their experience in the Masjid.

“If I wanted to watch TV, I’d stay home,” said one of the women, disgusted. I asked them what was wrong, and they told me how they could only see the Imam through a TV system set up in the women’s section. Moreover, the space was inconvenient, uncomfortable and was changed twice that day. This was despite the fact that months ago, the leadership of this mosque had promised me that they would involve sisters in decision-making about how the women’s space would be set up.

The Khutba

I was speaking in Chicago’s oldest mosque where the main prayer hall accommodates about a thousand people. It has a small, curtained off space in the corner for about 40 or so women. Due to the sensitive nature of my topic, it did occur to me before the Khutba that I might not be invited to give a Friday sermon there in the future. Nonetheless, I made the following points and asked these questions:

Who decides how women’s space in the mosque is allocated and organized?

How many women sit on the Board of Directors of our mosques?

If women are part of the Board of Directors, are they elected, chosen by women, selected by both men and women or are they simply the wives of male board members?

I also reminded the audience that in the Prophet’s mosque, women could hear and see the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings are upon him, and later, the leaders of the Muslims (Khulafa) when they spoke from the pulpit. Actually there are reports of interaction with the Prophet when women raised questions. Caliph Omar even went back to give another sermon to withdraw his opinion when a women from the audience gave him critical feedback after his Khutba.

Moreover, when the Prophet felt that the women were too far away to hear or he had specific points to make, he would walk over to their section and present a Khutba for them.

Examples from Islamic history

Women in early Islamic history were active not just as “mothers and wives” but contributed as individual Muslim women in all aspects of the community.

On a scholarly level, there was Aisha, may God be pleased with her. She is credited with disseminating the knowledge of Islam and information about almost all aspects of Islamic life. Today, nearly half of the Islamic jurisprudence of the Hanafi school of thought (which is followed by about 70 percent of the Muslim world) comes through the students of Aisha alone.

On a political level, there was Umm Salama. During the signing of the Treaty of Hudaibiya, when none of the Muslim men agreed to forego Hajj due to the demands of the pagan Meccans, the Prophet consulted Umm Salama. Her advice to him was to perform the rituals indicating that they would not be performing the pilgrimage, and the Muslims would follow. He heeded her advice, and as she suggested, the Muslims accepted this.

After the death of the Prophet, one major issue was how to preserve the authenticity of the Quran. Although the Quran had always been committed to memory and writing, the written pages were scattered. When a master copy was put together at the time of the first Khalifa, Abu Bakr, that copy was not kept with him or any other Muslim man. It was kept with a woman — Hafsa (may God be pleased with her).

Finally, in Madina during the leadership of Omar (may God be pleased with him) Al Shifa Bint Abdullah was made in charge of trade and commerce in the city.

These are just a few examples of the dynamic role women played in early Islamic history. But they are of no use if the inclusion of Muslim women in the mosque and community is reflected only in theory.

“Men’s Islam” or Islam for All

While sisters are a full part of the community, many mosques are run as though Islam is just for men. This is evident by looking at women’s spaces, their decoration, their uncomfortable size and design, the absence of women from the Board of Directors of most mosques and the relegation of their activism and ideas to a “women’s committee”.

Muslim women in North America are as professional as Muslim men and contribute as generously. I remember fundraising in a New Jersey Masjid. Five Muslim women contributed $25,000 each within the first 12 minutes. It inspired me to ask the audience: is there a man who can match these donations?

And that’s how women’s participation is. They know they will not get to Jannah because of the good deeds of their husbands. Each man and women has to find his or her own way to success in this world and next, knowing that God’s promise is this:

“I will deny no man or woman among you the reward of their labors. You are the offspring of one another.” (Quran 3:195).

“Each person shall reap the fruits of his/her own deeds: no soul shall bear another’s burden.” (Quran 6:164)

The Reaction to the Khutba

Normally, two or three people will approach me after a Khutba to thank and compliment me for it. This time, ten times more people came over, appreciating what I had said, Alhamdu lillah. That’s one of the most positive instances of feedback I’ve ever gotten in years of giving Khutbas! Although I have yet to hear the response from the leadership of the Masjid, this gives me hope that the community is ready for change.

A few board members also spoke very positively about the points I raised, including one of the founding members. The question is, who is stopping the change?

Current Chicago Masjid Spaces for Women

In Chicago, I estimate that in about ten percent of the Friday prayer locations, there is proper space for sisters’ participation. In these places men and women are in the same location without a curtain or wall separating them. In terms of the remaining 80 percent of mosques that do have a space for women, these are often cramped and inconvenient. By inconvenient, I mean that women cannot see the Imam or do not know what is happening in the congregational prayer. In about 10 percent of the Chicago-area mosques there are no spaces for women.

One Muslim sister in the city related to me her experience after visiting one of the largest mosques in Chicago that had an inconvenient room for women. When she entered the women’s area, a group of sisters was standing in line, thinking prayer had started because the recitation of the Quran could be heard. Taking Quran recitation as a cue for congregational prayer, the sister joined the others in line. After several minutes, when the man ended his recitation without calling for the next step of prayer, Ruku, the women learned that it was not a prayer. Needless to say, the women were humiliated and upset about this confusing situation. This is just an example of the practical problems this segregation in prayer places causes.

An additional problem in mosques where women cannot see the Imam is the fact that the noise level often becomes unacceptable. This tends to be because most men dump the responsibility for taking care of their active children on their wives when they go to the men’s section of mosque. Also, since women can’t see what’s going on, they end up talking to each other. This leads to the Imam asking women to “be quiet please,” furthering tension and exclusion.

When women are out of sight, it’s also more likely that they will be out of mind. That means their discourse and participation are ignored on a Masjid and community level. Moreover, few women have easy access to the Imam, which worsens the problem, since the Imam is the one man who can make a significant difference in bringing women’s issues and problems to the attention of other Muslim men in the community. This perhaps explains why you don’t normally hear many Khutbas on women’s challenges here in America or abroad.

Negative Dawa

The situation becomes worse when non- Muslims visit. They see there are hardly any women present in the mosque. Or, if there are a few, they are confined to a small and less ceremonious corner. What kind of Dawa is this? What kind of impression does this give in our current context, where the battle against stereotypes is ten times harder than it was pre-9/11 America? This visual impact is far greater and far more lasting then tens of books lauding the status of women in Islam. Since Shahadah (witnessing) is the first pillar of Islam, this obstacle to outreach must be dealt with.

Of course, women, unlike men, are given a choice by the Prophet to pray at home or in the mosque. But the Prophet was categorical in telling men “do not stop women from coming to the Masjid.” Friday prayers are also optional for women. But considering that Friday sermons are the only Islamic educational opportunity available to most women in the North America Muslim women should attend Friday prayers. This is especially important because we do not yet have a widespread tradition of female teachers, as is the case in the Muslim world. I am pretty sure Caliph Omar would have encouraged Friday prayer attendance by women if he was alive today in the United States, may God be pleased with him.

Who is stopping women from the Masjid

Knowing both of these Masjids, their volunteer leadership, and the fact that women are on their boards, I don’t think either of them stops women from attending and participating. The first Masjid’s president did make an announcement twice in front of me inviting women to visit the new location to help determine the sisters’ space. I think, perhaps, need sisters taking these issues more seriously instead of accepting the current situation.

In the second Masjid, I learned that some sisters prefer to pray behind a curtain. An easy solution could be to make a larger area where women who do not want a curtain between the men and women, as was the practice in the mosque of the Prophet, can pray. Behind them, women who are comfortable praying behind a curtain can do this.

With lower donations as a result of donor chasing by the FBI, extra expenses for security and legal battles, which six or seven Masjids in the Chicago-area are going through, the last thing on the mind of Muslim leadership is women’s space. About 80 percent of the Masjids in the Chicago area do not have any permanent Imam. Volunteers like me are asked to offer the Friday sermon on a rotational basis. Almost all of these Masjids’ leaders are busy professionals who volunteer their time to run the community centers, schools and Masjids. Unless someone is pushing for something, things will continue as they have been.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that the agenda of women’s space will not come to the forefront unless Muslim women take it upon themselves.

Establishing a Muslim Women’s Caucus

It is time that sisters come together and provide leadership in clearly defining a Muslim women’s manifesto for change in mosques in North America. If these sisters are practicing Muslims, they will have a far higher level of success in demanding change and leading it.

I would like to make a plea to leading Muslim women in North America who are respected and honored by the community to call a national women’s caucus on these issues. In this conference, the following things need to be discussed and tackled:

1. An agenda outlining change in the Muslim community centers and Masjids in which

* Each Masjid should formally declare that it is unIslamic to stop women from attending a mosque

* The need to restore women’s space in the mosque as it was at the Prophet’s time (i.e. without a curtain or a wall separating men and women) is stressed

* Develop a welcoming space where they have a clear view of the Imam

2. One-third of Masjids’ Board of Directors should be composed of sisters, one-third of brothers, and one-third of people born in North America.

3. A mechanism for an ongoing Muslim Women’s Caucus needs to be developed

On the issue of women’s exclusion from the mosque, this Muslim Women’s Caucus may want to do the following:

1. Invite the leadership of major mosques, as well as national and continental Muslim organizations to a closed-door dialogue with an equal number of Muslim women leaders present.

2. Give a deadline to all Masjids that do not have a space for women to allocate one in consultation with women.

3. If space is extremely limited and there is no cultural and ideological objection to it, then allocate time for additional congregational prayer for women lead by women as was done by Umm Waraqa with the Prophet’s permission when she lead her staff regularly in prayers in her own home as reported by Sahih Abu Dawud. (If thousands of women lead other women in prayers throughout Pakistan, it can be done in a mosque here as well).

Shura (consultation) has been a way of life for Muslims (42:38). If our families and our communities are not run on Shura, open communication and proper representation, how will we grow?

“The true believers, both men and women, are friends to each other. They enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil; they attend to their prayers and pay the alms and obey God and His apostle. On these God will have mercy. He is Mighty and Wise.” (Quran 7:71)

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Conversations with a Pregnant Wife, Part 2: Watch Out, She’s Moody!

Silence is Golden

Part 1: Honey, I Have a Craving!
Part 2:  Watch Out, She’s Moody!
Part 3:  What’s in a Name?

By Yasser Aboudouma
Writer, Civil Engineer – Egypt

The first three months represented one-sided arguments, morning sickness, and food cravings. The following three months of pregnancy are like a walking through a minefield, with more one-sided arguments and weight gain. The husband has to expect a lot of warning messages that reflect the pregnant wife’s mood, not helped by the fact that she has a career.

Month Four

Wife: See? As I told you before, you have to stop defending them.

Husband: What happened?

Wife: The meeting today! The attendees have not given me my prestige even though they knew about my pregnancy.

Wife: Imagine, once I entered the meeting room, just five people stood up, and the others didn’t care.

Husband: WHAT! You had the chance to choose between five seats!

Wife: NO, all people have to stand up and let me choose where I want to sit.

Wife: I’ll ask the manager to limit the meeting for three to four people max.; a congested room is not good for my pregnancy.

Husband: Why do you bother? You know, why don’t you ask him to cancel all meetings!

Wife: Poor me, you’re always mean to me. Even one girl felt sorry for me and let me sit beside the window, and she opened the door too!

Husband: That’s not fair for them.

Wife: What! You’re worried about them and not me? Men!

At this stage of pregnancy, all husbands have to learn how to control their temper and be patient. A little piece of advice for husbands: Don’t try to get involved in any arguments with your lovely, pregnant wife! It’s useless, as the argument will end with accusations as if you’re the reason for all the destruction and wars in the world! You have to learn that if speech is silver, then silence is solid gold.

Month Five

The fifth month means a lot of activity, so don’t be surprised if your wife starts to become more active and looks for extra work to do. As the baby starts growing, the pregnant wife starts getting less sleep and, normally, she won’t accept that you sleep while she doesn’t! Husbands, don’t be scared when your wife wakes you up in the middle of the night with a certain look on her face. In fact, the look is telling you something.

Wife: HURRY! Wake up!

Husband: What is it? What’s wrong? Are you sick? Did you hear something? Did someone call? Is there a thief in the house? Is there a fire in the neighborhood?

Wife: No, nothing like that! I just wanted to tell you that I felt the baby move.

Husband: (horrified) WHAAAAAT! You woke me up at — what time is it? – 3 a.m. to tell me that! I have to go to work early tomorrow morning, and I can feel the baby in the morning.

Wife: (looking hurt) You don’t like me or our baby. I thought you’d like to share with me these moments.

Husband: OK, OK, let me feel the baby.

You can spend the rest of the night waiting to feel the baby move, which never happens! It’s normal. Simply, say you can feel it and make your life easier.

The pregnant wife normally feels that she needs care and attention, so be ready to expect any weird request, at any time!

Husband: Honey, I’ll take a nap until the food is ready.

Wife: WHAT! You want to go and rest while I stand in the kitchen preparing food instead of coming to give me a hand? OK, your highness! Where is the UN, human rights organizations, and gender equity rules?

Husband: OK, OK, I’m coming. I’ll give you a hand; sorry.

Of course, your help will start by washing the raw vegetables, and you’ll end up preparing everything while your pregnant wife takes her nap!

Wife: Honey, you can leave the dishes and I’ll put them in the dishwasher after I take a nap, but if you insist, it’s OK.

Husband: (vexed) OK, honey, I’ll put them.

Wife: Fine. Could you bring a glass of water with you. If you prepare tea for yourself, don’t forget my cup.

Husband: Ummm, but you said you’ll take a nap!

Wife: Yeah, I will after I drink my tea. While you’re waiting for the water to boil for the tea, please put the clothes in the washing machine. Plus, there are clothes that need to be folded. Can you do it? I’m very tired.

To all husbands: Be careful of that word, “honey.” It’s usually followed by “do that” or “don’t do that”!

Month Six

With the sixth month comes the weight gain — around 15 kg in the beginning! The pregnant wife is forced to replace her normal clothes with larger sizes. She starts feeling the baby move, and gets disappointed with what she is beginning to look like.

Wife: Why are you smiling like that? Haven’t you seen a pregnant woman gaining weight before?

Husband: (trying to hold down his laughter) Of course not. You look the same, but why do you walk like that?

Wife: I’m pregnant; have you forgotten or what?

Husbands, don’t expect the lady you married to remain the same girl who likes to share in your thoughts and/or life difficulties. Their focus changes, and as pregnant women they always like to talk about the pregnancy, and they don’t intend or desire to talk about anything else.

Wife: I read online that in the West pregnant women deliver their babies without anesthetics, and sometimes it happens when they’re sitting or swimming in a pool. I’ll check with my doctor to see about the possibility of doing the same.

Husband: Honey, you’re still in your sixth month, and remember that you’re in Egypt, not in the West. Tell me first, do you spend all your working day searching for information about pregnancy on the Net? Sweetheart, I tell you what, let’s forget about that now, I need to eat.

Wife: I’ll prepare something special today. Just go and sit in front of the TV until I finish.

(A couple of hours pass.)

Husband: Honey, where’s the food?

Wife: It’s not ready yet, it’s only 10 p.m., why are you in a hurry?

Husband: Honey, you think 10 p.m. is still early? Let’s eat anything, even some cheese.

Wife: (now mad) You’re a typical Middle Eastern man; there’s no appreciation whatsoever for my effort! Just for your information, my close friend never cooked anything throughout her pregnancy and up until four months after she delivered the baby.

Husband: So what did they eat for the year?

Wife: (in a low voice) Her husband was out of the country for a year, and she stayed at her parents’ house.

A wise man once said that parents who failed to raise their son properly shouldn’t worry, the wife will certainly do the job!

Part 1: Honey, I Have a Craving!
Part 2:  Watch Out, She’s Moody!
Part 3:  What’s in a Name?

***

Yasser Aboudouma is an Egyptian-Canadian who lives between Cairo and Ontario. He holds a B.Sc. in engineering and a diploma in project management. He is interested in issues of social and cultural differences.

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Look Beyond the Packaging: How to Choose a Husband, Wife or Friend

Majestic tree

The most beautiful things in the world don't come in packages

By Wael Abdelgawad | Zawaj.com

Is his hair nicely styled? Is he the perfect height?

Is her makeup just right? Does her body have the perfect curves?

This is packaging, it’s irrelevant.

American, Pakistani, Mexican, Egyptian, Bengali, Indonesian, black, white, brown, this is a veneer. It’s unimportant in the long run. When you’re sick and battling to recover, it’s not an American who holds you and tells you that it will be okay, who makes you chicken soup with lemon and ginger… It’s a human being, a husband or wife who loves you.

We must get beyond superficial and meaningless classifications like race and nationality.

Does he wear Armani suits cut just right? Are his shoes sleek and shiny? Does her clothing drape elegantly on her figure?

You know what? That Armani suit can’t stand on its own. It needs a hangar just to stay upright. That elegant clothing can’t raise your children right.

We must learn to look beyond appearances. I’m not saying that appearance is irrelevant, but how much of our attraction is based on true human beauty, and how much is based on distorted standards and poisonous imagery pumped into our brains by TV, movies, advertising, magazines and billboards? In other words, to what degree have we been brainwashed?

The world of advertising teaches us to focus on the wrong things. Consultants are paid millions of dollars to design the perfect package for a box of cereal or an energy drink, just the right shape and bright color to catch your eye and entice you to buy. Meanwhile, the product – as often as not – is actually bad for you, consisting of empty calories, sugar, chemicals and dyes. They are teaching us to make choices based on packaging and image, and what they are teaching us is entirely ruinous and wrong.

Human beings, however, are not consumer products. We’re not disposable. When you marry someone you’re in it for the long haul. You’re with them when they wake up in the morning with crust in their eyes and hair stuck to one side of the their head; when they get laid off from their job and you don’t know how the bills will get paid next month; when they’re depressed, tired, sick; when they make mistakes, when they say and do the wrong things, when they lose their temper, when they’re afraid or insecure…

This is as serious as it gets. This is life, and the right package won’t get you through it, won’t help on you the path, won’t hold you up when you’re weak, or put a smile in your heart when you’re down. The package can’t do that. Remember that when you buy something, the package ends up in the trash. If you choose someone for the package only, you may be bitterly disappointed when the storm comes and no one is there to keep you safe.

These are lessons learned through heartache and disappointment. These are lessons I have learned.

Look deeper. Find a gentle heart, a strong backbone, a striving spirit. Look to what the person does, how they live, how they treat people, how they relate to the Almighty. Look to that shimmering soul inside, and discern whether it’s a selfish and bitter soul, or loving and true. Look beyond the packaging to the person inside, and trust your fitrah-based instincts, and you’ll find yourself a rare happiness, and a precious partnership.

The most beautiful, powerful things in the world don’t come in packages. Mountains, trees, ocean, sky, stars… their true attributes are bared to the world. They don’t need packages because they are beautiful and profound in their essence.

By basing your life choices on matters of substance, you’ll avoid social and financial traps that ruin so many. You’ll build friendships as real and solid as mountains, with people you can trust with your honor, your heart and your life. You’ll do work that matters, and leave a legacy that improves people’s lives in unforgettable ways.

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In Vitro Fertilization in Islam

In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization

Ruling on in vitro fertilization, or egg donation, in Islam

Reprinted from IslamOnline.net

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, thank you very much for having confidence in us, and we hope our efforts, which are purely for Allah’s Sake, meet your expectations.

In the first place, we would like to stress that in vitro fertilization is permissible as long as the semen and ovum are from a husband and wife who are legally married and the fertilization takes place during their marriage, not after divorce or the death of the husband.

Responding to the question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states the following:

“In vitro fertilization is a new biomedical method to help couples who are otherwise not able to have a child through normal husband/wife relationship.

Modern Muslim jurists did research on this method and in the light of the Shari`ah principles have given their opinions. In the following, I am going to give a summary of their modern ijtihad on this subject.

First of all let me explain briefly what is in vitro fertilization. It is a biomedical method that is generally used when, due to some obstruction, the sperm of the husband cannot reach the ovum. In this case the ovum is removed from her ovary at the time of ovulation.

This ovum is then exposed to the husband’s sperm in vitro in the hope that it will be fertilized. The fertilized ovum is then maintained in a test tube and at a later stage when it becomes an embryo it is deposited in the woman’s uterus. Thus, a woman who would otherwise not be able to conceive a baby is able to have a normal pregnancy and the couple enjoys the child.

Based on the principle that the Shari`ah came to protect and preserve the lineage or nasab of the people and thus it is haram to marry a woman during her `iddah or to have an intercourse with a woman who is carrying another person’s pregnancy, the Muslim jurists have allowed the use of in vitro fertilization only between legally married couples during their marriage.

Thus in vitro fertilization is permissible as long as the semen and ovum are from the couple who are legally married and the fertilization takes place during their marriage, not after divorce or the death of the husband.

A divorced woman is not allowed to receive the fertilized ovum (embryo) from her ex-husband. Similarly, a widow is not allowed to take it after the death of her husband. Surrogacy, i.e., giving the embryo to another woman to carry on the pregnancy in her womb is also not permissible in Islam. It also not permissible for a Muslim woman to act as a surrogate mother.”

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Conversations with a pregnant wife, Part 1 – “Honey, I have a craving!”

Seedless watermelon

This was originally published as, “Honey, You’re Pregnant” on IslamOnline.net

Part 1: Honey, I Have a Craving!

Part 2:  Watch Out, She’s Moody!
Part 3:  What’s in a Name?

By Yasser Aboudouma
Writer, Civil Engineer – Egypt

There are common arguments, especially in Egypt, that are repeated daily between each husband and his lovely and adorable wife, who by the way is pregnant for the first time!

Usually, the story begins when the wife suspects that she is pregnant. She runs to the nearest lab for a pregnancy test, and once she is confirmed pregnant, all her life is changed and her husband’s life is pushed to the edge, or more pointedly, to the verge of collapse.

“I have to see a good doctor,” the wife says.

“But, your doctor is good and she has a good reputation,” replies the husband.

With the start of a period of pregnancy, there are a lot of requests, orders, and special considerations, and the poor husband has to listen and obey, because her majesty is going through her first pregnancy!

* * *

First Month

Wife: I want to see a male doctor like all my girlfriends. My doctor is old and boring.

Husband: Honey, you are veiled, and there is no necessity to visit a male doctor; and whether your doctor is old or young, what matters is her experience and qualifications. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, we can look for another female doctor.

Wife: NO! I know that females are not that experienced in medicine.

Husband: (mumbling) In everything, not only medicine!

The arguments continue till the husband succeeds in convincing his wife that another female doctor would be good, especially that she is a little younger than the previous doctor. But, the wife is still unhappy as the new doctor does not have the latest high technology of ultrasonography.

Wife: See! This doctor also failed to show me the baby.

Husband: Honey, you are still in your first month, there is no baby to see.

Wife: My friend’s doctor showed her the baby in her first month, and the baby was moving, plus she could hear his heartbeat.

Husband: Oh yeah! And the baby was walking too, right! In the first month, the baby looks like a dot.

As usual, that argument ends with going to one of the private hospitals where there are the latest medical equipment. At the hospital, the doctor explains to the wife that there is no way any instrument can show a baby, its movement, or its heartbeat, as the baby is not big enough. Finally, they quietly return back home and the wife realizes that she has to wait.

* * *

Second Month

Pregnant woman cartoon image

The second month of pregnancy means nausea and cravings for certain foods. Hormones start to increase rapidly, which affects the pregnant woman’s behavior with her husband and her colleagues at work. Be careful if you have pregnant women at your company and/or office.

Wife: Honey, I have a craving for watermelon with no seeds.

Husband: I have never heard of that! Watermelon with no seeds!

Wife: That’s not my concern. I crave for it and I want it. Do you want our baby to be born with a birthmark?

Wife: I think my tummy is a little bigger than normal. I believe I have twins!

Husband: No, your tummy is still the same, and the doctor told us that you have a single baby, not twins.

Wife: So! Maybe the doctor could not see him.

Day after day, this kind of dialogue goes on and on, especially when the wife goes to work. Expect your pregnant wife to return from work in a bad mood, nervous, and quite, quite mad because …

Wife: (nervously) I have to quit work. I will give them my resignation tomorrow. I can’t handle work and all the people there. It’s OVER!

Husband: What happened?

Wife: Imagine. At the weekly meeting, my manager suggested something that should be done. I told him that I don’t think it’s beneficial to work. He kept arguing with me, and he wasn’t convinced by what I said.

Husband: That’s normal. He is your boss, and he has a right to argue with you about work.

Wife: Men, men, men! You are one of them, and all men are the same – sure you’ll defend him. No, he has no right to do so and no right to argue with me; he meant to irritate me. All of the men in the meeting, and the world, have to take a one-way trip to Iraq, and I’m ready to pay for the tickets!

Wife: Also, that girl in the meeting, instead of supporting me and taking my side, she supported him and made more suggestions that I have to implement.

Husband: Honey, it’s normal; that girl is your close friend and she has always been kind to you.

Wife: NO! It’s not normal. They have to know that I’m pregnant and my increasing hormones affect my mood, so they shouldn’t argue with me at all!

Husband: Sweetheart, let’s forget all about work – what do we have for dinner today?

Wife: (In a very shy, soft, and passive voice) Honey, do you really want something to eat today? I was nervous today and needed to rest because I was worried about the baby. But there’s a tin of tuna in the kitchen.

Husband: What! You will not join me for dinner?

Wife: No. When I had finished the meeting, I returned to my office and ordered some food to help me relax.

Days will pass, and life will crawl along slowly until “this woman” reaches her third month of pregnancy.

* * *

Third Month

In this month, the pregnant wife is assured that she has a single baby. Hormones increase rapidly, which affect the routine of her life and make her feel lazy and sleepy most of the time. She will be curious to see the baby each and every day, and she will want to trace its growth accordingly.

Cartoon about an argumentative pregnant woman

Wife: Yesterday, the doctor didn’t show me the baby well. The baby’s hand didn’t show up clearly.

Husband: Don’t worry. The doctor and I saw the baby, and it looked really great.

Wife: I’m not asking for what you and the doctor did or didn’t see! I have to re-visit the doctor next week, and I’ll ask her to show me the baby.

Husband: She arranged the next appointment for next month, not next week.

Wife: No problem. She won’t remember, and my friend told me that her doctor had ultrasound and showed her the baby on a weekly basis.

Husband: Honey, your friend is in her sixth month, while you are in your third.

Wife: Arrrrrgh! Stop arguing with me. You are just like my colleagues at work; useless!

Or the dialogue may go back to the size of the wife’s “tummy”!

Wife: Honey, I think my tummy is starting to get bigger.

Husband: No dear, I think it is still the normal size.

Wife: You see, my pregnant friends told me so. They also told me that in the third month my tummy starts to get bigger. Plus, I’ll feel the baby’s movement and I’ll hear his heartbeats too.

Arguments, arguments, arguments; your life will be all about arguments with your sweet, pregnant wife! You have to be patient and quiet, and you must support her, even if she surprises you by trying to manipulate everything for her own benefit.

Wife: Honey, I want to eat something.

Husband: What’s that, sweetheart? We can have it delivered here.

Wife: I wish to eat at that restaurant we went to on the day we got married.

Husband: Yeah, but it’s far away from here and previously you complained that you get tired from being in the car, especially for long distances.

Wife: No, no. If we go to that restaurant, I won’t feel tired.

Husband: OK honey, we’ll go this weekend.

Wife: No, I want to go today, NOW – otherwise, the baby will be born with a birthmark! as I crave eating in that restaurant.

Husband: Sweetheart, I understand that pregnant women crave for certain kinds of food, not certain kinds of restaurant!

Wife: Have you ever been pregnant? How would you know about cravings? This is my desire.

Of course, these arguments end in one direction only, the pregnant wife’s direction; and the husband has to admit that he will lose his case to his wife, who represents the half of society, whom we call weak!

Part 2:  Watch Out, She’s Moody!
Part 3:  What’s in a Name?

***

Yasser Aboudouma is an Egyptian-Canadian who lives between Cairo and Ontario. He holds a B.Sc. in engineering and a diploma in project management. He is interested in issues of social and cultural differences.

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Egyptian Wedding and Other Cairo Photos

An Egyptian open air wedding

Women celebrating at an Egyptian open air wedding

This lovely collection of Cairo photos was posted on Flickr by RvDario, a world traveler and photographer.

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Zawaj.com Humor Files: Goha and the Walnut Tree

Zawaj.com’s Islamic Humor Files

Goha and the Walnut Tree

Editor’s Note: Some call him Goha or Joha, the Turks call him Hodja, while the Persians and Afghanis call him Mollah, Nasrullah or Mullah Nasruddin. Regardless of what you call him, this wise, mysterious and sarcastic figure has been a fixture of Middle Eastern stories for centuries.

Black walnut tree

Black walnut tree

One day Goha was relaxing in the shade under a tall, beautiful walnut tree. As he lay on the grass, half dozing, he looked up into the high leafy canopy of the tree, and the small walnuts growing there. Then he gazed into the distance at some large pumpkins growing on the ground nearby.

He had a thought. “God, your ways are so strange,” he mused. “The little walnut gets this majestic tree, while those huge pumpkins must grow on a tiny vine. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t the small walnut have a small vine, and the great pumpkin grow on this great tree?”

Suddenly a walnut fell from the tree and smacked him in the forehead. Goha jumped to his feet and raised his hands to the sky. “O God,” he said, “I will never question your wisdom again. Imagine if that had been a pumpkin!”

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No intimacy for 4 months, are we divorced?

Question:

I have been married for 6 months, but for the last 3 months we haven’t had physical contact. His excuse is that we have been fighting, so he doesn’t feel like it. Have heard by many people that the marriage becomes invalid if the couple doesn’t engage in intimacy for 4 months time.

Sexless marriage, lack of intimacy

Is divorce automatic after 4 months without intimacy?

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum

In the name of Allah the Inspirer of Truth.

Although it is a right of the wife to have relations at least once in four months, it does not technically invalidate the marriage if the husband does not fulfill this. Having said this, it is definitely a sin to deprive the wife of this right without any valid reason or permission. “Because we fight” seems to be a psychological reason for losing interest.

You have to attempt to reconcile your differences and work out your differences together with compassion and compromise. If the reason for loss of interest is quarreling then those quarrels have to stop. This seems to be the way to resolve your situation. Always act with kindness, patience, love and affection towards him. This way, he will, insha Allah change his perspective about you and rekindle the flame of love.

If there are also other reasons which you cannot work out together, then it would best for you two to see a counseling scholar in this regard. There is very limited information as to the specifics of this question to suggest any other recourse in this response.

And Allah knows best.

Wassalam

Abdurrahman Ibn Yusuf, SunniPath.com

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