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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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Sexy secrets of the Syrian souk

Sexy bra sold in a Syrian souk

An example of Syrian lingerie design for the bedroom

By Martin Asser, reporting from Damascus
Reprinted from BBC News Online

Just off the crowded central market in Old Damascus, a sales assistant called Mahmoud is giving me my first introduction into an unusual Syrian speciality – musical knickers.

The garments come in many different shapes and colours, and play little tunes – or other extraneous noises like telephone ringtones – all made by small electronic devices hidden in the lining.

Singing underwear isn’t the only item on sale at the “Fatin Shop for Ladies Indoor Clothing”, where Mahmoud is proudly showing off his product lines.

He’s got knickers with flashing fairy lights, others that glow in the dark, a bra-and-knickers set shaped like manicured women’s hands enveloping the wearer’s body.

In a slightly higher price range, he’s got remote-controlled bras and knickers, designed to spring open and fall to the floor with a clap of the hands or a press of a button.

Welcome to the no-frills world of Syrian lingerie – no frills, but plenty of tassels, and feathers, and zips, and bras which open like curtains, and…

There’s a whole street off the historic Hamadiyeh Souk selling this genre of clothing – all outfits manufactured in Syria, some that Madonna herself might blush to wear, all showing bawdy creativity and a wicked sense of humour.

Culture shock

Forthright displays of the some world’s raciest “leisure wear” have long been a feature of Syrian souks – though many tourists don’t notice the hot knickers and PVC French maid outfits among the more traditional inlaid backgammon sets and textiles.

Remote controlled sexy underwear in a Syrian souk

Mahmoud demonstrates various styles, including remote-controlled knickers

It stems from the Syrian tradition for brides-to-be to be given a trousseau of exotic underwear – sometimes dozens of items – usually by girlfriends, aunties and cousins, to add spice to their wedding nights, honeymoons and beyond.

With a glint in his eye, Mahmoud, who’s barely out of school himself, says “some ladies keep coming back until their 30s”.

Now two London-based Arab women, Rana Salam and Malu Halasa, are shining a spotlight on this little-known local speciality, with a new book called The Secret Life of Syrian Lingerie.

“They used to tell me at art school: ‘Look within your culture’. So I looked and I was in for a big surprise,” graphic designer Ms Salam told me at the launch in London last month.

“The point of the book is to go beyond politics, to break stereotypes and celebrate Middle Eastern romanticism and pleasure. Call it kitsch, call it whatever you like, but I think this attire is superb, spontaneous, pure art.”

On display at the launch party are a few of the most elaborate (but silent) designs, framed on the wall as works of art, including the “hands” bikini.

“I mean, Jean Paul Gaultier eat your heart out,” she says pointing to another exhibit, a bright red wire spiral bra, with white roses at the center and covered in a host of plastic butterflies.

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Is it Prohibited to Marry Someone Guilty of Zinaa (Adultery/Fornication)?


Two parrots on a fence in Brooklyn

Reprinted from SeekersGuidance.org
Answered by Sidi Abdullah Anik Misra

Question:

A girl and I committed zina a few months back. We are in the process of getting married very soon. Is it permissible for me to marry the girl I committed zina with? Is it obligatory for her to repent before we get married? She will definitely repent but I want to know if its required in order us to marrry. I read this on islamqa.com.

Answer:

All praise is to Allah Most High who has shown us right from wrong, in order that we may benefit both in this life and in the next life.

Zina (either illicit fornication for those never-before-married, or adultery for those who have been married) is one of the vilest and gravest sins a Muslim can commit, after ascribing partners with Allah, murder, and disobedience to one’s parents. In the Qur’an, right after the prohibition of killing one’s children, Allah Most High says:

“And do not even go close to Zina! Truly, it is a gross obscenity and an evil path (to go down).” [al-Quran, 17:32]

This verse is not just about prohibiting the act of zina itself, rather, we are told not even to go near it through anything that may lead or invite to it. This is why the pre-marital contact of an unrelated man and woman for unnecessary reasons is not allowed in Islam, even if marriage is the eventual goal.

However, if anyone has fallen into committing this act (and may Allah save us), know that Allah is so Merciful and He is ready to accept the repentance of those who are truly remorseful and commit themselves not to repeat the act again. He, Most High, says:

“And those who, after they had committed a gross obscenity [ie. zina], or wronged themselves [by what approaches it, such as kissing], remembered Allah, and then sought forgiveness for their sins – and who forgives sins except Allah? – and they did not continue in committing it, knowing fully-well [it was a sin]:

For those people, their recompense is a great forgiveness from their Lord! And gardens underneath which rivers flow! They will be in there forever! What a wonderful reward for those who act for Allah!”

[al-Quran, 2:135-136, interpretation from Jalalayn and Tabari]]

It is definitely a step in the right direction that you both have turned away from this and are now working to get married soon. Both of you, not just the woman, should repent from what has passed and make a firm commitment not to come near to a situation where it might happen again. However, the direct answer to your question is that it isn’t a legal requirement that one repent (which is an inward act between a servant and Allah) in order for the marriage to be valid (which is an outward action).

That being said, it is still obligatory to repent in any case, and to do so before marriage is not so much of a technical requirement as some opinions say, but rather something strongly encouraged for the couple get on the right footing with Allah Most High as they embark on the sacred journey of being husband and wife. Now, we’ll look at the reasons why the majority of scholars say this, and the verse of the Quran which concerns the issue.

The Verse Concerning Marriage With Those Who Commit Zina

Allah Most High says:

“A man guilty of adultery or fornication does not marry other than a woman guilty of adultery or fornication, or an idolatress, and as for a woman who committed adultery or fornication, no one but a man who committed adultery or fornication, or an idolater, marries her. And that has been prohibited for the Believers.” [al-Quran 24:3]

The opinion that you read (on islamqa.com) says that this verse is a prohibition against the marriage of a Believer with someone guilty of zina, until the adulterer repents, thereby being cleansed of the sin and no longer being an adulterer. This is based on the taking the statement “it has been prohibited” at one of its literal and apparent meanings and applying it to marriage. Some Hanbali scholars held this view.

However, the majority of scholars have said that this is not a prohibition in terms of validity of marriage, but rather they interpret the verse in many different ways.

Al-Suyuti in Tafseer al-Jalaalayn points out that the beginning of the verse speaks about who is appropriate for marriage to another due to their character; that the only person who would want to marry an adulterer is one who has similar inclinations or makes light of the sin of zina, or a person who is not a Muslim and therefore does not see zina as being unlawful and sinful in the first place. The suitability of a man and woman of this nature is repeated twice to show emphasis on how detestable the act and its consensual perpetrators are, and it also highlights that this stigma is not attached only to the male or female alone (as is sometimes sadly observed in some cultures).

Al-Suyuti goes on to say that the prohibition on the Believers was initially meant to address a situation in which some very poor Muslim Emigrants to Medina had wanted to get married to women who were pagans and known prostitutes, so that they might benefit from those women’s earnings to survive. Hence, the verse was revealed to prohibit this, and he says that the prohibition of marrying anyone who had once committed adultery was abrogated by a later command which said “and marry the single ones from amongst you.” [al-Quran, 24:32]

That does not mean however, that it is of no consequence to marry someone who is unrepentant about their adultery, nor that a chaste person should marry such a person.

Al-Shaukani in Fath al-Qadeer lists 7 different interpretations, one of them being that the verse is simply commending the most commonly observed trend, which is that a chaste person would not usually want to marry someone who was unremorsefully unchaste. He also mentions that the verse is in reference specifically to people to whom zina has become a way of life and even a way of earning. Some transmissions of prohibiting the marriage of two fornicators to each other exist from some Companions, but conflicting narrations from some of those same Companions and the rulings of many of the Imams of the Salaf (such as al-Shafi’i and Abu Haneefa) who knew the Companion’s opinions better than we do today, show that this prohibition was not conclusive or absolute.

Ibn Katheer in his tafseer quotes a narration attributed to Ibn ‘Abbas which indicates that the word “to marry” in this verse (yankiHu) actually takes its other literal meaning, which is “to have intercourse”, so that the verse reads “(illicit intercourse) is prohibited for the Believers”. Al-Tabari says that the verse was revealed to speak about a specific brothel which was frequented by non-Muslims and adulterers, and that the Muslims were forbidden from visiting houses the likes of those. Al-Baghawi even mentions specific people for whom the verse was revealed initially. To summarize, a casual glance through many other tafseers will reveal that while most mufassireen (commentators on the Qu’ran) reported a variety of reasons and interpretations of the verse, the most common interpretations were either one compatibility and censure, or a prohibition that was later abrogated in that same surah.

Some Reports on this Issue

Reports of the sayings of the Companions and Followers on this issue are plentiful.

Daraqutni reports, in part of a hadeeth, from Aisha that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was asked about a man who committed zina with a woman, and then wanted to marry her. Part of the reply was, “Something unlawful (zina) does not make prohibited that which is lawful (marriage)…”

He also reports that Ibn Abbas, regarding a man who had committed zina with a woman and then married her, said, “The first part of [the relationship] was fornication (al-sifaah) and the last part of it was lawful Islamic marriage (al-nikaah). The first part was unlawful, and the last part was lawful.” In another riwayah, he said “there is no harm in it”, and that a similar meaning had been reported from ‘Umar, Abu Hurayara and Jabir (may Allah be well pleased with them all), though saying there is “no harm in it” doesn’t necessarily show that it is liked or recommended.

‘Abd al-Razzaq in his Musannaf also relates from Ibn ‘Abbas, on the same issue that a man committed zina with a woman then married her, that he said, “Then that (marriage) is better”, and in another narration, “Now he did the right thing!”, and “What’s disliked about that?”

He goes on to report that Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) said, “There is no better repentance than that he marries her- (after all) they both went from fornication to Islamic marriage.” [This last report contains an unidentified narrator but its concept and wisdom is amply supported by other reports]. Although there are fewer reports about ‘Aisha and Ibn Mas’ud not allowing such a marriage, perhaps they can be interpreted as recommendations rather than laws, or that the wisdom is for both people to start fresh with other people rather than build their marriage on wrong actions or to discourage the validating of pre-marital relationships. Either way, repentance as a technical requirement to validate the marriage is not established according to the majority.

Amongst the Sunni schools of law, the Hanafi school (as well as the Shafi’i and Maliki schools) rules the permissibility of the marriage of two adulterers [Tabyeen al Haqaiq, al-Zayla’i]. One proof says that the verse in the Quran intends to prohibit intercourse rather than marriage with an adulterer, as it would otherwise seem to recommend that a fornicating muslim can actually marry a non-believing idolater, and there is no such valid marriage between the two as is decisively established in Islam, and so the meaning is carried upon intercourse in order to outlaw zina, and not marriage, to an adulterer. However, the opinion of some Hanbali jurists that repentance is required is good in its meaning because it forces the two people to recognize their wrong and repent to start their marriage on a fresh footing.

One might say however, that the intention to make up for the wrong one has done by doing in its place what is good and chaste, by getting married, is itself a commendable act that shows regret for what was done in the past, though correcting a wrong must be joined by sincere taubah and a promise never to return to the sin again. It should also be clear that there is also no obligation for the two parties to continue on with marriage after an illicit relationship; rather, one should marry someone who they feel has a good Islamic character and a desire to live a righteous life.

And Allah knows best, and His help is sought,

Abdullah Misra
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

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