Turkey and Belly Dancing

23 Oct

Currently, my husband is away in Turkey on a trip with a medical instrumentation company that has sponsored various health care professionals on a get-to-know various techniques and instruments. People have arrived from Pakistan, various countries in the Middle East and from Saudi Arabia as well. I am thinking these are mostly Muslims. FJ tells me yesterday that he has a dinner that might feature belly dancing and wonders if he should go with the group, see if the dancing ladies appear or not – if they do then leave and if not then stay – or if he should make alternative plans for him alone without the huge group of physicians, neurosurgeons and what not. My response is – perhaps yes i.e. check it out – maybe it is just those sufi men with caps circulating in the room and not the naked ladies. So this is what happened – the moment FJ arrived at the restaurant, the women appeared. FJ excused himself and went somewhere and ate shwarma missing the how-many course dinner.

Here is what I wonder. If this was America, would a medical instrumentation company take doctors and surgeons, attending an instrument and technique-learning conference, to a strip bar? Someone might argue that strippers are not equivalent to belly dancers. I would argue of course they are – just because the belly dancers wear itsy bitsy bras and panties and some chiffon cloth flying around them, that doesn’t make them any more cultural or artistic than what a stripper is. My annoyance is not the fact that some men would like to see such women in action. My annoyance is that professionals, families and kids are exposed to something that they didn’t bargain or plan to see and that stripping is disguised as something artistic and cultural. The truth is that the purpose of belly dancers with their moves and clothes is to sexually entice men. So how dare these Muslim organizers of this conference place these Muslim professionals, couples and families in such a situation?

Turkey seems to be pimping itself by disguising these performances as expressions of art but in actuality trying to sell itself to the Western world by featuring such performances in main stream restaurants. Such performances belong in strip bars and should be labeled as such, as well.

4 ex-Blackwater guards guilty in Nusoor Square shooting – CNN.com

22 Oct

Finally, something that reaffirms my faith in the American justice system. ~AJ

4 ex-Blackwater guards guilty in Nusoor Square shooting – CNN.com

A little equality would work wonders

19 Oct

And no, I am not talking about how the US or Europe treats its Muslim citizens. I am talking about the ladies in our compound. We have sort of a farewell scheme where when someone leaves, the Pakistanis (hyphenated and otherwise) collect monies for throwing a party at Hayat, a Pakistani restaurant in Riyadh. Usually, the monies include the per-person charge for all the family members of the departing family spread over everyone who is throwing them a farewell. The monies also include an amount for a gift which usually is some sort of a jewelry item for the lady of the house.

About a year ago, we had two families leave the compound – the S-ds and the K-ns. One of them got a farewell at Hayat. The other one got a one-dish and that too just for the missus, well since apparently the mister wasn’t leaving yet. I protested this unequal treatment beforehand with the person organizing the farewell. I asked them if it was possible to give both the families dinner at Hayat. She told me that it was too late to collect monies for the K-ns. Even though there was a volunteer to pay for the family of K-ns, the organizing ladies weren’t too keen to split the money collected for the gift to be divided between the two families. Mrs. S-d was from the popular group who dressed well and talked well. Mrs. K-n wasn’t too popular and a lot of ladies were not too interested in hosting something expensive for her or even to make her feel special.

A year forward, we have another family leaving (this time again from the popular group). I am already expecting that all the followers of the popular lady will be working hard to hold something grand at Hayat. The dinner is going to cost every family at the compound – SAR 52 for adults and SAR 31 for kids (aged 5-10). Kids under 5 are free. You have to wonder how a 5-year old would eat anything close to something for SAR 31. Eventually, many families are attending sans kids. I mean they are making it look like that the kids would be bored but for a price like that, it could get very expensive for a larger family.

For our family, the amount is nearly SAR 300 including the SAR 60 for the departing family and the rest being our own dinner prices. Now, if we were to have food catered to our compound and serve it around the pool area (the weather these days is marvelous at night), the family cost would be much low. I see no point in paying per-person price including for the kids instead of having the food delivered to the compound and pay a per-tray price. I did point it out to the ladies, arranging the dinner, but having the advice fall on deaf ears. I proposed forming an entertainment club and charging every family around SAR 50 per month. This would take care of farewells. All food would be brought to the compound (no need to drive 1.5 hrs. round trip) and a per-tray price would be paid. The ladies objected about the need to keep the abayas on when doing it around the pool. I reminded them that the Hayat male waiters still keep on roaming amongst the ladies even though the gents are seated behind a separating wall. That point didn’t register much. But my biggest objection to the current scheme is what if one of the lesser known and less popular families were to go. Are we going to again give them a one-dish or maybe totally forget them? It’s unfair to give the posh treatment to one set of people and not to the others when we ask both groups for monies when giving farewells to the first set. I have decided to opt out of this scheme until it becomes streamlined and fair. An equal amount for every family per month that expects a farewell (no bias towards when to pitch in and for which families to pitch in for), same type of dishes for anyone high up in the pedestal or lower down, same gift and no per-person charges plus this way the maids get included too who nobody takes to the restaurants (to avoid the per-person charge and to avoid giving the hostess a heart attack). Luckily, my husband is out of the country on the dinner date – I don’t want to look too political in front of the departing family. I can always say, there was no one to drive us.

Quranic Verse of the Day – Why Muslims say “Peace Be Upon Him” after Muhammad’s Name

17 Oct

Non-Muslims may have noticed the term “peace be upon him” or (pbuh) used after the name of Prophet Muhammad. In Arabic, the term “sallallahu alayhi wasallam” or (saw) is used. Here is where the Quran instructs Muslims to ask Allah to confer blessing upon Muhammad and to grant him peace.

[33:56, quran.com, Translation: Sahih International]

33:56

Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [ Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [ Allah to grant him] peace.

Riyadh Metro System

15 Oct

This makes me really excited. Perhaps, I am getting excited at the prospect of public transport in Riyadh when I can’t drive here or perhaps I am excited to live in a great place for which I haven’t had much appreciation in the past. Or perhaps, the men in thobes and the women in abayas in this ad make me really admire Saudi pride for their attire. Anyway, I am quite excited for the new Metro system coming to the city, Insha’Allah!

Riyadh Metro 2013 English from Helicam Services Oy on Vimeo.

From Ibrahim to Khalil: Healing through the flames, American Islam and Palestine/Israel | What Would Muhammad Do?

13 Oct

Omid Safi beat me to this. I was going to write a piece “In Defense of Imam Antepli” and was searching for links to the piece by Sana Saeed and Imam Antepli’s response to it when I came across this article by Mr. Safi. I met Imam Antepli in 2009, when I was visiting Duke with my family to check it out for my oldest daughter about to enter college (the next year). I was pleasantly surprised to find that Duke had a full-time Muslim chaplain. I was further impressed with Imam Antepli’s pleasant personality.

The biggest criticism of Imam Antepli and others that took the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI) trip, sponsored by Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI), was that SHI is anti-BDS. My response is: “So what?”. It’s not that I am pro-BDS or anti-BDS -  I have yet to make my mind up. Does forcing Israel to retreat into a corner work better for the Palestinians or the opposite – I am not sure. What I am sure about is that we need dialogue with Israel at every opportunity that we get. I would have used the exact same line that Mr. Safi did – What Would Muhammad Do? Let’s look at the deals that Muhammad (peace be upon him) made. He made the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with the Meccans even though these people were arch enemies of Muhammad and his followers and even though this treaty unfairly favored the Meccans. Muhammad also made the Constitution of Medina where he signed a treaty with all significant Christian, Jewish and pagan tribes of Medina giving them each rights and responsibilities. He didn’t reject any peace treaty since his ego wouldn’t suit it or that the people would be opposed to him. The purpose of MLI is to engage the Jews favoring Israel and Muslims – it’s not to endorse any anti-BDS rhetoric even though SHI engages in anti-BDS work. Why not make use of any opportunity where the two factions – the Israelis and Muslims try to understand each other? ~AJ

From Ibrahim to Khalil:   Healing through the flames, American Islam and Palestine/Israel | What Would Muhammad Do?

Bakra Eid (Eid-ul-Adha) 2014 in Pictures

11 Oct

Eid-ul-Adha also gets called Bakra Eid (Goat Eid) since on these days mostly bakras get slaughtered. Here are some pictures of this event that we spent, in Peshawar, at my in-laws’ home. We had a total of 10 goats to be sacrificed. Each goat is for an earning member of the family. Alhumdulillah and Masha’Allah!

Butchers and their accompanying kids getting ready

Butchers and their accompanying kids getting ready

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TJ (in brown shalwar kameez) and M4 (in red) look on as their grandfather (FJ’s dad) does the first slaughter

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Butcher cleans and cuts the goat

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Another goat hangs from the tree as the skin is pulled off and different parts are cut off

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Ladies of the house divide each goat into three parts – one for the poor, one for friends and relatives, and one for self.

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