A Lonely Place

Like I said earlier, I don’t write much about religion because I don’t know much about it. I’m just a person who is trying to do her best with whatever I have. I’ll be honest I’ve been trying to live my life in a way that benefits me most and doesn’t harm other people either. I Only talk about religion when I see it getting insane around me. While I live my own life my own way for my own reasons I have no reason to see people get hurt or pick fights with anyone who is different from me. We all came from the same place, and we are all about to end up in the same place. You may think I’m wrong about what that place is, and I may think you are wrong about what that place is, nevertheless it is the same place. So…for the reason that we might be spending eternity together whether we want to or not, maybe trying to get along is a better option for us, what do you think?

I say this with all the sincerity in the world because it’s very lonely where I am. Someone who comes out and points fingers at people. I’m pointing a finger at my people and at others too. Fights and disagreements never start with just one side. We need both sides to nurture the flame of course.

However, my credibility as a Muslim, as someone who can be trusted in my community is questioned. Along with that most people are thinking ”told ya, these Muslims are nuts”. Again, I’m giving everyone the inside scoop so, I don’t know what the future holds for me now. The purpose is to humanize ourselves for each other. We built these walls because we have egos the size of all the heavens and earth combined. Behind these walls are just people. People who struggle every day with the same problems, and have the same struggles.

Honestly, sometimes those everyday struggles make us ugly and we turn on people who we don’t think are like us. It’s easier, isn’t it? It is behind a computer. It’s hate, but it is not on us. It’s on some else if feels safe. It doesn’t really bother my religious sense because it’s not about me or even my religion, it is about someone venting, and dude whatever works for them. What’s sad is that in general when I as a human am trying to connect with people and am getting constant rejection than it gets difficult. I’m sure you dislike many theories and ways of lives, but I’m not those things. I am a person. When I personally hurt you then you can attack me. You don’t have the right to attack me and act passive aggressive towards me for what you merely think and have heard of ”maybe even wrongly” about people and issues.

I always thought I didn’t want to write about religion because there were so many people more knowledgable than me already doing it. It turns out though, that that was never the case. Deep down inside I realized what a lonely place this is. I realized there will be very few people who will understand that I and many like me are only trying to create bridges. We don’t need others’ baggage dumped on us. We don’t deserve that. For those of you who have had a meaningful discussion, which includes disagreements, I truly appreciate your input.

My focus has not been just religion in my blogs. I talk about a million different things.

If there is any other particular topic you guys would like me to address I would be happy to oblige.

From Jesus to Muhammad, back to Jesus…again

I’m a Muslim. I believe in The Quran. I believe in The Last Prophet Muhammad(PBUH). However, I also know Jesus(PBUH) is not dead, and he is my savior. Yes, I said it. I know some people will have this divine urge to fight me. But I don’t. Neither Jesus (A) nor Muhammad (S) would do that. So, I’ll hold out as long as I can. I’m not as awesome as those two so we’ll see how it goes.

The purpose of this? It’s not at all to start a fight. The purpose is to actually discuss some things we never do. Things we’ve gotten wrong, not because I’m some scholar or a being of great knowledge. Simply because I paid attention, sometimes paying attention means accepting truths we’d rather not.

So what’s the truth here? That Muslims also believe in Jesus (A) being our savior. I know! I’m just as confused, surprised, and unsettled as you are. Not really. Always kinda knew.

However, it does become impossible to voice these opinions. Literally becomes a matter of life and death. Death to anyone who disagrees with literally ANYONE. You mess with religion, whether Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Jew, or whathaveyou, they will all come after you. No joke. So people just kind of back off and let the whole scene play out as though that is what’s ”best” for everyone. Let’s see how this goes for me. Since no one knows me, mostly this will just end in my family screaming at me for being stupid enough to put something like this out there. No one makes you fear for your life more than your mom and older siblings on the rare occasion when they’re all on the same page. I think this is something we can all agree on.

Breathe. Back to religion. Yes, I’d rather talk about religion than the collective wrath of my immediate family. We are a fun bunch.

Before patience run out I should explain what I’m going on about.

According to Islam the last Prophet (S) came and he passed on to the next life as all humans do. There is a beginning and there is an end. He gave us our Holy Book. He taught us how to apply that Book in our everyday lives. Muhammad (S) is our ultimate human guide, our home base. His teachings are what we turn to when all else fails, a great man in life and an even greater example in death.

However, there isn’t a way for my faith as a Muslim to be complete unless I am able to accept and recognize how Jesus(A) would be today as his complete self; as a Messenger for all mankind. I’ve gone and done it now. ”whose side is she on?” Muslim? Christian? Neither? Both? I say this as a Muslim. With no doubt in my mind and my heart. I say this because we need to end this crazy drama of fighting because we are confused about our own leaders. No one’s Iman is complete unless they have completely let Muhammad (PBUH) into their hearts and lives. Did we forget though, that Jesus is alive and he is going to be the one who will save us and lead us before the day of judgment? When that time comes according to Islam only the believers, people with true faith, will recognize him for who he really is and follow him? Anyone who denies him will not be a part of the Muslim Ummah, in other words, anyone who denies that Eesa (A) is actually Eesa (A)upon seeing him when he returns will not be considered a Muslim.

Yeah, we kind of forgot there for a long moment. We forgot an extremely key part of all this. While we call each other names and kill each other for having the wrong beliefs, all these Prophets (PBUT) and the one Deity, and everything else that makes up a faith; such as Books, scriptures, they are all on the same side; fighting, believing and dying for the one truth.

So how do I believe that it’s okay for anyone to run their mouth about Jesus (A) because someone insulted Muhammad (S)?

How can I think it’s okay to call someones horrible names or say that they’re impure because they have devoted their lives to Jesus(A)? We may not agree on how we are devoting our lives to any cause but we have to agree that whoever speaks any of their names and sincerely believes in the purpose of life they put forth cannot be impure physically or in any other way.

So yeah…I will give my life for Muhammad before my heart takes its next beat. His mission IS life. If Muhammad is my entire life than according to my Quran and my Islam Jesus(A) is my last savior on this earth.

Another Story

Don’t ask me if I’m ok because I always am. Don’t tell me things will get better because they always do. Don’t tell me time heals all wounds, because it never does. Don’t tell me I am stronger than my problems because, I know I am. I’m not the only one, so are you. Don’t ask me to dry my tears, because they are the only thing holding me together.

Don’t tell me what life holds for my tomorrow, because I want to stay in the dark a bit longer. Don’t ask me to come out and shine tonight, tonight is your night. Mine will be tomorrow, maybe it has long come and gone.

Tonight is all yours, until another tomorrow; another story.

Bedtime Stories

So apparently I’m not done talking about the family yet. I have been holding onto this one for a very long time. After a long bit, I had an opportunity to spend some time with my dad. Those who know me well, know that this is unusual. However, I did realize many things because of it. I got to see so much I had not in the years past. Whenever I get asked if I had a time machine would I visit the past or the future? My answer is always; the past. The future is coming. It’s right in front of me. I can shape it, I can predict it even to some extent. I’m interested in how I got here. I’m interested in ’seeing’ the stories I grew up on. I’m interested in knowing which conspiracy theories are real, and which ones are just that. There is so much in the details that we’ve missed from our past because the historians and storytellers are only human after all. I’m interested in history from my perspective. Strangely enough, historians don’t write books solely for me, go figure.

My father, and I have had a very turbulent relationship. He came around every few years and tried to be a dad. I really wasn’t ready to be a daughter. In his defense though; he had a bunch of other kids who were bending to his every will so he really didn’t understand what was going on with me. What was happening is that I don’t do things because I’m “told”. I do things because…well… they need to get done. How and when really isn’t anyone else’s business.

Nevertheless, he is where my history lies, he is where my story begins whether I like it or not. Don’t like it very much right now as that puts me in a position where I have to admit so many things I don’t really want to, egos are big around here.

So now that we’re all caught up I’m going to let you in on a secret. I’m realizing that my parents are probably my only living connection to my past.

I’ve heard all my mom’s stories. Many times over. Honestly, now they’re starting to change to her mood and the situation.

My dad and I haven’t shared much so when he mentions his life, and his parents it’s all new. So many pieces of my life, of my legacy that should have been passed down to me, are completely foreign. I don’t know anything about him. When he passes I feel his name in all its glory will pass with him because he didn’t share.

I didn’t mean to sound as brutal as I just did. Isn’t it the truth though? People die. Fade into nothingness from this world, the only thing that is left is the stories, and memories they leave behind. Those stories turn into legends and become history. That becomes our history. This can only happen if people are willing to tell their story out loud on every turn.

My dad: Close to 90 years old, not even thinking about retiring. Loves talking about work but will not discuss ’life’

When I talk about my past I’m extremely candid. Not because I like talking about myself, which I most certainly do, but I want people to know where I came from, and after I’m gone when they deal with my children, and my future generations, they know who they are. So my children know who they are.

Anyways, this time around he had some little details here and there that he mentioned. He talked about the important historical events that he was able to witness as a young man. I had no idea he had seen so much. He has lived in a time before electricity was widely provided. He’s seen how people cooked on stoves without gas, using wood and other materials. There are many traditional things exclusive to our side of the world that even living here we don’t see anymore. Those who lived through that time are slowly vanishing. I’m afraid with them those traditions and customs will vanish too.

I know, you’re probably thinking since when do you care about tradition and customs? I thought I didn’t. Talking to the elders of my family and my father made me realize that I do care. I want to stay connected. I want my children to know what they are a part of.

I’m a great believer in making new traditions and values that mesh with the time we’re living in. I’m not, however, in favor of losing who we are as a collective. Whatever we make of ourselves now comes from, and is attached to what we have been for thousands of years. All of this has a HUGE part in the construction of our reality. I believe we will be incomplete people raising incomplete generations without a strong connection to our past.

Maybe that’s what happened to me. My disconnect from my culture also me feeling alien in it most times perhaps came from the same place. My legacy wasn’t passed down. I wasn’t taught our ways and then told to decide how I wanted to modify them for my time and generation. I had no direction for any customs or a system. I followed what felt right (and I still stand by those ideas BTW) many times it was not what my people and my legacy would have demanded. As time went by that became my culture, my custom.

Here we are today with a new world trying to learn everything all over again while we teach it to our kids. While I want them to explore the world. I want them to know there is so much out there they can choose from. They are not in any way limited to the life I have lived or experiences I have had. I truly feel I was blessed because I got to experience more than what was right in front of me. I wiggled my way around and looked beyond to see what’s waiting out in the world because the world in front of me didn’t seem important enough.

The only thing that I would want my kids to do differently is to recognize that what is in front of them is not unimportant. I would want them to ground themselves in what’s right in front of them because they will not find that love and respect anywhere in the world only because we worked hard to grow it here for them. After that I want them to go out explore, find a lifestyle that works for them. It would be silly to assume that their lifestyle would be similar to ours because we are generations apart. Also, I pray we are not in the same place for too long for everyone’s sanity.

To wrap this up, home is home. We have to improve on it by adding to it. Flares of change are important, along with always remembering and keeping our own essence.

We do that by sharing our lives with our family. Sharing our history. Sharing our legends. Sharing who we are. Who we have been. We all have great histories to pass on. Great adventures that can turn into awesome bedtime stories, I personally think that’s a wonderful place to start.

Sit Next To Me

I have a very strict rule about my kids not watching “grown-up TV”. Stuff that might seem harmless to others I seem to tear apart and analyze to a point of exhaustion even for me. That’s what writer, communication major type people tend to do I guess. As a general rule, the TV is never on in our house when the kids are around. We only watch it when the kids are sleeping or gone. Even if it seems like the most harmless little show. Sometimes I think it’s just words. Then I remember myself as a kid. There were so many times “just words” stuck with me. I want to wait until they are older and those words can be explained and understood. They are 5 and 6 so it might be a while before that happens. I know I’m one of the strict ones in this particular matter. I tend to do the opposite of what my parent(s) did. Always. Of course.

A bit ago I saw a news story about this white guy who didn’t want to sit next to a black old lady on the plane. He called her all sorts of names. Names we are not allowed to use these days. He said things we refuse to acknowledge even exist as a society amongst us. Oh, but how they do so exist.

That tiny video reminded me of a tiny little incident on a bus somewhere in a tiny town far away from us, and now. And here we are today. “What do I do?” I thought. This world. I live in it. I’m raising my children in it. Pretty soon they will not be little boys. Someone will not want to sit next to them because they look like those “terrorists” they keep mentioning everywhere. I want to turn back time. Nope. Move it forward? Isn’t that what Martine Luther King thought when he gave his “I have a dream” speech? I don’t want to stay in this time either. So how do I take control? My kid inched over to watch the video as he always does. This is the moment I usually turn off my phone. It was a split second decision to let him see the world, and let learn. This is how I take on the world. This is how I take control.

-“What are they fighting about?”

-“This man doesn’t want to sit next to this lady.”

-“Why?”

-“Because she looks different.”

-“That’s doesn’t make any sense.”

-“I know, that’s why it’s on the news.”

-“So he wants to be all alone?”

-“Wouldn’t life be boring if we didn’t have people who were different in our lives? His life must be so boring. It’s fun when you get to know different kinds of people from different places, who look different and act differently. Sometimes people from the exact same place can look different too. It makes the world colorful and fun, like art.”

-“Like me and Adam? And you and Daddy?”

My kids are fully aware that their dad and I are very different skin tones, and so are they. While all over the world it’s always been a difficult conversation in our house it’s always been pretty simple. Adam is very proud of his brown skin because that means he looks like his dad, and Dawud is very proud of his lighter color because that means he looks like his mom. There’s no denying what they look like. We have found pride in who they are just as we do in others people we meet and know.

Then we talked about all the interesting and fun things we have in our lives because we have visited all these places and met amazing people; everything that we would have never found out if we had never met those people. It was a casual conversation that made a 5-year-old realize that being mean to people just because they’re different “doesn’t make any sense”. The smart thing is to learn from them; to bring the good stuff forward so we can make the world a stronger place.

I can’t still guarantee that tomorrow when he’s all grown up someone will not refuse to sit next to him because of who he is or how he looks. I can guarantee you though, that I’m working as hard as I can to turn my boys into the kind of men who will recognize you for your culture, heritage, religion, color, and whatever else is important to you and then make a conscious choice to sit next to you.

Country Orphan

I just recently declared to my husband that I need to be myself. I need a haircut, color to get back to who I am. I need to feel like me again. Recent moving, taking care of the house, kids have me feeling like a robot. I look ahead and I see more of the same. A state of not being me. A robot wife/mother/caretaker who takes care of anyone or anything that’s broken. I have switches in my brain; kid throwing a tantrum take a deep breath, handle that crap move on. Guests coming over; wake up early even though I ’m tired, down two extra cups of coffee, handle that shit, move on. Husband panicking over something; un-panick him, handled, move on. I seriously wanted to be out of Saudia Arabia for reasons no one is a stranger to I’m sure. If you are, I can explain, just ask. However, I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into by moving here even though I have lived here before.

Pakistan is a place I know and love, but the problem is she doesn’t love me back with the same force. How I choose to dress and how I choose to carry myself is a bit too ”strange” for her. Sounds interesting coming from someone who lived on the ”strange” side of the tracks all her life in the US as well. Over there I was strange because I was too conservative. ”Those poor Muslim women. We need to free them from their religious and cultural prison”. Over here in Pakistan, I get looks that say, ”OMG, what is she wearing? ” It’s always inappropriate. I still have a scarf on my head and as far as I’m concerned everything on me is more conservative than it would have been if I was anywhere else in the world (excluding Saudi).

When I moved to Pakistan for the first time I was excited. I thought, man this is so cool, the days of being looked at as different and not good enough to fit in are over. As much as I knew I was going to miss home at least I could try and make a home here with people who were just like me. sounds awesome right? My perfect little world? Nope.

I got here and I was asked the same question I was asked in America, ”where are you from?” I gave the same answer I gave over there, ”I’m from RIGHT FREAKING HERE”. And I got the same response, ”no but really”.

Then we moved back for unrelated reasons and I was a bit relieved because it’s never easy for people like me, at least it was familiar and it was home. This time though, I thought I was older, wiser, so maybe I’ll handle it better. I’ll be less confused if nothing else. Turns out I’m neither. I’m not even confused. I’m something completely different from all of those things. I’m a Pakistani-American who has very strong opinions about her countries. I know where I want to be in my future. I know I don’t belong in one place. If someone asked me to pick just one country, or city for the rest of my life I would not be able to do that. My loyalties are many and I am very proud of that.

What makes me is all of those things combined. What is not me is being a robot. I’m not going to wear certain clothes because everyone is wearing them.

That is exactly why others opinion on my scarf doesn’t matter when I’m in the US. People who genuinely want to know can ask me or research. The rest can assume what they want. I am too busy being me usually.

Although, I’m not going to deny that it does hurt to know that the two places that I’ve called home have not truly embraced me. That everything I’ve ever known and loved and forgiven about these places just because I wanted to be accepted are sometimes the exact issues and dilemmas that stand between us. Generally, it is not my fault. It is not my fault that I have the wrong skin color for most people. It’s not my fault that my parents speak a different language.

Well, it is kind of my fault that I’m choosing my religion, but religious freedom, no? Why don’t I get that if I’m not infringing on anyone else’s rights?

It surely can’t be considered a fault that my fashion sense is unique. You can look twice, I’m okay with that but gosh don’t judge me for it.

It cannot be a flaw in my innate personality that because of my family background, religion and upbringing I act different and have different opinions. Just a different way of looking at the world. I’m not demanding you agree with me.

This whole list goes for every home I’ve had. I’ve experienced these on different levels everywhere. ”Too Americanized” or ”not American enough”, “too Pakistani”, “not Pakistani enough”. Those switches in my brain just keep turning off and on. All the while I’m trying not to get lost myself. I’m neither since neither place has claimed me.

So where do I feel at home? With myself. There’s no judgment here. I change my look often to keep it fresh, to keep reminding myself that I belong everywhere. No one can tell me to change: citizen of the world and all.

OR a country orphan. I’ll go with that it’s more dramatic. So, I’m off to change it up again, this country orphan feeling is strong right now.

The Ever Changing Me

Last couple of years plenty has changed. That’s what life does, it changes. We grow, and change. This was my kid’s assignment for school over the last few weeks. About how he has grown and changed over time. How he started from being a baby; not being able to talk, walk, feed himself to today where he’s fairly independent, and has emotions that he can express. He can express them better than most kids his age, I would say. I would say that because I’m his mom and most of his emotions are directed towards me. I would also say this because I’m his mom, and my child is smarter than yours. Always.

The purpose of telling you about Dawud’s homework was that the line about “growing and changing” was straight up plagiarism from a very competent kindergarten teacher. Sorry Sir! Next time I will give you full credit with name, and credentials.

Growing and changing has so so many different meanings to different people. To a 5 year old it simply means being able to grab things with one hand. Sounds simple and innocent. To me change and growth means being a 100 pounds lighter than 3 years ago. That kind of change is not just physical, it comes from the inside before it starts showing on the outside. I don’t much care about what people get to look at on the outside. I know everyone cares a little, I’m sure I do too but I’m not worried about people’s opinions. When people’s opinion counted I didn’t care about the weight. Of course, they wanted me to be prettier, who wants to look at something that’s not aesthetically pleasing? I started losing the weight when I decided it was the right thing for me. My health. I wanted to take charge before it was too late. I am my best friend, my best ally, gotta watch my back, right?

We weigh people’s worth by the pound. Every time I meet someone I haven’t seen in a while I realize how “different” I look. I’m forced to admit that I “feel” different too. Because, of course, weight loss comes with so many positive changes in one’s life. Haven’t you heard, you become famous. People love you more. Also when you talk, people stop and listen. Although, if you’re a woman it still might happen less often, however, it will happen. Life will change ”for the better”.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “so and so is getting fat”. “You need to talk to them”. This is especially true for women. We’re told It gets much harder to lose the weight later on. “Once you have kids it’s downhill from there. You lose your body completely”. I mean yeah, everyone loses a little bit of themselves as they get older and gain so much more. No one can say ten years later that they are the same person that they were ten years ago. Same goes for our bodies. Is that really a bad thing? The change is inevitable. It’s been 14 years I’ve been crying over my c-section scars. Guess what happened to them? Still there. In fact, more have been added. My weight has been up, it has been down. I have been pretty and I have been just okay. You know what? I’m still here. I’m not here because of my scarred or non scarred body or fat or non-fat body. No, I’m here because I decided to ignore all the chatter and stay. The ever-changing mind and body. The Me. The world can complain about thin people and fat people. I’m staying in my shape, however, it may get better over time.

I realize I wrote something like this just a while ago but this is different because this is about weight. This topic comes from a very different place. It doesn’t come from “sticking it to people” place. This comes from accepting the reality that the world is going to change around us and we are going to have to keep our feet on the ground solid. People are not going to approve of so many things we do, including the way we look. I’ve lost the weight now but now I’m too thin. I look ill. Yep, that’s a thing. My hair is too short and funky colors. That’s also a thing. There’s no pleasing the world.

I have also said this before, there’s only one change that matters: MAKING THOSE C-SECTION SCARS GO AWAY. That’s my inner monologue, ignore it.

There’s only one change that matters: that’s constant, inside you. You will learn, grow and change. The cycle is constant. When people say to me, “you would have never done that before, you have changed”, I say, “yes, yes I have”.