Mama got spontaneous with Natural Delights medjool dates the other day, filled some with Philadelphia cream cheese and Nutella hazelnut spread. The results were finger licking delicious! Would you try these? Have you tried other fun filled dates?
It’s been seven years since I observed and celebrated a full month of Ramadan back home in San Francisco. I plan to break fast with my family, kneel in worship with my friends and try to find peace within myself.
May this Ramadan find you breaking fast with family, worshipping with friends and finding peace within yourself… ameen.
Blessed and rewarding Ramadan to one and all.
spinster [spin-ster] Disparaging and Offensive. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying. Arabic: عانِس، عوانس
Being a 34 year old lady, I’m again reminded of the word “spinster”. I’m convinced that the word must’ve been phrased by a very bitter person back in medieval times (be it in any language). The fact that the word is almost only applied to ladies makes me hate the word even more. It’s sexist, hurtful, divisive and discriminatory on so many levels.
The first time I heard the word “spinster”, I was 19 years old. It was said to me by an older lady with limited education whom wanted me for her son so he can move to America. I didn’t pay much mind to her at the time. Maybe because I knew what her intentions were. Or because I was too young to understand that word at the time.
That word really didn’t hit me hard until a couple of years later when it was said to me by someone I once liked and respected. From then on, I heard that word more often than necessary. When I decided to go to graduate school, I was told I would never find a husband. When I decided to travel, I was told that I wasn’t making an effort to find a husband. Every time the subject of marriage came up, I was reminded by random people to stop being picky because I was becoming a spinster.
This all happened before I turned 30.
As much as I try not to let it bother me, it bothers me. It’s derogatory and very offensive, more so to those whom actually are looking for someone to share their lives with but haven’t. I’m not alone on this as per my conversations with people between the U.S., Egypt, Qatar and beyond. Whom decided what age a lady (or a man) should be married? Whom decided that if you don’t have children before a certain age, your prime has come to an end? Whom decided that men only want to marry a lady within a specific age group?
I have relatives in Egypt that have passed this unbeknowth marital age for one of many reasons. One cousin has dedicated his life to his work and found it difficult to find someone from the humble country town whom would share and support his passion. Another cousin in the same town and of the same age sided with her demanding parents of unrealistic expectations which has caused a hault in suitors coming through the door.
Even though the culture in Egypt asks that both parties’ families share in the financial costs, there’s this pattern of making it more difficult than necessary to get married. Anything outside of marriage is haram but the halal way has been made to be so difficult, it’s almost near impossible. And those whom wait too long to be able to go about it the halal way? They’re now spinsters.
In Qatar, I’ve met people whom remained single simply for financial reasons while others were divorced but still paying back some hefty marital related loans. Unlike in Egypt, men here are burdened with all the finances to get married and start a family. As the culture here is very tribal, there’s this “keeping up with the Jones” mentality. If one family did something, you had to do the same if not better. Even if you couldn’t afford it, you borrowed for it. I know at least two of my friends whom have been divorced in under 5 years of their marriage just over financial troubles. They got married like the Jones, but they couldn’t LIVE like them. And those that choose to wait, refusing to be a statisic? They’re now spinsters.
In the U.S., it’s a real mixed bag between the cultures but the mindset of spinsterhood is still there. People are in awe when a 40 year old celebrity gets married. Did you see the rukous over George Clooney “finally getting married”?
However, from my personal experiences within the Muslim and Arab community back home, some of this ideology exists. If a man marries a lady beyond the age of 30, it’s as if he performed a charitable act. If a lady marries a man beyond that age, it’s because he’s rich or she couldn’t get someone her age. It can’t ever be because two people loved each other, God forbid.
And let’s back track for a second here, is it just me or do those that barrage us with “get married already” comments the ones whom are completely unhappy in their marriage? Seriously, I have yet to be approached by a happily married person, aside from my mother and aunties, about my marital status. Maybe it’s because those happy in their marriages know what it takes to be in a happy relationship. It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just marry the first person that crosses your path.
Maybe it’s because those happy in their marriages are happy because they actually lived their lives, learned to care for themselves before they were ready to share it with someone else. Maybe the happier you are, the happier your relationship. If you happiness depends on someone else, you will in fact be miserable in that relationship. Sometimes, one is not destined to be married with 3 kids living in a house with a white picket fence by the age of 25.
I can’t image being married at 25. Hell, I can’t image being married at 34!
At 25, while many of my friends were ready to join the marriage club, I was taking care of my family while starting graduate school. I was no where near ready to be married let alone even date at the time. People go through different phases in their lives at different ages. There really is no structure or time frame for one of the most important commitments in one’s life.
Let’s be honest, when the time comes, it’ll come. People nagging us into something you aren’t ready for doesn’t help. Using the word “spinster” only makes it worse.
So ladies, when a miserable hater comes at you with, “when are you getting married already?”
Just tell them, “I’d rather be a happy spinster than a miserable wife.”
.يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint” -Quran, 2:183
As the crescent hasn’t been sighted in this part of the world, the month of Shabaan 1436 is a full 30 days. This means that Insha’Allah Ramadan 1436 begins on the evening of Wednesday, June 17th with the first fasting day being Thursday, June 18th.
From my family and I to yours, may you all have a blessed, rewarding and joyous month… Ameen.
“Prayer in congregation is twenty seven times better than prayer prayed individually.” -Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), [Bukhari, Muslim]
Source: Friday Nasiha, Issue 841
Living the Confused Expatriate Life
Part 6 of a Few… Two Years Already?
By: Ms. Hala
I’ve passed my two year mark as an American expatriate living in Qatar this past July. WOW! Taking a moment to evaluate some of the things I’ve learned and discovered throughout this ongoing adventure I call #InLivingQatar.
As an expat:
- I’m to expect the unexpected, period.
- I know now that nothing is like how it’s done back home (nor anywhere else for that matter) and sometimes that’s a good thing.
- I’m grateful to this country for not taxing my anything.
- Not everyone is obligated to speak YOUR language. You live in Qatar, make an effort to learn the language! If you don’t speak a second language, don’t miss out on the opportunity to do so.
- Home is what you make of it. It’s the simple things from the food to the adventures that make being an expat in the Middle East oh so wonderful.
- Apparently, I enjoy shopping for things other than shoes, office supplies and kitchenware. I mean, when was I ever known to be one who wouldn’t miss a sale at Mango (my new found obsession) or appreciate Riva for the size 4 pants that fit my proudly curvy body? REJOICE!
- My savings isn’t very happy with the above mentioned self discovery.
- I simply don’t care anymore about the pettiest of things that just do not matter. I’m too busy laughing at the silliest of things.
- I’ve always had a thing for men in thobs, living in Qatar solidified it. Seriously, ANY MAN can look amazing in a thob.
Speaking of men:
- Dating it’s a coin toss which isn’t much different than it was back home. I’ve realized that when I decided to accept dating someone I probably wouldn’t have dated say three or four years ago.
- I’m still the least romantic person I know and thanks to my ex for catching on to that. =P
- Chivalry is not dead and a part of me is still caught by surprise.
- “Momken netwaseel?” or “May we keep in touch?” has to be the funniest pickup line ever! So polite yet stupid and invasive in so many ways… especially when it’s the 20 year old kids almost every single time.
- Wearing Ed Hardy outfits, I mean the whole covered from hat to shoes, never has and never ever will be cute. Walk away now.
In dealing with people:
- If you are not amongst good company, start by being part of a social group be it through Twitter, MeetUp or otherwise.
- For whatever reason, the most drama queens I’ve dealt with in this country have been men.
- Don’t be surprised that there’s just as much fake people as there is fake designer wear floating around. It’s really a global epidemic sadly, get over it.
- This may be the safest country in the world but stop taking it for granted. There are people that can still break into your car, knock on your door at odd hours and simply just not be safe for you to be around.
Here’s to another year of an adventurous #InLivingQatar! =)
AlJazeera’s The Stream will be doing a piece about female genital mutilation (FGM) and it’s growth in the west, mainly the UK, later today. I was approached to include my comments which I’m sharing with my readers below. Click here for the link to a very important story!
The fact that this horrid act continues into the 21st century says something not only about the worlds education system but also about the worlds health system.
There needs to be a global initiative to be educated people on FGM, the myths behind it and the health risks. First and foremost, this whole obsession over female virginity is absurd! FGM has nothing to do with keeping a lady a virgin, her choice to be celibate (or a virgin) until marriage does.
Second, FGM is a health risk, many die under the knife during this procedure, especially when done to girls as young as 12 years old. I was in Egypt in 2011 when a girl not far from my family’s town had died under the knife of a doctor whom was an “expert”.
Finally, and I’ve had this argument with many people, FGM has nothing to do with religion. It is not Islamic in any way shape or form. Islam dictates that only men are to be circumcised after birth if health of child allows for procedure to happen at the time.
And that’s my rant on that!