This past year has been a blessing in more ways than one. Allah (s.w.t.) has put in a position where I have not only been able to have certain experiences but I have been able to observe the experiences of others and learn from them. As we enter into a new year, I am excited to see what else Allah has in store for me, insha’allah.
Here is a list of 10 things I learned last year (in no particular order):
1) Watch the friends you keep. My grandmother always said this to me. It was drilled in me since I was a child. Yet, I have found myself in a position where I’ve had to question the company I kept and whether they had my best interests in mind. To be quite honest with you, other women have never really liked me. I am reserved (they interpret it as snobbish), I am confident (they see it as arrogance), I am outspoken and love to debate (they wish I would just be quiet, stop taking the attention away from them) and top it off I am attractive-Alhamdulillah- which makes me more of a threat. (Never mind the ugly duckling phase I went through).
2) It is very difficult to survive as a Muslim without a community. Try as you might, be the hermit, the stand alone genius or what have you but it’s not going to work. I’ve seen people try to exist as Muslims away from everyone else (I have done it as well) and I am telling you it won’t last long term. Our entire way of life depends on community. What we need to focus on is building healthy communities. Therein lies the problem my friends.
3) My feminist leaning needs to be balanced out by compassion and the spirit of cooperation and compromise. How can we have a healthy community if our relationship with men is going to be a competitive, adversarial one? Yes, Muslim women need to challenge sexist, misogynistic treatment in our community. There is no question or doubt about that. However, I noticed that I was becoming combative towards men. I have been so angry about the sexist treatment of women that it had become difficult for me to see men as allies and partners- even in a marriage relationship. How productive is that attitude?
4) Self-acceptance is a beautiful thing. I know who I am; the good aspects, the not so good aspects and everything in between. If other women don’t like me because of who I am then that’s their problem. I am not saying I am beyond reproach. I am not suggesting that I never behave in ways that are rude or dismissive towards other people (which may cause them to dislike me.) For all intents and purposes, I am speaking about those who are haters. Those who harbor jealousy and negative feelings towards other people for the good qualities or characteristics that Allah has blessed them with. The bottom line is that you need to know and accept yourself. You’ll be happier in the long run.
5) You are not promised tomorrow and neither is anyone else. I have illustrated this point in a previous post. After the sudden death of my ex-husband I realized how short our lives are. How many times do we hear this saying and how many times does it give us momentary pause? I am not suggesting that you should always think about death but you definitely should think about your mortality or the mortality others. There’s no faster behavior modifier than death.
6) Facebook is addictive. Have you been wondering what happened to me; where I have been these days? Faceook. As a result, I have neglected my blogs and don’t read other people blogs as much as I used to- which also affected my writing because other people’s blogs often serve as inspiration for mine. I am always striving for balance so I decided to take a 2 week vacation from Facebook and when I return, insha’allah, I am going to reduce the amount of time I spend on it.
7) Parenting is a job that must not be taken lightly. One of the things that has terrified me about the possibility of becoming a parent is how much responsibility it requires. You are molding human beings! I have noticed that a good number of parents have a casual, relaxed attitude when it comes to parenting. Some people have given up all together. In the Muslim community where the emphasis is on quantity rather than quality, I shudder to think what the next generation is going to look like. Don’t get me wrong here, I have met some wonderful parents who have made me second guess my not-having-any-kids-stance. It’s the dysfunctional, lackadaisical parents I’m concerned about…
8 ) I must continue to question the Islamic accepted norm. This part year, more than ever before has forced me to reevaluate the practices and beliefs that I have accepted as credible even though I have never seen evidence to prove it. I realize we, as Muslims, continue to interpret things literally, often missing the spirit of the Quran and Sunnah. We have also become obsessed with rituals. Somehow, much of what we accept as true lacks careful evaluation or reflection. Beliefs and practices has become “the way Muslims understand it” or the way “things have always been.” (I really want to use an example but I am afraid we will descend into an argument over the example rather than considering the overall message).
9) I love makeup! Thanks to youtube and the various makeup tutorials available on there. I don’t wear foundation, blush or lipstick but I enjoy eyeshadow, lip gloss and eyeliner. I think it’s fun to play around with the different products.
10) The less television I watch the better. I think this needs no explanation…I hope.