Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Third Side of the Coin

Prologue :
The trend started 15 years ago, but at that time it was limited to very needy families whose women had to do manual, factory work in small industries. The more educated, but financially troubled ones opted for teaching. The upper class usually did their learning and job abroad. Just 10 years ago it was noticed that 50% of the girls bagged top positions in matric board exams. With each passing year the percentage increased. Gradually the same batch of matriculate girls became toppers in intermediate exams. Girls ruled education everywhere and high hopes were pinned on them to progress further- while being offered a freedom of choice by their families. And now, in this 21st century, from doctors to MBAs, door to door sellers to front desk officers, cultured bankers to pilots, hardly any field is left untouched!
On the front this seems like good progress, but if we look at the bigger picture, aren’t we missing something? A society full of female workers- will it be an Islamic society? Or a balanced one? Even the broad minded, completely accommodating West had reservations to the Feminist movement launched for equal rights of female folks esp. for the working women. In an Islamic country where a woman cannot head an organization, a female leader was elected PM twice and same goes for Bangladesh, but do we see such example in US or UK elected govt.?Let’s dive deep into the pool of emancipation surrounded by an Islamic state.
The Story ~!~

Most girls pass out of their Grad schools, studying in co-education, confident and focused about their careers and future life. Since a lot of money has been spent on their graduation expenses, they want to make it up to their parent’s financial efforts, at least before their marriage. They strive hard for a job and quickly land a reasonable one. With the first 3 salaries, comes a brand new mobile, a drastic change in wardrobe, from the push-cart stock to branded cotton, and the drawing room furniture goes on the verge of a make-over to invite office colleagues. After the firstyear the girl decides she can no longer wake up early for office van or come back late in taxis. A new 800CC car is brought on installments. 2 years pass by and the girl starts investing in bonds, certificates and plots etc., to rent or buy later. The fulfillment of her small dreams, keep egging her to pin hopes on higher ones.
2 more years down the road and she starts having status clash with the residents of her middle class locality. A flat in the posh district becomes her target. With the easy house-financing offered by banks and a bank balance of 4-5 lacs she could actually sell their house and start living in a flat. And then one day they move out, never to look back to their locality or neighbors - sometimes even relatives. Everything becomes a ‘story of the past’- a skeleton in the closet- that is securely looked with the key thrown away.

She is now 26. The proposals start flooding in and her mom starts getting conscious of her age factor. The girl however, had been dreaming of a grand living and a status uplift by marrying in a higher class, but their family was still shackled by their backgrounds and the posh proposals could sense the difference just by talking to her parents and eventually backed out. Soon she got married to an upper-middle family, against her wishes. The guy earned slightly above her pay-scale and owned a family car. From a flat that she owned with the master bedroom to herself she went into a joint family system with a double bedroom as her only property! Feeling claustrophobic and pressurized, she now applied for a better job. Backed by her experience, she started earning more than her husband. Their status difference became more conspicuous and so did her frustration for not getting her dream life. They could not yet afford a maid and she did not have time for household chores after her very demanding new job. She expected her husband to help her with it or at least look after his personal things himself.The joint family pressures were building up from all around as eyebrows got raised at the couple’s division of homework. They decided to move out. Another apartment bought on lease by her after selling out the property she had been investing in since the past 6 years. This meant total rule on her part. She owned the house and the bills were shared.
Five years down the road, 2 kids had bounced in their lives and life took an ugly turn when her husband lost his stable yet non-managerial job, as a result of downsizing. She was however progressing gradually, becoming the HR manager of her company, being offered a brand new 1000CC car and other fringe benefits. On the other hand, while going on job hunts through websites, her husband became a domestic father. In the absence of an all-time available mother, the children became more attached to the father and also spoilt to some extent. She considered herself almost free of child rearing duties as she was financially supporting the household and expected her husband to adjust to this role-reversal.
After 2 long years, he finally got the job. From then on, they never had a good night’s sleep. Who was to look after the children? Who would provide pick and drop? Look after their studies? Who to leave them to? She had become pretty dominating by then. The children grew up seeing a passive decision power of their father, which earned him their sympathy and little respect. While the dominating and alienating attitude of their mother earned her neither their respect nor sympathy- even though she toiled each day as a woman in a man’s world; only for them.
A woman who had to face office politics at work simply because she was hard-working and intelligent enough to take the managerial positions from right under the nose of senior colleagues;
A woman who compromised her femininity by choosing to be a daughter who supports her father and family;
A woman who traded her dreams by marrying below her expectations; A woman who lived in a joint family system, supporting her husband financially and still opting for motherhood.
Yet, a woman who only lapsed on the designated duties of a full-time mother? What went wrong?
Who was to lose and how much? What was there to lose in the heavy bargain?
A girl who compromised the best days of her to life to secure a bright future, got what in return? A domesticated husband, detached children and her own frustrated soul? Was this the future she dreamt of?
Post Script
As Muslims, we all claim to keep away from the forbidden boundaries of ‘haram’, but what about the ones that are not so clear? That are left on our discretion to draw and abide by? Man and woman were not created equal and are not designated with equal tasks by the Almighty. It is not forbidden for them to work shoulder to shoulder with men (as the wives of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did help the Sahabas in gathering Ahadith and Sunnah). But at the same time it is not preferred. That boundary is left to us. Extending it, stretching it by emphasizing that Shariah does not forbid it “It’s not haram”, “It’s the need of the hour for a working couple to live in times of recession”- is actually playing with the boundaries given to us to accommodate our needs and wants.

Humans- male or females- are drawn towards the luxuries of life; grand living, freedom of choice. We are also prone to greed and corruption, mentally and monetarily. When Islam talks about or promotes a woman working safely in the boundaries of her home, it actually promulgates a satisfied female who is apt for this job more than man; a woman who is the Queen of her Empire- everyday, not getting disrespected by males in the ugly world outside.Islam talks about the woman’s whole life. It does not emphasize temporary pleasure, in this case, the facilities she enjoys as a happily earning female, working shoulder to shoulder with men and changing her future lifestyle to accommodate her aspirations.
One woman, 10 women and then 60% of the population is enough to bring about women revolution in the country that has promoted a hi-fi culture ranging from club memberships to mobile late night packages for women, lawn extravaganzas, shopping malls, face uplift treatments, brand culture, kitty parties etc. to flaunt your stuff at. It has also promoted freedom of youth in a negative way because of unattended upbringing and high media influence. One woman, one mother and one thought changes all!As Napoleon Bonaparte says, “Give me a good mother, I will give you a good nation” and “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”. A mother plays a great role in shaping the future of a nation. It is also said that, ‘if you educate a mother, you educate the whole nation’.
I am not against an educated, working mother, but doing job for the sake of your careers and actually believing that focusing on child nurturing will rust away your talents; reasoning that quality time wins over quantity time while thinking your kids will be cared for by their nannies till you return home is sheer folly! The channels they switch on, the mobiles they have, the feelings they hide when moving towards adolescence can only be monitored with your undivided love. Remember, you give birth to your children not your products or services. Your parent company can fire you, but you can’t abandon your kids. Your job evaluation gives you an A+ rating, but your children judge you negatively in the long run. Is that all worth it?

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So, what do you think about this article? Do you think that having a career can be a bad thing? Do you think that women who are home makers or domestic engineers are wasting their time? do you think that women who have careers are wasting their time? Is it better for Muslim women to work or stay at home? Which one do you do?

Asalaamu alaikum
Najwa & Nadira

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Muslim Women to Look Up to: Hazrat Saudah

It's important that as Muslimahs we have our own role models to look up to. We don't look to the latest stars, celebrities, models and politicians for our examples. Instead we look to the Muslimahs of yesterday and today. We are beautiful, strong, intelligent women with voices to be heard. Always have been and always will be. We are the mothers, the teachers, the listeners, the supporters and the backbone of our Ummah.

Her name and lineage
Hazrat Saudah (Radi’Allahu Anha) belonged to the tribe of Aamir Bin Lawi which was a branch of the Quraysh. She was the daughter of Zam’a, son of Qais. Her mother’s name was Shamoos who belonged to the Banu Najjar tribe of Medina.
Her youth
She was initially married to Sakran, son of Amr who was a nephew of her father. She and her husband embraced Islam together in the early days of Prophethood. Because of the tyranny and repression of the Quraysh towards Muslims, Hazrat Saudah (Radi’Allahu Anha) and her husband joined the party of immigrants leaving for Abyssinia. She returned to Makkah after residing in Abyssinia for a number of years. On returning to Makkah, her husband Sakran passed away.
Marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
After the sad demise of Hazrat Khadijah (Radi’Allahu Anha), the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was greatly grief-stricken. Through a number of people, the marriage of Hazrat Saudah (Radi’Allahu Anha) was decided and her father gave her in marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) for dower money of 400 Dirhams. It is narrated that Hazrat Saudah (Radi’Allahu Anha) saw a dream during the lifetime of her former husband, Sakran, who gave the interpretation that he would die and she would be wedded to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). This dream came true.
Hazrat Saudah (Radi’Allahu Anha) was the most obedient of all the wives. On the occasion of the last pilgrimage, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) had desired that his wives stay in their homes after his death. Hazrat Saudah (Radi’Allahu Anha) obeyed this order to the extent that she did not leave her home even for another Hajj saying, “I have already performed Hajj and Umrah and hence I shall stay on in my home as per orders of Allah and His Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).”
In alms-giving and generosity, she was above all the wives except Hazrat Aisha (Radi’Allahu Anha). She earned from cleansing of hides and skins and spent lavishly in the way of Allah on deeds of virtue and righteousness.
She also had a good sense of humour. At times, she walked in such a way that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was amused. Once she said to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), “Last night I prayed in your company but your bowing became so prolonged that I feared my nose had started bleeding and I caught hold of my nose for a long time. This amused the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and he smiled.

***If you know a Muslimah to look up i.e. your Mother, teacher, sister in your community, friend, etc. Send us an email at so we can feature them. Tell us why they are a Muslimah to look up to in your opinion along with an image.***

Asalaamu alaikum
Nadira & Najwa

Ask M2M: Modest Exercise Clothes

This week's Ask M2M/Suggestion is from Leanne.
Q: Salaam girls!!!! Hope you are both doing well (and surviving this horrible Southern heat!) . For the last year or so I have been preparing for the Peachtree Rd Race this coming Sunday(my first timing running it and I am scared out of my mind 6 miles is a long way!). I am by no means I skinny athletic person but it was a personal challenge I wanted to do. This weekend I spent hours upon hours searching for an outfit that would not only be modest but somewhat cute (I feel self esteem plays an important role in our lives if we look sloppy then our attitude will be sloppy ;-). I finally decided on a flared yoga pant with a tennis skort over it with a turquoise top. I was just wondering if ya'll could do something on athletic wear for outside the home or even working out in general (be it at home, the gym, etc.). When I first converted I never imagined I could go running outside b/c I had nothing to wear that was appropriate (gym clothes are def not modest! LOL) Anyways, I just wanted to give ya'll the suggestion.

A: Alhamdulilah!!! We are doing are best to stay cool in this heat. = ) We are so happy that you asked/suggested this. One, because it's important that we know that just because were Muslimahs doesn't mean that our lives stop. If you are a new shahaadah it's important to know that observing hijab doesn't limit your life. If anything it enables you to be dressed appropriately so that your comfortable to swim, run and be active. Two, because it's important that we stay fit and healthy. A good website to check out is FitMuslimah. There are lots of articles, recipes and events on this website to help support and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Your outfit sounds super cute and modest. Here are a few items that can work for every Muslimah depending upon what you would be most comfortable in. The race is today and insha' Allah you do well and stay cool in the summer heat (it's supposed to be 88 degrees today).

***Click the images for more info***

Sporty Abaya
Pants w/ detachable Skirt

Sporty Dress Top
Long Sleeve Hoodie

Queedom Hijabs

Comment and let us know what you think about these pieces. What do you wear to work in out? Would you wear any of these? Where do you buy your work out gear from?

Be Healthy and Fit!!!
Asalaamu alaikum
Najwa & Nadira