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The Many Shades of Modesty

Written by Gracie Lawrence

I see you’re wearing pants today. Good for you. I chose to jazz things up with a shirt and a headscarf to boot. Too much you say?

Modesty means many things

Let’s be honest here, a whopping majority of us (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Agnostic, or otherwise) do believe in some form of modesty–of course there are those outliers who believe in nothing at all–but I think most of us would agree that those conditions are not always very sanitary.

You don't quilt in the nude? YOU'RE THE PRUDE!
You don’t quilt in the nude?
YOU’RE THE PRUDE!

We women are especially notorious for scrutinizing one another and making harsh judgments, while men generally get a pass from our scrutiny.

Is that dress too low cut for her age? Does she have the body to pull off that outfit?  How can she wear that at a funeral/wedding? … 

Usually, to men, the more naked a woman-the better. Few from this gender do protest from seeing too much. And to those that are on the opposite side of the isle exclaiming that our covering isn’t enough–it isn’t like you will ever stop looking at us regardless of what we wear–lower your gaze, brother. There is no need to call the Haram Police.

While the judgments made between women can be harsh, it is in these critical comments where we decide where we want to draw our own personal modesty line–which helps us decide what amount of coverage makes us feel comfortable ourselves and in the company we keep.

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Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Scarf on World Hijab Day

Top 5 Reasons to Wear a Scarf on World Hijab Day

Written by Gracie Lawrence

In honor of World Hijab Day, coming up this February 1st, I thought it might be fun to list a few reasons why someone might want to participate in this event. (click the link to read all about it and read the experiences of others who have participated in the past.)

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Hijab is a word many Muslims (people who follow the Islamic religion) use when referring the scarf and modest clothing Muslim women wear in religious observance. The goal of hijab is to achieve a modest appearance and let any potential hungry eyes that like to scan the female form know “that this … ain’t happening”.

Actually, there are many reasons Muslim women might wear the hijab, and whether cultural or spiritual, World Hijab Day is a nice opportunity to show a little solidarity with your neighborhood Muslim female who sometimes has to go through a great number of obstacles to continue wearing a symbol she sees as important to herself, to her religion and to her identity.

For a more in depth review on hijab see Hijabology.

Now … introducing … the top 5 reasons to wear a scarf on February 1st: World Hijab Day!

Backpacker-insurance

5. To Increase Your Cultural Cred

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Why I am Not Losing My Religion to Science

Why I am Not Losing My Religion to Science

Written by Gracie Lawrence

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I have always been attracted to research laboratories. Walking past them when I was younger and at university, I would peer in as I walked down the halls. Shelves cluttered with clear bottles, scribbled labels with acronyms I didn’t understand, tools on bench tops- many whose shape gave me no clue to their purpose. What goes on in there? What is in that ice bucket? It seemed mysterious, like a secret club of sorts and I wanted to learn the password. I wanted in.

I have since worked in research laboratories for the past 10 years.

Many people do not realize, that despite advances in technology, a lot of biological/medical research can still be very labor intensive, and of course, by its nature, repetitive to an exhausting end. And although much of the reagents and tools have now become as familiar to me as the ingredients in my kitchen cupboard- there is always that excitement about a new project or experiment.

We love you xkcd comics
We love you xkcd comics

But let’s be honest. Science, I am calling you out in public- you’re a tease.

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What Makes Being a Muslim Woman Hard in the West?

Written by Gracie Lawrence

There are tons of scholarly articles that explain the Islamic stance of women- so I am not going to go into that in depth. However, as the internet is also filled with information intent on making Islam look crazy, thanks to some very dedicated groups, here are some more reliable sources for those who are interested in the woman’s role in Islam.

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But in a nutshell, for those who do not know or have the time to research into the above links, here’s a clue:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (Quran 2:228)

Yes, there is a lot in Islam that is about rights between family members (husband/wife/kids), neighbors, business partners, and even between me and you, dear reader. But those “rules” are not what makes being a Muslim woman hard, it is what restores the balance to a system that can be overrun with those who sometime take too much or sacrifice more than they should.

But having a relationship can be difficult, especially when one party is thought of as just a stereotype. And the predominate stereotype that I see about me and other fellow converts- is that we are backwards.

And how do I know that there are many with this belief? Because campaigns like this have to be launched: Not ‘Brainwashed’

For those who absolutely insist that I am backwards because I chose Islam for my life – I doubt I will do much to change your mind if your identity and confidence is built on the misconception that 1. I am oppressed. 2. I am an idiot 3. This poor oppressed idiot of a woman needs saving.

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5 Tasty Cookies for Eid

5 Tasty Cookies for Eid

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Written by Gracie Lawrence
There are many kinds of multicultural foods that span borders and cultures. Cookies are one of them. It seems natural, bite sized with various textures and add-ins, the variations are limitless. Some of us never deviate from family traditions, cookie recipes past down from generations and other of us are more like cookie connoisseurs, experimenting from one titillating recipe to the next.

Many converts from Christianity have memories of making cookies and dessert bars during holidays to share with neighbors, family and friends. Sometimes they are gifted in festive decorative tin containers and other times just in simple plates. It was a good way to bond with others and improve fellowship and community. It still is.

This Eid whether you are preparing for your traditional celebration with family or if this is your first one with friends, consider the cookie as the crunchy or chewy addition to your holiday plans.

Introducing 5 tasty cookies for Eid

1. Frosted Sugar Cookies

Soft and sweet with a mild buttery taste. These cookies are always popular because they are fun to cut into various shapes and decorate with frosting, candy coated sprinkles or small candies. Combine both the artist and chef within and spread the holiday cheer with this fun cookie classic. Check out this blogger’s version below.


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2. Shortbread with Nuts

Whether you call them Mexican Wedding Cookies, Snowballs or Russian Tea Cakes we all know what you mean. Tender, rolled in white powdered sugar and made rich by the addition of pecans or other nut of your choice, these cookies are a hit with young and old alike. Other cultures also have their own version of this cookie and with something this tasty, it shouldn’t be a surprise. May we also recommend the the Middle East version of this cookie, Ghraybeh which incorporates the aroma of rose water and crunch of pistachios. Click the picture below for details.

Ghraybeh edit

3. Jam thumbprint cookies

Variations of jams and the shimmering effect it has against the buttery crumb foundation is both a visual and tasty delight. Have fun deciding which kind of fruit to incorporate and don’t forget to pair it with the tea of your choice. The Swedish version called Rosenmunnar is both delicate and sweet. For the recipe, click below.

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4. Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate is definitely a flavor enjoyed more in some cultures than others; however, for those raised with this aromatic, slightly bitter spice made from cacao seeds it is both comfort and addiction wrapped with a neat and sometimes sticky bow. Check out this interesting addition to your recipe collection below- Chocolate Afghan Cookies from New Zealand.

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5. Coconut Macaroons

There are so many varieties of this cookie where this exotic fruit of the tropics is showcased. Some prefer these macaroons made with sweetened condensed milk, others prefer the light egg white version and others have no preference as long as it is dipped in chocolate. We invite you to try this North African variety known for its tender light crunch below.

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Cookies, whatever the variety, can be enjoyed from the very beginning, starting with your creativity in the kitchen, prepared thoughtfully alone or with family, and finally enjoyed with thanks and smiles as they are received with open hands and warm greetings during this Eid holiday.

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Follow us (upper right of the page), email us (islamwich@yahoo.com), like our face with your face on Facebook, like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About Us” page and browse other posts in our brand spanking new “Table of Contents”.

Let’s Go to War

Let’s Go to War

bomb edit

written by Gracie Lawrence

As long as war has been profitable (always), interested parties have played the differences and misunderstandings between Eastern and Western culture to their maximum advantage. Conveniently separated either by sea or ocean, it is easy for both sides to believe what is told about each other- to perpetuate mysteries that they see as not only foreign, but threatening, a force that wishes to interfere and must be kept within its exotic boundaries.

And what is interesting is that BOTH SIDES….yes, both the East and West do this with their own people for the same reason:

To rally and to control (think “We are number 1” generally a call right before it’s @ss kicking time folks)

Football fervor: I get it...you don't mess with Packer fans.
Football fervor: I get it…you don’t mess with Packer fans.

Why do we let them do this to us? Maybe at some intrinsically basic level it just feels good. To continue to revel in the comfort of our misinformation and to perpetuate it does benefit us psychological in more than one way.

It grants us a sense of relief regarding our present state

Example of things I have actually heard: Thank God I live here…phew…property taxes are crazy, but those people like to stone each other to death over there (Western) or Sure unemployment is at 50%, but those Westerners they have no sense of shame and just screw each other’s sisters (Eastern).

It reaffirms our own decisions and life choices

Example: Easter mass is so peaceful, I am so glad I have Christ in my life- those Muslim brutes just like to kill each other over there (Western) or Listen to that athan, maybe I am under “insert oppressive regime”, but I am so glad to be Muslim- those Westerns are a godless misguided people (Eastern).

It enhances our sense of superiority

Example: My Country/Race/Religion is truly the best (And by default that makes me pretty awesome… even if I really haven’t accomplished much personally otherwise).

This isn’t good people.

This hurts us, all of us. It leads to complacency, the enemy of growth. It leads to ignorance, the friend of elitism and racism. It leads to bombs and fallen towers and orphans and widows.

In the end we are all human. We have similar needs and wants. We all want our children to be safe. We all want to give our family good food and comfort. We all want the potential to prosper and achieve.  When we look across the pond at the other side and decided that they (the others) are not really people, but evil or monsters- what we are also suggesting is that they do not deserved to be treated like people either.

And that is exactly what the war mongers want.

Let’s not give it to them.

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No excuses guys, no excuses.

Have Yourself a Very Multi-Cultural Eid!

Have Yourself a Very Multi-Cultural Eid!

Written by Gracie Lawrence
eid-2014

Eid! Who knew three letters could pack such a punch.

What does it mean to a lot of people? Well, for some it conjures up memories of seeing loved ones, going to early prayer at the mosque and eating certain traditional sweets.

Unfortunately for many converts, who grew up celebrating different holidays, we may not feel as connected to this happy occasion. We may still painfully cling to lingering images of our own childhood, collecting colorful eggs in baskets or throwing tinsel and garlands on trees, and you know what … that is okay.

It is normal to psychologically associate feelings with memories triggered by events as these- times when we were closest to our families. We do our best to try and create new memories that can also similarly capture the feel good events of our past- whether with new Muslim friends, new spouses or growing families.

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And so we celebrate these Muslim holidays sometimes hesitant, not wanting to create bid’ah ( Also know as innovation in religion. Bid’ah in Islam is considered a deviation and a serious sin) and yet only familiar to celebrating holidays in a certain fashion, the way in which we were raised.

One area new to many converts that begin to mingle with Muslims outside of their culture is the Eastern cultural practice of Eidia or Eidie. Eidia is money that is handed to women or children during Eid that can range from a few cents to hundreds of dollars and is given as a gift instead of an actual present wrapped in ribbons and bows.

Memories....from the corner of my mind....
What can be inside? Don’t shake it too hard!

Generally reserved for family including extended family members- depending on the culture it may also include neighborhood children that visit houses door to door wishing happy Eid in exchange for a few cents.

For new converts, depending on their own cultural upbringing, it can be strange to see people pass out money- generally, much effort and consideration is put into finding a loved one an actual object that we believe may be cherished or enjoyed.

In fact, in many circles handing out money may be seen as kind of insulting– a kind of whoops, we forgot about you – so here is some cash or the awkward … don’t know you so well third cousin, once removed, here, have a gift card.

This “cash-as-an-after-thought present” is not the perception in many Eastern cultures where the extra money can be used not only in the purchase of the rare indulgent treat of choice, but more often than not, as money that can be used to fulfill a basic need (such as paying an electric bill) or fulfill other social obligation … such as giving your Eidie money or Eidia to someone younger or more in need than yourself.

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Kids will be lining up all “Happy Eid good sir…..”

However you chose to celebrate the upcoming holiday, sharing tokens of friendship and kindness that puts happiness in the heart of another Muslim is always a good deed pleasing to Allah.

So if you are a converts, don’t look down on someone who is handing out cash. If you are a born Muslims, understand the consideration that went into a finding the right gift, if it is not cash.

However you decide to spread cheer, whether you choose to do that through passing homemade sweets, treating another with a thoughtfully wrapped gift, passing out Eidia or just sending smiles, salams and a “Happy Eid”, it always tends to make the season bright.

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This Eid let’s take time to reflect, be grateful for what we have been blessed with, praise Allah, and enjoy.

 

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Follow us (upper right of the page), email us (islamwich@yahoo.com), like our face with your face on Facebook, like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About Us” page and browse other posts in our brand spanking new “Table of Contents”.