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Haters Gonna Hate: Teaching Children How to Handle It

Written by Stephanie Siam

Originally published 1 year ago … sadly, relevant now more than ever. 

Our children are suffering. They may not say anything, or they may say a lot. But they hear the news. They see the headlines. They catch the sideways glares in public. But they don’t understand. They don’t comprehend why:

“Why did the store clerk watch me while I walked around the gas station?”

“Why does the airport security always stop Mom when we go on a trip?”

“Why doesn’t Donald Trump want me in my own country?”

Teaching Children how to handle hate

The knee-jerk reaction is to explain it all away by saying, “They’re wrong. They’re misinformed.” But that’s not good enough. It doesn’t get to the core of the issue.

And the core of the issue is hate. Hate bred by fear. Hate bred by violence. Hate bred by the need to be included in “us” vs. “them”.

Everywhere we turn these days, we’re bombarded with tirades of hate. Each news article is heavy-laden with comments that induce indigestion, made by people who have one thing on their mind: “us vs. them”.

It has become an almost daily exercise in patience and creativity for many Muslims. Should I wear this outside? Should I go to this place alone? Should I stop for gas in this neighborhood? Can I get a job? Will I find housing?

But even if we can’t change the reality of the way things are, we can strive to teach our children how to better deal with the world around them. And to do this, we have to start a “conversation”: the word that sends shivers down the spines of parents with kids of all ages. But it doesn’t have to be fear-inducing.

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How to Build a Successful Intercultural Marriage

Written by Stephanie Siam

wedding-silhouetteMarriage is a commitment that requires unending devotion, conscientious effort, and a lot of patient practice. Selecting a suitable husband is quite possibly the most important decision a woman will make. So much rests on who she chooses to be her life partner:

  • Will he be kind and patient?
  • Will he support me through good times and bad?
  • Will he be responsible and mature when necessary?
  • Will he be a good parent?

Factor in religion, culture, and nationality, and a woman can just about go insane trying to satisfy her need to fulfill what many consider to be an obligatory rite of passage in Islam.

It’s no secret that many Western, female converts look eastward when searching for a husband. Perhaps their attraction to the dark, brooding males of the Orient is what initially drew them towards the study wedding-hennaof Islam to begin with – no, I’m not saying women convert to Islam for their men, reread the sentence.

While there are plenty of Western, female converts who find successful marriages with Western male converts (see: Corbin, islamwichs founder and person extraordinaire), an overwhelming number of women ultimately marry men from the Levant (Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine), Arabian Gulf Peninsula (UAE, Saudi, Kuwait), India, or Pakistan.

However, no matter where these men come from initially, almost all of them share similar traits as Husbands to Western Convert Wives. And these traits can sometimes – read: always be challenging negotiations when trying to merge two cultures into one marriage.

I mean, marriage is hard enough as it is.

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The Last Sermons of Prophets Jesus and Muhammad

Written by Stephanie Siam

Is Earth flat? What happens when we sail past the horizon?

Did dinosaurs really exist? How did they become extinct?

Are there intelligent forms of life on other planets? Have they ever contacted us?

What happens after we die? Has anyone come close to experiencing it for real?

A cursory glance at a general encyclopedia shows humans have never fallen short of curiosity and wonder. Never satisfied with the present and tangible, we strive to answer questions every second of every day — even those that have been answered before!

And, no matter, what the subject of interrogation is at the moment, the one topic that always finds its way back into the spotlight of our inquisitiveness is religion. Believers and non-believers, alike, insist their truth is THE truth and all others must conform to THEIR interpretation.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, I’m not trying to drag back the dead horse and beat it all over again. This post is not going to question the truths of Islam — or any other religion, for that matter.

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Photo Credit: history.com

There are a great many people who’ve made a significant impact throughout the History of Man: Socrates, Aristotle, the Virgin Mary, Amelia Earheart, Gandhi, MLK, Hitler — hey, not ALL impact is positive.

But I can almost guarantee that no matter which influential character of history you name in a mixed group of people, there are two individuals whose existence is incomparable to the rest: Essa (Jesus) and Muhammad, may God’s peace and blessings be upon both of them.

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Making Mocktails

Written by Stephanie Siam

Mocktail (noun): Any alcohol free, non-alcoholic beverages, and specifically the non-alcoholic versions of typically alcoholic beverages like cocktails.

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I don’t know about where you live, but it’s starting to get hot here in Oman. And when the weather gets hot, I don’t feel much like eating (amazingly, there IS something that curbs my appetite). However, no matter who you are, resisting the temptation of a chilled fruity drink is futile.

So, today we thought we’d turn it down a notch by sharing a couple of amazing mocktail recipes that will leave you refreshed and fulfilled on those hot summer nights or warm spring afternoons.

First things first: you may be wondering how to create a tasty but uniquely palatable drink that doesn’t just involve mixing some grenadine (pomegranate syrup) with a Coca-Cola. Granted, the following recipes do include grenadine. However, it’s not the main ingredient.

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Call Dr. House and Tawakkultu ala Allah

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Photo Credit: movingtoalaska.wordpress.com

Written by Stephanie Siam

She sits with her rolling chair turned slightly away from the desk, listening patiently as I explain my symptoms and current state of health. When I’ve finished, she smiles kindly. I’ve seen the smile a hundred times. Not on her. On the others.

“So, you’ve been diagnosed with . . .”

I repeat my diagnosed conditions, again, more slowly this time.

“I see. And where … ?”

Again, I tell her I’ve been treated in various countries: the US, Saudi Arabia, and now Oman. I remind her I also go to the university hospital.

“Oh, so you see Dr. Maha?” She looks up, as though my seeing this particular doctor provides evidence of the reality of my claims.

“Saw. I saw her. She discharged me from her clinic.” I say it as politely as possible, but I can feel the loathing inside. Let’s just say, it was a mutual discharge.

“Ahhhh,” she murmurs.

My husband is sitting on the examination table across from me, waiting for the doctor to say what all the rest have.

“Do you exercise?” she asks.

His eyes light up. Bingo!

“Not regularly. No. I hurt. All the time. Everywhere. Everything. All day long.” I’m there for a referral. But before I can get one, I have to play the game of, “You Should Lose Weight”.

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Halalified Southern-Style Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows

Written and Test-Kitchened by  Stephanie Siam

Being from the Southern United States, I grew up on certain staples that can be difficult to replace after converting to Islam: lots of processed junk food, questionable meat products and, of course, Lucky Charms. While my heart and gut are thankful for my (slightly) healthier diet now, it’s often hard to please my nostalgic taste buds when it comes to traditional family favorites.

halal marshmallow sweet potato casserole

 

Moving to the Middle East made it even trickier to reproduce these dishes due to lack of necessary ingredients. Sure, I can find halal items easily, but now I have limited access to brands I’ve grown up on.

Of course, the times when I get most foodly-sentimental are when I a) see a long-loved favorite in the grocery store that imports American items and b) around Thanksgiving. Sure, lots of expats (Americans living abroad) celebrate Thanksgiving over here in Oman.

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Halalified Sausage Balls

Written by Stephanie Siam

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I have to admit when I became Muslim, there were a couple of things I was not excited about giving up. Pork, on the other hand, was not on that short list. Unlike many, many Southerners, I never developed an affinity for “the other white meat”. In fact, when my mother would announce we were having pork chops for dinner, I would groan and mumble, “I’d rather eat tire rubber.”

Still, as a non-Muslim, you don’t realize how many products (i.e., delicious processed junk foods) have pork by-products in them. Marshmallows, Lucky Charms (darn you, Leprechaun!), Jell-O…….I could go on, but I won’t. No sense rubbing it in your face what you can’t have anymore. (Darn you, Leprechaun….again!)

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