The Liebster Award

Thank you very much to dbushra for nominating me for the Liebster Award. I feel honoured to know what I have written has been of some interest, and I am happy to discover lots of great new bloggers out there through this award.

So here goes:

 dbushra’s Questions:

#1: Why did you start your blog?

I have been living in a really quiet way for about 6 years. I live in a rural Bedouin community so women here live a very sheltered life, we don’t mix with any men outside the immediate family. My husband goes out and does all the stressful dealing with the larger world (I know who’s got the better deal : D heh, heh, heh). We work with tourists, but I very rarely meet any of them (Anyway I prefer not to, there is a post on that someday!). I do socialise with women in the immediate family, but otherwise yes a quiet life. The tourists I do meet occasionally, always tell me I should write a blog, because they think perhaps my perspective living here and coming from the UK would be interesting to people.

The West tends to see the Muslim Arab world (particularly in current climate) as something chaotic, strange, cruel, and all kinds of other negative things. I think people often fail to see Arabs & Muslims as just human. The messages they get on the media and elsewhere are all so negative, and confusing.

Living so far from my birthplace I have also left behind my family.

Therefore, I feel compelled to raise my voice partially to communicate with those loved ones I don’t see anymore, but also to communicate with the larger world about a special Religion, a special place and people that I am honoured and blessed to live with. I am really happy to see many sisters out there doing the same particularly on the subject of the Hijab which, has become such a polarised debate, and it is important for the world to have the chance to hear from those who do wear it.

#2: Have you ever been through something life changing that brought you closer to Allah and Islam?

Well this is kind of tricky because ultimately it would be reverting to Islam. All my attempts at getting close to Allah before that were a failure because in my view I was not using the correct method. I will be posting more about this Insha’Allah but there were two big life changing moments.

Firstly a collection of experiences with Muslims which opened my eyes to see Islam as a beautiful way of life.

Secondly reading the Quran was the biggest life changing experience in my life. I have read the Bible and a lot of other Religious texts and I had come to view Religious texts as man made and faulty. When I read the Quran it was a big shock. Reading it was so different to all the other Religious texts, it was like a conversation and I felt I was being addressed directly. There is a vast amount of amazing things within it (as Muslim readers are Insha’Allah well aware) and I can’t go too much into it here. However, I will say I think the most significant overall impression I had was amazement in its consistency, and certain statements which I will never forget reading for the first time; seeing a response to theological views I had held and the dialogue about the natural world.

Nothing since has been able to match that really. : D.

#3: What are some qualities you look for in people to take as friends?

My current life situation I don’t really take on friends in the same way as I used to. The movements I make within the community are limited to family. Al-hamdulilah Bedouin people have big families. We don’t socialise outside like at Cafes or activity clubs, or even the Mosque (because it is so small women mostly don’t go – we usually have so many children in tow too…). We visit each other at home, and sometimes go on big family picnics in the desert with a Goat.

I usually enjoy spending time with people who are understanding, intelligent, and funny. Probably though more important to me is that the friend proves trustworthy, and straight. When I say straight I mean if they are upset or angry with me about something they will talk to me about it. English people are all stiff upper lip and restrained emotions, and living like that made me very sick (emotionally and mentally). I try to always talk about things that upset me now, because then you can try to deal with the feeling/ problem.

#4: What are your favorite foods?

I have a terrible sweet tooth, so Ice Cream and Chocolate (both of which I get in very limited supply now – probably better for my health!). Otherwise I really love to eat stuffed vine leaves, olives or Maghlouba which is a nommy rice, chicken and vegetable dish. I will probably do the recipe on here at some point…. I also really love Muesli and always ask my Mother to bring it with her when she visits (gentle reminder Mum : D).

#5: What is your biggest fear?

Judgement day and standing in front of Allah. In the Dunya (worldly life) people scare me most and their capacity for evil.

# 6: Favourite ayah or hadith?

Surat Miriam. I love this whole surah because of the beautiful conversation Ibraheem (alay Salaam) has with his father about Islam, and because of how Myriam feels when she is giving birth, and how Allah comforts her in her difficulty, and because of the dialogue about Isa (alay Salaam), the beautiful poetry and rhythms of the whole Surah, and how it ends (makes me shiver).

#7: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Insha’Allah in my desert with my husband, a few more children in tow, and the world around us a more peaceful place.

#8: Are you an introvert or extrovert?

I am a Frankenstein between the two. Naturally I am introvert. However, in the West you are socially trained to be an extrovert. When you are a quiet person people always tell you: you must speak up more, you should be “yourself”etc etc. You are conditioned to develop an individualistic ego. I heard these messages all the time growing up and at school, so I put a lot of effort in to learning to be more extrovert. To talk to people and not be shy and so on.

Finally now I am in a community which actually values the characteristic of being shy, so I can be myself again.

Of course one cannot always unlearn something learnt, so the manifestation is an amalgamation of both characteristics.

#9: Favourite place to travel to?

Hmm difficult. If I wasn’t in my current life I would probably say Greece. However, as that is not the case, I would say about a 30 minute drive South from my house to a very beautiful area of desert that I never get tired of.

#10: What makes you happy?

Salat, being a Muslim, most things.

Happiness is something I have learned living here, but it comes from being a Muslim. I used to be a big thinker (in a negative neurotic narcissistic way). I used to agonise over everything, I loved to wallow in self drama, wrote lots of miserable dramatic poetry and I felt depressed most of the time. I acted happy but the majority of the time it was an act, not really happiness. Being a Muslim I have learned to be grateful and to focus on the blessings in my life, so really it doesn’t take much anymore to feel happy, this is despite the fact that in many ways, on paper, my life is harder now.

#11: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would love to be more patient (working on that), more sensitive (I put my big mouth in it unintentionally all the time), more organised and a better housewife/ mother (yes I should probably stop doing this right now and sort out  my messy kitchen).

A lot of the blog writers I follow have already been nominated and written their posts, but you guys did leave a few for me (who at least haven’t posted yet…)! I would like to nominate:

Nominees just have to follow these five simple rules:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions given to you by the nominator
  3. You can choose to nominate up to 11 other bloggers with less than 500 followers
  4. Create 11 questions for the nominees
  5. Notify all nominees via social media/blogs

My Questions: hmmmm I’m not very good at thinking up questions I will reuse some : D … 

#1: Which natural landscapes (desert, sea, mountains etc) do you love the most and why?

#2: Muslimahs: Which is your favorite Surah/ Ayah or Hadith & why?  Non-Muslimahs: What texts do you read for spiritual guidance?

#3: Why did you start your blog?

#4: Who is your biggest fan/ avid reader of what you write?

#5: Do you do any writing in any other regard?

#6: Do you have/want children? If so why? If not why?

#7: Muslimahs: What acts of worship bring you closest to Allah? Non -Muslimahs: What do you do to try to connect with God – if anything?

#8: What is you favorite joke?

#9: Funny films or scary films?

#10: If you love to travel why? If you haven’t yet but want to travel why?

#11: Did you do something silly this week, if so what was it?