May 30, 2011

Vacay Episode One: Get Out Of The Pool You Veiled Woman! Oh, JK, My Bad!

So I really don't know what to write about vacation but I'll just start with what stuck out right from the start.

The trip was short, Well, once we got out of Hurghada it was. We had to make a few stops. Goggles for E, the bank, Drinks and gum, We even stopped to get new sandals for the kids. I opted for a pair of Stan Smiths. Two hours later, we arrived. I had made a playlist and sang along the whole way, so it flew by.

The entrance was pretty and we checked in, soon we got our rooms, 2 adjacent ones with patios, right near the pool. It was about 3 pm and the kids wanted to go swimming so we went. I donned my hijabi swimwear and suncreened the kids up and off we went to the pool.  Right off the bat, it was clear that while there weren't a ton of guests, we were the only Egyptian family.

I dipped my foot in, it felt warm and Zayneb had already jumped in.  I eased in and was filled with that rush of happiness and excitement. Not a minute in the pool and one of the men working there asked me to get out. At first he said it would be a problem with the guests, then when I said we go to plenty of hotels and it's not a problem, he said it's a rule , only 1 or 2 piece suits. So, dejected and meekly, I got out. I sulked a bit in disbelief on a nearby chaise long and the girls commiserated and said how unfair it was. I was just thinking, really? I'm going to spend 5 days on the sidelines? I went back to the room to change because I wasn't happy to sit there, wet. E was still in the room and I told him what happened as I started to get my clothes. He said, screw that, go back in the pool and if anyone has anything to say about it, tell them to speak to me. I was like YEAH! Fight the power!

So I go back to the pool side and sit for a minute, trying to work up the nerve to either tell the guy to take it up with my husband or to just go back in the pool when a different guy came up to me and said, we were mistaken. In fact he called the manager and asked and said it was ok as long as it was swimwear material or not cotton.

So it was all good and I was so relieved but the whole time I couldn't shake the feeling that people had a problem with me. Not foreigners but the Egyptian workers. A couple of more times someone said that what I was wearing was not allowed (It's a big resort), but I assured them we'd okay-ed it with the manager. I really felt like it was a case of Egyptian's worrying about appearing too Muslim in front of the foreigners when I found the foreigners to be quite unfazed, friendly and smiley. I actually enjoyed breaking a stereotype or two when I'd ask one of them for the time in English. None of us wore a watch or brought our phones to the pool or the aqua park. I love the look of surprise/confusion when they heard me :).

 I got a lot of stares but I didn't let it spoil my fun. I had a blast. Even just at meals people would stare just unabashedly. I thought to myself, a lot of these tourists come to the resort on holiday straight from the airport and I might be the only Egyptian woman they see on their trip. I made it up in my head that they would go back home tell  all their mates at the pub they saw a real live Muslim woman , swimming! And, get this, she wasn't oppressed and she had fun and went on water slides and wore Adidas to dinner!

I've since learned from a discussion I had with some local women, that there are a lot of places here that don't allow women in hijab to swim. Some won't even be given sunbeds or enter the beach area! What on earth, right? This is Egypt! If someone has a problem with hijab, they are in the wrong country.

It's also a class issue. You'll notice that the more well off people are in Egypt, in general, the less hijab is observed. So in swanky country clubs or "nadys"  and in high end resorts, a lot of the time you'll run into this problem. I think if they allow women to sunbathe topless or in next to nothing, they should let me wear whatever the heck I want. I do realize that I was allowed to wear what I wanted but the fact that there was a snag and that it happens so often is a problem.

What do you think? Is there really any problem with swimming covered up or is it just Egyptians assuming that foreign guests will have a problem with it? 

May 29, 2011

Vacation Pics

I'm far too lazy to write much right now but I wanted to share some photos with you all. It was really fun and relaxing. Two things every vacation should be.




















May 23, 2011

Vacation

So school is out and we're off on a little vacation, not too far from here. A little rest and relaxation is in order, not to mention, some fun!.  I decided against taking my laptop, I think that's for the best. :) I'll be sure to post pics and tell you all about it when I get back.

May 19, 2011

PINTEREST!

You guys. I love this site. Pinterest.com. It's my new obsession. It's so much fun and, I warn you, addictive. 

Basically you "Pin" things, images, to your "Boards" You could browse for hours on there looking at such cute, pretty, inspiring things.


You can also pin things from any website, with their bookmarklet and upload pics from your computer.

Here's my page . I've already been inspired to make a couple of DIY projects.

This ruffle pillow, I ran out of fabric and I don't have a sewing machine so don't make fun!


Also these paper roses. I just stuck it on the fridge like a little kid.





There's also lot's of pretty food and home pics, fashion, people, tons of stuff. They also have an app so you can pin things anywhere.

You can join by "requesting an invite" Which takes a while, I'm told, or I can invite you.  Don't blame me when you can do little else!

May 18, 2011

What Do You Think Of This?

*UPDATE BELOW*



I'm told this sign is new, at City Stars Mall in Cairo. Let's see now, left to right, shall we?

No skateboarding. I'm assuming that includes skates and scooters. No complaints from me, I think they are annoying in the mall.

Next. No hand holding? What? Why? My kids just got old enough that I don't have to hold the youngest's hand if it's not too crowded so, If I'd like to walk hand in hand with my husband, I don't see the harm. A lot of men in Egypt hold hands with their buddies or walk arm in arm with each other. Some people see it as meaning no PDA's, Public Displays of Affection, meaning kissing or making out. Most people have enough common sense  to not snog in public in Egypt. I've never seen it, even here in Hurghada.

And finally, No Tank Tops? I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand I feel like people should respect the country they are in and it's culture and religion. On the other hand, a lot of Egyptian women wear sleeveless tops. Some are not Muslim. Who is City Stars to dictate a strict dress code? I heard it's owned by Saudis but we are not in Saudi. I'm of the mind that to each, their own. I can understand if some one was wearing a really short dress or shorts with a bikini top in the mall, then they can be spoken to and asked to leave.

In conclusion, (this is how I ended all my school essays)  I feel the second 2 signs are just unnecessary.

Update:

Someone on the facebook group I saw this in contacted the mall and this was the reply:

At first I would like to thank you for inquiring about the respective matter from some credible source.

With misfortune, this anti-campaigning started off by the AUC Journal; The Caravan. Some writer in the Caravan Journal, the official journal of AUC, has taken shots of the signs and wrote an article about Citystars claiming that we have established these rules/signs after the revolution. Please allow me to explain to you the factual, correct piece of information.

These rules/signs are amongst a set of 16 rules inside Citystars Shopping Centre that were created in late 2009. They are not new signs or rules, since they have been always played on the digital screens inside Citystars.


Because we are members in the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres (MECSC), which is a business forum/group for leading shopping centres in the Middle East, with malls in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, we have learned that malls are considered one of the most visited sites in town, attracting people and families from different background and age groups and in order to create an appropriate community for everyone, the idea of establishing rules that restrict inappropriate incidents inside the shopping centre is a must. Some of the rules restricted wearing daring outfits or showing exaggerated overt of affection.

We never specified a particular outfit or never reported cases or forbid anyone from entering the shopping centre. On another note, we have reported cases inside the elevator and public area in the shopping centre showing an overt of affection which is by all means not accepted inside any reputable venue and reporting such cases cannot be against human rights or freedom because at the end of the day we do not want to depress certain age groups, class and caliber from visiting the shopping centre or not sending their children to the centre.

With regards to the sign of “weeks ends for families only”, we do apply this rule since late 2009 as well and this is because we received a lot of complaints from serious female shoppers reporting that they have been harassed by undesired customers. Therefore, we dedicated the weekends for families to enjoy Citystars as an entertainment destination for a full-day outing. This rule is only applied on the street gates to filter the customers and create an appropriate venue for families, however, the rule is not applied on the garage/parking gates, so everyone is welcomed as long as he/she can maintain the appropriate ambience for a reputable entertainment destination.

Unfortunately, the reporter of the AUC Journal has not investigated the matter enough. We never received inquiries from the AUC Caravan Team about the respective matter and he even made up stories on his own, such as El Sharbatly Family is testing water since they are Saudis and that the signs have been established right after the revolution. We are anyways taking the action of reporting the latter case to the AUC Student Union and President, and we are expecting from them to cooperate in refuting this piece of news.

Ahmed Safwat | Deputy Marketing Manager

Attention Muslimah Bloggers



If you receive an email from a Carolyn Kauffman, don't fall for it. She isn't being malicious but she was dishonest about her intentions. She's emailed me and one other well known Muslimah Blogger so it's probable she's emailed others. 
 At first she seems genuinely curious about Islam. Here's here first Email:

Hello,



My name is Carolyn and I'm from Australia. I recently found your blog and it was very interesting to read it. You are a very good writer, and I appreciate your strong convictions and your stand for what you believe as the Truth in a world that is falling apart. Although I am not Muslim, I have many similar values.
   I am interested in Islam and in people who believe in it...I have been studying it for a few months, and I'd love to hear from you personally, if you have time. I am a follower of Jesus and I would love to hear your opinion on Him, how you view Him, etc. If you don't mind me asking questions--I have a few specific things that I'm wondering about. Have you been a Muslim all your life or are you a convert? Also, how does it work...like right now, do you have assurance that Allah has forgiven your sins and that you are saved? Do you know for sure that you are going to heaven? I am very curious...because I have studied Islam some, but I would enjoy interacting with Muslims more and learning more of what they believe.
  I hope to hear from you soon. Hope you don't mind if I have lots of  questions or things to say. :) Thank you! Carolyn Kauffman

The second time, she's pretty obviously proselytizing and you can read for yourself:


Hi Mona,
Thanks so much for getting back to me! I'm excited to "meet" someone that I can ask questions to, talk to, etc.
When you talk about Jesus not being the son of God, are you talking a physical son?. As followers of Jesus, we do not believe that He was the physical son of God, and that he was actually born out of a physical relationship between God and Mary. Rather, the Spirit of God gave her the power to conceive. His was a supernatural birth...and was not a result of a physical relationship. The "son of God" is actually a metaphorical term and represents the relationship between Jesus and God (maybe the term Ibnu's Sabil [son of the road-traveller] would be a good comparison to what I'm talking about). Jesus is as the servant of God--and was sent to the earth to offer salvation to mankind--to make us "sons of God" as well! He died as a sacrifice for our sins, was buried and rose again, and today He is living! We serve a living God and we can have a relationship with Him! I think that is so exciting. I'm not sure if this makes sense or not....
   Wow....I think it's so sad that you can't know for sure that you are saved, that you are forgiven for sins, and that you will have eternal life! I know that I am going to heaven, because Jesus has forgiven me, and He is the king of my life!! There are some beautiful verses in the Bible that tell us:
1John 5:11-15 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
  This is only one of many verses that give us this assurance. Another one is in Acts. Acts 10:43 --To him (Jesus) all the prophets give witness, that through his name everyone who has faith in him will have forgiveness of sins.
   I think it's so beautiful that we can have this assurance of salvation--and it's found through Jesus. He said in John 14:6: "I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me."    Of course I'm curious to hear your perspective on this as well.
  I hope you don't mind all these questions....this email got longer than what I was expecting. :)   Thanks Mona! Have a great day--Carolyn
 You can see that she's already preaching and quoting scripture. She also says she hopes I don't mind all the questions. What questions? Saying that it's sad that I don't have the assurance of Heaven, etc. How offensive. Sorry Carolyn, I know you believe it to be your duty to "save" us but, no thanks. :)

May 15, 2011

Safy!

Safiyah had her end of the year ceremony the other night. She'll go to first grade next year, inshaAllah. She was so excited for her special day.



She's such a cute little nerd. I really hope she still loves school as much when she gets into the big time :)

May 11, 2011

A Shopping Post

I was feeling funky cause I couldn't find a single abaya that I liked and that fit me so I did the only reasonable thing. Bought accessories! Shoes and bags never fail me. I've been eying a certain pair of wedges recently and fell in love with a bag that matched great. (Yea, still on that matching obsession)

Azaleia makes some great shoes. They are surprisingly comfortable.


I love the flower on this bag and its soft like butta baby.



I also picked up a new wallet, my old one was getting so worn. From too much shopping. The color I chose was inspired by Candice's bag! ;)  See the pretty lining inside the bag? I love that.

The color of the shoes/bag are a beigey-gray. They look different in the photos because of lighting but the shade is really close for being from different shops. I actually asked the shoe store owner if I could take one pair down to another store in the mall to check the color, he was cool with it as long as it wasn't his rival shoe store! Ha, I'm happy though. I usually get black/brown bags so I'm worried about this getting dirty but I'll treat it like a newborn baby.

Like?

May 8, 2011

DIY Pin Cushion

So after my hijab storage solution, I wanted to have a better, cuter way to store my hijab pins. I was keeping them in a little box and had bought many more since, so it was getting crowded.  I thought to myself, there's got to be a tutorial or 20 on how to make a pin cushion, it seems easy enough a project to tackle. So I Google-d and found this video, among others, but I this looked easy and the end result looks like a cupcake!



It doesn't look as great as the ones I've seen online but it's cute enough for me and has plenty of room for pins. Here's what I did.


I love when I find something I can make that I have the materials for. A glue gun, an empty container, scissors, ribbon, scrap fabric, needle & thread and fiber stuffing.


You need to cut your fabric in to 3 pieces, one to cover the bottom, one to cover the sides, and the larger circle is the top of the pin cushion. I ended up cutting that one smaller, it was way too big for my container.

I opted to use felt for the bottom, so I cut a circle to size.

Using your glue gun, glue the long strip of fabric flush with the bottom of your container, all the way around. Sparingly or you'll get glumpy globby bumps under your fabric.

Fold the extra inside and glue that in there.

Glue the bottom on.

This is how it looks so far.

Sew around the edges of the large circle but leave the thread intact.

After filling it with fiber stuffing, (donated generously by an old teddy bear), pull your thread tight.

Sloppily close it up with a few stitches and tie it off.

Here's the finished product. You simply glue gun the pillow top part to the inside of your container. I decorated it with some ribbon because it looked plain, with all one fabric.




Every one of you should make this now. All the materials are probably in your house. You can make it bigger or smaller.   Every hijabi uses pins. Go watch the video. Go. Make it. 

*I just made these 2 for friends, it's even easier the second time :)

Hijab Wrangler

Before:



After:


I found this hanger with holes in it, mad for storing hijabs. It's got 20 something scarves on it now and there's still room. It doesn't keep them wrinkle free but I always iron my clothes before going out anyway. This keeps them all in one place instead of all over. We'll see how long that lasts. The folded in my drawer system was not, lets say, maintained. This does take some room in the closet though, but I have room.

How do you keep your hijabs?

May 2, 2011

Thirteen

Thirteen years ago today, I became a mother. I was blessed with my first born, my son, Dawood.

He was just a little burrito and from then on, he was my buddy.



He was a good, happy baby, mashaAllah.

As he grew, his personality did as well.




Dawood always makes us laugh and impresses me with his intelligence.


I'm proud to be his mom. :)



He's become a young man.He's taller than me now.  He's smart, funny, curious, and caring. Happy Birthday Dawood!