Sunday, May 11, 2014

Bring Back Our Girls

Unless you have been living under a rock lately or care more about superfluous celebrity gossip more than the real world around you then you have heard about the tragic kidnappings of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria by an extremist group called Boko Haram. Innocent girls that were ripped from their beds. This group opposes these girls' Islamic right to a good education and has forcefully detained them and claims they will sell these innocent helpless girls into prostitution. Days, Weeks, and now nearly a month have gone by and the girls have not been returned to their rightful place; with their families and within a school.

Recent news states that the kidnapping are starting to escalate. Where is the world why this is happening. Where is the Nigerian government and law enforcement while this is happening. This is child abuse and must be stopped this very second. Do not neglect these girls, their value in this world is equal to ours and it s our duty as Muslims and as compassionate human beings to free them from their horrific captivity.

 I look at their eyes and feel the tears welling up in mine. I am haunted by their faces. These innocent children were stolen. You don't have to be their parent or anyone's parent to feel love and compassion for them or any other child.  Their rights as children and as Muslims have grossly been jeopardized. Islam guarantees them safety, education, freedom, and a nurturing environment all of which have been violently ripped away by this disgusting extremist group.

As Muslims we all know that education is important, it is commanded of us whether we are male or female. On top of that women and children are supposed to be protected by men at all times. The feminists may disagree with me but I believe that men are our protectors and our providers and should behave as such. Those are huge tasks that require responsibility, nurturing and education.  As females our roles also require education, we are the ones who must teach future generations how to be good Muslims and good humans in general, and it does not mean we cannot have a real job, just look at Khadijah for a perfect example of how a woman should be. She was smart, strong, took care of her husband in every way that she could, but she was also cunning enough to be her own boss and to be successful in her business ventures. She is proof that Allah loves strong, smart women.

 Also as an educator this travesty stirs my emotions. During my time working with young children and helping them to learn my thoughts of education have changed. I now know that education is not a chore for children. I see the light in their eyes when you teach them something new or tell them about a place or animal they had no knowledge of before. Their growing minds as well as our are thirsting for knowledge although as adults some of us have tuned out that thirst in favor of less beneficial activities. As a child all the way through high school, I did not enjoy school but I loved to learn. My dislike for school was due to inadequate teachers and classmates that made my life miserable but that did not keep me from reading every book I could get my hands on and educating myself every way that I could.  I took as many classes as I could during high school, from fashion design, to agriculture, to how to take apart and repair small engines just so I could learn something new. It was a hard fight to be able to go to college but it has been worth it, by educating myself on how to educate young children I know and feel that I have become a better person that has a bigger purpose in this world. These girls in Nigeria as well as girls all over the world deserve a solid education that will in turn make them stronger individuals that will benefit their communities.

 Some may still argue that it is not a female's place to be educated, they should only be at home cooking and having babies. It's not just people in one certain part of the world that think that way either, even in rural Kentucky this mentality exists. I know how hard it was for me coming from an area where you are supposed to follow your parents traditions and work on a farm raising animals, crops, and children for the rest of your life with only a high school education or less has been. I know what it's like to be told to give up your dreams because the only thing you would be good for is to raise children. But with my education I am raising children, my own if I am ever lucky enough to have any inshallah as well as everyone else's. It is my duty as a woman and as a Muslim to protect children and help them to learn the skills they will need to succeed as adults. Although I may not be the same religion as the children I have worked with I would still protect them with my life and do the best that I can to help them learn as much as possible. After all, they were born Muslim anyways and their parents made them Christian. Inshallah in the future this area will be more tolerant towards Muslims and the children I have cared for will accept Islam in their lifetimes.

Real men do not harm women and girls. Real men will not keep a female from acquiring her education because he knows that her education is beneficial to her and that it enables her to create a better world for herself and all children or adults she cares for, as well as him. real men will stand up and fight for the rights of girls and women, including their right to a good education. The first university was founded by a woman in Egypt, if it weren't  for her where would we be now? Allah blessed her with the knowledge to create something that would benefit males and females long after her time here on earth had passed.  The individuals that are responsible for ripping these girls away from their educations and families are not men and they are definitely not Muslims, the only word that can describe them is monsters. They are human monsters that have done a monstrous deed that they must be held accountable for. Inshallah the girls are returned soon, safe and unharmed, and inshallah these monsters who committed this heinous act are dealt a fatal blow by the hands of justice.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Almotahajiba Spring 2014 Collection

While in Dubai earlier this year I wanted to get myself a new abaya and was lucky enough to find one that I loved in the Almotahajiba shop in Wafi Mall. It has become my favorite abaya, the satin fabrics are great quality and so light and comfortable to wear. I even wear it in Kentucky over my maxi dresses so that I won't have to layer 3 or 4 layers of clothing on just to go out. 

Here is their spring 2014 collection, the inspiration drawn from flowers is very apparent in the colors of their jalabiyas and the patterns used on their abayas. 

The jalabiyas are in bright happy colors that remind me of tulips and irises. The turquoise with pink accents is my favorite, also love the prints they used on their accent fabric and belt.

Very simple yet elegant, I would wear this one anywhere. 

The fabric used for the overlays on this one is so pretty, also love how the y scalloped the edges of the fabric to make look more flowing than if the fabric had been cut in straight lines.

This one is my favorite of their spring collection. I love the simple but elegant pattern they used and how it is on the back as well as the sleeves.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Porter Magazine Morocco Feature

I have been so busy with school this semester that I didn't even know that net-a-porter, a popular destination for buying fashion and other pretty things had started to publish their own magazine. While at Barnes & Noble this week looking for magazines with cute craft ideas I stumbled upon porter magazine and flipped through it. It's a very nicely produced magazine with lots of great photography and product spotlights. Although I have been trying more and more not to hoard magazines I had to buy this one because I loved the feature with photos from Morocco so much. If you see this magazine on the shelves of your local bookstore pick it up and check it out, only the magazine itself can do these photos justice. 

The black and white makes this photo so powerful, also love the traditional kaftan

You can't go wrong with camels!

This photo is my favorite, amazing background that makes the red Kaftan really stand out. 


I love tassels so much. During one of my trips to Dubai I passed up tons of pretty shaylas in favor of a plain black one just because it had tassels on each end haha!

I love the headpieces in the pics above and below, I have not acquired any headpieces during my adventures but inshallah someday I will I love the way they look.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Goals: Equal Education for Children With Disabilities

When I came across this photo on Instagram recently I felt so happy for these children. It amazes me to see Muslim children and how the interact and practice Islam because as a revert I never got to experience that. Honestly I do look at them in envy sometimes, not just because childhood was so much more fun and simpler than being an adult but because they seem to find so much joy during Ramadan and Eid that I never got to experience.

Children with disabilities are often left out of trips and activities, and in some countries/areas they are left out of schools altogether because their education is deemed unimportant. The truth is that they are an important part of are societies and it is our duty to care for them and treat them with the equality and respect that we would expect for ourselves. We know we are supposed to want for others what we want for ourselves, that especially goes for persons who have disabilities. It will be us who will have to answer for how they were cared for and how they have been treated. 

The children with disabilities in the photo below got to go on a school trip to the Kabah, that is definitely the best school trip ever for any child. Inshallah they will find strength in Islam to help them get through any harsh ways they may be treated in their lives. But it is up to us, as Muslims and as a caring society, to ensure that they are properly cared for and to raise awareness of all the disabilities that may acquire in their lives so that these people and children are not seen only for their disabilities. During research for one of my classes I cam across an article that said something to the effect of  "Anyone can become disabled at any moment on any day", and that's the truth. Any of us could suffer an injury or illness that would leave us disabled at any point of our lives. When you look at men, women, or children with disabilities put yourself in their place and know that it could be you affected by disabilities just the same as they are. 

This photo also reminded me of one of the concepts I have been learning about in my childhood education classes, People First Language. People First Language is when you change the language you use to describe people or children that have disabilities. Many of us do not realize the language we use to describe persons who are disabled, we often say "autistic child", "blind person", or something similar. The problem with this is that we are describing what they have or their physical disability instead of describing them as a person first and then putting their disability second as it should be. It is important for us as a collective society to see these disabilities as only a secondary characteristic and to describe the person that has them as a man, woman, or child first. This brings them an equality because you are viewing them and describing them as a person first, the same as you would describe yourself.

I am in no way an expert on People First Language yet, if you are interested in reading more about it here is a site that I have used often while researching the topic for my classes. There is also a .pdf file on the site that can be printed out to help raise awareness among others on how to better address children and persons with disabilities in appropriate ways.

I used this photo with permission from Disabled Muslims Network, you can find them on instagram @disabledmuslimsnetwork and facebook as well as A big thank you to them for giving me permission to use their photo.

Photo essay: Meydan Racecourse

Since tomorrow is the day of the Kentucky Derby I would like to share my photos of the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. Unfortunately, Sheikh Mohammed's horse that was going to be in the Derby tomorrow had to be pulled from the race due to ankle injuries. That makes two years in a row that the Sheikh has been unable to compete in the Kentucky Derby, inshallah his horses will fare better next year. I would like to see him be able to win the Kentucky Derby someday inshallah, the Saudi royal family has already won it so Sheikh Mohammed deserves to win too! Especially since he has so many horses and businesses in Kentucky now, it's only fair for him to get to win the Derby at least once. 

Meydan is also described here as somewhat of a fairytale, so I have been wanting to see it with my own eyes for years. Here in Kentucky Chruchill Downs is our biggest racecourse with it's iconic spires and the second most known is Keeneland. Keeneland feels like you are stepping into an alternate realm, the grounds are beautifully kept and the historic stone archways that have made their way into many Hollywood films give you a feeling that you are definitely somewhere special. 

I was so happy when earlier this year I was finally able to see Meydan in person. The weather was perfect and the sky was beautifully magnificent. I greatly enjoyed my time walking around there and watching the horses, although I was far away from the land I was born in the horses, sound of the bugle when the horses were at the gate, and some of the decor made me feel like I was right at home. 

Of course I got there early because I hate being late. I'm always afraid I'm going to miss something! haha 
I'm still not used to how laid back timings in Dubai are, I'm used to the time frame where I live where you gotta get up early and get everything done because things may close before you get there. Dubai is the total opposite, when it starts to get later in the evening around the time that I'm used to things closing that's when the town comes to life. 

Even though I had a bit of a late start because the first taxi driver I found didn't know where Meydan was. He had me switch cars to ride with another taxi driver, at least the new taxi driver had a good sense of humor and had a good laugh about his colleague not knowing where Meydan was. When I got there I took a walk around to scope the place out and went into the Meydan hotel because I heard they had a gallery of horse art. Other than some statues I didn't find the gallery but at least the hotel's balcony had some nice views of the track.




My first reaction when I saw the Meydan track was that it was very pretty but also that the inner stands and area were a lot smaller than I expected. I guess that's how it goes when things get so glamorized by the media before you see them for yourself!


When I ventured back out I checked out the tunnel where the horses and riders go from the saddling area into the racing area. I looked around for the stables but couldn't find it.

 The tracks at Meydan are the opposite of the tracks here in Kentucky. Here the dirt track is on the outside near of the track and the turf track is the inner part of the track. British tracks are set up like Meydan though, perhaps that's where they made their decision to have it that way from. Maybe it's because I'm used to seeing the dirt track on the outside is why I had such a problem with the track being set up this way. When the dirt track is in the inner part of the racetrack I feel like I can't see the horses as well. Especially since dirt tracks are usually used more than the turf tracks.

 My Dad was especially happy to know that even in Dubai they use John Deere tractors haha!

The sky was simply gorgeous. I didn't sit in one spot, I kept roaming around and getting different views of the track and observing how happy everyone there seemed to be. Even tiny children where climbing on the fences cheering their favorite horses on while they raced. I do not see that kind of enthusiasm about horse racing from children in Kentucky at all now. One thing I've always heard about is how there are seperate areas for the Emiratis and the visitors from other places. I did not see these separate areas at all, every place that I sat was an equal mixture of Emiratis and every other nationality you could think of. Perhaps these separate areas are the private areas where they serve alcohol?

Did I mention it was a stunningly beautiful evening? 

These little jockey statues made me feel so at home. Almost every farm here has one or more of them in their yard or at their entrance way. They are modeled after the horse handlers from the late 1800's / early 1900's when many of the horse handlers and jockeys were African American slaves.

 One of the great things about Meydan is how anyone can get close to this area where they walk the horses with their owners and jockeys to take photos. I definitely haven't been able to get that close to the horses and jockeys at the racetrack here.

I loved this outside area where you can watch the horses be saddled and walked. 

Overall it was a great evening and I'm glad that I was able to experience it. My biggest complaint about Meydan would be the food court. I ended up eating Dunkin' Donuts wheich didn not make me a happy camper. There was a place that sold karak but was out of karak, can you imagine how disappointed I was?!?! No one should put a karak sign in front of me if they don't really have it haha. The other offerings in the food court were assorted junk food stands. Hopefully in the future they will install some vendors with *real food* and healthier options inshallah.