Sunday, 26 February 2012

Thank you and goodbye

They say that all good things come to an end, and, with that in mind, it's time for me to bid farewell to this blog.

I have a number of reasons for leaving. Firstly, this blog was set up in order for me to come to terms with my hypothyroidism. This blog has achieved its purpose in that sense in that I've accepted and come to terms with my thyroid disease, although at first I had many frustrations regarding it.

Secondly, I've reverted back to being interested in politics & current affairs, especially since I joined Twitter. The posts on here regarding feminism especially have meant that this blog had a sudden change in direction, and I was unsure as to what was next for this blog. I have been cotemplating this for a while, but I feel now's the right time to move away from this blog and start a new one, hosted by Wordpress. So I'm not disappearing from the blogosphere completely, and if you like, you can join me over at , which is already up and running.

I also think that Blogger is a space for personal, journal-type blogging, whilst a lot of people who blog news/politics use a Wordpress one. So that's another reason for my switch over. Also, our student newspaper called PULP recently came to a sudden halt, so it's given me the perfect opportunity to start my own Wordpress blog that I can really focus on.

I'm not deleting this blog- I just won't be posting here any longer. I've had so much fun getting to know you all and receiving comments from you. I'll still be keeping up with your blogs (hopefully), and if you want to, I'll hopefully hear from you on my new blog.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Book review: Reclaiming the F Word, the new feminist movement

I finished reading this book aaages ago but I'm finally getting round to blogging a review of it now. The book was written by Catherine Redfern, the founder of The F Word website, and Kristin Aune, a lecturer in sociology at the University of Derby.
This book is excellent at introducing the concept of feminism, why it is relevant, and why it is being reclaimed etc. It is a good starting point for all "new found feminists" as it provides an overview to the various issues surrounding feminism. I feel that I should have perhaps read this book before I read The Equality Illusion, which explored certain issues deeper.

The great thing about the book is that it is littered with quotes, statistics and examples, and each chapter ends with a "Take Action!" box that lists a few easy activism tips, thereby encouraging the reader to acknowledge what is wrong but also take action, which is just brilliant.

I feel all the issues were written about in a well-rounded and unbiased way, and whereas The Equality Illusion was more graphic and shocking, The F Word presents the issues and encourages activism.

I think that the topic of religion and feminism was explored brilliantly, as the authors explained that there are different types of religious feminsts and categorized them into four sections:
  1. Religious Reformists- "are liberals who seek equal opportunities for men and women within religious traditions. They don't want to revolutionise styles of worship, reject sacred texts or change the gender of deities. But they believe religious texts and doctrines have been misinterpreted in a way that disadvantages women, hindering their participation in religion and its leadership strucutres." This is definitely the type of religious feminsts I identify with.
  2. Religious Revisionists - "believe that expanding women's roles within the existing structures isn't enough. They look for a liberating core within their religion, reject the rest, and believe a deeper transformation is required, of religious structures and society."
  3. Spiritual Revolutionaries- "are highly critical of institutional religion, and reject religion in its conventional forms." They distinguish religion from spirituality
  4. Secular Feminists- "include those who want to separate religion from the state, and those who have abandoned religion and spirituality completely."
I think though, despite this, there are a lot of negative comments that get directed towards myself and others who identify themselves as Muslim AND feminst, as people seem to think that the two cannot coexist. I think I'll address this issue in a separate blog post, otherwise this one will be too long!

I also particularly liked the chapters on sexism, and advertising and the media, and the crucial role it plays in the repression of women.

I particularly enjoyed this quote in the last chapter "Feminism Reclaimed" :

I will leave you with a section from the last chapter, which I found to be quite poignant:

"(...) feminism is a survival mechanism. It assures you that you have a right to live your life the way you want and imagine a brighter future for the world. It prompts you to question the status quo, rather than assuming that the way things are is the best they can be. Feminism assures you that you're not alone, that the problems you experience are shared by others, and that, as a woman your concerns are important.

But feminsim isn't just about "making us feel better". It's about collective action. So, second, feminism encourages us to consider the wider impact of our actions. In other words, it's not just about us, but is about ending sexism and liberating everyone from centuries of oppression based on gender.

Feminism enables us to link together the problesms highlighted in this book and see them not as coincidences but as part of a wider pattern of sexism underpinning our entire culture- some might refer this as patriarchy or attribute it to capitalism. Indeed, as we've been writing the chapters, it's been hard to decide how to split the themes up, snce they seem to seep into one another. These issues are not accidental or individual problems- they are a pattern of structural inequality."

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Angry and frustrated

I found out on Friday that my most recent blood test showed that my TSH is suppressed and I have too much free T4. Basically I'm now HYPER-thyroid. Too much thyroxine.
Except, this time it wasn't the Doctor who told me to increase my dose. The blood test before this one showed that my levels were OK- but they could be improved slightly. I was indecisive at first, but, decided to take the risk because I *could* feel better, so I decided to increase my dose (from 125 mcg to 150).

I thought I felt better, but in hindsight, all the signs were there. It was too much. I put it down to uni stress, and the fact that I had a lot on, but at so many points in Nov/Dec I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I'm frustrated because I now have to alternate between 125 and 150 every day for two months. I hate alternating, as you feel so up and down and just all over the place. I blame myself because I made the decision to increase my dose, selfishly, just to see if I could feel better, and I ended up swinging from OK to Hyper.

I'm angry that I keep getting it wrong and I either swing too low or too high. There's only a couple (at most) of months in the year where my levels are "normal". I'm angry because I have to deal with this for the rest of my life. It would help if I began to recognise the signs of when my thyroid isn't right quicker. I've had this for almost four years now and I still can't get it right. I can normally recognise if I'm hypo but I'm not that familiar with the hyper symptoms.

I'm angry because this could continue to scupper my chances of academic success and getting a first-class degree. I was so angry to the point where, after receiving the news, I really wanted to punch somebody in the face while I was waiting at the bus stop to get home. And I'm not a violent person.

What can I do now other than alternate my doses as the GP suggested, and wait till the blood test in March? I just have to keep plodding along and try to get myself through this- because nobody else will do it for me.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The fine line between advising and judging

I still remember quite vividly the high school PHSE lesson we were taught regarding nasiha. Nasiha means giving good counsel and advice. We concluded by saying that nasiha should be given thoughtfully and honestly, so as not to embarass the person, but to sincerely advise them on something. We were always taught that the believers are like mirrors to one another, and should correct each other's faults (in an appropriate manner).

So why is it that now, I don't receive nasiha from my sisters in Islam? Why am I scared to give nasiha? I know there's a fine line between being judgmental and sincerely giving advice, but sometimes I feel I should say something but I don't know how. I feel it's not my place to say anything, because the general consensus seems to be that if you even try to kindly correct somebody, they'll jump to conclusions and think you're judging them. It's even harder to give nasiha to a "stranger" or somebody you don't really know.

Of course, Nasiha doesn't have to be regarding religion, it can relate to anything. I often hear that if you see another believer doing something wrong, it's your duty to give nasiha, because perhaps the other person isn't aware of what they're doing is wrong, plus, you'll get questioned if you didn't try to help them.

Now, I'm not saying that you should go all Haram Police on people and issue fatwas left, right and centre. There's a difference between saying "that's haram and you're going straight to hell!" and "look, as your fellow sister in Islam, I'm concerned that what you're doing is wrong." I'm also not saying that you should deliberately set out to correct other people's faults instead of your own, in fact, you should do the opposite. But a little, kind, sisterly advice wouldn't go amiss.

I'm interested to know what you think: have you given nasiha and what's your stance on this issue?

Saturday, 17 December 2011

When she was just a girl, she expected the world, but it flew away from her reach, so she ran away in her sleep

I want to share this short powerful video with you, it's called "It only takes a girl":

It made me so grateful for the gift of education. I've always appreciated that my Dad placed such an importance on education and doing well at school, particularly because his sisters (my aunties) in Pakistan weren't given the opportunity to go to school whilst he could.

The video reminded me of this quote:

"Women are one half of society which gives birth to the other half so it is as if they are the entire society." Ibn Al-Qayyim

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Conversation between strangers

Would you and do you speak to complete strangers? I only ask because, whilst at work in the shop yesterday, something strange happened.

I could see him approaching the till from the corner of my eye. I can't remember what I was doing, if anything (the shop is really quiet in the morning). He stood near the counter and stared at me. At this point, I couldn't tell what he was doing so I reached out my hand so he'd give me the bottle of orange juice he was clutching.

"Wait a minute." he said, and continued staring. I was a bit freaked out at this point. We can sometimes get weird people come in the shop, and the only barrier I have is the counter.

He then began to attempt to pronounce my name from my name badge in his strong African accent. It then became clear to me that he was staring at my name badge all this time. All the while, my hand was still outstretched.

"You are looking very nice today," he said. I blushed and looked down. I don't know how to take a compliment at the best of times, so I didn't say anything.

He looked at his friend who was stood a few yards away from the counter:

"She doesn't want to talk to me, she just wants my money! I tried to tell her that she's lookin nice but she just want my money!" He joked.

I smiled awkwardly and joked: "Just give me the money and nobody gets hurt!" I gave him his 1p change and he asked if I was from Kenya (?!), and what I was studying. He then laughed and left. I couldn't help but place this experience at the top of my "weirdest encounters in the shop" list- which is, of course, a mental list.

But it got me thinking. I was discussing this with my fellow editors at PULP on Wednesday, two of whom are originally from London and said that if a stranger started talking to you on a bus in the South, you'd label them as weird, but here, in the North, it is quite common for a stranger to just spark up a conversation, especially on public transport.

Perhaps we are too quick to label such people as "weird", but since we lead such busy lives, it's pretty rare that a customer will stop for a chat, unless it's about football tickets, in which case I shout the word "Mike!" (the name of my boss). They usually just want to pay for their stuff, get some change and go. I sometimes do talk to strangers, usually shop assisstants, and I'd normally be complimenting their jewellery or something.

Do you talk to strangers?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Eid Ul Adha reflections

In some ways, the celebration of Eid Ul Fitr is easier to explain to non-Muslims; it marks the end of month-long fasting for Ramadan. Eid Ul Adha (or "big" Eid) often catches me unawares as it's usually during term-time. I often have to remind myself and others of the historical significance of the second Eid. I always make an effort to fast every year on the day before Eid, on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, which is dubbed the Day of Arafah, as Pilgrims on Hajj descend on the plain of Arafat.

The significance of the Plain of Arafat is that it was the place in which the Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) delivered his notable last sermon. During the day, Hajj Pilgrims offer sincere supplication and ask for God's forgiveness. The Plain of Arafat is also the site where all of humanity will be resurrected and questioned on the day of judgement.

This Eid also embodies the theme of sacrifice; how Prophet Ibrahim was prepared to sacrifice his son for the sake of Allah, which is why animals are slaughtered and the meat is shared during the Eid celebrations. The Prophet showed strength in fighting off the whisperings of the Devil, which is why Pilgrims throw stones at pillars. Another message from the historical significance of this Eid is to put your wholehearted faith in and trust that God will provide for you, even if it appears that you are destitute, you are not alone as God is always there for you when your mortal counterparts might let you down.

The fast on the Day of Arafah today was much more difficult that I thought, but Alhamdulillah, it was manageable. The fast itself embodied a personal sacrifice; forgoing food and drink for the sake of God's pleasure and mercy. It is said that fasting on this day means that previous and future annual sins are forgiven, and I pray that all those who fasted today's sins are forgiven.

I was always taught that this Eid was not about giving presents or money; but more about reflecting upon God's mercy, and thinking about the historical importance of what we are truly celebrating. It's about celebrating the end of Hajj, where millions of Muslims from all different ethnicites unite. Eid should also be a time for us to remember those less fortunate than us in countries all over the world, those suffering and those facing injustice. We should also pray that God invites us to Hajj when it is our time.

Whatever you are doing tomorrow, have a great Eid: Eid Mubarak!