Happy weekend everyone! We’ve finally recuperated from Eidoween and have a bunch of fun stories for your reading pleasure. So sit back and enjoy some fierce women, romantic Muslims, some historical Hajj and a little ideal Muslimah trolling that’ll have you snorting tea out your nose.


1) Focus and breathe and stretch and Olympics. With this mantra, Amna Al Haddad is one woman I would not want to mess with.

The New York Times recently profiled this fantastic 22-year old athlete from the UAE along with her team mate Khadija Mohammed, the first female Emirati lifter to make the Olympics.

According to the article, a tough training schedule isn’t the only thing these women have to deal with. Negative attitudes about women weightlifting in their country include the belief that they’ll turn into muscular meatheads — thereby making them unattractive to male suitors. Because it’s not their athletic talent that’s important — no, it’s their marriageability. The team also deals with the stereotype that weightlifting only attracts masculine women, and *GASP* lesbians(!!!!)

“A lot of women say, ‘Wow, look at her body,’ ” Al Haddad said. “They ask me how to get lean, and when I say I weight lift, they get scared. But it’s the 21st century now. I don’t want to get married until I make the Olympics.” …

At a recent workout, Al Haddad, in the company of a male trainer, wore full arm and leg compression skins under her shorts and a short-sleeve shirt with the word “beast” printed in bold across it, a concession to tradition.



Seriously, don’t mess with a woman who can clean and jerk 100 pounds in the air. Keep lifting ladies.

2) There is nothing more romantic than receiving an early morning kiss from the Hubby — complete with shaggy hair, scruffy beard, and the dulcet sound of babies yelling. Probably because that’s about the extent of romance in our house.

Half the world away, Kamila Khan has written a terrific article about the lack of “romance” in her life for the online Australian mag Mamamia. In “Confessions of a Muslim Romantic” she recounts growing up in front of the television learning unrealistic expectations of romance:

I can literally quote you every conversation in the Breakfast Club. Sure, I was sent to madrasa and learnt how to pray, but there’s no way a Saturday morning learning Arabic could replace my Saturday night with 21 Jump Street. This is where I learnt all my morals, my standards and my expectations…

After all, from our religious tradition came the Taj Mahal (made by a male out of love for his wife); came the poet Rumi (a male truly in touch with his feelings); and from Arabic came the word ‘carat’ (to measure the size of my future wedding ring). It was impossible then for any Muslim male not to have romance in his blood, right?

Yeeeaaah… I didn’t mind getting my ideas about romance from Johnny Depp and Rumi either. *wink*

Go read and comment on her piece, it’s a hoot guaranteed to make you remember the 80s fondly and grab your partner in a hopefully baby-food-spaghetti-stain-free embrace!

3) Single ladies, listen up! You know those nights when you’re sitting all alone on Twitter re-tweeting Mona Eltahawy, or stalking random cat pictures on Facebook wondering at the ripe educated age of 28 when you’ll find that NORMAL Muslim to complete half your faith? Well, according to a now popular post on MuslimSpice, that IS why you’re all alone! Apparently, the worst women to marry include women on Facebook, Twitter, non-virgins, non-hijabis, the daughters of gas station owners, and feminists.

So instead of giving the troll more link love, here’s a mind-blowingly awesome, satirical rebuttal piece by Sara Yasin over at Muslimah Media Watch in the voice of the slow jam Imam:

You’re using social media: It might be time to axe your Twitter and Facebook accounts, because your online presence is probably warding off potential suitors. It has been proven, by many studies, that no Muslim woman can resist logging into a social networking site without making posts about getting lost in Tariq Ramadan’s eyes. Of course, all conversations held by females are useless, and men only use social networking sites for the important business of men. If you’re using it for professional reasons (trick statement: your only valid role is being a homemaker), then that might be OK — but I’m afraid that I would have to recommend doubling up on your prayer to avoid falling prey to the Internet’s slippery slope.

Oh God it’s true, it’s so true. I get so lost in Tariq Ramadan’s eyes. (I even have a signed copy of his book! *fangirl squeeee!*) Guess I’m on the hairy path to hell.

4) Hajj rapid-fire:

5) Finally, possibly the oldest recording of a Qur’anic recitation. Surah Duha as captured by Thomas Edison’s newly-invented cylinder phonograph, and set to a collection of pictures from pre-modern development Mecca.

This post received an Honourable Mention from the Eighth Annual Brass Crescent Awards.

Like every other, regular day, Eryn went through her morning ritual of slapping my face, poking my nose ring, and pulling down my shirt to stealth nurse her stuffed animals. I saw her shining inquisitive face through half slits, and she laughed delightedly at my groggy voice telling her that mama would start breakfast after I had gone pee-pee.

Falling out of bed to more delighted laughter, I stumbled my way to the bathroom. When I pulled down my pants I could barely believe what was rudely greeting me so early in the morning and I shouted in surprise. Calling from his refuge under the pillow, the Hubby asked if everything was okay. I poked my head out from the bathroom and said, “I got my period.”

For many, this is no big deal — but for me, it was the first time in two years, and a very unexpected surprise. I’ve been amenorrhoeic due to lactation, and not counting post-partum, this was my first official period post pregnancy. Now I understood why nursing Eryn felt like she replaced her teeth with knives, and why my head was foggy and pounding. When I mentioned that it was disturbing and shocking, just like getting it for the first time, my sister-in-law said cheerfully, “wow, you’ve had quite the prayer stretch, enjoy your little break.”

Prayer is central to the faith and is an obligatory act of worship that’s performed at certain times of the day. You could even say that prayer helps define what it means to be Muslim. The media loves the stereotypical image of a robed and bearded man, or rows of women in prayer shawls, kneeling and prostrating on a prayer mat — and especially, the particularly spectacular sight of millions bowing down in unison toward the Kaabah in Mecca.

Men and women stand shoulder to shoulder (in their respective, segregated sections) and perform the same motions and say the same Arabic words the world over. With a few variations here and there, the framework of the Islamic prayer is so uniform, that you could join a group praying on another continent and not feel out of place. It binds us together as a global community, provides solace, and expresses love for the divine.

Despite being the spiritual equals of men, women are forbidden to pray during menstruation — and a woman who decides to pray is told she is sinning and committing sacrilege. The way in which this religious law is dealt with by many scholars, online literature, pamphlet Islam, multimedia lecture series, discussion forums and conferences, directly affects how women understand and relate to their bodies and is also used by men to help remove women from active worship and participation in the community.


women symbol with the crescent logoThis October the Fourth International Congress on Islamic Feminism was held in Madrid, Spain.

The conference hosted over 1,500 globally represented attendees and lecturers who discussed topics on Islamic Feminism, including: problematics in defining Islamic Feminism, Qur’anic hermeneutics and feminist readings of the Qur’an, gender equality in the Middle East and Feminist Activism, and gender rights justice in the construction of male superiority over women in Islam.

One of the goals of these continued conferences is to validate Islamic Feminism as a growing phenomenon by providing a forum for intellectual discourse.  Aiming to celebrate and support women’s rights groups and organizations around the world as they work toward reinterpreting scripture, giving women an educated voice and challenging patriarchal systems that use religion to subjugate women.

Two weeks after the conference closed, Saudi Arabia was voted onto the executive board of UN Women.

Saudi Arabia. Where women cannot drive it is illegal for women to drive, vote, or leave the house without a niqaab and where there is strong, enforceable social pressures to cover. Saudi Arabia. Where some women cannot visit a doctor, travel, go to university, work or leave their homes without the expressed consent of their male guardian. Saudi Arabia.  Ranking 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity.  Saudi Arabia. Where Saudi UN officials defend polygamy by saying it’s required to help satisfy the sexual urges of men. Saudi Arabia. Where there are no laws protecting against child marriage and where rape victims are routinely punished for being alone with a man and charged as adulterers. Saudi Arabia. Home to Islam’s most holiest sites, the birthplace of the Prophet, and the main source of petrol-funded, political Islam.


Media Edition!

I’ve received a lot of interesting links in my inbox lately (thanks for sending them in!) and thought that since I’ve been knocked out with a nasty cold and I’m sitting in my mother’s kitchen with a jug of hot tea and saltines, I’d start a new feature here at WoodTurtle and drop a link roundup.

If you come across anything of interest regarding muslim women or muslims in general and would like me to review it, answer questions, or just comment on it here, flip it to me via: w00dturtl3 {at} gmail {dot} com.

1) A wannabe hipster saves the Qur’an from death by burning in Amarillo, Texas, by snatching it away from the offending Christian leader and saying, “Dude, you have no Quran!” He then ran away.   You can watch the video of the hero in action here.

2) From the New York Times, a nice article on the Muslim Prayer Room on the 17th floor of the South Tower.

Given the vitriolic opposition now to the proposal to build a Muslim community center two blocks from ground zero, one might say something else has been destroyed: the realization that Muslim people and the Muslim religion were part of the life of the World Trade Center.

3) In a country where Islam is the second largest religion, the French Senate has passed the ban on face-covering veils — which will largely affect about 2,000 women living in France. Interestingly, even though the bill negotiates legal minefields by avoiding the words, “women,” “Muslim,” and “veil,” the fines for breaking this soon to be law is:

… a fine of 150 euros ($A200) or citizenship classes for any woman caught covering her face, or both. It also carries stiff penalties for anyone, such as husbands or brothers, convicted of forcing the veil on a woman – a fine of 30,000 euros ($A41,500) and a year in prison – which are doubled if the victim is a minor.

I’m speechless. Check out the Non/No Bill 94 Coalition who are working so that a similar law isn’t passed in Quebec.

4) And finally, new brilliance from hip hop artist Narcicyst. Check out his video “Hamdulillah” featuring the gorgeous voice of Shadia Mansour and the faces of Muslims from Sydney, New York, Montreal, Abu Dhabi, London, Philly, Cairo, Dubai, Chicago, London and more.

It’s 1:24am.  It’s the 27th night of Ramadan.

Normally I would have spent this evening at the mosque performing special evening prayers as the congregation listened to the 30th and final part of the Qur’an.  Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was first revealed, and tradition holds that this miracle happened on one of the odd nights during the last ten days. The 27th is an arbitrary odd night celebrated by a majority of people.  Because of the auspicious nature of performing worship during (potentially) the very same night the Qur’an was revealed, many believe that additional acts of worship are raised in their worth, that prayers will be answered, and that the doors of heaven are open for those who are sincere in asking for forgiveness.

During my University days, I’d have a small break fast, grab my Qur’an and a chocolate bar, and head to the local mosque for a long night of worship. I’d chant, read, pray and sing — sitting with others in a dim room, enjoying the ambiance of the final days of Ramadan, the incense, the sugar rush, the tears rolling down my face.

Last year I missed the 27th. Eryn was 3 weeks old, I wasn’t fasting and the entire month flew by. I only realized that I had missed this night of power after the ‘Eid celebration was complete. I don’t think anyone bothered (or remembered) to tell me the date.  This year we spent the evening with family in Niagara Falls.  After a Timmie’s run and half way through the drive home, my heart sank as I realized the date.

So the second we got Eryn into her crib I went through my little ritual of purification, threw on my favourite abaya and prayer shawl and prayed in the still dark of our bedroom. I didn’t have chocolate, I didn’t have incense, music or the energy to chant.

All that kept me company was Eryn’s soft rhythmic snoring. Eryn, who was named after a gate in heaven.  The gate that opens especially for those who fast.