08 February 2013
Now that my mid-year exams are over (alhaaaaaaaamduli'Allah) I have had a few days off before I start my next semester. I have spent my time being as lazy as I jolly well want to be :) I have also been engrossed in the book 'Girls of Riyadh' by Rajaa Alsanea which I just finished and decided to review considering someone on the blog actually recommended it to me a few days ago.
The book itself is a true story originally in Arabic and written in the form of emails recounting the personal lives of four of the author's close friends living in Riyadh (capital of Saudi Arabia). The emails were complied into a book in 2005 and (of course) instantly banned in the country, although that has since been lifted.
The book starts off with the first email describing the wedding of the author's friend Gamrah and introduces the other girls. Each new chapter is a new email and each email is about a different friend (Lamees, Michelle, Gamrah and Sadeem). She mostly talks about the love lives of the girls and their various heartbreaks throughout.
I have to admit, I found the first half of the book un-put-downable and was particularly touched by the tragic story of Gamrah, who marries a man who not only despises her very presence in his life but has been in love with a Chinese woman for 7 years (before being made to marry a Saudi girl to keep up appearances). As the book progressed, however, I found the continual stories of love and heartbreak of the girls with different men to be off-putting. I got bored of their lives that seemed to centre only around the pursuit of 'love' of a man, I felt sorry for them that their happiness - or lack of - revolved heavily around having a relationship.
When the book comes to an end, the author writes the final chapter regarding the reactions of her four friends to the emails she wrote exposing intimate parts of their lives. Three of them are surprisingly fine with it, except one who realises that she was the character 'Gamrah' and demands that her friend stop writing about her. It sort of sickened me that despite 'Gamrah's' pleas Rajaa Alsanea continues to write about her friend's life and goes on to publish the book, all the while refusing to write about her own personal life.
I enjoyed the book but reading the final chapter left a bitter taste in my mouth. I deem it extremely disrespectful to her friends that she revealed their personal lives without consenting them first, while maintaining that her own life remains unexposed to the world.
I give the story itself 3 stars out of 5. For her deception, I give the author zero and regret that she makes money out of this book.
05 February 2013
I was sat in this Islamic lecture at one of my mums friends houses the other day, trying my best not to get spoken to when I overheard the most interesting conversation. This women was telling her friend about how her daughter had been having difficulty for over a year getting a job and she decided that her headscarf was the problem so she took it off (for the interview) and voila, she got a job! She then went on to advise that her friend's daughter does the same thing - take it off for the interview and turn up on the first day with it on, after which the employers would not dare dismiss her on the grounds of religious dress for fear of being sued. Genius.
As she launched into an explanation about the drawbacks of hijab in the Western world my mind drifted to those wrist bands that I've seen Christians wear, bearing the words 'What would Jesus do?'. Perhaps we need to start thinking along the same lines.
What would - or rather what did - our final Prophet (S) do when he was ridiculed for his message and called a madman and had rocks thrown at him and his family abused? What did Yusef (as) do when he was thrown into prison for not submitting to the will of Zulaykha? What did Noah (as) do when people laughed at him for building an ark in preparation for a flood when there was not a drop of rain? What did Asiya, wife of Pharaoh, do when her own husband had her tortured for disobeying him by accepting the path of God? What did Abraham (as) do when Allah (SWT) commanded him to kill his own son? What did the early Muslims do when they were tortured in the boiling heat of the desert and told that all they had to do was say a word, say that they did not believe in Allah (SWT) and His Prophet and the torture would cease, they would be free and respected people? I'll tell you what they did not do, they did not sell their principles for worldy gain and not even for a second or a minute, or for the length of an interview, did they succumb even to the pain of extended torture.
We complain that life in the West is hard and that we must compromise the principles that we believe in simply to fit in and be accepted by others. How weak are we then, in comparison to the Mumineen that came before us? They would not even consider uttering a word of disbelief to free themselves from physical torture at the hands of non-Muslims and yet we consider and openly encourage the rejection of what God has ordained for us, in hopes of pleasing non-Muslims?
I was going to post iyas and hadiths to back myself up but frankly, all you need to use is your logic. So anyone thinking of taking off their hijab for an interview because they are afraid they will be discriminated against, I say go ahead and do it, trick your employers and laugh at them when they offer you the job. Just remember this, that which causes your heart to stir with fear and makes you change yourself is what you are truly and utterly at the mercy of. I really do hope then, that your prospective employers are all-merciful and infinitely compassionate.
(Just a side note: I've had quite a few interviews over the past 4 or 5 years and the only time I have been rejected was once, about a year before I put on the hijab.)