If you think that you have just one life, think again. There's the life you think you have, the life others think you have and the life you really have- three lives!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


To make sense of things I often end up finding names for phenomena that I think succintly define or describe what they mean. Here are some of them:

THE SHADOWS: where Muslim and Arab women are expected to live. The Egyptians have a saying "Del el rajul zai del el heyt". It means "the shadow of a man is like the shadow of a wall". I've heard this saying many times from my mother. Whenever I longed for the sun on my face, whenever I yearned to spread my arms and touch the sun- she would say these words and I would slink back obediently into the shadows. It is why I stayed in an abusive marraige for so long- why I kept going back to an unhappy marraige-because without the shadows I would have shrivelled up in the harsh world. When I finally left the shadows behind, I found strength and courage and the warm glow of the sun.

ENABLER: I've posted on the enablers before. They are those Muslim women's organisations who enable women to continue to live in conditions of abuse. They are so blinded by their focus on superficial symbols of Islam that they would easily leave a woman or a child to be bashed, beaten and maybe killed by her husband because of their devotion to these symbols. They are part of the women's network

THE WOMEN'S NETWORK: These are the mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers who rule the lives of Muslim women. They tell you "you don't need to do this, you just need to look after your husband and do your five prayers and be a good little obedient Muslim". They are like the enablers and they want to keep you in the shadows with them because they are afraid of the sun.

TOLERATER: toleraters are those people who smile at you through gritted teeth. They're the ones who "don't mind" you being around them. They're polite enough and some may even go out of their way to be civil. That is as long as you stay silent, smile and look grateful for every lousy morsel of attention they give you. As long as you bow politely say "yes maam, no maam" then you are tolerated. But if you dare to speak up, if you dare to question, if you dare to say "hang on a minute- I have rights- I'm human too- this is not fair" then look out because the tolerators will show their true colours. They will turn and scream "how dare you? How dare you ask for more? How dare you demand respect? We have tolerated you and you don't even belong here." There are lots of toleraters in the world. They are blind to their own bigotry.

WHYDON'TYOU: The whydon'tyuos are those people who challenge Australian Muslims at every turn to speak out, but cover their ears and turn their heads when we do. Then they turn around and scream again "Why don't you speak out against terrorism, Sheikh Hilali, rape, abuse of women, FGM etc etc". The whydon'tyous are not only blind, they are deaf too. They do not hear us when we speak. They muffle our voices but ironically they hear the crazy nutters who manipulate Islam for their own purposes loud and clear.

THE FLOCK: the Muslims who bleat and baah and do not question, do not use their heads, do not apply logic to anything. They are too busy removing photos of loved ones and lost ones from their walls. They are too busy condemning other Muslims for plucking their eyebrows or not wearing hijab. They are too busy talking about Kafirs that they have become unable to think. If they have mirrors, their mirrors are clouded with the fog of their minds.

THE HOLIERTHANTHOUS: holierthanthous can be anyone but they are usually either Western feminists or niqabis. The Western Feminists think that they have achieved equality (even though they are still struggling for equal pay and equal represention on boards and in government) and hence must speak up for their poor, muffled Muslim sisters. Ironically, their attitude serves only to disempower Muslim women. They do not reach out a hand to help you out of the shadows. They push you back and speak on your behalf. The Niqabis look at your bare arms and flowing hair and from behind their black masks they declare that they are more Muslim than you.