Muslim

It's been a while...

Hey y'all!

A few things have been going on so I thought I'd share a few links, thoughts and announcements... 

1. I wrote this piece after attending an Iftar with the Prime Minister of Australia, the first Iftar held by a sitting PM in the history of the nation.  It was also in response to some pretty vicious reporting following the event... check it out here!

The fallout has been pretty rough, and has definitely provided lots of food for thought. I'm still ruminating but hope to share some reflections soon. Stay tuned inshallah.  


2. I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the lovely Meri Fatin for Cover to Cover WA talking about 'Yassmin's Story' and the process of writing a book. It was broadcast on Westlink TV a little over a week ago. Check out the video below!


3. I started a new Instagram! It's very self indulgent...

*chuckles*

@HijabKween is where I'm sharing my hijab/turban styles, fashion influences and bits and pieces of inspiration that I collect on my travels. Hit a sista up!

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4. Junkee let me reminisce about the last year. Subhanallah, it has been a full year, Alhamdulilah! Check it out here...but more importantly - if you'd like a nomination for Junket let me know - and nominate someone you think is cool for Aus or Young Aussie of the year! It's how we recognise those changemakers around us! <3 


5. Amaliah are doing this really awesome thing where their readers 'takeover' their Snapchat for a day and show what Ramadan looks like in their world! Follow the account below...I'll be doing a Ramadan Takeover on the 29th of June inshallah! Watch out for it! 

SNAPCHAT YO.&nbsp;

SNAPCHAT YO. 


6. Still haven't picked up your copy of 'Yassmin's Story'? Well, fortunately for you, Mammia Mia posted an excerpt (a particularly angry one, haha!) here.  Check it out...then BUY THE BOOK! *grin* *angel face* #MyHijabCoversMyHaloRight? :D 


7. I'll be cruising around Switzerland, The Netherlands, Berlin and Uganda over the next month inshallah. Follow my travels on @yassmin_a (twitter, snapchat and insta), but if you're in these areas and you'd like to catch up and say hello, holla @ me! Email yas@yassminam.com - I'd love to meet you inshallah, and bonus points if you have a copy of the book for me to sign ;) 


8. Last note... this is what I wrote on my FB wall today. Food for thought.

 

  

Guest Blog: A Matter of Being Heard

This is a guest piece by Iman Salim Ali Farrar, the young Muslim lady who is the 2015 YMCA NSW Youth Parliament Premier.  I'm honoured to have her poignant contribution to the blog. 

I was fortunate enough to be elected by the youth delegates as Youth Premier of Queensland in 2008 and it fantastic to see Iman in a similar position this year in NSW.  Chyeah! 

IMAN SALIM ALI FARRAR

IMAN SALIM ALI FARRAR

There comes a point in the hub-bub of everyday politics when the discussion on real issues which face our vast communities seems to give way to disjointed partisanship and strong-arm showmanship. Thus, this shows a neglect of the voices which often need to be heard most. Certainly, the lack of balanced and nuanced debate surrounding such issues by our nation’s leaders has heightened deep visions, sensationalized trivialities and disenfranchised many, particularly the young, from mechanisms of political institutions.

Now, it is with great humility and respect that I was provided with the opportunity to lead this year’s NSW YMCA Youth Parliament as the NSW Youth Premier for 2015. The Youth MPs I had the pleasure of working with are some of the most intelligent, outspoken, talented and politically active people I know; I could not be more honoured, and I thank them sincerely for entrusting me to lead them.

Throughout my life, I have lived across four continents and five different countries; I have traveled and I have been immersed in several different cultures, however, due to this, I was never able to fully settle and develop any deep attachment to call anywhere home. I will not deny that this gave me a realisation beyond what I was exposed to in my home and local area – it showed me the different governing systems, the different values and the inherently different lifestyles that came with that. It developed the value that I now have for the many cultures of the world, but I have never felt more at home then I do here in Sydney, Australia. I may have a British accent, I may not have been born here, but my Australian identity is as strong as anyone else’s. I am a migrant, in fact, besides the indigenous, we are all migrants to Australia, and we have all adopted this place as our home. When you see me, you wouldn’t guess that I am half English, and half Malaysian, that I speak 3 languages and can read and write in another two which I do not understand, and that I am a very, very passionate young woman who will not stand to be discriminated against, especially based on my identity as a Muslim or a woman. I may not look or fit any stereotype of anything that you may have in your mind – but against all the odds; of both a society often fearful of Islam and of a society that does not value the opinions of the youth nearly as much as they should, I am still proud to call Australia my home.

Iman with QLD's Former premier, Anna Bligh. &nbsp;Reppin' QLD!&nbsp;

Iman with QLD's Former premier, Anna Bligh.  Reppin' QLD! 

I preach for diversity. For it to be fully accepted in society, in managerial positions, in educational standards, and in State and Federal Parliament, and for it to not be a point of discrimination. I believe that it is about time that our Parliament reflects the diverse and multicultural nature of our population. I preach for diversity to be realised, for our true multicultural society to reflect on this notion of diversity, and for our youth and broader society to have their say on matters that affect them, on issues that they have the ability to put forward resolutions for.  As a woman, it fills me with great joy to see that 60% of the participants in this year’s NSW Youth Parliament are women. It is even more impressive that out of the Government Executive in the Legislative Assembly, 4 out of 5 of the executive positions are filled by some of the most inspirational young women I have met in my life who have such drive and passion for positive change in our society. Not only are we challenging the statusquo represented in current state and federal parliament through closing the gap of women in powerful positions, but we also encompass the multicultural nature of New South Wales that we have all come to embrace.

Through grassroots’ apolitical forums such as YMCA NSW Youth Parliament, the voices of this State’s young leaders are allowed to cut through much of the clutter and put into creating legislation and open debate regarding the issues facing their own communities as well as broader society. I believe that it is pivotal to acknowledge that this is not a matter of small significance. Rather, the Youth Parliament program kindles that political awareness and superb quality integral to the next generation of our states’ leaders – ensuring the future burns even brighter than the past.

And who said we, the youth, don’t have a voice?

It is simply a matter of being heard.

-- 

This is a guest piece by Iman Salim Ali Farrarthe young Muslim lady who is the current 2015 YMCA NSW Youth Parliament Premier.  I'm honoured to have her contribution to the blog and stoked to see more and more young Muslim women doing awesome things and leading with compassion, integrity and vision.

Iman Salim Ali Farrar

Iman Salim Ali Farrar


Call out for Muslim Ladies

Muslim ladies in the house!

I have received an interesting email from a lovely researcher by the name of Maria who would like you to be involved in a project to support (!) Muslim women. 

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Invitation to participate in a project to support Muslim women

If you are a Muslim woman between the ages of 18 and 35, you are invited to participate in an exciting new research project, Beyond hostility and fear: listening to Muslim girls and women.

The research is being conducted by Maria Delaney and Amanda Keddie from the University of Queensland. 

We would like to share the stories of Muslim women and girls for an Anglo-Australian audience to dispel some of the ignorance in the Australian community about Islam.  

We are sure you would agree that this is important research - Muslim women often bear the brunt of Islamophobia, their voices often silenced and their stories crucial to generating more peaceful relations.  The research would involve an informal and friendly conversation about being a Muslim girl/woman in Australia. 

It would highlight difficulties and problems but also hopes and opportunities. The stories might be funny stories... exasperating stories... disturbing stories... (We will provide some questions that might be a useful guide here).  

We have had a lot of previous involvement with people from Muslim communities, so we believe that you would feel comfortable talking with us.

Also, your participation would be completely anonymous, so you can feel comfortable about sharing your stories.

If you would like to be involved, or if you have any questions, please contact Maria at delaneymt@gmail.com  or 0423193935
 
Best wishes, 
Maria 
 
P.S. You can find out about us on our websites:

Maria Delaney www.socialchangeagency.com.au 

Amanda Keddie  http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/1458 

***

I think it would be awesome if as many of us got involved as possible. If you are nervous or have questions, email me, otherwise email Maria directly!

Best of luck inshallah.

 

Niqab wearing women and their professions

The niqab, burka and things women women use to cover their heads and faces due to faith are of great fascination for much of Western society. Much of the commentary precludes opinions from the ‘primary source’ (women who wear these items of clothing), and as such there are significant and often damaging assumptions made about the subjects.

‘Subjects’ is an uncomfortable but apt term, as many niqabed Muslim women are seen as foreign objects of curiosity and conjecture.   They are rarely ever perceived as human women who have hopes, dreams, kids, families, gardens, laundry and all the same dramas as every other human.

So given the fact that I don’t wear the niqab, what gives me the right to talk about this topic?

Nothing really, to be honest, and I do my best not to talk on behalf of, but to hopefully propose alternative narratives in an effort to change perceptions.  This post is one such example.

As you may or may not know, I spent the first half of 2012 in Sudan with my grandmother, learning how to cook, become a ‘good housewife’ and studying Arabic at the local university.  The university I went to, unbeknown to me at the time, turned out to be an Islamic based - and very traditional - institution for international students from all over Africa. This meant that the classes for men and women were separated and many of the women were from all over Africa, rather than just Sudan.

I was fortunate enough to befriend many of my fellow classmates, although it was an interesting experience as our life experiences were very different!  Funnily enough, because we were in an all-women class, all the ladies would remove any niqabs they wore and many would have their hair out (the 45 - 50 degree heat wasn’t conducive to many layers of clothing). As such, my ideas of them were not founded around what they wore but their varied personalities and stories.  I’d actually forgotten they all wore niqabs until I saw the following photographs on a former colleague’s Facebook page:

What are these photos, you may be asking? Are we seeing women being trained up for some crazy operation that we don’t understand?

No, what you see are African (Ugandan and Nigerian) women being trained as mechanical engineers and technicians.

Not only do these women have to brave the standard ‘women in engineering’ perception, they have to do so in an extremely hostile and patriarchal culture.  They learn how to take apart engines, weld and manufacture equipment, and do so with flair.

It is inspiring.

They’re smart and driven, but also feminine and devout. Sure, it isn’t easy. There is no denying the difficulties… but these are examples of women who do almost everything they want to, and what they wear in no way oppresses them.

Kinda cool huh? Glad you clicked? I am too :)

We all just need to chill...

Guys, what Australia is this?

"A woman has been left traumatised after her head was smashed into the side of train carriage during an apparent racial attack in Melbourne's north.

The 26-year-old victim was on an Upfield line train outbound on Thursday night when she was approached by another woman, who began hurling abusive and racist remarks.

The woman grabbed the victim by the neck and hair, and forced her head into the wall of the carriage several times.

She then pushed the victim off the train as it rolled into Batman Station in Coburg North."

Source, The Age

***

It cannot have come to this.  We're so much better than this, really, we must be.

Yes, there are terrible things happening in the Middle East, but let that not destroy us from within.

I wish I could be witty and satirical at this point, but it would only serve to sound a little bit jaded. A fellow rig guy said to me once: "the things is, you can make a terrorist joke...but we don't know if you're kidding or not."

Talk about majorly awkward.

I could focus on the negatives, and there are a lot.  Check out Media Watch's wrap up if you'd like some proof.

However, instead, I choose to focus on the fact that even though there is a lot of misinformation and hatred out there (which does not deserve traffic from my blog, no matter how meagre, so won't be linked!), there is also a lot of good.

Follow the hashtag #WISH on twitter, and check out some of the empathy and solidarity shown.

Meet some regular Aussie Muslims here.

If you're curious, check out my new favourite Tumblr that is about Sharia, PartyTilFajr. 

 

 ***

In other news...

A child is just about to get his first taste of Formula 1.  #SoManyFeels.  Okay, calling him a child may be a bit harsh and petulant.  The young teenager then...

The Dutch racing driver is set to become the youngest on the track during an F1 weekend, three days after his 17th birthday.

I guess there is nothing like some F1 familial pedigree to ensure your rear end gets a seat.

As much as I adore / love / live for Formula 1, there is no doubting the decadent and brazen level of nepotism and elitism that exists within its ranks.

Yet, we keep coming back...

 

What is a moderate Muslim anyway?

16

This post was originally written for the Attorney General's blog, 'Living Safe Together'.  Given recent events, I thought I would publish it here as well.  It seems a little incongruous now, given the urgency of the current discussion, particularly around young Muslims in Australia...but I will let you be a judge of that.

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‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me...’

A fine sentiment, but one that is not quite accurate, particularly when it comes to being labelled by society. An entire life being pigeonholed by a set of criteria you haven’t chosen can be uncomfortable and at times, counterproductive. The effect may be quite unintentional; although words like ‘radical’, ‘extreme’, ‘fundamental’, are obviously polarising, even tags like ‘moderate’ or ‘mainstream’ are descriptors chosen by others to describe the Muslim community and individuals within it – tags that don’t necessarily sit well with Muslims themselves.

It’s easy to labele someone - myself, for example - a ‘moderate’ or ‘mainstream’, as if that is a compliment, as if that indicates that I am not like ‘the others’; those ‘crazier’ extreme types that wish harm on the country and culture we live in.

However, what does moderate or mainstream mean exactly? Does it mean that my brand of Islam or practice as a Muslim is inoffensive enough to not make those around me feel uncomfortable? Does it mean I have given up just enough of my beliefs and culture to become ‘mainstream’, whatever that means in Australia? Does it mean I don’t follow the ‘fundamentals’ of the religion, as otherwise I would be seen as a ‘fundamentalist?’ These are not necessarily easy questions to answer, and not meant to be taken as accusations, but the importance of semantics in this discussion should not be underestimated. Labels have a way of being a self-fulfilling prophecy, for better or for worse.

Being described as moderate stirs up conflicting emotions. On one hand, appreciation of the fact that ‘we’, as Muslims, pose no harm, juxtaposed against an annoyance that this is a sentiment that needs to be expressed. On the other hand, it arouses an uneasiness about being described as ‘average’, in intensity or quality. It implies that well, we’re not a very good Muslim at all. We are just average, and average is all that is acceptable. To be any more devout or religious would be straying into ‘fundamental’ territory, and society can’t have that.

It must be acknowledged that of course, in a land of policy writing and position statements, well-understood labels are the easiest way to describe a group. Labels are the symbolic monikers, shorthand for definitions the community understands. However, across the board that has the potential to make us lazy in our thinking about the people we are talking about. It poses the danger of giving us the space to fall into well-worn thinking patterns, patterns which will only ever produce the same results they always have. To change an entire discourse is no simple matter though, and so it requires careful reflection and a healthy dose of pragmatism. How do you change what a word means to a community?

What is needed is a fundamental shift in thinking. Underlying the conversation is the understanding that there are ‘extreme’ Muslims, and ‘moderate’ Muslims. However, perhaps it should be understood that there are ‘extreme’ Muslims, and then, well, just Muslims. In the same way that there are Christians and Jews, and then there are extremes in both - the same concept applies. There is no one moderate Muslim community. In fact, there is no one single Muslim community at all; that is part of the richness of the faith. However, one view that is widely prevalent among various groups is the reluctance to be framed by a label that has been bestowed on us in an effort to determine friend from foe.

What needs to be remembered is that we (Muslims) are all part of the community as well, and are in invested in seeing it remain a safe place for us all to live in. Rather than frame the conversation in a dichotomous fashion, we (Australian society broadly) should focus on supporting each other and the young people in our community. Empowerment can be found in fulfilment through education, religion, meaningful employment and providing reasons not to become disengaged and disenfranchised. Obviously there is more to the story, but we must start somewhere. It’s the same in any community - those who are vulnerable are those most likely to fall prey to manipulation. If they do, it is a failure on us as a society and as a community for failing to support and enabling growth in a constructive way.

Those that are currently feared may be the very ones that need our help the most.

SBS Comment: I'm an undercover hijabi too?

Check out this piece I wrote for SBS Online!

When I'm at work on the rigs, it turns out I'm an undercover hijabi.

The experience I have reflects what blogger Leena talks about in her piece 'I took my hijab off for a day'. She describes a complete shift in the way she was perceived by society after she accidentally covered her hijab up with a knit hat and scarf.

The style of hijab I usually wear is flowy, full of tassels and in some ways an occupational health and safety hazard around heavy machinery. While on site I wear a head covering that has been described by coworkers as a 'tea cosy'; a beanie and bandana combination similar to a style favoured by Egyptian ladies. I wore it for a while without realising my coworkers didn't see it as a religious head covering.

I was loving the fact that I wasn't experiencing the racisim in country Australia that I had expected. This fantasy was ubruptly burst when a colleague asked if I ever took the tea cosy off.

'Nah,' I replied easily. 'I'm a Muslim woman, this is what I wear as a hijab on the rig.'

A look of confusion crossed his face and the topic was dropped. It didn't take me too long after that to join the dots.

'Hey, you know I'm Muslim, right?' I asked another fellow that I'd become friends with.

'What? Really? Nah I didn't know...'

'Oh, well why do you think I wear this?' I asked, pointing at my head.

'Oh, I thought it was a fashion thing, or maybe for safety ...'

Like Leena in her piece, this left me feeling confused. The next day, I wore a full hijab (the traditionally wrapped kind) to the crib room for breakfast. You could have been forgiven for thinking people thought I was a completely different person.

It wasn't until I began interacting like the loud, feisty person I always am that people warmed to my presence. The experiments was repeated at a bigger mining style camp and again, the difference in attitudes was startling.

With a beanie, you are just a chick who is cold. With a headscarf, you are the new local tourist attraction and smiles are returned only occasionally and almost fearfully. Suddenly, you're are a foreigner in your own home.

Being a hijabi in the West has its challenges. You're extremely visible as a representative of the religion and people on all sides of the fence see it as their role to police, have an opinion, and a right to comment on your choice. You are constantly asked to justify the actions and mistakes of every extremist that chooses to do something crazy and inhumane in the name of your religion. These are roles that we hijabis have simply become accustomed to filling, part of the deal in a way.

To get a 'get out of jail free card' by wearing something not recognisable gives me mixed feelings. Occasionally, it feels like cheating to be wearing something that people don't associate with Islam for practical reasons while also working to fulfil the conditions of my belief. At the same time, religion and politics are two topics that are avoided like the plague in any blue collar crib room, and so keeping it as personal as possible is a natural default in this environment.

It would be fair to argue everyone should be accepting regardless of what kind of head covering is worn, be it a beanie, a hijab or a ninja-style niqab. Realistically, many are just not ready yet for such changes in their environment and find hijab - for better or for worse - confronting. An effective response is akin to tailoring a message for different audiences: if a group is not at all primed, they'll close their minds off completely to confrontational messaging. The hope is that perhaps as my colleagues now see me as a person first, the common ground found will help reduce ignorance and forge understanding.

When I'm not on the rig, I go back to wearing my classic brightly coloured flowing pieces. They feel like 'me', a part of my identity, something I do for God and an external representation of my faith. It is interesting to consider how many interactions have been missed because people have already made their decision on what I represent based on the type of wrapping I have used on my head.

My way around it at the moment? Grabbing every opportunity to chat to those people, and the more traditionally dressed I am, the better. A slightly inappropriate joke, or a comment about my love of motorsport and knowledge of engines usually shocks them enough for them to forget what I look like for a moment and be drawn into a chat. Then, everyone wants to know what the bikie and the hijabi are laughing uproariously about. Nothing breaks down barriers in Australia like a well timed self deprecating joke.

It may not be perfect, but until all facets of our society become comfortable with seeing displays of faith like the hijab and what they represent, we may have to be more creative about our engagement and representation. After all, to be seen as a foreigner in the only country we know as home is a lonely place indeed. It is a two way street though, and ultimately, it is all about finding the place where we belong in the patchwork fabric of Australia's identity while holding (and displaying) the true values of Islam and faith dear.

 

Crazy Rig Conversations: Part 8

00-2 One of my favourite parts about working out on the rigs is the crazy/hilarious/random/unexpected things people say.

Here are a few of the gems of conversations I have been a part of recently!
NB: In the interests of privacy and what-not, I have referred to individuals as Old Mate, or OM for short.
***

We were having a conversation about various types of dancing. I was horrified (actually, slightly mollified) to find that most of the fellas had absolutely no idea what twerking was.

OM: What is it aye? Twerking, never heard of it!?

OM2: Mate when I first heard the word I thought it was that game you play on ice where you throw that thing… (he was referring to curling). It’s pretty much just hip thrusting man!

OM3: It’s Miley Cyrus aye

Me: OMG MILEY CAN’T EVEN TWERK SHE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE ANYTHING THERE

They didn’t really understand why I was so upset about that. Actually…I don’t think I understand either…damn you Miley!

***

OM: Melbourne hay? I see the place as 5 million latte, Frappuccino sipping yuppies really. That’s all.

***

The nicknames that you hear out on these rigs are pretty great. Sometimes they are just a shortening of the person’s names with a few ‘z’s’ added in for good measure, so Gary becomes Gazza, Barry is Bazza, Yassmin is Yazza, and so on.  Other times though, they are a little more inventive.

“We had this one HSE guy and he was really irritable...so we called him thrush.”

“There was this one electrician right, and whenever there was a problem he'd say “oh yeah I'll look into it for ya...”

So we called him mirrors. The guy was always looking into things!”

“There was another electrician who was always asking for something from ya.  Like if you were using something he'd be like “can I use it after ya?”

So we called him Underpants ‘cos he was always on the bum!”

 ***

The fellas were having a conversation about Fiji and mentioned Kava, a drink that is native to the area.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem like the fellas were impressed.

OM: They’re addicted to that Kava stuff man. I don’t know what that’s about, why can’t they have a normal addiction, like to crack?!

 ***

OM: You're a Muslim or a Christian?

Me: Muslim...

OM: Okay so I have a question for you? Why don't I ever see any of the bloody people laugh??! I swear they are always so serious, with this serious face. Don't any of them ever laugh or even smile?!

OM: If I had to live like that seriously all the time, I think I would just die.

I responded, quite appropriately I think, with one of my characteristic guffaws. Touche, one might think...

*** 

 

 

Everyone was doing it.

Originally written for Westpac's Ruby Connection

Double

'Everybody else was doing it'...

That was the first answer that popped into my head when asked by my parents why, at the ripe old age of 10, I had decided to don the hijab.  The first answer, but definitely not the whole story…

***

The hijab is an Islamic head covering and an all-round code of dress that encourages modesty and self respect.  A simple piece of fabric and a mindset perhaps, but one that carries connotations and political ramifications beyond what I understood at the time.  It is now, 12 years on, it is an irremovable part of my identity and expression as a Muslim, but the decision to wear it is something that is constantly under question.

***

As I attended the local Islamic primary school at the time, the hijab was part of my school uniform.  It wasn’t therefore a huge jump; I was already a part-time ‘hijabi’ and this was my conversion to full time.  It was the year 2001, and the date I chose for my conversion was November the 10th.  Why? It was the federal election, and I wanted to choose an auspicious date just in case I forgot.  Forward thinking, always!

I walked to the house door wearing a huge white scarf, wrapped clumsily around my head and shoulders, pinned at the base of my neck.  I distinctly remember my father looking at me with slight concern and asking,

“Are you sure you want to do this? This is it?”

“Yes, yes, I am sure”.  Off I went…

What I didn’t realise at the time of course, was that I had chosen to wear the hijab in a politically charged environment.  It was only a few months after September 11 and Muslims were now sharply visible and constantly in the media. However, wearing the hijab for my 10 year old self wasn’t about political statement or being forced into following a cultural expectation. I believed I had come of age and it was time for me to wear the scarf!  Other girls might have wanted to start wearing makeup out or be allowed to date as a way of ‘growing up’; I chose to cover myself.

***

Why? Why do you do it, people ask. Doesn’t the concept oppress women? Don’t you miss the wind in your hair? Don’t you miss wearing a bikini to a beach?

To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I understood the full implications and reasons behind the concept when I made the decision, however I have settled into it with heartfelt conviction.

***

The concept of the hijab is cushioned in the value of modesty and of personal freedom.  It means something different to each individual who wears it, that is certain.

For me personally, the hijab is about being judged for who I am rather than what I look like.  There is extraordinary freedom in that, especially in a society where a woman’s looks, physicality and beauty are of such ‘importance’.

It is about being visible and proudly so, of my religion and what it stands for.

It is about saving my body and its womanly ways for those who I choose to see it (i.e. the eventual husband! Women, children and family are also allowed the hijab-less experience. The idea is to be covered from those who are marriageable).

That is not to say that those who don’t wear the hijab or choose to interpret it differently are any lesser, let me make that point clear.  We tend to get very defensive about personal choices such as dress.  I have respect for every woman’s choice, and that respect is the basis of all interaction. This is just how I choose to express myself.

***

Yes, some versions of hijab, such as the Burqa, are used as tools of oppression and invisibility in places such as Afghanistan.  However, this is not the case around the world!  Particularly in the West, those who choose to wear the hijab are most often following a personal choice and conviction.  For some, it is their way of becoming closer to God (Allah), forgoing the material obsessions of this world.  For others, it is about public expression as a Muslim.  The reasons are as many and as varied as the women themselves.

In fact, the concept of wanting to ‘free’ the ‘oppressed’ covered woman is insulting to the personal choice being made. It is presumptuous; assuming that one idea of freedom of expression is socially acceptable.  If it strays from such a path, it clearly must be backward and oppressive, right?

Women do not give up their voice and their thoughts when they choose to wear the hijab.

In fact, part of its intention was to give woman more agency and capacity to interact in a society, taking out the judgement of beauty.

I personally find it freeing, and it allows me to be more creative with my outfits!

***

So when you ask if me and my hijabi sisters are oppressed, I’ll likely just cock my eyebrow at you.

Who was it that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011? Three women, all who were covered when they received their awards.

That’s what I thought.

Let’s move away from the conversation of being ‘saved’.  There are thousands of more constructive dialectics to be had – ones were hijabed women are partners rather than mere silent victims.

Isn’t it ironic that in the very act of ‘saving’ women from oppression silences them?

1 Year Anniversary! Top 10 posts of last 12 months

Can you believe it has been an entire 12 months since this blog began?

It has been an exciting year of growth and development so thank you all for sharing that journey.

There have been over 4100 unique visitors over the past year, with over 12,000 page views. Thank you for taking the time to engage! That is pretty awesome! :)

Also, thank you all for reading and being part of this community! I hope that we can continue to grow together, debate and discuss, reflect and learn from one another.

To celebrate, here is a little walk down memory lane: the top 10 posts of the last 12 months! Enjoy!!

 

1. Women in the East, Women in the West - Finding the Middle Ground

This was written after returning from four months in Sudan, visiting family, studying formal Arabic at university and going through a very profound reflective period. Profound mostly because it opened up perspectives that I hadn't truly considered or interrogated before and provided much food for thought. That experience will continue to inform the way I understand society and place equal value in both Eastern and Western experiences.

 

2. Please explain why my clothing choice matters to you?

Another reflection from the East/West point of intersection, written after a strangely affecting incident at the Brisbane Airport. It was really an inconsequential incident in its own right, but brought up many questions afterward as to the symbolism of dress and the lack of nuanced understanding that sometimes rears its head in our society.

 

3. Shoot the Messenger

Essentially a review on an interesting film about war photographers. Asking the question - should the photographer or journalist simply put aside their moral obligation as humans to report?

 

4. Sudan Revolts

The page that talks the Sudanese Revolts of 2012. Reflections, thoughts, links, advice... unfortunately the attempted coup was decisively shut down but it was interestined to see the other part of the battle nonetheless.

 

5. Cultural Sh-Sh-Shock: Part 2

Yet another post about the cultural differences I observed on my trip to Sudan and noting a few of the aspects of cultural shock that I encountered, particularly the difference between expectations for men and women.

 

 

6. Study Secrets to Ace Your Exams (Part 1)

These are honestly the tips and tricks that got me through University and allowed me to (Alhamdulilah/thank God!) graduate with first class honours while doing all - or many - of the other things that were important, including Youth Without Borders, the UQ Racing team and much more. Part two is still on its way.

 

7. Book Review: Adam Parr's "The Art of War"

A review about a well presented book written during a very interesting time in Formula 1 politics and management. Well worth reading.

 

8. 10 Useful Brain Sharpening Websites for 2013

The title says it all. A toolbox full of links that will help you keep your brain KEEEEEN!

 

9. Drilling Diaries

Less and post and more a category, this ranked in 9th and is essentially links to all the crazy stories and conversations that I have while working out in the oil and gas rigs in Australia.

 

10. The Innocence of Who?

A post written in the aftermath of 'The Innocence of Muslims' video. A brief look at why this sort of reaction is common and perhaps what we as a society can do to change it.

 

I honestly really look forward to the next 12 months with you all, and can't wait!

 

 

Links, Links, Links!! 28th April 2013

Hi everyone! How are we this fine Sunday? 11887_10151568205954060_952084009_n

 

I've had an interesting week, not least as I was interviewed by the ABC (live! zomgsh) on my piece in the Griffith Review.  Check out the video HERE!

How many times do we have to say this?  The use of the word "illegal" is ignorant and mischievous!

[box] While the Coalition may have hoped to score political points with the reappearance of its "illegal boats" billboard this week, it has shone a spotlight on its feeble grasp of international law. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is wrong to say that the Refugee Convention says asylum seekers are "illegal". [/box]

On the topic of the Boston Marathon Bombings: why is it considered terrorism and Aurora and Sandy Hook not?

Wise words on Bahrain from an unlikely source: Joe Saward, the F1 journalist...

[box] Some would argue that it is necessary to remove all religion from the political process and that until Bahrainis stop thinking about being Shias or Sunnis there cannot be a truly democratic country. If you go back in history you see many nations going through similar religious troubles, notably in Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries when Catholics and Protestants murdered one another in large numbers. We do not live in a perfect world, but sport is one of the few ways in which nations can unite, transcending internal divisions and thinking as a group. Thus looking at a much bigger picture one has to say that the Grand Prix is a good idea for Bahrain. No doubt some will disagree…[/box]

Finding a way of being a girl that doesn't hurt... again going to a question of where the feminist movement is?

Again on the issue of feminism...Five Myths about Feminism.  How do you feel about the label?

A massive discussion about social media's do's and don'ts. Really interesting - how do you use social media, as an individual and as a company?

Seth Godin asks the question: What is your critical mass?

[box] If your idea isn't spreading, one reason might be that it's for too many people. Or it might be because the cohort that appreciates it isn't tightly connected. When you focus on a smaller, more connected group, it's far easier to make an impact.[/box]

This is old news but I think I forgot to link it in my hubris - the first female, Muslim MP in Australia!

I am a sucker for beautiful photography (who isn't), and beautiful photography of beautiful machines? How could I resist...

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Oh and don't forget to check out my posts this week; one on Global Migration and Identity and the other on Stirling Moss's comment's on women in F1. If you want to keep in touch more regularly, you can always check out my Facebook page!

 

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Links, Links, Links! 21st April 2013

 

How are we all this morning? How has the week been? I've been super busy with a crazy week at work (I've a new trainee), getting excited about being published and wrote one of my most-read articles on an encounter at the airport.  Enough about what I did though...here is what I came across on the net!

I love this piece by the Informed Comment: Top Ten Reasons why Terrorism is Forbidden in Islamic Law...

From the simple dollar: 5 pieces of advice that changed my life.

Young people need to be more involved in all levels of decision making in society; even though public and corporate decisions usually affect us we are rarely party to the decision making process.  That should change, and one way is by getting young people on Boards.

I completely relate to this writer - the love of technology mixed with nostalgia for print (I was an insane bookworm growing up and still feel guilty that I own a Kindle...I feel like I am betraying print) and it's interesting to read this piece from a lady who says her life is better without Facebook. I don't know if I could leave Facebook (isn't that a sad state of affairs!) - working out in the sticks doesn't help I guess...

Feel like you have media overload? A piece from Wired on balancing your media diet...

Why aren't there more women in technology? Forbes thinks it's a numbers and expectations game...

On one hand, the Boston bombing reaction reporting seemed relatively free of bias...but that was definitely not the case. 

Regardless of your views of justification and intent: whatever rage you're feeling toward the perpetrator of this Boston attack, that's the rage in sustained form that people across the world feel toward the US for killing innocent people in their countries. Whatever sadness you feel for yesterday's victims, the same level of sadness is warranted for the innocent people whose lives are ended by American bombs. However profound a loss you recognize the parents and family members of these victims to have suffered, that's the same loss experienced by victims of US violence. It's natural that it won't be felt as intensely when the victims are far away and mostly invisible, but applying these reactions to those acts of US aggression would go a long way toward better understanding what they are and the outcomes they generate.

A post (a rant, really) from an irate Sudanese blogger who is frustrated at the fact that in Sudan, skin colour is still an indication of status...

I don't agree with everything the United Nations does, but I do believe there is a place for it.  Why we get value for money at the United Nations.

I love examples of Muslim women challenging the expectations, and this Bosnian Mayor is a inspirational case!

The difference in treatment and expectations of male and female CEOs - Queen Bees getting the flak.

The age old question about "peak oil..."

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday (and the Formula 1 and MotoGP!)