Thursday, May 31, 2012

To tweet or not to tweet, Facebook is the question


I've always wanted to write a blog post about wanting to write a blog post. Ever since that day I read a tongue in cheek piece by a journo mum who was so excited by her new computer that she sat down to write. And all she got was a little blinking cursor. And horror of horrors, no words!

Ever since that day I’ve wanted to write about wanting to write. About how words start to clamour. Demand attention, break into occasional scuffles in your head.  Not very smart of them, if truth be told. They are, after all competing with five children, a business and myriad other day to day demands.

So here I am (now that the house is finally quiet and I’m done with all my assignments). Today I will write about wanting to write.

But guess what?

It is not to be. So this won’t be a blog post about wanting to write (bet now you all hate the word ‘want’). My mind is too full to sit and stare at a blinking cursor. It’s been hijacked by something altogether more arresting.

 Social Media.

Much has been written about it. Some of it incredibly long winded. Some of it positive. Some of it plain hogwash. For as long as I have been using it, I’ve been asking myself why I use it. And to be very honest, even now, I don’t quite have a complete answer.

Why do some of us trawl Facebook to see what the latest scoop on Chaachi Ma is, adding a few cents to every twisted topic that comes up? While there are those who just read it and have a good laugh in private. While others shun it altogether, deluding ourselves into thinking we’re a better breed of human purely because we give preference to a current- affairs crammed Twitter? Or overtly religious status updates/tweets.

What’s the attraction? Why are we drawn to the kinds of people we are drawn to? Is it voyeurism?
Is it a deep seated need to be affirmed. To be validated? To be relevant in a world where it is so easy to become a blur on the landscape of life. A mere smudge. An insignificant grain, soon to be blown away with the winds of time.

Yes, I know. You’re a smart lot. You get the picture.  So can you answer my question?

Is it each of us standing up and saying: Here. This is me. Here I am. I have something to say. Is anyone listening?

IS anyone listening? Or are we just fooling ourselves into thinking they are? Or does it even really matter that they are? Is it enough that we said our say (even though that say be terribly inane).  A little like this here blog post.

Does there even have to be a reason? Could it not be enough that we got to swear that douche at work without having to say it to his face, or even mention his name? Does there always have to be an intricate psychological explanation for everything?

I don’t have the answers. But I’d bet, even as I type that there are people out there who are studying this phenomenon so hard that they haven’t even tasted a teensy bit of the joy it can bring. And just so you know, it can bring joy. I’ve met my best friends courtesy of social media.

One thing I’m sure of is that it is a prime procrastination tool. Ask any student or writer.  For me, it is an escape. Those few minutes of silence in a cluttered day that every mother craves . And don’t you dare suggest the loo as a substitute. As any mother will tell you, even a decent pee is often interrupted by someone looking for you.  

It is also the only time where someone actually participates in the conversation I’d otherwise have had with just myself. Silently. In my head.  The one time in the day where I get to use decent words, substantial meaty ones. It is freeing my mind from the cage that is domestic duty. A chance to engage and feed my mind the intellectual stimulation it craves. 

Yes, it does become too much sometimes. There’s only so many 'I have a headache', so many ‘chocolate for breakfast #FTW’ tweets that you can handle in one lifetime.

Only so much that you can bear reading of Zuma’s way-too-sharp-spear, or Zille’s ‘success stories’.  So when that happens, you have a little hiatus (be sure to publicise it well in advance to ensure maximum number of teary farewells). And when you return, you do so with all the fanfare of the prodigal son returning to his village, their saviour.

Not so bad then, is it?

As with all things in life, you're better off owning it. Than having it own you... 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Me, the twit


I keep promising myself that that next post will be fiction. And then life happens. And yet again, I find myself furiously penning a blog post about another little thing that happened. This morning twas The Moonface with his tweet about religion. 

Needless to say I responded (do you blame me?) and was drawn into a conversation which ended in me being called chica :p

But it made me think, along with reminding me of this blog post from some years ago. If you're not going to click on the link, I might as well explain that it was a post on the Sardonic Scholar blog (also mine) where I had huge issues with Muslims opposing the Same Sex Marriage Law. Regular readers will know of the Sardonic Scholar blog and the reasons it was started. For those interested in the why’s and wherefore’s, here you go.

Also friends will know that my e-mail address, the place I haunt, is tied into the Sardonic identity.  In essence I’m more at ease with ‘him’ as a part of me.

Though, at the time of conceiving Sardonic, I found my thinking a bit revolutionary . To be very honest I was even a bit alarmed by it. In retrospect, I realise that it’s all a part of that very necessary evolution. That personal growth without which living and life becomes a rather stunted experience.

Do I still agree with what Sardonic said? Absolutely! I do believe in gay rights. I do believe that we, as Muslims in a secular democracy have no right to impose our values, our faith on those who don’t believe.

Allah is very clear on that. La ikraha fid deen.  No compulsion in faith.

IN case you’re thinking this now means you don’t have to fast you’re wrong, because once you accept Islam, the laws of Islam become applicable to you.  So as my kids would say. You got a 'freaky'.

Of course this raises other questions. Like why Christmas is a holiday in a secular democracy. Or why alcohol isn’t sold on Sundays. Or even why Sundays are considered a day of rest.

It highlights inconsistencies, I agree, but does not give us, as Muslims a right to impose our faith on others.

Some friends and I were talking schools the other day. One of them mentioned how Muslim parents who have sent their kids to former Model C schools are suddenly lobbying for an end to school concerts. Their kids shouldn’t be asked to dance. What insanity! By all means, request that the school exclude your kids from those activities you feel are in conflict with your faith, but whatever you do, don’t impose your faith on others.

Generally the ‘giving muslims a bad name’ line irritates me more than seeing someone in desperate need of an upper lip wax would. But in this instance, I’d use it. I’d tweak it a bit though, since tweaking is totally my thang.

What they’re really doing is making Muslims at large look like a bunch of self-serving bigots.

And we all know that’s not true.  AT least those of us who aren’t self-serving bigots do.

Live and let live. Imagine how much easier life would be if we all did just that, however cliched that statement may be.

But above all respect and guard the rights of others as much as you would want your own rights respected and guarded. 

Addendum

After posting this bit of rambling, I ended up locked in a two hour long debate about my views. The question I was asked (I was asked it again today): What would you to if one of your kids was gay?

For some reason, several people who read this seemed to see it as an endorsement of Same Sex relationships. Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my explanation. Am trying to remedy that now.

Some years ago I read Rayda Jacobs' Confessions of a Gambler. Even reviewed it on the blog. What really hit home for me with that novel was not so much the plight of a woman enslaved by her addiction to gambling, but the plight of a Muslim mother who finds herself having to deal with a gay son.

It troubled me. If people are born gay, how could Allah have declared homosexuality haraam? I know there are Muslims who seek to make lawful what I will always understand to be unlawful. I'm not one of them. I grappled with this question long and hard.

In the end I reached the following conclusions:


  • As believers we change ourselves, align our desires to what Allah desires for us. For some this means giving up alcohol. For others it may be giving up gambling. And for some...well...hard though that may be, that will be their jihaad. It is not for the believer to change his faith to meet the requirements of his nafs, rather it is for him/her to train his/her nafs to meet the requirements of faith. 
  • We are duty bound to enjoin the good and forbid evil. But this is only possible with those whose ideas of good and ideas of evil are akin to our own. For instance, I could not go to a Christian person and insist that they give up alcohol. Their faith does not prohibit it. The same way I cannot go to an athiest and insist that they not marry their same sex lover because my faith considers it forbidden. Nor can I insist a secular country outlaw it. 
  • In Islam we have laws. These are meant to improve us. But we have humans, perfectly flawed humans trying to live in accordance with these laws. People slip sometimes. When this happens, we dislike the action. Not the person. Who knows when a person may change and redeem themselves?
This calls to mind the incident from the time of Nabi (SAW): 

A woman from Juhaynah came to Allah's Messenger (SAW) who was pregnant from of adultery. 
She said: 'O Messenger of Allah, I have done something for which (prescribed punishment) must be imposed upon me, so impose that.'

Allah's Messenger (SAW) called her guardian and said: 'Treat her well, and when she gives birth bring her to me.' 
He did accordingly. 

Then Allah's Messenger (SAW) pronounced judgment on her. Her clothes were tied around her and then he gave the order and she was stoned to death. 

He then prayed over her (dead body). 

Thereupon Hadrat Umar (RA) said to him: 'O Messenger of Allah, you offer prayer for her although she had committed adultery!' 

Whereupon, he (SAW) replied: 'She has made such a repentance that if it were to be divided among seventy men of Medina, it would be enough! Have you found any repentance better than that she sacrificed her life for Allah, the Majestic?' 

(Sahih Muslim Hadith: 4207 - Narrated by Imran ibn Husayn)

Hope this clarifies my views on the subject.