Category Archives: Eman

The Times They Are A-Changin’

I’m not one for poetry and all that but couldn’t resist this. Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ which he wrote as an artist/civil rights activist in 1963. It resonated with me.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.

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I shocked a muttawa today

Went to the dentist today, on the elevator going up, I asked the heavily covered mute woman next to me which floor is the dentist’s and her 30ish husband picked up on the fact that I’m Saudi from my dialect. He immediately asked me if I was Saudi:

“أنت سعودية؟”

I said yes as he looked so shocked and tried to stare me into shame while repeating this won’t do.

ما يصير, ما يصير””

I told him me being uncovered is not haram. He predictably said “oh yes it is”. So I said in an intentionally dismissive way that he has no argument:

والله ما عندك سالفة

This infuriated him so much that as he was leaving the elevator he kept looking back and shouting at me:

“إلا عندي سالفة, إلا عندي سالفة”

I half expected him to be waiting for me outside the clinic (and secretly wished he would be). But he wasn’t. I think what got to him was that he was expecting me to meekly say something like “”جزاك الله خير or even for me to take a corner of my hijab and cover my face with it in fear and shame. I guess I surprised him.

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Wish me luck

I’ve been neglecting this blog recently because I’m really busy keeping up with my schoolwork. I’m taking a few courses and let me tell you it’s kind of funny being back in a student’s chair after teaching a few years. Makes me appreciate what my students go through and I think every teacher should have a similar experience every now and then just as a reminder of how tough and stressful it is.

Well I have final exams and a bunch of papers to hand in so until then I don’t believe I’ll be adding anything here. Meanwhile, please check out this new online paper in which I am a staff writer. It has a truly enlightening global perspective and shows a lot of promise.

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I am not a bolger!

I’m a blogger. This is what was written in Arab News today, the leading Saudi English paper in an article about women’s sports clubs here. Another thing that I’m not is a social worker. I’m a lecturer. I teach English as a foreign language and for specific academic purposes.  But what I was really disappointed in was that the writer got my viewpoint all wrong. She asked me what I thought about religious people using the government to close down sports clubs. The issue being that these clubs are increasingly becoming popular with Saudi women. Women only sports clubs have been popping up everywhere and their fees are now within reach of the average woman. They offer aerobic classes, self-defense and even salsa dancing. However they have no legal licensing umbrella because according to the government all forms of exercise are for men only. So the owners of these clubs get a license for a salon or a child activity center and then expand from there. Ultra conservatives are dead against these establishments because they believe that they lead Saudi women to sin through the influence of and interaction with unsavory feminist and sometimes they go as far as lesbian women who work there and frequent the clubs (according to the muttawa sexually repressed wild imagination). Moreover they believe that exercise goes against femininity and that it is an exclusively manly domain.

In the eighties and nineties there weren’t many of these sports clubs around and if one does open, the muttawas would camp outside its doors and harass the owner and workers until it closes down out of frustration. Then these muttawas would preach about the sins that they uncovered and led to their victory in closing the club.  

Now that they are all over the place and extremely high in demand the muttawas logistically cannot take the same approach. So what they are doing is taking a top down approach through bureaucratic nonsense. And that is what I meant by their reaction being natural. I do not support the government in closing them down but I do believe that licensing should be done properly. What the ultra conservatives are doing is futile because its too little, too late. It’s the same thing over and over again with satellite TV, camera cell phones, music stores …etc. The general public demands them too much for these conservatives to be able to stop their spread. And now they are taking on womens sports clubs which will only lead them to be legalized and taken off the black market into the light, just like their other “sinful” predecessors.  

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Bad day + bad comment =

This is in reply to a comment made by um Maraym in the previous post:

Salam Um Maryam

Just by your “kinya” I can tell you are one of those “reverts” who treat Islam as though it was a cult or an exclusive club that is defined by outer appearances ( tent like abaya) and completely confuse religion and Arab culture.

No those women who you say:

“rather than your religious police, the only people who I find ridiculous are a particular class of saudi woman. One sees them at the Kingdom center or the Faisalyah, aimlessly wandering around, caked in makeup.They way they wear their abyas, would make a western prostitute blush, I’m not sure why they are so shallow, perhaps its lack of education, or its the inbreeding, or perhaps its the free money from the govenrment that has lead to this dysfunctional social pathology.”

These women are never going to be written about on my blog because these women have never banned others from driving their own cars and have never jailed and deported 75 year old widows because they had bread delivered by an unrelated man…etc. It’s your like and your Saudi versions who work against their own sisters. Tell your point of view to the Saudi women who are forced to guard toilets for money while next door in the same mall a foreign man is brought into the country for the sole purpose of selling lingerie for three times the salary she gets. And express your adoration of muttawas to the countless women I know who have been harassed, stalked, traumatized and publicly insulted by them. Why would I write about women minding their own business when I can write about women like you who judge them. Why don’t you say the same about the desperate pathetic men who troll around the malls in the latest designer wear and reeking of expensive perfumes?  Why don’t I write about my cousins who have had to borrow thousands in order to get out of abusive marriages when Islamic shariah law clearly states that women who are abused are allowed divorce. And what about writing about how a friend of mine was asked by a taxi driver if she would like him to pimp her out? A respectable woman whose only problem is that she had to resort to a daily taxi because she is banned from driving her own car. And how about newly appointed teachers who monthly pay half their salary just for a ride to work?

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Filed under Culture, Eman

Sandstorm

Today we had a really bad sandstorm. In the morning you would have never guessed. I left the house at 7:30 and the sky was blue and clear. Later in the day, I was going to pick up my son after a lecture and I had to drive (be driven) right into it. I took a few photos. You can actually see it approaching on the horizon. A trip that normally takes 45 minutes took twice that long. Cars were hardly moving and sirens were wailing. Firetrucks, ambulances and police cars were following the storm. It probably was a really bad day for people with asthma.

sandstorm coming!

driving towards it

in the midst of it

you can only make out the outline of buildings overlooking the highway

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Filed under Eman, Informative, Personal favorites, Popular