Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Boxed Gifts

So now that the wedding hoopla is all over, I wanted to slowly share the different things we did to make our wedding unique. Hopefully, reading the next series of posts will help guide your own planning or at least make you feel comparably sane.

Back in November I blogged about the different things I was learning while researching wedding invitation etiquette. The most controversial part about that leg of planning was the question of "no boxed gifts." Should we include that? Should we not? A lot of people, ranging from parents to friends were concerned that by not including it we would inevitably end up with multiple microwaves, and all sort of other random items.

We nonetheless chose to leave that traditional South Asian line off the wedding invitation. There were several reasons for doing this:

1) It would have looked rude to all of the non-South Asian/Arab guests.

2) We did not want to ask for gifts, which is essentially what that line does.

3) We wanted people to not feel burdened by our wedding, because while it can be easy to get somebody a great gift for even $10-15 it may not be so possible to just give that amount in cash.

4) We wanted people to be able to give us gifts from their hearts.

We did however set up two wedding registries, one at Target and another at Bed Bath & Beyond. However, there are etiquette rules about this as well.

1) Including registry inserts in wedding invitations is not proper. They can however be included with shower invitations.

2) Registry information can be given if asked about.

3) Registry information on wedding websites is allowed, so long as it is not front and center.

In case you haven't picked up on it yet, the premise for all of these rules is really only one thing: YOU CANNOT ASK FOR GIFTS.

We followed all of the rules. How did it work out?

There was a mixed bag of results. We had the traditional gift cards and cash, which were great. A lot of people bought stuff off our registry as well, so we were able to fulfill most of our household item needs. The remainder of folks went in one of two ways:

1) Non-registry items that we have no idea what to do with: think funny looking jewelry and random salad plates

2) Non-registry items that were amazing: think compost bins and cupcake stands

Would I make gift notes on my wedding invitations if I had to do it all over again? Absolutely not. It was great knowing that people could spend as much or as little money on celebrating the wedding with us as their heart desired. I would take a random swatch of fabric I may never need any day over asking guests to bring me money.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bombs in their underwear?

Sometimes humor really is the best approach. I'm including, below, an excerpt from a conversation that took place over dinner with some folks on Monday evening.

MIL (explaining to the Grandmother-in-law's friends what I do for work): she gets interviewed for TV alot, you know whenever something happens involving Muslims. Like when the guy tried to blow up the plan with the bomb in his underwear, she was interviewed for that.

80 something elderly white lady: oh! Do you know a lot of men who walk around with bombs in their underwear?

Me: no, not exactly. Since the wedding I don't really go around checking into random men's underwear anymore.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Silence is Consent

The students at UCI were amazing last night, masha'Allah. Scattered thoughts from an email I wrote in response to a Muslim individual who objected to the protesting:

There is no singly correct way to object, or protest. Different methods are appropriate for different circumstances. Not to mention this was not the first step the students took in objecting to the appearance. From what I know of that group of students, they built up to this, they issued statements, they made their voices heard and when all else failed they caused a commotion. The speaker has free speech rights, and so do these students. I'm happy they exercised them. That doesn't even address the fact that 1) a university is an institution of learning, both inside and outside the classroom and 2) UCI is funded by Muslim students in two ways a) taxes and b) tuition. These courageous students sought to change a wrong, with their hands and their tongues, not just their hearts.

Additionally yes, if [an organization I worked with] brought the ambassador of a country that was perpetrating genocide to speak at an event it would be understandable that people would protest and disrupt the event. This would apply to any injustice [the community] sought to promote or facilitate. I have no problem saying that I'd Insha'Allah volunteer to help with the disruption; in fact, I have in the past.

I'm so tired of seeing [Muslims being the least active] around the issue of Palestine. And sometimes I think our apathy, our desire to be PC, and our selfishness (i.e. not wanting to get arrested, not wanting people to talk about us, etc.) are what crush the spirit of the youth trying to make a difference by any means necessary.

May Allah (swt) continue to grant the activists in our Ummah strength

Friday, February 05, 2010

Unprofessionalism in the Muslim Community

Unprofessional? Who? No, no, not us.

As though being late wasn’t bad enough, to top it off, you are made to feel as though the money you’ve worked for isn’t your right, and they are doing you a favor by paying you anything at all. This Islamic Organization is simply out of money at the time, and you have to wait until they get some. It coincidentally comes to your attention that some employees in higher positions had their checks issued on time and without any delay.

An Islamic school wanted you to teach 2 subjects and pay you as a quarter-time employee. Apparently if you don’t teach 4 subjects to the entire school then you will not be considered a full-time teacher (that isn’t a sarcastic remark). In addition, you were told that your pay was based on 1/4 of the full-time teacher’s pay. When you find out what that rate is, you know that it is much lower than what an actual 1/4 is. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that you are new there and don’t know anyone, or how much they make. Sadly, you do know another teacher, and you realize their dishonesty. As a result, you quit.
. . .
You start to wonder if these organizations had planned to abuse you from the get-go?

But, you haven’t done anything wrong to them, so why would they bother, then you remember Allah SWT’s Words from Surat Al-Hujuraat, “O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin.”

Is it because you are working with Muslim organizations, then your work is “Fe Sabeel Illah” – for the sake of Allah – that people pushing the boundaries shouldn’t bother you?

The short answer is, No. Because if it was, we would all be willing to sacrifice to help get things done, and more importantly to help each other. That executive would give up part of his salary to help you pay your rent on time.

Is it because this is my Muslim brother or sister I should let them fall behind on the payments?

It can’t be, because they are the ones that want you to be there on-time, every time, to work for them. They want flawless work, in a hurry, with an impossible deadline and an insane volume of work to be completed by then. This is a paid position, you were promised a paycheck in exchange for specific tasks and duties, and it is an agreement between you and your employer.

Allah SWT requires us to respect these agreements, as stated in Surat Al-Israa, “…and fulfill (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be inquired into (on the Day of Reckoning).”

Are all employees doing right by their employers, and inherently the victims?

Of course not. Obviously both cases exist, but, unprofessionalism just breeds more unprofessionalism. The employee that slacks should be fired. The employer that mistreats their worker should loose that employee to a more deserving firm.
. . .
We have reached rock bottom when Muslims sincerely warn other Muslims against getting jobs with Muslim companies or Islamic Organizations, because of the suffering. Why should it be that in exchange for being in a so-called Islamic Environment you will face all sorts of head and eventually heartache?

I’m not writing this with the intention to bash other Muslims or talk smack about the Ummah. On the contrary, I want to point this out and have it addressed and remedied, so that it is no longer the case. I make dua’a that Allah SWT guides us all to the best of manners and etiquette, and that we are among those that take heed of good advice and follow the best of it.

Full piece at: Sumayah Hasan

Thursday, February 04, 2010

She Works. They’re Happy.

While the changing economic roles of husbands and wives may take some getting used to, the shift has had a surprising effect on marital stability. Over all, the evidence shows that the shifts within marriages — men taking on more housework and women earning more outside the home — have had a positive effect, contributing to lower divorce rates and happier unions.
. . .
While it’s widely believed that a woman’s financial independence increases her risk for divorce, divorce rates in the United States tell a different story: they have fallen as women have made economic gains. The rate peaked at 23 divorces per 1,000 couples in the late 1970s, but has since dropped to fewer than 17 divorces per 1,000 couples. Today, the statistics show that typically, the more economic independence and education a woman gains, the more likely she is to stay married. And in states where fewer wives have paid jobs, divorce rates tend to be higher, according to a 2009 report from the Center for American Progress.
. . .
Men, for instance, sometimes have a hard time adjusting to a woman’s equal or greater earning power. Women, meanwhile, struggle with giving up their power at home and controlling tasks like how to dress the children or load the dishwasher.

Linda Duxbury, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University, recalls moments in her marriage when she was hesitant to give up control. “My husband would dress our daughter for school, and I’d say, ‘Oh my God, she looks like a clown,’ ” Professor Duxbury recalled. “He would say, ‘That’s your hang-up. She’s happy in it. If you don’t like my choice, then you do it.’ ”
She added, “In many ways women are their own worst enemies — we want men to do it, but we want to tell them how they should do it.”

Men, meanwhile, can struggle with the social expectation that husbands should always be the breadwinner. The recession, among other things, has made that expectation less realistic.

“Today, men need their wives’ income,” says Joshua Coleman, a psychologist in San Francisco who wrote “The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to Do More Parenting and Housework.” “There is an issue for men of: ‘What is my value here if I’m not bringing in money? I understand you want a communicative, empathic guy who does housework and parenting, but how much pride can I take in that?’ ”

More at: NY Times