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Posts tagged ‘Great Women’

30 Days Till 30 … Day 29: Farewell My Twenties…

Alas, the moment is near. In a little over 24 hours my twenties will be over, forever! It’s an event I face with mixed emotions. I am overly excited and overwhelmed at the same time. Excited to start a new, more mature and, potentially, more exhilarating phase of my life. Overwhelmed with the feeling that I am turning the page on my twenties, which have been much more eventful than I had ever imagined them to be. It feels like leaving behind a very close friend or companion, knowing for a fact that you will never, ever see them again! I am not sad, heartbroken or depressed like I’ve heard occurs with many at this point. If anything, I am humbled, thankful and grateful … on many levels.

My twenties were rough and tough but were also gentle and kind. They were eventful yet quiet. They were heartbreaking yet heartwarming. They were full of tears and smiles. They included the lowest points of my life so far and the greatest. During my twenties I lost some of the people closest to my heart to illness, death and life yet I also met some of the people who will forever remain in my heart no matter what. I have lost some people who I thought were friends yet I made the best real, lifelong friends. The tides of my twenties were high and rough when they came down crashing upon me, yet when they settled, the waters were calm and glistened beautifully in the sunlight!

I come out of this decade stronger, disciplined, well-taught, independent, confident, intellectual, knowledgeable, firm, responsible, mature, willing, optimistic, with a clearer vision of who I am and what I want and, most importantly to me, with my feet planted firm on the ground and my head held up high! During numerous points I thought my twenties were going to break me. I even had points where I had not even the slightest hope of seeing my thirties! However, God chose to keep and protect me. He chose to give me a second, third and fourth chance at life. Time and time again He would come to my aid, lift me up and give me a reason to start over.

The most beautiful outcome of this decade is my beautiful children, without the slightest doubt. I love them more than anything in this world and would do anything to see them happy and well. I intend to spend the rest of my life living up to their expectations of me, being there for them, supporting them and being the stepping stone they need towards leading their own lives. I intend to do everything I can to give them everything my parents gave me and much more. I intend to do my best to see them better than I ever even aspired to be! My children are my life from day one and nothing on this Earth can change that.

I am thankful for every illness I had, every mishap that occurred, every bad relationship I had, every friend that betrayed me, every person that stood in my way, every obstacle I faced and every person who tried to bring me down, for all those circumstances made me stronger and taught me lessons I could have never learned otherwise in life. I am thankful for every healthy day, every right decision I made, every successful relationship I had, every friend that stood by my side, every person who helped me advance in life one way or another, every obstacle I overcame and every person who has ever encouraged me, for all those circumstances made me realize how blessed and loved I truly am.

To every person who has had a major impact on my life, thank you for being part of it. To all my school colleagues, friends and teachers. To all my university colleagues, friends and professors. To all my professional colleagues, friends and managers. To all my entrepreneurial clients, collaborators and supporters. To all the doctors and nurses who have helped me in the past and continue to do so today. To all my friends, family and neighbors. And of course, to all my blog followers who return day after day to encourage me. I love you all and thank you for being such wonderful individuals. I am humbled by the experience of meeting you and learning so much from each and every one of you.

I do not want to start naming names because the list will soon grow so huge and I am bound to forget mentioning someone and that’s the last thing I want to do. But to all my sisters out there, the women who support me every day and show me their love every way they can. To the women who have always held me up high and never once lost faith in me. To the women who love me from the bottom of their hearts just as much I love them. To the women who sacrifice every single day for the sake of their families and loved ones. You, ladies, are my rock! Without you, I would not be the woman I am today. No one has had as great an impact on my personal growth as you wonderful women. I am sure you know who you are and I pray to God, every single day, that He protects and keeps you and your families and loved ones. I pray that God grants you all your wishes and deepest desires, that He helps you out of your calamities and that He rewards you greatly for instilling happiness in my heart as well as those of others I am sure. You are all fabulous and I know that you will all receive your hearts’ desire, whether in this life or the next, because you deserve it.

I am grateful that coincidence has led my parents here on birthday and they will be celebrating this important milestone with me. I could not have asked for better parents. They have always been there for us, supported us and held our hands until my brother and I crossed to safety. My dad is the hardest working man I know and may possibly ever know! He has done everything he can to give us the life he never had. My mother has the tenderest heart and has always been my best friend and adviser and I hers. She sacrificed so much, much more than I could ever iterate, for our happiness as a family. She is truly a remarkable woman and my only regret is that I am thousands of miles away from her and cannot give back a tiny portion of what she has given us all her life. I wish my brother were here. I wish my deceased loved ones were here. I wish my lovely friends were here. But all those people are in my heart and I know that they will make my day special no matter where they are. I love them all with all my heart and I wish the living happiness, peace of mind, lots of love, success and everything else their hearts desire. I wish the dead peace, forgiveness and that their graves are pieces of heaven that they are enjoying right now.

Like I said, I wish if some people who are no longer present in my life were here to wish me happiness on the days to come. But it is God’s wisdom that he has either taken them out of my life or out of life as we know it altogether. To my maternal grandparents, I love you and I miss you every day. My children will grow to know how much you meant to me, to us all. I hope you are resting in peace. To my paternal grandparents, I miss you although I have never met grandpa and hope that you are resting in peace. To uncle Hamdy and my dear cousin Karim, your deaths cut me deep and I miss your humor, kindness and sweetness. My children would have loved to meet you. I hope you are resting in peace. To oncle Mohamed, I only saw you a few times but you mean so much to my husband and thus to me, you are missed. To each and every person who has ever meant something to me one day, I wish you all the happiness and success in this world and the next.

Finally, I’d like to thank my husband for stealing me away for the better half of my twenties. Our family is a beautiful one, one that is unique and cannot be replaced nor replicated. Thank you for working so hard to provide for us. Thank you for being someone our children can look up to. And thank you for always trying your best.

My dear twenties, you have been such a loyal companion and we have been through so much together … I shall never forget you! I now leave you behind but the memories we have, the lessons learned, the experiences we had shall live on forever. With time, I promise to hold on to your highlights and let go of anything else. I could not have asked for a better companion the past decade and can only wish that my thirties will learn something from you. You will be missed but remembered fondly. I pass you on to someone else, knowing in my heart and mind that you will help them the way you did me. Thank you for taking me in years ago as a fragile, shy little girl and now letting me out a much, much better version of myself … a strong, confident woman. I love you and always will, my loyalest of friends 🙂

Bring it on thirties … I am armed and ready 😀

Courtesy: Google Images!

Courtesy: Google Images!

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30 Days Till 30 … Day 26: Islam

One of the first things Prophet Muhammad said to the Companions was:

“Spread peace, feed the hungry, keep strong the family tie, pray when other people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise safely” (Al-Tirmidhi). This has been interpreted to be a general exhortation, not just to Muslims.*

Prophet Muhammad had a Jewish neighbor who detested him and so used to throw his garbage at the doorstep of the Prophet’s home. The Prophet would then pick it up silently and throw it in the disposal area along with his personal trash. One morning the Prophet didn’t see any garbage at his doorstep but didn’t think much of it. The next morning he noticed the same thing. This went on for week, an entire week had passed without any garbage being thrown at the Prophet’s doorstep. So Prophet Muhammad got concerned and went to his neighbor to pay him a visit and check on him. As it turns out, the neighbor was sick and confined to bed. Our Prophet then started taking care of and checking on his neighbor until he fully recovered. The Jew, not long afterwards, embraced Islam because of our beloved Prophet’s high morals.

It is narrated by Abu Shurayh (R.A.) that the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said; “Whoever believes in Allah and the final day (Day of Judgment) it is essential that he does not harm his neighbors and whoever believes in Allah and the final Day it is essential for him to entertain his guest with kindness and generosity and whoever believes in Allah and the Final Day it is essential that he speak what is good or otherwise remain silent.” **

In the Quran (Surat El-Nissa 4:36) it says: “Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet) and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” **

There is a hadith (saying) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, which goes as follows.
“Do you know what the rights of neighbors are?” asked the noble Prophet. And he went on to give a list:
• Help him if he asks for your help
• Give him relief if he seeks your relief
• Lend him if he needs a loan
• Show him concern if he is distressed
• Nurse him when he is ill
• Attend his funeral when he dies
• Congratulate him if he meets any good
• Sympathize with him if any calamity befalls him
• Do not block his air by raising your building high without his permission
• Harass him not
• Give him a share when you buy fruits, and if you do not give him, bring what you buy quietly and let not your children take them out to excite the jealousy of his children.”**

Given that I am a proud Muslim, I could not have possibly concluded my “30 Days Till 30” posts without talking about my beautiful religion! I am aware that some will disagree with this post and it may spark a series of hateful, negative comments but to tell you the truth, and I don’t mean to be disrespectful, my religion is way more important to me than anything else to be left out of this series. I am also aware that the majority of people reading this are open-minded enough to at least listen and be respectful in their comments, if any, especially if they have been coming back to my blog for a while now and have got to know me and my thoughts a little.

It is no secret that Islam is being equated to terrorism these days. Between the behavior of Islamist extremists (notice that I chose to use Islamist rather than Muslim) and the ever-so-eager, and may I add highly selective, media I understand why that may be the case. However, I do hold all those who believe so accountable for their unreasonable view! It is every individual’s responsibility to educate themselves on issues that matter. If you have educated yourself, really educated yourself, through diverse, credible sources and that remains to be your view then I respect it and respect you for taking it up on yourself to do your own research. However, if no such research was done then allow me to point this out to you; if we all listen to some of the most influential forces around us, such as the media and politicians, we’d believe much more than Islam being a terrorist religion! We’d believe that all Hispanics are drug dealers, all African-Americans are thugs and murderers, all Asians are rice pickers who can’t speak “proper” English, all Eastern Europeans are drunkards, all English are stuck-up, all Australians are descendants of criminals, all Canadians are cowards, all Mormons are cult-like, all Christians are judgmental and all Jews are cheap!

I, for one, do not believe any of the above. And why so? Because I was raised not to judge, not to repeat what I hear without verifying, not to hurt other people’s feelings, not to assume, to research, to ask, to look for the good in others and to be fair. In other words, I was raised on Islam!

There is a HUGE difference between Muslims and Islamists. Muslims are everyday people like myself, who have embraced the beautiful, peaceful religion of Islam and who are trying to live their lives just like everybody else around them. Islamists, on the other hand, are not what the dictionary would tell you … supporters and advocators of Islamic fundamentalism … but rather those whose Islam is just a word describing the name of a religion they belong to on paper, not a way of life or a light in their hearts! If they really did support Islamic fundamentalism, they’d be the kindest, most understanding, most supportive, non-judgmental, peace-loving beings to walk this Earth. All radicals and extremists are Islamists, not Muslims. And I, as a Muslim, condemn each and every act of cowardice, hatred, assassination and terrorism they commit! Not just that, even any radical thought or idea is one I and my religion condemn!

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Religion is very easy, and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” Bukhari:V1N38 ##

Every era has its terrorists and Islamists happen to be those of the one we live now. Think back centuries and decades ago. Were Christians not considered the terrorists of their time during the Crusades which took course over an entire century? Were Communists not considered the terrorists of their time during Marx, Lenin and Stalin’s rules? Were Nazis (and thus Germans) not considered the terrorists of their time during Hitler’s rule? Were Japanese Pan-Asians not considered the terrorists of their time pre-World War II? How about the African Americans who were the terrorists of the past few decades? How about Christians who kill others? How about Jews who kill others? It’s all relative, relative to when and where you live!

The act of an individual, a group, or a whole bunch of individuals or groups doesn’t make me generalize about others belonging to that same group. Every race, religion, ethnicity, nationality and color has criminal individuals. That’s a fact. Whatever those people commit is on their shoulders, not on those of all who belong to that identifying group. If we all generalized then we would all hate each other! Christians and Jews kill Muslims. Americans and Europeans kill Muslims. Even Muslims kill Muslims. And I can guarantee you that if I do the research I’ll find at least one person from every other religion and country in this world has killed a Muslim someday. So I, as a devoted Muslim, would have an obligation in that case to hate and prosecute every single person I meet, including Muslims like myself, because they are surely responsible for some heinous crime or another against a brother or sister of mine! And the opposite is true as well. Does that sound reasonable? I don’t think so.

The bottom line is, there are good people and there are bad people and both can belong to any faith, nationality or other identifier! I believe good people outweigh bad ones. I believe that a person’s actions speak louder than anything else. I believe that who you are as an individual does not reflect on all those who carry the same identifier as you do, even if you are good. I believe that we are capable of living in peace, it’s really not that hard, but we don’t want to.

“Whoever recommends and helps a good cause becomes a partner therein, and whoever recommends and helps an evil cause shares in its burdens” Qur’an:4:85 ##

Concerning Islam, there are Muslim dictators just like there are dictators of other religions. There are Muslim terrorists just like there are terrorists of other religions. There are Muslim bigots just like there are bigots of other religions. There are Muslim radicals just like there are radicals of other religions. There are Muslim abusers just like there are abusers of other religions. It’s true, I am not saying they don’t exist, what I am saying is that not all of us are that way. Real Muslims do not condone violence, Islam does not condone violence. I repeat, real Muslims do not condone violence and Islam does not condone violence!

A friend of a friend, Amy Khan of Derby, Kansas, posted the following on her Facebook page two days ago with regards to the Boston perpetrators and it speaks my mind and heart exactly;

“I want to make something VERY CLEAR to everyone on my friend’s list whether I’ve met you in real life or not. I am a practicing Muslim. I have raised my children to be practicing Muslims. We are just as horrified as you are about what has happened and is currently in Boston. What these people have done is not representative of our religious beliefs and is NOT condoned in our religion. MANY Muslim organizations are speaking out against what has happened. Just because you don’t see it on the media does not mean that area Muslims or Islamic Associations are not speaking against it. Anyone that wishes to read those statements of commendation should feel free to ask me but I am not going to post every one I find on my wall because I do not feel responsible for the actions of these individuals nor do I feel I should because they have NOTHING to do with me, my family, or our beliefs. I will not apologize for them but I do want you to know that I do not agree with them and I want to see them prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I love each and every one of you and hope you feel the same about me.”

“God does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact God loves the equitable.” Qur’an:60:8 ##

Every word is true. The media is quick to show how horrible all Muslims are but fails to be as diligent when it comes to our condemnation of such behavior or how involved we are in our communities or how much we help all those around us! It’s not just the media, so many other agencies out there do us injustice deliberately. How many times have you heard or read about the number of soldiers or Israelis who were killed in some Middle Eastern country or another? Many times. OK, and how many times have you heard or read about the number of Muslims who were killed in those very same countries or incidents even?

Allow me to tell you a few facts about Islam, and please feel free to ask me any questions you have regarding any of them or anything else. I will do my best to answer you and provide sources alongside my response as well:

  • The word “Islam” in Arabic means submission (to God) and it’s derived from the word “Salam” which means peace!
  • You are not a true Muslim unless you believe in Jesus and his original message, Moses and his original message and all preceding prophets and messengers.
  • God is merciful; it is stated in the Quran that mercy is 100 parts, one of which is distributed here on Earth and the other 99 parts are in God’s hands to bestow upon us in the hereafter.
  • In Islam, it is clearly stated that we are not to judge others and if someone wrongs us we should think of 73 excuses for them to behave the way they did.
  • In the Quran; it is clearly stated that we, humans, were created as tribes and nations and that we are instructed to live together in peace and learn and benefit from each other.
  • Yes, women in Islam are to wear the Hijab once they hit puberty. It is meant to promote modesty and protect women from being perceived as sexual objects of interest. Hijab is not oppressive, it is extremely liberating. By wearing Hijab a woman has full-power over her body and her sexuality. It is she who decides who to show her body to and who doesn’t deserve such an honor. The Virgin Mary is depicted veiled in all her pictures. Nuns cover their hair. Christianity states that a woman should cover her hair or shave bald. Hijab is not the only veil out there.
  • No, we do not wear the Hijab at home with our husbands! We wear what most women wear outside their homes.
  • No, not every Muslim man is, or wants to be, married to four women. The whole point why Islam allows polygamy is that widows, older women, younger women and any woman who seeks a partner or protection can find such a partner rather than be left to fend for herself. It’s not a must, it’s a can-do to ease the suffering of others.
  • Yes, we use birth control too, the same kinds as everyone else!
  • No, Women in Islam are not oppressed or abused. Even during the time of the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) women were warriors, entrepreneurs (his own first wife was his employer), nurses, writers and much more.
  • No, we don’t believe that all Christians, Jews or whoever are going to Hell! In fact, the Quran teaches us that such knowledge belongs to God and only God and so whoever utters such words has done himself a grave disservice.

    A funeral procession once passed in front of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and he stood up out of respect. When he was told the person in the coffin was Jewish and not Muslim, he said: “Was it not a living (soul)?” Bukhari:V2N399##

    Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, who so believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”

    In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.

    When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:

    Quran 5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”

    So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.***

  • Even at times of war, Muslims weren’t allowed to wreak havoc as they wish! There were certain rules and guidelines to be followed.

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once saw the corpse of a woman who had been killed in a military action, and he disapproved of it and forbade the killing of women and children.Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad and his successor as head of the Muslim community, advised one of his military commanders: “Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place.” Al-Muwatta:V21N9-10 ##

  • Islam is a merciful religion, even the smallest acts of kindness are encouraged.

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “(God) will (question a person) on the Day of Resurrection (saying)): ‘O son of Adam, I was sick but you did not visit Me.’ The person will say: ‘O my Lord, how could I visit Thee when Thou art the Lord of the worlds?’ Thereupon (God) will say: ‘Didn’t you know that a servant of Mine was sick but you did not visit him, and were you not aware that if you had visited him, you would have found Me by him?’(God will then say) ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for food but you did not feed Me.’ The person will say: ‘My Lord, how could I feed Thee when Thou art the Lord of the worlds?’ (God) will say: ‘Didn’t you know that a servant of Mine asked you for food but you did not feed him, and were you not aware that if you had fed him you would have found him by My side?’ Muslim:1172##

  • True Jihad has nothing, I repeat, nothing to do with what extremists are doing these days! Speaking up against injustice and something called Jihad Al Nafs (i.e. jihad against oneself), where you continuously try to battle the bad inside you and have the good overcome it, are what Islamic Jihad are about.

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The best (Jihad) is (to speak) word of justice to an oppressive ruler.” Sunan of Abu-Dawood:2040##

  • Charity is emphasized in Islam, again and again! In the Quran alone it was mentioned 150 times in total. Even a smile is considered a form of charity.

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” Narrated ‘Aisha [prophet Mohammed’s wife] -may Allah be pleased with her- : “I never saw the Prophet laughing to an extent that one could see his palate, but he always used to smile”.#

    The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “(Each one) of you should save himself from the fire by giving even half of a date (in charity). And if you do not find a half date, then (you can do it through saying) a pleasant word (to your brethren).” Bukhari:V2N394##

  • Prophet Moses is the prophet whose name was mentioned most in the Quran. Not Prophet Muhammad!.

I could go on and on citing examples from Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and doings and from the Quran to prove my point but I believe that I was able to convey it in the most concise and direct way I could. To sum up, Islam and true Muslims do not condone violence and terrorism in any way, shape or form. Islam and true Muslims have nothing against anyone embracing any other faith, especially Christians and Jews. Islam and true Muslims believe that we are in no position to prosecute others on this Earth, our judgment – all of us, Muslims included – is in God’s hands in the hereafter. Me, as Heba, if I love you then I love you as an individual for your actions and feelings towards me, nothing else. And if I dislike you then I dislike you as an individual for your actions and feelings towards me, nothing else. Some of my closest and most loyal friends are Christians. Some are Arabs like myself and others are Europeans. I am Muslim and Islam is the religion of peace!

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* Source: http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=RA1001-4060

** Source: http://www.turntoislam.com/threads/social-impact-of-islam-on-neighborhoods.74550

*** Source: http://www.juancole.com/2006/03/bigotry-toward-muslims-and-anti-arab.html

# Source: http://islamgreatreligion.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/even-a-smile-is-charity-prophet-muhammad-pbuh/

## Source: http://islamgreatreligion.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/quotes-and-wise-sayings-from-quran-islam-a-message-of-peace/

30 Days Till 30 … Day 17: Great Women in History

I’m not a feminist or anything, although I do believe that women and men should be treated as equals unless there is a divine reason not to have that happen. I do, however, have the utmost respect for women and I do see them as one of the strongest beings to ever roam this earth!

Both, men and women, face numerous challenges on a daily basis throughout their lives. But women have the added burdens of bearing children for 9 months, giving birth, lactating and being in charge of all the sleepless nights. They are also challenged by society daily, always seen as the weaker, less smart and less capable gender. Women always have to prove themselves. Furthermore, no matter whether the woman works or not, she ends up being in charge of the housework, for the most part at least. Men are expected to succeed, work and provide. Women are expected to fail, stay at home and take care of their children. And even when a woman conforms to society’s views of her, whether by choice or otherwise, she’s still scrutinized for how well she does her job in the home while men can get away with, pretty much, everything as long as they put in the hours and bring home the bacon! You may say I am biased, and maybe I am, but this is my honest view of how society perceives women in this day and age. Many people are trying to change this reality and I can only hope that, one day, they’ll succeed.

Throughout history, however, there were many strong, courageous women who stood out and challenged the status quo. I can only iterate the achievements of so many in one post, I wish I could do them all justice and include them. Those women served as role models to all other women that came to exist after them, no matter during which age they themselves lived, and there are those who followed closely in their footsteps and became role models themselves.

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Jane Addams

Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860, in the small town of Cedarville, Illinois, one of eight children. Her mother died when she was only three years old. In 1877, Jane attended the Rockville Female Seminary where she learned to write and speak with authority, traits that would come in handy during her later years. When she graduated from the seminary in 1881, she found herself ill and depressed, and became more so after her father died that same year when she was only 21.

In 1887, she traveled to Europe with a group of friends. When she traveled to London, England, Addams found herself amazed at the huge amount of poverty that England’s industrialization had caused. She also saw a settlement house called Toynbee Hall, used in order to teach workmen, from which sprouted her interest in social reform.

When Jane returned to the United States, she traveled to Chicago and turned an old mansion there into a settlement house called Hull House which she used in order to care for children, give medical care, and try to clean up the disease-causing waste on the city streets. While in Chicago, she also managed to enlighten and educate the poor and spoke often at church groups and women’s clubs and also talked to college students.

In 1898, Jane began to become known throughout the nation for her speeches and was even recommended to meet with President Woodrow Wilson by a close friend of his, Charles R. Crane, who had heard her speak. She even tried to stop World War I from coming, even though it was inevitable. She also encouraged meditation and became an officer of the Progressive party and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, of which she became president in 1915. She was even offered a job by the Red Cross, but she refused because it was run by the military and hence, supported war.

In 1931, Jane received the Nobel Prize for all she had done, including her help with the worldwide disarmament after World War I, Hull House, and many other accomplishments. She died on May 21, 1935, having written many books on prostitution, women’s rights, juvenile delinquency, and militarism, and trying to achieve her dream of making every child happy.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/addams.html)

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Nusayba Bint Ka’b Al-Ansariyah

Nusayba was of one of the first advocates for the rights of Muslim women. Notably, she asked the Prophet Muhammad, “Why does God only address men (in the Quran)?” Soon after this exchange, the Prophet received a revelation in Chapter 33, Verse 35 that mentions women can attain every quality to which men have access. The verse also conclusively settled that women stand on the same spiritual level as men. She was viewed as a visionary who transcended her own generation.

The journals of the early believers do not rave about the beauty of her hair or the colour of her eyes or the smoothness of her skin. Instead many words have been written about the true values of womanhood which shone from her. Her glory was her courage and honour. The Prophet held this dear Woman of Distinction in such high esteem that he compared her piety and devotion to that of the greatest of his companions.

She was one of only two women who traveled with seventy-three ansar men to Makkah before the Hijrah to Madinah. They gave him the oath to support him and sacrifice for him with their wealth, souls and families once he comes to them in Madinah.

She was one of the most distinguished women who took part in the battle of Uhud, if not the most distinguished of them. Nusayba went forward, with her sword unsheathed and her bow in her hand, to join the small group who were standing firm with the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), acting as a human shield to protect him from the arrows of the mushrikin. She tied her belt around her waist so that she would not trip, brandishing a sword at times and throwing arrows at others, she cut through the ranks of the enemy and took sides with the Prophet. Nusayba got her sword and her quiver of arrows and started shooting. The battle was fierce, for the Muslims were on foot fighting for their lives against mounted soldiers. The Prophet noticed that she had no shield, and so said to one of the retreating men: “Give your shield to the one who is fighting.” So he handed her the shield, and she defended the Prophet of Allah with it, using also the bow and arrow along with a sword. She was attacked by horsemen, but never wavered nor felt fear. She later boldly claimed, “If they had been on foot as we were, we would have trounced them, Allah willing.” She fought fiercely that day, striking fatal blows to her opponents until she suffered many wounds. She was wounded thirteen times in the battle of Uhud. She fought in other battles later on as well.

(sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fazeela-siddiqui/10-muslim-women-you-should-know_b_1348903.html#s794716&title=Nusayba_bint_Kab and http://www.siddiqi.org/nusayba/nusayba_bint_kaab.html)

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Saint Joan of Arc

Also called Jeanne d’Arc and Jeanne la Pucelle, Joan of Arc was born in France, near the border of Burgundy, on January 6, 1412. At first, Joan seemed like a normal child, but then at age 13, she began to hear voices that she believed were St. Michael the Archangel, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch. The voices told her that her mission was to save France, and at their bidding, Joan went to the castle of the Dauphin Charles of France at Chinan and told him what the voices told her.

Soon, Joan was sent with an army to Orleans and succeeded in raising the English seige on May 8, 1429. After that, Joan began to win many more battles against the English, taking France back piece by piece. This included the battle of Paris, but Joan and her army failed because they had not been supplied adequately enough. On July 17, 1429, Joan escorted the Dauphin to be crowned as King Charles VII in Raims Cathedral. This never would have happened if not for Joan.

However, in May 1430, she was captured during a battle and sold to an Englishman named John of Luxembourg for 10,000 crowns. Then, she was put on trial for sorcery and heresy. The Dauphin made no attempt to save her, although it is thought that the English would have taken a ransom. Instead, she was convicted by the Inquisition and burned at the stake in the St. Rouen churchyard on May 30, 1431, when she was less than twenty years old. Jean Massieu, who witnessed her death says, “The pious woman asked, requested, and begged me, as I was near her at her end, that I would go to the near-by church and fetch the cross to hold it raised before her eyes to the threshold of her death, that the cross with God hung upon be continually before her eyes in her lifetime.”

In 1456, Charles VII anulled Joan’s conviction in order that he not owe his reign to one of the Devil’s pawns. In 1904, she was considered Venerable, in 1908, was recognized as Blessed, and finally, in May 1920, she was canonized by the Pope and became a Saint. She even has her own holiday, a French national holiday on a specified Sunday.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/joan.html)

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Cleopatra

Cleopatra, actually known as Cleopatra VII, was born in Egypt in 69 B.C. In 58 B.C., her father Ptolemy XII was expelled from power, so Cleopatra helped him regain his power. However, her father died in 51 B.C., and Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII took the throne. In 48 B.C., Cleopatra was exiled by her brother, who had taken control as supreme Pharaoh. So, Cleopatra created an army in Syria and joined forces with Roman Julius Caesar, who became her lover and supported her cause. With his help, Ptolemy XIII was killed in 47 B.C. and Caesar pronounced Cleopatra as queen of Egypt.

As it was a custom, Cleopatra married her younger brother, 11 year old Ptolemy XIV. Cleopatra also had a child whom she named Caesarian and later became Ptolemy XV. He was thought to be Caesar’s child, not Ptolemy XIV’s. Then, Caesar was assassinated and her husband, Ptolemy XIV, was poisoned and died.

After knowing him for a few years, Cleopatra married Mark Antony around 35 B.C., even though he was also married to a woman named Octavia. Together, they had a pair of twins who they named Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, and also another child who was named Ptolemy XVI. In 32 B.C., war was declared upon Egypt from Octavius, the brother of Mark Antony’s other wife, because Antony had left Octavia for Cleopatra. Antony and Octavia soon divorced, but Cleopatra still was forced into war.

Sadly, Cleopatra’s army was defeated in the Battle of Actium, and many sorrowful events followed. Mark Antony heard that Cleopatra had died, so he fell on his own sword in 31 B.C., effectively committing suicide. Cleopatra built a temple in Antony’s honor called the Caesarium, which had the two small obelisks called “Cleopatra’s Needles” in it. These obelisks were later given to America and Britain as gift in the 1800’s. One is now in the Embankment in London, and the other is in Central Park in New York City.

Saddened by Antony’s death, Cleopatra killed herself in 31 B.C., although it is much disputed over whether she simply poisoned herself or let her asp (a type of snake) complete her death. Although her life has ended, her fame continues. She has been the basis for many works of literature, including Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra, John Dryden’s All for Love, and George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra. She has also had many movies titled and made about her, including ones in 1914, 1934, and 1963, among others.

(Source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/cleopatra.html)

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Aung San Suu Kyi

Aung San Suu Kyi was born in 1945 in Yangon, Myanmar, what was formerly recognized as Rangoon. She was educated in India and England, where she attended the University of Oxford. In 1988, Aung returned to Myanmar, sharing her new revelations about democracy inspired by Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi. Also in that year, she created the National League for Democracy (also known as NLD).

In July 1989, Aung was put under house arrest by the military government for appearing at and creating mass gatherings about democracy. While still under house arrest, in May 1990, 80% of the seats in Parliament were elected to the NDL. However, the government refused to allow the seats to be taken.

On July 10, 1995, Aung was released from house arrest, yet she refused to leave the country because if she left, she could never return again. She continued spreading the thoughts of democracy because she thought Myanmar needed democracy to survive. In 1990, Aung won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and also the Nobel Prize in 1991. In 1996, Aung was once more put under virtual house arrest, although she still received her doctor of laws degree in Washington D.C. at the American University in 1997 and wrote a book titled Freedom from Fear and Other Writings about her father and Myanmar.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/aung.html)

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Fatima Al-Fihri

Fatima was an immigrant from Kairouan, Tunisia to Fes in Morocco. She was the founder of the oldest degree-granting university in the world (pictured). After inheriting a large fortune, she wanted to devote her money to pious work that would benefit the community. Thus, with her wealth she built the Al Qarawiyyin mosque. From the 10th to 12th century, the mosque developed into a university — Al Qarawiyyin University.

Today, the Guinness Book of World Records and UNESCO recognize this university to be the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in the world.

Fatima Al-Fihri was certainly a lady of foresightedness for the location of the university within the compounds of the mosque attracted scholars from far and wide. Fes, being the most influential cities in the Muslim world has been renowned for centuries as the centre for religion and culture. The university produced great thinkers such as Abu Al-Abbas al-Zwawi, Abu Madhab Al-Fasi, a leading theorist of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence and Leo Africanus, a renowed traveler and writer.

Today, Fatima Al-Fihri is highly respected and looked upon by Moroccan women for her wisdom, perserverances and kind heartedness. It was her personal sacrifice that has made her to be an inspiration to all women. Even today, young Moroccan ladies speak greatly of their foremother who not only brought fame to Fes but has carved a name for being the only Muslimah who has built the oldest university which is still running today.

(sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fazeela-siddiqui/10-muslim-women-you-should-know_b_1348903.html#s789572&title=Fatima_alFihri_Morocco and http://theurbanmuslimwomen.wordpress.com/2008/08/04/fatima-al-fihri-founder-of-the-oldest-university-in-the-world/)

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Rachel Carson 

Rachel Carson was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania on May 27, 1907 and grew up in her birthtown of Springdale. She graduated from Chatham College (formerly known as the Pennsylvania College for Women) in 1929, then studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biology Laboratory. In 1932, Rachel received her Master of Arts in zoology from John Hopkins University. During the Great Depression, she wrote radio scripts for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and also wrote natural history articles in the Baltimore Sun for the payments.

In 1936, Rachel became a scientist and editor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and later became Editor-in-Chief. In 1937, she wrote an article in the Atlantic Monthly called “Undersea” in lyric prose and also wrote the book Under the Sea-Wind in 1941. In 1952, she resigned from service to the government and began to concentrate on her writing. She wrote The Sea Around Us in 1952 and The Edge of the Sea in 1955. Both of these books made her famous as a naturalist and a writer.

Courtesy: http://www.angelfire.com

Courtesy: http://www.angelfire.com
Personal Note: Ms Carson looks a great deal like my maternal grandmother, God rest her soul.

During World War II, she changed her interest from marine biology and the seas to pesticides, feeling as if the use of synthetic chemical pesticides in the war was wrong. In 1962, she published her most well-known work called Silent Spring. This book challenged the government and agricultural scientists and also called for a change in humankind’s attitude towards the natural world. This book caused her to be attacked verbally by the government and the chemical industry. In 1963, Rachel testified before Congress for new pesticide policies.

She died in Silver Spring, Maryland on April 14, 1964 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was an influencial writer, scientist, and ecologist.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/carson.html)

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Marie Curie

Marie Curie was born as Maria Skladowska in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867. At age 16, she won a gold medal for graduating from secondary school and then started working as a teacher to help support her family. When she was 18, she worked as a governess and financed her sister through medical school with the money she received.

In 1891, Marie went to Paris and worked at a laboratory of the physicist Gabriel Lippman. There, in 1894, she met Pierre Curie, and they were married on July 25, 1895. In the summer of 1898, Marie and Piere discovered the element Polonium. A few months later, she and Pierre also discovered Radium. Marie also obtained pure metallic radium with A. Debierne and in 1903, she won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with her husband and another scientist. She became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics.

Marie then introduced a different teaching method at Sevres, a school for girls, that was based on demonstrations of experiments. She was made chief assistant of the laboratory at Sevres in 1904. On April 19, 1906, Marie’s husband, Pierre, died, but she was still able to continue her scientific work. She became the first female head of Laboratory at the Sorbonne University in Paris in 1906 and also received another Nobel Prize, this one in Chemistry, in 1911. She was the first person ever to win two Nobel Prizes. In 1922, Marie became a member of the Academy of Medicine.

On July 4, 1934, Marie died of leukemia, probably caused by her exposure to radiation during her experiments. She had been a woman who had contributed much to the study of radioactivity, among other things. In 1995, her ashes were enshrined under the dome of the Pantheon in Paris, the first woman to be laid there for her own merits. In 1996, a movie debuted about her and her husband called “Les Palmes de M. Schutz.” Marie has two craters named after her (one on the moon, one on Mars) as well as a NASA rover with her name. Her image is on many stamps and coins worldwide, though especially in Poland, her birth country.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/curie.html)

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Nana Asma’u

Nana was a Muslim Nigerian princess, poet and teacher. She lived from 1793 to 1864. She was fluent in Arabic, Fulfulde, Hausa and Tamacheq and well versed in Arabic, Greek and Latin classics. In 1830, she formed a group of female teachers who journeyed throughout the region to educate women in poor and rural regions. With the republication of her works, that underscore women’s education, she has become a rallying point for African women. Today, in northern Nigeria, Islamic women’s organizations, schools and meeting halls are frequently named in her honor.

(source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/fazeela-siddiqui/10-muslim-women-you-should-know_b_1348903.html#s794557&title=Nana_Asmau_Nigeria)

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Dr. Edith Marie Flanigen

Edith Flanigen was born on January 28, 1929 in the city of Buffalo, New York. She graduated from D’Youville College in Buffalo as valedictorian and class president. In 1952, she gained her Masters from Syracuse University in Inorganic-Physical Chemistry. After her graduation, she began researching for the Union Carbide Corporation, as well as a joint venture of the AlliedSignal and the Union Carbide called the UOP.

In 1956, Edith started working with molecular sieves, “crystal compounds with molecular-sized pores” which were used as filters of mixtures as well as catalysts. Throughout her career, she invented over 200 different synthetic substances, including her most important called “zeolite Y.” “Zeolite Y” was used to refine petroleum, a catalyst used in converting crude oil into gasoline. She also co-invented a type of synthetic emerald that was used in jewelry for only five or ten years during the mid-1900’s.

In 1992, Edith received the Perkin Medal and decided to retire from her occupation in 1994. Her inventions have made gasoline production safer, cleaner, and greater. Her sieves are also used in environmental clean-up and water purification.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/flanigen.html)

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Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise McCauley was born on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama. At age 2, Rosa moved to Pine Level, Alabama, to live with her grandparents, and at age 11, attended a private school called Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. She then attended Alabama State Teachers College and married Raymond Parks. They settled down together in Montgomery, Alabama, and joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

On December 1, 1955, Rosa’s whole life changed when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. For violating Montgomery’s ordinance, she was arrested and fined. However, this act began the modern civil rights movement. In combination with Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa boycotted the city’s bus company for a duration of 382 days. This caused the Supreme Court to rule that the ordinance under which Rosa was fined was wrong. They also put out a law against racial segregation on public transportation. She also later received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize.

In 1957, Rosa moved with her husband to Detroit, Michigan. There, she served as part of U.S. Representative John Conyers’ staff. The Rosa Parks Freedom Award was created in her honor by the Southern Christian Leadership Council as well. When her husband died, she created the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development which annually sponsors Pathways to Freedom, summer programs for teens where they tour the country and learn about the civil rights movement.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/parks.html)

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Pocahontas

Pocahontas was born in Gloucester County, Virginia, in March 1595. Her real Native American name, given by her father, Chief Powhatan, was Matoaka. Her pet name was Pocahontas, meaning “my favorite daughter” and “frolicsome.” In 1607, settlers came to the Chesapeake Bay area and a man named John Smith, the military leader of Jamestown, was taken prisoner by her people some years later. Pocahontas was the one who saved John Smith’s life, possibly having flung herself over him as he was about to be clubbed to death, but this has not been proven true. After saving him, she urged her Native American people that he be returned to Jamestown and her father, Chief Powhatan, honored her request.

From this point forward, Pocahontas began to visit Jamestown frequently, often bearing food for the hard-working settlers. It was her friendship that helped preserve the peace between the Native Americans and the settlers.

In 1609, John Smith returned to England and the friendship between the settlers and the Native Americans began to deteriorate. Then, in the spring of 1613, she was taken prisoner by Captain Samuel Argall, wanting to use her to create a permanent peace between the settlers and the Native Americans. She was not treated badly however and she was converted to Christianity and baptized as Lady Rebecca.

Once Chief Powhatan had paid the ransom for Pocahontas, Pocahontas was free to go back to her people. However, during her kidnapping, she had fallen in love with a settler named John Rolfe. Very soon after, Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married with the agreement of Chief Powhatan and Virginia’s governer, Sir Thomas Dale. In 1616, she and John Rolfe traveled to England and there, her image was worshiped throughout the country and she was even presented to King James I. But when she was planning to return to America, she came down with small pox and died in Gravesend, Kent, England, in March 1617.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/pocahontas.html)

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Sakajawea

Whether spelled Sakajawea, meaning “Boat Launcher”, or Sacagawea, meaning “Bird Woman”, Sakajawea played an important role in history. She rose the Native American woman to higher levels of admiration and respect, among other recognitions. She was most likely born in 1790 in Eastern Idaho, a Native American of the Shoshoni tribe. When she was just ten years old, she was kidnapped by the Hidatsa, another tribe, and was brought to the North Dakota border. There, she was eventually sold to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian fur trader. They were married and soon after, Sakajawea became pregnant.

Charbonneau was soon hired by the Corps of Discovery, the name of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. He was ordered to bring Sacajawea and their son, Jean Baptiste, for two reasons: one, to keep the party peaceful with the people they met on the expedition, and two, a Native American interpreter and guide was necessary.

As Charbonneau, Clark, Lewis, and Sacajawea and her son traveled, it was because of Sacajawea that they bypassed rough terrain. She also kept the horses and food fresh during the whole expedition because of her brother, chief Cameahwait, and scavenged for food when it was scarce. Clark wrote all about her in his journal, praising her repeatedly. It was he that offered that Jean Baptiste be taken to St. Louis, away from abusive Charbonneau. In the end, she did take Jean Baptiste to St. Louis and Jean Baptiste was raised as Clark’s own. It was also Clark who named a river Sacajawea in her tribute.

It is at this point that history becomes unclear. One story says that Sacajawea died of “putrid fever” on December 20, 1812. Clark’s accounts seem to confirm that she died. However, there is a second story. There was a Native American woman that married a few times, had more children, and was reunited with her son, Jean Baptiste. She was called Porvo and she knew inside facts on the expedition, spoke French, had a Jeff Medal around her neck, spoke politically, introduced the Shoshoni to the Sun Dance Ceremony, and advocated for the Shoshoni’s need of agriculture. Porvo died on April 9, 1884 and is buried at Fort Washakie in honor of the expedition. Historians and scientists today believe that Porvo was most likely Sacajawea.

Recently, the Golden Dollar coin was created in Sacajawea’s memory. The front shows Sacajawea with her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back, and the back shows an eagle, the United States of America’s symbol. This was done in tribute to Sacajawea, for the expedition never could have been successful without her, and it was very important to history and the settling of the west.

(source: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/sakajawea.html)

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Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi was born in Iran in 1947 and still lives on. In 2003, she became the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. As a judge in Iran, she was the first woman to achieve Chief Justice status. However, she was dismissed from this position after the 1979 Revolution. As a lawyer, Shirin has taken on many controversial cases and in result, has been arrested numerous times. Her activism has been predicated on her view that, “An interpretation of Islam that is in harmony with equality and democracy is an authentic expression of faith. It is not religion that binds women, but the selective dictates of those who wish them cloistered.”
 
 
 
 
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Sojourner Truth

Isabella Baufree (Sojourner Truth’s real name) was born in a Dutch county called Ulster County in New York, one of thirteen children. She was born to slave parents, so in effect, she was a slave as well. She was sold to her first master at eleven years old, speaking only Dutch, but she quickly learned English in the company of her cruel master. Her third master, John Dumont, had Isabella marry Thomas, another of his slaves, and even though it was a kind of forced marriage, they had five children.

Dumont also promised Isabella freedom a year before the emancipation in New York in 1828. But Dumont went back on his word, and Isabella ran away from his control with her infant. Isabella then lived in New York City, working as a religious commune domestic. Then, in 1843, she received a spiritual vision and changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She traveled through Connecticut and Long Island, New York, lecturing on God as a savior.

Finally, Sojourner settled in Northampton, Massachusetts. There, she joined the Northampton Association for Education and Industry, working with Olive Gilbert, William Lloyd Garrison, and Frederick Douglas for abolition of slavery. In 1850, Sojourner published The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, and a year later, in Akron, Ohio, she spoke on women’s rights at a convention. After the Civil War, Sojourner worked towards aiding newly-freed southern slaves and even petitioned Congress to give some land in the “new West” to the former slaves. However, that petition failed.

Sojourner Truth died in Battle Creek, Michigan, in November 1883.

(sources: http://www.angelfire.com/anime2/100import/truth.html)

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Nefertiti

Nefertiti, whose name means “the beautiful one has come,” was the queen of Egypt and wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten during the 14th century B.C. She and her husband established the cult of Aten, the sun god, and promoted Egyptian artwork that was radically different from its predecessors. A bust of Nefertiti is one of the most iconic symbols of Egypt.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Little is known about the origins of Nefertiti, but her legacy of beauty and power continue to intrigue scholars today. Some evidence suggests that she hailed from the town Akhmim and is the daughter or niece of a high official named Ay.

The exact date when Nefertiti married Amenhotep III’s son, the future pharaoh Amenhotep IV, is unknown. It is believed she was 15 when they wed, which may have been before Akhenaten assumed the throne. They apparently ruled together from 1353 to 1336 B.C. and had six daughters, with speculation that they may have also had a son. Artwork from the day depicts the couple and their daughters in an unusually naturalistic and individualistic style, more so than from earlier eras. The king and his head queen seem to be inseparable in reliefs, often shown riding in chariots together and even kissing in public. It has been stated that the couple may have had a genuine romantic connection, a dynamic not generally seen in ancient pharaoh depictions.

Nefertiti and the pharaoh took an active role in establishing the Aten cult, a religious mythology which defined Aten, the sun, as the most important god and only one worthy of worship in Egypt’s polytheistic canon. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten (also seen as “Akenhaten” in some references) to honor the deity. It is believed that the king and queen were priests and that only through them ordinary citizens obtained access to Aten. Nefertiti changed her name to Neferneferuaten-Nefertiti, meaning “beautiful are the beauties of Aten, a beautiful woman has come,” as a show of her absolutism for the new religion. The royal family resided in a constructed city meant to honor their god, also called Akhenaten in what is now known as el-Amarna. There were several open-air temples in the city, and at the center stood the palace.

Nefertiti was perhaps one of the most powerful women to have ever ruled. Her husband went to great lengths to display her as an equal counterpart. In several reliefs she is shown wearing the crown of a pharaoh or smiting her enemies in battle. Despite her great power, Nefertiti disappears from all depictions after 12 years. The reason for her disappearance is unknown. Some scholars believe she died, while others speculate she was elevated to the status of co-regent, equal in power to the pharaoh, and began to dress herself as a man. Some say she became known as Pharaoh Smenkhkare, ruling Egypt after her husband’s death. Others suggest she was exiled when the worship of the deity Amen-Ra came back into vogue. Her mummy has not been found.

(source: http://www.biography.com/people/nefertiti-9421166)

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Sayeda Khadija and Sayeda Aisha (wives of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)), Mother Theresa, Jane Austen, Amelia Earheart, Florence Nightingale, Margaret Thatcher and many more are amongst those who are also worth mentioning. I highly encourage my readers to find out more about those amazing women and many others whenever they get the chance.

30 Days Till 30 … Day 15: Q&A

I would like to thank all my new and existing followers for coming back to my blog on a daily basis. Your comments and positive feedback mean the world to me and encourage me to keep writing. Over the past couple of weeks I received several emails that included numerous inquiries about me, my background and my likes and dislikes, amongst other questions. I responded to some of them but didn’t get the chance to do so for all of them so please do not feel offended if you have not received a response yet, I’ll do my best to address them all before the weekend.

I noticed that many of the questions were recurring and so decided to cease the opportunity to let all my readers get to know me a little better and maybe tell me more about themselves in the comments, if they wish to of course (please do ;)). Allow me to do so in a Q&A form to make it simpler and easier to follow. I will also paraphrase the questions to make them short and to the point.

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Q: What does your name mean?

A: My name is actually two parts and a connector, Heba-t-Allah. It means “a gift from God” in Arabic, “Allah” here being the one and only God Muslims, like myself, believe in and worship. Most people call me Heba (the short version of my name) and, although I love my full name very much, I do not mind it at all. Here’s a fun fact about my name, did you know that the English name having the same meaning is Godiva? Yes, the lady … and the decadent chocolate 😀

Hebatallah in Arabic

My name written in Arabic

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Q: Where do you come from?

A: I come from the enchanting land of Egypt. More specifically, I am from Maadi, a beautiful suburb in the southern part of Cairo. It lies on the east bank of the glorious river Nile. Maadi got its name centuries ago and is the plural for “Ma’ adiya”, which means ferries in Arabic! The suburb was named so after the ferries that operated on the river Nile, transporting people from one side to another. It has a character unique to it, lots and lots of greenery, serene atmosphere, historic villas in certain parts of the suburb, tons of roundabouts (which can confuse even the smartest of “outsiders”) and countless businesses and activities aimed at serving expatriates, since many of them prefer to live there. It’s the perfect blend of all three major religions sporting a number of mosques, churches and one of the few synagogues in Egypt. A number of embassies, international schools and libraries as well as the Egyptian Geological Museum and the famous Maadi Sporting Club (where many old movies were filmed) are located in Maadi. One cannot forget to mention the railroad as well, Maadi originally started as buildings around the railroad and then expanded into one of the top 3 suburbs in Cairo.

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Q: Where did you go to school?

A: That’s a tough question to answer! Eventually, I am hoping to dedicate a post to each school I’ve been to but, frankly,  it feels like such a daunting task that I keep putting it off. I’ve been to a total of 5 schools. Yes, 5 schools in a total of 13 years of education (I’m counting KG1 and KG2 here, or if you’re more accustomed to the American system of education then pre-school and KG)! Two of those were in Egypt, one in Ethiopia, one in Cyprus and one in Hungary. They all had one thing in common though, they were international schools that followed the British system of education. My parents strived to give us the best education and I believe, from all my heart, that they did just that and more. Their sacrifices have not gone to waste.

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Q: Where did your parents work?

A: Aha, I knew that question would come up at one point or another 🙂 My father is a retired Ambassador and my mother worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well but chose to take one leave after another, for the most part of her life, in order to direct her efforts into raising me and my brother and supporting my father on his diplomatic missions. We spent every 4 years in a different country, going back home for a single year in between travels.

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Q: What are your favorite past-times?

A: I love, love, love to read. My love for reading goes back to when I was a toddler. My favorite books are novels; the bigger, the better! I am an avid reader and can easily go through a 700 page book in less than a week. It’s from there that my love of writing evolved. The use of colorful, rich words to invite others into my mind and paint a picture in their own has always captivated me. I started out by writing poetry and that evolved into short stories and then this very dear blog of mine. Another past-time of mine that not so many know about is that I like to draw using charcoal or charcoal crayons. I also enjoy gardening, walks on the beach and organizing.

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Q: Where do  you get the inspiration for your blog?

A: Everything I write about in this blog stems from my own life. I do not write fiction, until now at least. Topic ideas can come from my past, present or future aspirations. They may be inspired by a conversation with my spouse, a friend or something I saw or read. I don’t really have a single source of inspiration, anything that touches my heart or that I feel needs to be addressed or may be of help to others, I write about. Sometimes I am hit with a number of ideas all at once. When that happens, I choose the topic I have more to contribute towards or the one most pressing.

Q: Why do you mention your family and friends so much?

A: I am a grateful person by nature. I also like to give credit where credit is due, it’s only fair. My family is the most important thing in my life, in fact, they are my life. And so, they are an integral part of everything I experience and end up writing about. My friends are the best in the world! I truly believe so with every fiber of my being. Those girls are my rock and they inspire me to be a better woman every single day. I have such wonderful role models who give me so much to live up to. And so, they too are at the core of every event in my life.

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Q: Why do you abbreviate people’s names rather than give them full credit?

A: The reason why I only put the first name then an initial rather than the full name of an individual is to protect people’s privacy. It is out of respect that I do so not otherwise. I also never write about anyone and not let them know (unless they are deceased or I have lost contact with them for one reason or another). Anyone mentioned in a post is notified once the post is published. That way, I am not speaking about anyone behind their backs (even if what I am saying is positive) and at the same time it gives them a chance to relay to me any remarks they may have.

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Q: Where did the idea for 30 days till 30 come from?

A: The answer to this question will make much more sense to anyone who has read my “Intuition” blog post. I actually dreamed of this idea! I’ve been building up to my 30th birthday for a while, planning what gifts to get myself (this will be the first year I do so and I’ll write more about that later on), doing little special things for myself and taking things a bit slower in an attempt to enjoy the last few weeks of being in my 20s. But I also wanted to do something that will serve as a summation of all what I learned, well not all of it but you get the idea, and didn’t know what. Enter that dream with served as an “aha” moment. Not a bad idea, eh?

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Q: Where did you learn your style of writing?

A: I don’t have an answer to this one! I am sure that I have a style of my own but I hadn’t really thought about it nor even noticed that I do until I received that question. I asked the sender to give me more time to get back to them on this one and to help me out by telling me what they think my style of writing is. Everyone else is more than welcome to do the same.

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Q: Why do you live in the USA rather than back home? Is it because of the revolution?

A: We did not leave because of the revolution, if anything, we wanted to go back and participate in it once it started. After we got engaged, my husband received a wonderful offer in Kingdom of Bahrain and so he relocated there and I joined him after our wedding and honeymoon. We stayed there 4 years during which I started my own business and we had both our kids. A little less than 2 years ago, things started getting rough in Bahrain because of the protests and they got very dangerous, especially on the kids. As much as we loved living there, we felt it our duty to protect them and leave. We chose the USA since my husband was born here and it seemed like the most logical choice. Him getting a job offer here didn’t hurt either.

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Q: Are you with or against the Egyptian revolution?

A: My family and I support it 110%. Egypt is a beautiful country. It’s rich with its history, culture, resources and kind-hearted people. It’s the glue that holds the Arab world together, much like a mother embraces her children. It deserves the best and should get the best and so do its hardworking people. Anyone and everyone who does harm to it, doesn’t let it rise as much as it’s capable of, oppresses it and its sons and daughters deserves to be ousted. No one is bigger than Egypt and each and every ruler who is responsible for its well-being should know that. Egypt’s people will never give up on it and that should be the one thing that every ruler should always remember and fear.

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Courtesy: Hossam Saad Designs

Courtesy: Hossam Saad Designs

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Q: Do you plan on staying in the West, even after the way you have been treated because of your Hijab?

A: Humans are prejudiced, that’s a fact of life. The West is prejudiced against Arabs and Muslims. The East is prejudiced against the West. Arabs are prejudiced against each other. It’s just how the world is. Do I wish it were different? Yes, of course I do. My religion and upbringing both taught me that we are all equals and that we were created to live together in peace. It is our false sense of superiority that created all this hatred and bias … not to mention the extremists amongst us. I cannot change other people’s views of me, nor am I interested in doing so. I only care about God’s view of me, people’s perceptions say more about them than they do about me, if they reflect on me at all. I fought hard to wear my Hijab and I’m not about to let some closed-minded people change my mind. I am also a woman who has beliefs, principals and values and I am strong enough to stand by them no matter what anyone thinks. If I run away every time someone challenges or attacks me, what would I be teaching my children? To me, Hijab isn’t just a means to be closer to God or a mere dress code. It’s my freedom! It’s my freedom of choice, my freedom of speech, my freedom of expression. People say Muslim women are oppressed and brainwashed. On the contrary, if I were brainwashed then I wouldn’t have had to fight my way into wearing my Hijab. If I were oppressed then as soon as I had the chance I’d break free of this commitment. With all due respect to everyone else, women who blindly follow the latest fashion regardless whether it suits them or not and who steep into depression because they don’t look exactly like the “perfect” images of other women thrusted at them by the mainstream media and who let society dictate how they should dress, behave, talk and live are the ones who are oppressed and brainwashed in my eyes. I have the utmost respect for women who are unique, who are themselves and only do what they feel is right and suits them. A woman in control of her life is my kind of woman, not a woman that society controls her.

30 Days Till 30 … Day 13: Jane Austen

My love for Jane Austen’s writing is no secret. Anyone and everyone who knows me knows that her books and their movie and play adaptations captivate my soul. If anyone were to get me the best gift of all, they would, without a doubt,  get me the collection of her works!

My absolute favorite is “Pride & Prejudice”, my all time record was watching it 19 times in a single month! And, no, I was not free. I made the time and stayed up late every single time (and suffered the consequences the next day) because it was that important to me. I read the book and watched all versions of the movie. The one I liked and identified with most was the 2005 version starring Keira Knightly and Matthew McFadyen. Many argue that the 1995 BBC mini-series starring  Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth was a much better production and representation of Jane Austen’s novel. Personally, I did not like it at all! It was actually a real challenge for me to continue to watch it until the end. Although the actors did a wonderful job, I found Mrs. Bennet to be over the top and too silly (if I may) for my liking and Jennifer Ehle a little “stiff” in her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet’s character. I did love the costumes and settings more though, they were much better done than the 2005 movie.

There are several reasons why Jane Austen’s work is so close to my heart. To begin with, I am captivated by the era during which she lived and her writings took place. Men were true gentlemen and women were true ladies. They had fun and were in a close relationship with nature. They were proper, elegant and had airs. Life was simpler yet so sophisticated. If I had the choice, I would have wanted to live during that era as an accomplished woman no matter how frowned upon that was. As a young adult I used to say that the only setback of that era for me was the fact that women gave birth without being sedated. Well, after giving birth to both my kids without any pain control, I’d say it happened anyway so it’s irrelevant in my case! Another reason is the purity of her characters and her writing. She has the immense talent to convey what she wants without having her characters behave lewdly or out of line. When I watched the 2005 “Pride & Prejudice” movie for the first time I cried in the end, not because they ended up together, but because I could feel the depth of their love without them having so much as touched, let alone kissed, a single time (I watched the British ending, not the American one). Such depth of emotion can only be conveyed through terrific writing. She also displays a lot of wit, humor and irony in her books which add to the characters and the plot rather than being futile. In her endings, the rewards are always worth the wait, pain and struggle and virtue is rewarded handsomely, every single time. She was like a mother teaching her children (her readers) principals, values and manners in such a subtle, beautiful, rich way. Furthermore, you can feel what a warm, loving and experienced person Jane Austen was through her writing. It was important to her that her characters get their hearts’ desire in the end, even if they have to go through so many hardships along the way. She could not break her characters’ hearts as if they were real, live people who she knew and cared about. Her experience with regards to people shines through when you realize how transparent her characters seem to her. She can, literally, see right through them and always manages to let us see what lies in their very core without having to spell it out for us. And finally, but most importantly, she’s my idol when it comes to writing. She wrote with passion, vitality and from the bottom of her heart. She empowered women and let them know that they always had a choice even if it’s not what’s praised by society. Setting the example herself, she could not imagine marriage without love and did not compromise. She was true to herself and others and offered advice to her loved ones (her niece, for example) in accordance with her own values. She practiced what she preached and lived for her writing and her heart. Even when life did not give her her heart’s desire, she didn’t let that reflect on her characters, on the contrary, she let them have what she couldn’t … she was merciful and never lost hope, not for her characters at least.

Jane Austen was a strong, independent, opinionated woman who knew early on what was it is exactly that she wanted out of life. She was accomplished, remembered for centuries after her death, a role model for women of all times and dedicated her life to her true passion. She did not compromise, step down or lie to herself. When she loved and lost she remained faithful to her heart even when Tom Lefroy continued as expected with his life. Naming his first female child after her (or so it’s believed) must have brought her some consolation but she didn’t let his actions determine her behavior, which is more than I can say about any woman I have ever met. She wasn’t disheartened when life didn’t give her what she wanted, she was generous enough to bestow that honor upon her characters. She was an incredible, amazing, talented young woman who was ahead of her time yet she was able to stand her grounds and not compromise her principals. She is my hero, in writing and in life … how could any woman possibly not aspire to be like her?

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