Just another interesting life …

Posts tagged ‘Womanhood’

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!

Advertisements

30 Days Till 30 … Day 21: The Past

We all have a past. Some of us have one that is dark while other may have a more colorful one. Some have had to deal with traumatic events, tragedies or the loss of loved ones while others were cheer leaders, team captains and prima donnas. No two pasts are identical, similar maybe but not identical. Yet we all have this universal understanding that the past needs to be put behind us and forgotten! I never managed to figure out why until recently. I finally had to accept the answer I was trying so hard not to accept … because we were taught to!

If we had a rough past, we were advised to put it behind us because it will spoil our present and prevent us from looking forward to the much better days that lay ahead. If we had a happy past, we were advised to put it behind us because no matter what happened back then there is no guarantee that life will continue down the same path, so we should not raise our expectations and hopes too high. It’s like there is no way we and our past can coexist in peace. Either it will destroy any prospect of happiness for us or we need to bury it deep. I cannot disagree more!

Your past is an integral part of who you are. It doesn’t define you but it did help shape you. Everything that you are is, directly or indirectly, an outcome of your past. Your past experiences shape your personality and character. Even the choices you make today are based on the lessons you learned in the past. So how can we detach ourselves from it and behave as if it never happened? There’s a proverb which is well-known back home that I wholeheartedly believe in; “whoever leaves their past behind gets lost”. That means that we cannot find our way in life without coming to terms with our past. Furthermore, no matter how hard you try, your past will shine through, one way or another, there’s no running away from it really. What we should do, in my humble opinion, is learn to make peace with it and realize that it has already gone. We moved past that point in time and there is no going back. If it was painful then it can’t hurt us any more and if it was happy then we have those wonderful memories to forever cherish.

Making peace with your past is extremely important. Your past is a reality, not a figment of your imagination, and so you cannot truly behave like it never happened because deep down inside you will always know that it did. If you do not make peace with your past it can haunt you, possible for as long as you live! If you are blessed with a strong memory like mine, you will remember everything from your past including how you felt at the exact moment something happened, what was going through your mind and every other detail that has to do with it no matter how small. Why would you want to agonize yourself every time you remember something unpleasant or feel hopeless every time you remember something amazing and think to yourself that it can never happen again? Making peace with your past is the only way you will be free of it! When you take that step, you will essentially relinquish its hold on you and set yourself free.

Many can argue that it’s easier said than done, and I agree completely! Coming to terms with your past, especially if it was dark or traumatic, can prove to be extremely challenging. More often than not we do not have all the answers. Why did that happen? Why me? Could I have prevented it? Was it something I did? Was being punished for doing something bad? Was I being rewarded for something good? How could God let this happen? And many, many more unanswered questions that race through our minds giving us an overwhelming sense of overburden. The trick is to be OK with not having the answers! How many things around us do we not have an explanation for yet we manage to function normally on a daily basis? It’s the same thing, whatever happened, good or bad, know that it was God’s will and He did it for a reason that either you will come to comprehend and appreciate or will remain unknown but He knows it was the best thing for you at the time. From my own experience, when you stop looking for answers they come running right to you!

My past was full of ups and downs. As a child I was generally happy, especially that I knew that the privileged life that my parents had given us was something that not many enjoyed. However, changing schools every 3-4 years was tough. I had to leave behind people who I grew to love from the bottom of my heart and it was never easy. Facebook and other social media didn’t exist so I knew that once I left that was it. I was a very shy child and didn’t adjust easily so starting a new school was a complete nightmare for me. I also felt detached from my extended family back home. We Arabs maintain really close relationships with our families, even the extended family, so being away all the time made me feel like a stranger amongst them when I would go back home on vacation. There were a few bullying incidents, a couple of times that I was accused of doing things that I didn’t do but was punished anyway and I was going to drown twice during swimming at school. Those were the main highlights of my childhood.

My teen years were calmer, I was focused on my studies so they were not that eventful. I was adamant on not taking any private lessons and on making my Arabic (written in particular) stronger. I also wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career so when it was time for my I.G.C.S.Es I went ahead and took 13 subjects instead of the recommended 8 just to keep my options open! I had a lot on my plate but it all had to do with academics. Then came the day I made the decision to wear my Hijab (the veil) and that was when my life turned up side down. I found an influx of support from strangers or friends that I had just made at university but it was met with an equally strong sentiment of rejection and disdain from those closer to me. I found myself facing an emotional and psychological battle waged at me from those closest to my heart. I persevered until I rode out the waves of their negative emotions and temperaments but to say that it was easy on me would be the biggest lie of my life! I still maintain my position regarding my decision and the only regret I have is not taking that step much sooner than I actually did.

Then came the most recent phase of my life, my twenties. To say that my twentieth birthday was disappointing would be an understatement. I was so excited about turning twenty that I blew it up in my head but it seemed that others didn’t see that coming except for my wonderful university friends. My academic studies went extremely well and I made the best of friends, the lifelong kind, at my beloved university. I could not have had better education, met more wonderful people or developed myself any further than I did at The American University in Cairo. I love that place with all my heart and am so grateful that my father was able to send me there and I am so proud of myself for keeping my scholarship going all 4 years.

I believe that I learned the most in my twenties. I met all sorts of people and had all sorts of experiences, good and bad. I made friends with lovely people who are always there for me and made friends with people who stabbed me in the back later on; which taught me how to differentiate between both early on in the relationship. I made a commitment to my wonderful husband and made prior commitments to a person who had no personality whatsoever and was completely different on the inside than how people perceived him and to another who had an unfounded ego the size of the galaxy and didn’t know what it takes to be in a committed relationship and how to respect others outside of himself; which taught me how to tell what people’s characters are like early on in a relationship. I grew closer to many of my family members and was trampled upon by others when my life didn’t go as they had planned; which taught me who really cares about me and who doesn’t. I had managers who cheered me on in my career and others who were biased and tried to stop my career from advancing; which taught me who has work ethic and who doesn’t. I lost all my grandparents and a beloved cousin and uncle; which taught me a lot about pain, loss and the fact that this life is not worth a mosquito’s wing, just like the Quran states! I had to make major life decisions on my own; which taught me my own strength. I survived a lot of things that no one my age is supposed to go through; which taught me about myself and my capabilities. I survived a fatal Pulmonary Embolism when I was 25; which taught me to be humble, thankful and not take anything in life for granted. I gave birth to my beautiful children who taught me the meaning of unconditional love.

Overall, I’d say that my twenties were heartbreaking since the true colors of so many people who I trusted blindly showed and most of them were horrible, horrible beings on the inside. However, I would not have it any other way! I learned a lot, was spared a lot and grew a lot. If I had had a smooth-sailing decade I would have probably not advanced much in my life. I would have not been as wise, mature or knowledgeable. I now go into my thirties with a lot more confidence and optimism. I know myself much better now, including my capabilities and strength. I know others much better now, how to identify those worth my trust, time and devotion and those who are not. I know what I want in life and am not scared to let people in if I want to and show them the exit if I need to. I am not as naive as I used to be nor am I as caring about what others think.

So, due to my past … the good, the bad and the ugly … I am stronger, wiser, independent, more self-confident, self-sufficient and happier! I do not need any outside validation, do not care what others think of my beliefs or actions and know that as long as I am not doing anything to displease God, hurt others or cause any kind of harm then I can do as I please. I know that my family is the only entity that I would willingly give up my life for and that surrounding myself with those who love me and support me is key to my well-being. I know that anything material is a plus, but is not important in itself, inner peace and the well-being of my family are the only things that matter. I know that my past does not define me, it empowers me!

 

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.

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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/)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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)

.

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.”
 
 
 
 
.
 
 
 

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)

.

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)

.

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 11: Intuition

More often than not, instinct and intuition are mistakenly perceived as one. In reality, they are two completely different concepts. Instinct is more of a biological trait. It’s our tendency to respond to our environment with a familiar impulse or tendency and is shared by all living creatures, human or otherwise. The famous concept of flight-or-fight, for instance, is an example of instinct in action. Intuition, on the other hand, is a phenomenal concept. One where factual perception of the truth occurs whether or not there is a foundation for the emergence of such a perception! In simpler terms, it’s that gut feeling or little voice deep down inside that tells you whether or not something is right. You don’t have to have past experience with regards to the situation, you don’t have to have prior knowledge concerning the subject, you don’t have to have any sort of input to reach that perception. It is, simply, a gift from God!

Whether or not you choose to follow your intuition is completely up to you. There are those who have learned how to be masters of its reign, others who hear that little voice inside and just phase it out and those who don’t even notice it anymore. Personally, I have learned to trust my intuition … blindly! It always came through loud and clear but I often felt like “I knew better”, “that could be wrong, it makes no sense” or “nonetheless, I’d still like to try”. It took me years and years, close to a decade in fact, to listen to that little voice deep down inside and submit to it, completely.

They say there is nothing like the intuition of a woman, I am inclined to concur. Not out of pride or arrogance but out of experience. I cannot recall a single instance in my life where my intuition steered me in the wrong direction … not once. Whether it be that first feeling I get about a person I have just met, the unshakable feeling that something is about to happen or the fact that my dreams have always guided me. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have been blessed with a very precious gift, many of my dreams turn into reality. I do not mean dreams as in goals, I mean dreams as in the ones you see when you are fast asleep! My closest friends take my dreams seriously, sometimes even fearing them. It’s a gift that I cannot explain but one that, just like my intuition, hasn’t failed me. Sometimes my dreams are about my family, my friends, my loved ones and people I miss but sometimes they are about strangers, co-workers, what name should my friend give to her baby or the make, model and color of the next car we’ll purchase! They’re unpredictable and, somehow, I am always able to identify which dreams are trying to tell me something and which are, just that, dreams.

My intuition, one way or another, always lets me know what I should do. It has helped me make major life decisions. It has helped me prevent and/or overcome major setbacks. It has helped me make the best of friends. It has helped me avoid a trip that I shouldn’t take. It has helped me know that something is wrong with a loved one thousands of miles away. It has helped me know that my child is having a tough day at school. Anything and everything that God ever wanted to warn me of, let me see, spare me or answer my prayers concerning, he let me know through my intuition. Ignoring it, being too distracted to listen to it or challenging it was my own fault and so the repercussions I fully deserved. And now that I am older, wiser and more mature I know that what I have to lose is much greater than what I could possibly ever gain by not listening to my intuition. I am a woman, I am a mother and I have unfathomable intuition given to me by our almighty God. I will not take that lightly … and neither should you.

%d bloggers like this: