Monday, January 31, 2011

Keep it in a Closet...NOT!

Some years ago I thought a man named Sardonic Scholar into existence. He would be my alter ego, The man behind whose face, I would lurk and hopefully say what was really going on in my mind. Hopefully say these things without too much of a consequence. I was, after all, a writer for The Muslim Woman.

His posts would go out as e-mails to people on my mailing list. The responses I received were often interesting. Sometimes damning. Occasionally amusing. And at time confrontational.

At this point, perhaps I ought to explain why I chose a ‘male’ to tell my tale. Even then, in my not- fully- conscientised- pseudo- feminist mind, I understood that a man could get away with much more than any woman could, especially on the religious front. So I chose to hide behind him, Mr Sardonic, who, even if I dare say so myself, was damn sexy ;)

But the time has come to merge these various personas. In the words of Zain Bhikha, “this is me”. Deal with it.

This was his first ever post:

Sardonic Scholar I

Okay, so the word scholar is loosely used here. In the sense of : one seeking knowledge, since I don’t have the complete qualifications, sanad, right length of beard, right lineage peppered with uncles with waist length baardjies and turbans that could double as kafns. But, still, I’ll keep the name.

You’ll be hearing from me somewhat regularly, so keep an eye out.

What’s my pet peeve today? Wellllll, it’s a beeeeeg one. But I will keep it brief. See, from my time spent at Daarul Uloom trying to claim the illustrious title, I had lots of people telling me what was Halaal and Haraam – in the food department. And somehow, looking back, I feel their behaviour was not…halaal. Really.

See The Prophetic tradition is clear : Da’ ma yureebuka ila ma la yuribuka.
Meaning, Leave those things which you have doubt in, giving preference to that which you have no doubt in.

So this is a largely individual thing. One man’s doubtful, and hence ‘yellow light food’ could well be another man’s halaal, ‘green light goodie’. But somehow, we fail to make the distinction between doubtful and haraam. So the number of people telling me that I can’t eat jelly babies grows all the time. Like, duh, I have no issues with gelatine, just like the many ulema who have passed this verdict.

I’m not saying that I’m right and the Don’t- eat- that,- it’s- haraam’ brigade are wrong, but I’m simply saying, allow me to eat that which I have no doubt in and you stay away from what is doubtful for you.

And most important, respect that. Don’t look scandalised when I whip out my not-certified- by- your- authority- of- choice- marshmallows to roast at my braai. I would not be eating them and passing the packet around if I had these doubts, and I’m sure, neither would you…

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Facebook did it!


By Megan Hall

Wanting’s a powerful word.

I don’t want to be left wanting,

Want to be unafraid to want.

Wanting puts your heart out on a string,

Trawling for the thing that’s wanting you.

There’s no hook, except maybe forever.

I sometimes wonder. Will FB be blamed for Global Warming eventually? All those people sitting with their cell phones, on laptops, and booking the Face out of Facebook. Surely they must be emitting some kind of negative energy. There will probably be a long winded scientific explanation for it. Complete with Pie Charts and Graphs. Just you wait!

Already, Facebook become the scapegoat for the high divorce rate in the Muslim community. A sentiment, which to me is nothing short of ludicrous.

Let’s begin at the beginning and ask the question very few would dare answer. Why Facebook?

And why do we? Married people, who have LIVES, why do we?

I shall brave the wrath of the Anti-Sweeping-Generalisation Brigade and stick my neck out by saying:

every married person who finds their way onto FB is seeking something that their spouse is unable to provide. Or they're promoting a business/book/product ;)

I’m not going to take a ‘poke’ at figuring out what exactly that ‘something’ is for others, but I do know, from the interaction I see, that there are those trying to fill an empty marriage. Escape a miserable one. And perhaps even find love, while they’re married!

For me, it’s intellectual stimulation.

And in my quest for the perfect wordsmith, the person or people capable of sparring with words, I have come across whackheads looking for ‘play’, psychos trying to find a way of being less psychotic, and young men in India looking for easy South African women.

It can get pretty crazy sometimes.

I’ve heard stories of divorce because the husbands or wives were having affairs with people they’d met on Facebook. But can Facebook really be blamed? And if you’re in a troubled marriage, is Facebook the solution?

Or has Facebook just made it easier for people looking to be faithless to manifest their faithlessness and lack of commitment? Made it easier to find the thing you’re wanting, ‘cos guess what? It’s wanting you too…

When we remember that every ‘instrument’ is only as good or bad as its user, then we will accept that the problem lies not with Facebook.

It lies in lack of communication in marriages. A lack of honesty, of integrity. In people staying in marriages that aren’t working for them, for fear of being judged by society should they opt out. If your spouse is not meeting your needs, then perhaps you need to address the issue and find a way around it as opposed to seeking that emotional fulfilment elsewhere. For, all that brings is heartache for all concerned. All it does it become a justification for acting in ways that destroy us within, in the long run.

Bottom line : If your marriage is floundering, Facebook IS NOT the solution!

So what has Facebook done for me? It's been a rewarding experience.

I have found ‘sisters’. Ones I would never have otherwise met. We’ve bonded and the relationships I share with them are very special. I stay in touch with people I shared a classroom space with, back in the day. I promote my business.

Lest I be seen as the perfect Facebooker, allow me to confess. I'm not blameless. I mess up sometimes. But I’m hoping, in time, I’ll get better at it. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lazeeza's Chronicles - 2011

I stand on the cusp of Lazeeza’s third birthday. Straddling the past and future. Taking stock...

The years seem to have passed in the blinking of an eye. Yet in some ways, there is a timeless quality to them. Like time congealed. Without beginning. As though I’ve always been surrounded by the smell of biscuits, thick in the air. The aroma of bread, the perfume of cinnamon marrying vanilla.

As though I’ve always known Anne and Beryl and Premi and Sam. The faces and names that fill my day. The people who welcomed me back after our year end closure, with beaming smiles and heartfelt ‘we missed you!’s. How rewarding it was, on that first day back, to trade smiles and laughter along with fresh scones, donuts and cakes!

I’ve forged bonds. Made friends. Built relationships. Had the circle of my life touch, and at times overlap with others’. I’ve seen people triumph over adversity. Raj beat cancer. The young man with the malformed limbs who just keeps going, not allowing his ‘disability’ to hold him back. Maggie have a baby against all odds.

I’ve been inspired by the people I’ve met. My life had been enriched beyond measure.

Some have vanished. Like my Painted Lady. She must have passed on by now….

Moments like these remind me of how tenuous the bonds I share with them really are. Of how fragile the thread that binds our lives, one to another really is.

My initial staff of 5 is now 8. Almost all from the initial group that were with me in my first year. Seun, sadly, has passed away.

These are the people who’ve witnessed me at my best and worst. Who’ve stressed about a ganash that wasn’t perfectly smooth. Or celebrated a perfect birthday cake with me. Who’ve become a part of my life, indispensible as my own family.

Did I envisage, when I started on the 18 April 2008, that 10 families, excluding my own, would depend on Lazeeza’s for their livelihood?

No. Not at all. All I can say, is Alhamdulillah. All praises belong to Allah for His favours on one so unworthy.

And Thank You! Yes, you! All the wonderful people who have supported me, stood by me and been such wonderful confectionary eaters. What good is a perfect cheesecake without someone to appreciate it?

Suggestions? What would you like to see us introduce (space permitting) in 2011?

And where to from here?

Psssttt…just between the two of us, there are plans, big plans. So keep me and my little dream in your thoughts and prayers.

Wishing all of you a fantastic 2011. Abundant love, light, joy and contentment.


(aka Aunty Lazeeza -if they but knew they’re calling me “delicious” every time they say that!)