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I Am Not Your Ideal Muslimah, and That’s Alright

I Am Not Your Ideal Muslimah, and That’s Alright

The pressure to become an ideal Muslimah is overwhelming. On September 4, 2012, I embraced Islam after much studying, reflection, and prayer. When I professed my shahada, I felt emboldened by my ability to stand up for my beliefs, no matter society’s reaction. The euphoria […]

“Mira: Royal Detective” Is the Representation We Need

“Mira: Royal Detective” Is the Representation We Need

Growing up, if you’ve ever wanted a character to reflect your Asian-American roots, Disney Jr. is finally making that dream come true! “Mira: Royal Detective” is going to be a mystery-adventure show set in the fictional city of Jalpur, India. It will feature an all-Indian cast, and […]

8 Lessons My Husband and I Learned About Ourselves After Traveling Solo

8 Lessons My Husband and I Learned About Ourselves After Traveling Solo


Recently, my husband and I went on separate trips. In some cultures, this may not be a big deal, but in others, it really is. Guess which culture I belong to.

As a married couple, people do expect us to do things together all the time, but these separate trips shattered that particular societal norm. It was not planned this way, but our schedules did not allow us to be present on both trips. Therefore, he went to Hong Kong for 7 days while I went to Austria for 3 days. It was an amazing experience, and while we are always happy to travel together, there shouldn’t be any stigma around traveling by ourselves when married, as long as we both agree on it. 

When you live with someone, and I mean happily live with someone, it is difficult to not have them around all the time. 

As we were in completely different parts of the world, there were more differences than we could count. Time differences. Availability differences. Living situation differences. Let me state this clearly: It was not easy. When you live with someone, and I mean happily live with someone, it is difficult to not have them around all the time. It is not a question of being “used to” to them, but a question of simply missing their presence. But at the same time, there were so many advantages to both of us traveling solo for these trips.

To commemorate this, we decided to do a photography project in 8 parts. Why 8 parts? Because here are the 8 things our respective post-marriage solo trips taught us:

 

Part 1: Before getting married, we both traveled solo. He had traveled to 8 countries, and I had traveled to 19 countries alone. So, we already knew the joy of a solo trip and the advantages of it as well; but once we got married and started traveling together, we loved each other’s company so much that it never occurred to us to travel by ourselves after that (except for work trips, or short family visits).

It is not always socially acceptable in many cultures for spouses to do things by themselves, or even to have a life of their own.

In some cultures, it may not be a big deal but in others, it really is. As a married couple, people do expect us to do things together all the time. It is not always socially acceptable in many cultures for spouses to do things by themselves, or even to have a life of their own. True story! That was our first motivation for this project: to showcase that it is COMPLETELY okay, and should be acceptable, because it is healthy. 

 

 

Part 2: Just because we both agreed to go on these solo trips did not mean that we needed space, or that we did not miss each other’s company. The first few days, our texts constantly involved phrases like, “You would’ve loved that place”, or “wish you were here.” From both ends. The point is, though, that just because a person is traveling without their partner, doesn’t mean that they should feel obligated to explain themselves to anyone else. We are great together, but we are also two strong and independent individuals who constantly encourage each other to follow their desired paths. Again, what goes on in a marriage should be no one’s business. And should the couple choose to have identities and interests separate from each other, that should be considered totally normal.

 

 

Part 3: We both have similar interests, but separate interests as well. These solo trips were a chance to reconnect with ourselves, and the solo traveler within us. Even though we constantly support and celebrate each other’s individuality while respecting it too, some things, such as solo traveling is simply practical. It showed us how we were able to support each other even when not in each others’ physical presence.

 

 

Part 4: Hong Kong and Austria are very different places in different parts of the world, so when we reunited, the travel stories were endless. He kept going on about all the things I would appreciate in terms of culture in Hong Kong, and I kept going on about how he would fall in love with the Alps in Innsbruck. Even as travelers, our knowledge of these countries increased, which we were then able to share with each other. Usually when you travel together, you still talk about it the place you’re at, but since you two are there together, a lot goes unsaid because you are experiencing it right there with your other half. We saw our catch-up sessions as story-time conversations.

 

 

Part 5: Making global friends. You meet more people, and get to know their stories even more. When we travel together, yes, we still meet new and interesting people, but we are also focused heavily on each other, and just having a good time with one other. But, when you are by yourself, you notice other people more, and make new friends. I remember making many friends across the globe as I traveled solo in Japan, Turkey, China, etc. I am still in touch with them, and it is a wonderful friendship I was able to build in a new country.

 

 

Part 6: Personal growth is another advantage that comes out of solo travel. As every place has different rules, and you aren’t always familiar with them, these experiences teach you how to deal with different places, people, and situations which adds to your confidence, and travel value too. When we travel together, we have assigned roles. He takes care of some things, and I take care of the other things. But when you are alone, you can only count on yourself, which teaches you a ton. You end up discovering new parts of your personality which may surprise you, because we don’t always know how we will react in certain situations, until we face them.

 

 

Part 7: You do things for you. Solo trips are all about you, and you plan your agenda solely for yourself. When we are planning a trip, me and him, we have a rule that he picks one location, and I pick the next country. When we plan on a country, we look at “things to do” according to both of our interests, which is super fun, and we get to experience way more, but on solo trips, you get a chance to do whatever you want which is wonderful as well. It teaches you that sometimes, it’s okay to look out for your interests, because that way, you won’t ever lose yourself in your relationship. 

 

 

Part 8: With such solo trips, or time apart from your partner, even if you don’t discuss it, you really feel how great of a relationship you two have built, because without any trouble, intense discussions or compromises, you are able to take this solo trip with 100% support from the person you are meant to spend the rest of your life with. It reinforces how healthy the relationship you share truly is. Also, you see how secure you are about everything, and can truly be happy for him while he does the same for you.

My marriage is between me and husband, and not between us and society… 

I leave you with this: I shared these images on an all-women travel group on Facebook, and it got over 18,000 likes with thousands of comments from women who loved the project, and also shared their experiences regarding their desire to travel solo being questioned by many people around them. They spoke of the sense of judgement they felt, and how discouraging that was.

My marriage is between me and husband, and not between us and society, so we decided a long time ago that our life, our decisions were going to be made only because we were comfortable with the decision at hand. Both of us truly respect each other, which is why we are able to discuss everything, talk about anything, and that makes us do things which many might not do due to cultural stigmas. And to be honest, we are all the better for it. 

 

Our Social Media: 
www.instagram.com/HerAdventuresWithHim
www.facebook.com/HerAdventuresWithHim





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To The Holy Land: Jericho | Part 2 of 4

To The Holy Land: Jericho | Part 2 of 4

by Zainab Chaudry Our group’s first stop after crossing the border into Palestine is the historic city of Jericho. Located in the occupied West Bank near the Jordan River, this is said to be the oldest inhabited city in the world. An oasis amidst the […]

To Be Muslim in America: Young, Educated and Still Misunderstood

To Be Muslim in America: Young, Educated and Still Misunderstood

I was sitting outside the big corporate building for what seemed like my hundredth interview this year. Agile, discombobulated – I was thinking whether I would be welcomed by another Muslim – who am I kidding – maybe another POC (person/people of color), but as […]

The Muslim Millennials’ Social Media Rat Race

The Muslim Millennials’ Social Media Rat Race


In the world of ‘millennial pink’, filters, and hipster coffee shops, there’s also anxiety, depression and unrealistic expectations.

It’s no secret that Muslim women are already faced with unrealistic expectations of how we should live our lives. These expectations are assigned to us from the Muslim community that basically stem from ancient traditions. Seems like a lot to handle, right? It doesn’t end there, because for Muslim women, you have to couple that with being a millennial, where anxiety and depression are common. Why? Because the millennial generation is constantly racing against society’s clock to attain success.

We are constantly bombarded with the appeal of success. Although social media does have its pros, the major downside is the constant evaluation of our own success in comparison to others.

…because millennials are known as the social media generation, we’ve set high expectations based on curated feeds that depict a perfect life full of success.

In an article written by Melanie Curtin on Inc., it was revealed that a large number of millennials said that social media was a trigger for them, and seeing how well everyone else seemed to be doing made them feel worse. It made them feel like they needed to catch up, and time was running out to do so.

Given all of this, I guess it’s no surprise that millennials are known as the most anxious generation, according to NEWSWEEK.

Everyone desires success. However, because millennials are known as the social media generation, we’ve set high expectations based on curated feeds that depict a perfect life full of success.

Back to the issue of Muslim millennials: We have two sets of expectations when it comes to a host of aspects, such as education, career, marriage, and starting a family. The list is endless. Society tells us we need to be successful doctors or entrepreneurs before 30. Then there’s the Muslim community that tells us we need to be married before 30.

When do we get a break?

“This generation has the highest likelihood of having unmet expectations with respect to their careers and the lowest levels of satisfaction with their careers at the stage that they’re at,” Sean Lyons, co-editor of Managing the New Workforce: International Perspectives on the Millennial Generation, told TIME. “It is sort of a crisis of unmet expectations.”

Attaining success is not a sprint.

Okay, so what are we trying to tell you? Give yourself a break! Attaining success is not a sprint. You don’t have to accomplish everything right now. As Gary Vaynerchuk constantly reiterates, focus on the journey, rather than the destination. Keep working at it every day, and you will attain success. Allow yourself to live your life the way you want to, not the way someone’s Instagram photo makes you feel like you should.

It’s easy to get caught up in this world. So caught up that we lose sight of what’s truly important. We need to stop, and reevaluate when we start to feel like we are running out of time. We need to remember that everything is written and planned by Allah (SWT). Patience is key.

Allah (SWT) tells us in Surah Al Imran 3:200: “O you who believe, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.”

Perhaps it’s about time we do just that.



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5 Ways to Survive a Best Friend Break-Up

5 Ways to Survive a Best Friend Break-Up

You did it! You found your best friend. Within the first few moments of getting to know each other, you knew your friendship was going to last forever. You connect with each other and resonate on a frequency that only a few may ever reach. […]

How the World Forgot the Rohingya Genocide

How the World Forgot the Rohingya Genocide

In the December of 2016, I gave my first competitive speech on the Rohingya Muslims, a people I had only found out about myself 30 minutes before. As a I stood there, informing a singular judge about the brutalization of an entire ethnic group, I […]

Royal Detective Is the Representation We Need

Royal Detective Is the Representation We Need


Growing up, if you’ve ever wanted a character to reflect your Asian-American roots, Disney Jr. is finally making that dream come true! “Mira: Royal Detective” is going to be a mystery-adventure show set in the fictional city of Jalpur, India. It will feature and all-Indian cast, and delve into Indian customs and traditions. Each episode is set to be roughly 22 minutes, with a focus on dance, mystery, and drama. The character of Mira, played by 15-year old Leena Ladnier, will be depicted as a commoner who becomes a royal detective. This show is slated to premiere sometime in 2020.

As an Asian-American, I’m excited that Disney Jr. is showcasing strong Asian characters. It’s good to have diversity, and to celebrate it. I hope that one day, there’ll be a show like this on the CW, Netflix, or Freeform aimed at ethnically-diverse teenagers and adults as well.

I think it’s important for kids to be able to envision themselves in a wide variety of contexts.

The reason why I love binging shows is because I am often able to relate to some of the characters and the troubles they go through. But rarely did I ever see my culture reflected in the characters I watched, a feeling that was isolating at best. It was almost as if my culture existed on the fringes of what was worthy of being seen on T.V.

I hope that Asian-American kids who grow up watching “Mira: Royal Detective” will be able to relate to Mira and her friends, on a cultural level. I think it’s important for kids to be able to envision themselves in a wide variety of contexts. This show has the potential to break average stereotypes, and show young brown girls how capable they really are. For the kids who aren’t Indian, this show will help expose them to a culture they may be unfamiliar with, thus setting the foundation for them to be more understanding and appreciative of a different culture.

Without a doubt, the selection of a star-studded Indian cast proves that there is scope for representation in the entertainment industry, if those with privilege are willing to pass the mic.

This show’s all-Indian cast consists of actors such as Karan Brar (Jessie and Bunk’d), and Hannah Simone (New Girl), Freida Pinto, Kal Penn, Jameela Jamil, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Aparna Nancherla, plus many more. Without a doubt, the selection of a star-studded Indian cast proves that there is scope for representation in the entertainment industry, if those with privilege are willing to pass the mic.

In “Mira: Royal Detective”, Mira assists the commoners and the royals alike after saving a prince. “We are eager to introduce kids and their families to the rich, diverse cultures and customs of India through Mira, a young girl who looks at things with her own unique lens to gain different perspectives and help others in her community. We hope that she will encourage our audience to engage actively with the inspiring world around them and appreciate the little details that make life extraordinary.” said Joe D’ Ambrosia, VP of Original Programming at Disney Junior.

In other words, I think kids of all ages and cultural backgrounds will adore this show. This is the kind of show I wish I had growing up. It’s better late, than never.



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Marc Lamont Hill Becomes Latest Example of Media Censorship

Marc Lamont Hill Becomes Latest Example of Media Censorship

Marc Lamont Hill gave a monumental speech discussing the importance of solidarity and justice for the Palestinian people during an event at the United Nations. A speech that called for freedom and basic human rights. A speech that called Israel out for its continuous illegal […]