In a Flash

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

Angelic innocence
Shimmering on children’s faces…
Spring’s fragrance
Encircling heavenly bodies with laces;
Vanishing in a flash!
An effervescent laughter
Of friends and lovers
Ascending higher and higher
Spears of youth and power
Standing still as a royal tower;
Fading in a flash!
The most joyous times;
The unforgettable.
The most melancholic mimes;
The indelible…
Are liquefied by the spin of life…
A reality that is inconsolable;
An eclipse that occurs in a flash!
The precious, the cheap
The superficial, and the deep…
All evaporate in a flash!
Eventually…the leader and his herd
The valuable moments and the absurd
Will be dim in a flash!
End of scene…
End of tale…..
Approaching the inevitable
Blackout….

Monday, July 14, 2003

Grace

Posted: August 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

In the heart of the frosty land
As spring was thriving to take its stand,
There, at the tranquil city of Göteborg,
In a melodic solitude by the Göta Canal,
Anonymously wandered I.
In a walk not set nor planned
Buoyantly unaccompanied;
No one but nature & I.
Allured I was by the naked trees
Boasting their nude branches reaching sublime
Philandering with the azure blue skies.
I walked airing an ecstatic chime
Shivering as the crisp wind passed by,
Yet feeling divinely warm from the inside.
Perhaps at forty three,
There’s nothing that can blow one’s mind
Like a silent talk with nature’s moody sighs.
Perhaps there’s nothing at forty three
That can be as animating as a solitary embrace
That unswervingly connects you to God’s grace.
Nothing as emancipating as listening to the trees
As they tempt you to read between their lines
Untold stories hidden beneath the booming pines.
It’s the enthralling luxury of being lost
Of having the ability to take a path
And then changing it at the same instant
Without worrying about that vile clock
Or about what that switch might cost.
A liberating care-free walk it was indeed
Away from Capitalism’s straining slavery
I was simply breaking free
Breathing the entity of my being
In my long-sought solo stray
Cuddled by the morning breeze
Delving deep in the human in me!

Göteborg, Sweden
March 27, 2014

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Saudi Arabia; oppression, rigorousness, and a great deal of limitations; perhaps that’s all what you’ve heard or read about Saudi Arabia, and when it comes to women, the case is even worse. I am not trying to change what you think about Saudi Arabia here; rather I will just take you on a quick fresh journey from the heart of Jeddah…fresh as in 2013! With all the negative international media coverage about Saudi Arabia, you might find it almost impossible to believe that you are going to read about entertainment and fun in Saudi Arabia!

In the last few years, a lot of Saudi young men have amazingly overrun YouTube channels through a variety of short comedy programs criticizing common social, economic, and political issues, and later on, they went on different theatres in Riyadh and Jeddah, performing what is internationally known as stand-up comedy, doing a great job ever since they started. Amongst them are Omar Hussein, Fahad Al-Butairi, HishamFaqeeh, BadrSaleh, and many others, but it may seem just normal for those young men to bloom in a male-dominated society. What you might have never heard about is that there are a few notable female entertainers in Saudi Arabia, specifically in Jeddah, for “life” finds its way in those who want to enjoy it regardless of their condition or the restrictions around them.

A few years ago, a young Saudi academic and IT specialist, who happens to be a friend of mine, confined to me that she wanted to do something really big…something that would create a buzz in our society! And since she had always had this sharp and thought-provoking sense of humor, her dream came true, and she has become the first YouTube Saudi female entertainer! Hatoon Kadi is not a full-time comedy program presenter; she is a wife and a mother of two adorable boys.

Hatoon 1

Hatoon Qadi and her sons

Her YouTube program “Noon Al-Niswa” represents the voice of every-day Saudi women, who are not from the high or velvet class, and who have balanced, wise attitudes and insights about life, family, and work. The program; in addition, criticizes many female behaviors in the Saudi society, especially acts that are associated with the nouveau riche and the so-called “cool” generation of females. In a cynical light-hearted way, Hatoon mocks the “cool wannabes”, who are usually appearance-centered, show-offs, and completely dependent on maids to serve them and raise their kids. Hatoon tackles these social issues from a woman’s perspective, without making judgments or offering solutions; she just displays reality in her own way, and if that makes her “audience enjoy a good laugh, she feels satisfied.”

Nevertheless, “Noon Al-Niswa” is only a small part of Hatoon’s life. Most of her time, she is a caring mother, who works half of the day and runs after her kids the other half. “I have started my career when I was pregnant with my first son Ahmed and I never stayed home. Maybe I was lucky because the place I worked at provided a very good nursery service, which was a relief, so we had always been a package, leaving home at 7:30 and coming back around 5 pm. In Saudi Arabia, I used to have a maid, but she was never a cook or a nanny as I usually take off my Abayah and put on my apron once I return home to prepare dinner for my family. I have always believed that it is the mother’s responsibility to ensure good nutrition for her family. Now as I am doing my PhD at the UK, things are different as there is no full-time maid, so in the morning I just urge everyone to do their beds, I clean bathrooms, load the dishwasher, and then come back after a full day to do the rest.Well, I know it’s not a very pinky and bright picture, but it is manageable and rewarding.”

Along with her daily chores as a wife and mother, Hatoon is preparing for her PhD degree at the University of Sheffield Information School. Her research is about the impacts of the deployment of virtual learning environment systems on teaching in Saudi higher education institutions.

Needless to say, Hatoon’s experience is a perfect example of the will-power and vivacity that Saudi women have. She is a real-life example of how Saudi women can be whenever they have the desire, knowledge, determination, and of course, family support.

And definitely, Hatoon Kadi is not the only positive archetype. There are many other women in Saudi Arabia who understand the value and importance of entertainment; not just for the sake of fun or social criticism, but for educational purposes as well. At the beginning of 2013, Mrs. Thurayya Batarji, a children’s books writer and owner of publishing house Kadi and Ramadi, decided to take an initiative of designing a public reading forum to spread the love of reading among children and to educate both children and parents through entertainment, particularly through amusing interactive reading workshops and stage performances. Planning for such a forum, which included more than 50 workshops, meetings with a number of well-known published authors, and performing two plays for children, was undoubtedly not an easy task. It needed thorough deliberate planning, putting in mind all those tiny details. Of course, such events like the reading forum happen all the time around the world, but what is unique about Jeddah’s Reading Forum for Children is that it was initiated, planned, and executed by women! A team of more than 12 women were involved in the planning and coordination procedures and more than 20 young Saudi girls volunteered to help and organize during the five days of the event.

Ms. Thurayya Batarji, Artist Safiya Bin Zagr & Dr. Thurayya Obaid - from left to right

Ms. Thurayya Batarji, Artist Safiya Bin Zagr & Dr. Thurayya Obaid – from left to right

 

The forum included a variety of engaging activities such as story-telling, an art exhibition showcasing children’s work, books signatures, and workshops that encourage reading and discuss diverse ways to help parents and children live enjoyable experiences with books.  All these activities were presented by famous male and female figures in the Saudi society; prominent authors, educators, artists, businessmen, journalists, TV presenters, company owners, and many more participated in the event, believing in the great cause behind it; the development of the new generation through non-traditional and attention-grabbing ways.

Activities from Reading Forum

Activities from Reading Forum

 

Activities from Reading Forum

Activities from Reading Forum

reading 2 reading 3 reading 4

 

In addition, two major performances took place during the forum days; a performance of a play titled The Secret Lives of Princesses by Philippe Lechrmeier and Rebecca Dautrem, performed in English and directed by a promising Saudi female director, Ms. Lana Qumosani, and another play called Dakoon the Frog by Haidar Solaiman, performed in Arabic and directed by myself. Selecting children (the actors) between ages 5 to 16 was done after a number of auditions, and the training and rehearsals of both plays continued for about 3 months, two or times a week including weekends sometimes. To prepare for the plays and the whole forum, each member of the organizing team worked day and night, dedicating their time and effort to achieve the goal of the event; spreading awareness and love of reading through entertainment. The plays were received with great excitement by the audience, children and parents, and both plays were performed more than once upon the demand of the audience. All in all, the forum received full media coverage and positive, encouraging feedback from attendants.

Dakoon Performance

Stars of Dakoon the Frog

 

Stars of Dakoon the Frog

Stars of Dakoon the Frog

 

In Saudi Arabia, people are thirsty for amusement that supports their values and principles, and this emerging culture is a translation of changing and developing needs and interests. It is a way to adapt to the rapidly changing world; it is a rather new culture full of life and energy led by women along with men.

 

This article was published in Live Encounters Magazine.

Khawla Bint Thalaba; The Disputer

Can you imagine Allah listening to an argument of a woman? The idea of a woman arguing is somehow considered “taboo” in many

societies in the Arab world. However, a woman who argued with the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) more than 1400 years ago was listened to and respected.

Khawla Bint Thalaba is a well-known name in the Islamic history. To understand Khawla’s story, first we have to go back to a tradition that used to be practiced by men before Islam. That tradition was called “Thihar”; Thihar means that when a man is upset with his wife or wants to punish her, he swears that she is not his wife anymore and that she is to him like his mother or sister. He tells her that you are like my mother, and our relation is no more that of a husband and wife. This is not divorce as you might think. The wife used to remain a wife but only by name. She remains a wife to a husband who completely ignores her right and needs as a woman and wife. Usually, the family would be destroyed after the husband swears saying those words, so it was oppression under the name of marriage. Some marriages used to end, and others used to survive without happiness and joy.

Khawla was a happy wife with her husband, Aws Ibn AlSamit, and they had been married for years when one day they had a quarrel just as any couple do. Aws got very upset that he swore that “Khawla is no more his wife and that she is to be like his mother.” Of course, it was a great shock for Khawla to see her beloved husband rejecting her this humiliating way when she was a good loving wife and a caring mother to his children. A short while later, Khawla’s husband wanted her again…he loved his wife and it was just his bad temper that made him utter such words. However, Khawla refused to let him get away with such a behavior. She was also concerned about the Islamic opinion; could she be his wife after that? Was it allowed for her to live under the same roof with a man who no longer considers her as his wife? Would she be committing adultery if things got back to normal after the words he said? All those questions raced in her mind, so she went to Prophet Mohammad asking him for advice and asking about the Islamic ruling regarding such a condition.

Prophet Mohammad told her that he thought their marriage had to end, and that it would be forbidden for her to stay with Aws. Khawla wasn’t really convinced nor pleased by what the Prophet had said, so she started arguing with the Prophet and repeating her question in different ways, trying to get a soothing answer from the Prophet. She wanted to get back to the man that she loved, and she wanted to teach him a lesson at the same time. She explained to the Prophet that she was willing to forgive her husband for what he said, but she wanted an Islamic rule that states that her relation with her husband is legal and not forbidden or looked upon as adultery. However, the Prophet seemed not to have the answer she wanted. He kept repeating the same thing to her; you can’t be that man’s wife any more.

Khawla left with great sorrow and went immediately to the Holy Mosque in Makkah, praying to Allah. Being very close in front of the Holy Ka’aba, Khawla was weeping and praying, “Oh, Allah, you know my agony and how tough it is for me to be away from my husband. Oh, Allah, please send your prophet anything that might release me from this grief.”

As Khawla was crying in the Holy Mosque, everyone who heard her sympathized with her and felt her deep sadness.

But something miraculous happened. As soon as she finished praying, Allah has sent Gabriel to Prophet Mohammad with a new “sourah”. A “sourah” that would be read to our day…a “sourah” that is in favor of a woman, who stood for her right.

In Surat Al-Mujadila (SHE THAT DISPUTETH, THE PLEADING WOMAN), Allah Almighty says, “Of a surety Allah hath heard the saying of her that disputed with thee concerning her husband and bewailed Unto Allah; and Allah hath heard your mutual discourse. Verily Allah Is Hearing, Beholding. As to those among you who put away their wives by pronouncing zihar their mothers they are not. Their mothers are but those who gave them birth; and verily they utter a saying disputable and false. And verily Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.  Those who put away their wives by pronouncing zihar and thereafter would retract that which they have said, then upon them is the freeing of a slave before the twain touch each other. That is that wherewith ye are exhorted; and Allah is of whatsoever ye work Aware. And if any has not (the wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones. This, that ye may show your faith in Allah and His Messenger. Those are limits (set by) Allah. For those who reject (Him) there is a grievous Penalty.”

In simple words, the verses were in favor of Khawla’s opinion. Allah has stated in these verses that there is no such thing as Zihar in Islam. It is not acceptable, for no woman can be a mother of any man except his real biological mother. The verses go on to solve Khawla’s situation saying that if her husband wants her to return to him as a wife, he should free a slave as expiation of his sin.

To this day, Quraan is read by millions of Muslims around the world, and the story of the brave out-spoken woman, Khawla, is recited, setting an example for women to defend their rights with perseverance, respect, and politeness.

*****

This article is one in a series about Muslim women’s mission.

Here are the previous related articles.

Saudi Women’s Oppression VS Muslim Women’s Mission

http://saudirevelations.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/saudi-womens-oppression-vs-muslim-womens-mission-part-i/

Aisha Bint Abi Bakr Al-Siddiq – The Prophet’s wife

http://saudirevelations.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/saudi-womens-oppression-vs-muslim-womens-mission-%E2%80%93-part-ii/

Hint Bint Otba; The Free Woman

http://saudirevelations.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/saudi-womens-oppression-vs-muslim-womens-mission-part-iii-hind-bint-otba-the-free-woman/

Khadija Bint Khowailid – The Prophet’s first wife

http://adnisa.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/role-of-women-in-calling-for-islam/

What Is Love?

Posted: September 26, 2013 in My Poems

Love is a sweet exchange of weaknesses; 

Not an estranged demonstration of powers.

Love is the exquisite acceptance of flaws;

Not a rigorous set of decrees and laws.  

Love is a tender declaration of needs,

Where mutual giving is a creed.

Love is not a game of hide and seek,

Where the winner loses indeed.

Love is sharing anticipations and fears

To overcome a suffocating atmosphere.

Love is yielding to the attraction between two minds; 

Not an egoistic show off of virtues and pride, 

Not a win-lose relation between your world and mine.

Love is the clearest perception between two who are blind.

 

Alas, My Lover!

Posted: September 15, 2013 in My Poems
Tags:

Alas…My Lover!

By Maha Noor Elahi

A brunette…a shrewd…

A vulnerable quivering female…

Smothered under a silky veil;

Looking with eyes full of hope, though…

To the blond blue-eyed lure

With his smoothly shaved beard

And gentleness of a man;

Holding her with one arm…

And giving her a hand

To help scratch

And rape the unwarranted shroud.

Her redeemer …her dream;

Italian…American…or from Venice…

The same…

As long as he’s not an A R A B I A N male.

She’s out of the One Thousand tales

And into an anime.

Her Arabian gentle knight

Is no longer that sensitive poet

Who blossoms with sincere romance,

Cuddling clouds, sensuous stars,

And velvet skies

Just by looking at her desert-wide eyes…

He’s no more that dignified chap

Who hurls and hurdles…

Crosses miles and miles…

Fights injustice and vice

Just to calm a woman’s cry

And regain the right of a child!

Her so-called man

Has manhood abandoned

And turned into a warden;

A double-faced libertine,

Who wraps his woman with a cloak

And dismantles his mistress in a poem!

Now… ironically

After wavy sands of disrespect_

Sadly…illusively

Her refuge is found …in the West.

Of that pale outsider she’s in awe;

Seeking love in the cold

Impersonally…

Writing a letter of farewell…a confession of defeat:

“Alas, my brother…my father…my lover…

I’ve given in…to a stranger…

My being is a gift to my savior!”

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

This monologue is one of three monologues i have written for the Drama Club event, Kaleidoscope. It had always been my dream to perform Cleopatra’s role in any given chance, and so I did! It was a joy to be Queen Cleopatra for about 5 minutes! :D

cleo

So they say I’m strong as a tigress, wild as a carnivorous plant, vicious as a cold desert night. Beware, they say! She’s poison in flames! Her dignity is destructive!  Her charm is obnoxious! She’s a witch…she’s a serpent…she’s a siren…she’s no angel …she’s not noble..she’s so heartless & cruel …she only cares to rule!

OOOOOHHH!! (falls down crying)

For God’s sake give me a break!!

I’m a woman!

I’m a queen who refused to take orders from politicians to serve their own greedy needs and interests! (Her tone softens) Of course, I do take orders when they work in my favor and for my country’s interests. But they kept forgetting that I will not be told where I can go and where I cannot go! 

Starts singing: “And don’t tell me what to do and don’t tell me what to say! And when I go out with you, don’t put me on display! You don’t own me! Don’t try to change me in any way! Don’t tie me down cause I’d never stay”

A feminist at heart I was…long before all of you girls were born!  But …honestly, it took me a long time to be that dominant!

Imagine being born with no choices! At the age of 18, I found myself a queen & my 10 year old brother, Ptolemy XIII, a king! Oh imagine that! Two children ruling!! Quite an amusing game, eh? I Would have bought all the Channel bags and Christian Louboutin shoes if I were in your time!  Nah! Trust me, it wasn’t much fun, for I had to marry by brother just because it was “customary” in Egypt at that era! But it was only temporary; I yielded to conquer!

Sharing the monarchy with my younger brother…(rolling her eyes) oh…deep in my heart I resented the idea! No Ptolemaic traditions could prevent me from ruling Egypt alone! Being the subordinate ruler just because I’m a female wasn’t really my idea of being queen! But lucky me, that little lad couldn’t last long anyway….don’t look at me…I didn’t do it…I didn’t kill him…I just cooperated with his enemy, Caesar, and the poor boy just escaped and drowned into the Nile!

Thanks to Julius Caesar, the throne became mine! In fact, now I have two countries under my thumb; Egypt and Rome! Just in case you haven’t heard, the Roman dictator, Caesar was madly in love with me that he made a golden statue of me and positioned it in front of the Venus Genetrix in Rome in spite of his people who hated my guts! It was a thrill to see it when I visited Rome in summer 46 BC. Oh but misfortunes seem to love me! A while later Caesar was assassinated before he would agree to admit our child, Caesarion! Oh Caesar! That jerk!

(sarcastically)Yeah… there were jerks at my time, too!

He never wanted me to be more than a mistress!

They all saw me as a seductive mistress, but they seldom remember my brilliance…the nine languages that I could speak fluently…my mathematical and business skills…

All what I got from Caesar’s people was condemn! They suspected me killing him! Imagine that! Me killing a man? (pun not intended)

Never mind! I had always known I could do better than an old guy who’s about 30 years older than me!  

I wouldn’t allow such a “small” incident like Caesar’s death to ruin my plans and threaten my country! I had  to

show my loyalty to Antony; he was young and strong ..but never my match!

With my extraordinary charm and wits, he could never resist me! He instantly fell in love with me and I gave him two children; two boys who will inherit him. Together we ruled Egypt and led it to prosperity, but the Romans hated our partnership..and under the leadership of Octavian, they defeated our army. My poor Antony couldn’t stand defeat! He killed himself with his sword like any desperate soldier would do!

And what’s to become of me? What’s to become of my children? What’s to become of a wife and a queen without her husband and ally?

Octavian wanted me to be a slave, not a queen ..not an ally…not a neighboring country …not a partner..but a slave! He even ordered to imprison me and keep me guarded so I wouldn’t harm myself or take my life! He wanted to humiliate me for the rest of my life!

But never! The great Egyptian queen and the last Pharaoh wasn’t destined to be demeaned but to be remembered!