Posts from March 2016

It may be fattening but at least it’s real food

March 31, 2016

avocado-sliced-in-half One good thing about going on a weight loss journey is that there’s a plethora of information. But information can also be one of the frustrations in the weight loss journey. Low carb? No carb? Vegan? Atkins? Which one to choose? People often say “diets don’t work” but I completely disagree, all diets work -if you stick to them.

Researchers are constantly on the hunt for the magic pill or the magic diet or the magic food that beats out all the rest. Carbs are bad -no carbs are good, fats are bad -no wait there are good fats, Dairy is bad -no it’s good, etc. We find groups around the world thriving off of blubber and keeping a lean figure, others thriving off of rice and remaining slim, some thriving on soy diets and never having weight issues. The evidence, on its face, looks contradicting. But if you instead look at what it could be that all these groups are doing similarly, what the underlying theme of their diet is we may get some clue as to the best universal diet.

Michael Pollan famously said “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much” (Food Rules). I don’t really disagree, in fact I think it’s a perfect and simple remedy but I find it can be dwindled down to one simple line: Eat food.

Eat less, probably true, especially for purposes beyond diet as the prophet, peace to him, said: “Fasting is half of patience, and patience is half of faith,” (Abu Nu’aym). Mostly plants, maybe, but considering many people around the world focus on varying foods -as mentioned some of which are primarily things like rice or blubber, and are the picture of health I think what the evidence shows more than anything is that we ought to eat food. No matter the research if you put aside the varying foods and look for the underlying similarity all of these groups we admire for their health, they all eat real food -unprocessed, and local.

Eating low carb, slow carb, high fat, vegan, etc. can all allow successful weight loss for whatever period of time we can manage to staypeanut903 on them. Even eating whatever you want but restricting calories allows for weightloss. But what I feel now is a sense that weight loss is a positive outcome but should not the ultimate goal of eating on a particular diet. No one wants to lose weight forever and the reason many of us gain the weight back is that we go back to our old ways once we’ve lost the weight. The appeal of a diet, a change in our food habits, should be more than weight loss. Our food should fuel us it should also -I believe, be a source of pleasure. But if I could get my diet to be 80% about health and 20% about pleasure it wouldn’t only allow me to lose weight in the short term but change my entire life for the better.

In a sense it isn’t really normal to consistently gain and lose weight, that doesn’t seem like it should be a normal human problem. Sometimes I look at images of extremely obese people in awe, just thinking “The body should not be able to do that.” Our food, in the West, has become our enemy. Or relationship with food has become too complex. That doesn’t mean I’m interested in permanently giving up Oreos and Pepsi, but it does mean making an intention to demand of myself that most the food I put in my body is actually food. That it will do more benefit that harm. It seems that is the ultimate role of food, to benefit. So I’ve just finished eating a handful of peanuts, half an avocado and tuna ,I realize they all have an extremely high fat content and may have as much calories as a bag of potato chips and a Twinkie, but I know they are vastly different entities, one is food the other is “processed food- like stuff”.

P.s. Yes I am still counting calories.

 

In The Days Of Noor: The Impact Of Mothers

March 27, 2016

Have we begun to devalue the importance of mothers and does in align with the social science data on the impact of mothers on their children? That is what this episode explores.

Prefer YouTube? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KFz7Y8IO7k

Clean eating

March 23, 2016

af561050ee62f6c33b7ae7f786028407It’s been difficult for me to maintain a diet and lose weight, though I have lost some, I’ve still got a way to go. I fell off my calorie counting for a while but I plan to get back on it tomorrow. One thing  I realized despite my efforts is that the Slow Carb Diet is not for me, I wish it was. But eating a lot of meat is just not good for my body not to mention I think it’s morally problematic. But more than that, since I could in theory replace meat with beans as a protein, I like sweets.

In fact I love sweets and its very difficult for me to not have them. So now I’m thinking about the Clean Eating Diet. Basically it’s a diet where you stay away from processed food and as close to ‘whole foods’ as possible which means I can eat lots of fruits and fruits are, obviously, sweet. I’m not really a “fruit person”, I rarely buy them when I grocery shop and only eat them if they happen to be around. It’s not that I don’t like fruits but I really don’t easily think about them. But maybe that’s partly because I get my ‘sweets sources’ from chocolate, candy and coffee. So in a sense it is, hopefully, a win win. I get to continue eating sweets while being healthier and losing weight, I just replace processed sweets with fruit. I’m not claiming this will be easy but it may be easier than the Slow Carb Diet where all sweets, including fruits are off limits -except on the once a week cheat day. And it falls in line with my longer term health goals.

Eating clean will also help in in my other goals of having clear skin and controlling my eating. The Slow Carb Diet encourages once a week binge eating to boost metabolism but in reality I don’t want to live that kind of life, I don’t want binge eating to be a part of my life at all. Instead of just going on a short term diet that isn’t in line with my long-term goals maybe its time to try out a diet that I hope will turn in to a lifestyle. Well we shall see, the first step it to begin, if your interested in starting a healthier lifestyle too, take a listen to the video below, simple and useful.

In the Days of Noor: Feminism, Marriage And Sex Before Marriage

March 21, 2016

Info: Would the number of men and women getting married be decreasing if society didn’t casually accept sex before marriage? This is what we explore in this episode of ‘In the days of Noor’. In the Days of Noor is a podcast where we talk about Islamic related topics and social issues.

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“Pray in the most private part of your room…”

March 17, 2016

14doaudSUB-superJumbo“‘Prayer in the most private part of your home is better than prayer in the more public part of your home’, Umm Humayd said ‘My husband prevents me from going to the mosque’, by saying this the insight of the beloved, peace and blessings to him, is driven to understand, -Ok so your domestic situation is dealing with a very small-minded man, so you must be under a lot of continual emotional strain and nagging from this person -because trust me it’s not just about the mosque or what I can and cannot do, correct? So for you Umm Humayd try to move as far as possible from the public domain of the house and hide when you pray because you need to replenish a lot more than other ordinary women.”
-Shaykh Abduallah Adhami, Family and Society, Part 24 -Sakeenah.org

When I first heard Shaykh Abduallah Adhami’s commentary on this Hadith, I cried -how did a hadith so filled with mercy become a hadith used as a tool for oppression, belittlement and exclusion? We all, as Muslims love the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings to him, anything he says, if we believe he said it (rigorously authenticated hadith), is pure gold. No believer hears a quote from the prophet, peace and blessings to him, and says ‘that’s nice, but I think…’. We may question its authenticity but if it’s proven to us that the prophet, peace and blessings to him, did in fact say something we humble ourselves to its words, even the ones that makes us feel really uncomfortable or contradict the prophet we know and love, we silently accept all while our heart races with confusion.

Without Shaykh Abdullah Adhami’s insightful commentary the hadith is the following: It was narrated that Umm Humayd the wife of Abu Humayd al-Saa’idi came to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I like to pray with you.” He said, “I know that you like to pray with me, but your prayer in your room is better for you than your prayer in your courtyard and your prayer in your courtyard is better for you than your praying in your house, and your prayer in your house is better for you than your prayer in the mosque of your people, and your prayer in the mosque of your people is better for you than your prayer in my mosque.” So she issued orders that a prayer-place be prepared for her in the furthest and darkest part of her house, and she used to pray there until she met Allah (i.e., died).”

Some time ago this hadith left me feeling uneasy, but I followed anyway -afterall it is ‘saheeh’ so the prophet did most likely say it, peace and blessing to him, but I didn’t get it. If the best prayer of a woman is best in the house, Why is it that in a narration where a woman asked about the dirt that would get on the bottom of her dress when going to the masjid to pray he addressed the concern of filth only and didn’t simply tell her not to bother coming, praying at home is better for you anyway? Why allow women to pray at the Mosque ever if it would be better for them to pray at home? And isn’t it strange that the prophet, peace and blessings to him, would go so far as to say the prayer for women is best in the room of her house (i.e. the most enclosed space)? I kept these questions to myself.

This hadith is often recited in the context of telling women to essentially ‘know our place’, if we are allowed the basement floor of a Masjid, we ought to be grateful after all -the best place for a woman to pray is at home. If there is no women’s space or we are completely guarded from entering any given Masjid, well why are we there anyway? The best place for a woman to pray is in her home -no, excuse me, in her room in her home. And yet the essence of the hadith, as commentated on by Shaykh Abdullah Adhami, is not a prohibition or a discouragement of women going to the Masjid, it is a permission and a mercy to women who find themselves, like Umm Humayd, desiring to go to the Masjid but in a circumstance where going would be far more harmful than praying at home.

And why the insistence on room of her home and not just her home? Here also we find a mercy, as commentated on by Shaykh Abdullah Adhami, this is a women under enormous stress from her husband’s watchful eye -it isn’t just about the Mousque as the Shaykh alludes to, this is a stressful environment. And in this we find another opening of mercy, not harshness, this isn’t an encouragement from the prophet, peace and blessings to him, to stay out of sight, out of mind, as all too many cultures ask of women, this is spiritual advice on replenishing one’s self in a stressful environment. For 5- 10 minutes take some time to reconnect and reorient, put the stressful husband -or a number of other stressful environments that any woman can have, out of mind and just pray.

Women aren’t required to go to the Masjid for any prayer we are also not required to stay at home to pray, we have the right to choose our prayer environment and in the prophet’s time we see women doing just that. This hadith was a hard pill to swallow, between my first time hearing it and subsequently hearing it used as a weapon against women and our presence in the Mosque many, many times, in hearing Shaykh Abdullah Adhami’s commentary my heart was finally put to rest concerning this Hadith. I don’t know how Islam became an “anti- women” religion when the prophet peace and blessings to him was sent as a light and mercy to the world. When he gave women rights, facilitated their education, gave them respect and dignity, loved and honored them, us. Somehow his words and his path became synonymous with an anti- women sentiment. This isn’t the doing of the west or the media, this is the doing of Muslims and far too much of our leadership that believe women are inferior, want women out of the public eye and will jump on any hadith that outwardly seems to back their inward state.

Artwork credit: Eiko Ojala

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In The Days Of Noor: “Male Abortion”

March 15, 2016

If you’ve benefited from this audio please consider donating, I’m currently studying Arabic abroad and would appreciate your financial support. Thank you. Donate here: bythefigandtheolive.com/donate/

“Don’t kill your children out of fear of poverty…”

March 14, 2016

smiling-babyAbortion is a difficult and emotional issue. It is far too often empty of concrete facts and statistics. In a typical pro-life vs. pro-choice debate -when pro choicers seems particularly desperate for an argument they’ll site incest and rape -“Would you force a woman to give birth to her rapist’s baby?” And we are often told abortion is not an easy decision for women to make. The typical ‘her body her choice’, can’t honestly continue in our current scientific environment when we know a separate heartbeat is developed only weeks after conception.

I first doubted how often women aborted their children because of rape or incest and secondly the idea that often seems all too insensitive -that many women abort their children out of convenience, seemed like a real possibility to me. After all in an environment of sexual promiscuity it is more than likely that the man a woman decides to have sex with is not the man she wants as the father or her child, it is also highly likely that in this environment she is having sexual intercourse with a consequence free mindset and the child she conceives is neither planned no wanted, i.e. a big inconvenience.

Accordingly to a study by Finer, et. al. entitled “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives.” The tragic picture of a rape victim conceiving her rapist child as a reason for abortion was %1 -abortion as a result of incest was less than .5%. The first and primary reason women gave for abortion was precisely inconvenience, 74% felt “having a baby would dramatically change my life” (which includes interrupting education, interfering with job and career, and/or concern over other children or dependents)”. 73% -most women gave two or three primary reasons for their abortion, reported, “…they “can’t afford a baby now” (due to various reasons such as being unmarried, being a student, inability to afford childcare or basic needs of life, etc.)” Other reasons included not wanting others to know they were pregnant, not wanting to be a single mother, being finish with childbearing, not feeling mature enough to raise a child, partner or parent wanting them to have an abortion, not feeling mature enough to raise a child and health problems with themselves or the fetus (See a full summary of results and percentages here).

When we hear of a poor family giving off their young daughter in marriage in some far away country, we cringe. When we hear of a new-born being left to die because of fear of poverty, our heart breaks. We sympathize with the family, the woman and their hardship but we are still able to recognize their injustice and qualify it as immoral. Is the silence of the baby in the womb the only reason we cannot realize the injustice of killing them? And now that we know “The fifth week of pregnancy, or the third week after conception, marks the beginning of the embryonic period… when the baby’s brain, spinal cord, heart and other organs begin to form…” (2) We can no longer pretend the baby is a mere attachment of the woman’s body, that is simply antiquated and unscientific.

There’s a character in the book ‘Beloved’ by Toni Morrison who, upon the fear of being enslaved, kills her children. This horrendous scene sparks in me an unbearable amount of sadness. The enslavement of Africans in America is one of the most horrendous crimes to happen on the face of this planet. The character Sethe who decides to kill her baby knows that pain first hand -a lifetime of forced work, abuse, and rape. If there is any scenario in which one could empathize with a mother killing her children this would be it. But our empathy for this character does not overrides what we know as a moral truth, the basic human right to life. When she is imprisoned we sympathize, but we clearly acknowledge what she did was a crime.

In the holy scripture that serves as a blueprint for my life, God says “And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Quran, 17:31). In the depth of our souls I think we all can agree killing another human being for no just reason is a moral sin and a heinous crime. But before we attempt to or even become interested in reversing roe v. wade we have to tell the truth, the truth about life, the truth about why woman have abortions and the truth about morality. We should not be interested in simply making abortion illegal which may only cause abortions to go underground, we have to be interested in opening people hearts and minds, we have change the culture, the pro-choice movement cannot continue under its cloud of fallacies but the pro-life movement will never reach the masses if it does not understand why women end up in the abortion clinic in the first place.

Image source: here

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