The shift towards being more religious, why?

I don’t know how strong is the relationship between the numbers of veiled women and the indication of a shift in society towards being more religious. Looking at pictures of Jordanian women in the 60’s and 70’s of last century one would certainly acknowledge the shift in dressing towards more conservatism. Our mothers used to go to Jordan universities wearing mini skirts without any fear of sexual harassments that today even some veiled women fear in our streets.
So what triggered such change? It is not specific to Jordan but also one can see it in the whole area of Arabian countries in the middle east. Egypt can be a better example of the dramatic change that took place. It is very clear and reflected in their film industry.

I have been hearing two explanation so far:

1. Some people claim that the othmanians left us in complete ignorance especially in matters related to religion and that people didn’t really know Islam. Now we are better educated about our religion and thus know better how to follow its rules.

How true is this? Were Jordanians less religious in the 70s because they knew less about their religion? or were they no less religious than today but with a less cultural focus on women and what they dress?

2. Other people claim that due to the cold war and the competition between capitalism and communism, the USA lead a policy of supporting religion in the region so that to guarantee that ME countries won’t turn into the communist atheist party. They clearly supported Islamists in different Arab and Islamic countries. They put a lot of their weight and power in supporting the mijaheddeen (fighters) in Afghanistan against the USSR. In jordan, the government even put our school curriculum in the hands of the Islamic party.

There is a third reasoning that I heard in Egypt where people rationalize the shift towards being more religious to the amount of Egyptians going to Saudi Arabia for work and coming back to their country with the wahhabi mentality. Some also claim that Saudi Arabia Wahhabi’s, being very rich, are using their money to preach their own way of thinking. This is also clear in Jordan, I am not sure whether it is wahhabi’s or not, but religious in-house classes have been popluar for some years now. I have seen some young men taking the leap of faith and turning into more strict reglious people in little time.

I am not a religious person myself, and while there are aspects that came with the current religious wave that scare me, I can say nothing about people’s choice of faith. It is just sad when you realize that such major trend that affected an entire nation has been built by foreign hands for their own interest in the region! Real education may be our way out, not out of being religious, but out of following up blindly what others preach as being a true religion. There must be a way to guarantee our individual freedoms with the blessing of our belief system. Islam has been so progressive when it came to us, it can do it again.

I wish I can reach out my hand to Laila, Mariam and Aziza!

** spoilers a thousand splendid suns

khaled al Hosseini has just managed to make me cry again. I had to stop now at the moment where Laila was letting go of her daughter Aziza because of the famine. I feel so much anger and rage inside of me. Anger for the injustice those women had to endure because of the stupidity of men. They are no fictional characters, I can see their suffering reflected on many women in the history of humanity in a way or another.

I wish I was there to hug both Laila and Aziza, to hug also Mariam, and maybe Nana (Laila’s mother). 3 generation of women suffering at the hand of man for different reasons. One being a maid who got pregnant by her master and then having to pay for it for the rest of her life by raising up a so called bastard. And then the so called young bastard girl who had to pay for her parents mistake the whole of her life, being forced to marry a much older man at the age of 14 in order to get rid of her!

And then comes Laila, the beautiful young girl whose life turned upside down when her parents got killed in a missile that hit their own house, she woke up in a house of a stranger, the same man who is married to Mariam. With no way out because of the war, and with a child in her womb herself (the child she gives away later on!) from the man who she adored and whom also died because of the war, she agrees to be the second wife and pass on her daughter as his.

How many women are their in this world who has been forced to protect their children this way? What kind of justice is this where the only way to protect your child is by passing him on as another’s man child? What kind of justice is there in this world when a woman gives away her own daughter because she can’t feed it? and what kind of justice is there when you are called a bastard for something you have nothing to do with?!!

When would men stop abusing women?!! Really?!!

Horror films make women less feminine! A jordanian newspaper claims!

While it is hard for a lot people to imagine a genderless human being – which exist -, it is as hard for Arabs to imagine a genderless objects due to the nature of the Arabic language that genderlizes objects. There is no “it” in Arabic, we only have a he and a she. Nearly everything can be defined as either to be masculine or feminine depending usually on the ending of the word: those with ‘ah’ at the end are defaulted to be feminine, and those without it tend to be masculine!

With such a language heritage, it comes to no surprise the strong emphasize on gender roles in the Arab societies, and while it is impossible to attach every single object to females or males based on its own gender, sometimes people subconsciously do the attachmenet and build on it. For instance a spoon in arabic (mel3akah) is feminine but it cannot be explicit for females usage only! In the other hand, a flower (wardah) which has other feminine attributes such as being delicate and soft is strongly attached to females.

The rigid apply of gender roles on both sexes where masculinity and femininity come as a based for classification usually triggers some awkward situations that limit the behaviour of both men and women in our society. The other day, and while reading the daily Al Ra’ee newspaper, an article about horror movies caught my attention.

The article highlights how Jordanian women are getting more interested in horror movies. It is written in a way that shows the issue as a strange phenomena in Jordan where women are behaving in a way that should be limited to men! The writer comes with a mentality that can’t see how *fragile delicate feminine* creatures like women can betray their own gender and watch films that are full of violence and horror. Ofcourse different absurd reasons came up in the article such as that Jordanian women are forced to watch these movies because it is usually their brothers who take control of the remote control and they are who decide upon what to watch and what not! and so helpless Jordanian girls just sit down and watch their brothers choices of violent horror films!

To make it worse, it follows the guidlines of researched articles we are used to from such a newspaer, it goes further into consulting a social professional in the matter whom with his so called expertise condemn the phenomena and warns Jordanian women of losing their femininity by watching such films! (bullshit!)

The article even shows statistics! It claims that 14% of women who watch horror films on a regular basis suffer from lack of femininity! I wonder who is the genious behind those numbers! Really? How do *science* people conduct their research in this country?

It is not uncommon to read such articles who claim a scientific credibility by caughting a so called professional in our newspapers. I wonder whether the problem lies in the writers of those articles or in the professionals in this country who seem to be detached from what real science has achieved around the globe.

Isn’t it time for people to come up and complain when they catch a lie in a newspaper? We have an arabic saying: El saket 3an el 7a2 shitan akhras (The one who doesn’t stand up for justice is a silent devil). Newspaper writers should start hold accountability for what they write and take responsiblity for it.

The maid, the magic and my friend

It is funny how you spend a lot of time with a person and suddenly get surprised about a way of thinking or a certain belief in his head. Yesterday, my mother’s friend travelled to the US and she left her Filipino maid at our house. The girl is nice, but I don’t feel comfortable of the way she looks at me. She keeps on giving me some eye contact with a blushed smile!

I think she is hitting on me! I told my friend at work, who in return decided to tell me the story of their Indonisian maid. According to him, she tried to pull magic on him, a magic that would make him fall in love with her! The details is a bit disgusting – don’t read it you are oversensitive -. What she intended to do, which is accoding to another indonisian girl, is to have a drop of blood from her premenstrual into his coffe. That is how she would cast a spell on him to fall in love with her! He said that this magic is common among Indonisians! Be careful guys! 😛

Are you kidding me? Do you believe in magic? That was my reaction! The more that I find myself detached from imaginary stuff, the more I project it on people around me, and the more I got surprised. Is there many people in the 21th century with all of the scientific advancements who still believe in magic?! I really want to know!

What was really laughable is that as much as I was surprised of knowing that this educated smart 26 years old man believe in magic, as much as he was surprised of me not believing in it! He was like “You are the only person on earth who doesn’t believe in magic”! Oh really? Am I?

To prove his point, he mentioned Moses and the Pharos. It is mentioned in the Quran he said. So that is where it came from? Now seriously, regardless of how religious a person is or not, how much one can really take from religion and still be on the same side at this point of time where nearly everything can be explained scientifically? Some people are smart enough to reason different teachings in their religion in a way or another and dismiss what doesn’t make sense.

Is magic still part of people’s today religious belief? That really makes me wonder!

Queen Rania twitters the Pope!

Isn’t Queen Rania the coolest Queen ever?

First she establishes herself as a stylish elegant highly regarded Queen among the world leaders, then she creates a youtube channel to address the stereotypes against Arabs in the west and try to open a dialogue among the two sides, then she APPEARS on Oprah and gives a great interview and impressions about Jordan, and now she seizes the change of the Pope’s visit of to Jordan to start her twitter account that instantly became an industry news that would give a bigger volume to the visit and to Jordan as a country.

We can listen now to 140 character wisdom messages from our Queen. A great tool for the leaders of the 21th century to use and build on. Well done Queen Rania, we are so proud of you, really so so proud 🙂

Following are some of her wise tweets of today:

@QueenRania: Reminder of how special this land is- where our 3 beloved Prophets carried the message of moderation, tolerance, and peace.

@QueenRania: Just listened to Pope’s speech. Our region so needs a message of Peace.

@QueenRania: Pope moved by young people’s excitement. Inspired to be in the cradle of the major religions. Eager for people to rise above divisions.

“Our region so needs a message of Peace” yes indeed! With such leadership… I really have high hopes!

Toyota + Police = Brilliant Traffic Awarness Ad Campaign

Toyota and in association with local traffic police in Jordan launched a brilliant traffic awarness ad campaign. The signs of the campaign is all over the city in Amman. Everyone can see those yellow – traffic like – new signs with some guidelines. The campaign is meant to raise awareness and support those who drive in a responsible manner. They state that there will be people (I guess policemen) who would monitor traffic, and if they find you driving in a good responsible way, then they will take your name and give you a chance to win a Toyota Yaris by the end of this campaign.

This is a brilliant move from Toyota, a campaign that adds a social value and that portrays Toyota as a responsible company towards the Jordanian local community. I salute Toyota and hope other companies to think in the same line of this ad campaign in their future advertisements.

I couldn’t find the Ad online or a link to an article talking about it. Please point it out if you have read it or seen it anywhere online. Thanks 🙂

Swine flu and pimping one’s sister!

I guess that it takes a disaster to reveal major issues of ignorance and intolerance in a society.

Few months ago, during the Israeli war of Gaza there was a circulation of emails, blogs, micro-blogs and text messages cheering up for Hitler’s holocaust against the Jews. As disturbing as it has been the massacre taking place in Gaza for me, it was even more disturbing the intolerance hate speech spread among people whom I considered to be well educated, tolerant and open minded. I couldn’t find any reasonable justification for cheering up to a racist dictator like Hitler who classified people’s nations into superior and inferior ones even if he mass murdered a group of people whom we consider their descendents to be an enemy for us.

Today, with the swine flu spreading, I learnt about another disturbing common belief between some Muslims in Jordan. It sadly came out of the tongue of a close friend of mine “Men who eat pork don’t feel jealousy towards their wives, that is why Christian men let their wives go out wearing revealing clothes!

I still can’t comprehend the amount of ingorance in this statement. Obviously it is built on an irrational common belief that eating pork copies some of the pigs characteristics to the one eating it. They claim that male pigs doesn’t react when watching his female having sex with another male and thus eating pork would make a man careless about his wife’s sexual affairs! (I am not an expert in animal matters, but would you people help pointing out which animals care and which don’t?). For Jordanian Christians, I know that such claim is very offensive. It steps on honor which is very sensitive cord that is common among both Muslims and Christians in Jordan. I won’t emphasize on the honor notion here as you know how I regard our cultural definition of honor, but the fact that this statment shows a general condescending moral attitude is disturbing.

The truth is that Islam forbades eating pork and requires Muslim women to wear veils while Christianity doesn’t forbade eating pork and doesn’t impose veils on Christian women. As a result of the veil Islamic restriction, Jordanian Christian women may have enjoyed less restrictions on clothes (which may not be true except for the veil part). On the other hand Muslims have always had a rational explanation of why Islam forbade eating pork – which is because it can cause serious health issues. They also state that pigs are filthy animals because they eat their shit. That is fine as well. But the claim of copied behaviour and linking it to jealousy is quite a stretch!

A doctor friend of mine told me a story about a mother who had her son in a very bad condition at the hospital. He needed a medication that contains some substances taken from pigs. The mother refused giving him the medication stating that if they give it to him, he would grow up pimping his sisters and that she won’t take that chance! We sadly value honor more than life, don’t we? I don’t know if the boy survived or not, but isn’t this a weird form of honor crimes?

Apparantly this common belief does have a religious base. I watched a video featuring a Sheikh on a religious channel talking about this matter. He claimed that people who eat pork acquire some pig’s characteristics. He even went further into claiming that people who eat a lot of pork do tend to look like pigs as they grow old! My friend claims that their is a hadith that says so, but I doubt it.

Islam is a religion of tolerance and knowledge, it helped in setting the grassroot for one of the most important civilization of the human history. Critical thinking has been one of its major pillars that provided a much needed catalyst for the development of human race at that point of time. I don’t know why people today ignore the importance of critical thinking and follow blindly rumors, lies and myths.

Inspite of our cultural perception of the dirtiness and ugliness of pigs, I happen to find them really cute creatures. They certainly look better than hens and sheeps, no?


There is no red line in our society that matches the one drawn to highlight the seperation of gender roles. Men and women, simple binary entities that simplifies all the diversity of humans nature into two templates. Only two that are hard to fit by many. It is even worse when it comes to the classification of these simple two templates; one is superior than the other. Men enjoy the upper hand. They ought to emphasize on different superior attributes (strength, intelligence, education, …etc) in order to fill their gender role.

So what happens when someone’s nature fail to fit with those guidlines? What happens when someone blurs the lines between between gender roles and mess up with one of the major parts of which we define our gender identities – our clothes?

Hell break loose! no?

What really happens is that most people fail to realize the natural diverse aspect of human beings and lump it under mental disorder category.

It is worth noting that I am not talking here about homosexuals who blur gender roles in a different way. I am emphasizing on another group of people who blur the line of gender roles based on their choice of clothes rather than their sexual orientation.

I know that we tend to lump everything that we are unfamiliar with under the same category – queerness -. Many people – falsely – percieve homosexuals as cross-dressers and cross dressers as homosexuals. In reality: The great majority of cross-dressers are biological males, most of whom are sexually attracted to women. (this is taken from the american psychological association website – read further here)

Now that we no that most cross-dressers are straight men, does that help in making them fit our unique men template?

Ofcourse not, they fail in one of the prerequisites.

While the american psychological association tells us as well that cross-dressing is not a mental disorder, a lot of people tend to maintain their constructed inherited structure of false rigidity of gender roles and judge cross dressers as mentally ill people.

We tend to play experts. It is no uncommon for us to judge any unfamiliar behaviour to be a mental illness. “He is sick, or she is sick” may be one of the most used Jordanian terms. People are sick – this is also common – in our own definition of equating sickness to weirdness.

Would we ever realize the diverse nature of human beings? and would we ever learn that being weird doesn’t necessary being bad? I know that the internet opened the door for us, we may find a hard time at the beginning to capture unfamiliar things, but we all know that with time weird things become normal.