How Low Can You Go?

Well my family has sunk to an all time low, for Western families in the Gulf. Westerners are all expected to be rich and compared to the poor laborers from the third world countries -we are. Masha’Allah walhamduillah. However, coming from the west I honestly do not have to shop in malls, just to go to the fancy western stores (which are mainly British anyway). We are souk shoppers…and proud of it! Haha!!! We do go to malls. They have the safer amusement parks, clean bathrooms, and nice food courts (Popeyes, Dunkin Donuts, and the Cheesecake Factory are my fitnah). However, we do not shop there, unless it’s at one of the Superstores/Hypermarkets.

For sometime now, my big and tall husband has discovered the Filipino Souk. He can not buy sports clothes from the Saudi shops. In the Filipino Souk, you have these shops that sale USED CLOTHES. They are donated from the west and you can get some really good deals on them. At first, I use to just let my husband go and get his shorts and cotton shirts and sweatshirts. Later, my nephew spotted some G-Unit Items in my husbands belongings (my husband and I had no idea what G-Unit was until my nephew told us it was rapper 50 cents brand) and decided to check it out. Now my nephew shops there, because he can find the big long baggy shorts and not worry about us having his jeans tailored to floods. He mostly buys new name brand knockoffs and if he is fortunate enough he can find some used name brand items…really really cheap. The store is for men only but on one of our outings my daughters spotted some discarded girls clothes. Last week the weather changed dramatically and I finally cut off the A.C. This meant that it was time to get jackets, sweaters, and coats. I had a tripped planned to the Big City over an hour away for this past weekend, but told my husband that I wanted to check out the filipino souk in town first. We went and before even stepping in the door my husband declared that it was for men only and we would not find anything for the children. I insisted on asking the clerk, who informed us that they did not carry children’s’ clothes. Once we got in the car, I could see something pink hanging in the back of the store and asked my husband to run in and see what it was. We could see my husband digging through piles of dirty and smelly clothes pulling out items. I told the girls to run in and see if they fit. Eventually I joined them. Apparently, few girls items would be thrown in with the donated shipments (think Goodwill/Salvation army type), but would not be displayed and would be left in tucked away piles. Good thing I am persistent (hubby says I can’t take no for an answer), because the girls each came out with parkas, hoodies (perfect for their horse riding lessons) and down filled Eskimo coats that are in perfect condition and looked brand new after I washed them. We checked out several other shops in the Filipino souk and made a few other small purchases, which saved us a lot of money for when we finally did do the girls shopping in the Big City this past weekend. My husband warned the girls NOT to tell anyone, where they got the clothes from. We were already getting strange looks from the third world men and if the locals found out they wouldn’t know how to handle it. My husband and I couldn’t care less, but he didn’t want the girls to be teased.

This weekend we went to this one stop local store, where the clothes are supposedly so affordable that the Bahrainiescross over every weekend and turn the place into a mad house. I believe this weekend was especially chaotic, due to the change of weather.  People were snatching up three piece winter sets (skull caps, gloves, and scarves) like they were preparing for a blizzard! I bought my three kids three outfits a piece, socks, and of course they insisted on the 3 piece winter sets. After paying for it, I told my husband that even with the semi reasonable prices I don’t see how the average Saudi/Bahraini family could afford the cart loads of clothes they were buying for their average 7 children. I later bought the girls, what appears to be the latest abaya. It really must have just come out because as soon as I bought it I noticed that almost every girl had one on and the next day in the small town near us every girl had one on. I asked my daughter if they were wearing it at her school and she said that they weren’t and that she was glad she was the first to get it or they would tease her and call her a copy cat. Before she went to school, the first school day of the new week, she told me that she knew all the girls would tease her anyway and tell her how ugly the abaya is. Sure nuff he got teased, but said that other girls had the abaya too, but not that many. Before this week is out the whole school will probably have the same abaya. This is not a country to develope individuality.

I’m failing miserably in following the Sunnah

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)  was very kind to his servants. In comparison to the locals and even other Westerners, I am VERY GOOD to my helper. However, in light of the following hadeeth, I fail miserably:

Anas b. Mâlik said: “I worked as a servant for the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his residence and on his journeys. No matter what I did, he never once said to me: “Now why did you do that?” Likewise, no matter what I might have failed to do, he never once said to me: “Now why didn’t you do that?”

This is one of the reasons, I was hesitant to get a helper. You have to be extremely mindful on how you treat your servants. Many of them will test you and take your kindness for weakness. I personally have a problem with giving orders, so I will try to set an example or show them what to do and not tell them. Today, my daughter decided to throw an impromptu party for her friend who called to say she was going on umrah this weekend (yes, it’s a school night and yes I over heard her plan on the phone without consulting me, but I still made brownies, popcorn, veggies and dip). I showed my helper how to cut up the veggies and put them on the platter. I came back to put them out and discovered they had been diced!!!!! I reminded myself of the hadeeth and just remained quiet. I have also told her NOT to do our laundry. She has very little work to do in the house. She tends to the kitchen and irons and is SUPPOS to put the clothes away. The washing machine and dryer are in the kitchen (I converted the laundry room into an exercise room that my husband has lost the key to and now nobody uses). Which means that when she has no work to do she will sometimes load the machine. I have told her nicely that it is not a problem and not to do it, because she puts everything in one load. Today I came in to find linen, whites, and colors all in one load. That should be three loads. I separated the clothes, but did not start the load, because I usually do that at night after everyone has had their baths. I came back later, to find that EVERYTHING was placed back in the machine. This time I had to calmly call her and tell her that the loads are not to be mixed and showed her the Clorox and told her the damage that could be causedif it got on the color clothes. All the time I was talking to her I was very frustrated and tried hard not to reflect it in my tone. I really should not have gotten a servant as it is too much for me. I understand that life is a test, but I usually do not intentionally pick my test…this I already knew was a test and that is why it has been over a year since I have had one. One of the mental tricks I use, is to try and be grateful for the help she provides (honestly I do appreciate the ironing and dish washing above all) and try not to complain about what she doesn’t do or what she does WRONG!It’s really my fault anyway, as I am a poor supervisor and don’t like telling people what to do (contrary to what my husband thinks as he thinks I’m a bossy and nagging wife).

Little Girls Who Cover

This has been a topic I have been discussing on and off for about 10 years. More-so now that I have children. I won’t really go into if it’s praiseworthy or excessive to have little girls cover, it’s a personal decision. I just hope it is never FORCED on a child. What I don’t like is to be made to feel as though I am not a good Muslim mother for not MAKING my daughters cover. My girls are 7 and 5 years old and they both have excellent Muslim identities and taqwa that makes a mother proud and is insha’Allah pleasing to Allah. My daughters, see hijab as a right of passage that they await, but in the meantime realise that they DO NOT HAVE to wear it. They wear it when they want to and most of the time they don’t. They dress modestly without the abaya and hijab. I was once told by a well-meaning friend, that the abayas that I bought for my girls (the trendy ‘butterfly’ and ‘batman’) are haram and that it is haram for them to be sold. I agreed that they may be considered haram for women to wear but for prepubescent girls who do not have to wear them anyway, I did not see them as haram. In the meantime, I will continue to dress my girls modestly and leave it to them to decide if they want to cover before it is obligatory.