Random Ramblings #1

Random Ramblings is the beginning of a little series, where I want to share random thoughts on things that happen to me during the day or stuff that just crosses my mind.

Now let’s begin with #1: Homeless Man

I’ve just returned from a one hour walk with my dogs. It’s wet and cold outside and I really didn’t want to spend more time than necessary outside the warmth of my bed on that gloomy Sunday.

As I entered the Kaserne Areal (It’s a little park, where a lot of people go to let their dogs run a bit) I came across one woman who’s almost always there. She is very friendly but she has definitely seen better days. You almost always see her with a can of beer in her hand and I’ve seen her falling apart little by little over the last few years. But she still seems okay enough.

With her was a homeless man who has built a little shelter for himself. Cardboard boxes flat to use as mattress, covered by a sleeping bag, surrounded by his stuff in different bags. Fortunately the place was roofed since it was in the middle of a passage way. After greeting me she asked me if I could spare a few coins for her friend, so he could get something to eat. Since I felt for that guy I gave him 10 Swiss franks, which is more than you’d normally give to someone who’s begging for money. I told him he should get something warm to eat, since it’s cold and he needs to warm up. Both were more than grateful, so I went on to do my usual round with the dogs.

On my way back home I could see that the woman had left and the man was still there. I passed by him wishing him a good day as he asked me to stop:

“Excuse me…but can you afford to give away money? Just like that?”

“Actually no, I can’t. I don’t have plenty but I do have a roof over my head. A beautiful home and a great job. I’m grateful for that. And even if I’m poor for Swiss standards, I still have more than you. You need it way more than I do.”

“But it’s too much. I want to give it back. Even if you have a home – you still need to eat and pay your bills.”

“Yes, but I’ll eat, no worries. Please take it, I want you to have a warm meal.”

“The other woman helped… Now I have 30 franks!”

“That’s amazing! Good for you!”

“Yes, but..good for me. But what about you?”

“It’s absolutely fine. Believe me. Don’t think too much about it. I believe that whatever good or bad things one does, it always comes back in some form – maybe not money. But that’s ok. I want you to have it, ’cause I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.”

“I always do that…think too much. I need to work on that. Thank you so much. You are a very warm-hearted person. Thank you.”

“I hope life will turn around for you very soon.”

“It always does….there are always ups to the downs.”

“Please enjoy it without feeling bad, will you?”

“I will. Thank you”

After this conversation I went on home with tears in my eyes. I don’t know that mans story. I don’t know why he ended up in the streets. But all I could see was a decent human being having the hardest time. But he still manages to think of others and to share a smile.

I know that oftentimes the people who have less are the ones to give even more. This is not news to me. But still…. it’s just so damn touching to meet such a beautiful soul.

I hope we all find it in our hearts to respect people we don’t know, especially the less fortunate ones, since we have no idea what happened to them.

And you know what? Let’s not just care about them during holiday season. Everybody seems to be so charitable during christmas time but these people are out there 365 days a year.

your unspoiltmind

Hijab – Mandatory or Not?

I am a spiritual agnostic. But I grew up in a muslim family and even visited Quran school in our mosque. Although I stopped going there after a while I was still a very god-fearing child. Later on in my early teenage years I stopped believing in the concept of religion and started to walk my own path. Still interested in all kinds of beliefs ‘though, I started reading a lot about different faiths and practices.

Being born a muslim I never questioned the presence of hijabi women. But I also never thought that wearing the headscarf was mandatory since a lot of women didn’t wear it. “If you want to wear it, wear it. If not, don’t. It’s sunnah – God will be pleased but not angry” is what everyone around me believed in. So I didn’t question it.

At present times even the most ignorant people have heard about the word hijab somewhere. Most likely in the middle of some burkini media hullabaloo. The big question concerning the hijab being mandatory or not seems to be very important a the moment. A lot of Muslimas do choose to wear it, others don’t want to and do not really know if they are doing something haram if they put their headscarf aside.

I wanted to know. There are scholars out there defending both sides. And both sides argue with the same words from the Quran:

[24.30] قُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ذَلِكَ أَزْكَى لَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

[24.30] Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And Allah is well acquainted with all that they do.

[24.31] وَقُلْ لِلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّعَلَى جُيُوبِهِنَّ وَلا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِيإِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الإرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُواعَلَى عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ وَلا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِنْ زِينَتِهِنَّ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

[24.31] And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments…

After reading those lines it’s pretty clear what it means, right? That’s what everyone says and they still come to different conclusions. That’s because there are many things to consider, like specific meanings of those used expressions:

  • Guarding their Modesty
  • Beauty and Ornaments
  • Must Ordinarily
  • Veils

Another issue which leads to even more confusion is different translations.

Guarding their Modesty

What does that even mean? It’s very unspecific. Since I don’t speak any arabic, I have to go with everything that I’ve read about it. I’ve learnt that the closest translation to the original text would be “guarding their private parts” – well that’s specific. But it doesn’t say anything about how to dress other than not letting anybody see your love glove.

Beauty and Ornaments

No translation issues with that one, but it delivers too little information on what to include in those terms. Are hair part of your ornaments? Who knows.

Must Ordinarily

If you leave it like that you could interpret this as everything can show that isn’t part of your beauty and ornaments. Which again is dependent on what your definition of beauty and ornaments is. Some other translations say “must necessarily”. This sounds more like you shouldn’t show anything which isn’t necessary like your hands, which you need to be able to use.

Some people argue that Allah doesn’t speak in riddles. He’s very clear all throughout the Quran – why would he be that vague on this specific topic? If he doesn’t say “hair” and “body” it doesn’t mean hair nor body.

Veil

This is the most interesting one. In this translation you only read; they should draw their veils over their bosoms.  Beside your private parts, please do cover your breasts – this makes sense. Other translations say “headscarf” instead of veil. And whoops you have a whole different meaning. But let’s take a look at the original arabic word: khumur, plural of khimar.

In pre-Islamic Arabia women wore a loose headscarf, which endings just hung down behind their head or loosely in front of them. This headscarf was called khimar.

By using the word khimar in arabic and understanding the historical context it becomes clear that the veiling of the head didn’t need any further explanation for it was already in use. So the only thing that needed to change was the covering of the bosom. This is the only argument which makes perfect sense. But we’re not done yet.

Further on the Surah Al Ahzaab:

[33.59]  يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لأزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلابِيبِهِنَّ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَنْ يُعْرَفْنَ فَلا يُؤْذَيْنَ وَكَانَاللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَحِيمًا

[33.59] O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

The IRFI – Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc. explains it this way:

“According to the Quran, the reason why Muslim women should wear an outer garment when going out of their homes is that they may be recognized as “Believing” women and differentiated from streetwalkers for whom sexual harassment is an occupational hazard. The purpose of this verse was not to confine women to their homes, but to make it safe for them to go about their daily business without attracting unsavory attention.”

Some translations changed should to must, which once again changes the whole meaning.

My Personal Conclusion

I do believe wearing the hijab (used as headscarf, which also covers the bosom) is mandatory. Dressing modestly without showing too much of ones body also makes a lot of sense to me reading all this. Khimar is the key word that convinced me.

I do not believe, that the outer garments or hijab (used as full body cover) are fard, they seem rather sunnah to me. A recommendation not an obligation.

This is at least what I would think if I were a practicing Muslima, who’d think the Quran is meant to be followed word by word.

I don’t believe in Dogmas

But I’m not. I’m an agnostic because I think God (if there is one) is bigger than this. So if you are a Muslima not wearing hijab: Great! If you are wearing a lot of make up and love to show off your kick ass waist, while wearing a headscarf: Great! If you wear niqab, hijab, jilbab or burka and you’re rocking the shit out of it: Great!

Believe me, what’s in your heart matters way more than what you wear. Allah will understand.

The big question whether the hijab is mandatory or not will be ongoing. At least I solved it for my personal understanding.

your unspoiltmind

Being Ambiguously Ethnic: Somali Origins

सुप्रभात – Sorry, what?

Hola, que tal? – Nope, no Spanish. Sorry.Question-mark-blackandwhite

مساء الخير – Salam, I guess.

Bom dia! – Yeah… was that Spanish?

It’s not like I wouldn’t like to be able to speak Hindi, Spanish, Arabic or Portuguese. But let’s just say I’m not there yet. This scenario happens quite often: People approaching me with a big smile on their face thinking they found a fellow countryman (or countrywoman in my case). I had to disappoint them all.

I’m half Somali, half Swiss. A strange mixture, which lead to me looking like an Arab. “What? Your mother is black? I wouldn’t have guessed!” is the normal reaction. Normally followed by another quick face scan like they’re trying to find any hint of blackness on my face. I don’t need your validation to be biracial, thank you.

halfsomali
Somali/Belgium Family

But what is it about Somali people mixed with white people that almost all of us are very light skinned? I tried to find out – but I failed since nobody seems to really know. You find a bunch of ideas and statistics, which try to explain why the Somali look the way they look. The basis to finding out why I look the way I look.

Somali come in all shades of brown and black and share facial features with Caucasian ethnicities. Which leads to idea number one:

1. Somali are Black Caucasian.

Wikipedia about the Caucasian race:

“The  Caucasian race  (also  Caucasoid[1]  or  Europid[2]) is a grouping of human beings historically regarded as a biological  taxon, including some or all of the populations of  EuropeNorth Africa, the  Horn of AfricaWestern AsiaCentral Asia  and  South Asia.[3]  The term has been used in  biological anthropology  for many people from these regions, without regard necessarily to  skin tone.[4]  First introduced in early  racial science  and  anthropometry, the term denoted one of the three purported major races of humankind (Caucasoid,  MongoloidNegroid).[5]  Manysocial scientists  have argued that such analyses are rooted in sociopolitical and historical processes rather than in empirical observation.[6]However,  Caucasoid  as a biological classification remains in use in  forensic anthropology.[7]

The German version of Wikipedia says that this race categorizing system is not in use anymore because it’s outdated and is rejected by science. So, the confusion begins.

2. Somali are Descendants of Arabs

This is actually what I believed growing up. And it made sense to me – especially seeing we halflings almost all look like arabs. Wiki about the Somali ethnicity even supported this idea with statistics: The Somali gene pool seems to be made out of around 60% African and 40% Eurasian genes. Although this study seems to refer mostly to the female x chromosomes. A newer study shows that the male x chromosomes only show about 15% Eurasian influence. This also makes sense to me, since I always felt my male relatives were darker than most of my female relatives. Is this the true origin?

somalicouple
Somali Couple

3. Somali is the oldest Ethnicity

Some Somali take pride in the “common knowledge” that humankind seems to have originated in East Africa. But science actually shows that the Khoisan are the oldest ethnic group. Taking a look at these pictures of Khoisan people it’s like looking at a black asian-white mix. A little bit of everything. This might be the original race.

What to Believe?

If we trust science and go with the 60% African and 40% Eurasian assumption  we might have an explanation why people like me end up with stronger Eurasian traits. We just have weaker African genes. But does it really matter in the end?  No it doesn’t. It’s interesting but it doesn’t matter as long as we see each other as one people, one race. Because that’s what we are. We all have different cultures, traditions, beliefs but ultimately there’s just one kind of humans. The humankind.

your unspoiltmind

The Thing with the Burkini…

Oh, this topic gets me going, so be prepared for a lot of text.

I am very confused by how much turmoil a two-pieced bathing suit can cause.

But for those who do not know what a burkini is, let me explain it to you: It’s a fullbody bathing suit worn by muslimas, so they can enjoy themselves at the beach and in the water. Period. It’s not a war announcement and they don’t wear it so they can hide bombs underneath it. There are quite a few idiotic arguments against the burkini out there, which I’m going to dismantle right now, you can thank me later.

You are in MY country now!

You’re in my country now, so wear what we wear. If I have to hide my body in your country, you have to wear a bikini in ours. How I love this argument. It’s like telling a child to stop hitting his brother and the child answers: “But he hit me first!!”

First of all: Grow up. Don’t get me wrong, I love to be childish from time to time, and a lot of grown-up things really annoy me – but this here is the exact moment to leave your diapers behind and stop being a selfish dick.

There is a big difference between us wearing more modest clothes in islamic countries and expecting them to leave certain things like the hijab or the burkini behind. For most of us it’s really not a big deal to put on another sweater or a longer dress, when we’re visiting places outside our hotel area. We just do it (Well most of us. The things I’ve seen some tourists do…). That’s because we don’t have to give up anything of great value to us. Yes, we’re annoyed that we can’t show off our new beautiful top and maybe we feel a little restricted for a few hours. But expecting a hijabi woman to leave her clothes behind is the same as expecting her to abandon her beliefs. It’s in her core values. So stop comparing these two things. It makes no sense.

But feminism!

The last time I checked feminism was about empowering women. So if you tell a practicing muslima to abandon her beliefs, you strip her of her own power to decide who she wants to be. You might believe that no woman wants to hide her beauty and that all women want to look and behave like we westerners do. Well, let me burst your bubble: All women do not want to be like we are in the western world. Believe it or not, not every muslima is forced into wearing a hijab or a burkini. Many women choose to do so. And not even because they’re brainwashed. By trying to “liberate” those women you actually patronize them. I thought you wanted them to be free? So, let them be free to do what they want for God’s sake.

There are a LOT of great youtube videos on women choosing to wear the hijab. For now, I’d like to share Attya Lattifs – A Feminist Choice to wear the Hijab

I am not ignoring the fact, that there are indeed women who do not choose to live this way. And there are countries who oppress their women and don’t give them any choices to do anything. Those are the places that kind of feminism is needed. Not in our western countries, where you can do whatever you like as a muslim woman.

But what about those muslimas in our country, who are oppressed by the patriarchy of their family? Yes, they exist too. But we don’t help them by banning them from the beaches or the public baths. Because that’s exactly what we do, if we ban the burkinis. Because we are banning the only option for them to go to those places. We are not liberating them, we’re sending them back home. I thought we wanted them to integrate into our lives? Well, that’s not gonna happen, when they’re imprisoned in their homes.

Hygiene!

That’s a really popular one. Many public baths in europe banned the burkini because of some ridiculous concerns regarding hygiene. I’m glad that several health departments assured that there are no hygiene problems whatsoever. I feel like they are just searching for excuses to not let “those people” in. There have been cases where women “got caught” wearing more layers of fabric beneath the burkini, which is a safety hazard. But I’ve seen a lot of boys wearing boxers beneath their swimming trunks too – so it’s not a burkini problem, it’s a people problem.

Conclusion

Tolerance-is-the-positive-and__quotes-by-Joseph-E.-Osborne-11Just let them be. Let these women wear whatever the fuck they want. Don’t patronize them, don’t pity them. And if you really want to know more about why a woman would wear that kind of clothing, go ahead and ask her! Most of them will be happy to talk to you and some will be annoyed because they have to defend themselves everyday. But if you show real interest, I’m pretty sure they will open up to you as well.

 

your unspoiltmind