Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Okay, You Can Stop Feeding Me Now...

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone, insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman! Ever since I came to Morocco, I've had an increasingly serious problem. What exactly is that problem, you might ask? It's called being stuffed full of [delicious!] food. Now, how could this ever be considered a problem? Shouldn't I just be thankful that I have enough food to eat while so many others in the world don't have enough to even eat one meal a day? Alhamdolillah, I am very grateful that a shortage of food has never been a problem in my life. I'm extremely blessed that I have always been able to eat when I'm hungry (and even when I'm just craving a certain flavor...yes, guilty as charged!) Having said that, please don't take this post in the wrong way. In Moroccan culture, and correct me if I'm wrong, in Arab culture in general, when you are a guest in somebody's home, it is expected that you will be fed...WELL-fed. I lived with my in-laws up until the beginning of this month, and my husband and I still continue to visit quite often (we've been staying with them for the past two weeks and going back to our appartment for the weekend because of my husband's work), and alhamdolillah wa mash'Allah, whenever I'm staying with my in-laws I almost never feel hungry. The problem is...even though I've been here since November...I haven't quite learned how to properly state that I'm full, and I've had enough. In American culture, when someone asks you if you've had enough to eat, and you say "yes, I'm full," they usually will not ask you again, and will take it to mean that you're full. However, in Moroccan culture, when someone notices that you've ceased eating, they will say "kool!" or "kooli!" which means "eat!"...even if you state that you've had enough. If you truly no longer wish to eat, you must state several times "saafi, alhamdolillah" "I've had enough, alhamdolillah" because they will keep insisting that you continue eating. It took me a while to understand this, but alhamodlillah, I'm finally catching on :P I asked my MIL about this, and she said that it's because in Moroccan culture, keeping people well-fed and insisting that they eat is a way to say that they love you and care about you, and they want to make sure that you're comfortable, and that you're not hungry. Whenever you are visiting someone, even if it's only for a few hours, it is expected that you will eat, even if it's just bread with cheese/butter/olive oil, and you will ALWAYS drink tea. It's also sort of an unwritten rule that if you're offered something to eat when you are visiting, you eat it, even if you're not particularly hungry, as it would be impolite to refuse. It can be a bit difficult not to over-eat sometimes, because a good host will offer you more food than you can possibly finish, and they will be quite insitant that you eat (again, this is not because they're trying to be malicious, it's quite the opposite, it's done out of love). So, needless to say, I have gained a decent ammount of weight since I got here. The problem is, I DO NOT WANT TO PUT ON ANY MORE WEIGHT, as this will cause me to start approaching the "overweight" category. I do NOT want to go there. It's not good that I almost never feel hungry...it's good to feel hungry sometimes, especially right before you go to sleep (not REALLY hungry...but what I like to call "comfortably hungry"...as in you're stomach isn't eating itself, but you could comfortably eat a small meal). Sometimes, I have trouble getting to sleep at night because my stomach feels like it's going to burst from being so full, astighfirallah. I admit that it is partially my fault...food and I have always had a complicated relationship...I kind of feel guilty if I don't finish everything that is offered to me, because I don't like to waste food. I also feel like I'm hurting my husband's grandmother's feelings if I don't eat (even if I'm not hungry), although I'm sure she understands; it's just me being weird. I also don't make the effort to actually do much exercise (in my defense I am basically in the house all day...but I will go out with my MIL if I'm staying with her, even if she's just going to buy vegetables, just so that I get a chance to walk and get some fresh air). So, any suggestions for what I should do? Has anyone else ever had this problem? I'd really appreciate any advice y'all could give me!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Negafa : Moroccan Bridal Wear

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone! Insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman today ^_^
So here it goes...I shall begin my posts on Moroccan marriages by covering traditional Moroccan bridal wear, or "negafa". I would also like to request that people please not repost these pictures, jazak Allah khair in advance!
During the wedding ceremony, a Moroccan bride will change her dress multiple times. For instance, at the wedding of my husband's cousin R, she changed her outfit a whopping TEN TIMES (yikes! That's a lot of stuff to get in and out of! Luckily the bride has two women to attend to her and help her get dressed/make sure she always looks pretty for pictures and videos...and that Moroccan weddings tend to last 8 to 10 hours!)

Bridal wear usually includes a takchita (a traditional Moroccan dress for women, worn for parties and special occasions, it consists of an inner dress, as well as an outer, often transparent dress, and can be worn with or without a belt) or a caftan that is heavily embellished and embroidered, a long veil that is draped on top of the head, and a lot of jewelry (including a clip for the belt, necklaces, earings, a tiara, and clips to hold the veil in place). Brides that choose to keep covered (i.e. hijab) at their weddings will also have elaborately wrapped head scarves (however, I've found that a lot of women do not wear the hijab at their wedding for whatever reason). The negafa is often rented for the day, as buying all the fabric to tailor the takchitas and caftans and to look for matching jewelry would take quite a bit of time and a LOT of money. However, there are some brides out there that choose to do that.
These photos are just some examples of Moroccan negafa worn by my husband's cousin R, aunt L, and myself (my female in-laws planned such a sweet surprise for me, may Allah(swt) bless them...they had me dressed up in negafa after aunt L's ceremony (she was in on this too! May Allah(swt) bless her immensely for her generosity!) because I didn't really get to have a traditional wedding ceremony of my own (I didn't really want one...too much attention...I was sobbing like crazy because I was so touched that they did this for me)...I had no idea that they were planning this, they kept it a secret up until the very last minute because my MIL knew very well that if I knew what they were planning I would have very politely refused...she just told me that I was going to wear negafa so that I could take pictures for my family (she had to plead with me for me to agree to do even that lol mash'Allah)...little did I know that I was going to be brought downstairs into the wedding with a room full of women!) So anyways, yeah, that's the long story about how I ended up in negafa even though I didn't have a traditional wedding ceremony (I'm in the red if you haven't already guessed...) These aren't in any way meant to be taken as exhaustive examples...they're only just a few. If you'd like to see more, I suggest googling "negafa" images. I hope you all enjoyed this post!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spiderweb: a Small Reminder

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone, insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman today.

So, while preparing the table for a delicious dinner with hubby last night, I noticed that a spider decided to make a new home just outside of our salon window. Now call me weird or whatever, but I found it really beautiful! I know a lot of people don't like spiderwebs because they think they're creepy/dirty...and because spiders live in them, and some people (like my dad lol) are quite the arachnophobes. Now, if said spiderweb were inside of the appartment, I probably would have promptly removed it with a broom, but since it was outside...I really saw no point in getting rid of it. Also, I will admit that some cobwebs (and spiders...like big hairy ones) do give me the creeps...but only the narsty-looking horror film kind...and those, thankfully, are few and far between. However, the one outside the salon window is pretty, and the spider who made it is small; therefore it is welcome to stay as long as it likes ^_^

Also, looking at it reminds me of this ayah (verse) from the Qur'an:
"The parable of those who take protectors other than Allah is that of the spider, who builds (to itself) a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house;- if they but knew." (Qur'an 29:41)
Looking to things other than Allah(swt) to protect us is just like the delicate spiderweb outside of my salon window that can so easily be destroyed. So often we will try to build structures that are "indestructable." We will put extra locks on our doors to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe at night. We will work hard, long hours in search of financial security and stability, and we will store our hard-earned money in a secure place. We will lock our valuable possesions away in safes and keep them behind glass...put them on high shelves where they cannot be easily reached. However, what use is all of this if we do not, first and foremost, put our trust in Allah?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone!

Insh'Allah you're all doing well and are in the best of health and the highest of iman today. Needless to say I've had a bit of extra time on my hands, and didn't feel like mopping the floors today, so I decided to give my blog a little makeover, yay! ^_^

Do you like it? Hate it? I'm working on making a snazzy header as well, but that's going to take some time. I'll leave it for another day when I don't feel like mopping the floors lol.

As for the question I asked last time...I've decided that I will try to look for a job. If I get hired and I like it, great, alhamdolillah! Insh'Allah I'll be working until I have kids, and I'll be helping out my husband as far as household income is concerned. If I don't find anything, then alhamdolillah as well! I can occupy myself with the appartment, learning about Islam, memorizing Qur'an, and insh'Allah I would like to learn how to crochet lace from Khalti M (!!I'm really excited to learn insh'Allah...I know basics of knitting, but I've always wanted to learn how to crochet but never found the time!!)

Insh'Allah I'll be back soon with the posts about Moroccan weddings, I promise!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update That Turned into a Short Novel...Sorry!

Salaam alaikum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh everyone, insh'Allah you're all in the best of health and the highest of iman!

Sorry for not posting yet again for a rather extended period of time...as I kind of mentioned in my last post, my husband and I have been a bit busy getting ourselves situated in our new appartment. Alhamdolillah we're pretty much all settled in now (we officially moved in the first of March), and pretty much have all the basics covered (we still need a refrigerator though...which pretty much means that we haven't been eating much in the way of "real traditional" meals...although yesterday my husband got ingredients so that I could cook a tagine for dinner...my cooking still needs perfecting, but alhamdolillah it went better than the last time I tried to cook a tagine...we also need an oven so that I can cook delicious cakes and cookies *ahem* I mean...bread...LOL, but I guess the oven isn't really a necessity, so it can wait for later). After a while insh'Allah when we have the finances I can think about interior decoration and making it look more "homey."

I was also at my husband's aunt L's wedding on Saturday. Mash'Allah she made such a beautiful bride! It was a women's only wedding, which was pretty cool, because the other wedding I was at in January, in Marrakesh for my husband's cousin R, was a mixed wedding...and for obvious reasons I didn't really feel that comfortable dancing. Anyways, I'll talk more about weddings here in another post (or two!) in the future insh'Allah...because they're beautiful and there's so much to talk about...food...negafa...takshetas/kaftans...wedding traditions...so insh'Allah that'll be something for y'all to look forward to! ^_^

Alhamdolillah all my paperwork for my residency permit FINALLY was able to go through last Wednesday (after my poor MIL and I had been going there for almost a month trying to get it done!). Subhan'Allah, people can never tell you the correct information the FIRST time around when it comes to paperwork here; it's so FRUSTRATING!! We had to go to the police headquarters literally four times...sometimes having to wait in line for HOURS...just to be told that we didn't have all the paperwork needed/they needed more legalized copies of this or that/my husband doesn't make enough money to support me (this lady supposedly wanted my husband to make 20,000dh a month to "prove" that he could support me...when my MIL told me this I was like...seriously?!?! Does she really think that I'm THAT high-maintenance?) Another thing that I found extremely annoying is that people there, even after knowing that I can speak and understand French at a near-fluent level, INSIST upon speaking to me in English. Now I don't want anyone to think I'm stuck up or anything when I say this, so PLEASE don't take this the wrong way, but if someone is going to go through the trouble of talking to me in heavily accented English when I'd be able to understand them much better in French anyways, at least they should be able to understand when I respond to them in English as well. However, I find that whenever I do so, I'm often confronted with the blank "I didn't understand a word of what you just said" stare. JUST SPEAK TO ME IN FRENCH DARN IT! I SWEAR TO YOU I WILL UNDERSTAND! I guess it's just not that believable that an American can speak more than one language *eye roll*

Anyways, now that I will have my residency permit, insh'Allah, I will be able to look for work here...if I so choose. So now, I am stuck with a dilemma: to work or not to work? I only have a high school diploma (the equivalent of having your BAC)...and the only real marketable skill that I have would be to teach English. I have always wanted to teach...but doing this would require that I at least pass a TEFL certification first, which of course will take a few months. I also feel very strongly that once I have children, insh'Allah, I DO NOT want to work outside the home. I also know that I would like to start having children rather soon (i.e. 1-2 years time insh'Allah). I also know that, even though he won't say it, if I worked it would help my husband out a lot. I asked my husband what his preference was, and he told me outright that he doesn't really have a preference either way; the choice is up to me. I should also mention that as of now, if I am not accompanied by my husband or MIL outside the house, I am pretty much helpless (i.e. I've never gone outside alone), so I don't know how comfortable I'd be having a job outside my house. So my question to y'all is this: would it be worth me trying to find a job now, or should I forget about it?

Sorry I've basically written a book...insh'Allah I'll be back soon with more posts!