Saudi Arabia/Pakistan: A Woman Named Khadeejah

It is an honor and a rare treat to introduce American Bedu readers to one of my dear and old friends, Khadeejah Raja.  Khadeejah is a unique individual.   Her heritage is Pakistan and she makes her home between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.  As a young woman she learned to drive in Saudi Arabia…yes, you read that right!  She is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and true woman of the world.

 

Khadeejah, this interview is going to be a walk down memory lane in so many ways!  Please share with American Bedu readers how you and I first met? 

A mutual banker friend of ours called me up and said that one of his clients was looking for more piano sheet music to play, and as I played the piano, would I mind if he gave her my phone number. He also added that he felt that we might hit it off together as she and I seemed to have a lot of personality traits in common. Ha-ha……. Little did he know J

How was it that you and I, who came from such different backgrounds and experiences, bonded not only as friends, but as sisters?

I instantly felt a connection with you and remember mentioning it to my husband Gibran. Also we had music and piano as a common hobby and passion. But your late husband and my dear friend Abdullah summed it up the best. He told me while explaining what he loved about you, that I was more Western in my thinking and ways than most Western women he had met and that Carol was more Oriental in her ways than many Eastern women that he had known J I suppose that you could say that I am an eastern woman with a whole lot of the West in me and you are a western woman with the East in you. We just naturally met half way.

Please tell American bedu readers a little about yourself. Where were you born? What was the reason your family departed Pakistan to make another home in Saudi Arabia?

Now that is a long story that needs to be made short for your blog J  let’s see…. I was born in Pakistan, lived in Saudi Arabia and studied in Europe – so I have been the lucky recipient of many worlds and many cultures. I come from a family of generations of politicians. Both of my grandfathers were directly involved in the making of Pakistan. My father was a Minister and Cabinet member in the government of Pakistan in the 70’s with Benazir’s father the late Zulficar Ali Bhutto. Although he had given up politics before Martial Law was declared in my country, he was threatened and put on the spot for not playing ball with the new military regime. To put things in a nutshell we ended up going on a road trip from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia. My father was a friend of the Late King Khalid of Saudi Arabia, who said why don’t you stay on right now – and so we did – having to leave behind, a complete house with furniture, cars and servants under my uncle’s care. My father met King Khalid when he was the Minister in Waiting for His Majesty on his visit to Pakistan and they struck up a friendship. We had absolutely no idea how long we would stay and had definitely not come prepared – thus we were here because of the courtesy of the late King Khalid. Our residence papers used to elicit a major response at the airport every time we traveled in and out of the country. For the almost11 years that I lived in Saudi Arabia I owned a Pakistani passport but did not go to Pakistan as my parents felt that the civil liberties of Pakistani citizens had been suspended back home! We traveled a lot – including a fabulous almost one year road trip of/from Saudi to Europe and back. Yes almost one year! But I got to see and visit my own country after an almost 11 year’s gap.

 

What was it like growing up in Saudi Arabia as a young girl?

Believe it or not – I enjoyed every year. Other than not being able to drive when I reached my driving age – and it bothered me no end – I encountered no problems. Two reasons for my very positive experience could be: a) I was young and of the student age. Female equality and equal job opportunities and such did not really figure in my life at that stage, and b) Saudi was different than it is now. More relaxed, laid back – but then I suppose the whole world was more relaxed back then J

What were some of your unusual and unique experiences in Saudi Arabia as a young girl?

You mean other than – forcing the boys on our street to accept and take me on as part of their soccer team, learning how to drive there, striking up a pen friendship (days long before internet people) with NASA and Astronaut John Young that lasted 20 years, Speaking with astronauts while they were up in space through the Dial a Shuttle system courtesy of NASA and the Embassy in Riyadh, Sneaking into a farm across from our house with my female cousin who was visiting and sitting under the grape vines eating grapes and chatting till sun rise, wonderful camping trips in the desert fulfilling and indulging my passion for astronomy and cosmology, having almost 40 guests (no exaggeration) stay with us for 15 days to perform their Pilgrimage – just a few hundred more interesting experiences I would say J

You must share the story of how you, a female, learned to drive in Saudi Arabia?

Our house was situated in an area that bordered on the open desert, date farms and a network of new roads that were being built as part of the expansion of the city of Medina. After sunset my father, my older brother and I would sneak out on to those roads and dad would teach me how to drive. Pretty soon it became routine and common knowledge in our neighborhood that the foreigner was teaching his girl how to drive. None of the neighbors had any problem with that (we are talking the vice Chancellor of The Islamic University of Medina living next door to us) – so long as we respected the law and I did not take the car out on to the main roads.

You’re living in Saudi Arabia now and have a young daughter.  Are you going to make sure she knows how to drive?

 

Oh yes, of course Carol. But she is only nine right now and I am more than hopeful that by the time she grows up, and if we are still living here, things would have changed in that department. Saudi economic structures are undergoing changes and many now cannot afford drivers. I feel sorry for the pressure that puts on both the men and women here. Also now you see a lot of underage drivers on the roads – which is quite dangerous, to say the least. I do not blame the family for allowing one so young to drive – they have very little choice in the matter. I am not talking about the rights or wrongs – every society should be allowed it’s idiosyncrasies to a certain extent – I am merely pointing out the facts and the issues arising from this and the dilemma that the new generation of Saudi seem to be facing.

 

When did you return to Pakistan?  How was it re-adapting to Pakistan after living in Saudi Arabia?

In 1988 in my early 20’s is when I basically saw my own country for the first time – when we were living there before I was in elementary school. Now I was a young woman who had just about finished my education in England. The re-adapting had less to do with which country I was coming from or which country I was going to. It was more about suddenly finding myself in a country where I was automatically expected to dress, behave in a certain way simply because it was my birth country. You see Carol my mother was right when she pointed out that I had perhaps become too used to being a foreigner where ever I was and thus enjoying all the liberties and freedom that that position allows one to have. In Saudi I knew I was not a Saudi, In England I was not British – so more or less I could develop my own culture. All that changed in Pakistan. It was not Pakistan per say – I guess it was me. My background by default assured that I barely had any sense of nationalism – and my parents, by exposing me to so many cultures and so much traveling had turned me into a global citizen, long before such a concept became fashionable. 

Where did you attend University? What were your University days like?  What kind of interactions did you have with non-Muslims?

Almost all of my education took place in England – It was the University of Buckingham. Beautiful place in the Midlands with the most amazing country side ever. Lush greenery, rolling hills, beautiful rivers and streams with a super multicultural crowed. Wonderful! I always did and I still have friends from all sorts of faiths or lack of. Christians, Jews, Budhists, Zoroastrians, Atheists, Hindu’s, Sheikhs and some very interesting discussions and conversations with a few devil worshippers from my A-Level class mates in Brighton. If one believes in something than that in itself is worthy of respect. I mean if I have to choose between Prozac and Prayer – Prayer would win without contest. The problem today is that the whole world is caught up in an unfortunate frenzy of fear, hate and suspicion of everyone and everything which is even slightly different. I always thought that by this time we would all be symbiotic, loving and understanding community/communities of humans sharing a common habitat our planet earth. Well Carol, so much for my misplaced sense of idealism aye?

 

What are your views of people and the many religions which are practiced?

 

To round up what I was saying earlier…….. Prozac vs. Prayer. People do not seem to have time for beliefs anymore – of any sort. It is in my opinion a weakness and a poor substitute for acquiring inner peace or contentment. Someone once said – “if you don’t believe in something – you will fall for anything!” Islam categorically teaches us that there is no compulsion in religion – the almighty Himself can be so liberal in his commands why can’t we extend the same courtesy? The best way to bring someone around to see things your way is to do by example – actions are better preachers than words and they speak for themselves. Capture someone’s heart and the soul follows. In my opinion the aim of any and every spiritual belief system is to worship and love The Creator. We all have that in common – now how we get there differs from one system to the other. Yet when we focus on the bottom line itself, we see that we are all trying to achieve the same thing. As a practicing Muslim – the fact that I believe in an omnipotent Creator means that everything basically comes from that one source and only manifests itself or is understood differently by us humans. But clearly the source of all spirituality is the same – it has to be.

 

What is your definition and picture of a Muslim woman?

I would like to start with the picture of a Muslim woman. Sadly  misunderstood by not just the non-Muslim community but the Muslim men and women themselves. Let’s also include the general picture of women all over the world – a hot topic even in the USA – even today. Islam as a religion is perceived as a totally Patriarchal system (which it is not) – but I will come to that a bit later. Let’s look at the Western culture, its history and roots – Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt, all clearly patriarchal cultures. Where as Islam gave women rights of inheritance and property ownership 1500 years ago just to site one example. From what I see and have understood- unless women learn what their legal/spiritual/common and social law rights are all over the world – which includes Muslim women – they will feel like victims and be victimized. Almost every culture in one form or the other uses its ideological, social or political platform to trample upon basic human rights and unfortunately women everywhere seem to get the raw deal. Now, I am not advocating Feminism – my personal take is that Feminism is just male chauvinism in reverse – both extreme. It is just that as humans how can we expect or demand liberties unless we know what liberties we are entitled to. So Muslims need to take charge and change the misunderstood image the world has of Islam and a woman’s place in it. Now for my definition of a Muslim woman…….. She is equal to men – different, certainly, but equal no doubt. I do not have to behave like a man to be his equal – it’s more about working together as a unit, each bringing his and her own unique capacities and qualities. It’s Ying and Yang. It is true Islam. She is independent – clearly Islam advocates and encourages independent women. Why else give rights of inheritance and property to them. Prophet Muhammad’s first wife was in fact an independent business woman! She is balanced – she should be comfortable in her own skin. She should depend on her intellect and personality, over her sexuality. We do not have to be super models to be super women! The capacity to balance, the good sense to compromise when she needs to, setting her own limits and respecting others are the last definations of a muslim woman. I grew up competing with my five brothers and their fifty friends, and only one sister much younger than me. I am a 45 year old hot air balloonist, a rock climber and into extreme sports. I run my own business, and did not have to choose between a career, marriage or motherhood. My husband is also my best friend – we choose to marry each other, followed the protocols and he asked for my hand in marriage, with both families fully on board. I have two wonderful children and I am lucky to be able to have all this. Lucky to have a religion and background that provide me with a platform to have it all!

 

Many Muslim women, to include both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, are in marriages which are arranged.  Can you share with American Bedu readers how you met and married your Muslim husband?

 I would like to point out that there is a difference between arranged marriages and forced marriages. Islam does not advocate forced marriages although many a Muslim country cites and uses Islam to force women to marry. Islam gives women the right to choose or refuse marriage – it is written in the Koran. The Prophet Muhammad’s first wife sent the proposal to him. He was 20 something and she was 40 something. I rest my case J

 

You spent some time in the United States in the early 2000’s.  Can you please share with American Bedu readers what took you to the United States and the experiences you received?  What insights and growth did you receive during that time?

Yes, thank you carol – it was a wonderful and amazing opportunity. I participated in and spoke at a communication forum between women from Muslim majority nations and American woman. I got to see the curiosity turning into understanding and then that understanding turn from the you and us attitude into all of us together attitude. It was an emotionally charged workshop with many dynamic participants. A lot of the misconceptions disappeared between both groups. For me two comments passed sum it all up…. An American lady from the Midwest said “I never knew that Allah and God were the same” and a Muslim lady said to the Americans “I never realized just how very alike we all are – that we share so many of the same worries and tribulations that women go through”.

 

You are also one of the few who knew my late husband Abdullah and I both before and after our marriage. Would you care to share any memories of those times?

 

To me you and Abdullah were wonderful together – that is what I remember. The trials and adversities that you both overcame needed work, love and a lot of understanding that so many couples these days sorely lack. You both complimented each other. Abdullah was a gentleman Southern style and one incident stands out in my memory. We were at a party at your house and you and Gibran were playing snooker. A very drunk man came and plastered himself next to me on the sofa and started behaving much too chummy. Abdullah noticed from across the room and the next thing I know he comes and sits right between the man and me. He put his arm around the guy, pointed towards Gibran and said – and I quote “You see that tall, strong, good looking man. That is her husband. If you want to know more about her, go and ask him.” Carol that guy got up from the sofa faster than a speeding bullet and Abdullah and I spent the next ten minutes laughing our heads off.

 

What are you and your husband doing in Saudi Arabia? What kind of business have the two of you created?

 

10 years ago while shopping In Ikea and Gibran pointed out how easy he thought making all this stuff was. I took him up on it and said “ok, fine – why don’t you do it”. We went back to Pakistan, sold his heavy motor bike and started our business. We design and manufacture custom furniture, Mood lighting, interiors and construction now. We try to do unique pieces such as Bamboo lamps with crystal or mirror work on them, coffee tables made with old train tracks, Blinds and curtains with complete Beethoven symphonies printed on them. Our business philosophy is that your home like your clothes is an extension of your personality and must reflect that. It should be your personal comfort zone customized precisely for you in both form and function. And we hope to give you what you are looking for and need.

 

Please share how you and your husband work together.  Who is the artist?  Who is the visionary?  How do a husband and wife work together successfully?

 

I think we both have equal share in visionary and artistic processes. Although Gibran insists that he is not an artist, and that it is just common sense what looks good where and should me made how. We are both very independent and stubborn so when we are cruising on the same track its wonderful working together. It’s when we approach from two different tracks that the sparks fly. But it ends up in further creativity. Most of all it is in the way that our clients react to and interact with comfort and ease towards us a couple. It seems that together as a unit we manage to communicate with and understand most of our clients’ needs.

 

What are you enjoying most about living again in Saudi Arabia?

 

Low crime rates – the beautiful desert night sky J

 

What do you like the least about living in Saudi Arabia?

Not being able to drive.

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112 Responses

  1. I love the Prozac Vs Prayer concept. I think so many modern people have forgotten (when they’ve ditched religion/rituals) to replace them with something else which resonates within them.
    Here’s to good friends. They surely make the world go round!

  2. Enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I take exception to the Prayer vs. Prozac comparison. Would you also pick Prayer over antibiotics? Prayer over a needed appendectomy? Prayer over chemo-therapy? Prayer over a seatbelt? Prayer over vaccinations? Prayer over hygiene in a kitchen?

    If you’ve ever know someone with a chemical imbalance, as I have, (I suspect you do, but they may not confide in you given your views) you might realise that it is just as legitimately an issue that needs treatment, as some other things. And that treatment and prayer are not mutually exclusive.

  4. I enjoyed this so much — thanks for sharing both sides of a lovely friendship. Best wishes to both Khadeejah and Carol! 🙂

  5. I agree with Sandy. My wife had a relative with severe mental problems that were helped by medication. No amount of prayer would have helped if the meds didn’t work.

  6. Knowing Khadeejah, I’m sure she did not intend to offend anyone with her choice of words. She is a very compassionate individual.

  7. I didn’t like that ‘Prayer over Prozac’ comment either. I’m sure that those who say that hijab prevents rape do not mean any offense either. 😉

  8. I enjoyed this interview a lot and gives finally an easy perspective of life from a real human being who dare to live to its fullest limits. And she can bridge the East and west issues which is so hard and give a down to earth perspective of a modern picture of being a Muslim woman. Excellent Khadeejah!

  9. Dear sandy and Lynn – thank you for pointing out something that I neglegted to mention – I should have been more specific in my comment Prozac vs. Prayer. I was not referring to clinical or chemical imbalances. I certainly did not mean to offend anyone. I am an absolute believer in medicine and science. I was refering to an atitude that one can have – a concept of faith – be it in God or love or anything or anyone else that one chooses to depend on as a balance mechanism. I think “hijab preventing rape ” or “prayer instead of medication” is in fact wrong. I am most certainly against the concept and I know for a fact that Islam is not one of those schools of thoughts that are against medicine either. I should have been more specific and appreciate your pointing it out 🙂

  10. Prozac vs. Prayer means just that – it does not mean- and I never said Prayer instead of Prozac and or any other medication – how the two concepts got confused, or were freely assumed I do not know 🙂 because these are two very seperate concepts indeed!! I

    Lynn I never said “Prayer over Prozac” – I believe what I said Prayer vs Prozac 🙂

    I am glad however that these coversations are taking place – after all the whole point of communication is to help avoid miscommunication 🙂

  11. Combining both of your above comments- I am more confused than before. I’m glad you’ve nothing against medicine, I myself believe Medical knowledge is a blessing. I am puzzled about the Prozac reference when you are not discussing chemical imbalances and don’t understand what attitude relates to Prozac.

    I don’t understand why you don’t understand that your meaning came across as “Prayer over Prozac” .—“vs” indicates a competition and you said you’d pick prayer every time. That indicates Prayer over Prozac.

  12. Would it not be better if questions were asked first, rather than things persumed 🙂 My knee jerk reaction would also have been to take an “exception” to Sandy’s comment – because I never said that I take prayer “over” medicine to begin with. But that would be too uneccesarily strong a reaction 🙂 Those were not my words! Also I “know” and have close family and friends who have “chemical imbalances” as it was pointed out and put by Sandy, and they do confide in me, and I happen to be a very popular care taker in that department! But as I said earlier – the whole point of communicating is to help avoid miscommunication 🙂 And Carol’s blog is an amazing arena for such communication 🙂

  13. Dear Lynn – Prayer vs Prozac can also mean which one to choose to try first – as a lot of people seem to opt for chemical stimulants as a first choice when the chips are down for them and they are begining to feel down and out – even if they don’t have or long before they are diagnosed for medical clinical depression. There are also other widely practiced alternative healing methods out there such as Yoga and quantum healing etc to sooth the ailing mind. But you are right, there is a huge difference between an ailing mind and a mind that has been certified as medicaly sick or un healthy (ie: as in it being an organ rather than an attitude) – I should have been more clear in pointing out which one I was refering to. Thank you for pointing this out 🙂

  14. @Khadeejah raja – ‘Would it not be better if questions were asked first, rather than things persumed’

    LOL! So you’ve never been here before?

    I did not take offense for those who NEED to take Prozac but rather for the assumption that one needs SOMETHING. See? You said:

    ‘If one believes in something than that in itself is worthy of respect. I mean if I have to choose between Prozac and Prayer – Prayer would win without contest. ‘

    I SO totally disagree with THAT statement. What if what they believed in was something that caused others to be enslaved or gassed based on their beliefs?

    You then said:

    ‘To round up what I was saying earlier…….. Prozac vs. Prayer. People do not seem to have time for beliefs anymore – of any sort. It is in my opinion a weakness and a poor substitute for acquiring inner peace or contentment. Someone once said – “if you don’t believe in something – you will fall for anything!” ‘

    So, yeah, my beef wasn’t about any perceived judgement on one who takes an anti depressant but rather for the judgement against someone who does not believe in God as someone who must, therefore, need to find fulfillment in a drug. I get it though, it is something that y’all need to believe in order to continue to make your worldly sacrifices and make it seem as though you are actually doing something for yourself. Whereas I am here, as are many many other NON believers, to say that no, it does NOT have to be one or the other. As a matter of fact, I believe that ‘belief’ is the cop out and I also believe it limits you and can even CAUSE or be a symptom of mental illness. I rest my case 😉

  15. Dear Lyn, loving my conversation with you 🙂 Now I understand where you are comming from and what bothered you exactly. Cool 🙂 I just find that belief works for me, big time – without making any worldly sacrifices. I was by the way, talking about my perspective on life, and what I would choose 9provided it was a choice and not a compulsary medical prescription ) – since I was being interviewed about my perspectives. I am with you that your non belief works for you and am genuinely glad that you have found your way to happiness and contentment. Even non-belief is a belief in itself, but that is another discussion 🙂 I totally respect where you are coming from as I am sure you do me. As long as we both have found our own paths to fulfillment we should be happier for it 😉 We both seem to be luckier then those who are still looking for their path 🙂

  16. ‘We both seem to be luckier then those who are still looking for their path’

    Still? I honestly cannot ever say that I was ever ‘looking’ for a path.

  17. Poor Lynn, I have no troubles, I found my path!
    About Prozac, recent tests have shown that there is only a slight difference between using drugs like Prozac and a placebo, for real improvement one should turn to the gym, that had a way better and long lasting effect than the drugs.

  18. “Even non-belief is a belief in itself”

    What???

  19. Poor Lynn? What? I pity anyone that even feels the ‘need’ for a ‘path’. Path to what, exactly?

  20. But you are right Aafke, the gym is way better for you than Prozac or prayer. People have even been known to fight serious drug addictions by training for marathons. Whenever my husband feels anxious he goes and works out and it helps him tremendously. But, working out MAKES me feel anxious so I’d rather pick drugs every time! LOL

  21. @Khadeejah,

    There can be a tough crowd at American Bedu who will challenge and ask hard questions…in spite of that, I think I can say we all love each other…many times like siblings, with warts and all! (grin)

  22. Prozac only actually works with people who have the chemical imbalance it addresses. It doesn’t work if you just feel “down”. So this still does’t make sense to me- but whatever. Also, anytime you choose something “first” everytime” in a “a” vs “b” setting that is choosing one thing “over” the other. Thats just what the words mean.

    As for “even non-belief is a belief in itself” I’m guessing you’re refering to having reached a personal resolution on what you believe (or don’t) rather than someone who is trying to figure out what it all means to them.

  23. Very interesting read! Thanks for the honesty and the openness.

  24. @ American Bedu – A wonderfuly tough crowd indeed.

    @ Sandy – You hit the nail on the head – “even non-belief is a belief in itself……. is refering to having reached a personal resolution on what you believe ( or don’t) “. When one chooses to try something first it only means that one has choosen it temporarily over the other and that if the first alternative is not working one tries the other or more.

    @ Lyn – Call it path, call it direction….we all choose a certain way to live and look at life and this world. Simply call it, taking a directional decision on one’s idea about what we want and choose life to be.

  25. Even non belief is belief? Where do agnostics fit in then?

    ‘Call it path, call it direction….we all choose a certain way to live and look at life and this world.’

    That sounds like putting yourself in a box and not allowing yourself to look at the world any other way other than what is prescribed by the book at your chosen trail head 😉 And I honestly believe that for many, many people those paths are not ‘chosen’ as much as directed and manipulated by others (parents etc).

  26. Agnostics in my opinion are in the process – therefore non commital – as defined and described by Thomas Henry Huxley. That in itself is a directional decision. Of course they fit in.

    No not putting one self in a box at all Lyn – we all can change the direction of our lives any time we choose to. But at any given momment in time you are either standing in one spot or walking towards some where. No one is in all and every place – at each and every stage of your life you are in one directional spot at that precise moment. That is not being boxed in that is known as free choice of direction and choosing what and where one wishes to be and belong. Freedom of choice does not mean not making a choice at all. And making a choice is certainly not living in a box, it just merely means choosing what one likes and what works for you at that given point in time. Now whether you want to stick with that for the rest of your life or change along the way is an option avaliable to everyone. How does commitment to ideology make it narrow mindedness?

    Sorry, I disagree completely with (paths are not choosen but directed and manipulated by others) – please – anyone who grows up into an adult and has intellect enough, will also grow out of their childhood dogmas and choose their own path. Let’s atleast give humanity that much credit 😉

  27. “– please – anyone who grows up into an adult and has intellect enough, will also grow out of their childhood dogmas and choose their own path. Let’s atleast give humanity that much credit ”

    What????

    Let’s see, you are from Pakistan where minority religious groups are oppressed and you live in Saudi where freedom of changing one’s religion is not allowed. However, you act like every human has such freedom of choices and humanity reached such maturity.

    News flash for you, if a person is forced into accepting a religion they have no choice of taking their own path (even if we accept the notion that a person has to choose a path).

    Regarding the path argument, there are people that do not think there is a path, because that assumes that a plan is in place for what we will know in the future. For some of us we only have a framework of how to evaluate information and its degree of acceptance based on evidence. So there is no predefined path and no believe system that we accept as a guide. We are limited by how much information humans have discovered and how much time we can invest to process it. The philosophical notion of a path only applies, if you have a plan laid out for you and you accept it. Like in the case of accepting a religious faith.

    Regarding agnostics, they are not necessarily in a state of transforming. A person who calls him/herself agnostic can remain in such state for a life time. It is a state where not enough evidence have been presented for them to make a choice on a specific religion or total dismissal of the existence of a deity. Note agnosticism is not a monolithic believe system so not every agnostic agrees on the definitions of Thomas Henry Huxley.

    I hope you reevaluate your position of how others think as it is limited by the requirements of certainty of believe. That line of thinking is not necessarily applicable to others, since it is based on philosophical ideas proposed by religions or monolithic believe systems.

  28. My interview was not about theology. I firmly believe that everyone has a right to their own way of thinking and living. As long as it does not put down anyone else’s beliefs or lack thereof.

    I was merely answering the questions that American Bedu asked about my out look on life. I have a right to my way, and do not appreciate fingers being pointed at my country, persumtions about my being against medince altogether and the twisting of my words.

    But most of all I have not persumed telling anyone to reevaluvate their way of thinking – but have had others telling me to re think mine! Oh, please who is being judgmental here.

  29. I could rebuke by pointing fingers of my own on issues like Native Americans (not Red Indians), African Slaves and presently African Americans, Latino’s, lack of equal salaries for women etc. And that is just the USA. Every nation has skeletons in their closet. Nobody has a right to point fingers at anyone. The objective of such a forum of communication is not to point fingers but to learn from eachother’s mistakes and further human development with a higher degree of understanding. To inculcate compassion between people.

  30. I think Kahdeeja has clarified what she meant by her statement. What I understood from her clarification was that prayer can be helpful, and methods like counseling, yoga, exercise etc. could be tried before medication. She is not against medication. However, she does believe religious faith results in better mental health, overall. There have been several studies conducted looking at this issue, with somewhat mixed results. Gallup had a recent poll that showed that very religious people reported higher levels of well being. However, people with no religious faith, had a HIGHER well being index than people with moderate faith, so it’s not a linear correlation. Here is the link to the study: http://www.gallup.com/poll/144980/religious-americans-report-less-depression-worry.aspx

    I do get sad when people deflect discussion about problems in their society by saying that other places have problems too, so it’s all equal. When I try to discuss minority rights with my relatives in India, some of them will say, well Pakistan has no minority rights at all, why aren’t you criticizing Pakistan. Huh? This is deflection rather than addressing what is at stake. Thankfully, there are also people who will acknowledge problems, speak up, and work for change.

  31. @ Carlifornia – thank you for understanding what I was saying and have been trying to say all this time.

    I did deflect this discussion, because I felt that it was getting too emotional and heated and needed a break before it should resume again.

    If anyone is interested in wanting to know more about the negative and the positives about my culture and countries – do ask. What ever I can shed light on good and bad I will try to do as objectively as possible 🙂

    The way religious minorities are treated in Pakistan irks me no end. Many a times I have stood up for minority rights at talks and forums back home and always within the social circle that I belong to. We in the Indian Sub-Continent belong to a very class orientated culture and I think that part of the problem might have to do with classism as well as religious discrimination. Minority groups that belong to the upper class are treated differently and with caution, if not respect. When I went back to Pakistan this came as a surprise to me since as a child I remember being raised with the opposite notions in my house. For now as a mother I am trying my best to raise my children to be colour, gender, class and religioun neutral. Despite being born in a Muslim family I was given accsess to all sorts of points of view and was encourged to read up on other faiths and atheism. I choose Islam, it was an informed, delibarate decision on my part. I hope to provide my children with the opportunity – to be able to make up their own minds about life. My husband and I hope to accomplish this with by providing them with great education, travel and exposure to other countries and cultures and being approachable to them for cross questioning 🙂

  32. Khadeejah, I think it’s great you raise your children to be informed about other religions and ways of thinking, and that you and your husband will let them choose for themselves.

    To help your children expand their minds you should get your children Carl Sagan’s ”Pale blue dot”

    And besides teaching them about other ancient religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, you should let them read Richard Dawkins’s ”The selfish gene” and ”The God Delusion”
    And Christopher Hitchens ”God is not Great”
    All brilliant books by brilliant minds.
    These are really good choices if you really want your childrens minds to be free.

  33. The belief in power of prayer over power of prozac (and other psychotropic drugs) among pakistanis and many others in the muslim world reflects the general malaise afflicting the muslim world developed over centuries i.e. self-denial, despair, inferiority complex, etc. Among pharmaceutical circles, Pakistan is also affectionately known as the “Prozac Nation”, due to its heavy (mis)use of prozac and other psychotropic drugs.

    First, Pakistani unsuccessfully try the power of prayer. Like praying five times a day and other special additional prayers. Like visiting the sufi shrines and beseeching the dead saints for the cure, which btw is a shirk in islam. Like wearing amulets to ward off the evil eye against the disease. Then only and then only after these desperate (mis)attempts, they go their doctors or hakeems, to ask for prozac, etc.

    Moreover, Pakistan is a failed state, like Rwanda, Somalia, etc. Colin Wilson (The Criminal History of Mankind), offers an historical perspective quite befitting to the Pakistani nation:

    “The history of Rome contains more crime and violence than that of any other city in world history……the Romans were slipping into violence by a process of self-justification and once a nation or an individual has started down this particular slope, it is impossible to apply brakes. The Roman people were too unimaginative and short sighted to realize that once terrorism and murder has been justified on grounds of expediency, it can become a habit, then a disease.”

    Regarding defending one’s country or culture or beliefs ….. right or wrong …. smacks of someone devoid of any critical thinking or logic skills. Of course, Islam severely restricts asking questions and greatly limits critical thinking and logical skills. In the muslim world, learning is by the rote method, starting at the kindergarten level.

    For now as a mother I am trying my best to raise my children to be colour, gender, class and religioun neutral. Despite being born in a Muslim family I was given accsess to all sorts of points of view and was encourged to read up on other faiths and atheism. I choose Islam, it was an informed, delibarate decision on my part. I hope to provide my children with the opportunity – to be able to make up their own minds about life.

    Kadija, you had no choice but to “choose islam”. Otherwise, you would have been an apostate, subject to the penalty of death or “honor killing”. I salute you that you are bringing up your children as “religion neutral”, so that they are able to “make up their own minds”. That is indeed commendable.

    Tell me, kadija, would you and your husband accept their decision, made on their own free will, if they reject islam (thus becoming apostates), and choose christianity or hinduism or atheism or any of the other “heathen religions”? How about the rest of your family and the community that you live in?

    They may have to flee to the West to escape from the jaws of death and live an anonymous life under assumed names with no contact with their loved ones. Similar to other ex-Muslims in the US and the West. Sad but true!

    Minority groups that belong to the upper class are treated differently and with caution, if not respect.

    With all due respects, I disagree. Your statement may apply to personal relationships. But not when it comes to blasphemy. Remember Mr. Batti, the minority affairs minister, who presumably belonged to upper middle class and a christian, who was gunned down by muslims for supporting anti-blasphemy laws. Or Governor Tazeer, a muslim and an aristocrat, who was gunned down by fellow muslims for being a blasphemer.

    Muslim fury knows no bounds of class or status when it comes to their dear prophet. Churches (made up of a wide strata of economic and social class) are being burnt regularly in Pakistan because a silly pastor burnt a few pages of koran or someone made a few cartoons of mohammed.

  34. Oh poor Khadija, you thought that this interview wasn’t about theology lol your ‘bestie’ set you up!

    ‘What are your views of people and the many religions which are practiced?’

    And you let us know that yes, you DO have prejudices against those who do not practice a ‘faith’. I trust that you did not realize that about yourself and that is why I am pointing it out to you. Why do I feel like that black person that has a white friend that he outs for being a closet racist.? 😉

  35. @ Lyn – Poor, poor Lyn – my “Bestie” did not set me up. I just wanted to deflect away from your prejudices. I wonder who and what put that chip on your shoulder! Wow what a load that would be, carrying that around!!! Go read your very first comment Lyn and you will see your prejudice in action. You just cannot stand to see a person of faith happy now can you 🙂

  36. @ Afke-Art – Astronomy and Cosmology being my hobbies I already have most of Dawkins and Carl Sagan’s books, essay’s and lectures in my book collection at home.

  37. @ Harry – dear Harry I did not study in the “Islamic world”. Grade 6 onward I was sent to Europe and finshed my education there. So much for that theory.

    Sorry – will say it again – I. Had. A. Choice – now just because you all cannot believe that, just proved to me that your preconcieved notions, prejudices and stereo typical images of all Muslims go deeper than you all could ever realize.

    “There is no cumpulsion in religion” – the Koran. Yes I take that to heart and as for what the rest of society or family might say about what my kids will become? Please it will make not an iota of a difference and would probably not be any more lop sided and tilted and narrow minded as what you all are saying about my choosing faith as a way of life. It will just be your arguments in reverse.

    Seems like prejudice and naroow mindedness is not just limited to the Pakistani/Saudi mind 😉

  38. LOL Khadeeja, chill out, I was just messin’ with ya!

    But perhaps you can explain what you mean by my prejudice in action in my first comment. Are you talking about this?
    ‘I didn’t like that ‘Prayer over Prozac’ comment either. I’m sure that those who say that hijab prevents rape do not mean any offense either.’

    Where do you see MY prejudice in that statement?

    I have, in the past heard that ‘Prayer over Prozac’ term put out and the intent was to show that if you just had ‘faith’ your life will be so much happier. I find that very similar to how those who want to get you to accept that wearing a piece of cloth on your head will protect you from being molested. BOTH of those arguments are to promote religion but in fact are so FAR from being true.

    Why would you think that I would have a problem with a person of faith being happy? Absolutely NOT. BUT, I do not appreciate that a person of faith would assume that because I do NOT profess a faith that I am somehow ‘lost’ or ‘weak’ or ‘lazy’ or in need of prozac just to appreciate and enjoy life. Do you see the difference?

  39. Faith doesn’t make you happier, faith lives of making feel eternally and irrevocably inadequate and guilty.
    Faith needs you to feel bad about yourself and hopeless, and let’s not forget: scared of death!
    And your only hope is to worship some deity to save you.
    Faith feeds on fear, misery and subjection. Therefore religious people will make sure you never feel really happy.
    I would say prayer and prozac are on the same level for mediocre effect on mental health.

    Now if you can free yourself from bronze age superstitions and work out regularly, you are on a much more effective ”path” to happiness.

  40. @ Lyn – I am chilled out 🙂 Was just messing right back at ya. It was when you went on about so are you going to take prayer over chemo, and prayer over kitchen hygine etc, etc. That just came on too strong.

    Although I do not wear the Hijab – I do know for fact that Hijab is NOT about not being molsted. The men who use that as an argument for hijab are promoting pure BS. The Hijab concept is totally different.

    Oh no, I did not mean that it is only a person without faith who is weak and needs psycotropic drugs. Are we kidding – I was talking of people who are weak and unsatisfied, irrespective of their religion/non religion. That to me prayer is a good try out as focus, like OM in yoga and other meditation. Faith goes beyond religion Lyn into the realms of feelings – faith in oneself, faith in love, God, No God, money – different things do for people. I am into extreme sports, a combination of meditational prayer and rock climbing does it for me, when I find myself with too much to handle.Others find working out does it. I just feel that (unless the problem is clinical in nature) prozac and such drugs should be the last resort. I would definately try out other options first. Depression, lazyness and such all are NOT exclusive to any group, age or gender. That is obvious. What I was refering to was not aimed at any target group 🙂

  41. @ Afka-Art. Totally disagree with your concept and defination of faith. I find it to be the exact opposite. Scared of death? What ever the hell for! All pun intended 😉

    So on faith and what it is – let’s just agree to disagree.

  42. I’d say anything that releases endorphins is good .:-) i.e without the side effects of prozac, the less chemicals one puts in the better ..

    I’m a big fan of yoga , i’d much rather start with Yoga for physical posture ailements and see if the symptoms go away and then try drugs.. cheap and easy .

    To me prayer is peace. i NEED to go to a temple , sit there and breath the air there, smell the smell and listen to the chantings … atleast once a month..
    and on all good occasions 🙂
    I mi my son ( not a regular temple goer) would get the special treatment fomr the priest automatically when we went to the temple an dit was not diwali — as it would have been his b’day..

    To me i must take my kids to the temple ontheir b’day – kind of give thanks that they are fine and somehow thanks god, the universe ,everyone who had a hand in keeping them safe.

    so i would rate prayer right up there with exercise and yoga , if that’s what rocks your boat!!!

  43. @Khadeeja – ‘It was when you went on about so are you going to take prayer over chemo, and prayer over kitchen hygine etc, etc. That just came on too strong’
    But I never said that. That was Sandy. I thought we had already cleared up the confusion about why I personally didn’t care for the statement.

    Not aimed at any target group? I guess it was just a poor choice of words when you said ‘To round up what I was saying earlier…….. Prozac vs. Prayer. People do not seem to have time for beliefs anymore – of any sort. It is in my opinion a weakness and a poor substitute for acquiring inner peace or contentment. Someone once said – “if you don’t believe in something – you will fall for anything!”’
    Carol didn’t ask your opinion about depression meds, you brought that in yourself when discussing people of different faiths. 😉

    Also, I didn’t say anything about what YOU might personally believe about hijab. I was talking about other’s who I have also heard say things like your ‘Prayer over Prozac’ statement that also make those kinds of statements about hijab.

  44. It has been a very interesting couple of days, and thanks to American Bedu we have forums like this where we can express ourselves freely. It also brought to the fore the huge divide that still exsists between the people of the world. Yet one thing is for sure, that we are all made of the same flesh and blood. We all feel hurt and happiness same as one another, and that we need to learn to co exsist on what is after all just a “Pale Blue Dot”.

    Thank you all for your comments and insights.I hope that no offense was given or taken 🙂

  45. Just so you know, I wasn’t ‘offended’ at all but I did want to make sure that you understand that while you may THINK and believe with ALL your heart that you do not judge others based on their beliefs you really do. Perhaps you were not around when the ‘mere breathing machines’ (people without faith) were brought into a discussion by a person who claimed to be moderate and open minded. Well, this discussion kind of reminded me of that time is all.

  46. Thank you for pointing out that it was Sandy and not you. I am new to the blog and so therefore do not know which discussion you are refering to. I am sorry Lyn but you all have been highly judgmental yourselves – you really have been – even if you do not “believe and think that with all your heart”.

  47. ‘I am sorry Lyn but you all have been highly judgmental yourselves – you really have been’

    We all? Are you lumping every commenter on here as one whole? That’s what it seems like, especially when you judge one person based on another person’s comment like you did above. 😉

  48. KATIJA: “There is no cumpulsion in religion” – the Koran.

    Given Islam’s violent history and the unfavorable contrast of its oppressive practices against 21st century values, Muslims are hard-pressed to repackage their faith in the modern age. Especially after 9/11. Some of its leading apologists have come to rely on tricks involving semantics and half-truths that are, in turn, repeated by novices and even those outside the faith.

    Games Muslims Play!

    Muslims love to quote verse 2:256 from the Koran to prove what a tolerant religion Islam is. The verse reads in part, “Let there be no compulsion in religion; truth stands out clearly from error…”

    A Muslim who offers this verse may or may not understand that it is from one of the earliest Suras (or chapters) from the Medinan period. It was “revealed” at a time when the Muslims had just arrived in Medina after being chased out of Mecca. They needed to stay in the good graces of the stronger tribes around them, many of which were Jewish. It was around this time, for example, that Mohammad decided to have his followers change the direction of their prayer from Mecca to Jerusalem.

    But Muslims today pray toward Mecca. The reason for this is that Mohammad issued a later command that abrogated (or nullified) the first command of Allah. In fact, abrogation is a very important principle to keep in mind when interpreting the Koran – and verse 2:256 in particular – because later verses (in chronological terms) are said to abrogate any earlier ones that may be in contradiction (Koran 2:106, 16:101).

    Mohammad’s message was far closer to peace and tolerance during his early years at Mecca, when he didn’t have an army and was trying to pattern his new religion after Christianity and Judaism. This changed dramatically after he attained the power to conquer, which he eventually used with impunity to bring other tribes into the Muslim fold. Contrast verse 2:256 with Suras 9 and 5, which were the last “revealed,” and it is easy to see why Islam has been anything but a “religion of peace” and “there is no compulsion in religion” from the time of Mohammad to the present day.

    There is some evidence that verse 2:256 may not have been intended for Muslims at all, but is instead meant to be a warning to other religions concerning their treatment of Muslims. Verse 193 of the same Sura instructs Muslims to “fight with them (non-Muslims) until there is no more persecution and religion is only for Allah.” This reinforces the narcissistic nature of Islam, which places Muslims above non-Muslims, and applies a very different value and standard of treatment to both groups.

    Though most Muslims today reject the practice of outright forcing others into changing their religion in the modern age, forced conversion has been a part of Islamic history since Muhammad first picked up a sword. As he is recorded in many places as saying, “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah…” (Bokhari 2:24).

    Interestingly, even the same Muslims of today who quote 2:256 usually believe in Islamic teachings that sound very much like religious compulsion. These would be the laws punishing apostasy by death (or imprisonment, for females), and the institutionalized discrimination against religious minorities under Islamic rule that is sometimes referred to as “dhimmiitude.”

    Mohammad put his words into practice. When he marched into Mecca with an army, one of his very first tasks was to destroy idols at the Kaaba, which had been devoutly worshipped by the Arabs for centuries. By eliminating these objects of worship, he destroyed the religion of the people and supplanted it with his own. Later, he ordered that Jews and Christians who would not convert to Islam be expelled from Arabia. Does forcing others to choose between their homes or their faith sound like “no compulsion in religion?”

    Does any and all of the above sound like “no compulsion of religion”????

  49. @Aafke,
    I just have to say for myself- I’ve not found that faith brings me down.

    I’m also wondering, would you have your children read books endorsing Islam as the one true faith- since you advocate Muslim parents having their children read books advocating and supporting Atheism?

  50. @Harry,
    Please tell me when, where, how Mohammad expelled the Jews and Christians from Arabia. I would be very interested to know more about that.

  51. For the record, Sandy, it was YOU that started all this. I was going to let the Prayer over Prozac comment go because Khadeeja is Carol’s friend but you and Jerry had to go and get things started. You trouble making FITNA spreaders!! 😉

  52. @Lynn ,
    Sorry it was like nails on a chalkboard. I’ve known some people who have really suffered, and Prozac was a big help for them.

    😛

  53. SANDY: Please tell me when, where, how Mohammad expelled the Jews and Christians from Arabia.”

    Hi Sandy,

    It’s all well documented in the hadith and seera of Prophet by Ibn Ishak, Bokari, Muslim, Tabari and others. In addition, as we well know, Saudi Government claims it enforces this ban in loyalty to several hadith which demand the exclusion of the ‘People of the Book’ (or any other religious confession) – from the entire Arabian Peninsula. Also, Islamic historians claim that Mohammad uttered this prohibition near the end of his life, as narrated by Mrs. Aisha Mohammed, and that it was enforced during the reign of the second Caliph Omar.

    Here is a sample from hadith, which talks about Mohammad’s desire to expel Jews and Christians from the Hijaz (which is the part of Arabia that contains Mecca and Medina and which was the extent of Mohammad’s power), as well as his expulsion of Jews from Medina:

    Book 019, Number 4364 Hadith Sahih Muslim: It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Umar that the Jews of Banu Nadir and Banu Quraizi fought against the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) who expelled Banu Nadir, and allowed Quraiza to stay on, and granted favour to them until they too fought against him. Then he killed their men, and distributed their women, children and properties among the Muslims, except that some of them had joined the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) who granted them security. They embraced Islam. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) turned out all the Jews of Medlina. Banu Qainuqa’ (the tribe of ‘Abdullah b. Salim) and the Jews of Banu Haritha and every other Jew who was in Medina.

    Book 019, Number 4366 Hadith Sahih Muslim: It has been narrated by ‘Umar b. al-Khattib that he heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim.

    Hadith Sahih Bokari: Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula (Ar. Jazîrat Al-‘Arab), respect and give gifts to the foreign delegates as you have seen me dealing with them.

    Hadith Mowatta Malik: Two religions shall not coexist in the Arab lands (Ar. Ard Al-‘Arab).

    There are a couple of excellent websites, which go more indepth into the wars/expulsions history of the question you asked, with specific references to numerous battles the prophet fought against the jewish tribes of the day and their subsequent expulsion from what was then known as arabian peninsula’ with specific references to hadith.

    “The Exclusion of the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsular”.

    http://www.debate.org.uk/topics/history/xstnc-7.html

    “The Jewish Kingdoms of Arabia 390-626 CE: Decimated by the rise of Islam”.

    This is off topic
    Please defer from paste copying large bodies of text. I will edit next time.
    Moderator

  54. Sandy,

    Oops! I forgot to put the link to the second website:

    “The Jewish Kingdoms of Arabia 390-626 CE: Decimated by the rise of Islam”.

    http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/arabia.html

  55. Interviews have always been cited as among the most popular posts on American Bedu. Yet it has also become challenging for me to find individuals who are willing to speak out and speak out on issues that readers want to hear about but may not like and agree with what they hear. Instead of a dialogue of understanding it seems that it is easier to attack the messenger…or in the cases here, the interviewer.

    @Harry – your choice to misspell Khadeejah’s name when you wrote comments is interpreted by me as a desire to attack or at a minimum, cause dissent rather than discussion.

    @Lynn – I realize you have some difficult challenges in your personal life. My unsolicited advice is to take advantage of Khaedeejah’s wisdom and experience. She is a straight-talker, not fearful of tackling hard or sensitive topics. She is someone we all can learn from if we choose to engage in dialogue and not controversy.

    Now speaking to all in general, the comments about faith hit a chord with me. I do believe and have very strong faith. My (late) husband did as well. After he passed away and I was suddenly widowed while I was in aggressive treatment and felt like my world had crashed inwards, it was faith which carried me through. I have faith and I have choices. God does allow us the freedom to make our own choices.

  56. Sandy, sure, I would let my children read a book endorsing Islam as the one true faith.
    I think it is essential that children learn about religions. Religions are part of our cultures.
    For example you will not be able to understand a lot of art and for example, a lot of English literary allusions without being informed about the Christian faith..
    All children should be taught about religion.
    All religions.
    And children should also read about arguments against religions and the rationalist point of view.

    After such an education they are truly free to make up their own mind.

    I am not against children reading about religion, on the contrary. But I am against children being indoctrinated in any religion.

  57. Carol,

    I sincerely apologize for misspelling Khadeeja’s name; however unintentional.

    Harry

  58. Thank you, Harry. I appreciate the apology.

  59. @Carol – ‘@Lynn – I realize you have some difficult challenges in your personal life. My unsolicited advice is to take advantage of Khaedeejah’s wisdom and experience. She is a straight-talker, not fearful of tackling hard or sensitive topics. She is someone we all can learn from if we choose to engage in dialogue and not controversy.’

    Huh? All I was trying to do was to show HER how the words she chooses might cause offense even though she may not realize it. I’m sorry if my straight-talking made her feel that she needed to be on the defensive. I’m sure she IS a very wonderful person or you wouldn’t be such good friends with her. Anywho, perhaps you could help me understand what, exactly, it is that you think I might gain from her specific wisdom and experience?
    EVERYone is someone that people can learn from if they choose dialog instead of controversy. No? Now she has learned, from us here, (I hope) that it might not be wise to use those words ‘Prozac Vs, Prayer’ or ‘laziness’ etc when talking about people that don’t adhere to a faith. Seriously, you should know that you can’t ask someone a question like you did ‘What are your views of people and the many religions which are practiced?’ and not expect controversy. Remember, in polite conversation we don’t talk about politics or religion 😉

    And by the way, not that it’s a big deal or anything but Khadeeja NEVER spelled MY name right. 😦 lol

  60. Thuh, as if people can spell my name correctly!
    I think i should start being offended by that!

  61. @Lynn,

    What I meant by dialoguing with Khadeejah is that she knows Pakistan; she knows and understands how some families have certain kinds of views. She was my anchor at many times when it came to understanding Arabs too! (smile)

    @Aafke,

    I’d like to know how folks think your name is pronounced if written phonetically! (smile)

  62. @AB,

    “Instead of a dialogue of understanding it seems that it is easier to attack the messenger…or in the cases here, the interviewer.”

    I really do not think Khadeejah was attacked. She was challenged on a very strong statement she made. Where she basically judged others that do not agree with her opinion of spirituality as lazy, weak and lost. She did not accept the challenge and explain her thoughts well, rather she got defensive and issued more strong statements in her subsequent comments.

    Actually a lot of what she wrote sounded condescending and like she is treating the readers as stupid.

    As you know I have had an interview here where I received stronger comments, including direct personal attacks making what happened on this thread look like a walk in the park. I did not take it as something I should be upset about. When you have strong opinions and write about them in an open forum, you should expect equally strong opinions from other readers. The best option is to keep humble and respond kindly.

    Just my 2 cents..

  63. MoQ,

    You were interviewed during what I see as a “kinder and gentler” period on American Bedu. The atmosphere of the blog has changed. The blog has received more readers who are quicker to jump to conclusions and attacks occur too easily and frequently. I’m tired of that.

    This blog is not for promoting anti-Islam or anti-Muslim agendas. It is not a blog whose focus is on religion or lack thereof. It is meant to promote and encourage dialogue. Anyone could have said, “Khadeejah, I do not understand exactly what you meant or your genesis behind xx comment or xx comment.” Instead it was too easy for an objection to be made and others to jump in on a bandwagon with a pack dog mentality.

    Although Khadeejah does not need anyone to speak on her behalf or clarify her words for her, she is a dear dear old friend. While in many ways she seems older than me with her experiences I am very protective of my friends and family (must be the Orientalist coming out in me). Just like any traditional Arab, I don’t let my family get attacked. My family does not need to be related by blood in order to make us family. You and some other regulars know this very well about me.

    Yes; you’ve ‘hit’ one of my hot buttons. I’m tired of seeing too many individuals verbally attacked for merely having a point of view. Life is too short and too precious to waste valuable time creating upheaval.

  64. ‘she knows Pakistan; she knows and understands how some families have certain kinds of views.’

    I’m so confused! Unless you are saying that she would know my son-in-law and his family then I’m not sure how she could help me as anything would have to be a generalization, wouldn’t it? And people and their families are all individuals, aren’t they? But, I think, even if she DID know them and could tell me everything about them it wouldn’t change anything, would it? Now, if she has some kind of contact there that could kidnap that baby of mine and get him back here to me right NOW then I would be all over that! 🙂

  65. AB…you are telling the commentors on THIS post to behave…meanwhile they havent been nearly as critical as in the past of certain on certain posts….and yet when Onigirl went to town on me and called me every name possible, including my children, you barely had a thing to say to her about that. WTH!!! How do you distinguish between attacking someone by being critical of the words they choose to comment with…and actually attacking someone with disgusting words and accusations…and name calling?

  66. Yeah, I thought ‘attack’ was a little over the top here. Unless of course Carol was talking about THIS comment.

    ‘@ Lyn – Poor, poor Lyn – my “Bestie” did not set me up. I just wanted to deflect away from your prejudices. I wonder who and what put that chip on your shoulder! Wow what a load that would be, carrying that around!!! Go read your very first comment Lyn and you will see your prejudice in action. You just cannot stand to see a person of faith happy now can you’

  67. @Lynn – I’ll send you an email.

    Coolred, Lynn, and those who are likely going to respond in kind- the response to what I wrote is typical of a wolf pack mentality.

    I am unable to guarantee my ability to be an active participant or moderator (when need be) on my own blog in regards to comments. Posts can be written and scheduled in advance…comments can not. As such, I am having to determine whether American Bedu has had its hey day and needs to be retired.

  68. I reiterate that I enjoyed this post in the spirit that it was written- as did probably most of the many readers that read this blog as it is one of the most popular blogs read via “ExPat Women.” I learned about cultural issues impacting women that are foreign to my way of thinking and gained insight in to another religion that I know very little about- and am thankful. Many women from the Middle East can’t blog under their names- which is hard for many Westerners to comprehend- as are many other cultural differences. This format allows us to see in to the lives of other women, appreciate those differences, and by doing so, the world becomes a better place. Love and peace.

  69. @AB,

    Certainly it is your blog and you are free to regulate it the way you want. But you did ask a question about religion and people:

    “What are your views of people and the many religions which are practiced?”

    That question was posed to your friend (family, etc.) and she gave a very condescending prejudice answer that showed disrespect to others thinking.

    What happened is she was challenged on her answers by mostly long time readers of your blog (not new ones).

    In any event, I think your comments indicate that you do not support people challenging anymore. Which I think restricts freedom of expression. In my case that is fine, I just won’t share opinions if they will be restricted and are not welcome.

    Not a wolf here, more like an ape with more advanced social skills than a wolf….

    Cheers

  70. Well that’s interesting Harry. There have always been Christiams in Arabia, and the last Jews left around 1950. So clearly some inaccurate Hadith and a sad lack of history- which sadly the Arabs share aa well.

  71. ‘Coolred, Lynn, and those who are likely going to respond in kind- the response to what I wrote is typical of a wolf pack mentality.’

    Huh?

    It is very possible that my brain is not functioning properly but I am honestly just not comprehending some of the statements on this post. Are y’all just messing with my mind?

  72. Harry, Sandy is right, there have been Christians in Arabia for a long time. There are remains of churches too, so in the past Christians were not only there but had their own churches. Saudi Jeans had photos of the ruins of one on his blog a few years ago.

  73. Khadeeja, thank you for your interview and subsequent comments. I enjoyed reading them. You come across as adventurous, kind, and open minded. The comment about Prozac and faith rubbed some people the wrong way. You have already explained that you are supportive of medication. I guess your initial comment touched a raw nerve with those who have experienced clinical depression either first hand or seen a close one suffer.

  74. I have a problem with the statement that ”Feminism is male chauvinism in reverse”
    That statement is utterly wrong! The interviewee either does not understand the concepts of feminism, or she has a reason for giving feminism a bad rep. I am sorry I have to be severe here, but the world at large is so dismissive of women’s rights and women’s suffering that I think it is important for all well-thinking humans to stand up and dismiss this wrongful interpretation and denigration of feminism whenever or wherever it occurs.

    Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women.

    Its concepts overlap with those of women’s rights. Feminism is mainly focused on women’s issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men’s liberation is therefore a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.
    Feminists, that is, persons practicing feminism, may be persons of either sex.

  75. I wrote about feminism and wrote down a list of human rights which are also womens rights on this post.
    http://clouddragon.wordpress.com/?s=feminism

  76. These rights are still not fully established in what is generally called ”The West” and the rest of the world is way behind.
    Because ”The West” happens to be societies which are more advanced and have already gained some of these humanitarian rights for women, people from other societies on the planet like to point out that these basic human rights are not suitable for their cultures or religions and that therefore they do not need to heed them. Moreover, they claim ”feminism” is an evil ”western” influence.
    I beg to differ.
    These ”feminist” rights are human rights, which apply to any human, any woman and any culture.
    When ”culture” disagrees with feminism, culture is wrong.
    When a religion disagrees with women’s rights, religion is wrong.
    As the different cultures and religions of the ”West” were wrong when they disregarded the rights of women. As the misogynist cultures and religions of ”The West” had to give up their misogynist ways to the demands for equality and human rights by strong intelligent and organized women and men, so can the faults of other cultures be amended by women and men if they are strong enough.

    And that’s a good thing. Not a bad thing. Feminism is a good thing.

    This could have been put in one comment, so there will be more space for other peoples avatars on the side widget
    Moderator

  77. I sometimes don’t read the interviews as they are not my personal favorite (unless they are of someone I “know” as in MoQ’s case)…I am much more a fan of “info” type posts both positive and negative as I feel I learn a lot from them. So I am only now reading this post when I see so many responses. Makes me think “uh oh…must be a hot topic somehow…”

    Kadeejah…

    I really enjoyed this interview very much. Personally, I don’t have any issues with your POV. Even if it was judgemental (and I am not saying it was) everyone is entitled to their POV. There are people of differing beliefs or nonbelief that think those of a different belief are cracked and crazy for what they believe…again to each his own. It takes all kinds to make the world go around.

    I particularly liked your explanation of the Muslim woman. She sounded strong and independent and capable. I also liked what you said: that Muslims need to take the lead in changing the image of women in islam. Unfortunately, in so many islamic countries women are not portrayed or treated as equals…far from it and most people would look at you and see you as the exception rather than the rule. I believe it is women who, in large measure, tame a society…bring it a sense of balance and gentility if you will. It is unfortunate that women in many parts of the Islamic world are not able to bring those skills to the table. I think it would look very different if they could.

    I also enjoyed your comment about arranged marriages…it is true that Islam does use that as an excuse to force but I appreciate you pointing out the difference. My husband is Indian and through experience there I learned the difference between forced and arranged. I was quite surprised to learn that in many,many instances (I can’t say all as it can be abused there too) the potential bride or groom has the right to say yes or no to a potential marriage. I always thought arranged was synonymous with “mom and dad pick the potential spouse and the kid has no choice but to accept” aka Forced. But found, much to my delight, that wasn’t the case. They do, however, have the concept that marriage will last for a lifetime and so enter with the mindset that they will work out all the kinks rather than bail out when the going gets tough…but even now I think that is changing somewhat. They also believe that they will learn to love the person (barring any unforseeable MAJOR incompatibility) so everything is “workable”.

    Thanks for an enjoyable interview…because of your lack of roots you sound like a citizen of the world and can hang your hat wherever you need to.

  78. @Aafke,
    I would let my kids probably read almost anything they wanted- but I wouldn’t necessarily get it for them. I do think basic knowledge of all world religions is necessary because they impact us all believer or no. Through history, politics, art, music etc. Along with that tolerance is very important as well.

    I agree with you about feminism. I am absolutely a feminist as are many women and men I know.

    @Carol, I am sorry- I think I had a valid point but set a poor tone with my disagreement. As someone who was absolutely attacked on the “Um” thread- I definately would welcome a nicer all ’round tone here- but it has to be consistantly applied to everyone. What happened here was pretty mild- and not at all one-directional, from my point of view. But regardless, I’ll try to be more mannerly 🙂

  79. I think Sandy’s comment was perfectly reasonable. If you make sweeping statements, you can only expect to be called out on them.
    If somebody then chooses to consider that an attack than that means in my opinion they have lost all perspective, or they don’t want to be confronted and play the ”hurt”-card.

    Sandy, I would certainly get my children books on the most important and/or influential religions. I would also encourage them to read in the respective ”manuals”, like the bible and the quran. (or koran, or qur’an) and the baghavat gita .
    My own Christian education at the school I went to served me greatly later on in my humanity classes at arts college, and in understanding old masters. (coupled with an interest in cultural history)

    About feminism, I think there is an effort ongoing (whether conscious or not), to tarnish the reputation of feminism, and I feel obliged to contradict sweeping and wholly untruthful definitions of the concept of feminism whenever I encounter them.
    I also know many women, ànd men who are feminists!

  80. ” …wholly untruthful definitions of the concept of feminism whenever I encounter them.”

    It also might be the generation one comes from…my dad (late 70’s) can be pretty negative about feminism as he understands it…and I don’t believe he has a true understanding of it as younger people do…and therefore views it negatively and as a threat to men rather than empowering for women and men.

  81. I don’t agree. Nowadays they’ve managed to tarnish the concept of feminism so deeply that you constantly have people (young people) say stuff like ”I am not a feminist, but I am all for the empowerment of women..”
    I am not a feminist, but I do think women should earn the same wages as men”
    ”I am not a feminist, but I do think women should not be punished for being raped…”
    That’s how far it has seeped in, the notion that feminism is a bad thing; one has to apologize every time and disclaim feminism every time one makes a statement which does justice to women.
    Well, I am a feminist. And that means I am not some autocratic-man-hating-butch-bitch in overalls, but a fair minded, intelligent, honest, moral, honorable and just human being .

  82. That is interesting…I have only heard my dad and a few older folks gripe about it..didn’t realize it had seeped into the younger population.

    So odd that they would say “I am not a feminist but…” without realizing they ARE supporting feminism if they support women’s equality.

    “And that means I am not some autocratic-man-hating-butch-bitch”…not quite what I have heard the older folks have said but in that ballpark. But I do agree with your statement in it’s entirety about being a feminist…

  83. In overalls! Don forget the overalls!

  84. @Sandy – thank you! When can I interview you??? (smile)

  85. I thought this was a wonderful interview, and Khadeeja seems like a person I really wish I would have known while I was in Saudi! As “intercultural” and “open” as I view myself to be, I really had a difficult time navigating personal relationships in the middle east. I could never figure out the difference between authenticity and cultural norm. Did people really like me, or were they just acting out the famous hospitality? Do you get what I mean?

  86. I thought this was a wonderful interview, and Khadeeja seems like a person I really wish I would have known while I was in Saudi! As “intercultural” and “open” as I view myself to be, I really had a difficult time navigating personal relationships in the middle east. I could never figure out the difference between authenticity and cultural norm. Did people really like me, or were they just acting out the famous hospitality? And how do you know who you could trust to reveal your real self, and all the “stuff” that comes with it?

  87. Kristine, I think I know exactly what you are talking about. I myself have questioned that before when the discussion has been about the famed ‘hospitality’. I guess I find it similar to political correctness while I might appreciate someone not treating me disrespectfully I think I appreciate phony sentiments even less.

  88. May I ask a rather shallow question after all the heavy thinking?? Their designs sound fascinating (especially the Beethoven) – is there a website, or may we know the name of the company?? Thank you for the interview.

  89. oops, this posted twice because a screen saying “you posted something like this before ” came up, so I changed my wording. But Lynn, yeah, I loved the hospitality, and it was something so admirable, but after a while I was questioning whether people really liked me or “tolerated” me because that was the expectation. I’m also self-reflective,and quick to reveal my weaknesses or mistakes, and soon found that was not something done there. (So as to uphold the image of the tribe). I guess that was my biggest frustration, as I wanted to build relationships, but that whole “honor” thing came in the way of being authentic, and I never really was able to figure it out.

  90. Speaking on cultural correctness a Saudi will always be hospitable and polite. I think what we as Westerners may not realize is that Western Openness is something many Saudis are not accustomed to. As a result, they may be taken aback but also intrigued and curious. If a Westerner is willing to open up and answer questions the Saudi woman may ask many questions of them and ask them with interest. She may not share as much about herself but that is probably due to the ingrained privacy of Saudi heritage. When she does start to open up about herself, her fears, her family then you know that you are being accepted and in addition to traditional hospitality you have also found genuine friendship.

    Now I’m not saying that every woman who meets a Saudi woman should become a no-holds barred “Chatty Patty.” I believe women can find that balance of getting to know one another with kindness and hospitality and then know when the relationship has segued into a genuine friendship. If there are questions on whether there is a friendship or if one is genuinely liked, I think the question itself provides the answer. (just my humble point of view)

  91. Aafke, thank you for the defense of feminism. I have heard the “I’m not a feminist but…” phrase a lot in the U.S. I think the Right media has also been somewhat successful in stigmatizing the term. Women activists are called “feminazis” by a popular radio show host.

  92. Thanks, California

  93. You are welcome, Aakfe. It seems, sometimes, as if many western women take the rights they have for granted, but it was women’s movements over the last two centuries that brought about these changes. 150 years ago, women’s rights in the West were probably on par, in many respects, with where Saudi Arabia is today. No right to vote, “mahrem’s” permission for everything, no right to custody of children upon divorce, etc. I’m sure the list is longer. We owe many of the freedoms we enjoy to feminism. And there are plenty of non-western feminists who have made a positive impact on the status of women in their countries.

  94. OK…it is official. I must live under a rock if California has heard it too!

    Feminazis??? Sheesh…could it be given a more negative connotation?…I must not be watching the right shows…

  95. California…

    I agree… memories are very short. If one reads the history of the feminist movement particularly from the time of the suffragettes it is clear that they suffered a lot for the cause. It wasn’t just march for the rights…a lot were beaten, jailed, ostracized, in some cases divorced by husbands. They (all the women “freedom fighters” before us) were really very brave souls who had an amazing vision and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

  96. oby, I think you AREN’T watching the WRONG shows is more like it!! 😉 I’ve heard that ‘femnazi’ thing before and sounds like a Glen Beck-ism or something. I tend to tune out Fox News if I ever happen to be in a room where it’s on. 😉

    Yes, we American women DO owe a lot to Feminism and the brave men and women who supported the movement here.

    There is a lot on TV right now about the Freedom Riders and the civil rights movement. I wish wish wish that people could understand that they can’t just sit there and cry about not having rights but they have to stand up, peacefully, and say NO! We aren’t taking it anymore! How is it that so many can just sit back and accept that they should be treated as children or as property with no rights? AH yes, that’s right, RELIGION! I rest my case!! LOL

  97. “When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”

  98. I agree with that khadeejah. But how do you force people, like the Palestinians or the Taleban, to find peace within themselves?

  99. Lynn, I don’t think one can force peace – it is something that has to come from within.

    Don’t agree about the Palestinians, but do agree whole heartly about the Taliban and any other radical groups and cults out there.

  100. If any group or person goes around killing peolle and destroying property and taking taking away basic civil liberities – they need to be brought to justice. And justice is an external process.

  101. Sorry for the typo’s – my key board has been acting up 😉

  102. I probably qualify as a member of the ‘tough crowd’ gang (TCG). If I may, let me give some insight on that group and the issue of moderation.

    In my opinion, any Muslim that can handle, or at least, tolerate and respond to the TCG at American Bedu is pretty much OK. I can say from experience that Muslims, most of them, are not very good at taking criticism, and that too often the first reaction of a Muslim blogger is to hit the “delete’ key and then to block the user or IP address (this is way better than reaching for the sword).

    Carol’s blog is one of the few places on the Internet where one can dialogue (discuss, argue, fight, whatever) in an open format with few restrictions. For the most part, I believe, I hope, posters here have been moderate. Yes, opinions are strong and firm, but these are the product of experience, knowledge and a concern for the shared future, not personal spite or obnoxiousness – or maybe I have a thick skin. I like the variety and even the responses of our Muslim friends. I don’t waste time with anti-Islam sites because I find them boring, often ill-informed and frequently despicable. I would never link to one because most Muslims ignore them anyway. Muslims sites are more fun, or interesting. The problem is that comments posted on them which are critical of Islam or Mohammed usually have a very short life. So where does one find a good Internet site that is informative and supports free dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims? There are not many but one of the best is on your screen.

    Carol’s choice of subject matter and attitude on comments has been responsible for the astonishing success of American Bedu. Yeah, it is a tough neighborhood but a good, enjoyable and educational one. It is, in summary, a microcosm of our planet and the issue it faces. I salute her and all those that post here.

  103. @ Lynn: Hi lynn maybe if we all focused on finding peace within ourselves then we could say we have some type of control with what is happening in our own lives. If we look too far at an entire country or people and ask how they can find peace within themselves; it is really our of our control, therefor leading us to feel frustrated and disapointed at times in the world around us. Lets focus on ourselves and build peace within ourselves, families and friends and then and only then can we start to look beyond that.
    Just my personal opinon.

  104. I think the complaints about ”attacks” were totally uncalled for. If you can’t stand some well deserved criticism you shouldn’t go on the internet.
    Criticism still doesn’t qualify as ”attack”.
    For example, I agree with coolred that she has been attacked several times in the past on this blog. By different people too. Those were real nasty attacks too.

    I also don’t see who is meant by ”wolves” unless it is those people who made attacks like the ones which for example Coolred had to suffer.
    They did not comment here.
    And on the whole people have to go pretty far before they are curtailed on this blog so I don’t see why the sudden sensitivity here. Especially as any ”attacks” on this particular thread are wholly imaginary.

  105. ***Warning: MoQ cover your ears! Harry my following comment has so much rhyme and reason it’ll make your foot start tapping to the tune of Otis Redding! And Aafke this is for you… ( :8 😈 🙄 😉 , you can choose which one you like best! Now, I’m in a good mood and I’ll not let any of you spoil it! 😉 )

    Ok, enough fooling around…Just now reading this interview…I thoroughly enjoyed reading Khadeeja’s responses, she sounds like a lovely lady indeed!

    It is disappointing however to see such a good interview spoiled by the comments! I must say that this is not the first time that commenters have been rude to interviewees. I think people need to keep in mind the difficulties American Bedu has in finding people who are willing to be interviewed and should perhaps back off from taking such an aggressive stance with them, especially given that they are most likely guests, (newbies here) and are unaccustomed to the usual hostile tone of this blog. At the very least, commenters should extend an extra courtesy to the interviewees if Bedu herself has introduced them as a good friend!

    I always enjoy the interviews as well AB’s usual posts but I do not always enjoy reading the comments. It is usually full of the same negative garbage by the same negative commenters and that really brings a disservice to the very positive agenda of this blog.

    AB wrote above: “…The atmosphere of the blog has changed. The blog has received more readers who are quicker to jump to conclusions and attacks occur too easily and frequently. I’m tired of that.”

    and…

    “I am unable to guarantee my ability to be an active participant or moderator (when need be) on my own blog in regards to comments. Posts can be written and scheduled in advance…comments can not. As such, I am having to determine whether American Bedu has had its hey day and needs to be retired.”

    I do not comment on this blog very often because of the devisiveness but I have been a long time reader and do remember the more friendly days Bedu referred to with MoQ.

    Personally I would be saddened to see Bedu retired. I never agree with anything Jay has to say but I will admit he did make some valid points above. Although the open debate/comment forum is a high-light of this blog, I think sometimes it is bound to be its downfall. It seems some people are only looking for hostilities as opposed to wholesome, thought provoking, respectful dialogue. Countless times I’ve read what seem to be quite innocent comments an individual somewhere in the world bothered themselves to leave here on this blog only to have their point of view attacked! Yes attacked! As if they have no right to OWN their opinions! There is a certain decorum that is lacking here among some commenters when there are disagreements or misunderstandings. It often feels as if they are saying, “you’re either with us or against us and if it’s the latter you’d better get out of here before we scratch your eyes out!” Now you may not agree with me here but as I stated before when I made a joke gaffe, not everything actually needs debating, sometimes it just “is” and debating ceases to be fruitful and constructive especially when done so offensively.

    I have noticed other blogs do not suffer from such negative undertones as AB and this I believe is due to how these owners write their posts and only have a select few where comments are accepted, otherwise the comment section is closed. Perhaps Bedu can consider this option as opposed to retiring the blog altogether. :I

  106. @Aafke : ” Criticism still doesn’t qualify as ”attack”. ”

    This would apply *only* if that criticism is constructive and not done so in a vicious manner which is usually the brand of criticism offered here on this blog. Some people claim to offer criticism when in reality it is veiled disgust, hatred and quite frankly sometimes racism or discrimination. Critiquing a person’s religion (lack thereof, belief system, way of life…call it what you like…) is not within everyone’s capabilities and most certainly will not be accepted if done so in a forceful, spiteful manner. This applies to the non-Muslims, Muslims and any Tom, Dick or Harry that comments here. Sometimes I think we forget to temper our ardor with compassion when debating here! 😉

  107. Thank you, Rose, for the nice words. The lack of “moderation” (ie, censorship) is what makes this blog special. The problem is that those blogs of the “your comment is waiting moderation / approval by the blogger” type BOA. They have no life, no flavor. One thing I like about the Muslims commenters here is the feeling of sincerity they convey even when they and I would probably not agree on the color of a cloudless summer day sky. Even if their arguments make sense and are better than mine, it still is not the end of the world – I can study more or change my position.

    As to the negative undertones, they happen. I guess they are a product of sincere beliefs and hurried words. If we were all in a room, I am sure the floors would not be covered in blood. Maybe a few harsh words would bounce off the walls, but that is all. I have a feeling we are all a pretty mild bunch in the real world.

  108. “As to the negative undertones, they happen. I guess they are a product of sincere beliefs and hurried words.”

    Yes dear that’s why I said we need to temper our ardor with a bit more compassion! 🙂

    Surely it can happen if we’re all tolerant enough and choose our words more thoughtfully. 😉 We don’t always need to agree, where’s the fun in that? but we should at least be mindful of our approach when debating here.

    I must admit I feel a nice, comfortable feeling reading your last two comments! Sincere, straight to the point but without vitriol, more of that please! 😉 *Harry, take note! * If I had a facebook account I would surely send you an invite Jay but given the ridiculous nature of facebook, Bedu will suffice! 😉

  109. Hi Rosemary,

    I rhyme and reason and footlose, at least once a week on Fridays, foot tapping to Otis Redding, to my all-tyme favorite tune of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.

    Nice to have you back, Rosemary. Haven’t see ya around in awhile …

    Harry

  110. Busy with life love…keeps you on your toes you know! 😉

    Sorry Harry boy, “These Arms of Mine” and “I’ve Got Dreams” is leaps and bounds better than sitting on the dock!;) **( and don’t get me started on Ella Fitzgerald, we’ll be here all day 🙂

    Glad to see we have something in common other than a fondness for American Bedu! 🙂

  111. Sorry guys but I think this deserves a repost:

    Pat Duke, on May 18, 2011 at 1:20 am said:
    May I ask a rather shallow question after all the heavy thinking?? Their designs sound fascinating (especially the Beethoven) – is there a website, or may we know the name of the company?? Thank you for the interview.

  112. Roesemary, thank for your kind words, they are much appreciated.

    @ Pat Duke. Please feel free to contact Gibran and me about our work at the following web site
    khadeejahraja@hotmail.com.

    Anyone interested in our work please contact on the above address.

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