Archive for the ‘women’ Category

I’m a big fan of small businesses. I like the personal touch, and the uniqueness of small ventures. In an increasingly homogeneous world where I can see the same stores, fast food joints and corporate giants in my home town back home in Blighty as I can see everyday in my adopted homeland of Canada, it is so refreshing to see the small, local and unique businesses. In my recent (and fruitless) quest for a decent snowblower, I have discovered a small, local business that sells nothing but snowblowers and lawnmowers, according to season. They have the time to answer questions, make recommendations and offer advice, and I’ll never wander in, fail to find what I am looking for and search for ten minutes for an employee only to be met with an I-don’t-care shrug and a grunted “Don’t work in this department.” The snowblower quest was fruitless because I started looking too late in the season, i.e., when the first snowflake fell. The friendly local folks at my new favourite store advised me to come in and order one early… in August!


But I digress. Bumbling back towards the love of small businesses, I must also add that the appreciation level rises when it’s a woman running the show. Never mind feminism, women still face challenges in the world of business, and when the woman is also a wife and/or mother, there are even more hurdles to business success. Domestic and maternal roles can so easily be full time, but for many women, financial necessity or inner drive motivates them to do more.


When I find a small business that caters to one of my various wants, needs or whims, and is also run by a person or persons with a professional approach and pleasant manner, it is a real treat. (I don’t suffer fools and poor customer service gladly, but that’s a rant for another day…). Bonus points if the business is run by a sister in Islam, of course. And extra props when the business serves both Muslims and non-Muslims, thus building bridges and demonstrating diversity in action.


So I think that one of the things I want to do here on my blog is make noise about any cool small businesses that I come across especially those that are run by Muslim sisters. But anything that I find cool is grist for the mill, so look out world!


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Dear Umm Zaid


There is a yawning chasm in the blogosphere today. (more…)

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For those in the GTA area, try to make it to this event next Saturday.  Rabia Khedr will be speaking on Noble Women in Islam. (more…)

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Why women should vote

I received this from a friend in an e-mail this morning. I think it makes for important reading. Although it refers to what’s going on south of the border, the movement for women to have the vote was ongoing in other countries at around the same time. It’s not just women who need a reminder, though. The level of voter apathy in Canada is pathetic. So many people like to moan about the government but if you couldn’t even be bothered to spend a few minutes at the polls, perhaps you might like to wonder why? I’m not the world’s most political creature but I do at least insist on voting in every election, at every level of government.

A message for all women

This is the story of our Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers; they lived only 90 years ago.
Remember, it was not until 1920 that women were granted the right to go to the polls and vote.The women were innocent and defenseless,
but they were jailed nonetheless for picketing the White House,
carrying signs asking for the vote. And by the end of the night, they were barely alive. Forty prison guards wielding clubs and
their warden’s blessing went on a rampage against the 33 women
wrongly convicted of ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head and left her hanging for the night, bleeding and gasping for air.
They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack. Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.
Thus unfolded the ‘Night of Terror’ on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.
For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms.
When one of the leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press.
So, refresh my memory. Some women won’t vote this year because–why, exactly? We have carpool duties? We have to get to work?
Our vote doesn’t matter? It’s raining? Last week, I went to a sparsely attended screening of HBO’s new movie ‘Iron Jawed Angels.’ It is a graphic depiction of the battle these women waged so that I could pull the curtain at the polling booth and have my say. I am ashamed to say I needed the reminder.
All these years later, voter registration is still my passion. But the actual act of voting had become less personal for me, more rote.
Frankly, voting often felt more like an obligation than a privilege.
Sometimes it was inconvenient. My friend Wendy, who is my age and studied women’s history, saw the HBO movie , too. When she stopped
by my desk to talk about it, she looked angry. She was–with
herself. ‘One thought kept coming back to me as I watched that
movie,’ she said. ‘What would those women think of the way I use, or don’t use, my right to vote? All of us take it for granted now, not just younger women, but those of us who did seek to learn.’ The right to vote, she said, had become valuable to her ‘all over again.’
HBO released the movie on video and DVD.I wish all history, social studies and government teachers would include the movie in their curriculum I want it shown on Bunco night, too, and anywhere else women gather. I realize this isn’t our usual idea of socializing,
but we are not voting in the numbers that we should be, and I think a little shock therapy is in order.
It is jarring to watch Woodrow Wilson and his cronies try to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Alice Paul insane so that she could be permanently institutionalized. And it is inspiring to
watch the doctor refuse. Alice Paul was strong, he said, and brave. That didn’t make her crazy. The doctor admonished the men:
‘Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.’
Please, if you are so inclined, pass this on to all the women you know. We need to get out and vote and use this
right that was fought so hard for by these very courageous women.
Whether you vote democratic, republican or independent party – remember to vote.
History is being made.
Read more:

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Hair, there and everywhere

I don’t whether to be happy or sad about this article in the Toronto Star this morning. I’m happy to learn that there is a real salon that is catering to hijabis, but some of the comments are pretty sad. (more…)

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Mosques and Women’s Space

Much has been said about the fact that in many mosques. provision of women’s space is little more than an afterthought. I have been in many such places, and virtually gave up mosque attendance when my kids were small. But check out the mosque in ISNA Canada’s headquarters. Ma sha Allah. It has ample women’s space, decent washroom/wudu’ facilities, and a separate area for moms with tinies who attend the prayers.

view of prayer area

view of prayer area

The separate room for moms with little ‘uns has a CCTV so if the tinies aren’t raising too much of a ruckus, they can still hear khutbahs etc.

Apparently they used that room for the men’s i’tikaf in Ramadan a few years back (grr!) but now they build booths along the sides of the men’s area for the brothers who want to observe that particular Sunnah.

moms' and tots' space in the glassed-in area


The decor of the mosque is quite simple, but refreshing. The dome has a little more decoration.



A few years ago someone was researching this issue and thought I would be in the pro-curtain faction. Nope. The Sunnah is for the men to be in the front and the women to be in the back, but in the same space. I can’t tell you the number of time I have been in places where the women’s section is behind a huge, opaque barrier or even in a different room (bonus points if it is on a different floor…) and it is very hard to follow the prayers even if the PA system is functioning normally.

I wish all mosques could be like this…

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