Around Taipei

I still remember saying out loud, ‘what a lucky a****** this guy is, his whole life will be a vacation!’ when I saw  pictures of Javed Miandad’s (Junaid) son’s wedding. Regardless of how she looks or the amount of gold that she was wearing, her dad is one filthy rich man and Junaid most probably does not need to work for the rest of his life.

Little did I know back then that I will get married to someone whose work will make my life a vacation at least for the initial period of our marriage. Am I enjoying it? I would be highly ungrateful to Allah (SWT) if I say that I am not. Do I want to spend the rest of my life like this? No, I dont want to spend the rest of my life like a nomad. I would want to spend more time at home and less at a hotel. Obviously, a vacation should be earned and I dont call these trips vacations..they will be part of my ‘routine life’ for some time.

Anyway, I was in Taipei for the last 12 days and perhaps that is also the reason why I was not updating the blog so frequently or responding to your comments. The trip went well, at least for me. So without further vents of my emotions, I’l just talk about the city itself.

Taipei 101

The much talked about tower is not actually 101 floors….its 91 floors. The height is added by the pinnacle. Nonetheless, the building is humongous, grandiose and state of art, especially because the city lies on the earthquake prone region. Taipei 101 was built with this in mind in addition to all other challenges posed to all skyscrapers all around the world. The effect of tremors is controlled (mellowed by 40%) by a huge steel pendulum weighing 660 metric tonnes, serving as a tuned mass damper, suspended from 92nd to the 88th floor.

Taipei 101 has two observatories: one indoor on the 89th floor and one outdoor on the 91st floor. Both of them offer a 360 degrees view.

The building can be a shopper’s paradise an houses outlets of some of the world’s most popular brands. It also has a bookstore (Page One) which boasts to have the largest English Books collection in the whole of Taiwan. And oh, the building also has the world’s fastest elevator.

Museums

National Museum of History: Not much to write about. It mainly houses pottery (something I have no interest in) and a few Buddha statues which are worth seeing. The only good thing about the museum is the Botanical Garden which is just adjacent.

National Palace Museum: Architecturally charismatic. The museum is huge and can take you nearly 4 to 5 hours and even then you cannot claim to have seen it all. When the Communists were advancing on Beijing in the final years of the Chinese Civil War, the Nationalists grabbed all they could from the Forbidden City and brought it to Taiwan. Its interesting to see possibly some of the most secretive documents in the museum. The best thing about the museum is that the entry is free after 5 pm on Saturdays….we were lucky to have reached at the right time. Sadly, they dont allow photos to be taken inside the museum.

Shilin Night Market

Not the only night market in the city but definitely the biggest, a ‘must-see’ attraction especially for women. You can buy both branded and unbranded stuff here and the market is so huge that you can actually shop till you drop. Food is in abundance here but obviously as language can be an issue, avoid eating as you might end up eating pork even if you ordered some fried fish. We ate at a korean restaurant and ended up eating so much (shopping can make you hungry!) that I was on the verge of throwng up by the end of it.

Eslite Mall

Simply loved it! Its a 4-storey book shop!! 😀 I ended up spending 3 hours in the store and wasnt really impressed wen Pasha came to pick to me up….seriously wanted to stay a lil longer.

Grand Mosque

One of the only two mosques in Taipei and as it was merely on a 15 minutes walking distance from the hotel, I visited this one a few times. The beautiful mosque was built in 1950s with funding from Saudi Arabia and houses a small library in addition to the basic facilities like the wudhu area and separate prayer halls for men and women (the ladies prayer hall is on the second floor). It was simply beautiful to be referred to ‘sister’ by men in the mosque and made me feel at home immediately.

And finally, a bit of Geography

Its a mountainous city with one of the peaks being volcanic. Other peaks are now believed to be ‘extinct’ volcanoes. Wallah-u-Alam. The city is one earthquake prone region and earthquake tremors are quite common….2-3 per month usually of 5-6 magnitude on Richtor scale. We were lucky (or unlucky :S ) to have witnessed one such earthquake during our trip.

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Blissful Marriage (4)

Polygamy

Women, hate me for saying this out loud once again, but polygamy is allowed in Islam.

If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (among them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. [4:3]

Men, stop being so happy now. There are conditions that you must fulfill to justify marrying another woman!

The Arabs were guilty of a double injustice to widows: they did not give them and their children a share in the inheritance of their husbands, nor were then inclined to marry widows who had children, because the responsibility for the maintenance of the children would in that case devolve upon them. The Qur’an remedied both these problems by giving a share of inheritance to the widow with a share also for the orphans, and it commended the taking of such widows in marriage by allowing polygamy expressly for this purpose. It should, therefore, be clearly understood that monogamy is the rule in Islam and polygamy is only allowed in certain circumstances. This permission was given at a time when the wars, which were forced on the Muslims, had decimated the men, so that many widows and orphans were left for whom it was necessary to provide. A provision was made in the form of polygamy so that the widow should find a home and protector and the orphans should have paternal care and affection.

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). [4:34]

Another condition that must not be ignored is that a man has to be able to deal justly with all of his wives. Now thats quite a task. Dealing with one wife can be difficult for men, I only wonder how men can deal justly with 2, 3 or even 4 wives.

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Blissful Marriage (2)

Importance of Marriage in Islam

I have often heard people saying that marriage is fardh and it is only the second, third and fourth marriage which is sunnah. According to the Qur’an, it is not fardh but something which highly encouraged:

You shall encourage those of you who are single to get married. They may marry the righteous among your male and female servants, if they are poor. Allah (SWT will enrich them from His grace. Allah (SWT) is Bounteous, Knower. [24:32]

And the relationship is so beautiful that Allah (SWT) actually gives it as a ‘proof’ of his own existence.

Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think. [30:21]

No wonder you start caring for your spouse the time you decide to get married to him/her. You never see that clause on the nikah but yet your happiness some how starts depending upon your spouse’s happiness.

Mahr (Dowry)

And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, Take it and enjoy it with right good cheer. [4:4]

But if ye decide to take one wife in place of another, even if ye had given the latter a whole treasure for dower, Take not the least bit of it back: Would ye take it by slander and manifest wrong? And how could ye take it when ye have gone in unto each other, and they have Taken from you a solemn covenant? [4:20-21]

As can been seen from the verses, Mahr is not to be given only at the time of divorce. It is a promise of a gift from the husband to the wife and must be according to the woman’s wishes. She may ask for a few verses of the Qur’an to be recited or a whole mountain of gold.

Now, as it is a promise, it becomes a debt on the husband to give his wife the Mahr that he agreed upon at the time of Nikah and must be paid according to the conditions set initially. If the Mahr is deferred as per the condition, it must be paid before the marriage dissolves. A marriage can dissolve in two ways: divorce or death of either of the two. Most people would pay Mahr at the time of divorce but do not think about paying Mahr in the second instance. As established earlier, Mahr is like a debt, it HAS to be paid by the husband unless the woman decides not to take it (as can be seen in 4:4 stated above).

If the man dies all his debts, including unpaid Mahr has to be paid before everyone gets their share of inheritance. If the woman dies, Mahr must be distributed amongst her heirs.

Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. The distribution in all cases  after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah. and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. [4:11]

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Blissful Marriage

One day when Hazrat Aisha (RA) was spinning some woollen thread, she looked up to see Prophet (SAW) with a golden glow of contentment on his face, mending his sandals, sitting beside her on the floor. She praised him with a poetic quotation and he, never to be outdone in gallantary, kissed her forehead gently and said, “O Aisha (RA), may Allah (SWT) reward you well. I am not as much the source of joy to you as you are to me.”

we live in a society that revolves around the term ‘wedding’; be it social gatherings or tv serials, nothing is deemed complete without it. Our businesses thrive on this term: fashion designers, make up artists, caterers, photograhers and even carpenters would have been starving if this term didnt sum up the whole meaning of our lives. But how many of us look beyond this term and think of a closely related term which in fact is the reality behind the contract signing ritual: marriage. Sadly, very few!

I was difficult to be convinced to get married. When I finally did agree to get married, I knew I had chosen just the right guy. I had made a decision and I knew I could not let anyone or anything weaken my decision. For that I needed to strengthen my decision further which could only come through knowledge.

I was engaged for exactly 9 months and during this time I had to mentally prepare myself to live in a house I had never seen even in my dreams, leave the only country in the world I called home, call a new family my own and dedicate my whole life to a man I had met only thrice. This was all too overwhelming for me. Alhamdulillah, my susraal was always a relief and because of them I knew I was getting married to the right person. But, there were still people who would instill all sorts of negativity in me about my decision. So, instead of thinking about this all the time, I was able to find ample time to study about Islamic Marriages (interestingly, there is not much stress on weddings in Islam).

I am not saying that I had an Islamic wedding but I had a very simple wedding as compared to most weddings I have attended in the past few years. I wish I could have an even simpler wedding if I had not gotten weak. Some times you just have to give up cuz of ur own extended family’s cultural values. I wish I could have been stronger. I am not even saying that I adjusted to my new life style immediately, in fact I am still trying to adjust. After all, even water takes a while to calm down after its hit by a small pebble and no matter how much you prepare yourself, you dont really know how the experience would be until u start living it.

But that does not mean you should not prepare yourself at all. You cannot just enter the examination hall with no preparation at all unless you wish to fail. You might not be able to solve all the problems, but at least you have to make an attempt. And that is precisely the reason why I am doing this series of posts: I want to share what I have found regarding marriage with all of my readers, knowledge might give you the courage to initiate the change. If you are a guy, its a bit easier to be assertive in our society. Go ahead and be the change you want to see.

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Getting back to normalcy

It actually makes me feel better that both Hira and Minerva are pretty much going through the same emotional transition as me even though we are living in 3 different countries in completely different circumstances. The only thing that we have in common is that we all got married last year.

Being married changes pretty much everything in your life…including your name in most cases and thus your identity as a person in the society. The roles change dramatically and all of a sudden you are required to be the perfect housewife who cooks, cleans and looks good too. Your own life takes the backseat and the biggest dream of your life goes down the priority list….perhaps vanishes. Not because you are being forced by anyone but that is something that you just dont find the most important thing in your life anymore. You just want to be sure that your family life doesnt suffer and you make all the compromises you can think of. Alhamdulillah my husband is being very supportive and patient in this regard, he is definitely trying his best helping me adjust, while he is adjusting himself.

I am sure men make a lot of compromises too. Their responsibilities, especially financially, increase and they have to learn to ‘save up’ for the family that they have now and will have. Obviously they have the advantage of continuing their job in the same working environment, living in the same house and not carrying babies within themselves for 9 months. And thus, perhaps, do not have to face a lot of emotional transitions as newly wedded women.

I know this is a type of post that doesnt belong to this blog as such but I guess I would do it here because I realized its not as personal as I thought it was. All newly wedded women feel pretty much the same way as me. So, for now, I’l just try to settle in my new lifestyle but I seriously need to keep myself busy. Getting a job mite help perhaps.