Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Daily Diary: Al Bustan Fashion Show

The Omani Women Fashion Trends 2010 was a unique fashion event focussed (as everything was this year) on the 40th National Day celebrations. The event showcased Omani Women's Fashion over the last 40 years, and the latest trends in regional dress, from Dhofar's father-of-the-tail, to Sharqiyah's suris.

Islam in Oman for Beginners: What percentage of the Omani population are Muslims and what do they believe?


As in the other Arabic countries, Islam stands as the main religion in Oman. Islam is in fact, the official religion of Oman, though the Basic Law of the country is liberal towards the other religions as well.

About eighty six percent of the country's population comprises of Muslims who have been residing in the region since the advent of Islam. Omanis accepted Islam during the Prophet Mohamed's lifetime. The other religious groups which the country accommodates have actually migrated to settle in the country in recent years, or have been formed as a result of the country's interaction with the foreign nations. About thirteen percent of the population in Oman comprises of Hindus, who have primarily migrated to the country. A small section of the country follows Christianity as Catholicism had entered the country in some phase of history. Previously, before Islam, many Omanis in various regions were pagans, Christian, or Jewish.

Oman has three major Islamic groups (ways of labelling a set of beliefs concerning Islamic Principles that often have small differences in jurisprudance and politics). All are Muslims under Omani Law

Most of the Muslims in Oman belong to the Ibadi sect, and though the branch has gradually waned in the other Muslim countries. Oman alone still boasts of a majority of Ibadi population. The non Ibadi population comprises mostly of Sunni muslims, who contribute to about twenty five percent of the religion in Oman. A minor portion of the population follows the Shia sect.

Islam in Oman for Beginners: What is Islam? Who/What is Allah? What makes a Muslim?

My mother seems to think I am not a Muslim. Like many Western parents, she thinks this is a phase for me or a game of dress up fanatasy or something.

Sure. I like people being all ignorant on me for a game, or losing my job prospects for a game.

But unlike most peoples' mothers, my mother is very familiar with Muslims in Oman, whether practising their religion or not. And while she is very familiar with Muslims, she is not at all familiar with Islam.

In fact, alot people in Oman probably are not, so I will start this totally fun section where you can ask whatever you like and I will not be offended and will try to post with evidence from historical and Islamic sources wen answering questions. Note, I am a blogger, not an Islamic historian (except on the subjects of women's clothing, and slavery).

WHAT IS ISLAM- and under that header, who is Allah, can one practice any other faith than Islam and still believe in one God [at least in the eys of Muslims]?

Islam is the belief in One God, and of worshipping that One God ALONE. The word "Islam" litterally means "surrender" or "submission" and in the context of Islam it means surrender or submission through complete worship and obedience of the will of Allah [alone, and not through others before Allah]. That means that no bishop, Imam, priest, human being such as a Prophet (the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus as Christ, Ali...) angel, Saint, or physical object (such as a Church, Mosque, relic, or the Ka'bah) can grant us or aid us- before -or-on-the-behalf-of Allah (S.W.T.). Allah has said "God is one, the only one. Allah helps and does not need help. He begat none (had no children), nor was He begotten (was not born of anyone). None is equal to Him." -Surah Ikhlas (from the Qu'ran).

So who/what is Allah? Allah is simply the Arabic and Islamic word for God, meaning, the One God, the only God, and thus it is a better word to describe God than just plain old "god" which could mean anything. All other gods or attempts at faith are pale imitations of making physical just one wondrous character of the one God, Allah (S.W.T)., or a great devised falsehood with a selfish historical purpose behind it. There are so many "gods" in this world, and the word "God" can be used to decribe any number of them, so it is simply safer to use the Arabic word "Allah" if one is speaking of the True God, the Only God [Muslim here, please don't be offended!]. A great misconception of Islam is that "Allah" is a different God than the God of the Christians and the Jews, when in fact, Allah (S.W.T) is the exact SAME Creator who spoke to Abraham, Issaac, Ishmael, Moses, and Jesus (of the Torah and the Bible), trying to inform mankind about the importance of worshipping and obeying only "One God".
Adam= Adam
Alyasa'= Elisha
Ayyub= Job
Dawud= David
Dhul-Kifl= Dhul-kifl
Harun= Aaron
Hud= Hud
Ibrahim= Abraham
Idris= Enoch
Iliyas= Elias
Ishaq= Isaac
Ismail= Ishmael
Lut= Lot
Mohammed= Mohammed or Ahmed
Musa= Moses
Nuh= Noah
Salih= Salih
Shu'aib= Shu'aib
Sulaiman= Soloman
Ya'qub= Jacob
Yahya= John
Yunis= Jonah
Yusef= Joseph
Zakariyya= Zechariah
"...We believe in the faith of Abraham, the upright one. He was no idolater. ...We believe in Allah and that which has been revealed to Abraham, Ishamael, Issac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Moses and Jesus and the other Prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them, and to Him [Allah] we submit." -Surah Al Bakara 2:136 (from the Qu'ran).

Of course, we, mankind, are not very good at this, and we like to put up selfish idols before Allah, or lift up men and false "gods" for our own fame or political gain, since Allah requests of us, that we help one another, refrain from that which harms the world we have been entrusted with and distribute the goods we have been bestowed upon those who need it most. Also, that we humble ourselves, which is so very hard to do, when one refuses to look up and beyond one's self.
So, if we believe in Allah, do we have to follow Islam?

Can we not say, be Christian or practice Judaism, and still believe in "Allah"?

Allah (S.W.T) calls Christians and Jews "People of the Book" for to them is was revealed, the Torah, and the Bible. Those who practice Islam follow the Qu'ran. Of the People of the Book Allah (S.W.T) says: "They Declare: 'None shall enter Heaven but Jews and Christians.' Such are their wishful fancies [the same applies to so-called followers of Islam] Say: 'Let us have your proof, if what you say be true.' Indeed, those that submit to God and do good works shall be recompensed by their Lord: they shall have nothing to fear or regret." "Believers, Jews, Sabaeans and Christians- whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right- shall have nothing to fear or regret." -Surah Al Bakara 5:69.

So obviously, any person of the book who practices their religion as it was revealed by Allah (S.W.T) [not a corrupted, falsified document through translation, and falsification for political and historical reasons] believing in One God, and obeying One God, would actually be practicing Islam. Unfortunately, to believe Jesus is the son of God and could forgive the sins of mankind is an act of idolatry, to associate partners with Allah (S.W.T) and to give a human being a power belonging only to Allah (S.W.T). So if you are Christian in most modern Christrian sects, you do not believe in One God. You believe a man had the powers of God, or that God needed to put Divinity into another, and this is a different religion than the one Allah laid done in law before Moses and Jesus. As for those who practice Judaism, worshipping false Gods was forbidden to you as you had been done in the time of the Jewish King Herod (who built a pagan temple for the Romans) and before him, when the calf was slaughtered in Egypt. If you are any of the Jews who follow their scholars (this goes for Muslims too) over the word of Allah/God, then you are committing an act of setting up a false idol in yourselves when you say none can come to Allah unless they be born of the Jewish race, they marry a Jewish man and have Jewish children, or they be circumsized. None of these things have anything to do with believing in only one God!!!!! And Jesus spoke thus to those who first followed him.

Islam is so beautiful because it is not a religion named after a tribe of people or an individual, as Judaism is named after the tribe of Judah, Christianity after Christ, or Buddhism after Buddha. Islam is a global faith, not of East or West "To Allah belongs the east and west. Whichever way you face there is Allah" -Surah 2:115. It is a complete way of life, with guidance from Allah on every issue one could possibly face. It was not Mohammed (S.A.W) but Adam, who first brought Islam to humanity. Then each prophet and messenger came to exhort peoples to a clear understanding of God`s commandments. The last (and only) perfectly preserved revelation (in its original wording and translation) is the holy Qu`ran. Belief in the Qu`ran, and following the guidance of the Prophet (S.A.W) who the Qu`ran was revealed to is part of belief in, and adhereing to in practice, Islam.

Researching the authenticity of the Quran is another post which I promise to later make for you;)


Why do Muslim have to believe in what the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) says about Islam? Why can`t one just follow what the Qu`ran says?

Following the actions of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) is actually submitting to a commandment within the Qu`ran, which states "And whatsoever the Messenger [Mohammed (S.A.W)] gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain [from it], and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is severe in punishment." -Surah 59:7.
And so, it is to the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W) I look to for a clear understanding of what Islam is, and what it requires of me, a believer in Allah (S.W.T).

"When asked `what is Islam? ` the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W) said: "Islam is based on the following five pillars:
1.) To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Mohammed is Allah`s messenger.

2.) To offer the [five fard] prayers dutifully and perfectly.

3.) To pay zakat [obligatory] charity

4.) To preform Hajj [pilgrimage to Mecca to the Ka`bah] if one can afford it or has the health to make the journey.

5.) To fast during the month of Ramadan."

-Sahih Al-Bukhari, [Eng. Trans. vol. 1 /7 ]

Anyone who intentionally strives their outmost to uphold and fulfull these five pillars of Islam due to belief in Allah as the One God is one who practices Islam. One who practices Islam freely and of their own will is called a "Muslim". "Muslimah" is the word for a female muslim, a woman who practices and believes in Islam. "Muslim" is not a religion seperate from Islam, but the person practicing Islam.

So, as far are the Prophet Mohamed SAW was concerned, by definition Mum, I AM a Muslim.

Colonial Interior Design

I may not like the arrogance and caste system purported by it, but I love the interiors of the Colonial Period, especially the tropical climate ones.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Omani Architecture: OPNO's favourite Mosques, for the eye, and the soul

My favourite Mosque from the highway, driving as a teen non-muslim, was always Al Zulfa Mosque, in Seeb. I have never gone to pray there yet, but my husband promised to take me. He laughs that I like this Masjid (aka Mosque so much) having never been inside and not knowing what sect of Islam it is for (Ibadhi, shia, sunni ect). Whoever is there, lol, I like the buidling.

Queen Elizabeth the II formally greeted yesterday with the Prince of Edinburgh

Muscat arrival on the 25th of November.
With Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmud al-Said upon her arrival at Muscat on November 25, 2010 And since I just moved and have no sattelite I missed the Queen's arrival ceremony on OmanTV. I heard it was something I would have enjoyed, via all the traditional Omani women's dress donned. If anyone has pics, send me:)
She TOTALLY looks like my Grandma and dresses te same too!
Prince Philip.
Parade outside Al Alam palace. Below: workers getting ready for the Royal Treatment.
Omanis rejoice:
My father: "If these people are excited about the Queen, these people must be bloody bored."

OPNO: "I think it's kinda cute."

My father: "Well you like to live in that Colonial mind-set sandbox."
ABOVE, His Majesty presents the Royal couple with a gift. His Highness seems to like it but Her Majesty is like, ah, another gold vase, ho hum. Curb appeal, your Majesty Baba Qaboos, curb appeal!
But the Omani answer? Who NEEDS curb appeal when you can buy two things! This time a fabulous faberge-esque gold egg. Her Majesty likes this one better!
Alas, the British gift, looks a bit shabby in compare, a silver framed picture of Her Majesty and His Highness, presented to Baba Qaboos. Does he look disapointed? Please forgive me, all, I am just playing! Her Majesty the Queen at her state dinner.
And of course, the Royal photo op.

The Horses of Oman

If you have NEVER seen an equestrian event in Oman, it is TOTALLY something I recommend you see. On Al Athaiba, on 18th November street, on the side of the road opposite the Chedi (a bit farther down) driving towards Sultan center is the Camel Racing Federation and Equestrian Club building, which keeps an accurate schedule of events.
Definately worth seeing. Once upon a time Oman was one of the most famous places in the world for breeding the best horses, like in Sharqiyah. Such beautiful horses, mashaAllah.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daily Diary: The Royal Horse Show

Omigosh, omigosh, I am soooooooooooo excited. Dec. 1 st at 8 pm is the Royal Horse Show in Al Seeb [oops, for some reason I wrote Wattiyah before dummy me!]. Which, I mean, would have actually been the opposite of "yay!!!!" for me, since I did not win the seat tickets members of the commonwealth are eligible for. I hope I have better luck at Muscat Mutterings Bryan Adams draw.

But luck of all luck, a member of my adopted tribe happened to have been given tickets to all events and was like, I am thinking I cannot stand to be near crowds and go to all of them...

And OPNO is like: "I've seen His Majesty and the Queen AND her mother, and really I don't care. But I LOVE horses, and LOVE the royal horse show. I KNOW those horses by name. I remember when SOMEBODY accidently let them escape. If you find it in your heart to let me...."
And I was given the ticket. And not just any old ticket, a VIP one in some box area.


BTW, the highway is closing now, as of 4pm I imagine for Queen Elizabeth and Sultan Qaboos.

How does one tell their parents they got married without telling them?...

So I got married! YAyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [and a long hard struggle it was, in a manner of speaking. So now what? With "I'll be home for Christmas" rining in my ears with my little sister begging me for a return vacation... I don't know exactly what to do. See, flashback to KH and I just before my big day, via our mobiles.
KH [pre-wedding]: "I am happy for you sis, but did you tell your parents you are getting married?"

OPNO: "." [KH, as an Arab, OBVIOUSLY has more respect for family than I do, one would suppose, silyl Westerner me].
Yeah, no, I didn't. To which, knowing KH, his advice would have been, "You have to. They are your parents. Its about respect."Well, I DID tell them I was engaged, which... probably, makes me LESS of a demon child, right?

[Bites nails].K, so I got married alot sooner than my parents would approve of. To someone they don't know, have never met or even heard of (beyond my recent off-hand engaged comment), after doing a tonne of things I know they DON'T approve of (including moving away)... So.I think just brining MOP to the airport will scare the heck out of them [dishdasha and all-despite them being used to my abayas] sooooo... Can I get away with a quick lie about getting married in our home country during Christmas break????? I mean, as a Muslim, I don't celebrate Christmas, but I've always wanted a Christmas themed wedding (you know to cut out on costs) as food and decorations as well as family getting together is already accounted for anyway? So this coward cop out will likely leave friends to wonder, how many weddings will this OPNO rack under her belt but only be married the THE MAN? I could beat ELizabeth Taylor and keep the same husband, perhaps.
At least I'd have an excuse to buy an AWESOME red ball gown I have been DROOLING over.