With everyone focusing on the death and suffering of the Palestinians, we have unfairly forgotten the plight of the Israeli citizens. But thankfully, God has blessed us with journalistic flag bearers such as the Washington Post, who have chosen to highlight the suffering of the 'other side'.
Why are we being inundated with horrific body counts and gruesome images of Palestinians while the innocent citizens, such as the dear Mrs. Schwartz who was forced to cancel her Hanukkah party due to the threat of rocket attacks, are being ignored??
"She had planned a Hanukkah party on Saturday for the children in the kibbutz. But the Israeli military issued an order for all residents to stay inside their homes. So she had to cancel the party. "I feel bad. You have to explain to the kids why you can't live a normal life," she said. "Every day I walk five kilometers around the kibbutz," she added. "Today, I didn't. I was scared.""
God bless the Washington Post for having the guts to publish her grueling side of the story. Where is the humanity when a 48-yr old mother of four is forced to cancel her daily 5-km walk????
And that's not it folks. Mrs. Schwartz pointed to proof that the Palestinians are heathens who care nothing for peace:
"Schwartz pointed at a crater from a rocket that landed near the kibbutz's office and tore a hole in the sidewalk."
How can the citizens of Israel be expected to walk on the streets with holes riddling their sidewalks?? How inhumane!
And let's not forget poor Mr. Langere, who is suffering the trauma of his community garden gone to waste:
"Langere lamented as he sat outside his white house looking at the weeds and mud patches in the communal area. "It used to be very nice. Now, it is a catastrophe. Now, you see no grass, no birds.""
No grass? No birds? Such a "catastrophe" must not go unpunished!
"From here, we send a blessing to the Israeli government and the soldiers to strengthen themselves and continue what they are doing to bring peace in the area so that we can go back to our lives," the city's mayor, Yehiel Zohar,"
Preach Mayor! May God give them the strength to ensure that the grass and the birds returns and Mrs. Schwartz can resume her daily walks.
No matter what the cost.
Monday, December 29, 2008
With everyone focusing on the death and suffering of the Palestinians, we have unfairly forgotten the plight of the Israeli citizens. But thankfully, God has blessed us with journalistic flag bearers such as the Washington Post, who have chosen to highlight the suffering of the 'other side'.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
While our collective disgust with the cowardly air attacks on Gaza is warranted (can you say shooting fish in a barrel?), let's not forget that our brethren in Gaza had been suffering for long before these terrorist attacks. Ali Abunimah says it well:
"But today's horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel's method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel."
Read the entire article and get a better understanding of the Israeli understanding of a truce:
"Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land."
In reality, Israel has never wanted real peace. Their existence is based on a perpetual state of conflict. That's why whenever a ceasefire or a lull in the tension lasts too long, they'll agitate the Palestinians by carrying out an assassination of a local leader or some other unprovoked act of stupidity. The political entity of Israel needs to justify its settlement expansions, oppressive policies, tight control of borders, and so on all in the name of security - and that can only be accomplished with a backdrop of violence and mayhem.
Frustration is abound all over. Let us all focus our energies back to our Creator and pray for His Mercy to descend on those who wish for nothing but a peaceful life in which they can worship Him properly.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I've written on this before (here and here), but its worth repeating over and over again: American-style consumerism is a dangerous virus that is dragging the entire world down with them. The current financial crisis is merely the latest manifestation of the sickness. This article sums up the dilemma quite well - the pursuit of happiness has been replaced with the pursuit of comfort, the comfort supplied by gadgets and goods.
It's very interesting how he compares the Hajj stampedes to the recent stampede at Wal-Mart that killed one and injured several others. The religion of consumerism is no different than other religions, even celebrating its very own holidays (Black Friday).
One noteworthy difference is that extremism is much more rampant in the religion of the free market than other traditional religions.
However, the more crucial difference between the two, religion and consumerism, is that the latter simply can never provide true happiness. Goods need to constantly be replenished with newer goods:
"A consumer economy only works if consumption of goods provides only temporary pleasure. That is, if happiness is infinitely deferred, so that buyers continue to buy more and more goods and services. By definition, the consumer can never be satisfied, at rest or happy. Which means she will always feel lacking. The pursuit of this sort of happiness creates a vicious circle of growing anxiety and dissatisfaction."
He concludes by hitting the nail on the head when he describes the sheer shallowness propagated by the preachers of consumerism with the Seinfeld analogy:
"We are like the 30-something characters in Seinfeld, who know they are immature, who know they are avoiding the responsibility of building meaningful relationships and of leading meaningful lives - and who don't really care."
On a related not, I was a bit perturbed by the always entertaining Haleem who recently made a comment on the sad life suffered by villagers back in his home country of Bangladesh:
"Anything happens in the village the whole village will gather to watch. Seriously. They have no life, poor people"
That overly simple life that some may look down upon is no worse than the exciting, happening life we are mired in.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This is truly genius. How come no one has ever pointed this out to me before?
In fact, from now on I'm travelling with a matchbox as a kind courtesy to my lovely hosts. And yes, I *am* a very thoughtful guy, thank you very much.
So how about everyone jump on board this train before it passes them by and begin placing matchboxes in their bathrooms?
As for you desis who insist on cooking with lots of ghee and curry spices, how about placing TWO boxes under your ceramic thrones, mmkay? Or better yet, how about those emergency flare thingies...some of you brothaz could definitely benefit from those bad boys. Or maybe a flare gun. OK, I'm getting carried away, I'll end now.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
1. Right when you thought it wasn't humanly possible for Bush to provide more fodder for his campaign to become the single most clueless person in the history of mankind, he gives this interview:
"I am the very last President not to really have to worry about YouTube" while campaigning for the White House, President Bush told RealClearPolitics in an exclusive Oval Office interview last week,..."The 'gotcha' moments in my campaign in the past were few and far between," the President recalled, noting that with the advent of YouTube candidates have to be "really careful" what they say or "you're liable to see yourself on the Internet, along with 20 million other people."
Thank God there aren't any YouTube vids featuring any of your 'gotcha' moments. Yeah, you really lucked out there buddy!
2. John Kerry was recently visiting Pakistan and when talking about the group allegedly behind the Mumbai attacks, made this telling declaration:
"The country stands before a "moment of change in people's attitudes and thinking" toward militants, Sen. John Kerry said Tuesday in Islamabad.
Pakistan must see that Lashkar-e-Taiba has "morphed into a more al-Qaida-esque and radicalized entity" that is damaging the country's interests, said Kerry, incoming chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee."
He went on to denounce Pakistan for its role in creating the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, calling on the nation to cease using militant groups as foreign policy tools.
Pot meet Kettle.
And to think, he was able to say it with a straight face, fully cognizant of the US role in supporting shadowy militant proxies the world over.
Al-Qaida-esque, you say? I wonder who was the prime supporter of *that* militant group in the 80's?
When will the US stop trekking all over the world, lecturing the natives against practices longtime established in their own foreign policies?
3. I never got around to commenting on this when it was in the headlines, but did you all laugh as much as I did when reading about the CEOs of the Big Three (GM, Ford, Chrysler) pledging to work for $1 a year??!
What a bunch of phony insincere rascals!
I wonder how many of the public were duped by this 'magnanimous' gesture? While they may cut their annual salary down to $1, they'll be sure to cash in with their stock options, bonuses, and special executive incentives.
Check out this Slate article exposing these criminals. Although it was written back in 2003 about the dot com CEOs, the same con game lives on in 2008.
4. Did you all pick up on the game of semantics being played with the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq? In order to maintain his campaign promise of withdrawing all US forces within 16 months, Obama and his administration are creating a difference between 'combat' troops and 'support' troops.
So any troops that will remain in Iraq after 16 months will cease to be combat troops - they'll magically transform into 'support' troops - sorta like those AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) support groups where they all sit in circles and talk about their difficulties.
Not even president yet and you're already breaking campaign promises. Real smooth Obama...real smooth.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Read it regularly.
Read it so often that when a friend calls you up out of the blue and asks you when was the last time you read the Quran, your answer doesn't embarrass you.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
In this short yet comprehensive interview with Wayne Madsen, he provides an excellent 5min summary on the major players involved in the Congo crisis. Plus he provides this little tidbit:
"It's much easier to loot a country when it has a destabilized government and various warring factions. You don't have to deal with one central government - you can deal with whatever warlord is controlling whatever diamond or gold mine you're trying to exploit."
That's exactly what I wrote in a previous post where I detailed the roots of the war in Congo.
BTW, be sure to bookmark the Real News Network. They've got amazing news reports with perspectives you'll never find in the MSM.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Check out these links:
Here's a new blog that I found has some interesting views: A Thinking Muslim. While I may disagree with much he says, I think its always important to maintain a dialogue with those who hold contrasting views.
Marc writes an interesting post calling out those amongst us who are constantly criticizing the Muslim community for its lack of manhood (as narrowly defined by them). While I can empathize with those calling for Muslim men to start acting more like men, Marc does make a valid point that the Ummah clearly has room for variations in the way we we implement 'manhood'.
Sr. Sidra at Healing Heart has a nice post featuring a tafseer of sorts on the famous song "Row, row, row your boat". Very interesting Islamic spin on this childhood favorite.
Here is an amazingly on-point article discussing the top 3 reasons why marriages fail for men. His first point is so absolutely true - I don't even know what his other two points were. It's ALL about the nafs people. As he mentioned in the article, you MUST lay down your nafs to let it get stepped on by your wife. I just can't imagine that a loving relationship is possible without that element of forced humility.
BTW, I don't think this applies to most women, since by their very nature, they are always giving in and sacrificing for the good of the family.
And one last link for some fun. Check out this audio illusion called the Virtual Haircut. It's a bit dated (I heard it last year), but maybe some folks haven't heard it yet. Be sure to plug in your headphones (the illusion is greatly diminished with speakers) and make sure it's silent in the room. Let's see if you can go through the entire audio without laughing out loud! :-)
*Check out this site for more cool Holophonic sounds.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse in Somalia...
1. The US is trying to push through a UN resolution allowing any nation fighting piracy to "take all necessary measures ashore in Somalia, including in its airspace". This would make Somalia officially a no-holds-barred, full-time war zone - as if it wasn't already.
2. BBC is reporting that more than 80% of Somalia's forces (almost 15,000 officers and soldiers) have deserted their posts and almost 70% of the funding for the government's security budget has disappeared amidst major corruption.
3. And in the weirdest twist of all, according to CNN more than a dozen Somali-American youth have returned to their home of origin to take part in the war. Although their plans are shrouded in mystery, they were most likely convinced to go back and partake in the jihad on the side of the Islamic Courts against the warlords and the Ethiopian occupiers.
Not sure what to make of this last bit of news. While I fully support the struggle of the Islamic Courts in trying to bring a semblance of peace and security to their war-torn nation, I'm not sure it's the wisest of tactics for American youth to go there to fight. Their energy and exuberance could have been channeled so much more productively if they had stayed in the US and actively participated in their local communities. Surely there is no dearth of work on the local front.
But on the other hand, I can see where that logic may lead us down the slippery slope of lazily justifying our lethargy when it comes to taking action. After all, if Somalia is not a proper arena for real Jihad against oppression and injustice, then what is?
What happened to the days when armies were mobilized from one side of the Muslim world in order to redress an injustice carried out on the other side of the Muslim world?
In these confusing times, may Allah (swt) guide us all to what is best!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
I am very much enamored by the palm tree as there is so much to learn from it. The little amount of water that it needs to subsist is an important lesson for all of us, in this day and age of extreme consumption.
Additionally, I've seen enormous palm trees being transported on the back of large 18-wheeler trucks, revealing how their roots never go too deep into the soil - teaching us to also never entrench ourselves too deep into this world.
But most amazing of all is the way the palm tree dies. Oh, how I wish to die in a similar state!
When they die, most other trees remain erect and upright. However, I was truly taken aback when I saw how the palm tree dies in a form of bowing or even prostration. I pray I am able to meet my Lord in such a state of submission.
Let us strive to live in a state of dhikr so we can die in a state of dhikr!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
We all know the history of the CIA in Afghanistan during the 80's. We all know how they trained, funded, and armed the Afghan mujahideen against the Russian occupiers. We all know how America had little humanitarian concern for the Afghan well-being, but rather used them as pawns in the Cold War.
So does it surprise us when we look at Darfur as another playing field in this on-going war of international politics. The venue has shifted and the enemy is different, but the game is the same. Instead of Afghanistan, it's now Sudan. Instead of Russia, it's now China. Instead of America, it's...oh wait...that's the same.
You see, while Sudan may not mean so much to America, it's a major business partner with China. This pesky relationship is built on massive infrastructure construction projects, huge military contracts, and of course oil. China is eyeing Sudan as a primary source of energy to source its economic growth.
That being said, is it beyond the scope of reason that the rebel groups (Sudan Liberation Army, Justice and Equality Movement*, and others) are being instigated by outside forces for the purpose of destabilizing Sudan. Has not America supported 'rebel groups' across Central America and South America in the past, turning a blind eye to the ensuing devastation, so long as her own interests were served? Why would Darfur be any different?
With the continuing genocide taking place in Darfur, the UN has attempted a handful of times to enact economic sanctions, with China calling upon its veto power to ensure the sanctions remain only on paper. After all, a Sudan handcuffed by economic sanctions would be a crippling blow to China.
I alluded to a similar strategy taking place in DR Congo, where outside forces are undoubtedly playing a major role in sustaining an atmosphere of instability. Only difference being that while DR Congo is a financially-motivated war (reaping the profits from subterranean natural resources), the Darfur crisis is a geopolitically-motivated war (hamstringing the growing Chinese threat).
I'm not defending any of the atrocities carried out in Sudan nor am I absolving China for their role in arming the Sudanese government. I'm simply saying there is much more to this crisis than many care to know. It's so much easier to create a good-v-evil campaign with Sudan and China playing the bad guys and George Clooney and America playing the good guys. But the reality is never so black and white.
So let's stop with the overly simplistic presentation of the Darfur crisis as some ragtag rebels and freedom fighters versus evil 'Arab' Janjaweed militias and the Sudanese government, and let's look at it with a more critical eye, focusing on political interests and international alliances.
*It's worth noting that the rebel group JEM has attacked multiple China-run oil facilities in Sudan in recent years.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The nominations for this years Brass Crescent Awards are out...do check them out.
Fittingly, yours truly is not among the finalists, as it's simply not possible to categorize my astounding writing skills. Just not possible folks.
But I will go out on a ledge here and categorically declare that if there existed a category for best Muslim blog by an American-Muslim of Pakistani descent, living in Riyadh, with wife and three kids, one named Humza - I would most definitely win.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Today marks the first of the 12th month, Dhul-Hijjah, of the Islamic calendar. It has been reported that while the last 10 nights of Ramadan are the most blessed nights of the year, these first 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah are the most blessed days.
Fast, Pray, and Worship all you can.
Do a search on the 10 days of Dhul-Hijjah and read up on the enormous blessings. Or just check out Organica's post.
Friday, November 28, 2008
1. to sit in a low or crouching position with the legs drawn up closely beneath or in front of the body; sit on one's haunches or heels.
2. to crouch down or cower, as an animal.
Since I promised this person that I wouldn't use their name in the retelling of this tale, I will instead choose an anonymous acronym. Hmmm...let me think. This person is a woman and I find her very endearing. So let's call her Woman I Find Endearing (W.I.F.E).
Perfect. Anonymity preserved!
W.I.F.E: Where are all these annoying flies coming from?
Me: Maybe its the cold weather. They're looking for warmth, I guess.
W.I.F.E: Can't you just go buy a flysquatter and kill them all?
Me: Buy a what?
W.I.F.E: A flysquatter. You know, those things used to kill flies. Sheesh, were you like raised in a cave? You really ought to read more and expand your vocab...
Me: Excuse me, but were you raised to catch the flies and *sit* on them?
W.I.F.E: What're you talking about?!
Me: Uhmm, squat means to sit down and you called it a flysquatter. Its supposed to be called a flySWATTER.
W.I.F.E: Yeah, whatever. Same difference.
Me (laughing): Sure, I'll catch the fly and you can sit on it. Deal?
W.I.F.E: Ha...Ha. Very funny
After a brief moment of silence,
W.I.F.E: Just make sure this doesn't end up on your stupid blog. I know you have nothing else to write about...
Me: Hey now, I maintain a high standard on my blog.
W.I.F.E: Yeah, like putting up a picture of your son wearing all orange.
Me: Well played. Fine, I promise I won't include your name...
As a fly buzzes past me,
Me: Quick my dear Crouching Tiger, there's another fly, go jump on it!
Monday, November 24, 2008
When a friend who's borrowed some money has a heart attack and the first thought that comes to your mind is 'uh-oh, I'm not gonna see my money.'
And to think, some of you thought my last post was too harsh. Now you understand?
Monday, November 17, 2008
I find a comfortable shaded spot on one of the countless laid out carpets with a perfect view of the Ka'bah. The heat of the Dhuhr sun has found many of the worshipers scurrying into the shade, away from the open courtyard directly surrounding the House of Allah (swt), resulting in a very serene image of the bright black cube contrasted by the glow of the empty white marble floor.
The simplicity of the black cube frees up the senses to allow for greater reflection on the Divine and His attributes. I focus my gaze on the House of Allah and allow my heart to roam free in this most sanctified of places.
I slowly close my eyelids, attempting to temporarily suspend all my senses - for where I wish to go, my eyes and ears are a distraction. In the sea of Divine remembrance, only the heart can swim.
As my head dips down between my chest and folded up legs, a thundering voice wakens me from my spiritual slumber.
“Who are you?”
Startled, I look up to see who would dare raise their voice in the quiet confines of the Haram.
“Who are you?” thunders the holy house of Allah. The Ka'bah has taken on eyes and a mouth and is staring right at me.
“Uhmmm...me? I-I'm Naeem”, I sputter.
“Ahh yes, we heard of your impending arrival.”
“Yes, the birds spoke of the heavy-handed one arriving this weekend.”
“Huh? ‘Heavy-handed’? What does that mean?”
“Are your hands not too heavy to raise in dua'a? Are your hands not too heavy to pick up the Quran? Are your hands not too heavy to give charity?"
My stomach grinds at the sound of those deeply hurtful words.
"But I, I've come to you, the House of Allah (swt), to purify myself and soften my heart."
"HA!", the Ka'bah laughs a resounding, haughty laugh.
"Soften your heart, you say? The winds talk of the long distances you travel to arrive here and how you constantly return in the same pathetic state you arrived. If that is not indicative of a hard heart, then what is? All the animals bear witness that the stench with which you arrive is the same as when you leave. If that is not reflective of a hard heart, then what is?”
“But, but...”, I stammer looking for some hope in the words of the ancient blessed house.
“It really pains me to see you here. The khalil of Allah stood before me with his beautiful wife and son, worshiping his Lord. The beloved of Allah bowed his head before me, proving his undying love for his Creator. The greatest generation lived and died on these hallowed grounds. And now, I am forced to suffer the ignominy of your presence. Woe am I!”
Stunned into silence, I struggle to elicit a defense, but nothing flows from my dry, parched mouth.
“Your stench as you approach me is unbearable. If only you could smell the foul odor of your nauseating actions! If only you could smell your sickening breath, a result of the filthy words that have sprung forth from your tongue! But instead you are oblivious to the wretched odors you generate; brashly convincing yourself that your insignificant good deeds will eventually overcome all the chaos you have wrought.”
Finally I break my silence, only to regret doing so a moment later. "I admit to my many weaknesses, but isn't my presence in this holy sanctuary a reflection of my hope for self-rectification?"
“Silence, you insolent fool! You come here thinking that your mere presence suffices? How arrogant! How ignorant! The sincerity of intention that was constantly embedded into each and every act of worship of your great ancestors is but a distant memory with scoundrels like you. You perform rukoo’ and sajdah in the same way you drink a cup of water – like a donkey. And when you finally find it in you to beg of our Creator, you ask with the same enthusiasm as when you ask a stranger for the time.”
Emotionally distraught, I wipe away the moistness in my eyes, causing my vision to blur, quietly hoping the Ka'bah would disappear.
“You have perpetrated the greatest lie when you continuously lie to your own self. You claim to love Allah, yet your every thought and action prove otherwise.”
Frustrated beyond control, I close my eyes and cover my ears hoping the voice would go away, but to no avail. The Ka'bah continues speaking and I continue listening.
"You hands are too heavy to raise while your head is too lofty to be humbled. How quickly you raise your head from sajdah! How quickly your lower your hands from dua'a! Where is the love you pretend to have for your one and only Lord?"
And just like that, the talking Ka'bah returns to its slumber, leaving me with my thoughts of despair and confusion. So with a heavy heart, abused by the verbal lashes of the Ka'bah, I turn to the One who will never spurn me. I raise my hands and cry to Allah:
"Ya Allah, You have promised to answer the prayers of the oppressed. Today I stand before you, having been stripped naked by Your beloved Ka'bah, and I proclaim that there is no soul more oppressed than mine. For my soul is being oppressed by the greatest tyrant of all - my own self. So I beg of you to free me from the chains of oppression that I have thrust upon myself. I beg of you to lift me from the dungeons of my depraved soul."
I pause, exhale a deep sigh - mentally exhausted and spiritually flustered, I feel bitter and resentful towards the Ka'bah for ruthlessly exposing my inner state while also acknowledging the therapeutic value of beating down my nafs.
I look up at the motionless Ka'bah, ponder over my feeble nature, spiritually overwhelmed by the weighted words of the Ka'bah, I feel nothing better to sum up my tormented state than the comprehensively simple prayer of our dear Prophet Musa with which he called on his Lord after he was run out of town:
"Oh my Lord, I am indeed miserably needy of the blessings You send down on me!" (28:24)
Friday, November 14, 2008
We all know that homosexuality is forbidden in Islam. There is no doubting that clear injunction in Islamic law. Nonetheless, the issue of gay marriages in America (see Prop 8) is posing an interesting quandary for American Muslims.
On the one hand, do we stand against the principle of homosexuality on moral grounds?
Or do we take a political stand and support gay marriages as such a stance would prove beneficial to our community in the long run, if ever our rights were threatened in a similar manner?
Br. Sabir Ibrahim writes an interesting post where he is of the latter opinion.
"Muslims’ status as a religious minority in this country thus weighs against extending support to any endeavor that would impose the dominant society’s values as law, even in instances where those values may agree with their own."
I know how this will sting many of our long-time accepted sensibilities, but I really think many of us should give this issue more thought. Most of us simply write it off as haram and cease to ponder over it. For so many of us, being gay is a greater sin than even kufr or shirk. However, the issue is much more than that.
Consider well the points presented by the author as he concludes his article:
“In order to progress and mature as a politically relevant community, Muslims must resist one-dimensional knee-jerk reactions to issues that are actually multi-faceted in nature. A Muslim stand against campaigns to ban same-sex marriage is not a show of support for homosexuals or homosexuality. Rather, it’s a stand against the agenda of the Christian Right, a stand against the imposition of the majority’s values on minority communities that many not share them, and a strategic move aimed at building the Muslim voice in America.”
Truth be told, I found some legitimacy in his argument. The rules of the game dictate strategic political alliances that would normally be unacceptable ('politics make for strange bedfellows').
However, I must admit that I simply can't accept his basic premise is being tenable. It seems as if he's suggesting that for the benefit of the fledgling Muslim-American community and its minority rights, we must stand up for the rights of other minorities - even if it means going against our beliefs.
Hmmm. Would he suggest the same if Muslims were in the majority?
While *he* may not, many American Muslims would have no problem outrightly rejecting such a proposition in a Muslim-majority society. And so I sense a strong tinge of hypocrisy combined with a dose of weakened principles, where we may support gay marriages (going against our moral principles) only because it may prove to be politically expedient.
But I want to take this a step further in exposing us for the weak Muslims we've become.
Let's play a game, shall we?
Pretend that sometime in the hypothetical future, a trend for public nudity was being pushed with the religious right countering by calling for the government to ban such immoral displays. Would the American Muslim community support governmental intrusion on an individual's choice of clothing (or lack of) or would we side with our political conscience and support public nudity, since supporting the naked folks against state intervention dictating their clothing norms is simultaneously supportive of the Muslimah's choice of wearing the hijab? After all, if Big Brother can decide what one must cover, he can also decide what one must NOT cover, right?
I propose that we ALWAYS stand up for our moral principles, regardless of the political ramifications. And with the support and assistance from Allah (swt) alone, we will collectively deal with whatever fallout may occur in the future.
This issue is bigger than gay marriages. It's about American Muslim sticking to their principles. Whether its choosing the 'lesser of two evils', taking part in interfaith dialogues, buying into home mortgages or any other concessions we may have adopted in trying to integrate, our Islamic values must always trump everything else.
It's about the defeatist attitude that has begun to exude from our numbers: "If we don't compromise in such and such a manner, we won't be able to succeed in the West."
Sorry to get all preachy on you folks, but success is from Allah (swt) alone. Victory and defeat come from Allah (swt) alone.
And if in the process of sticking to your guns, life becomes too difficult, Allah (swt) has given us guidance:
"Surely (as for) those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak and oppressed in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah's earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil resort" (4:97)
Oh, and do check out Sophister's take on the same issue. He's got some nice points.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
If you never understood the concept of Disaster Capitalism, the raging conflict in DR Congo is a textbook case.
More than 80 per cent of the world's coltan is in Africa, and 80 percent of that lies in territory controlled by DR Congo's various ragtag rebel groups, armed militia and its corrupt and underfunded national army. Coltan is a key ingredient in the production of electronic devices such as laptops, personal digital assistant, and mobile phones. Additionally, the country has rich deposits of diamonds, gold, cobalt, timber, and other natural resources.
"the Democratic Republic of Congo has the world’s purest and largest deposits of strategic minerals, including gold, coltan, niobium, cobalt, heterogenite, columbite (columbium-tantalite or coltan), copper and iron. Heterogenite exports coming out of Congo are alone valued at between $260 million (at $20/lb.) and $408 million (at $30/lb.) every month. That’s between 3.1 and 4.9 billion dollars a year. Diamonds account for another billion dollars annually. Oil has been pumping off the Atlantic Coast for decades, but now oil and gas deposits are being exploited from the great lakes border region—Lake Kivu (methane gas) and Lake Albert (oil)—and deep in the province of Equateur. And then there are the dark rainforest woods that sell by the thousands monthly for around $6000 to $12000 per log." [source]
With the re-surge in violence in DR Congo over the past weeks, it presents us with another opportunity to revisit Naomi Klein's Disaster Capitalism.
Basically the theory starts off acknowledging that old-school colonialism is long dead and new-age colonialism (Iraq) is too costly. Thus new ways have to be created to continue feeding the insatiable capitalist system. The newest way is to either wait for a disaster to strike (Katrina, tsunami) or initiate/agitate for one (civil war, invasion) and then send in the economic vultures to scoop up the natural resources at bargain basement prices. The West as well as newcomer China have become masters in exploiting the shock of the victim for their economic gain.
"If the Congo were at peace and able to hold democratic elections, its citizens might gain control over its resources, either by claiming national ownership (as Iran and Venezuela do with their oil) or by regulating the multinational companies that seek to profit from those resources. The violent atmosphere, however, makes it impossible for the Congolese government to challenge corruption within or to exert any authority over multinationals seeking profits. It is thus in the interest of the multinational companies to keep the Congo at war.
And this intentional destabilization is precisely what has been happening. A panel of experts set up by the UN Security Council in 2000 issued a series of reports over the next few years describing how networks of high-level politicians from Congo and neighboring countries, military officers, and business people collaborated with various rebel groups to fuel violence in order to gain control over Congo's resources. For example, in 2002 the UN panel noted that as much as 60 to 70 percent of coltan in eastern Congo was mined under the surveillance of the Rwandan military, using the forced labor of Rwandan prisoners.
A 2003 follow-up report by the panel listed eighty-five multinational companies that had profited from the war in Congo, including six U.S.-owned companies: Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International (a subsidiary of Trinitech International), Kemet Electronics Corporation, OM Group, and Vishay Sprague." [source]
The chaos has not only been taken advantage of by these corporations, but has also been spurred on by them. What is commonly written off as internal tribal strife or a primitive war over land, the complex conflict in central Africa is much more indicting of the western corporatocracy.
By enlisting the services of Rwanda and Uganda, long time allies of the US, to maintain an atmosphere of political instability and civil strife, business interests remain protected.
"Rwanda and Uganda are allies of the United States, some would even say they are client states to US and British interests. Both countries receive financial and military aid from the United States, World Bank and other Western institutions. This aid has continued unabated even during the invasions of the Congo. During a Congressional Hearing in 2001 held by Congresspersons Tom Tancredo and Cynthia McKinney, it was documented by experts under oath that the US provided military aid to Rwanda during its first invasion of Congo in 1996." [source]
"A 2003 United Nations investigation into the illegal exploitation of natural resources accused both Rwanda and Uganda of prolonging their armed incursions into Congo in order to continue their plunder." [source]
Another angle often overlooked in the analysis is that of the contracts signed between multinationals and DR Congo - contracts heavily favoring the corporations.
As stated in this video report by Dan Rather, in 2005 the cash-strapped Congolese government signed unbalanced contracts handing over share of its mineral-rich mines to no less than 60 foreign companies. These deals were so rotten that even the World Bank, themselves notorious for privatizing national resources the world over, criticized their "complete lack of transparency" and stated that the government "may not have received the full value of the mines".
He also reports how the US embassy in DR Congo had a strong role in pushing one of those crooked deals through, involving Arizona-based Freeport-McMoran, one of the largest copper companies in the world. US support didn't just stop there. A US government agency by the name of Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) supported Freeport with $400million of financing for the projects.
However, those contracts are now under investigation by Congolese president Joseph Kabila.
"In a 2002 report, the U.N. alleged that many foreign mining companies, eager to exploit the lack of a strong central government in Kinshasa and avoid paying fair market value and taxes on the minerals they extracted, signed contracts with commanders from the invading countries as well as with then-President Laurent Kabila, who was struggling to cling to power in the face of the international onslaught. These contracts almost universally favored the mining companies. That is, until May of last year. In a move that sent ripples through the DRC mining community, the government announced that 63 mining contracts, many of them signed during the civil war of the late '90s, would be reviewed by a special ministerial committee." [source]
One wonders whether the current violence in DR Congo has anything to do with the review undertaken by the current Kabila administration of those 60+ mining contracts.
"Kabila’s government has taken the opportunity of a major review of mining contracts to terminate contracts with US, European and Australian companies in favour of Chinese firms. Few companies are prepared to discuss their position in Congo, but those under threat include First Quantum Minerals, Freeport McRoRan, BHP Billiton and Anvil Mining. Vast mineral reserves may be handed over to Chinese firms in the government review." [source]
So folks, be on the lookout for any military intervention sponsored by the UN, the US, or Europe. After all, business interests must be protected.
'Any armed “humanitarian” mission to Congo would be a thin disguise for a naked imperialist intervention that was intent on pillaging the resources of this mineral rich country.' [source]
Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reminded the world in his January 2008 interview with the Financial Times of London that “The international community has systematically looted the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and we should not forget that.”
Let us not forget that the root of the conflict in DR Congo is not a civil war. It is not local tribes jostling for control of subsurface resources. It is not about redressing injustices carried out in the Rwanda genocide (as justified by Rwanda president Kagame who has 'has vowed to root out the Hutu militias from eastern Congo').
It is a contrived conflict intent on destabilizing the region and shocking the locals while the international community plunders and loots.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
No, not Obama.
This guy, Davis Fleetwood:
I won’t go so far as to say that Obama’s foreign policy is equal to the Bush doctrine, but clearly there is more than “a smidgen of commonality”.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Like a caged up wild animal, we too are enslaved. We are restricted by our lower desires. We are imprisoned by the insidious machinations of shaytan. We are confined by the attractions of this alluring world.
All the while thinking we are free.
The caged beast acknowledges its condition, constantly looking for a way to free itself. What about us?
We must aspire for true freedom.
We must free ourselves from our spiritual shackles.
And when the wild animal sees an opening, it pounces on the opportunity, never looking back, never thinking twice.
We, too, must make the jump. We, too, must flee to freedom. We must flee to the Source of freedom, Allah (swt). We must run without any hesitation. We must escape our chains of spiritual bondage.
Thus flee towards Allah (51:50)
Where else are you going to flee?
Who else is more merciful and compassionate?
Did He not command his prophet Musa to speak words of gentleness and softness to the defiant one (Pharaoh) who so arrogantly claimed to be the lord, most high (20:44)?
Then what about us, who humbly prostrate ourselves while glorifying Allah the most High? Will Allah not show us even greater gentleness and softness?
So indeed, we all should flee back to Allah, where we shall find true freedom.
And never look back.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I know I’ve been drilling this for the past few days, so I promise this will be my last post on the issue…for now. :-)
Dissident Voice has a nice article about the recent controversy surrounding Chomsky and Zinn supporting a vote for Obama. Check it out people. The writer ends the article with these strong words: "A vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama is—at best—an act of criminal negligence."
However, I was much more intrigued by the leading quote used in the article:
“You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.”
– Malcolm X
I see this as a perfect analogy representing the choice being made by anyone deciding between the two candidates. Obama supporters are essentially saying that pulling the knife out six inches is the best we can do.
I say we leave the knife all the way in until the poor sap figures out how to fight back. *That’s* the change we need!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
A commenter on my previous post asked what alternative solutions do I propose (instead of voting Obama) and I responded that third party alternatives exist, as well as countless other grassroots organizations that are struggling for real change.
I find it truly objectionable when people respond that a vote for any third party candidate is a wasted vote. Why have we accepted this predicament where only two parties are representative of the broad spectrum of the American people? Isn't that the real question? We're accepting defeat when we allow the debate to be framed between these two parties. They do NOT represent all the varying views that exist.
We need to step outside the preset parameters of the Repub-Dem debate. Its not about Obama versus McCain. Its about the masses versus the elite.
Educate yourself with this debate between presidential candidates, Ralph Nader and Chuck Baldwin. Although I don't necessarily agree on all the issues with these candidates, I stand behind any and every attempt at busting the two-party mafia that runs America.
The real shame is that most people will never watch this debate. They need 30-sec soundbites or else their ADD kicks in.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I’ve posted before on the hollowness of Obama and his campaign for ‘change’. Pigs will fly before he confronts the three-headed dragon of racism, materialism, and militarism that has wreaked havoc across the American landscape.
However, in this post I wanted to focus on another argument peddled by Muslims supporting Obama – namely, he’s the lesser of two evils.
Sorry folks, but that is such a defeatist attitude.
Instead of arguing about the need to change the crooked system that insanely refers to itself as a democracy and claims to stand for freedom and justice, American Muslims are justifying participation with this weak-minded logic of ‘lesser of two evils’.
Muslims must stand for their principles, as exemplified by our most perfect teacher (saw).
Have we forgotten how the Prophet (saw) rejected participation in the crooked Meccan political system? Did he not out-rightly reject their power-sharing deal, later responding with the famous words: Even if they (Quraish leaders of Mecca) were to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, I will never join them nor will I ever desist from my message?
Then how come we are so quick to partake in an American political system that puts to shame the shenanigans of the Meccans?
I’m not arguing whether its halal or haram to partake in the political process. I’m simply talking about good ‘ol common sense.
Listen, even if the Prophet (saw) himself were standing for the President of the US, I wouldn’t vote for him. No one man can ever make a difference from within a crooked system. The Prophet understood that and that’s why he rejected participation. His struggle was to replace the rotten core - lock, stock, and barrel, instead of trying to reform it from within.
Those Muslims who are intent on exercising their right to vote by choosing the lesser of two evils would be better off focusing their energies on exposing this corporatocracy, as John Perkins of ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’-fame so aptly refers to it.
Simply choosing to ‘live in dignity’ as an American Muslim is burying your head in the sand ostrich-style. Simply declaring that we are ‘free’ to worship our Lord is not sufficient. Simply washing our hands of the crimes perpetrated by our adopted homeland is not sufficient.
I’m not calling for the shariah. I’m merely calling for basic justice.
The truth of the matter is that justice will be never be implemented by the current system of governance in the US. The powers-that-be will never allow for true justice to prevail. True justice has a price tag they are not willing to pay and requires a sacrifice they are not willing to make.
This is about decades of underhanded oppression that have strangled the peoples of South America, Africa, and Asia.
This is about pushing consumerism to the max, ignoring all social, economical, and environmental ramifications.
This is about supporting (and even installing) despotic regimes all over the world.
This is about the economical hamstringing of the entire Third World by the G8 countries (ingeniously using the IMF and World Bank).
This is about supporting anti-democratic forces against the democratically elected governments of Bolivia, Palestine, and Venezuela (to name a few).
This is about the cancerous banking system that has spread all over the world.
This is about a military-industry juggernaut that has wreaked global chaos with power and greed fuelling its ambitions.
This is about continuously expanding the gulf between the haves and the have-nots, within America and throughout the world.
(BTW, these injustices have taken place under the watch of both parties alike, Democrats and Republicans, so what kind of change are you expecting with Obama again?)
Confronting and ending these injustices is the change we REALLY need.
And sadly, all we American Muslims are concerned with is our ability to build Islamic schools, freely attend the local masjid, wear the hijab unharassed, and vote for Obama.
Fine, ignore the real struggle. Go ahead and claim that you’re doing your part by voting for the lesser of two evils - Just lemme know how the sand tastes down there.
Friday, October 24, 2008
If I had to create a list of the greatest blessings of being married, this would most definitely be in the top five.
You see, we have these little baby blankets all over the house – perfect snuggle blankets – very soft and just the perfect size. And me being the master-napper, I’m the ideal recipient of these blankets during my post-work siesta. So when my wife comes over and spreads the blanket and tucks me in, just as I’m gently floating into my glossy dream world, I can honestly say I’ve tasted heaven on earth.
But recently that rarely ever happens. ‘Cause after 15 years of marriage, I’m happy if she simply throws me the folded-up blanket from across the room.
So for you young couples out there, this is an easy way to get brownie points with your slumbering spouses. And for you older ones, just try and aim for the feet when you throw the blanket. We nappers would be much obliged!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
We’re always reading about reporters embedding with the US forces or the coalition forces, but here’s a piece of real journalism where the reporter is embedded with the Taliban.
A real must-read folks.
My problem with the jihad being waged by the Taliban is illustrated in this passage of the article:
“Ibrahim's recent injury, it turns out, was the result of a clash between his forces and a group of foreign fighters under the command of Dr. Khalil. The foreigners wanted to close down a girls' school, sparking a battle. Two Arabs and 11 Pakistanis commanded by Dr. Khalil had been killed by Ibrahim's men.”
These fighters may spend most of their time praying in the masjid (as mentioned in the article), but they have no problem turning around and killing each other over differences in religious interpretation.
How very typical of this Ummah.
When it’s all said and done and the US negotiates a face-saving withdrawal (involving both the Afghan government and the Taliban), I fear the end result of this latest episode in Afghanistan will be the same in-fighting that erupted when the Russians were expelled in the 90’s. But instead of greedy warlords aspiring for power, it will be jihadi zealots claiming religious authority over each other.
That’s what you get when hearts are not transformed, choosing instead to force change from the outside in.
And about all this talk of a surge in Afghanistan, I like what was written in the article:
"More troops are not the answer," a senior United Nations official in Kabul tells me. "You will not make more babies by having many guys screw the same woman."
Saturday, October 18, 2008
My good friend Marc at his Manrilla blog mentioned in a recent post the story of a third generation American Muslim who has basically left Islam. While the grandfather remains a practicing Muslim, the parents are more or less lax in their adherence and so the college-age grandchild has taken on the predominant American attitude towards religion – indifference.
About said individual, Marc made the following interesting remarks:
“By coming and staying in America [i.e., his identity forming here] and his parents not being full-time practitioners, their religious practice tapered off to reflect their environment, where there were no secondary or tertiary enforcements to inform his religious consciousness.”
And that, folks, is one of my greatest worries in raising children in the West – that lack of ‘secondary and tertiary enforcements’ that are readily available in Muslim countries.
From the adhan heard throughout the day to the social pressures against the hard sins (drinking, fornicating, etc.) to the ease in donning Islamic clothing to the non-issue of praying in public, I feel many Western Muslims are overlooking the importance of these peripheral factors.
By themselves, I admit, they are relatively insignificant. But in the larger context of creating an Islamic persona, their significance cannot be emphasized enough. Particularly when the primary enforcements (ie. parents) are lethargic (or maybe even ineffective) in their efforts to impart an Islamic ethos to the child.
Does such apathy towards religion exist in the Muslim world? Of course. But as of yet (and it may change), it’s not socially acceptable and definitely not celebrated. An atheist or an agnostic in the Muslim world would have to stay ‘in the closet’ or suffer social ostracization. Freedom of religion be damned.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the grandchild (or even the child) of the student cited above would one day openly renounce Islam and convert to another religion.
Regardless of how un-Islamic Muslim society has become, what are the chances of that ever happening in a Muslim country?
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thinking to awaken the blog after my Ramadan hiatus...lots to write about, just wondering if any loyal readers are still around....
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 | | 23 Comments
Monday, September 1, 2008
I pray Allah blesses Muslims around the world with a Ramadan full of forgiveness and mercy.
I will be taking off to focus on internal inconsistencies and festering flaws. May I humbly suggest you do the same.
Monday, August 25, 2008
“No Problem. Consider it done.”
And with these seemingly innocuous words, my misadventure began.
My brother-in-law (BIL) back in the states needed money transferred to a hotel agent in Jeddah for Ramadan reservations he had made. Seeing that I have a local bank account in Saudi, my BIL figured it easier and quicker for me to do it.
I naively assumed the same.
When he asked, I was preparing to leave for Pakistan the following night. No big deal, I thought, I’ll make the transfer from home via my Internet banking account.
And so the problems began:
1. It took me an hour to get online that night. No DSL over here on our compund, I connect using my cell phone network.
2. Once I connected, although I was able to get to my bank’s site, Gmail refused to load. I needed the hotel agent’s bank account info which was in an email sent by BIL.
3. After another 30 minutes of failing to load Gmail, I logged onto Gmail using my cellphone. Oh yeah! Me da man! I pulled down the bank account info and logged back onto my bank’s site using my PC.
4. However, my stupid bank doesn’t allow transfer of funds to new beneficiaries until a 24-hour period has passed. Shoot! Gonna have to finish this up in Pakistan tomorrow. No problemo, they have web access over there.
5. Once I settled down in Pakistan (outside Gujrat, between the city and the villages), I found out my cousin’s laptop wasn’t working. However, they had an older laptop that’s slow as molasses, but good enough to work.
6. First attempt at logging on to Web went smoothly, but I accidentally pulled the power cable and the laptop powered off. When I tried to reconnect to the ISP, the username and password wasn’t authenticating. We called their helpdesk, they said the Gujrat area is going through technical problems. Odd, cause I was just able to connect 5 minutes ago right before I lost power.
7. We went to my father’s clinic right outside the house to try his desktop PC. We logged on fine to the same ISP using different username/password – so much for their technical problems. Now, I had to install some software (MS Java and special bank certificate) to access my account info. Dial-up kept disconnecting, but after an hour or so, PC was setup and connected to my bank.
8. However, now my bank username and password weren’t working. Subhan’Allah. I’m starting to think this simply is not meant to be.
9. I called my bank’s support in Saudi and over a phone connection that dropped two or three times, they suggested some changes. When I settled down in front of the PC, I took a deep breath of frustration, having exhausted over three hours in this effort, and proceeded to make the changes. Bam! Electricity goes out. Loadshedding! #$%^!&*
10. It was 9:30pm, time for Isha so I called it a night. Knowing that he required the funds by today (Wednesday), I made a phone call to the hotel agent and promised him that I WILL make the transfer the following morning, rest assured.
11. Following morning, I got onto PC and noticed some strange behavior (that I had missed the previous night). When I logged on to the internet, lots of data was being uploaded before I even opened my browser. I looked at the processes running in the background and I noticed winlogon.exe using over 400MB of memory. Tell-tale signs of a virus. Just great!
12. Deciding that I’m not getting onto my bank with a virus on the PC, I asked my dad’s assistant to get some anti-virus software. No problem, he says. Will do so in the afternoon, after work.
13. At 3pm, he brought two CD’s with all sorts of utilities, including good ‘ol McAfee. I installed and ran the anti-virus program. It cleaned all sorts of viruses. Cool, I think, let’s get this show on the road. When I tried to connect to the Internet, I got a series of unending Dr. Watson errors. When I tried to open my browser, Windows crashed. I restarted Windows, nothing. The combination of the virus and the AV software screwed up XP.
14. But hey, I still have my cousin’s old laptop. I sent the assistant to get a new ISP card (since the problem with that laptop was wrong username/password) while I ran to get the laptop. When I powered it on, Windows XP was locked out due to expiration of the activation period. Asked my cousin and he says yeah, we just installed this illegal copy of XP last week or so. Gee, thanks.
15. I went back to my dad’s hosed PC and boot up in safe mode to try and fix it. After an hour or so, Mr. Loadshedding makes his visit. Aaaaargh! @#$%^&*!
16. 6pm and time to face the facts. I ain’t transferring the money.
17. I called a friend back in Saudi to help me out. He didn’t have the funds. I called another friend who says no prob. I sent him hotel agent’s account info.
18. However, when he tried to transfer the funds, the bank said the name of the agent isn’t complete. They need a full name.
19. We tried for several hours to get through to agent. Finally, when I got through, he admits to having some phone problems (gee, how convenient for me). I got my friend to contact him to get full information.
20. Phew! Finally, everything’s done.
21. Hour later, I got a text message from friend. Bank rep says bank system is down, will not be able to transfer money until day after tomorrow (Sat. morning). Tomorrow was Friday, closed for Juma’a.
22. Ya Allah!
My father, who had been a sympathetic onlooker throughout this whole fiasco, had overheard my conversation with the agent (#10 above) and noted that not once had I said Insha’Allah. He reminded me that I was adamant in assuring him that I would get the funds to him without once uttering the name of Allah.
And it was then I remembered my quick email reply to my BIL – ‘No problem. Consider it done.’
So petty, yet so devastating.
I countered my father that my belief in Allah was implied in my declarations. Of course I acknowledge that Allah (swt) controls everything and not a single leaf falls without His permission. He is the sole Master and Maintainer of the universe, without doubt. Must I necessarily vocalize it with an ‘Insha’Allah’ appended to every sentence?
In fact, I detest this habit found all throughout the Muslim world, where Insha’Allah is recklessly used in place of ‘I really don’t want to do it, but I’ll say yes and then add Insha’Allah afterwards, thereby releasing me of any accountability.’
However, when I thought back to the instance when the Prophet (saw) was reprimanded by Allah (swt) for not having said Insha’Allah (in sura Kahf), surely our beloved Prophet hadn’t lost sight of Allah’s Omnipotence.
Yet, the lesson was clear. Never forget that everything happens by Allah’s permission.
That spoon of food in your hand will not enter your mouth without His permission.
Your eyelids will not blink shut without His permission. Nor will they blink open without His permission.
Your car will not get you to your desired destination without His permission.
That medicine will not cure your sickness without His permission.
The walls of your home will not remain standing without His permission.
And NEVER, EVER forget that you will NEVER, EVER transfer funds without His permission.
I thank Allah (swt) for having taught me this lesson in a way only He could have. The fact that He (swt) put me through these difficulties as a means of correcting my oversight assures me that He (swt) loves me. Warts and all.
I just wish all my mistakes could be so gently corrected. Sigh.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I wanted to share some thoughts on my dear brother Abu Sinan's recent blog post regarding the status of the Prophet Muhammad (saw). He took offense to the extreme acts of veneration that some Muslims practice when it comes to our beloved Prophet (saw).
I find it disconcerting that any act of love directed towards our Prophet (saw) can be considered extreme or unwarranted.
I wonder if true love ought to have limits. After all, this is a love which places the beloved (saw) of Allah (swt) above all other loves we may nurture in our hearts:
We were with the Prophet and he was holding the hand of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab. 'Umar said to Him, "O Allah's Apostle! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self." The Prophet said, "No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self." Then 'Umar said to him, "However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self." The Prophet said, "Now, O 'Umar, (now you are a believer)." (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 78, Hadith 628)
This is not some intellectual love that is cultivated by dry calls to 'follow the sunnah'.
This irrepressible infatuation is built on loving a man whom Allah (swt) and His angels are constantly praising and blessing.
This deep-seated obsession is built on my tears born from the pained look on his face when I will be called to account for my sins.
This uncontainable zeal is built on his blood-filled shoes as he was run out of Taif, for attempting to spread the message of Islam so it could eventually arrive to *me*.
This uncontrollable passion is built on his flowing tears that dampened his beard in his nightly vigil, praying for *me* so I could be guided back to Allah (swt).
I would sacrifice my father, my mother, and my self for you, Ya Rasul-Allah!
Abu-Sinan writes: "Mohammed was a Prophet, the last of many before him, but like all of the Prophets he was a man, nothing more. To worship or venerate supposed items of his go over a line that no Muslim should cross."
Really? What then should we make of episodes in our history where his companions crossed over said line?
Urwa returned to his people and said, "O people! By Allah, I have been to the kings and to Caesar, Khosrau and An-Najashi, yet I have never seen any of them respected by his courtiers as much as Muhammad is respected by his companions. By Allah, if he spat, the spittle would fall in the hand of one of them (i.e. the Prophet's companions) who would rub it on his face and skin; if he ordered them, they would carry out his order immediately; if he performed ablution, they would struggle to take the remaining water; and when they spoke, they would lower their voices and would not look at his face constantly out of respect." (Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 50, Number 891)
If such actions were to be carried out in this day and age, accusations of Kufr and Shirk would fly recklessly (note: Abu Sinan, may Allah reward him, explicitly mentioned that he was making no such accusations, but the truth remains that many others would). Yet these blessed companions carried out these very acts in front of the Prophet (saw).
And their love carried over to the relics and belongings of the Prophet, including his hair which he himself distributed, as well as his sweat which he allowed to be collected.
Anas b. Malik (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to Mina; he went to the Jamra and threw pebbles at it, after which he went to his lodging in Mina, and sacrificed the animal. He then called for a barber and, turning his right side to him, let him shave him; after which he trimmed his left side. He then gave (these hair) to the people. (Muslim, Book 007, Number 2991)
Anas said, "Um Sulaim used to spread a leather sheet for the Prophet and he used to take a midday nap on that leather sheet at her home." Anas added, "When the Prophet had slept, she would take some of his sweat and hair and collect it (the sweat) in a bottle and then mix it with Suk (a kind of perfume) while he was still sleeping." When the death of Anas bin Malik approached, he advised that some of that Suk be mixed with his Hanut (perfume for embalming the dead body), and it was mixed with his Hanut. (Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 74, Number 298)
Truly we do not understand how to love the Prophet (saw). We rationalize it. We intellectualize it. We confine it. We restrict it.
Out of a misplaced fear of deifying him (saw)? A fear that he himself (saw) never vocalized when the companions pushed the limits of love. The Companions would compete for the remnants of his ablution water in order to put it on their faces. They would drink from water he spit out of his blessed mouth. In fact, he encouraged such 'blasphemous' actions, actions that we in our preposterous arrogance would frown upon in this day and age:
Allah's Apostle came to us at noon and water for ablution was brought to him. After he had performed ablution, the remaining water was taken by the people and they started smearing their bodies with it (as a blessed thing). The Prophet offered two Rakat of the Zuhr prayer and then two Rakat of the 'Asr prayer while an 'Anza (spear-headed stick) was there (as a Sutra) in front of him. Abu Musa said: The Prophet asked for a tumbler containing water and washed both his hands and face in it and then threw a mouthful of water in the tumbler and said to both of us (Abu Musa and Bilal), "Drink from the tumbler and pour some of its water on your faces and chests." (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 187)
Is this the love of a sane people? Not by our modern-day standards. Truly they were madly in love with this Mercy to the worlds.
Sadly, we have lost our orientation on how to properly love the Prophet (saw). Our compass is broken, yet we insist we aren't lost. Our hearts are blinded, yet we insist our eyes are sufficient for this journey.
Dear reader, he (saw) was no mere man and his blessed companions acknowledged this, time and again:
`Uthman bin `Abd Allah ibn Mawhab said, "My people sent me with a bowl of water to Umm Salama." Isra'il approximated three fingers indicating the small size of the container in which there was some hair of the Prophet. `Uthman added, "If any person suffered from evil eye or some other disease, he would send a vessel (containing water) to Umm Salama (and she would dip the Prophet's hair into it and it would be drunk). I looked into the container (that held the hair of the Prophet) and saw a few reddish hairs in it." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 784)
Narrated Ibn Sirrn: I said to 'Ablda, "I have some of the hair of the Prophet which I got from Anas or from his family." 'Abida replied. "No doubt if I had a single hair of that it would have been dearer to me than the whole world and whatever is in it." (Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 4, Number 171)
Again, I humbly ask those who claim that certain lines mustn't be crossed in our reverence for our dear Prophet (saw), did the companions cross those lines?
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
It's not enough that America is dumping on Pakistan as the breeding ground for Al-Qaeda supporters.
It's not enough that Afghanistan is dumping on Pakistan for allowing Taliban forces to regularly crossover their shared border.
It's not enough that India and Afghanistan are both dumping on Pakistan for having been behind the July 7 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.
It's not enough that NATO is dumping on Pakistan for supporting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.
Now there's talk that Pakistan has a role in the recent Muslim separatist flare-up in western China.
Well on the bright side, Musharraf's gonna get impeached and the Pakistani team's got a chance of medaling at the Olympics in field hockey.
Oh wait, they just got dumped on by UK.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
It's become quite evident to even the most casual of observers that post-Taliban Afghanistan has become a miserable failure. Life for the normal Afghani is the same, if not worse. The economy is in shambles, the drug-trade is thriving, the US-puppet government has barely a hold on Kabul and a few other cities, and peace is only found in the barrel of the gun.
And then I read this story on the increasing occurrences of rape, most of which are carried out without any fear of retribution or criminal punishment.
And then I think to myself, as a father of a 10-yr old daughter, that I would rather keep my daughter holed up in my house than send her to school or work in such a lawless society.
I would happily give up these rights for the general security the Taliban had established, knowing that her trip to the local market would not end up with this most miserable of endings.
I would happily live under the 'backwards' life under Taliban rule, where my family's well-being is preserved than the 'civilized' life under US/Karzai rule, where uncontrollable beasts run the streets.
Critics (legitimately) scolded the Taliban for their oppressive ways (forcing the burqa and the beard, destroying Buddhist artifacts, shutting down girls schools, etc.), while conveniently turning a blind eye to the security and order they established in war-torn Afghanistan.
But have they provided anything better in the past 7 years?
Since when are the issues of women's rights and religious freedom even comparable to fundamental concerns for safety and security?
As lofty as their goals may have been for invading Afghanistan, they've really turned it into a cesspool of crime and corruption. Just like in Iraq, they failed to establish the most basic of societal needs – public safety. (Be sure to check out this 3-part documentary Five Years in Iraq)
I don't care to defend the Taliban, but it seriously makes my blood boil when I read articles like the CNN piece I linked above.
Sure, Afghanistan under Taliban rule was a pile of garbage, but that beats the pile of shit the US has turned it into.
I say they pack up their bags and hand the country back to the Taliban, if for no other reason but to bring back some semblance of order. Sure, the public may despise the mullahs for forcing them to wear burqas and closing down the music shops, but at least their women will be able to walk the streets without getting abducted.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Wait, did you just ask what the hell is wrong with *ME*?!
OK, lemme get this straight.
You glue your fat butt to the couch and watch TV for hours on end.
You look forward to the weekends to waste them away socializing, watching movies, shopping, and what not.
You surf the web, spending countless hours of your life on YouTube, BBC, and your stupid blog.
You associate with heathens who are engrossed in this world as much as your sorry self.
And you call me a joke?!
You talk endlessly as if your tongue will dry up in the absence of your constant blabber.
You laugh incessantly as if your teeth will cease to exist if not fully displayed.
You eat obsessively as if your stomach will shrivel unless kept constantly full.
You sleep passionately as if your bed will disown you for leaving it in the night.
And then you censure me for feeling distant from my Creator, coldness towards His Word, and heaviness in prayer?
Yeah, and *I'm* the ignoramus.
I am merely a reflection of your actions, your thoughts, your senses, and your environment.
Only a fool would blame a spoiled child whose father has consistently caved into his every juvenile outburst with nary a disciplinary action. Sure, I admit I'm that spoiled child, but guess who's that foolish father? (hint: it rhymes with the letter U)
When did you ever once discipline me?
When did you ever muzzle my cravings?
When did you ever throttle my insatiable appetite?
For my entire life, you have set me up for failure and now you dare reproach me?!
Sheesh. What a friggin' loser.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
What the hell is wrong with you?!
You need a serious kick in the rear end.
When's the last time you woke up for tahajjud, that most sincere mode of direct and solemn communication with your Creator?
That's ok dude, I already know. I won't embarrass you.
Ramadan is around the corner – when was the last time you fasted a volunteer fast?!
You pranced around all proud of yourself for having completed reciting the entire Quran last Ramadan, but what have you done in the 10 months since?
You pompous ignoramus.
You claim to worship Allah alone, but the idols of personal whims and worldly desires are firmly established in you, having gained top priority.
You aspire for a polished heart, but you fear the abrasive nature of the Prophetic sand-paper.
You claim to love your 'Beloved', but remain ignorant of his sublime character and temperament.
What a joke!
You are ever so sensitive to the slightest breach of your rights, while boorishly stomping on the rights of others.
You hold such low opinions of those around you, chastising them for the most trivial of missteps, while overlooking your own colossal blunders.
When will you wise up to your shortcomings?
You pray as though you're releasing a burden, saving your passion for other fickle endeavors.
You recite the Quran as though you're in a race to get it over with.
You feed your anger instead of feeding the poor.
Your eyes wander recklessly, showing no control, like some wild boar.
Your tears flow more freely for a cheesy film than for your egregious faults.
In the hierarchy of your love, Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) lie somewhere between your children and their breakfast cereals.
Your ugliness knows no bounds. You make me sick.
Disappointed, Disturbed, and Disgusted,
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I wanted to clarify that my previous post was not intended to be simply an anti-Saudi-establishment rant. In fact, I’ve previously criticized the unfortunate expat pastime of whining and bashing against the Saudis.
Although I focused on the Mutawwa and their less-than-logical techniques, I truly believe their methodology typifies the ill-advised approach to reform employed by so many Muslims around the world.
We Muslims are all about window-dressing. Our idea of self-improvement is akin to putting make-up on a pig.
It's never about replacing the rotten core.
It's ‘religiously’ easier to grow a beard than to suppress your anger.
It's easier to don the scarf than to bite your tongue.
It's easier to memorize a host of ahadith than to crush your pride.
It's easier to use a miswak than to mend a broken relationship.
It's easier to lower your gaze and turn away from a sister than to help her with her groceries.
It's easier to regulary attend the local masjid than to turn away a bribe.
It's easier to correct others than to master the art of silence.
It’s so much easier to tackle the demons within by covering them with a thin coating of religiosity.
Whether it’s your self, your child, or your society, dealing with the outer forms of the sickness is quicker and less tasking than dealing with the inner essence of the problem.
Internal change (Islah) requires coming to terms with the repulsiveness of your true self, accepting scathing criticism by those more knowledgable, and adopting a long-term strategy to rectification.
Very painful, very difficult and very ugly.
Sadly, we are all the Mutawwa, in one form or another. We are all resistant to the pressures and pains of true internal reform, preferring the relative comforts of piety of the exterior.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
The Saudi Religious Police (also known as Mutawwa) have been getting a bad rap for quite some time. In addition to all the negative energy directed towards them by the general public, they've come under greater media and governmental scrutiny for recent cases of extreme abuse.
I would normally not add fuel to this fire (as opinions are very emotionally charged from both sides), but I couldn't avoid chiming in on my dear friend Shariq's first blog entry over at Minjid.com.
The brother presents his case for supporting 'the Commission' as they provide an invaluable service to society.
I say hogwash.
My gripe is not with their abuses of power (which even their supporters condemn), but with the entire premise of enforcing Islamic principles. It makes no sense that propagation of (selected) virtue and removal of (selected) vice be forced down the throats of the masses.
And even if the Mutawwa were to succeed in covering every woman and forcing every man to pray, then what? Would that magically transform Saudi society into an Islamic utopia? All this obsession with the outer forms while ignoring the internal states is pure folly and doomed to failure.
The Prophet (saw) was sent with the primary mission to perfect akhlaq (moral character, etiquettes) - a lofty goal that can never be accomplished with superficial tactics of forcing people to pray and cover. The proper way is to focus on the hearts and attract people to the balanced teachings of our beloved Prophet (saw).
Honey. Vinegar. Flies. It's really not that complicated folks!
Why not teach people (dare I suggest *by example*, gasp!) to treat each other nicely, renounce bribery, avoid littering, give each other the benefit of the doubt, carry out fair financial transactions, treat maids and drivers with kindness, shun domestic abuse, embrace education, properly queue in lines, drive like humans, and so on?
These principles of justice, kindness, and civility are more important to society than ensuring that every strand of hair is covered or every man is praying in the masjid.
After all, what has decades of harassing unrelated couples and closing businesses at prayer times gotten them?
Internet pornography, Satellite dishes in over 90% of homes, and a flourishing underground homosexual society.
They've simply swept the problems off the streets and into the homes. How convenient.
Yay for a forced veneer of piety!
The Mutawwa consistently choose form over substance which has always proven to be a failed approach. Hearts remain unaffected by their brutish efforts.
They have disenfranchised the vast majority of Saudi youth with their shallow attempts at enforcing virtue and thwarting vice. They may have 'cleaned up' the streets of Saudi Arabia, but the hearts remain as polluted as ever.
Is that the type of Islamic society our dear Prophet (saw) struggled for?
Note: My rant is equally applicable to Iran, Afghanistan, or any other nation attempting to police piety.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Well, sort of:
Under the picture of the woman driving is text saying 'Say YES to women driving'.
Sorry for the poor quality of the pic, but I had to quickly snap it while driving. I was extremely shocked to see a sticker as brazen as this one, especially in Riyadh (this sort of stuff is more expected from the more liberal Jeddah).
Of course, not everyone shares the above driver's sentiments. Abu Ilyas has an interesting picture from the other side.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
When I first arrived to Riyadh, I thought it peculiar how shops were arranged. You'll find shops selling a certain commodity all grouped together. For example, there's a cellphone souk (Arabic for market) with dozens of stores, all selling the same models of phones. Same for the computer souk, gold souk, car souk, and so on.
I found it very odd at first because back in the US, retailers don't open their shops right next to the competition. That simply doesn't make business sense.
American entrepreneurs scout out a location to ensure they are one of the few selling their wares in the vicinity. After all, if I'm selling cellphones, my business would obviously do better if I'm the only seller in the area.
And so, when I first saw stores lined up, one after the other, all selling the same items, I was seriously confused. How do they ever make money? Why not relocate to another place, away from the competition?
And then after settling down, I realized how convenient these souks are for the consumer. Instead of driving all over Riyadh looking for the store that sells what I want, I simply go to the souk and shop around. No hassle of driving from one end of town to the other. Everything is available within walking distance.
I now am perplexed how shoppers in the West survive, having to drive long distances, going from store to store to find what they need.
The convenience here is amazing. And the vendor of item X realizes that his chances of making a sale are increased when he's located in the X souk as opposed to a location where he is the only one selling item X.
Some of you may be thinking, 'Big deal, we have shopping malls in the West', but the two are actually quite different.
The souks I'm referring to are more analogous to a strip plaza with twenty clothing stores, all selling the very similar, if not the exact, style of clothing, from the same manufacturer or supplier, with differences in sizes and colors available in each store's stock.
If you want your car fixed, there's a designated area with dozens of mechanics and auto-repair shops. You want to buy a satellite dish, you'll find a strip of 15 shops, all selling the same variety of dishes. If you want plants for your garden, there are flower markets consisting of large stalls, all attached to each other, all selling the same flowers with slight differences in the variety offered.
And this mentality has even spilled onto the streets. When a Saudi parks on the side of the road to sell watermelon or dates out the back of his truck, it's only a matter of time before five others do the same.
If the same thing were to occur in the US, the original vendor would bark at the others to go find their own turf.
I would like to think that these Muslim sellers embody the divine principle of tawakul (trust in Allah) and acknowledge that their rizq (sustenance) is pre-determined by Allah, so no matter if they were the only one in the area or one of several hundreds, their lot is fixed.
But I'm too cynical to think so positively of these folks.
Truth is, these rascals probably collude with each other to set the prices. And being so close only facilitates their conspiring.
Oh well, at least it beats having to drive around town.
Monday, July 14, 2008
My youngest brother has recently started his residency training somewhere near Chicago and shared with me this very funny story:
I was sitting in the physicians lounge in front of my computer looking up the history of a new patient we got called for, and I could overhear the conversation of few second-year residents. There were two internal medicine residents talking over with a radiology resident (who just finished his preliminary year in internal medicine) about radiology and how laid back a lifestyle it is.
Right behind me, with his back to me, was a Pakistani, and across the room were the other two residents, one Ethiopian and the other Indian - the radiologist. Here's how the conversation went:
"So how many hours do radiologists work?", asked the Ethiopian guy.
"8-5 - normal office hours. On call once a week for the second and third year and never again for the rest of my life". He was so proud of himself, that cocky Indian.
"And how much do they make?"
In comes the Pakistani brother, with the thickest possible desi accent he could conjure, "They make a loadshed of money."
Huh?! What does a loadshed of money mean? How does this Paki FOB know of a word to describe 'huge' or 'enormous' that I don't?! I've realized for a while now that my vocabulary is pretty bad, but now this was just putting me to shame.
So there I sat, trying to come up with a meaning for the word - loadshed, like from the word loadshedding. But that means power failures - what does that have to do with 'alot'? I don't know, maybe if you take off the '-ing' it becomes a totally different word.
Or maybe he was saying loadshed as in 'a shed loaded with money'. That could make sense. Or maybe...
And then came a voice, seemingly to correct my thoughts so I could get back to work.
"Shitload, I mean," he mumbled, but loud enough for me to hear.
"Shit...load, yaar get it straight, shitload." he repeated under his breath, berating himself so as not to make the mistake again.
Friday, July 11, 2008
For your surfing pleasure:
Time magazine has a nice photo gallery of what 16 families from across the world eat in one week.
Is it me or does the family from Ecuador seem amazingly happy? Especially in comparison to that German family. They really seemed pissed at something. (h/t to Aaminah)
JD over at Dunner's Blog put together a series of amazing posts (here and here as well) inspired by Hugh Kennedy's book, Great Arab Conquests. In fact, his posts piqued my interest so much so that I actually ponied up $10 for a used copy. JD bro, it better be worth it! :-)
Finally, here's a funny video: