I want to look at two kinds of married couples, the technically married and the passionately married.
The technical marriage consists of a couple who is fulfilling the legal obligations of the relationship but is notably devoid of any mutual feelings. Either for the sake of the children or for saving face in the community, they have chosen to remain together, even though they can barely stand each other.
The husband fulfills the bare minimum of his responsibilities by going to work, paying the bills, playing with the kids, and running the occasional errand. The love he once expressed towards his bride is long gone, replaced by a deep disdain for the woman he now lives with. For better or for worse, he has chosen to continue this façade.
The woman is equally disgusted with her partner, carrying out just enough of her wifely duties to convince society that she is content with her marital arrangements. She will cook the food, clean the house, and even force a smile on her face when seen in public with the man said to be her husband. But deep down she has no feelings of love towards the father of her children.
On the other end of the spectrum, the passionate marriage has two individuals madly in love with each other. When apart, they dream of the moment they will reunite. They have ceased to be a married couple and have become true lovers.
The husband constantly finds excuses for not going out with his friends, choosing instead the company of his soulmate. He looks for different ways to express his love, fearful of any letup in the raging wildfire of their passion. He continuously searches for the perfect gifts to express his love, always finding one better than the last one. Those rare moments when she expresses disappointment with him seem like an eternity, resulting in a flurry of attempts to alleviate her concerns.
The wife counts down the minutes until her husband returns from work and uncontrollably weeps when he is late. Hours with her sweetheart pass like the moment between two breaths. A smile from her lover melts her heart and transports her into a different dimension.
Those whom he loves have become beloved to her and conversely those whom she loves have become beloved to him. Their hearts pulsate in harmony, skipping a beat only when the other is mentioned.
Ponder over these two relationships and how contrasting they are.
I haven't brought up these two marriages in order to psycho-analyze the dynamics of a husband-wife relationship. Rather, my intention is to use these very concrete examples to examine our relationship with Allah (swt).
Most of us maintain a strict business relationship with Allah more in line with the former than the latter. We look to quickly fulfill our minimum obligations, nary a thought of performing the supererogatory (nawafil) acts. We dread talking to Him (in our prayers) and pay no attention when He speaks to us (through the Quran). We maintain the outer shell of this relationship so society does not speak ill of us, knowing full well that no real feelings exist between us and Allah.
How I wish to be in a passionate relationship with You! How I wish to be Your beloved and make You my beloved! What I would do to have my heart tremble in love at the mere mention of Your name! (The Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, 8:2)
How I wish to regularly mention Allah to my acquaintances, in hope of Him mentioning me in the company of His angels - like the two lovers who cannot stop talking about each other to their friends!
Why can't I build a relationship of undying love with the Ever-Living, throwing aside all my worldly one night stands with the ever-dying? (The believers are most intense in their love for Allah, 2:165)
Why don't I rush to awaken from my nightly sleep to be alone with Him? Why do my embarrassingly short prayers seem soo prolonged? Why does His book seem soo imposing? Why is my charity so calculated? Does not the lover thoughtlessly empty his pockets for the beloved?
Why don't I uncontrollably weep at the thought of being away from Him? Why do I love what I want to love, turning my back on what He loves?
Where has the passion gone in the one relationship that truly matters?
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I want to look at two kinds of married couples, the technically married and the passionately married.
Monday, February 25, 2008
For the past week or so, I've been trying to get a solid understanding of the Kosovo independence fiasco. I remember first learning about the Islamic heritage of the region when Muslim refugees, first from Bosnia and then from Kosova, were sponsored by Muslim communities throughout the US. Many of us perceived the decade long struggle by the Muslims (epitomized by the Kosova Liberation Army, KLA) to be a legitimate jihad against the naked aggressions of their neighboring Christians.
So when the US led its 'humanitarian' 11-week bombing campaign in 1999, almost every Muslim joined the overwhelming chorus of support that hailed it as a momentous occasion: "the tidal wave of self-adulation by respected voices, lauding the first war in history fought “in the name of principles and values,” the first bold step towards a “new era” in which the “enlightened states” will protect the human rights of all under the guiding hand of an “idealistic New World bent on ending inhumanity,” now freed from the shackles of archaic concepts of world order." Noam Chomsky
The Muslims weren't able to look beyond our religious affiliations and step back to analyze the situation objectively.
Sadly, resulting events proved that America's interference was far from humanitarian. The exaggerated calls for a second holocaust occurring in the heart of Europe were shown to be pro-war propaganda, as the mass media had clearly fallen in love with the good vs. evil story being peddled by the Clinton administration (Big bad Milosevic = Evil, Former terrorists, now freedom fighters KLA = Good). Oddly, the real genocide that had taken place just a few years before (at the time) in Rwanda wasn't worthy of any humanitarian intervention.
The Rambouillet Agreement, which was the proposed peace agreement offered to Milosevic by NATO, revealed itself to be a clear example of America looking for a satellite state in the heart of Eastern Europe, in the exact same manner that Iraq and Afghanistan have become satellite states in the Middle East and Asia. Referring to the agreement, British Lord Gilbert, defense minister of state, said, "I think the terms put to Milošević at Rambouillet were absolutely intolerable; how could he possibly accept them; it was quite deliberate."
And if there were any doubt, the ensuing construction (by a Halliburton subsidiary, no less) of a nearly 1000-acre US military base, Camp Bondsteel, exposed the real intentions of the occupying force.
Fast forward 9 years and we have Kosovo finally declaring its independence after nearly a decade of UN pseudo-occupation. What should we make of this?? I like what this brother had to say about it. Plus Safia referenced this very interesting article that coupled the recent discovery of oil and natural gas with the declaration of independence.
And if you read nothing else, read this piece at Counterpunch that provides a real good summary, drawing a chilling parallel between America's role in the Kosovo War under Clinton and its more recent Iraq War under Bush.
I really hope more people are questioning this historic event. However, I'm afraid that many are adopting the overly naive stance taken by some that since they are a nation of Muslims, we must automatically support their independence.
Merely because they are our brothers in faith does not necessitate our blind support for their questionable agenda. The wider geopolitical ramifications of their cessation must be analyzed in addition to the insidious role of the meddling US.
I can understand the ambivalent stance taken by some as the region is truly a complex smorgasbord of socio-political factors, but blind support should be out of the question. As I understand the current situation, I can't support the Kosova independence for it really doesn't bode well for the local population. And in the end, it should be about stability, peace, and justice for the people, even if it requires that Kosovo remain a province of Serbia.
Friday, February 22, 2008
At the time of Prophet Isa's (peace be upon him) miraculous birth, the Jews were longing for a return to their glory days, when Prophets Daud and Suleiman (David and Solomon, peace be upon them) were mighty kings of mighty kingdoms. They were hoping for the fulfillment of biblical prophecies wherein the Messiah would deliver them from Roman bondage, restore King David's monarchy and re-establish Bani Israel's rightful place as rulers of the world.
They were longing for the Messiah to usher in the Messianic age, rebuild the Third Temple, and establish an eternal kingdom with Israel as the preeminent nation in the world, all backed by a military force capable of crushing the pagan Romans.
But Allah (swt), in His Infinite Wisdom, sent Prophet Isa as the Messiah armed with teachings of submission, forgiveness, mercy, turning the cheek, and loving the neighbor. He didn't come with the sword, he instead came with the word. Rather than a political solution, he came with a spiritual solution – a solution to reform the rotten core of the community.
Prophet Isa rebuked, in particular, the Pharisees, a prominent Jewish sect of the time, calling them back to the spirit of the law, condemning their inward spiritual emptiness and their overemphasis on the text while neglecting justice, faith, and upright character.
Consequently, when Prophet Isa didn't deliver the political power they desperately sought, the Jews rejected his pacifist message and to this day obstinately wait for their Messiah.
I see so much parallel between the Jews of then and the Muslims of now. We have Muslims looking for a political solution as a way back to the glory days of the Khilafah. The establishment of a Muslim state is seen as an instant panacea to all our problems. They call for a top-down approach whereby a powerful Islamic authority would properly implement the Shariah and somehow magically address all our socio-econo-political failings.
In addition to the politically obsessed, there are those who religiously adhere to the external formulations of the Prophetic Sunnah. With beards and niqabs, they have perfected the outward while maintaining a repulsive inward. The teachings of our Prophet have failed to take hold of their hearts.
And then there are the Masjid activists who are all about dedicating their time and effort to their local community, volunteering in various manners from shura councils to dawah groups to youth clubs. Sadly you find them lacking in their own spiritual development, living a secret life at odds with their public image.
We have become the 21st century version of the Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, mercy and taqwa, we have become self-righteous, arrogant legalists using the letter of the law to project an understanding that all too often misses the bigger picture.
We seem to have lost the most essential lesson encapsulated in the reaction of Bani Israel to Prophet Isa (as): The unwillingness to accept a message calling us back to the core principles of mercy, forgiveness, submission, and beauty. We want tangible results and we want them now.
We have forgotten the countless Quranic calls to Ihsan (Excellence) and Taqwa (God-consciousness). We have set the aside the Prophetic principles of Rahmah (Mercy) and Jamal (Beauty). And instead we have mired ourselves in rigid formalism and jurisprudential jargon devoid of the true essence of our Beloved Prophet's message.
For sure, part of the absolute perfection of our Prophet (saw) was that he came with a complete message – and part of that message consists of a military-political aspect. But when it comes to creating a strategy to address the failings of this Ummah, it behooves us to learn from the mistakes of our cousins and begin our struggle with the Quranic call for self-reformation.
One final note: Lest my post be misinterpreted as a call to passivity, I strongly believe that we must all be action-oriented. But with the major caveat that our inner foundations be rock solid – as opposed to our current state where our hard hearts are the only thing rock solid about us.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I stumbled onto this video and thought it was down right hilarious:
I also got a kick out of this video:
Thank God we humans don't need to go through the same exercise in finding our mates. Otherwise, I'd still be single!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Not sure if I've shared my feelings on the American version of Democracy.
Oh yeah, I have. More than once.
Anyways, here is a nice article that provides more fuel to the fire.
As if the two-party system wasn't limiting enough in the options presented to the voters, the Democratic Party leaders are intent on dictating who that nominee should be using the superdelegates.
According to the article:
"[Walter] Mondale was quite open about the undemocratic aims of the superdelegate system. In a number of talks, he acknowledged that superdelegates were created with the explicit aim of preventing voter insurgencies."
The author goes on to quote Walter Mondale from a 1992 NY Times article:
"The election is the business of the people. But the nomination is more properly the business of the parties...The problem lies in the reforms that were supposed to open the nominating process...Party leaders have lost the power to screen candidates and select a nominee. The solution is to reduce the influence of the primaries and boost the influence of the party leaders...The superdelgate category established within the Democratic Party after 1984 allows some opportunity for this, but should be strengthened."
Do read the entire article. Worth your time to understand the lengths the power brokers will go to in order to retain control and prevent any serious change.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Not sure how this Zaid Shakir article totally flew under my radar, but I just read it yesterday and found it to be extremely pertinent to the current Obama lovefest.
Imam Zaid reflects on the truly revolutionary stances taken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. near the end of his life. In particular, he quotes one lecture Dr. King gave one year before his assassination:
"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin to shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered..."
And then he really hits the nail on the head when he contrasts that with Obama's approach:
"Herein lays Dr. King’s legacy, an uncompromising struggle against the “giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.”...Obama is a viable African American candidate because he has steadfastly refused to deal with the issues Dr. King was dealing with at the end of his life, even though they are just as relevant today as they were forty years ago."
When Obama talks of change is he referring to racism or materialism or militarism? Of course not, for if he were to target those substantive issues, his fate would most definitely be in more line with that of Dr. King's:
"In the aftermath of that speech Dr. King was condemned by many African American leaders such as Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins. President Lyndon B. Johnson, who saw himself as a great friend of the “Negro” people was irate. The growing schism between Dr. King and the power structure had been cemented."
In reality, the problem is not with Obama, but with the American 'democratic' system that is so impervious to change.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
The ability to have a reasonable discussion on the positive social ramifications of Islamic polygyny.
Take note all you young, oh-so-naive husbands out there. Don’t attempt this at home. Only trained stooges who have gone through the proper mental beatdown brought on by years of marriage are obtuse enough to ever try this exercise in sheer futility:
Me: You’re really not helping me lose weight with all those cakes you’re constantly baking
W: No one's forcing you to eat them
Me: I know what you’re doing. You just want to plump me up so I get ugly. That way I won’t ever entertain the thought of a second wife. I’m onto you sister. The jig is up!
W: [expletive which I didn’t hear, but was surely muttered], A second wife?! No other woman would be such a glutton for punishment
Me: (smoothly ignoring her remark) Listen, what so wrong with helping a fatherless child?
W: Hah! Helping a fatherless child? You mean helping father a child, you slick pervert.
Me: Not true my sweet honeysuckle princess (not my actual words, but I was thinking them), polygyny, when done with the correct intention is all about helping others.
W: (with a disgust that ought to be reserved for murderers and rapists) Like helping you sick men to some more booty action.
Making use of my well-honed skills for detecting mood changes, perfected by years of nimbly navigating past emotional landmines on the battlefield of marriage, I sensed a shift in her temperament and deftly changed the topic
Me: So tell me, does paper *really* beat out rock? I never really understood that. Cause you know, I can take a sharp rock and do some real damage to a piece of paper...
This conversation was followed by 2 days of the silent treatment.
Oh, and this is concrete proof that she never reads my blog (God knows how she would have reacted to my two posts on Islamic Polygyny).
That being said, if I were to declare to the entire world that her Kheer (Pakistani rice pudding) tastes like wallpaper paste, there would be no negative repercussions.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Another meme tag is going around (I’ll get to your tag Baraka) and it got me thinking: where do these meme tags begin?
I’ve never actually followed back the links to the originator of the meme tag. I’m guessing they're probably scientifically created in some sort of mysterious CIA-sponsored meme super-lab, designed to distract the blogosphere whenever their conspiracy chatter gets too close to the truth or could it be some great Wizard of Blog, hiding behind a curtain, crafting new and ingenious ways to waste people’s time?
Anyways, I’ve decided to create my very own meme tag.
That’s right folks, you are witnessing the creation of an actual meme tag! Its like being present at the birth of a newborn baby. What, is that too overdramatic? Fine, let me tone my comparison down a bit – your presence at the commencement of this meme tag is akin to standing at the beginning of a rainbow. Still too much? Ok, ok, it’s probably closer to the feeling of absolute relief as you witness a car accident unfold in your rear view mirror, thanking your Lord that you weren’t directly involved in that horrible disaster.
Suit yourself. I still prefer the rainbow comparison.
I decided to call it the Reese's Puffs To-Do List meme tag. Inspired by what I considered a mostly useless list of ‘18 things to do before turning 18’ found on the back of a Reese's Puffs cereal box (reproduced below for your very own reading pleasure), I created my own counter list of 18 morally responsible things to do. Asking people to create 18 items is too much, so I’ll scale it down to a more feasible 6.
In case you’re new to the meme tag game, here are the basic rules:
1. Post these rules before presenting your list.
2. List 6 actions or achievements you think every person should accomplish before turning 18.
3. There are no conditions on what can be included on the list.*
4. At the end of your blog, choose 6 people to get tagged and list their names.
5. People who are tagged write their own blog entry with their 6 suggestions.
6. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.
7. Optional: You can include the image of the ridiculous Reese's Puffs list in your post as a reference.
* The list can be totally serious or outright hilarious like Dave’s comment on my original post: “19. If Arab, Desi, black, or another distrusted population in the US, don a Kufi and walk into heritage foundation's headquarters, look around, and loudly say "Where da white women at?" like in Blazing Saddles. If I wasn't white, I would totally do that.”
Seeing that I'm the originator of this meme tag (and that I’m simply cutting and pasting from my old entry), I will present 18 things:
1. Memorize the Quran.
2. Go camping and sleep under the stars.
3. Organize a festival at your local masjid.
4. Compete with your friends to recite the entire Quran during the month of Ramadan. First one gets a box of Reese’s Puffs.
5. Do Itikaaf in your local masjid.
6. With a group of your friends, visit a sick person.
7. Spend an extended period of time with your grandparents.
8. Perform Umrah/Hajj and break bread with as many strangers as possible.
9. Massage your mothers feet.
10. Say La-illah-il-Allah 1000 times in one sitting.
11. Pray Salat Tasbih
12. Volunteer as a mentor for a local youth club.
13. Pray Fajr in the desert.
14. Help a total stranger unload their grocery cart into their car.
15. Sacrifice a sheep with your own hands.
16. Plant a tree.
17. Get married.
18. Maintain your Islamic identity – yes!!
And since this is the first in the chain of this meme tag, I’ll pollinate its seeds by tagging more than 6 lucky bloggers. Consider yourselves part of blogging history. :-)
Baraka, Saifuddin, Suroor, Unique Muslimah , MrEspy , Amal, Dave, Aaminah, Suhaa, and IzzyMo
BTW, I was about to tag you Amy, but then I remembered you had already provided an amazing list in the comments of my original post:
- Study something (anything!) with someone who is very old. (80+) Will teach appreciation for life's lessons and respect for the elderly and their wisdom.
- Prepare a body for burial. Will instill awareness of mortality.
- Make an item of clothing for yourself to wear (i.e., pants, shoes, shirt, etc.) Will foster a respect for the clothes we wear (that we tend to just buy at the store..)
- Help construct a house or masjid (without being paid.)
- Watch the sun rise and set over the ocean--the vastness of the sky and sea are awe-inspiring.
- Spend the longest day of the year (June 21) fasting and the longest night of the year (December 21) in prayer.
- Babysit--to know that children are not a light responsibility.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Just returned from a weekend trip to Mecca and came back with some interesting discoveries as well as some nice pics.
I didn't notice it until this last trip, but people are constantly taking pictures with their phone cameras. I remember back when I performed my first Hajj in 2001, cameras were strictly prohibited in the Haram. Some people would sneak in their small disposable cameras and steal some photos when no one was around (I remember hearing stories about some people getting their cameras taken away).
But with the ubiquitous cellphone camera, the Haram authorities have basically given up. So now you'll see people unabashedly taking pictures from every corner of the Haram. In that spirit, here's my Nokia 6300-sponsored picture of the Ka'bah:
Its low season here, meaning that Umrah visas aren't currently being issued to overseas pilgrims. So there's a lot less of a crowd, which is quite nice. The sparse crowd allowed the kids to get all the way up to the Ka'bah. However, there are Saudi mutawaa (religious police) stationed at each wall constantly keeping the flow of the people moving. Fortunately, as he was shooing away some other folks, I was able to quickly snap this picture of the kids:
The construction to expand the Masa'a (the place where Sae'e is performed between Safa and Marwa) is simply amazing. I knew they were expanding it horizontally to widen it, but I failed to realize that they're even adding another level!
They recently opened up the new ground floor and the level on top, while closing the entire three floors of the old Masa'a. They're destroying the old structure so they can reconstruct it with an additional fourth level.
And can someone NOT from America please explain to me how the rest of the world numbers the floors in a building?? In America, the ground floor is referred to as the first floor, the floor on top is the second floor, and so on. Here in Saudi, the ground floor is called the ground floor, the next floor up is the first floor and so on. This has caused me and my family SO much confusion.
So, I would like to know if America is in fact the Great Retard and has it backwards (like how they're the only nation that uses pounds, gallons, and miles) or is it just the Saudis who have it all screwed up?
More than a year ago, I was blessed to perform Umrah with Sh Zulfiqar Ahmed. Before we began, he pointed out the exact location where the Prophet (saw) was sleeping when Angel Jibreel (as) took him for the famous Night Journey (Isra and Miraj).
According to Sh. Zulfiqar, the Prophet (saw) was sleeping in between the two pillars (of course those pillars weren't there at the time). He also showed us a nearby pillar which was built on the spot where Jibreel tied al-Buraq (the winged horse). The Ottomans had painted that pillar with a special red paint, but when the Saudis came, they painted over it with a gray marble color. We actually noticed how some of the red paint was still visible at the foot of the pillar. Sadly, when I went looking for that pillar this time around, I couldn't tell which one it was – they seem to have covered up the remnants of red paint. Too bad.
I discovered that I'm really disgusted by the Abraj al-Bait towers. At first, I didn't mind the looming complex that dwarfed all its neighboring hotels. I didn't even mind the fact that its super-mall was being built right outside the Haram. But sitting in front of the Ka'bah, I noticed just how great a distraction these building have become to the once serene skyline. How unbelievably awkward!
And yes, I am bothered that a western style mall is coming to the Haram sanctuary. I understand that Mecca has always been a business center, especially during the peak seasons of Ramadan and Hajj. I realize that many people come to Mecca for the purpose of trade. Countless pilgrims buy scarves, kufis, and other trinkets to remind them and their loved ones of their blessed visit. But who in the world needs to shop at Gap, Pumpkin Patch, and Louis Vetton when coming to the house of Allah?
I discovered that while the thin crowd is nice and all, the pleasure of seeing the clusters of Turks, Persians, Indonesians, Nigerians, and Indians is sorely missed. But on the bright side, the lack of distraction afforded me the chance to focus on the Ka'bah and I discovered that it can talk – and what it said to me was quite harsh (fodder for a future post).
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
My years of living on a western compound here in Riyadh has allowed me to observe this creature called the Western Expat (WE) in its natural habitat. Let me first present a disclaimer that my findings are not true of every WE, but the trends cited below are too common to be explained away as aberrations.
The WE migrates to the Gulf mainly from America, Europe, and Australia, with only a few documented cases coming from South America. The chief factor for migrating is economical, with many citing the tax-free income as a major attraction.
Finding itself in a strange setting, the WE goes to extreme lengths to replicate a back-home feeling. They've created heavily fortified communities wherein they not only dress as they please, but they also prohibit niqabis and some even prevent hijabis from entering. Although alcohol is prohibited in the kingdom, its common knowledge that booze flows very freely in these enclaves.
Saudi families are not allowed to live on these western compounds. The American and British International schools don't allow Saudis, but they do allow expats from other Arab countries.
The feeling is that WEs wish to remove all traces of Saudi Arabia when they enter their compounds and schools. They unashamedly display a degree of intolerance they would rarely ever externalize in their countries of origin.
Surrounded by a sea of religiosity, the WE displays an inordinate amount of religious pride. WE's who would never celebrate holidays back home are lining up to celebrate Easter and Christmas. WE's who would rarely visit a church are suddenly yearning for weekly mass.
The WE displays characteristics very comparable to those seen in the American Muslim (the non-indigenous variety), a similarly amazing creature. The instinct of survival kicks in to a higher gear when in a foreign environment. I refer not to life preservation, but to identity preservation.
They seem to be trying extra hard to exert their self-identity, as if they fear being swallowed by the surrounding inferior society. It's interesting to contrast that with the American Muslim community which is leery of assimilating into a western culture that alluringly imposes its beliefs and practices on its citizens.
But Saudi society is neither alluring nor imposing, so what are the WEs so paranoid of? Or is their cultural hubris so acute that they can't possibly denigrate themselves by interacting with the locals?
At first glance, the WE will always say the right thing, but when push comes to shove, the orientalist attitude that is mysteriously imprinted onto their psyche comes oozing out. I've sat and traveled with them (in our daily carpool) for the past several years and its very revealing to see the extent of their self-importance and arrogance.
From their belief that KSA could not prosper without them to their mocking the backwards Bedouin mentality to their self-righteous pity kindly offered to the Saudi women, their disdain for their hosts is quite apparent.
I'll conclude with an incident that took place this past weekend where a brother and I attended a hiking group consisting mainly of westerners. Every week this group of over 100 expats hike and run through the desert mountains outside Riyadh. Looking to establish something similar for our circle of families, we decided to join them to discover some new locations.
When we arrived we noticed that we were the only Muslims present. No big deal. So we're standing around waiting for the hike to begin when a small group comes up to welcome us and one of the ladies, hand extended, introduces herself. My friend placed his hand on his chest and politely declined. No big deal.
But turns out that she was offended and complained to someone, who voiced their displeasure to our host (attendance is by host invitation only). So our host, not wishing to ruffle any feathers, apologetically suggested that all three of us leave (we convinced him to stay and chose to leave on our own).
On the way back, it struck me that this lady had probably never set foot out of her compound to interact with the locals. She's living in one of the most overtly Muslim societies and yet she still remains ignorant of a most basic Muslim practice.
At least the Orientalists of old would immerse themselves into the local cultures before unloading their contempt and scorn for the barbaric ways of their hosts. This latest iteration of the Orientalist, presenting itself in the form of the WE, can't be bothered with all that nonsense of learning the local customs and simply skips to the contempt. How very efficient of them!
The WE is indeed a most amazing species.
Monday, February 4, 2008
I just saw this amazing video, documenting some amazing sea creatures from the depths of the ocean and it immediately reminded me of the Glory and Perfection of Allah (swt).
Just as observing the sky above us has for centuries turned many towards their Creator, visiting the depths below us can have an equally spiritual effect.
How absolutely perfect is Allah (swt) the Creator, that He would posit such wonders of nature in faraway places no one may ever visit! He could have easily left these distant corners of the universe empty and it would have mattered little to us. But the existence of such amazing handiworks of the Divine further intensifies one's belief in the unquestionable flawlessness of our Creator.
The universe, this most masterful of artistic works, is constantly revealing its beauty to its bedazzled onlookers, who themselves are part of this canvas, resulting in a mind-boggling scenery that can only have been produced by the Master Artist.
If the creation of the universe was for the purpose of knowing Allah (swt) ("I was a hidden treasure and I wished to be known, so I created Creation."), then it is signs such as these that fortify that realization.
One may wonder what is the purpose of such intricately detailed creations found in the expanses of outer space or at the bottom of the oceans. I believe that regardless of their scientific purpose, they have fulfilled their *real* purpose by acting as agents of reminder - reminding this humble servant of the need to constantly glorify and worship Allah (swt).
Indeed, every creation of Allah (swt) plays an important role and function in this universe. Well, everything except for maybe this guy. Not really sure what his purpose for existence is...
Sunday, February 3, 2008
I finally got around to updating my BlogRoll. Do check out those blogs...most of them are regularly updated by their owners.
And shoot me any more suggestions. I'm always on the lookout for new, interesting blogs! But beware, I'm very choosy. Actually, I take that back...I must not be *that* choosy - I got Espyisms on my blogroll afterall.
I also updated my Top Posts list and added a new Special Posts section consisting of series of posts that I wrote....
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Ever since the Internet caught on over a decade ago, it has been used for the dissemination of Islamic information. Many well-intentioned Muslims have been rushing to make use of the latest technology to educate the masses, from websites to blogs to online classes. However, I fear that a vital connection is being lost what with all these alternative modes of acquiring information.
And so its with that spirit that I begin my rant:
First of all, the blazing speed with which communication travels across the globe has made it that much easier to access scholars from all over. This has led to some very odd fatwas (I'm not sure any American Muslim scholar would legitimate for Muslims the ceremonial wedding kiss, as is commonly seen in Christian weddings) made by qualified scholars who are not intimately aware of the social dynamics of Muslims half-way across the world.
People need to stop importing fatwas from societies and cultures foreign to the ones in which they live. Too often, they simply don’t match. Sadly, many scholars remain oblivious to the ways in which their answers are being transported to different lands across the world. I don’t necessarily blame the scholars, but their all-too-eager students, who are too busy promoting their teachers to a worldwide audience to realize the potential damage they may be causing.
Secondly, I’m totally against these fatwa websites, online courses, and what not as many have taken them as primary sources of knowledge. Our deen has always been transmitted from teacher to student in a physical setting conducive to real learning. That connection consists of more than the mere transmission of digital information and data.
It's about learning the adab of conducting oneself from being in the physical presence of the teacher.
It's about seeing how to live and breathe the Sunnah of our ultimate teacher, the Prophet (saw).
It's about sitting with others who are also enthusiastic about learning and implementing this knowledge.
It’s the look of delight in the face of the teacher when you exceed expectations and the look of disappointment when you fall short of your potential.
It’s the expression of anger reserved for the select few who are worthy of the teacher's inner circle.
It's about the social and spiritual bond with your fellow students as you collectively traverse the path of knowledge.
It's about the angels sitting over the group, covering them with their wings, and praying for them throughout the session.
As much as we would like, that sacred interaction can not be translated to any other medium – including books, audio tapes/CDs, and now the Internet. These complementary tools are just that – tools to supplement the setting of the study circle. There are so many variables and dynamics present during a dars (study session) that are completely omitted in these attempts to record them.
Now I’m not trying to create an exclusivist class consisting only of those who are fortunate to sit in the company of scholars. For sure, everyone is capable of benefiting from books and CDs. But let us not content ourselves with just that. Let us all strive to sit in live gatherings of dhikr of Allah (swt) with the heirs of the Prophets, where real knowledge is being imparted in ways we can only begin to imagine.