Just when you thought that Israel couldn't stoop any lower:
Al-Jazeera reports that 16 have been killed in an attack by Israeli forces on the Freedom Flotilla, a non-violent fleet of aid-carrying ships traveling to Gaza.
I'm left wondering when will the world say 'Enough!' to the arrogantly inhumane shenanigans of Israel?
Check out WitnessGaza for latest info.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Just when you thought that Israel couldn't stoop any lower:
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
“Abujee, I’m booored”
Words that have always made me cringe. I strongly believe that children need to stop getting so agitated and restless with boredom. If they have nothing to do, their minds should offer them a limitless playground of ideas and thoughts.
“To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one.” (source)
I fondly remember my youth when I would sit around the house waiting for my friends to come over and play. I would bide my time mulling around the house, sitting on the front porch, or quietly exploring my surroundings. Some days this could last half the day!
These moments to myself were so amazingly peaceful. An outsider would have thought them to be an immense waste of time, but looking back I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
No email. No TV. No video games. No distractions. Just me and the real world. Just me and the stone I was kicking. Just me and the tree I was climbing. Just me and the ants on the sidewalk. Just me and the cars passing by.
I look back wistfully at those long gone days of effortless simplicity.
I miss being bored. I miss the quietness of nothingness. I miss the concept of ‘spare time’ when one could hit the pause button on life. I’m not talking minutes folks – I’m talking hours.
And I now struggle to convey that sensation, that nostalgia to my children.
I struggle to impart upon them the other-worldliness of disconnecting from the all-encompassing virtual world.
I struggle to explain to them how disengaging from the twitchy distractions of this world will bring out their humanity.
I struggle to convince them that boredom ought to be embraced and celebrated, not rejected and disparaged.
I struggle to teach them that gadgets and trinkets, data and information, bits and bytes don’t make the person, but a thriving imagination, multifaceted emotions, and an intimate knowledge of yourself makes you a human.
I struggle to assure them that our senses need not constantly remain stimulated by external sources, rather the internal fountain of divine inspiration is forever flowing and can be tapped wherever and whenever we wish.
Instead, society is forcing me to cease my crusade on behalf of boredom while coaxing me to entertain my children.
“What? Your kids don’t have the Wii?! That’s inhumane!”
“What’s so wrong with giving them limited access to the Web?”
“Why do you deprive your children from visiting the likes of Disney World?”
“At least let your daughter have an email address. Let her join the rest of us in the 21st century.”
“What’s the big deal with letting your son have an iTouch?”
What’s the big deal?!
What’s the big deal with letting my kids feel and enjoy uninterrupted stints of boredom?
What’s the big deal with teaching my kids how to feel at peace while being alone?
What’s the big deal with allowing my kids to mull around the house with their senses on park, but their brains on hyperdrive?
What’s the big deal with giving my kids the freedom to simply be themselves?
Must I be forced to amuse my children to death?
Must I be forced to tether my children to the world?
Must I be forced to surrender my children to their nafs?
Alas, my dilemma is not isolated to my offspring, for I too wish to be free of these virtual chains that are slowly choking away our humanity.
I so desire to experience again the joy of boredom.
(Inspired by this article, Joy of Boredom)
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
For too long, we have all heard the American government, as well as the puppet media, making loud declarations about the Taliban funding its operations by trafficking opium. Such propaganda* serves to present the Taliban forces as not only barbaric terrorists, but also evil drug dealers. And to boot, it places into disrepute the image of their insurgency in the Muslim world.
But a 2009 report by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as broken down in this FPIF article, paints a picture quite divergent from the disinformation being spread by the occupying forces. The FPIF article does an excellent job in breaking apart the arguments that the opium drug trade is being fuelled by the Taliban.
First of all, the UNODC report estimates that only 10-15% of Taliban funding is drawn from drugs, the rest coming from private sources outside the country.
The FPIF article continues:
“The total revenue generated by opiates within Afghanistan is about $3.4 billion per year. Of this figure, according to UNODC, the Taliban get only 4% of the sum. Farmers, meanwhile, get 21%.
And the remaining 75%? Al-Qaeda? No: The report specifies that it "does not appear to have a direct role in the Afghan opiates trade," although it may participate in "low-level drugs and/or arms smuggling" along the Pakistani border.
Instead, the remaining 75% is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional power brokers and traffickers — in short, many of the groups now supported (or tolerated) by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade.”
Yeah, let’s not forget the allegations that Karzai’s brother is involved in the heroin drug trade.
Another factor often conveniently overlooked is how the Taliban generate revenue by taxing ALL farmed land under their control, regardless of which crop is grown on those fields. So if the farmers are paying the Taliban taxes on cultivated poppy seeds, this is twisted and presented as the Taliban are active in trafficking opium.
Finally, and I believe this is most critical in understanding the dynamics of the sinister opium trade in Afghanistan, is the transformation of opium poppies into heroin. This process cannot take place without a special chemical precursor called acetic anhydride, which is not found in Afghanistan.
The FPIF article states:
“The report identified "Europe, China, and the Russian Federation" as "major acetic anhydride sources for Afghanistan." For instance, 220 liters of acetic anhydride were intercepted this year at Kabul airport, apparently originating from France. In recent years, chemicals have also been shipped from or via the Republic of Korea and UNODC's 2008 Afghan Opium Survey pointed to Germany as a source of precursors.”
Obviously, the Taliban have nothing to do with the smuggling of this chemical from Europe into Afghanistan. The answer to who is bringing in this precursor can be answered by the old adage ‘Follow the money’.
Besides the incredibly corrupt Afghan government, many stand to benefit from a thriving drug trade originating out of Afghanistan. It's worth noting that the CIA doesn't have a clean history when it comes to covert drug trafficking.
“In other words, intelligence agencies, powerful business, drug traders and organized crime are competing for the strategic control over the heroin routes. A large share of this multi-billion dollar revenues of narcotics are deposited in the Western banking system. Most of the large international banks together with their affiliates in the offshore banking havens launder large amounts of narco-dollars.
This trade can only prosper if the main actors involved in narcotics have "political friends in high places." Legal and illegal undertakings are increasingly intertwined, the dividing line between "businesspeople" and criminals is blurred. In turn, the relationship among criminals, politicians and members of the intelligence establishment has tainted the structures of the state and the role of its institutions including the Military.” [Source]
This role played by Western banks is repeated in the FPIF article:
“The report says that over the last seven years (2002-2008), the transnational trade in Afghan opiates resulted in worldwide sales of $400-$500 billion (retail value). Only 5-10% of this is estimated to be laundered by informal banking systems (such as hawala). The remainder is laundered through the legal economy, and importantly, through Western banks.
In fact, Antonio Maria Costa [UNODC Executive Director] was quoted as saying that drug money may have recently rescued some failing banks: "interbank loans were funded by money that originated from drug trade and other illegal activities," and there were "signs that some banks were rescued in that way."”
It becomes very clear when the dots are connected that the argument of Taliban drug trafficking is a classic red herring when it comes to America's Afghan policy.
*I wrote before about the disinformation campaign employed by the American occupying forces in attempts to defend their losing ways in Afghanistan. This drug-trafficking myth is merely another example of this strategy.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I'm not looking to pick a fight here or anything. The only subject more overhyped in the Muslim blogosphere than polygamy is hijab, so I'm not looking to revisit all the pros and cons of multiple wives.
I just want to see what people think about this semi-hypothetical situation:
A 34-year old sister is living with her parents after years of failed attempts at finding a suitor. Her family hasn't helped as they've rejected a few applicants due to petty cultural issues. She's become so desperate at wanting a child that she recently adopted an orphan baby.
A few weeks ago, a respectable business man in the community approached the father with a proposal that would make the daughter his second wife. The father laughed at the idea, followed by an immediate rejection. When the father came home and brought it up with the family, the daughter, after pondering over the situation, apprehensively came to a similar conclusion.
I say apprehensively since she has seen the writing on her wall and marriage is clearly a distant possibility. She fretted at the thought of sharing her man with another woman, but countered it with the possibility of having her own natural children. She savored the possibility of living in her own home with her own man, but shut that door with the social stigma of being a second wife.
So in the end, she played it safe and accepted her parent's decision.
The thought that immediately comes to my mind is how oppressive is the father (as well as the society) that simply will not entertain the possibility of this woman becoming a co-wife.
If all parties involved (the man, the first wife, and this sister in question) are accepting of the situation, who the hell are people to judge this polygamous relationship? What kind of irresponsible father places his own social circumstances and fears before the well-being of his daughter?
I just don't get it.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
No, not the freedoms. And, not the democracy either. I can live without all that, thank you very much.
What I miss most about living in the US is the Muslim community. Alot.
The tight-knit community that revolved around the local Masjid is simply not to be seen anywhere in Saudi Arabia. 7 years running and Riyadh has nothing remotely close to the feeling of brotherhood I felt in Baltimore.
The reasons are pretty obvious.
Muslims over here aren’t operating as a minority under attack and thus find no need to go the extra mile to build a community. On the other hand, Muslims in the West naturally gravitate towards the masjid in order to feel more at home with others who share their worldview. This inevitably leads to social activities and the like.
Also, the fact that masajid are located at every corner of Riyadh dilutes the concept of the masjid serving as the social center of the community. Masajid here serve only one purpose – prayer. In America, they fulfill multiple objectives – spiritual, social, political, and educational.
Whereas in Baltimore, I would regularly see my friends at the masjid every other night or so (and at worst, every week at Juma’a), here in Riyadh, months can go by before I see a brother who lives merely a few miles away, simply because he attends a masjid walking distance from his home. There’s no two-birds-with-one-stone approach of going to pray and also seeing the brothers. If I want to see anybody, I have to organize a separate social activity, which is simply too time consuming.
But most of all, I miss the volunteering aspect of the Muslim community in America.
I miss shoveling snow off the Masjid sidewalk.
I miss cleaning the bathrooms.
I miss serving food at community dinners.
I miss teaching at the Sunday School.
I miss cleaning up after Iftar dinners.
I miss working with the youth groups.
I miss rolling out the carpets for Juma’a.
I miss selling tickets for fundraising dinners.
I miss collecting donations.
I miss organizing car parking arrangements for Eid.
I miss the high of carrying out said parking plan to perfection.
I miss the exhaustion felt after executing a successful summer festival.
I miss selling balloons after the Eid prayer.
I miss mowing the lawn of the Masjid.
I miss calling up parents to remind them of the next Muslim Kids Club trip.
I miss all the sweat and blood that went into building a thriving Muslim community.
And I am pained at the thought of not exposing my own children to these most beautiful opportunities to serve their Lord. If ever there were a reason for me to go back to the US, the Muslim community and all that it offers would be it.