Saturday, July 31, 2004

Free Ingrid Betancourt

The United States has waged a campaign of war in Colombia under different pretexts - the fight against Communism, Drugs, Rebels, civil war, and what not. Colombia represents one of the longest conflicts in South America. American military aid to Colombia is one of the reasons for this perpetuating cycle of violence. Of course, the systematic repression of human rights, lack of freedom and civil rights, and economic exploitation of the people and its land are the reasons on the ground. US citizens can write to their representatives to change the direction of aid from military to social causes and help solve some problems for Colombia. Link to Amnesty International's Colombia actions.

Ingrid Betancourt Posted by Hello

A socially responsible popular government in Colombia will help to cool down the fighting. In February 2002, Ingrid Betancourt the Green Party Presidential candidate for Colombia was kidnapped by Colombian guerrillas. The Colombian government, a close ally of the US, has refused to negotiate with the rebels for her release. Instead, military action against the rebels has caused the execution of many hostages. The Colombian government has conveniently forgotten the more than 3,000 hostages currently being held. The Campaign to Free Ingrid Betancourt has actions and committees around the world to help free her.

Solidarity with the people and workers everywhere. No occupation! No repression! Freedom and dignity for all people! Link to Green Parties around the world.

Grand Theft America

Watch Grand Theft America - how the GOP stole the Florida election. It's nice.

Grand Theft America Posted by Hello

Be sure to forward it to friends.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Answering AIPAC

A friend of mine asked me what were the arguments in favour of Israel. "Beats me!" I wanted to say. However, to do a better job at it, I am browsing the AIPAC site. Lets see what they have to say.

They descirbe key points about Israel:

Israel is the only country in the Middle East with true free elections, a free press, freedom of religion, protection for individuals and minorities and other safeguards typical of a free society.
Yes, elections are held in Israel. But only "certified citizens" - i.e. immigrant Jews from other countries and the few Arabs remaining within Israel proper are allowed to vote. Political stiffling of dissent and minorities is not uncommon - see, for example the Azmi Bishara case. The most horrific of this is, of course, the treatment meted out to Palestinian people who reside in the Occupied Territories.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East rated "Free" by Freedom House’s report on democracy and human rights in the Middle East.
Oh sure - Palestine is certainly not free. Iraq is occupied by USA. A few others are occupied through a combination of despotic rulers, foreign (western) interference etc. What does that have to do with anything. Another country that holds elections, though highly controlled is Iran.

Independent Judiciary - Similar to the U.S. and in stark contrast to other Middle East nations, Israel has an independent judicial system, which protects the rights of individuals and operates under the principle of "innocent until proven guilty."

Yes, the judiciary is independent, but the laws themselves are biased and unfair towards the native Palestinian population.

Freedom of Religion - The Declaration of the Independence of the State of Israel guarantees freedom of religion to the entire population. Each religious community is free, by law and in practice, to exercise its faith, to administer its own internal affairs, and to visit its holy sites.

Muslim and Christian holy sites have been vandalized, destroyed and taken over to some extent. Yes, the relative restraint of the Israeli government in contrast to the extremist Jewish view towards an all out genocide or destruction of Al Aqsa, or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is appreciated. However, most Arab, Orthodox and Catholic christians suffer in access to the holy sites, like permits etc., while the Christian Zionists, mainly from USA are welcomed.

Women's Rights - Unlike any other Middle Eastern nation, Israeli women are
guaranteed equal rights and equal pay. Women are at the forefront of many
aspects of Israeli society. Israel has always had at least one woman on
its Supreme Court and Israel is the only country in the Middle East to
elect a woman, Golda Meir, to the position of Prime Minister.
This hardly means anything when Golda Meir herself has justified genocide and expulsions. Pakistan was ruled by a woman, Banazir Bhutto, India by Indira Gandhi, Turkey by Tansu Ciller.

Immigrant Society - Israel, with a current population of only 6.3 million, has taken in over 2.9 million refugees from more than 80 countries since its independence.
Sure, but these immigrants have been settled on land illegally confiscated from its native inhabitants in the settlements, or on villages ethnically cleansed (Deir Yassin).

Israel, like the United States, is a country of immigrants. Over 45% of Israelis today were born outside of Israel.

Just like the US, they sit on land taken illegally, through genocide, and campaings of massacres, murder and rape from its earlier inhabitants. Unlike the US, Israeli immigration is racist (Jews only), and furthers an excluvism in other countries (the doctrine that all Jews, from all countries belong to Israel.

Unlike many countries, Israel not only welcomes these refugees and
immigrants without limitation, it also helps them adjust to Israeli life through
a comprehensive process of “absorption.”

Hardly without limitations - only Jews are allowed. The Palestinian refugees languishing everywhere from the camps in OT, Lebanon, Syria, to the farthest corners like Scandinavia, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, Pakistan are not allowed to return. Also, potential immigrants have to prove their ethnic origin to "recognised Jewish communities". Many Jews from small communities in Africa, India etc. have to go through humiliating blood and DNA tests, and dig up old records. Intermarriage among Indian and African Jews with non Jews would therefore render them less Jewish, while "white" Ashkenazi Jews are always welcome.

The Israeli government, assisted by private contributions from world Jewry, provides housing, Hebrew language classes, job training, jobs, and other social services for new immigrants.

At the cost of the natives, and through destroying the relation of Jews with their neighbours in other countries (France, Russia, Morocco) as they are told that they belong to world Jewry rather than their own countries.

Israel was established three years after the Holocaust, at least in part to provide refuge for Jews from all over the world.

It should not be forgotten that Arab countries to0 have provided safe haven to persecuted peoples. The Armenian poulation of Lebanon escaping the Ottoman wars in Armenia, the Chechen population in Turkey and Jordan, escaping Tzarist persecution, and the Jews, escaping the Nazi progroms who were welcomed to live as Jewish Jordanians prior to 1948 by King Hussein. While safety for Jews, just like the Goyim, should be provided, it has to be in cooperation and understanding, rather than through genocide of another population.

The U.S. directly assists Israel in the great humanitarian effort of bringing refugees to Israel. This year, Congress provided $60 million for the resettlement of immigrants inside Israel.

Of course. It has to stop. Not because Jews should not live in safety, but Jews, Arabs or anyone else should not be artificially transplanted, and certainly not at the cost of exiling another population.


I just heard that we have indeed suceeded, and peace has broken out! Well, it's just not here, yet. But the moon is not at war.

Non violence in the Promised Land

I just got back from an ISM meeting. A local student and a lady from a nearby city had returned from Tulkarem. It was moving. I'll try to put down whatever I brought back from the meeting.

Someone asked if ISM was trying to promote ideas of non violent resistance among the Palestinians also. Well, under the harsh conditions that exist where your land and is being taken away from you inch by inch, you are under an illegal occupation where you are humiliated everyday, where you are unsafe even in your own home, just living each day and coming back home is an act of non violence.

Someone mentioned how living under the Nazi, and the subsequent Soviet occupation of Poland made them hate and despise occupation so much, and that is why they sympathise so much with Palestinians.

Conditions in Gaza are just so bad and horrific that the UN has no international staff in the Rafah refugee camps. With the intense Israeli harrassment, they have simply given up and all relief work is done by Palestinian employees. An american ISM volunteer in Gaza said shops would simply empty out if she went in - that was the height of distrust everybody had with americans. However, once people got to know her, her hosts were so protective of her that they won't let her venture out alone. The paranoia that exists in the huge ghetto called Gaza is simply insane. Life in the West Bank is a little different. There, you have isoated closed villages and towns. The wall is simply monstrous. One volunteer had an interesting story. Near the town of Biddu, one Palestinian family managed to stay put in their home even as the land around them was confisicated for settlements. The Israelis have built a 12 feet high wall encircling the house, with a narrow wak-way leading to it, also bounded with a high wall, enclosing them in their own little prison. A huge watch tower of the settlement stands overlooking their house.

However, there is hope, and a lot of Palsetinians say that they are ready to live with Jews if things get better. The occupation has to go! And the least Americans can do is stop the aid that feeds this occupation.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Triple Talaq and Muslims in India

Triple Talaq Posted by Hello

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Jewsish Extremists planning to destroy Al Aqsa?

Aljazeera.Net - Hardline threat to al-Aqsa Mosque

This is a very serious development, and could lead to war. I guess, Sharon and OBL would be delighted.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A different sort of movie

I just watched "Rambing Rose", a 1991 movie starring Laura Dern. On the face of it, it is simply silly and wierd - but beautiful. Once you think about it, there's so much that it captures. I think it is supposed to be feminist and libertarian propaganda. But what the heck, it's a beautiful movie - so I tell myself for a moment "shut up, and watch it".

Rambling Rose Posted by Hello

Certainly recommend it if you want to watch something interesting, different, and enjoyable.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Using Darfur against Sudan?

Aljazeera.Net - Sudan: Darfur issue being used against it

What crap is this? The Palestinian issue is being used against Israel? How can the Arab media repeat the official Sudanese propaganda like this? 

On Saturday the Sudanese paper quoted al-Bashir as telling supporters in the central region of Gazira the campaign against Sudan was aimed at derailing the growth of Islam in the country.
Derailing the growth of Islam? How does the growth of Islam in Africa relate to tribal ethnic cleansing and violence? The growth of Islam occurred in Rwanda, when Muslim Hutus and Tutsis refused to fight in mindless genocides. The fact that the Sudanese govt., is resorting to these tactics, is all the more reason for  American Muslims need to speak out.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

MPAC statement on Darfur

I think MPAC has come out with the strongest statement so far by a mainstream muslim organization  on Darfur. So far, they are the only one to have responded to my emails. I quote


Humanitarian Crisis in the Sudan

MPAC Calls on American Muslims to Assist in Relief to Murder Victims in Sudan

July 20, 2004 – The tragedy unfolding in the Sudan demands the attention of all people of conscience. At least 30,000 Sudanese have been killed in Darfur, and human rights groups report that the number could reach as much as 350,000 if aid does not reach 2 million people in the region soon. Rights groups and aid workers also report that with the spread of cholera, malaria and other infectious diseases, almost 1 million people could be killed in Darfur by the end of the year.

Human Rights Watch said yesterday it had evidence that the government of Sudan has armed the militia called the "Janjaweed", who are responsible for the killings and the mass rapes of "black Africans" in the South. Arab tribes have been in conflict with the "black Africans" in the south over resources such as land and water in the Darfur region.

Both parties in this conflict are Muslim.

Reuters reports that militants are using mass rape as a weapon against the people of Darfur. Amnesty International wrote, "Arab militants in Sudan are gang-raping and abducting girls as young as eight and women as old as 80, systematically killing, torturing, or using them as sex slaves"

Reporter Declan Walsh, writing for ZNet on April 27, 2004, describes the scene in Darfur this way:

"Aging Russian Arnovs sweep over the remote Sudanese villages, dispatching their crude payload of barrel bombs [spent oil drums now packed with explosives and metal shards] next come the Janjaweed, a fearsome Arab militia [which the government insists on calling "soldiers"] mounted on camels and horses, and armed with AK-47 rifles and whips. They murder the men and boys of fighting age, gang-rape the women--sometimes in front of their families--and burn the houses."

The following is another report of the atrocities as told by a villager to Amnesty International in August of 2003:

"It was early in the morning, people were sleeping. About 400 armed people cordoned the village, with military uniforms, the same ones worn by the army, with vehicles and guns. A plane came later, to see if the operation was successful. At least 82 people were killed during the first attack. Some were shot and others, such as children and elderly, were burnt alive in their houses."

MPAC decries the fact that since the perpetrator of this crime is indirectly the Sudanese government, it has escaped criticism from the Arab League and from the OIC. The Arab League and the OIC, joined by the international community, should publicly and loudly condemn this violence and call for a war-crimes tribunal.

The Sudanese government is responsible for this gruesome tragedy, and MPAC calls on the government of Sudan to halt the violence and compensate the victims to the fullest extent possible. Refugees should be returned to their homes, humanitarian goods should be allowed to flow freely into the country, and all those responsible for this human catastrophe should be punished to the full extent of the law.

MPAC is asking fellow American Muslims to write to the Embassy of Sudan, expressing concern about this terrible humanitarian catastrophe. From a human rights and an Islamic perspective, the situation in Darfur is reprehensible and can not go unchallenged.

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, 2210 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008, Tel: (202) 338-8565, Fax: (202) 667-2406

To donate money to help the relief effort, visit Islamic Relief at:

And click on "donate here" on the left.


Though we should have done more earlier, it is better late than never. So please write to the Sudanese embassy. Also, try to pressure your mainstream muslim organization to do more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

What we all knew about Dick Cheney

"Cheney Faces Criminal Indictments; Other Illegal Actions Raise Warning Flags at White House

The Vice President is currently under investigation by French authorities for bribery, money laundering and misuse of corporate assets while at Halliburton and also faces a U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission probe of a $180 million 'slush fund' that may have been used to pay bribes."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

After the Revolution

This David Rovics guy is amazing!
"After the Revolution"
It was a time I'll always remember
Because I could never forget
How reality fell down around us
Like some Western movie set
And once the dust all settled
The sun shone so bright
And a great calm took over us
Like it was all gonna be alright
That's how it felt to be alive
After the revolution

From Groton to Tacoma
On many a factory floor
The workers talked of solidarity
And refused to build weapons of war
No more will we make missiles
We're gonna do something different
And for the first time
Their children were proud of their parents
And somewhere in Gaza a little boy smiled and cried
After the revolution

Prison doors swung open
And mothers hugged their sons
The Liberty Bell was ringing
When the cops put down their guns
A million innocent people
Lit up in the springtime air
And Mumia and Leonard and Sarah Jane Olson
Took a walk in Tompkins Square
And they talked about what they'd do now
After the revolution

The debts were all forgiven
In all the neo-colonies
And the soldiers left their bases
Went back to their families
And a non-aggression treaty
Was signed with every sovereign state
And all the terrorist groups disbanded
With no empire left to hate
And they all started planting olive trees
After the revolution

George Bush and Henry Kissinger
Were sent off to the World Court
Their plans for global domination
Were pre-emptively cut short
Their weapons of mass destruction
Were inspected and destroyed
The battleships were dismantled
Never again to be deployed"

They're buiding a Wall

They're Building A Wall (David Rovics) : "From Warsaw to the West Bank, the parallels are absolutely chilling."

Darfur - Act NOW!

If anything can be called an emergency, it is now! We need to act now to
- let the Sudanese govt. and the rest of the world know that what is going on today is UNACCEPTABLE to us!
- the Janjawid militia's actions have nothing to do with the larger Arab and Muslim nation
- help the refugees in terms of food, shelter, medical aid, and safe repatriation
MWU! has compiled a list of aid orgs and an email you can send to the Sudanese govt.
Please do whatever you can. Also, write to ICNA, ISNA, and CAIR to come out openly in the defense of all Sudanese citizens, and for peace in Sudan.

Monday, July 19, 2004

France bars Sharon, cancels visit

Aljazeera.Net - France bars Sharon, cancels visit
French President Jacques Chirac has informed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "he is not welcome" in Paris after he urged all French Jews to leave the country immediately. 
This is why it is very important to act with tolerance and molarity, and not inflame your friends. France has, on most principles acted with admirable courage. The muslim community in France and beyond needs to live in France in peace and contribute very effectively, rather than depend on welfare. Most importantly, we show that we mean to live peacefully, repsecting each others rights. The 'my way or highway' is a Zionist, imperialist concept, and not a Muslim or European idea. France is safe and pleasant for Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

Random Cartoon

No comments Posted by Hello

Sunday, July 18, 2004

With the nation and Abu Ammar under siege, Palestine implodes

Zionists must be celebrating at the breakdown in Gaza, as a PA under siege seems powerless to control the chaos. 

Abbu Ammar Posted by Hello
US and Israel have been blaming Pres. Arafat for the breakdown in the peace process, saying they can not negotiate with him. Nothing could be farther from the truth, Arafat still enjoys more popular support as a symbol of the struggle than any other individual leader. He is also one of the leaders who can actually come to a settlement, if the Zionist leaders were actually serious about peace.
With the PA gone, the nation will be in a state of dangerous chaos, like the refugee camps in Lebanon when the PLO withdrew, or Back September in Jordan. While corruption seems to be a real problem in the PA, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians do not accuse Arafat of personal corruption, but the yea-men around him. For anyone who has seen weak Muslim/Arab institutions at close range, he would understand exactly what's going on. The problem is, that Israelis have imprisoned Arafat, and destroyed the PA infrastructure, making it impossible to hold elections, or meet different leaders and devote energy on anything else other than maintain a facade of normality.
The more chaos and violence that emerges in Gaza, (or WB if it were to spread), the more Israelis will think they can divide Palestinians and confuse them. Foreign support to the PA has also been dwindling, job creation, overhaul of the official machinery has been stalled. Unless we can maintain a working PA, open enough to work with every faction, but still united under a strong, recognised leadership to take stands and talk for the majority, things will look very bleak. We cannot let the US/Israelis punish the old guard for their heroic fight in the last 30 years. Whatever change there needs to be should come from the ballot and mutual understanding. Arafat should invite the opposition and come to some policy changes that will satisfy them. But this violence and chaos are not helping the nation in any way.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Audio ... just for the heck of it

I just tried out audioblogger, so here is Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin".
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, July 16, 2004

Why Kerry?

Haaretz reports - Cam Kerry promises support for Israel, on brother s behalf:

This is why a vote for Nader is so important, and narrow political maneuvering will fail

"Cam Kerry promises support for Israel, on brother's behalf

By Shmuel Rosner

During his visit to Israel, Cameron Kerry, brother and political adviser to Democratic senator and presumptive presidential nominee, John Kerry, said he is mostly 'learning a lot.'

The life of an Israeli prime minister is not easy, as he tries to navigate his contacts with the rival presidential candidates in the United States. It is especially delicate for Ariel Sharon, where one candidate is George Bush, the supporter who is in electoral difficulties, and his challenger, John Kerry, who promises his support if elected and enjoys the majority of most American Jewish voters.

Cameron Kerry is therefore the most senior envoy of the Kerry camp that Sharon is likely to meet until the November elections.

'He [John Kerry] was here a number of times and he has strong links with Israel,' Cameron Kerry told Haaretz yesterday.

'He is very clear in his statements: the security of Israel must come first, and Israel needs to be able to protect itself,' Kerry says of his brother. 'President Kerry will be a loyal friend to Israel,' he promises.

"There is no Palestinian partner at this time," he says. "It is not the place of the U.S. to pressure Israel to reach an agreement with the Palestinians," he added.

Kerry also promises that "the Kerry administration's policy toward Israel will be such that it will enjoy the support of the Republicans and the Democrats."

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Why do they Hate Us?

My criticism of the MWU! column seems to have attracted the attention of the usual conservative crowd. A reader refers me to a 'must read post' by a 'Modern Muslima'. My criticism was the conscience of one among the disaffected liberal Muslim reacting to what MWU! was indirectly projecting as the views of all liberal and progressive Muslims.

What you will find there is a long drawn criticism of the progressives and liberals. While I agree with the substance of most of the arguments presented there, I still need to speak out as to why there is a need for a liberal forum. I will also clearly spell out that I am not demonising the Sunni Sister - Modern Muslima, as she is certainly not the most dangerous conservative that sparked the need for an alternative forum like MWU!, she rather appears nearer to the moderate Islamist, moderate liberalism that I would like to identify with.

The need for an alternative forum exists because when otherwise "centrist" groups like ICHR, CAIR, ICNA, bring up Muslim issues, they are seen as hypocritical, either because they are, or because they are simply associated with other groups that are. While many of these organisations claim they are for the protection of human rights of everyone, they chose to bring up and act on issues only when Muslims are persecuted by non-Muslims (Palestine), or conservative Muslims persecuted by secular Muslims (Turkey). They are effectively silent for example, when Black African Christians and Muslims are killed by Sudan, or when Pakistani Christians are killed by Pakistani Muslims or when Kurd Muslims are persecuted by Arab Muslims. The logical conclusion that the world draws is that we are nothing but the surrogates and apologists for one or the other totalitarian regimes or opposition movements, and we are trying to fool the Western democracies when we talk about for example, the wrongs of banning hejab in French public institutions or bombing a non-threatening Iraq. Now I am not even talking about the fringe like Muhajirun or GIS which openly take lines reminiscent of the Zionist movement. Then there are the peaceful cousins of these groups which say that only by going to the true path as defined by them, will the Ummah change its condition. On the face of it, this argument is all right. But what they do not say as openly are the implications of their attitudes. It would be all right if they had devoted their energies to telling us about the true path and why it is needed, or helping people attain it. But they also want to occupy the political space of Muslims, be telling us how it is wrong to vote, or organise with non-Muslims on specific issues. Since non-Muslims are nowhere near the true path, their persecution neither concerns them nor bothers them. Secondly, the mundane and secular rights of 'other' Muslims, like non-Salafi Sunnis, Shi'as etc. will never be protected. In effect, they justify the vilest and basest of fascists like Ann Coulter and Daniel Pipes. That is because Muslims are seen as people who will kill you if given a chance, and the only reason your next door friendly immigrant neighbour doesn't kill you is because he doesn't think the time has come yet. Once he has outnumbered you through procreation and immigration, you will have to submit, and you will not be accorded any of the rights he demands from you, because civil libs are the characteristic of the West and Jahiliya, responsible for such evil as single white mothers who can support their family without a man.

What is ironic is that they will use the very same vitiated and hateful atmosphere they help to create, to tell us how the world is evil and hates us for what we are. Just like how the Zionist poisoned american 'conservatives' tell their poor rabble that the US is hated for what it is, rather than what it does, we are told that we are hated for what we are, rather than what some of us do to others, our minorities, or our women. Because these things are not written elsewhere, that is why some Muslims need an alternative forum and voice. If there weren't these negative perceptions and apprehensions about us, the French parliament would never have bothered to care as to what school kids wear on their heads.

We are the equivalent of the conscientious objectors, the refuseniks! While I might be wrong on specific issues, and I am open to change for the better as I realise it, we have the right to a voice and some breathing space.

MWU! has interesting columns on the relations between Jews and Muslim immigrants in France, and the French hejab issue.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Arguments no more?

Lord's Song in a Strange Land

The Dome of Rock Mosque Posted by Hello

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Let my tongue cleave to my throat, if I remember thee not, If I set not Jerusalem above all other, as at the heads of my joy.

Psalm 136

Church of the Holy Sepulcher Posted by Hello

I just watched a great film by Nick Dembowski. Go ahead and watch it online.

The oppression, murder, and genocide carried out under the pretext of religion is the greatest blasphemy against the Abrahamic faith. Watch the movie, share it with friends. I am still trying to figure out if it can be bought somewhere on DVD.

If you're in New Jersey, come watch it on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 at 7:00 PM in the Community Room, New Brunswick Public Library, 60 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ

There will be a Film Screening, Presentations and Discussion. Sponsored by the New Jersey Solidarity - Activists for the Liberation of Palestine.

Donations welcome!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Towards a Muslim Scientific Community

Tehran Times runs Brain Drain story

According to statistics compiled in the United States, 105,000 Iranians immigrate to the U.S. annually, putting the country in the third place after India with 228,000 immigrants and China with 165,000 immigrants.

The extremely qualified and well trained muslim scientists from Iran, Turkey, and Egypt, and a sprinkling from Indo-Pak migrating to the United States are a huge intellectual asset. The problem, however remains that excellent universities like Sharif University of Technology, Bogazici, Koc, Cairo University, and Gazi do not have the same brand value or research output commensurate with the intellectual talent of their students. Abysmal funding, lack of official patronage, and importance attached to research are some reasons. Similar universities elsewhere like Tsinghua University, HUJI, Technion, or KAIST on the other hand are much more well known and respected, both for the contributions of its alumni and the research output of its groups.

Another sad fact is that there is lack of a community and camaraderie that exist among similar communities like the Jewish, Chinese, Korean, and Indian scientists, tech entrepreneurs, and researchers. While this is good for the openness that exits in Muslim led groups compared to Jewish and Oriental groups which tend to be highly biased in their ethnic composition, it leaves a vacuum for brand value and a sense of belonging. Ah well, on second thoughts may be being more open and fair that comes with this is better.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Literature, debate, or just cheap school boy fiction?

MWU! Sex and the Ummah Column

Some times I wonder whether this is just the rantings of a frustrated guy. There are a few issues raised, dealing more with refusal to abide by ritualistic rules.

Not to mention shallow name-calling bordering on blasphemy which I will not even discuss.

I still want to comment on the column, and throw out my own subversive ideas. This will only make sense if you've read the column.

So she went to a masjid in the suburb of Amherst and took shahadah. They gave her a hejab but were nice about it. They were nice about everything; those guys could say the meanest, most ignorant things but still use a gentle voice and try to sound rational and loving through it all. Told her she had to break up with her then-boyfriend, get rid of her dog, throw away old kufr clothes and cover it all except the face and hands, take a nice Arabic name, stop listening to her favorite artists, give dawah to her family or else their brains would burn and boil like Abu Talib, the whole nine. Eventually Lynn gave up on it, kept to her Rumi and stopped going there.

Sure, I get it. A barrage of orders, most of them negative, all of them at once, with no ideas on how to live your life really. Too much pressure ... go slow, man! But the point is, sometimes you just have to do things you don't like. It's called discipline. It differs from ascetism because, you know the right way to do those things. It's the difference between a balanced diet (which is healthy), and starving (which is not). May be she is being told to starve, withoutbeing toldd how to be balanced and not waste her life. How not to be a punk junky. But that doesn't mean you don't try to be a better person. Did she talk to her boyfriend about her faith. Did she consider engagement and marrying him, or just going it slow meanwhile - non-physical. The point of spiritualism and soft sufi-ism is to concentrate on your higher senses so you can easily control baser ones.

“I’m a spiritual person,” she said. “I believe in Allah, you know, though I don’t always call It ‘Allah’ and I pray the way I want to pray. Sometimes I just look out at the stars and this love-fear thing comes over me, you know? And sometimes I might sit in a Christian church listening to them talk about Isa with a book of Hafiz in my hands instead of the hymnal. And you know what, Yusef? Sometimes, every once in a while, I get out my old rug and I pray like Muhammad prayed. I never learned the shit in Arabic and my knees are uncovered, but if Allah has a problem with that then what kind of Allah do we believe in?”

Whoa!! What kind of spiritual person are you, if you can't change one little bit for your God? I still have all the sympathy with the character of Lynn, but please don't justify your weakness. Sure, liberal muslims should accept people like her into the fold, but accept that not being the perfect person is weakness. Weakness should be sympathised with, but not glorified!

“As-salaamu alaikum!” she said with a huge smile and matching hug.

“Wa-alaikum as-salaam,” I replied. “Good to see you.” With her face outlined in cotton hejab, a certain positive energy beamed from Lynn’s expression; but it was also obvious that she had strayed from her natural character.

The narrator has a crush on Lynn. Nothing wrong with that, its nice, beautiful and cute, but don't disguise it as something else, call it what it is.

“Sometimes I don’t know where I feel more out of place.” I looked at the floor, slowly making my way up to her eyes. I did not know what to do with our eye contact. She crinkled her eyebrows. I clumsily leaned toward her and it happened. I could not tell you really how it happened—I can’t remember making any conscious decision to go for it, and I have no memory of her taking the initiative. The kiss came of its own volition without asking for help from either of us.

Likewise, it continued and demanded more of us, like tongues and hands. Then her shirt was off and we cascaded onto my mattress. I opened my eyes briefly and looked at her shoulder, deciding the bra should come off and soon realizing I was out of my element tugging on the hooks. She reached behind herself and it was off.

The problem here is one of control and discipline. I don't mean to be condescending here, but see it for what it is. They like each other, that's cool. How old are they? Old enough, I guess. If that is so, why don't they consider marrying? If people will object, then I guess that's where practical liberal Islam comes in. To make marriage for two consenting individuals easier than fornication, adultery, whoredom and everything else that demeans people.

“Because I led you astray, wearing a tight little shirt so you could see my shape, right?”


“And I’d lean over so you could see right down…” As she said it she did just that, but almost in caricature of what the intention would have been.

“It’s all me, I’m the—”

She is talking about the hypocritical, double standard of blaming everything on the woman. She has a point.

There are some interesting and subversive comments by a reader there. One g.l. writes :

i see lust for white flesh is still a mainstay with muslims. this story proves it! funny how the "white" muslimah in this fiction story throws herself at whatever man passes by... typical occidentalist stereotype!

Lust has nothing to do with being muslim or white or whatever. But the story tries to say something about muslims and liberalism but if its really liberalism and equality and all that how come the protagonist was not african american? There are certainly more african american muslims, aren't there? If it is true that Lynn is more attractive than most Muslimas the narrator has met, then this should be said so openly. But the point here is that many Asiatic people find Caucasian, or specifically blonde people more attractive, it has got nothing to do with ideology or Islam, liberal or conservative. What it does have to say a lot about is the hypocritical stance of many asians who complain of racism but are even more racist towards africans and others. And even this supposedly liberal piece of fiction by a white american has that subtle racsim against the white woman. The "throwing herself at any man ..." thing.

I might add more on this, but I'd love to hear criticism.

Azeri Govt. action not helping

Baku Juma Mosque under attack

Harrassing moderate muslims isn't going to help the country. Let the people pray, and do something good for your country, Mr. Ilham Aliyev!

World court tells Israel to tear down illegal wall

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | World court tells Israel to tear down illegal wall

Will the UN do something? Or are they effectively going to tell us that might is right, and the only way to defend oneself is to have bigger bombs than your enemies?

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Taken hostage, again

It was said, after 9/11 that what was taken hostage on the airplanes was the faith of Islam. Regardless of who said it, and what their intentions were, the statement did ring true. It did to me, at least.

After being horrified at the events after 9/11 and how the things have taken a turn for the worse, especially the extremist view prevalent among many I talked to, I was thrilled to see a liberal Muslim space emerging, at least on the internet. I am taking about Muslim WakeUp!.

However, I feel that the liberal Muslim view has been taken hostage here. I may be overreacting, or may be not. I had always thought that liberal Muslims were about giving each other some breathing space, being sympathetic to each others so as to help them be better Muslims, and being able to see fault in oneself too. It was about being closer to the essential spiritual path and faith, and freeing it of stereotypical, regional, chauvinistic, and national shackles. Mostly, about being better and humble people who could help each other out even when they are not perfect, in order to escape greater evil if we left each other alone, and made Muslims feel excommunicated.

I have been sadly disappointed. What is emerging is a community which tries to justify its wrongs, and rather put the blame on those who advise against it. I thought decent liberal muslims were about caring about the sinner, so as to help him/her get away from sin, not encourage it! I think the movement is nascent, and I hope the sane elements emerge victorious.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Musharraf makes sense

- DAWN - Latest Stories; 09 July, 2004

I think he makes quite a lot of sense as a military leader here.

Musharraf for closing of fronts against Muslims: BAKU, Jul 9: Calling for the closing of fronts against Muslims, President Pervez Musharraf declared that political issues concerning Muslim Ummah must be resolved with justice to ensure global peace and harmony. "When we talk of resolution of political disputes we feel that too many fronts all involving Muslims have been opened. It is time to be closing fronts now," he said while addressing Milli Majlis, the national Parliament of Azerbaijan today.