Sunday, December 25, 2005

Homesick

Inside my mind there is a door
To the life I lived in a time before

Each detail preserved in filigree
Etched into my living memory

I open the door and walk right in
My living reverie begins

Rooms, so orderly
Familiar, predictable

Truth is golden
People are readable

Each detail preserved in filigree
Etched into my living memory

Homesick and stateless
I walk right in
My living reverie begins

Things make sense there
But I’m not welcome

Allah hu akbar!
Religious oppression

Each detail preserved in filigree
Etched into my living memory

Memories run deep
But threats are large

Friends in jail
Allegations, no charge

Torture
Spies
And wire taps

Suspicion, hatred
a bloody mess.

Division in my own family
Harsh cruel reality.

Inside my mind I close the door
On the life I miss in the time before.

Each detail preserved in filigree
Etched forever into my memory.

I open the door and walk right in.Now reality begins.

Ten Differences between Spirituality and Religion

copied from Sufi Amenesis


1.) Religion tends to be heavily preoccupied with the world of concepts. These concepts- whether in the form of theology, dogma, philosophy, or personal interpretation, play fundamental roles in mediating and coloring an individual's understanding of Reality or Divinity.Spirituality, on the other hand, is preoccupied with the different levels and dimensions of the experience of Reality or Divinity. In other words, spirituality is advocating that one's spiritual experience, at some point, should not be mediated by concepts, theories or interpretations.Concepts may be acceptable up to a certain point, but the general consensus of the perspective of spirituality is that, ultimately, concepts lead one away from the truth, not toward it. This raises the problem of how one is to go about differentiating between, on the one hand, imagination or fantasy, and, on the other hand, truth or reality, but this is another matter.

2.) Religion often gives emphasis to issues of salvation. As such, one of the key motivations underlying many religious acts involves doing something because that action will help one gain heaven, while simultaneously helping one to avoid projected negative ramifications which come from sins of commission or omission.Spirituality doesn't deny the metaphysical realities or issues of salvation which are associated with the positive or negative consequences of our actions. The motivational orientation of spirituality, however, is entirely different.In spirituality, one's motivation should be to do things because of the intimate nature of our essential relationship with Reality or Divinity, and not because of what we might receive as reward or avoid in the way of negative consequences. The emphasis should be on doing things out of love, service, sincere worship and gratitude, rather than as a means to some further, personal end or desire.In short, religion is about what human beings seek from God. Spirituality is about what God seeks from human beings.

3.) Generally speaking, religion operates on the basis of trying to change people from the outside in. Spirituality concentrates on helping people to change from the inside out.More specifically, religion is concerned with imposing a doctrinal framework onto the individual. This framework must be internalized in order for the individual to be considered a properly functioning member of the religious collective.Spirituality is concerned with the realization of one's true identity and essential capacity. Proper intention, thinking, understanding, awareness and activity all flow from a realized inner nature, not internalized external doctrines.

4.) Religion tends to place great emphasis on the exoteric. In other words, one usually is required to perform rituals, irrespective of whether one understands the nature and purpose of those rituals. The important feature is to comply with the ritual and, therefore, conform to the letter of what is perceived to be religious law.In spirituality, the emphasis is much more on the esoteric dimension of whatever forms of practice one may pursue. One should try to be receptive to the spirit of a practice. One should seek to understand the nature and purpose of such practices, not just conceptually, but experientially.

5.) In religion, faith is, all too frequently, a matter of a blind, static, rigid, narrow acceptance of some belief, value or practice. In spirituality, on the other hand, faith is intended to be a dynamic, living, flexible, continuous growth of one's understanding of the nature of one's relationship with Reality or Divinity.Religion often equates faith with an emotional or conceptual commitment to a belief system. Spirituality treats faith as a species of knowledge rooted in realizations drawn from personal experience.

6.) Religion often becomes entangled in politics. This is so both within a religious collective as well as in the manner in which a given religion relates to the surrounding world.Spirituality, by and large, seeks to avoid the political sphere, preferring to contribute to society directly, and, where possible, anonymously. These contributions come through the beneficial effects of moral qualities such as compassion, patience, charitableness, tolerance, kindness, honesty, integrity, forgiveness and so on.

7.) Religion tends to gravitate toward a authoritarian modus operandi in which submission is demanded of individuals. Spirituality, on the other hand, is centered around the command and respect which a person's recognition of the authoritative nature of Truth brings. Submission is freely given.

8.) Generally speaking, religion is governed by rules, whereas, spirituality is governed by principles. In religion, one needs to know what the rules are before one can act, and in the absence of specific rules, one tends to become disoriented. In spirituality, once one understands the principles, one is able to deal appropriately with any situation even if none of the available rules seems to be relevant to the present situation.

9.) In religion, the participation of the individual often revolves primarily around interaction with an institution such as a church, temple, mosque or synagogue. Personal interaction with the leader of that institution tends to be of a secondary nature, if it takes place at all.In spirituality, on the other hand, participation primarily revolves around one's personal relationship with a teacher or guide. Participation in some kind of institutional activity is of secondary importance, if it occurs at all.

10.) The term "deen" in Islam does not mean "religion". Deen refers to those experiential processes which are directed toward helping the individual to realize various dimensions of the essential nature, or fitra, of human spiritual potential.When Muslims are informed in the Qur'an about God having brought to completion their Deen, it is not a religion which has been completed. Rather, what has been completed is the establilshing of the Divine means, method or way which, God willing, can assist human beings to work toward fulfilling and realizing the purpose and nature of created existence.

Monday, December 19, 2005

You can't have my "war tax" Money!



...One of the big reasons we are not living and working in the states right now....Bush can't take taxes out of my overseas income. Tax money goes to fuel Bush's pre-emptive wars. I don't support you, Sir King George. Money talks.

We actually took a pay cut to come for this job! ...It's all a matter of principles for us. Our reasons for emigrating are;

1.Religion; America isn't very nice to muslims these days!

2.As a political act; to not officially have to pay taxes which contribute to the wars, we were disgusted with the apathy of the American people, etc. Did so much demonstrating for peace, and still the carnage and apathy continued. We were pretty worn-out there at the end.

3.More time to be together as a family. I finish work, at the latest, at 2pm. The benefits here are obvious!

4.To live in a country where children are welcome pretty much everywhere one goes. (famliy-centered, not a money/economy-centered, society).

5.I wanted to work for a while.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Socially Inappropriate


A lot of things my former culture considers "normal behavior" are actually considered extremely socially inappropriate (" 'ebb") by Qatari society.

A woman eating an ice cream cone in public is basically considered profanity!

Other things (Qatari) women would apparently be mortified to be seen doing in public include eating a sandwich while driving the car, smoking in public, and laughing loudy!

Well, of course I do all of these things. I guess a lot of Arabic women embrace these norms too. People think I'm bizarre because I don't. I think a lot of folks confuse culture with religion. They think that because I am muslim, I will act just like them.

Well the last time I read it the Quran said nothing about these things!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

My oldest child is taking horseback riding lessons. He and I both passionately love horses. We are having a great time, and he also has made friends with a little girl in his class.

He absolutely loves this little girl. I love the little girl. I met her parents and they are ok. In my previous life, before I got serious about Islam, before I came to Qatar I guess you could say, I would have no reservations about letting him socialize with her, about myself socializing with them.

But now, I do, and I feel like such a goon for even feeling this reservation. I hesitate to socialize with them because we don't share some important core values (they're American, aren't Muslim). On the one hand I feel totally justified and like I'm correct; on the other hand, I am like, "what harm can it do?" We have to face the "outside world" someday, right? I can't live in this bubble, away from America, away from everything I used to know, forever, right? But then again, it's my duty as his mother to protect him from influences I disapprove of. They celebrate Christmas. We don't anymore. My son remembers our life "before", when I was still Catholic. It's been really hard for him. He misses America (which he equates synonymously with those old Christian traditions), so much.

They want to invite us to a "solstice party". Omigawwwwd, it's a pagan party! I used to be so flexible about this stuff, now I'm totally mortified. No way.

Other issues can arise here too; It's extremely possible that they consume alcohol, which is totally not something I need to be around, let alone for my kids to see (uh, can we say inappropriate modeling?). It's ok for them; they aren't muslim. But I am, and man I really don't need that temptation put in my face.

Oh, I am so sick over this. I hate hate hate to make bad impressions on people, I hate it if someone doesn't like me, getting rejected is one of the most difficult things for me to take. But I have to stand my ground on this one. The possibility of a relationship with them hurting me and my kids spiritually is potentially too great.

Man, I'm such a prude! But all for the sake of Allah....If God is happy with me, then I suppose I can handle the rejection.

Maybe we could invite them over to our place. Then we would be more in control of the situation......Hmmm what do you guys think?

Oh, what I am going to do when we visit the states the next time? I think I will be in serious culture shock. Both sides of our families drink alcohol. It will be their first time seeing me like this, absolutely no alcohol, wearing hijab, etc. Ohhhh, and the food there won't be halaal. It's not only not halaal, most meat in the states also isn't Tayyib ("pure", basically means it's not organically grown). So I'll be "vegetarian" effectually while I'm in the states. My third-generation-of-German-butchers family on my mother's side will really understand!

We probably will go back this summer, as long as Bush isn't putting all of the muslim Americans in concentration camps or something by then! So, I have some time to mentally prepare myself for going back.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Free Al Arian, a Political Prisoner



Dr. Sami Al-Arian's TrialJury deliberations began on Nov. 15. We are praying for a just outcome. Thank you for the beautiful expressions of support we received from around the world.

A Political Prosecution:Closing ArgumentsClosing arguments in the case of Dr. Sami Al-Arian and his co-defendants began on November 7 with prosecutors admitting the evidence in the case was circumstantial.

The government has alleged that Dr. Al-Arian's legitimate organizations---the Islamic Committee for Palestine, World and Islam Studies Enterprise and Islamic Academy of Florida-- were fronts for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. While they attempted to prove that Dr. Al-Arian and his three co-defendants had "criminal intent" to further the unlawful goals of the PIJ, all they have shown was mere association and involvement in nonviolent, charitable activities.

To cover the fact that there is no evidence pointing to criminalactivity, prosecutor Cherie Krisgman asked jurors to "use theircommon sense" to "connect the dots." On Tuesday, Dr. Al-Arian's lawyers, William Moffitt and Linda Moreno, argued that the government failed to prove its case against Dr. Al-Arian and present any evidence to back up its claims. Moreno said "when Ms. Krigsman asks you to use your common sense, she's asking you to take a leap of faith, to suspend your disbelief."

More importantly, Moffitt and Moreno argued that the case is about nothing more than First Amendment-protected speech. They made impassioned pleas to stand up for the principles upon which the United States was founded and to defend Dr. Al-Arian's right to speak out against the brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestinians.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

"God is enough for me and is an excellent guardian".

(title expression is said usually when someone has done a bad thing towards you/cheated you etc.).

Translation of the Quran;

AL-MUTAFFIFIN (THOSE WHO GIVE SHORT MEASURE)
THE EIGHTY-THIRD SURAH Total Verses: 36 PERIOD UNCERTAIN

..from the english translation The Message of the Quran, Mohamed Assad.

*THE FOLLOWING COMMENTARY WAS NOT IN THE ARABIC I POSTED. THIS IS THE QURAN TRANSLATOR'S OWN "TAFSEER", WHICH IS LIKE INSIGHTS AND/OR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WHICH HELP THE READER UNDERSTAND THE VERSES MEANING BETTER AND/OR THE CONTEXT FROM WHICH A VERSE OF THE QURAN WAS REVEALED TO THE PROPHET MOHAMED, may peace and blessings be upon him.
Introduction

MANY AUTHORITIES - among them Suyuti - regard this surah as the last Meccan revelation. However, a number of authentic Traditions make it clear that at least the first four verses were revealed shortly after the Prophet's arrival at Medina (cf. Tabari, Baghawi, Ibn Kathir): some commentators go even further and ascribe the whole of the surah to the Medina period. If we take all the available evidence into account and disregard all speculations based on no more than theme and style, we may assume that the main body of this surah indeed represents the very last Meccan revelation, while the opening passage (to which the above-mentioned Traditions explicitly refer) belongs to the earliest Medina period. Thus, the surah as a whole stands - like surah 29 (Al-Ankabut) - on the threshold between these two periods.

...here begins the translation of this verse of the quran;

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE MOST GRACIOUS, THE DISPENSER OF GRACE:

83: 1
WOE UNTO THOSE who give short measure:

83: 2
those who, when they are to receive their due from [other] people, demand that it be given in full –

83: 3
but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due!

83: 4
Do they not know that they are bound to be raised from the dead

83: 5
[and called to account] on an awesome Day –

83: 6
the Day when all men shall stand before the Sustainer of all the worlds?

83: 7
NAY, VERILY, the record of the wicked is indeed [set down] in a mode inescapable!


83: 8
And what could make thee conceive what that that mode inescapable will be?

83: 9
A record [indelibly] inscribed!

83: 10
Woe on that Day unto those who give the lie to the truth –

83: 11
those who give the lie to the [coming of] Judgment Day:

83: 12
for, none gives the lie to it but such as are wont to transgress against all that is [and are] immersed in sin:


83: 13
[and so,] whenever Our messages are conveyed to them, they but say, "Fables of ancient times!"

83: 14
Nay, but their hearts are corroded by all [the evil] that they were wont to do!*

* Lit., "that which they were earning has covered their hearts with rust": implying that their; persistence in wrongdoing has gradually deprived them of all consciousness of moral responsibility and, hence, of the ability to visualize the fact of God's ultimate judgment.

83: 15
Nay, verily, from [the grace of] their Sustainer shall they on that Day be debarred;

83: 16
and then, behold, they shall enter the blazing fire

83: 17
and be told: "This is the [very thing] to which you were wont to give the lie!"

83: 18
NAY, VERILY - the record of the truly virtuous is [set down] in a mode most lofty!

83: 19
And what could make thee conceive what that mode most lofty will be?

83: 20
A record [indelibly] inscribed,

83: 21
witnessed~ by all who have [ever] been drawn close unto God.


83: 22
Behold, [in the life to come] the truly virtuous will indeed be in bliss:

83: 23
[restingJ on couches, they will look up [to God]:


83: 24
upon their faces thou wilt see the brightness of bliss.

83: 25
They will be given a drink of pure wine whereon the seal [of God] will have been set,

83: 26
pouring forth with a fragrance of musk. To that [wine of paradise], then, let all such aspire as [are willing to] aspire to things of high account:


83: 28
a source [of bliss] whereof those who are drawn close unto God shall drink.*

* Cf. 76:5-6 and the corresponding notes.

83: 29
BEHOLD, those who have abandoned themselves to sin are wont to laugh at such as have attained to faith

83: 30
and whenever they pass by them, they wink at one another [derisively];

83: 31
and whenever they return to people of their own kind,* they return full of jests;


83: 32
and whenever they see those [who believe,] they say, "Behold, these [people] have indeed gone astray!"

83: 33
And, withal, they have no call to watch over [the beliefs of] others. . .


83: 34
But on the Day [of Judgment], they who had attained to faith will [be able to] laugh at the [erstwhile] deniers of the truth:


83: 35
[for, resting in paradise] on couches, they will look on [and say to themselves]:

83: 36
"Are these deniers of the truth being [thus] requited for [aught but] what they were wont to do?"

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hessbiyallah wa 'ana malikeel

Sura AL MUTAFIFEEN, or Dealing in Fraud; (#83)


بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِوَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ {1
الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُواْ عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَ {2
وَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَ {3
أَلَا يَظُنُّ أُولَئِكَ أَنَّهُم مَّبْعُوثُونَ {4
لِيَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ {5
يَوْمَ يَقُومُ النَّاسُ لِرَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {6
كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الفُجَّارِ لَفِي سِجِّينٍ {7
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا سِجِّينٌ {8
كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ {9
وَيْلٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ لِّلْمُكَذِّبِينَ {10
الَّذِينَ يُكَذِّبُونَ بِيَوْمِ الدِّينِ {11
وَمَا يُكَذِّبُ بِهِ إِلَّا كُلُّ مُعْتَدٍ أَثِيمٍ {12
إِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِ آيَاتُنَا قَالَ أَسَاطِيرُ الْأَوَّلِينَ {13
كَلَّا بَلْ رَانَ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ {14
كَلَّا إِنَّهُمْ عَن رَّبِّهِمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ لَّمَحْجُوبُونَ {15
ثُمَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَصَالُوا الْجَحِيمِ {16
ثُمَّ يُقَالُ هَذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تُكَذِّبُونَ {17
كَلَّا إِنَّ كِتَابَ الْأَبْرَارِ لَفِي عِلِّيِّينَ {18
وَمَا أَدْرَاكَ مَا عِلِّيُّونَ {19
كِتَابٌ مَّرْقُومٌ {20
يَشْهَدُهُ الْمُقَرَّبُونَ {21
إِنَّ الْأَبْرَارَ لَفِي نَعِيمٍ {22
عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ {23
تَعْرِفُ فِي وُجُوهِهِمْ نَضْرَةَ النَّعِيمِ {24
يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ {25
خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ وَفِي ذَلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ {26
وَمِزَاجُهُ مِن تَسْنِيمٍ {27
عَيْنًا يَشْرَبُ بِهَا الْمُقَرَّبُونَ {28
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ أَجْرَمُوا كَانُواْ مِنَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَضْحَكُونَ {29
وَإِذَا مَرُّواْ بِهِمْ يَتَغَامَزُونَ {30
وَإِذَا انقَلَبُواْ إِلَى أَهْلِهِمُ انقَلَبُواْ فَكِهِينَ {31
وَإِذَا رَأَوْهُمْ قَالُوا إِنَّ هَؤُلَاء لَضَالُّونَ {32
وَمَا أُرْسِلُوا عَلَيْهِمْ حَافِظِينَ {33
فَالْيَوْمَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مِنَ الْكُفَّارِ يَضْحَكُونَ {34
عَلَى الْأَرَائِكِ يَنظُرُونَ {35
هَلْ ثُوِّبَ الْكُفَّارُ مَا كَانُوا يَفْعَلُونَ {36