Friday, December 14, 2007

Between Jerusalem and Jericho

40 Days in the wilderness
I hunger
I thirst
Temptation looms from
She who is cursed


Turn my stones into bread
I will be your Feast
Fill yourself with me
And so be relieved.


This burning
I faint
I'm delerious
A mirage looms before me
inside of your kiss.


If I worship you
I'll rule all the Worlds
And surely God will save me
If I jump down on your sword....

Except this isn't an accident
You here before me
the angels won't catch
the one who jumps Deliberately.


You could be my Messiah
sent to give me some Bread
A magician, a miracle worker
Who's gone to my head
You might liberate my oppresssion
If I flee into your arms.
No, you're just an apparition
of Seduction and Charms.


You're Nothing.
Just a bass player in a rock and roll band.
Everything you have offered
Is right here
In the palm
of my own Hand.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Angelic





My son turned 8 the first weekend of this month. We had a big shabang party for him complete with all the classic childhood games; pin the tail on the donkey, button button who's got the button, hot potatoe, duck duck goose, and the highlight of course, pinata! A great time was had by all, and I still am a bit in shock that he's actually 8!




So the camera sat in the cabinet for a couple of weeks and then the other day I finally downloaded all of the pics onto the computer. Whoa! What a shocker to see that there are these gorgeous orbs in almost every photo from his party!




I have been told by others about orbs and I have seen quite a few pictures of them, but never have they shown up in any of my pictures until now.




1448. Abu Hurairah and Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said,




"When a group of people assemble for the remembrance of Allah, the angels surround them (with their wings), (Allah's) mercy envelops them, Sakinah, or tranquillity descends upon them and Allah makes a mention of them before those who are near Him.''[Muslim].


Alhumdulillah!




Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Birthday Tea Party

Pinata...
Button, button, who has the button?
And of course the tea party with the Barbie cake.
Yes indeed that is a real porceline tea set with real peppermint tea in one pot, and real raspberry tea in the other! They were able to pour for each other and everything!
I can't believe she's five years old!
Happy birthday sweet angel.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Depression; A Disease of the Nafs or Endogenous?



I have started listening to and taking notes on The Purification of the Heart 17-cd set of lectures by sidi Sheikh Hamza Yusuf. In this series Sheikh Hamza is translating into English and teaching from the text written by a Mauritanian Sheikh who wrote it originally in Arabic.

The suffering of the world is spoken of in term of wars, starvation, hatred, competition, and the struggle of the survival of the fittest. Yet all the suffering of the world originates in the human heart. Every crime committed, every act of oppression, every callous cruelty, and every injustice to the self or others emanates from the hearts of men.The soundest of hearts was the heart of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) who, through his purity and singularity of intention, transformed the world. His teaching remains and the challenge is for each of us to take it and to transform our hearts with it, thereby, transforming the very world in which we live.

Islam has clearly defined that there are several diseases of the heart, which make the human being shrink further and further away from God (ie in a state of sinfulness, whereas being without sin makes the human being closer to God). Things like envy, fear of poverty, using religion as a means for increasing your worldly position, seeking praise from anyone or anything other than God, and miserlyness ...to name just a few.

I have been told by many muslims that depression is not an endogenous physiological "disease" over which the person afflicted by it has no control and the only hope for them would be to take medication; Rather, many folks have stated that depression is a spiritual disease, and that the cure is to get closer to God, delve deeper into Spirituality, and therein one will find the remedy.

I thought all of that was hogwash until I came across this series of Sheikh Hamza's, mashallah!

What is really really helping me, and Sheikh Hamza said it's medicine, and now I believe him, is reciting the

surah Ikhlas ("Purity"- which is said to be equal to one-third of the Quran!) from the Quran three times, three times a day;

Bismillah irahman iraheem;

Qul hol wal aho ahad

Allah hu samad

Lam yaleed wa lam yoolad

Wa lam yakool ahu kufu wan ahad.

Translation

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Ever Merciful.

Say, He is God, the One; God, the Independent and Besought of all.

He begets not, nor is He begotten.

And there is none like unto Him.

as well as the dua' Istikar (please forgive me if I have pronounced any of this Arabic wrong, my intentions are good! As far as I can tell this is the name Hamza Yusuf gave to this dua', however I can't find it online-) three times, three times a day.

Allahumma inni ma'udu bikka

wa 'ana ba'lamu

wa astafiruka min kulli ma la 'alamu. Ameen.

Translation; Oh God I seek refuge in you that I should make shirk (partners)

with you and I am aware of it, and I ask forgiveness for any (shirk that I make)

that I'm not aware of. Amen.

Jezakallah kharian, Sheikh Hamza, and may Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful bless you.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Waiting

In my darkest hour
when the walls are closing in?

When will the healing come?

After I've lost it all
and there's nothing left?

When will the healing come?

I've tried and tried to change
and failed over and over again.

When will the healing come?

I'm such a failure
that I'm unloveable.

When will the healing come?

No chance of success,
I'm just trouble.

When will the healing come?

I can't continue
without support.

When will the healing come?

A marriage broken
All that's left is rubble.

When will the healing come?

When I'm dying Lord
and you're callin' me home?

...When will the healing come?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Jena Six

Another Truth untold. Unbelieveable!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Shame, shame, shame

"...In honor of men of courage, faith and vision: investors in a glorious dream, of winning the wilderness for the white man...."


"...By that gallant band of axemen pioneers and indian fighters who at the risk and loss of life opened the doors of destiny to the white race in Kentucky and the west."


This plaque simply is mortifying.

It's shameful that things like this are still erect on Government - funded public sites! Yes indeed, payed for by American citizens' tax dollars!

It is placed in Fort Boonesborough State Park here in Kentucky, near the ruins of the original Fort of Daniel Boone, NOT at the reproduction Fort where most tourists come to sightsee.

Generally speaking, I take pride in being able to say that Kentucky is better than Ohio. For one thing, Ohio has too many rules! It seems like a few too many folks who are "guardians" on the Myers-Briggs personality spectrum live in Ohio. Ohio is also where there are just a lot of trashy people. Ohioans always like to pretend like those people are "Appalachians from Kentucky". They have a real denial prob;em, they can't seem to own the fact that trashy people are found pretty much everywhere and the great Buckeye State isn't exempt from that. Hello, can you say "Hamiltucky"???? It ain't in Kentucky my friends, it's in Ohio!

Especially here in my neck of the woods, we are a pretty International mix, with 11% Japanese in my son's elementary school, a lot of Germans and other International people living here because of so many big corporations relocating here. After all, Ohio has too many taxes! And you can't smoke in restaurants in Ohio (not that I do, it's simply the principal of being allowed to do as you wish that I am all for.) Ohio has too daggon many rules.

However, after finding this darn thing, I have to say that
it's embarassing to be living in Kentucky and know that crap like this is still around.

Shame, shame, SHAME!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

What I've Been Up To

Before....
And after!


My parents gifted us this lovely Thomasville dining room set. However it is over 30 years old and was desperately in need of some severe repairs! So not only did I recover it, I first had to totally rebuild the seat's strapping and cut new foam before I could even think of stapling on the new material.

I think it looks great, although I didn't redo the welting (see how in the old way each seam has a cord between it and the next piece of material?). Welting is sooo insanely difficult for this beginner sewer! I just couldn't swing it

What do y'all think?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A culture of Denial

We Midwesterners (at least in the rural area north of Cincinnati where all of my family is from) come from a tradition of denial in the face of conflict. Yep, if a member of the family does something that the rest of the family doesn't relate to and/or can't understand (like convert to Islam) then they all just pretend it hasn't happened. Just sweep it under the rug so you can't see the "dirt", make everything appear pleasant so you don't have to face that dirt and actually do something about it.



Normal people with actual coping skills would let the dirt sit there in the floor and they would confront it; They would either decide they dislike it and sweep it up and get rid of it, or accept the fact that it's there and live with dirt on the floor.



But no not my family. The dirt can actually get heaping as high as Rumpke mountain and they still will refuse to acknowledge it's there. And woe to the person who points out to them that "hey, there's a pile of dirt the size of Rumpke's mountain under the rug, so what do you want to do about it?" for they will suffer the wrath of "How dare you disrespect us like that. Why the nerve of you, saying that there's a mountain of dirt under our rug."...and they explode on you, which to you is totally out of left field. After all, wouldn't any normal sane person just confront the dirt and decide what they want to do about it if it's presence in their house makes them uncomfortable??????????????????????????????????



This lovely little facet of my filial culture is starting to simply wear me out. I don't know how much more of it I can take. I'm tired of sweeping the parts of me that make them uncomfortable under the rug.They're fully aware that those parts are there, it's just that they have requested that I don't reveal these facets of myself when in their presence.



I don't think I can deal with them anymore.



I found another book (full of lies) about Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefsby Ergun Mehmet Caner in my mother's bedroom yesterday. What a crock. I confronted her on it, because I am really hurt that she's reading, well, really any book about Islam, let alone something so hateful, instead of just sitting down and talking to me. What a fiasco.

I just read all of the tags people have suggested for this book on Amazon.com. The tags are;
anti-islam, bigoted, biased, hate, islamophobia, coulter, ann coulter, brilliance

I added these tags;

lies, one-sided, hateful, inciting violence

So now I am getting "in her face" with my beliefs because I asked her why she isn't asking a real live muslim like her daughter these questions she must have instead of reading a hateful book that's full of lies (subhanallah, the guys who wrote it are ex-muslims who claim to be Christian).

Well, I don't know any command by Jesus, peace be upon him, that teaches folks to be hateful or spread blatant un-truths about another religion.

Jesus said to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you!

Turn the other cheek, not an eye for an eye!

Blessed are the peacemakers!!!!!!!!!

There is nothing Christian in this freakin' book.

I am devastated.

My parents are freakin' hateful Anne Coulter G. Gordon Libby Rush Limbaugh Neo-Cons.

They are everything that I feel is wrong with our Country, and I have to love them, because they are my parents.

That's freakin' difficult! As muslims, we are commanded several times in the Quran and in the hadith, which are the sayings of the prophet, to respect our parents and family. It's a major tenet of Islam to show respect to your family, no matter what the circumstances. Inshallah, God-willing, I can live up to that ideal. Ameen.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

More than meets the Eye


We closed on our new house May 31st! Yay! We've been settling in, praise God, but there have been a couple of little bumps we've had to go over.


For instance, the day we took posession the previous owner was *still moving stuff out of the house when we did the final walkthrough before closing. Now we know that she was really just here to try and run interference, which did work; we missed something that they had damaged since the home inspection. They cracked the mirror in the master bathroom. They had placed a fake flower arrangement in front of it, hoping we'd miss it on the final walkthrough, which we did. I called my realtor three hours after closing in tears and told him what I'd found. His response was, "Don't they know what Karma is?"??? He's taking care of it, luckily.


Then it rained three days after closing, and I found that there was water pouring into our basement. Went in the garage and saw that the dry wall was wet in a certain area, which made a trail that led to the ceiling. The roof was leaking! Those B$%$#^%& had a leaky roof and didn't disclose it! They lied on the seller disclosure and wrote that there was no leaking roof, no water coming into their basement. And our home inspector missed this! What a jerk! We were soooo angry, felt ripped off, and frustrated. If he was a good home inspector, he would have noticed the dry wall was damaged. They had hid this little gem as well, covering it with their watering hose which was hung on the wall in front of the damaged area. Thank God, water isn't coming in any more, we have had the roof repaired, $625 later!!!!!

And now for a good part of the story. My hubby decided he's building a fence around the backyard for our little ones, so he went and talked to the neighbor who borders our property on that side. They agreed on where he thought the property line was, and he even said he would go halvsies on it financially and that my husband can use his auger. Well, then my husband spends all day in the hot sun digging this fence post hole, gets it in, puts in the 2 sacks 80 pounds each of quick crete, and the guy comes back out. Says um btw I'm not the property owner I'm just renting you'd better have it surveyed I think you put that post on our property! DANG! So we dug that sucker out of the ground faster than you can say "greased lightening"!!!!!

Yesterday we had it surveyed, and lo and behold, not only were we well within our property line, but our yard is much much larger than we or the previous owner thought! And our neighbors on both sides were actually encroaching on our property line! When we were calling around and getting quotes on the survey, we were aghast at the price....but now after we see where our yard actually is, we see that it was money well spent. If you don't know where your property lines officially are, I highly recommend spending the $300-400 on the survey!






Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kareem Salama, a Brilliant Country Singer

I highly recommend buying a cd or 2 from Kareem Salama. The son of Egyptian immigrants, Kareem was born and raised in Ponca City, Oklahoma. He spent his childhood immersed in Western United States culture, attending Rodeos and Pow Wows, while simultaneously learning his family's roots in Islam and Arabic culture. With a degree in Chemical Engineering and recenlty finishing Law School, he's on the road promoting his new album, "Generous Peace".

His voice is robust, sexy, and All-American Country soundin'. I love him! His musical sound is open-chord guitar with a lot of grounded piano sound supporting it. His lyrics are not officially "muslim" or "nasheeds" (Islamic gospel songs), but the subject matter is definitely "Halal" (ie for you non-muslims reading this, Halal means religiously permissible, as in the subject matter is about living a good life, it's not about forbidden things and isn't leading the listener to sin - not about adultery, greed, alcohol, or other illicit/amoral activities).

You can listen to various songs from his album on his website.

I broke down and simply cried when I listened to Baby I'm A Soldier.

He was a soldier who’d only been married two or three years ago
And he put his hands on her knees that night and he said I gotta go
She said why would you leave this home and me;
I thought I was your baby girl
And he wiped away the tears from her eyes and said they’re sending me to save the world
And you know I love you and I pray to God that he’ll join us once again
But now its time for this simple man to be one of the few good men

(Chorus)
Cause baby I’m a soldier and I hear those trumpets calling again
And our kings and queens are saying this is a fight we must win
For truth and justice and for the way we live our life
And baby I’m a soldier in front of God I swore I would fight

Across the ocean and miles away there stood another man
Eighteen years, hugging his mama saying I’ll defend this land
Mama held her baby and cried and clutched him telling him not to leave
She said what will I do without my baby boy; son I’m begging you please
He said I love you mama but duty calls;
I’ll write you everyday
She said I lost your daddy like this and I don’t wanna lose you this way

(Chorus)
But Mama I’m a soldier and I hear those trumpets calling again
And our kings and queens are saying this is a fight we must win
For truth and justice and for the way we live our life
And Mama I’m a soldier in front of God I swore I would fight

Well the battle raged and shots rang out the two men fell to the ground
And they looked into the eyes of each other and were shocked at what they found
One man saw the mother of the other in that young mans eyes
And the other man saw the crying and screams of the other mans beloved wife
And the two men stared across that smoky field and whispered to each other
Maybe you weren’t the demon they said maybe you were really my brother
But I’m glad we’re passing cause I don’t think that I could forgive myself
For fighting you but maybe God will and we can live together in bliss

(Chorus)
Cause Ladies we were soldiers and we heard those trumpets calling again
And tell the kings and queens that sometimes there are fights no one wins
But we know for sure that there’s evil out there we must fight
But please be sure that this is one of those times
And please be sure to remember my mama and wife
And please be sure to think of my brother on the other side.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Secret History of Women's Scholarship in Islam

From the New York Times.
A Secret History
by Carla Powers

For Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the stock image of an Islamic scholar is a gray-bearded man. Women tend to be seen as the subjects of Islamic law rather than its shapers. And while some opportunities for religious education do exist for women — the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo has a women’s college, for example, and there are girls’ madrasas and female study groups in mosques and private homes — cultural barriers prevent most women in the Islamic world from pursuing such studies. Recent findings by a scholar at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies in Britain, however, may help lower those barriers and challenge prevalent notions of women’s roles within Islamic society. Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a 43-year-old Sunni alim, or religious scholar, has rediscovered a long-lost tradition of Muslim women teaching the Koran, transmitting hadith (deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and even making Islamic law as jurists.
Akram embarked eight years ago on a single-volume biographical dictionary of female hadith scholars, a project that took him trawling through biographical dictionaries, classical texts, madrasa chronicles and letters for relevant citations. “I thought I’d find maybe 20 or 30 women,” he says. To date, he has found 8,000 of them, dating back 1,400 years, and his dictionary now fills 40 volumes. It’s so long that his usual publishers, in Damascus and Beirut, have balked at the project, though an English translation of his preface — itself almost 400 pages long — will come out in England this summer. (Akram has talked with Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States, about the possibility of publishing the entire work through his Riyadh-based foundation.)
The dictionary’s diverse entries include a 10th-century Baghdad-born jurist who traveled through Syria and Egypt, teaching other women; a female scholar — or muhaddithat — in 12th-century Egypt whose male students marveled at her mastery of a “camel load” of texts; and a 15th-century woman who taught hadith at the Prophet’s grave in Medina, one of the most important spots in Islam. One seventh-century Medina woman who reached the academic rank of jurist issued key fatwas on hajj rituals and commerce; another female jurist living in medieval Aleppo not only issued fatwas but also advised her far more famous husband on how to issue his.
Not all of these women scholars were previously unknown. Many Muslims acknowledge that Islam has its learned women, particularly in the field of hadith, starting with the Prophet’s wife Aisha. And several Western academics have written on women’s religious education. About a century ago, the Hungarian Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher estimated that about 15 percent of medieval hadith scholars were women. But Akram’s dictionary is groundbreaking in its scope.
Indeed, read today, when many Muslim women still don’t dare pray in mosques, let alone lecture leaders in them, Akram’s entry for someone like Umm al-Darda, a prominent jurist in seventh-century Damascus, is startling. As a young woman, Umm al-Darda used to sit with male scholars in the mosque, talking shop. “I’ve tried to worship Allah in every way,” she wrote, “but I’ve never found a better one than sitting around, debating other scholars.” She went on to teach hadith and fiqh, or law, at the mosque, and even lectured in the men’s section; her students included the caliph of Damascus. She shocked her contemporaries by praying shoulder to shoulder with men — a nearly unknown practice, even now — and issuing a fatwa, still cited by modern scholars, that allowed women to pray in the same position as men.
It’s after the 16th century that citations of women scholars dwindle. Some historians venture that this is because Islamic education grew more formal, excluding women as it became increasingly oriented toward establishing careers in the courts and mosques. (Strangely enough, Akram found that this kind of exclusion also helped women become better scholars. Because they didn’t hold official posts, they had little reason to invent or embellish prophetic traditions.)
Akram’s work has led to accusations that he is championing free mixing between men and women, but he says that is not so. He maintains that women students should sit at a discreet distance from their male classmates or co-worshipers, or be separated by a curtain. (The practice has parallels in Orthodox Judaism.) The Muslim women who taught men “are part of our history,” he says. “It doesn’t mean you have to follow them. It’s up to people to decide.”
Neverthless, Akram says he hopes that uncovering past hadith scholars could help reform present-day Islamic culture. Many Muslims see historical precedents — particularly when they date back to the golden age of Muhammad — as blueprints for sound modern societies and look to scholars to evaluate and interpret those precedents. Muslim feminists like the Moroccan writer Fatima Mernissi and Kecia Ali, a professor at Boston University, have cast fresh light on women’s roles in Islamic law and history, but their worldview — and their audiences — are largely Western or Westernized. Akram is a working alim, lecturing in mosques and universities and dispensing fatwas on issues like inheritance and divorce. “Here you’ve got a guy who’s coming from the tradition, who knows the stuff and who’s able to give us that level of detail which is missing in the self-proclaimed progressive Muslim writers,” says James Piscatori, a professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University.
The erosion of women’s religious education in recent times, Akram says, reflects “decline in every aspect of Islam.” Flabby leadership and a focus on politics rather than scholarship has left Muslims ignorant of their own history. Islam’s current cultural insecurity has been bad for both its scholarship and its women, Akram says. “Our traditions have grown weak, and when people are weak, they grow cautious. When they’re cautious, they don’t give their women freedoms.”
When Akram lectures, he dryly notes, women are more excited by this history than men. To persuade reluctant Muslims to educate their girls, Akram employs a potent debating strategy: he compares the status quo to the age of al jahiliya, the Arabic term for the barbaric state of pre-Islamic Arabia. (Osama Bin Laden and Sayyid Qutb, the godfather of modern Islamic extremism, have employed the comparison to very different effect.) Barring Muslim women from education and religious authority, Akram argues, is akin to the pre-Islamic custom of burying girls alive. “I tell people, ‘God has given girls qualities and potential,’ ” he says. “If they aren’t allowed to develop them, if they aren’t provided with opportunities to study and learn, it’s basically a live burial.”
When I spoke with him, Akram invoked a favorite poem, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” Thomas Gray’s 18th-century lament for dead English farmers. “Gray said that villagers could have been like Milton,” if only they’d had the chance, Akram observes. “Muslim women are in the same situation. There could have been so many Miltons.”
Carla Power is a London-based journalist who writes about Islamic issues.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Balancing the Prophet

*cross posted from An American Muslim

Balancing the Prophet

By Karen Armstrong

Ever since the Crusades, people in the west have seen the prophet Muhammad as a sinister figure. During the 12th century, Christians were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims, even though Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. The scholar monks of Europe stigmatised Muhammad as a cruel warlord who established the false religion of Islam by the sword. They also, with ill-concealed envy, berated him as a lecher and sexual pervert at a time when the popes were attempting to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy. Our Islamophobia became entwined with our chronic anti-Semitism; Jews and Muslims, the victims of the crusaders, became the shadow self of Europe, the enemies of decent civilisation and the opposite of ”us”.


Our suspicion of Islam is alive and well. Indeed, understandably perhaps, it has hardened as a result of terrorist atrocities apparently committed in its name. Yet despite the religious rhetoric, these terrorists are motivated by politics rather than religion. Like ”fundamentalists” in other traditions, their ideology is deliberately and defiantly unorthodox. Until the 1950s, no major Muslim thinker had made holy war a central pillar of Islam. The Muslim ideologues Abu ala Mawdudi (1903-79) and Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), among the first to do so, knew they were proposing a controversial innovation. They believed it was justified by the current political emergency.

The criminal activities of terrorists have given the old western prejudice a new lease of life. People often seem eager to believe the worst about Muhammad, are reluctant to put his life in its historical perspective and assume the Jewish and Christian traditions lack the flaws they attribute to Islam. This entrenched hostility informs Robert Spencer’s misnamed biography The Truth about Muhammad, subtitled Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.

Spencer has studied Islam for 20 years, largely, it seems, to prove that it is an evil, inherently violent religion. He is a hero of the American right and author of the US bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. Like any book written in hatred, his new work is a depressing read. Spencer makes no attempt to explain the historical, political, economic and spiritual circumstances of 7th-century Arabia, without which it is impossible to understand the complexities of Muhammad’s life. Consequently he makes basic and bad mistakes of fact. Even more damaging, he deliberately manipulates the evidence.


The traditions of any religion are multifarious. It is easy, therefore, to quote so selectively that the main thrust of the faith is distorted. But Spencer is not interested in balance. He picks out only those aspects of Islamic tradition that support his thesis. For example, he cites only passages from the Koran that are hostile to Jews and Christians and does not mention the numerous verses that insist on the continuity of Islam with the People of the Book: ”Say to them: We believe what you believe; your God and our God is one.”

Islam has a far better record than either Christianity or Judaism of appreciating other faiths. In Muslim Spain, relations between the three religions of Abraham were uniquely harmonious in medieval Europe. The Christian Byzantines had forbidden Jews from residing in Jerusalem, but when Caliph Umar conquered the city in AD638, he invited them to return and was hailed as the precursor of the Messiah. Spencer doesn’t refer to this. Jewish-Muslim relations certainly have declined as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but this departs from centuries of peaceful and often positive co-existence. When discussing Muhammad’s war with Mecca, Spencer never cites the Koran’s condemnation of all warfare as an ”awesome evil”, its prohibition of aggression or its insistence that only self-defence justifies armed conflict. He ignores the Koranic emphasis on the primacy of forgiveness and peaceful negotiation: the second the enemy asks for peace, Muslims must lay down their arms and accept any terms offered, however disadvantageous. There is no mention of Muhammad’s non-violent campaign that ended the conflict.

People would be offended by an account of Judaism that dwelled exclusively on Joshua’s massacres and never mentioned Rabbi Hillel’s Golden Rule, or a description of Christianity based on the bellicose Book of Revelation that failed to cite the Sermon on the Mount. But the widespread ignorance about Islam in the west makes many vulnerable to Spencer’s polemic; he is telling them what they are predisposed to hear. His book is a gift to extremists who can use it to ”prove” to those Muslims who have been alienated by events in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq that the west is incurably hostile to their faith.

Eliot Weinberger is a poet whose interest in Islam began at the time of the first Gulf war. His slim volume, Muhammad, is also a selective anthology about the Prophet. His avowed aim is to ”give a small sense of the awe surrounding this historical and sacred figure, at a time of the demonisation of the Muslim world in much of the media”. Many of the passages he quotes are indeed mystical and beautiful, but others are likely to confirm some readers in their prejudice. Without knowing their provenance, how can we respond to such statements as ”He said that he who plays chess is like one who has dyed his hand in the blood of a pig” or ”Filling the stomach with pus is better than stuffing the brain with poetry”?

It is difficult to see how selecting only these dubious traditions as examples could advance mutual understanding. The second section of this anthology is devoted to anecdotes about Muhammad’s wives that smack of prurient gossip. Western readers need historical perspective to understand the significance of the Prophet’s domestic arrangements, his respect for his wives, and the free and forthright way in which they approached him. Equally eccentric are the stories cited by Weinberger to describe miracles attributed to the Prophet: the Koran makes it clear that Muhammad did not perform miracles and insists that he was an ordinary human being, with no divine powers.

It is, therefore, a relief to turn to Barnaby Rogerson’s more balanced and nuanced account of early Muslim history in The Heirs of the Prophet Muhammad. Rogerson is a travel writer by trade; his explanation of the Sunni/Shia divide is theologically simplistic, but his account of the rashidun, the first four ”rightly guided” caliphs who succeeded the Prophet, is historically sound, accessible and clears up many western misconceptions about this crucial period.

Rogerson makes it clear, for example, that the wars of conquest and the establishment of the Islamic empire after Muhammad’s death were not inspired by religious ideology but by pragmatic politics. The idea that Islam should conquer the world was alien to the Koran and there was no attempt to convert Jews or Christians. Islam was for the Arabs, the sons of Ishmael, as Judaism was for the descendants of Isaac and Christianity for the followers of Jesus.
Rogerson also shows that Muslim tradition is multi-layered and many-faceted. The early historians regularly gave two or three variant accounts of an incident in the life of the Prophet; readers were expected to make up their own minds.


Similarly, there are at least four contrasting and sometimes conflicting versions of the Exodus story in the Hebrew Bible, and in the New Testament the four evangelists interpret the life of Jesus quite differently. To choose one tradition and ignore the rest - as Weinberger and Spencer do - is distorting.

Professor Tariq Ramadan has studied Islam at the University of Geneva and al-Azhar University in Cairo and is currently senior research fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford. The Messenger is easily the most scholarly and knowledgeable of these four biographies of Muhammad, but it is also practical and relevant, drawing lessons from the Prophet’s life that are crucial for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Ramadan makes it clear, for example, that Muhammad did not shun non-Muslims as ”unbelievers” but from the beginning co-operated with them in the pursuit of the common good. Islam was not a closed system at variance with other traditions. Muhammad insisted that relations between the different groups must be egalitarian. Even warfare must not obviate the primary duty of justice and respect.
When the Muslims were forced to leave Mecca because they were persecuted by the Meccan establishment, Ramadan shows, they had to adapt to the alien customs of their new home in Medina, where, for example, women enjoyed more freedom than in Mecca. The hijrah (”migration”) was a test of intelligence; the emigrants had to recognise that some of their customs were cultural rather than Islamic, and had to learn foreign practices.
Ramadan also makes it clear that, in the Koran, jihad was not synonymous with ”holy war”. The verb jihada should rather be translated: ”making an effort”. The first time the word is used in the Koran, it signified a ”resistance to oppression” (25:26) that was intellectual and spiritual rather than militant. Muslims were required to oppose the lies and terror of those who were motivated solely by self-interest; they had to be patient and enduring. Only after the hijrah, when they encountered the enmity of Mecca, did the word jihad take connotations of self-defence and armed resistance in the face of military aggression. Even so, in mainstream Muslim tradition, the greatest jihad was not warfare but reform of one’s own society and heart; as Muhammad explained to one of his companions, the true jihad was an inner struggle against egotism.


The Koran teaches that, while warfare must be avoided whenever possible, it is sometimes necessary to resist humanity’s natural propensity to expansionism and oppression, which all too often seeks to obliterate the diversity and religious pluralism that is God’s will. If they do wage war, Muslims must behave ethically. ”Do not kill women, children and old people,” Abu Bakr, the first caliph, commanded his troops. ”Do not commit treacherous actions. Do not burn houses and cornfields.” Muslims must be especially careful not to destroy monasteries where Christian monks served God in prayer.

Ramadan could have devoted more time to such contentious issues as the veiling of women, polygamy and Muhammad’s treatment of some (though by no means all) of the Jewish tribes of Medina. But his account restores the balance that is so often lacking in western narratives. Muhammad was not a belligerent warrior. Ramadan shows that he constantly emphasised the importance of ”gentleness” (ar-rafiq), ”tolerance” (al-ana) and clemency (al-hilm).
It will be interesting to see how The Messenger is received. Ramadan is clearly addressing issues that inspire some Muslims to distort their religion. Western people often complain that they never hear from ”moderate” Muslims, but when such Muslims do speak out they are frequently dismissed as apologists and hagiographers. Until we all learn to approach one another with generosity and respect, we cannot hope for peace.


Karen Armstrong is the author of ”Muhammad: Prophet For Our Time”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Veiled for Allah

from this week's Women's issue of City Beat.

Muslim women speak about life beneath the veil

By Nur Saben

The clothes do not make the woman, but they can make an impact during a job interview. Self-expression is a typical explanation for low-riding jeans and funky shoes as much as it is for body piercings and hair color. Yet Islamic women who choose to make an unconventional statement with their attire typically encounter prejudice, unfair treatment and even fear. This is common for Muslim women who wear "hejab," a headscarf tied under their chin, and loose fitting clothing to cover everything but their face, hands and feet.

"My heart is not ready ... for the burden of interacting with people in public places with hejab on," says Paige Robbins, a Woodlawn resident and local music therapist. "I have to be ready for people looking at me like I'm a terrorist. They'll look at me like they're afraid of me. I might lose clients at work. I'll have to stand up for my beliefs -- vocally. Right now, people don't know I'm Muslim."

Robbins converted to Islam earlier this year, but her perspective isn't unique to converts. Iman Bedawi, from West Chester, was born to Egyptian parents and was educated in the American public school system. She attended Islamic religious classes on the weekends, where she learned that hejab was obligatory according to Islam, but there was never any imposition of the rules. Bedawi's mother didn't don the Islamic headscarf until Bedawi was 7 or 8 years old.

"A lot of women don't understand that, when they're interviewing, their physical appearance has a lot of bearing and that is really demeaning," Bedawi says. "It's none of their business how I dress if I have the right qualifications (for a job)."

Obedience not terrorism

In the Quran, God commands the "believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty" to anyone other than immediate family members. God also commands, "O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them (when they go abroad)."

Because of these two verses, Muslim women believe modesty is a highly spiritual act that's a direct command from God.

The decision to follow this direction is a personal one, Bedawi explains.

"It really has to do with the development of the person wearing it," she says. "Hejab is symbolic of a woman's devotion to God, of her deep desire to be close to him and prefer his pleasure over the judgment of everyone else.

"In high school, my parents never mentioned it in a pressuring way. Once my mother asked me if I would like to wear it. My full-hearted answer was 'Yes,' but I didn't have an idea when. Before the beginning of my last year of high school, it was my decision completely to start wearing it."

Ingrid Ascencio, who grew up Catholic in Mexico and converted to Islam six years ago, agrees that wearing the hejab is simply "being obedient to Allah."

"It really comes down to that," she says. "I didn't grow up with that. It's something that Allah wants me to do."

Concern of being feared is a big obstacle for many Islamic women. The decision to choose traditional Islamic feminine dress means dealing with the suspicion and scorn by those who don't understand the religious and personal implications of a non-Western style.

Ascencio, a mechanical engineer for GE, is not afraid. She wore hejab when she interviewed for her position three years ago and continues to do so with confidence and pride.

"The environment of the company is very professional," she explains. "There is a lot of diversity. They want to include women and minorities, and I'm triple in one. My personality repels criticism. I come across very strong, especially at work. I don't look down, I don't speak softly and I'm straight to the point. I think people can read that. If you have convictions, people don't mess with you."

That confidence took some time to develop.

"It took me two years to get the strength to put it on," Ascensio says. "I don't do things halfway. I didn't want to put it on, and then take it off. First, my wardrobe had to slowly change. I stopped wearing shorts and only (wore) pants, then (from) no sleeves to some sleeves, then full sleeves, etc. Then I went a size bigger than my fitting size. Slowly but surely I changed it.

"Finally I took off for work one morning and I just put it on. I didn't tell anyone. I just did it."

'An obstacle to what?'

The women agree that, although the primary reason they cover is spiritual, there is a secondary benefit to wearing the hejab. Robbins doesn't cover her hair, but she maintains modest dress because she feels protected. She wants to be known for her personality, not for her appearance.

"I dress more conservatively than the average American woman," she says. "I feel more comfortable with my arms, chest and legs covered. I also wear loose-fitting clothing. It gives me comfort to be able to interact with others a little more openly. We can interact with the opposite sex and not worry."

Bedawi says she's often confronted by feminists who take issue with her choice.
"Their argument is ... that this scarf is an obstacle to us," she says. "Sometimes I wonder: an obstacle to what? To my body being admired by whoever wants to admire it? An obstacle to getting boyfriends? ... Yes, it is an obstacle to preventing the woman from being susceptible to the evils that the women of western society are prone to.

"This is a very biased view that hejab is an obstacle. They think it's an obstacle to freedom. We don't believe in unrestricted freedom. Freedom has to be within the will of God."

Moving beyond the personal decision to wear a specific kind of clothing, Bedawi says American culture has a dramatic impact on the lack of equality afforded to Islamic woman in this country.

"Most Muslims the world over hold America as the hope, as a place where we can practice our religion wholly, because of the constitution and the Bill of Rights," she says. "We'd like the greater community to understand us and what we're all about, not to convert anyone but to help them respect our beliefs so we can practice.

"We'd like the freedom to practice without discrimination. American foreign policies are the main obstacle to that dream. The propaganda coming out from the current administration isn't giving a clear picture to the greater American community as to what Muslims in the U.S. and all over the world are really all about."
© E-mail
the editor

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Qatari Matchbus


In the midst of all of this house hunting, we all started hunkering for a taste of our....well.....(former) home....

Matchbus, called Kapsa in other Gulf states, is a traditional dish...You cook the chicken first by boiling it with fried onions, tomato paste, chopped fresh whole tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, whole cardamom pods, saffron, cloves, black (dried) onions, and cumin. After cooking the chicken for 30 minutes or so you strain the pieces out and reserve the liquid and put the chicken in the oven at 350 degrees F for another 30 minutes or so while you make the rice. You use some of the reserved liquid to cook the rice in, as deemed appropriate for the amount of rice you want to make. Although Basmati rice is traditional, we use calrose rice (sushi rice, also called "Egyptican" rice) in our house.

It's delicious! You put carmelized onions along with some raisins on top and serve it in a communal dish such as the one pictured.

We like to eat with our hands, and on the floor, as this is traditional also.

Dig in!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Which house is the right house?

We really feel like we're in the midst of a quandry.

One house we love. The advantages include; It is 4 years new, it has nothing we have to do to fix it up, except perhaps paint the interior to our liking. I feel really good when I'm in this house...it's open, there is a lot of natural light, open windows, etc. It's new, it has hardwood floors, an open floor plan, a finished basement, the upstairs laundry I've wanted.... A nice storage area in the basement where we can put a freezer and have a whole lamb or side of beef in storage, frozen veggies for the winter, etc. A flat fenced back yard with a jungle jim for the kids. It's priced kinda high for us though and we'll feel pretty tight for the first 5 years or so probably in that high of a mortgage payment. My son can stay in the school he's in now, and can easily walk to school. There would be a lot of consistency for the kids in that regard. We can also walk to Krogers, the library, etc if we so choose. I could have a low-lying garden and do some landscaping, grow a couple of fruit tree or whatever. The houses around it are all selling in the 190/220,000K+ range, so we'd be walking into over 10% equity right away at the price we think they will take! It's in a newer area and it doesn't have that "Erlanger, beat-up-chewed-and-spit-out" loook. It's almost a sure thing that this house will appreciate nicely in a few years, most likely above the 3% for inflation.

The disadvantages are that the yard is small, and I'm sure the homeowner's association wouldn't let us grow a few rows of corn in the yard! I definitely couldn't hang out our laundry to dry on a clothesline. The yard is so small that I wouldn't feel comfortable getting a dog for the kids. A trampoline would fit but it would be tiiiiight. There's no privacy in the backyard; we can see the back yards (and they can see us) of over 8 neighbors! Yikes! They all just bump up next to one another. It's veeeeeery white bread though...not much diversity...everyone is upper middle class, they think that spraying the yards with chemicals is a good thing, and they protested and won against a big mosque being built in the neighborhood a few years ago. The ironic thing is that there are several well-to-do muslim doctors and their families in this neighborhood and community!

The other house we like is in an older Florence neighborhood. It has a wood burning fireplace (the more expensive home has a gas/ceramic one...how contrived!), and a finished lower level. The big allure here is really the yard. It's a full acre! There is also a deck in the back of the house whereas the other house has a cement patio but no deck . The kids would really have a ball running around . We could hang our laundry, garden to our hearts' content (corn!corn!corn!), and have a big dog (outside only) for the kids. It's in an acceptable school district, the Conner elementary of Florence, but not the one my son is currently in. I have a friend whose son is in this school, and I am trusting that her assessment of it is accurate when she says it's fine. Another big plus is that the mortgage is easier for us ($300/month less or so!). Oh and the house has a fenced back yard, and is the last house on the end of a cul-de-sac! It's about the same distance to the highway....and it's closer to Aldi, where I love to shop as much as I can, than we are now. I would definitely save more money on groceries because it would be easier for me to get there than I can now. There is a great Japanese restaurant nearby, a muslim grocery store, and an amazing German butcher (well we can't eat his meat but he has grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat fresh bread!).

But ...the neighborhood certainly has reached it's peak. I think we'd get the 3%/year but not much more. However, to it's detriment, the area along Dixie highway outside the neighborhood seems kinda down-market (the neighborhood is near the Florence nature park). It's definitely a lower socio-economic demographic in the schools....is that good or bad? I'm not sure! I want our kids to know different kinds of kids...not just from one class of society....I think.

This house may need a lot of repairs though because it's older. Immediately we'd have to put in new carpet everywhere except the kitchen and bathrooms, which have tile/laminate floors. The current owners have a big dog and we can't live on dog carpet. EWwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

This is a sump pump house. Since the basement is finished, this could be an issue. The house is at the bottom of a hill, and when it rains it could flood in the lower level if the pump stops working or malfunctions. We'd definitely need to buy a battery back up for it in case the electric goes out in a rain storm. It appears as though there's been some settling in the foundation as well. The house is 28 years old so that's to be expected...I'd want a thorough home inspection to rule out any of that settling being pathological. I saw some cracks in the floor on the lower level in the laundry room and that concerns me. I guess the inspector is the one who would tell us the skinny on that! These issues make me.......leary. It also has noooooo curb appeal. We can fix that, but it'll cost us some money. That and the hilly hudge yard make me worry about future resale possibilities. Would the big yard be a deterrent or an asset? I view it as an asset, but it seems like most things I like the rest of society hates!

Any thoughts or suggestions from you my dear readers are welcome!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Jim Huff Realty Inc. Complaint and Disadvantages

As most of you all know, we've been house-hunting. I took the advice of a good neighbor friend and decided to ask a realtor to show me houses.Well I couldn't have made a worse decision when I chose a realtor from the Jim Huff Realty Inc. company.

I asked this Huff realtor to show me such and such houses on a Friday. This was on a Tuesday. She agreed. Then that night she called and wanted to know if me and my husband could come into her office "to look at some possible listings and for her to get to know us better" before she started showing us houses. After all, she said she didn't want to waste our time showing us houses we weren't interested in.

Well, I know my husband. There was no way he was going to sit down and talk to anyone. He's very much a do-er. So, I thought I would get this preliminary stuff out of the way on Wednesday while he was working, so I agreed to meet with her.

Come into my lair said the spider to the fly.

The bait...

I entered her office at Jim Huff Realty Inc. on Cavalier in Florence KY, and we spent about 45 minutes looking at various listings and discussing me and my husband's preferences, school districts, our price range, etc. as she had promised.

And now for the switch....

Out of nowhere and like a slap in my face she whips out this "exclusive realtor" work contract. Ya Allah! Walla! She actually had the nerve to say to me that it was actually a waste of her time to start showing me houses unless I first signed this exclusive buyer contract and promise that I would only work with her. This contract stated that if I were to buy a house in the next months, I will promise to only buy it with her and she will get the 3% commission!I couldn't believe it! I hadn't even seen one house with this woman, I had absolutely no idea what kind of work she could do, and she was demanding my loyalty to her!

This was demoralizing, demeaning, and a complete waste of me and my family's limited precious time!

What does this realtor think I am, an idiot? And who does she think she is, a lawyer or something?Lawyers perform exclusive services, and they are highly trained professionals, that require dedicated legal contracts etc. Doctors for example are also highly trained advanced professional individuals that perform exclusive services. We have a family lawyer, a family doctor, even a family veterinarian.... but a realtor is not on the same level as a Doctor or a Lawyer.

A realtor is not a highly trained professional with an advanced professional degree. She is merely a SALESMAN (well in this case a SALESWOMAN), nothing more, nothing less. She is the same as a car salesman, a furniture salesman, or the guy down the street at Buddy's Carpet Barn who sells carpets.

My parents, friends, neighbors, and clergyperson all would call me an insane fool if I signed an agreement with the salesman at Buddy's Carpet Barn promising him I'd buy some carpet from him, when he hasn't even shown me one bit of merchandise or found the right carpet in my price range!!!!!! So why should I do the same with this Huff realtor?

We are actually almost a week behind in our house hunting because of her stunt.We are currently renting and will soon go into a month-to-month fee because we will be staying past our lease period. We need to expedite the house buying process, not have ridiculous antics like this from SELFISH REALTORS like those at Jim Huff Realty Inc.

The realtor who did this to me told me that this is company policy. That means there is a serious problem with customer service and in the company vision of management at Jim Huff Realty Inc. The only conclusion I am able to make by such a selfish company policy is that this company doesn't want to help a potential home buyer; they only want to make phat cash for themselves and the buyer. That makes Jim Huff Realty Inc. by their very nature PREDATORY REALTORS when it comes to how they interact with potential buyers of homes.

Shame shame shame on you, Jim Huff Realty, Inc.!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Qatar is an AIDS trap, Iran's AIDS prevention program is a great success

-Arash Alaei, Iranian visionary in Islamic HIV-AIDS prevention program.





This is a sign that (was? I'm assuming it's still there) hanging on the men's side in the health center in Madinat Khalifa in Doha, Qatar. Although I'm glad to see that the Qatari government is trying to educate the public (well, the men) about the dangers of the HIV virus and AIDS.....



WHAT THE HECK DO ISLAMIC MORALS HAVE TO DO WITH HIV??????



Oh sure, so the woman whose husband runs off to Bahrain or Thailand on an alleged "business trip" but is really there with prostitutes and brings the HIV virus back and infects HER, and their unborn child, is not a good Muslimah? She's not sticking to the Islamic values?????



C'mon!



What about if the patients at Hamad Hospital get treated by a 3rd-world idiot nurse who reuses a needle on them and they get infected by HIV? And the nurse is a fully practicing and devout muslim? ...She's sticking to the Islamic values.....she is simply UNEDUCATED and the hospital is grossly MISMANAGED in that case....and the HIV victim is just that, an innocent VICTIM....



HIV infection in Qatar has absolutley NOTHING to do with "Islamic Morals" on the part of the individual, and EVERYTHING to do with the Government of Qatar doing a very un-Islamic thing, which is that they absolutley have nothing that even resembles an HIV/AIDS prevention program.

I actually sat one day in Hamad Hospital while waiting to take an asthma breathing test and watched a nurse re-use a needle on a patient. I even called her on it and she lied to my face and denied her very own behavior that I completely witnessed in broad daylight.

I was hospitalized in Hamad hospital for 10 days in 2004. I can honestly say that I feared HIV infection very much. My nurses were trained at what we in America would consider a candy-striper level (this is a volunteer who changes the sheets in the USA). I'm talking the kind of nurse that only knows how to put banana leaves on a massive burn! VERY SCARY. Qatar would do itself a hudge favor in it's healthcare sector to modernize itself by hiring actual nurses instead of these candy stripers! They are so focused on "modernizing", building new roads, tearing down embarasssing old buildings and erecting impressive skyscrapers etc. but they still use 3-rd world unskilled nurses. This is an abomination and a real threat to everyone's health, especially when it comes to HIV infection. I had to actually quiz my nurses every time they were going to start an IV line on me or give me an injection to ensure they were using an unopened needle. For God's sakes, these nurses didn't even know how to clean a wound properly! One of them wiped my wound from the outside in, not the inside out. And another I had to always remind to wipe the outside of my IV catheter thingie with an alcohol pad before she attached the line to it.





Sure, Qatar will boast that they "screen" all guest workers for HIV and for TB upon arrival. If they test positive, they are deported and cannot work in Qatar (nevermind that HIV has up to a 6-month window upon initial infection where you might test negative but you're actually infected! DUUUUUUUUH!) That's it. That's their HIV prevention program. No public education program about how the virus is actually transmitted, no free condom distribution or clean needle distribution, nothing. Just deport the guest workers upon arrival if they test positive. Period. That's very piss-poor of an HIV control program if you ask me.



Instead of demoralizing people and telling them that if they follow the Islamic values, if they are just "good little muslims" then they'll be protected, (what hogwash), there should be an empirically validated HIV AIDS prevention program in place.



Iran is the Light of Hope when it comes to HIV AIDS prevention and treatment in the context of the Islamic world. In fact their program is so effective, that their model is set to be exported to the rest of the Islamic world.



"The main attitude in the region is that HIV is a Western disease; so we don't get HIV. So when we broke the silence of denial in Iran and we [successfully got] the support of the religious leaders, we could motivate other countries in the region."
-Aresh Alaei, co-founder of Iran's successful HIV/AIDS prevention program.



Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Suburbia, Real Estate and Realtor Rant

Colorful and Alive vs. Brown and Dead?????


Alhumdulillah we've been approved and we're looking for houses now. Trying to stay in my son's school district but that simply may not happen. We haven't found any houses we like! Suburbia in Union Kentucky should really be called "Subversive-to-you"...because everything about it seems like it's trying to stomp out every last ounce anyone has left of individuality, creativity, or soul!

These are all new houses, but I simpy cannot call them "homes". They are cheaply built barns with holes cut in them for windows on a couple of sides (only 2 sides of the houses have windows! I NEED SUNLIGHT!), with a quickly slapped on veneer in front to give you the illusiuon of luxury - the brick or stone you see from the front is actually just a veneer, the sides and back of the houses are all cheap vinyl. It's common to see the vinyl on these homes actually bowing! I've seen it so many times in the last couple of days it's sickening. These are new houses, dang what a rip off! And the sad thing is that folks are paying $200,000 and up to live in these shacks!

All of the houses are shades of grey. Apparently this was intentional. I am assuming the builder and/or the home association decided this because they think it will foster better resale values? However I beg to differ. I understand not allowing boats and campers in the front yard...but mandating that every house be a shade of GREY or BROWN? C'mon! That is pure nonsense. Houses in the most expensive markets in the United States, like around Santa Cruz, CA, are full of colour, inside and out.


They either have a small concentration-camp yard, with no basement, or NO YARD and a "finished basement", (which really isn't a basement).. it's really a first level that is halfway burmed! Now correct me if I sound insane, but isn't a basement supposed to be totally underground on all four sides, with a little bit of the top sticking out with little crawl-through windows?

Another thing we despise about these neighborhoods is that the builders, in their money-making house-building stupor, have clear-cut all of the trees that were there to build these houses as well, so there are literally NO trees...and there is not really any landscaping to speak of.

It seems like people in these neighborhoods don't do any yardwork, it's all hired out to these "lawncare" men who come once a week and quickly mow down everything in their yards once a week in a mad money-making flurry. OMG, when did this happen? Since when was it legitimate for grown men to charge tons of money to do the job of an 11-year old boy, who should do it for five bucks?
Could someone please tell me how this insanity has happened????? And why people are willing to pay $200,000+ for no individuality, creativity or soul?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Building our Dream


If you want your dream to be
Build it slow and surely.
Small beginnings, greater ends.
Heartfelt work grows purely.
If you want to live life free,
Take your time, go slowly.
Do few things, but do them well.
Simple joys are holy.
Day by day, stone by stone,
Build your secret slowly.
Day by day, you'll grow, too,
You'll know heaven's glory.
Lyrics and music by Donovan
I have this song continually playing in my mind lately. It's encouraging, no matter how cheesy! It's from the movie Brother Sun, Sister Moon, a film about Saint Francis of Asissi.
Just trying to remain calm in the midst of all of the "first-time-homebuyer" stress. Alhumdulillah, it looks promising for getting the fixed-rate mortgage. Apparently credit unions around here are fairly impotent regarding who they can lend to. So, our realtor seems to have hooked us up with some good avenues for our lending.
Inshallah kher. I'll keep y'all posted as things develop.
On a very happy note, I'm excited to announce that my sister, Brandy, is *finally engaged! She's waited for this for a long, long time, and I'm so excited for her! I'm a reunited adoptee, I found my birthfamilies (yes, both the mother and father sides!) in 2003! Yay! What a joy, to see my long-lost-sister getting engaged. I *never thought I would be able to have this opportunity!
Happiness!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

In tears




I am really in tears today.


We were not accepted on our mortgage pre-approval application for a 30-year fixed at CINCO.


I am devastated.


Is there anything good going to happen to us living here in Cincinnati?


My husband's job SUCKS. He is more depressed than I think I have ever seen him.


And now this.


We were *so hoping to get out of this daggone expensive rental we're in, and buy and get some equity going and move into a neighborhood of muslims where we have friends.....


If it's any consolation for myself, I don't like at all the way the mortgage broker at CINCO dealt with me. He wasn't "user friendly" shall we say. The folks down in FL at our old credit union when we were thinking of applying for a mortgage 3 years ago were SO MUCH MORE HELPFUL. They gave us this hudge packet of stuff with a checklist on "how to qualify" etc.


Granted, we are 6 years out of a bankruptcy, but we have absolutely NO DEBT, alhumdulillah and don't EVER plan on getting HARAM credit cards again, thank you very much!

CINCO approved us for a $15,000 auto loan last fall, so we thought a mortgage would be no biggie.



This guy just jotted my husband's TIN and employer's name and took one paystubb of his from me, halas that was it. Apparently the 8 months of work history was what did it. (they want 2 years). NEVERMIND that I have a work history from Qatar, he didn't want my tax papers or anything from me. They totally refused to judge us collectively, as a family unit. My hubby has to be the one the mortgage's name is in apparently b/c in the United States of America I mean jack @#$#^ because I don't have a paid job (I'm a stay-home mom). My husband took 2 years off while we were in Qatar so I could work and he could be a house husband, and this is what we get? How completely ANTI-FAMILY.


Man, as I replay this mortgage broker's actions in my mind I can't help but think that he really wasn't trying to help me get approved. He seemed quite "old school". And perhaps the fact that I was wearing a scarf on my head didn't help him relate to me very much????
Freakin' racist Cincinnati!



Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why "revert" not "convert"

People who formally profess to embrace islam, such as myself, commonly refer to ourselves as "reverts" not "converts.

This is because being one who is in the state of self-submission to the higher power (which is the definition of "muslim"), one who embraces islam, means that we are embracing what we call in arabic the "din-al-fitra". This translates to the "natural faith," meaning that we are in the original state as humans that God created us in.

The word "convert" is contrary to what happens when a soul consciously acknowedges that it is muslim; we aren't changing ourselves into another form (converting) - converting impies that when embracing a religion one is changing into another form, something that doesn't come naturally to the human being... when we formally embrace islam, we are going back to the way we were when we were born on this earth, completely sinless and in perfect relationship with the Creator.

Yes, that's right. There is no concept of original sin in Islam. This is consistent with our brothers and sisters in Judaism, but not with our brothers and sisters in Christianity.

Now I know this isn't the posted topic of this blog entry, but ....

How can Christianity make sense on this premise?

  • Jesus (Yeshua/'Isaa) was a Jew
  • He practiced Judaism
  • Judaism doesn't and never has held the idea of original sin in it's theology
YET "Christianity" as we know it today=
  • the idea that all of humanity cannot attain salvation without accepting Jesus Christ as it's lord and saviour. He wasn't God, he was the Son of God, who turned his son into a man and willfully allowed people to murdur him by crucifixion, but after three days of being dead, God, (the Father), raised his Son from the dead, to atone for the sins of all of mankind, which all of humanity is born with as babies by the stain of the sins of Adam.

May I humbly point out that Jews also strictly did not believe in Polytheism - they believed at the time of Jesus just as they do now in the oneness of God, just as islam teaches.

How can this possibly be the logical conclusion to Judaism?????

It just doesn't fit.

This is one of many of the early signs that led me to seek God, to think outside the box I was put into, and ultimatley led me to the din-al-fitra.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in Mosques

The Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in Mosques

Asra Nomani's ten principles of equality for women in mosques
By Asra Q. Nomani


1. Women have an Islamic right to enter a mosque.

2. Women have an Islamic right to enter through the main door.

3.Women have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (the main sanctuary).

4. Women have an Islamic right to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines.

5. Women have an Islamic right to address any and all members of the congregation.

6. Women have an Islamic right to hold leadership positions, including positions as prayer leaders and as members of the board of directors and management committees.

7. Women have an Islamic right to be full participants in all congregational activities.

8. Women have an Islamic right to lead and participate in meetings, study sessions, and other community activities without being separated by a barrier.

9. Women have an Islamic right to be greeted and addressed cordially.

10. Women have an Islamic right to receive respectful treatment and exemption from gossip and slander.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Oh Allah, I pray to live to see the time when Mecca is not the only place on this earth where women have these rights in your House of Worship.
Ameen.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Rejection

There's one thing this stage hog hates, and that's rejection/loss of attention. I think I was born on the stage, in the "limelight".

The "Muslimah" book ( a project that recently called for essays on what it's like being muslim in America) doesn't want to hear from any reverts. Although I understand their reasons, I am still tantruming and stomping my feet.

Must_have_attention_NOW!

WHAAAAAH.

How totally un-sufi like of me.

Ok I'll be better soon.

Bye bye. I have to go cry and eat a half gallon of ice cream while I pout this out of me.

Friday, March 23, 2007

United States, Saudi Arabia and Gender Equality

I just read the World Economic Forum's report on the Gendergap.

The United States comes in a sad 23rd overall, with countries like Sri Lanka(13th), and Spain(11th) placing well above us.

It's time Americans wake up and smell the hudge lie we've been told; it's an outright myth that America is the Land of Equality for women!

The report touches on the "glass ceiling" for American women in the workplace, and that working mothers, if they're lucky, get 12 weeks of UNPAID maternity leave. In America it truly is have a family vs. have a career.

Compare that to 2 years paid maternity leave in Sweden!

I had my third child while living in Qatar. I not only had 40 days paid maternity leave, I also had one full year (beginning the day I returned to work after maternity leave) of "mother's hours".....a 2 hour leave daily from work, with the idea that the woman can return home for 2 hours and nurse the baby. I was allowed to take those 2 hours at any time I asked for them. Qatari nationals had 2 years of mother's hours.

On another note, not so unexpectedly, Saudi Arabia and Yemen placed last in the Gender Gap study for the their region (the Middle East) as well as overall, in a list of 115 countries worldwide!

Kuwait was the highest-ranking Arab country (from a total of 10 countries included in the survey).

I am sad that Qatar wasn't included in the forum, but perhaps they just don't have enough statistical data to be included. I noticed while living there that many types of data simply aren't being recorded, espeically with regards to healthcare.

...But don't get me started on that one....Alas, that's another post for another day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

He didn't ride a donkey, he rode an Apotosaurus!


WTF?
Couresy of Conservapedia, which is the brainless alternative to Wikipedia.
I'm sorry, but you've got to have the IQ of a ROCK to believe that this Creationsit stuff is actually credible.
I am soo so scared of this movement, which apparenlty has it's epicenter right here in Northern Kentucky! What do you think, dear readers? Hey, don't let my bias be your bias! It's obvious how I feel...
Should we abandon all reason and embrace a literal view regarding the scriptures? Is the bible a spiritual guide which can lead you to a deep and meaningful personal relationship with God, through parables, analogies, poetry, etc. or is the bible merely a work of history? Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Comments Welcome Good or Bad

Hey where are all of the readers' comments?

I'm gettin' squirly waiting for comments from the 39+ people I KNOW are out there reading this blog!

Say it loud, say it proud!

Whatever you think after you read my blog or the CiN Weekly article, I'd love to hear it whatever it may be.

I've already had a private email from a concerned friend - she saw in the pic the dolls behind me and was worried those were statues of Angles - haram (religiously forbidden) items. I assured her, they are in fact not angels, are ARE faceless...in case any one is wondering.

She also said a lot of sisters she passed the article on to in Qatar are reacting negatively (whatever that may mean) but I have no idea what they are thinking because they are not making comments here there or anywhere, wah.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

No Mexican Trucks


Apparently the Butler County Sheriff has been sending invoices to the United States government, and most recently to the Mexican government, for expenses his department has incurred while policing illegal (Mexican) drug trafficers in Butler county.

Well, look out Sheriff Rick Jones! Because about a week ago the Federal Department of Transportation approved
a program that will allow Mexican truckers from Mexico to cross American borders and deliver goods in the United States! Yes, that's right! Mexican drivers, employed by over 100 Mexican trucking firms, will be driving 18-wheelers on American interstates with you and your family as you travel!

What the H#$^& is the Bush administration thinking? Not only does this export good jobs that hard-working Americans have (well, soon - to-be-had) and need, and it undercuts American trucking companies, it also is extremely unsafe! Who says these truckers will stick to the same safety standards as American truckers must? ...And what will be stopping them from smuggling more drugs, people, etc.? There is no way that American border patrol could possibly thoroughly screen ALL of the trucks that will be coming in from Mexico.

According to the
Washington Post,


Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, said inspections will be meaningless because the trucks won't have black boxes that record how long a driver has been behind the wheel.
"They have no way of telling how many hours these truck drivers have been driving before they get to the U.S., let alone when they get here," Claybrook said.

The following exerpt is from
here;


Just two years ago, the Department of Transportation Inspector General confirmed that the Mexican government and Mexican motor carriers were not meeting congressionally mandated requirements. Another Inspector General audit report is due in the next couple of months, raising serious questions as to why President Bush is pushing this experimental program now.
Given the Bush administration’s track record on the truth, and the Mexican government’s history of corruption — and both governments’ recent history of labor relations — you surely understand why every American should be dubious of this idea.
What about national security? Will the drivers be checked against the terror watch list or will our borders be open to anyone with a Mexican driver’s license? Will the drivers be required to carry a Mexican passport, as U.S. citizens are required to present their passports when entering the country from Mexico or Canada? Would the trucks and trailers be scanned for weapons of mass destruction? The DOT is unable to say how many trucks will be participating in the experiment or whether there will be a system in place to differentiate between those trucks traveling within the 20-mile NAFTA commercial zones currently in place and those permitted to travel throughout the U.S.
What about hours-of-service regulations? Will these rules be applied to drivers in Mexico? How would we know how many hours drivers have worked before crossing our border?
And what about truck maintenance and safety? The DOT asserts that U.S. officials in Mexico will inspect all U.S.-bound trucks in Mexico. How would that affect inspections of shoddy trucking companies in the United States?




Yesp, get ready Sheriff! You're going to have a lot more work on your hands!



Dear readers, if you are outraged by the Bush Administration's plan to allow Mexican truckers to cross over our borders, then take action here.