then we are truly fated for misery?
Monday, April 30, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Through these words, I wished to clarify to you your ideology. For it is possible that critical times await us, and the communication between me and you will be cut off for a while so that I may not be able to speak or write to you. Therefore I advise you to ponder over these words carefully, learn them by heart if you can, and accept them whole-heartedly. For behind every word lie manifold meanings.
Dear brothers, you are not a welfare organization, nor a political party, nor a local association with strictly limited aims. Rather you are a new spirit making its way into the heart of this nation - reviving it with the Qur'an; a new light dawning, dispelling the darkness of materialism through the knowledge of Allah; a resounding voice rising high - echoing the message of the Apostle (PBUH). In truth and without being excessive, you should feel that you are the bearers of a burden the rest of mankind has shrugged off. If someone asks you: "To what are you calling?" Say: "We are calling you to Islam, which was brought by Muhammad (PBUH): Government is part of it, freedom is a religious obligation." If someone should say to you: "This is politics!" Say: This is Islam, and we do not recognize such divisions.
If someone should say to you: "You are advocates of revolution!" say: "We are advocates of truth and peace - we believe and take pride in this. If you rise up against us and stand in the path of our mission, Allah has permitted us to defend ourselves, and you will be the unjust rebels." If they say to you: "You are asking the help of individuals and associations!" say: "We believe in Allah alone, and reject that which you were associating with Him." If they persist in their hostility, say: ‘Peace be unto you! We have no desire for the ignorant." (Surat-al-Qasas (28), ayah 55)
Taken from Between Today & Yesterday by Imam Hassan Al Banna
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
How can YOU help the Ummah?
Apparently, Muslims all over the world have been stumped by the following riddle:
- It begins with the letter M.
- It is five letters long, in BOTH English & Urdu.
- Women do it once in a lifetime; men do it three times a day.
- It's brighter than the sun and darker than night.
- It is halal to drink, but haram to eat.
- AND it's mentioned in the Qu'ran five times.
Leaving aside the shoddy journalism such an article reflects - one of the letters to the editor covered that adequately I think - let's look at the facts. A recent article published by Counterpunch looked at "The Islamic Threat in Europe: By the Numbers." Out of the four hundred and ninety-eight incidents of terrorism perpetuated on European soil, only one was attempted by Muslims. And that, by-the-by, failed. As Kristoffer Larsson writes, "The Basque separatist group ETA did best (136 terrorist attacks) and was responsible for the only deadly attack, killing two in Madrid." And yet, who is vilified continuously on the telly? That's a rhetorical question - I think we all know the answer.
Muneeb Baig, a UC Irvine student and Muslim Student Union member, responded to Nickles' claims - which to be frank, were completely idiotic - in an insightful article breaking down the basic precepts of his stance. I would recommend you check it out.
IslamiCity also sent out an interesting bulletin regarding this issue, which amongst a wealth of information, also cited this popular ayah:
"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well acquainted with all that you do." [Qur'an 4:135]
As Muslims, I understand it is part of our duty in this day, at this moment in history, to explain Islam to a world community largly ignorant and misinformed about our beautiful way of life. But sometimes, especially when transparent bigots such as Nickles speak up, it gets annoying. Why is it that every Sally or Joe who professes to know something - probably because of a five minute Google search on the subject - is given a soapbox on which to preach their views?
Oh wait - look at whose running this country.
Friday, April 20, 2007
The best history is the history that is being made, and that is in the present.
As April comes to an end, please take the time to reflect and learn about these pivotal historical events and also remember that history is not a thing of the past but most often repeated tragic play, like an infomercial it can play on and on in the far off distant corners of the globe far away from you or me, but none the less recurring.
April 23, 1838 Trail of Tears
Ralph Waldo Emmerson writes to president Martin Van Bruen pleading him not to commit an "outrage on the Cherokee nation". In a move to try to bring the Union together and to take Georgia's claim off of western states, Harding agrees to remove the Cherokee Indians from their lands, striping the nations claim to large swaths of land. What followed was the sad forced removal of the Cherokee nation to the Kansas. It is estimated that 4000 people died during this forced trek.
In 2004, Senator Sam Brownback (Republican of Kansas) introduced a joint resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 37) to "offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States" for past "ill-conceived policies by the United States Government regarding Indian Tribes." The United States Senate has yet to take action on the measure.
There were many other forced migrations of and you can read them at wikipedia.
April 27, 1942 Internment of Japanese Americans
Quite similar to the times we live in today, where Glenn Beck on CNN discussed how "a year from now 'American Muslims' will be staring back at us from behind barbed wire fences" tirade. I encourage other interested people of conciseness to join me in visiting Manzanar the site of one of the internment camps this coming weekend. You can read more here or on Hussam Ayloush's website.
April 24, 1915 Armenian Genocide
On the night of April 24, 1915 the Turkish Ottoman government ordered a swift order to arrest 250 key Armenian leaders. This would begin the spiral of what is argued to be the Armenian Genocide. Present day Turkey refuses to acknowledge it as genocide along with the US.
This was followed by the May 14 law that required the forced deportation of Armenians from the border of Turkey and Russia. The law and the genocide came from a historical animosity displayed by the Ottoman Turks toward the Armenians. However, in this situation Ottomans being at war with Russia and the allies- on the side of Germany- the Armenians were considered a 5th column and a danger to the war time efforts, all of which occurred after one of the most devastating losses to the Turkish army against the Russians near Baku.
It is estimated that 600,000 to 800,000 ethnic Armenians were killed in the camps, death squads, and the march through the Syrian desert. The events are quite controversial and very much in need of open and honest debate in the Muslim community. I recognize that there was a travesty done against the Armenian people, now its time to develop this in a conversation. Please check out the information at wikipedia on the genocide, however, it is not neutral and its good to develop points of reference so please share any books that are on this topic.
April 27, 1943 Yom HaShoah
The lack of a public prosecution of the organizers behind Armenian Genocide by the Allied powers was said to have largely influenced Nazi Germany's fascist leader Adolf Hitler. Among the most closest advisers and friends to the future German dictator was Scheubner-Richter, the vice-consul from Erzerum. In the aftermath of the war, Hitler and Scheubner-Richter sought to blame many of the ailing troubles Germany was suffering against the central government and Jews. Scheubner-Richter called for a "ruthless and relentless" attempt to "cleanse" the Jews out of the country. In 1923, when Hitler and his followers in the Nazi Party failed to seize power in a Munich beer hall, Scheubner-Richter was shot and killed by the police.
The extent of Hitler's knowledge of the Armenian Genocide is unclear, but he referred to their destruction several times. He first addressed their plight in 1924 and referred to them as "cowards". The most notable quote attributed to Hitler on the Armenians was in a August 1939 conference with German military commanders prior to the invasion of Poland:
|“||Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter -- with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command -- and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad -- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians? ||”|
However, its important to remember that Anti-Zionist religious Jews do not celebrate Yom Hashoah, instead remembering the victims on days that were already days of mourning before the Holocaust, such as Tisha b'Av in the summer, and the Tenth of Tevet, in the winter. Since I stand against Zionism, I do not find myself opposed to Yom Hashoah, since the day should not be politicized, however, I think many of you doing your research might disagree with me.
While you reflect on this: American injustices, German or Turkish, please remember that its not limited to a specific group of people, that it really isn't the fault of one person or that it is an issue of how history will be written. The fact is if you go back in Muslim history you will find Timur murdering hundreds of thousands of fellow Muslims in his bloody conquests across the Muslim world, as well as the British murdering millions, or the forced slavery of millions of Africans.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
The more reports that come out about Cho's clear signs of weirdness from his behavior, writings, attitude, the more I wonder....those people that knew him, that knew about his writings, that had interacted with him and were detested by his behavior and attitude, those teachers that didn't want him in their classrooms, the family members that accepted his seemingly quiet demeanor....
....I wonder what they are truly thinking and feeling right now. "Could I have done something?"
I don't want to blame anyone, because many many years ago, I, along with other high school classmates thought the same thing when one of our classmates committed suicide. He was a friend of mine throughout elementary school, but we had gotten distant because I treated his obscure behavior as something I did not want to mess with or associate with. Just leave him alone, I thought. I mean, what could happen? Anything can happen.
On the flipside however, I was really bothered by Cho's video tapes. I'm glad NBC finally took them off the air. His actions do not deserve him airtime. And he made it seem like he was the only one in history who had problems. Yes it is obvious from his writings that he hated the wealthy upper class; that they apparently treated him terribly....I guess we will never truly know his motives....
Life is not easy and it is even harder when trekked alone. We all need help so we can bear our pains. Some people just quit on life, and some people keep struggling through it.
One thing that I think we can learn from this terrible tragedy is to be a little bit more compassionate with others. Not to be anyone's savior, but even for our own sake...does it hurt to show someone that you care even a little bit for them? Compassion is here now for the victims of the families (our prayers go out you) and our hearts have become a little softer, but it needs to be there all the time and on time.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Men’s hands have wrought...” – The Noble Qur’an
Greetings of Peace,
…In the days ahead, competing ideological factions in the public square will do their best to manipulate the tragedy at Virginia Tech to suit their own political ends. Some will argue that the issue is about gun control, while others may use this tragedy to expand the immigration debate. Few, unfortunately, will have the insight or courage to address the issue for what it really is – a tragic manifestation of our own collective and very bitter societal fruits.
As the full magnitude of this human tragedy began to unfold – 33 dead as of this writing (including the perpetrator) - many thoughts rushed through my mind. In addition to the aforementioned verse from the Qur’an, I recalled a memorable observation that was made by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., many years ago…:
Nothing in our glittering technology can raise man to new heights, because material growth has been made an end in itself, and, in the absence of moral purpose, man himself becomes smaller as the works of man become bigger…
When an individual is no longer a true participant, when he no longer feels a sense of responsibility to his society, the content of democracy is emptied. When culture is degraded and vulgarity enthroned, when the social system does not build security but induces peril, inexorably the individual is impelled to pull away from a soulless society. This process produces alienation – perhaps the most pervasive and insidious development in contemporary society.
This observation goes right to the heart of the issues raised by the bloodbath at Virginia Tech University, last Monday. The crazed gunman, a 23 year old South Korean born senior, majoring in English, named Cho Seung-Hui, has been described by those who knew him as a loner, an introvert, and as someone who exhibited (in his writings) violent and deranged tendencies. It has also been reported that this troubled young man suffered from chronic depression, and had few (if any) friends; traits that represent a common denominator for many (if not most) of America’s mass murderers.
It is indeed interesting to note that persons familiar with this young man on campus noticed early warning signs of potential disaster. I’ve read one of Seung-Hui’s short plays (“Richard McBeef”) and was immediately struck by the mental disturbance it revealed about its author. I’ve also been struck by what a number of students have had to say about their past impressions of Cho Seung-Hui.
Former classmate Ian MacFarlane had this to say about the young man at the center of the nation’s latest tragedy:
When I first heard about the multiple shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday, my first thought was about my friends, and my second thought was "I bet it was Seung Cho…" Looking back, he fit the exact stereotype of what one would typically think of as a "school shooter" – a loner, obsessed with violence, and serious personal problems…
A major part of [our] playwriting class was peer reviews… When we read Cho's plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of. Before Cho got to class that day, we students were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter. I was even thinking of scenarios of what I would do in case he did come in with a gun, I was that freaked out about him. When the students gave reviews of his play in class, we were very careful with our words in case he decided to snap. Even the professor didn't pressure him to give closing comments.
And thus, even among his student peers, there was this visceral awareness of a real disturbance below the surface of Seung Cho-Hui. Ian Macfarlane now opines, “I hope this [tragedy] might help people start caring about others more, no matter how weird they might seem, because if this was some kind of cry for attention, then he should have gotten it a long time ago.”
In the coming days our voracious news media will dissect this tragedy in every way imaginable, and comparisons will repeatedly be made, no doubt, with prior mass killings (or campus-related murder-suicides)…
The real challenge for America will be what lessons and/or productive resolutions come out of this most recent tragedy in Blacksburg, Virginia. On an encouraging note, the memorial service that was held at Virginia Tech yesterday (Tuesday) was both dignified, and structured in a way that was conducive to collective healing.
In addition to the academic and political leaders on hand, the program also included interfaith messages of hope and healing from a Muslim, Buddhist, Jew and a Christian (in that order), along with a mental health professional who alerted the academic community (and family members in need) to the services that would be available on campus for as long as they were needed…
…Now, the difficult work ahead begins. Most of us know someone who exhibits many of the signs of chronic depression and/or other forms of mental or emotional disturbance…The Virginia Tech massacre reminds us of the immediate in-your-face-challenge that each of us has, or should have, as concerned citizens. In addition to this individual challenge, however, there is the larger societal challenge that we must also face.
Like so many similar tragedies on American school campuses over the past few years, the Virginia Tech massacre is a tragic reminder of two maladies that grip the very soul of our global community (especially the “developed” West): alienation and a culture of violence. Until we do more to address ourselves to the root causes of these twin evils contaminating the human spirit, history will continue to repeat itself - again, and again, and again.
As it is written, ALLAH (The Almighty) will not change the condition of a people, until they first change – through the appropriate exercise of their own limited free will – what is within themselves. May God help us to meet this monumental challenge!
El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan
The Peace And Justice Foundation
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
OVER THIRTY KILLED IN VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING RAMPAGE
Monday, April 16, 2007
I hate this show, I hate the fact that my 12 year old sister watches it and I only hate it because of the complete farce that it promotes itself to be.
None the less, I read this and couldn't help but laugh at the ananlysis:
“It's the first time somebody from our ethnic group is coming ahead of everybody,” Jayesh Patel, former president of the Federation of Indian Associations, has said. “There is a lot of enthusiasm about his coming up, and we are always watching and always praying that he will become the American Idol.”Mr. Patel says “the pride of our community” and said it was a reflection of the parental support of youngsters in their chosen professions." No Mr. Patel you are quite wrong, in fact I would venture to say that you are glossing over an entire community that thrives on minimizing and diminishing individualism at that alter of complete obdience to family, tradition and money.
Patel called Sanjaya, whose name means ‘victory’ in Sanskrit, “the pride of our community” and said it was a reflection of the parental support of youngsters in their chosen professions.
The Los Angeles Times has explained that that Sanjaya’s success resides in the fact that “he's such a good sport.”
Please you think any decent South Asian doctor or engineer in the Silicon Valley would take Sanjaya seriously. They would mock him and use him as an example of what children who come from "classless" families behave like, making a complete mockery of themselves and their families, "what decent Indian boy would do such a thing?" they would ask themselves at dinner parties.
The fact is Sanjaya is a pride in the sense that he has put a face to the Indian community besides Apu from The Simpsons or the usual 7-11 owner. The fact is Sanjaya has shown the community as being more then an engineers or doctors, but the fact is he is a short lived oddity that will be later used as an example of what decent kids should not do.
I hope, in all sense of the word, that Sanjaya is seen as so much more. As being what Mr. Patel says he is "pride of the community" because of the "parents support in his choices"- and his parents must be supportive and must love his choices. But the fact is this doesn't translate into the broader South Asian community where getting an education is primary, however, there are literally three possibilities- engineering, medicine, and business. Parents will not accept anything short of this, becasue it means social status, economic mobility and paying off of a huge debt that children carry due to their parents sacrifices.
I know too many South Asian kids suffering under the yoke of this mentality and too many South Asian kids shunned and looked down upon for choosing a road less travelled, a career or education choice less acceptable. This is not going to change with Sanjaya, nor will this change by glossing it over as Mr. Patel has done. It will take more strong willed individuals to break this negative and destructive mold, to allow for the community to become viberant enough to allow children to dream of being something other then an engineer, a doctor or an accountant.
There is a world of oppurutnity and success is measured in differnt ways. What the South Asian community faces is no differnt that things I hear in the Muslim community. We as Americans face a drastic obstacle, one which challenges the notion of what it means to bring our two world into one, and we can no longer think in narrow feable minded ways as to limit the world of possibilities to our community- diversify, when investing diversify and I say the same when it comes to education and career choices- but parents think "diversify your kids, mine is becoming a doctor!"
Please leave your comments, I am looking foward to what other people have to say on this issue.
Exclusive Coverage of Drs. Sultan, Pipes, And Brook At UCLA Panel Discussion On Islam With Protests [video/pics]
Daily Bruin: Students Protest L.O.G.I.C. Panel Event
and for more on Daniel Pipes:
Imagine being taken up in a helicopter and dropped off on top of a snow covered Glacier. snowboarding down this glacier at speeds up to 40mph, avoiding the many dangers such as crevasses (large cracks in the ice) cliffs, and praying there will be no avalanches.
AND YOU ARE BLIND!
My name is Adil, and I am planning to perform the above challenge. I was born with a degenerative eye condition which resulted in my eyesight slowly worsening from the age of 14, and now at 25 I am 96% blind.
So Why Are you Doing This Adil?
I am asking people to sponsor me for the above challenge, so that I can raise £14,000 which is enough money to transform 10 buildings into schools in the region where the Asian earthquake took place in 2005. Most schools were destroyed. The children have to get back into school to ensure they can become productive members of society. More importantly the schools will provide the children trauma support to assist them in overcoming any psychological stress they have suffered from as a result of losing their loved ones. Your support will help 300 children have a better future. It will also provide me with the necessary motivation to carry out this snowboarding challenge, as it has never been done before by someone who is blind!
So how do I know you aren't just making all this up Adil?
If you Google the term 'blind snowboarder' you will come up with many news articles, one of them is included below.
BBC News Article (slightly out of date): BBC News
So How Can I Help Adil?
1. Pray that my snowboarding ability is up for the challenge by the end of this month!
2. Help me raise my target of 14,000 which will equip 10 schools.
To make an online donation and to see how much I've raised already please visit: Just Giving
Visit my blog, and read about how someone who is blind is able to learn snowboarding you can visit: Feel the Edge
With so many demands on your pocket and time I really appreciate any form of help you can provide. As a wee gesture from my end, everybody who donates will be entered into a prize draw.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Click Here Daily to Feed the Hungry for FREE
(bookmark this one or better yet, make it your homepage !!)
UNICEF - Subscribe to FREE eNewsletter = Donating $$
(spread the word & tell your friends!!)
and remember, even if you can't do any of the above..
The Prophet of Allah (saws) said:
"Your smile for your brother is Sadaqah*. Your removal of stones, thorns or bones from the paths of people is Sadaqah*. Your guidance of a person who is lost is Sadaqah*."
* sadaqah (n) : voluntary charity
It was only last month that Muslamics own Zahra Billoo shared with us that Dorito's and Cheeto's contained "pork enzymes". That brought a massive boycott and thousands and thousands of bags of Doritos can now be found dumped along the nations beaches, as demand falls for Frito's across the United States and excess chips are discarded.
But seriously, dont believe any of the things SAID ABOVE. The picture is from Shuttari's site from South Carolina where a container with these chips fell off a ship, broke and spewed out thousands of bags of Frito's products on the beach, this was back in December 2006.
Since our post, we have had numerous interested people running around making phone calls and just updating us.
Here is what is up:
1. This site has all the Kosher products for Frito's, so you can all enjoy them!
2. I was going to post two more things, but realized that I was pushing my side of how I see things on this issue, and thought it is best to keep it impartial do read the comments on the original post.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
"We cannot afford a precedent established that the airwaves can be used to commercialize and mainstream sexism and racism." - Rev. Al Sharpton
Don Imus got what he deserved. More importantly, I think his story is a great example of the power of the people.
Had community leaders and activists not demanded a strong stance against his racist comments, CBS would have probably stuck with the 2 weeks suspension and NBC would probably still be airing his show.
A few days ago I heard a media analyst predict that Imus would not be fired simply because his show brings in big bucks for the stations. Controversy is usually a good thing in show business.
The stations had to think twice when advertisers started pulling out from the show and the protests against Imus did not cool down.
What did bother me though was that the protests against Imus's remarks came mainly from the African-American community. Where was everybody else?
Let's hope this serves as a lesson for other media hosts: blatant racism will not be tolerated.
The first time I laid out the facts about who was behind "Obsession" then I took you on a journey on how disHonest Reporting works to manipulate and castigate any and all critics of Israel.
Now I want to share with you some thoughts by disHonest Reporting about "Obsession: The Mockumentary" that you can find in a Minnesota Monitor article:
The film was recently screened near the University of Minnesota campus, according to Tarin and other sources. A group called Minnesotans Against Terrorism, which also helped produce the film, has led the efforts to promote it in the state.
The producer of the film is Raphael Shore, president of Honestreporting.com, a pro-Israel website. But Gary Kenzer, its national USA executive director, said in an interview from Chicago that his group no longer endorses the film “because it doesn’t fit our mission.”
Kenzer says the film, which was shown on Fox News and CNN Headlines, “pushes the buttons too far.”
He’s not alone. Concordia University in St. Paul has recently canceled a plan to screen the film on campus. Calls seeking comment from the school administration were not returned by Saturday morning.
Kenzer says it does not fit their agenda, huh, I wonder why?
Then it continues into the comments section and you see how dumb some Americans are and you think if they were given a test of some sorts, maybe the one that people applying for Citizenship have to take, would they be able to pass this test and become citizens?
Or things as bad as this:
They would be well advised to start publicly denouncing terrorist supporting groups like CAIR.
CAIR, with it's foolish suit against "John doe" airline passengers and continuing support of groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, do nothing but undermine the efforts of muslims that wish to assimilate and prosper in America.
“Too bad our troops can't kill them fast enough,” said one of the more than 900 comments posted on Buzz.mn, which first reported the Target incident. Muslim leaders said comments like this are on the rise, and they are calling it: “Islamophobia.”You be the judge on whether American Muslims are second class citizens or not?
The News That Didn't Make the News.
"Project censored is one of the organizations we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing through and ethical journalism."
- Walter Cronkite
Project Censored just released the twenty-five top news stories of the year that were not covered by the national media. They include:
1) The future of the Internet Debate
2) Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technology to Iran (!)
5) High-Tech Genocide in the Congo
9) The World Bank funds the "Israel"/Palestine Wall
For a full listing, and more information on each issue, I would highly recommend you visit their site.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Dennis H. Holtschneider, President, DePaul University
Helmut P. Epp, Provost, DePaul University
and the Trustees, Deans, Faculty and Students of DePaul University
We are deeply concerned about reports of outside interference into the tenure and promotion case of Dr. Norman Finkelstein, and that as a result he may not be awarded tenure from DePaul University.
One such report is:
Harvard Law Professor Works to Disrupt Tenure Bid of Longtime Nemesis at DePaul U. By Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle of Higher Education - April 5, 2007
We value Dr. Finkelstein' s scholarship, his public talks and debates, and his well-argued, fact-based critiques of issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In our opinion, his association with DePaul University has enhanced DePaul University's reputation.
We understand his department has recommended tenure. We will be troubled if Dr. Finkelstein is denied tenure and will be concerned about the integrity of the tenure process at DePaul University.
We support a fair tenure process for Dr. Finkelstein.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
“Listen,” said Shaytan, “I propose a settlement that will be to your advantage. You are a poor man, a mere burden on this earth. If you stay away from this act, I will pay you three gold coins everyday. You will daily find them lying under your pillow. With this money you can fulfill your own needs, can oblige your relative, help the needy, and do so many other virtuous things. Cutting the tree will be only one virtue, which will ultimately be of no use because the people will grow another tree.” This proposal appealed to the man, and he accepted it.
He found the money on two successive days, but on the third day there was nothing. He got enraged, picked up his axe and went to cut the tree. Shaytan as an old man again met him on the way and asked him where he was going. “To cut the tree!” shouted the man. “I will not let you do it,” said Shaytan. A fight took place between the two again but this time Shaytan overpowered his contender. The man was surprised at his own defeat, and asked the old man the cause of his success. Shaytan replied, “At first, your anger was purely for earning the pleasure of Allah, and therefore Almighty Allah helped you to overpower me, but now it has been partly for the sake of the gold coins and therefore you lost.”
-original author unknown
Also the following are excerpts from a Jewish Rabbi attending and speaking at the CAIR banquet in Philly where the Governor of Pennsylvania also dropped by to show the Muslim community his support! What the Rabbi has to say really shows that not all Jews hate Muslims, and not all Muslims hate Jews, its more of a mutual misunderstanding and lack of communication and those are all things we can overcome:
You reported on the attacks on CAIR by one suburban rabbi and by an official of the local chapter of the Zionist Organization of America (a right-wing group) , and in other ways made a major point in the article -- indeed, its pervasive point -- a seeming collision between the Jewish community and CAIR.
Yet somehow, though you interviewed me, you did not see fit to report the fact that I, the director of a national Jewish organization with its offices in Philadelphia, the author of a dozen well-received books on Jewish history and practice, a rabbi described by last week's issue of Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in the United States, and one described by the Forward newspaper at the end of 2005 as one of the "Forward Fifty" of most effective and creative Jews (not just rabbis) from the whole country, spoke at the dinner; that my talk came from a deeply Jewishly rooted place and knowledge; that I spoke as a religious Jew committed to Israel, to Palestine, and to peace between them, speaking to religious Muslims who strongly applauded my call for renewed dedication to a peaceful two-state peace settlement and strongly applauded my remarks about the need for each single one of us members of the family of Abraham to feel personally wounded when any member of the family kills another; that my entire talk was very warmly received by the CAIR community.
Nor did you report that in the printed banquet program, which I assume you as a good reporter saw, there was not only a letter from me affirming Congressman Sestak's speaking to a totally legitimate Muslim group, but also a letter from the rabbi of an important Philadelphia synagogue, Rabbi Jeff Sultar of Mishkan Shalom, strongly supporting CAIR's work.
Why did you not report any of these facts?
You barely mentioned the warm and warmly received speech by Governor Rendell, who is himself Jewish and has excellent relations with both the Jewish and Muslim communities in Philadelphia.
The impact of your report was to give the false impression that "the Jewish community" condemns CAIR and the Congressman for speaking, because you did not bother to report other Jewjsh opinions. Nor did you make any effort to ascertain and report that in fact CAIR speaks out strongly against terrorist attacks by Muslims, while you reported the utterly uncorroborated assertions by two local Jews that CAIR "has connections to terrorists."
This kind of reporting encourages these McCarthyist assertions. It gives credence to lies. Good reporting should tell the whole story, not a one-sided version of it.
Finally Joe Kaufman- the picture says it all!
How is Dr. Tariq Ramadan's latest book different from the many other sirah books out there? The insightful lessons drawn from the stories of Prophet Muhammad’s life nd applied to ours today is what, to me, makes this book unique.
The book doesn’t overwhelm its readers with names and dates (as other more comprehensive history books sometimes do). Instead the author focuses on the morals and the teachings that can be derived from the different incidences. He truly delves deep into the Prophet’s character, at the same time subtly correcting common misconceptions about our beloved Messenger and his message (jihad, treatment of women, interfaith relations, etc…)
I whole-heartedly recommend this book to Muslims and non-Muslims, young and old alike.
Below are excerpts from passages that particularly touched and inspired me.
The Orphan and his Educator
One evening, he [Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] heard that a wedding was to be celebrated in Mecca and he wanted to attend. On the way there, he reported, he suddenly felt tired; he lay down to rest and fell asleep. … The One, always present at his side, literally put him to sleep thus protecting him from his own instincts… This natural initiation into morals, remote from any obsession with sin and fostering of guilt, greatly influenced the kind of education the Prophet was to impart to his Companions. … this teaching method is most valuable and reminds us that a moral sense should be developed not through interdiction and sanction but gradually, gently, exactingly, understandingly, and at a deep level.
Incidence with the blind companion(referred to in Surah `Abasa)
Thus the prophet is a model for Muslims not only through the excellence of his behavior but also through the weakness of his humanity… No one must ever let power or social, economic, or political interests turn him or her away from other human beings, from the attention they deserve and the respect they are entitled to.
Battle of Badr
The Messenger’s authority in human affairs was neither autocratic nor restricted… The Prophet gave his Companions, women and men alike, the means and confidence to be autonomous, to dare to address and contradict him without his ever considering it as lack of respect for his status. Through this attitude he showed them deep respect for their intelligence and for their heart…
He [Prophet Muhammad] thus invited them [the Companions] to deny or despise nothing in their humanity and taught them that the core of the matter was achieving self-control. Spirituality means both accepting and mastering one’s instincts…
Battle of the Moat [Ditch/Confederates]
Muhammad took part in the work [digging the ditch], and his Companions would hear him sometimes invoking God, sometimes reciting poems, sometimes singing songs in which they would all join. … the Prophet enabled the women and me in his community—beyond their communion in faith and ritual prayer—to commune through the voicing of emotions and the musicality of hearts articulating their belonging to a common expression of the self, a collective imagination, a culture.
All his Companions had witnessed, in all the circumstances of his life, that seemingly surprising blend of infinite generosity of heart, unambiguous determination in adversity, and strict management of time.
Death of his son Ibrahim
The trial of faith and of humanity, which made the Prophet shed tears, consisted precisely in learning how to find,…, the strength to face the finitude of the human, sudden departures, and death. The sign of the One’s Presence at the time of a person’s death lies not in the occurrence of any miracle but rather in the permanence of the natural order, in the eternity of His creation…
…faith would not leave them [the Muslim community], he said, but the world with its illusions would colonize them, and both would, unfortunately, coexist with them.
In History, for Eternity
The Messenger may have left the human world, but he has taught us never to forget Him, the Supreme Refuge, the Witness, the Most Near. Bearing witness that there is no god but God is, in effect, stepping towards deep and authentic freedom; recognizing Muhammad as the Messenger is essentially learning to love him in his absence and to love Him in His presence.
Monday, April 9, 2007
The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has recently issued a campaign pack to demand justice for "prisoner of faith" Imam Jamil Al Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown).
The 19-page pdf document includes a brief background of Imam Jamil and his many contributions to the Muslim community in the US, a summary of the case against him, and action items to help end the injustice he is facing.
The report also includes model letters and address that leave no excuse for anyone not to start a letter writing campaign (hint, hint).
Below are excerpts from the report (jazaks to Sabeen Shaiq for forwarding the link):
Imam Jamil (formerly known as H. Rap Brown) was one of the most articulate and outspoken critics of the tyranny and oppression perpetuated by the Jim Crow laws of the 1960’s which served to legally segregate whites from blacks. Known as a bold and daring fighter for the rights of the oppressed and unjustly treated, he was accorded the same status by media personalities and law-enforcement officials as that given to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcom X). During this period, Imam Jamil received his ‘violent’ label by these individuals who sought to demean his advocacy of self-defence against US government-induced terrorism against the black communities and racist Ku Klux Klan activities. Throughout the 1970’s, 80’s, and 90’s, Imam Jamil has proven himself to be an outstanding Islamic leader as exemplified through the following:...
Imam Jamil was charged with 13 counts of murder and felony murder in March 2000 after shootings outside his grocery store earlier in the same month which resulted in one deputy being killed. Ultimately, he was found guilty of all 13 counts and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.
The trial followed the extremely muddled and chaotic investigation of the shootings in which flaws have been well documented....
The Freedom of Information Act revealed that there are over 44,000 documents compiled on Imam Jamil’s life since the 1960s when he was known as H Rap Brown, which Imam Jamil himself has made reference to on several occasions. The media coverage of Imam Jamil has conveyed him as being ‘some kind of gun-toting, irresponsible Black thug’, according to a close friend of his. ...
All these connotations have been projected, even though since his conversion to Islam in 1971, Imam Jamil has worked hard for the Muslim community in America. He established the Community Mosque of Atlanta and in 1983 formed the National Islamic Community, an amalgamation of 30 mosques. Friends have described Imam Jamil as humble and respectful and he has been widely credited on the work he has undertaken with ‘...ridding his neighbourhood of drug dealers...’ Perhaps then, it is not difficult to believe him when he stated, after his arrest in Alabama, “It’s a government conspiracy”.
Here are seven habits for highly successful Muslim youth, derived entirely from the Qur`an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Casting the telling of truth and the fate of the truthful in terms of profit and loss, Allah Most High tells us in the Qur`aan:
"This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are gardens, with rivers flowing beneath their eternal Home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah. That is the great salvation, (the fulfillment of all desires)." (Al-Maa'idah 5:119)
"Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to al-fujur [wickedness, evil-doing], and al-fujur leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is written before Allah a liar." (Bukhari, 73: 116)
When we say Allah is the Most Trustworthy, we are coming to terms with the fact that Allah Most High will never let us down, will never leave our side. He, Most High, says about someone who willingly accepts Islam,
"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah Heareth and Knoweth all things." (Al-Baqarah, 2:256)
Have Self-Restraint and Be God-Conscious
Perhaps the most difficult challenge while navigating adolescence is to restrain oneself from falling victim to one's desires - especially one's lower desires. We are reminded by Allah Most High:
"And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune." (Fussilat, 41:5)
An interesting parallel is that, throughout his Qur`an translation, the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates taqwaa as self-restraint. While taqwaa is most commonly translated as "God-consciousness, " one realizes without much effort that the height of self-restraint is full and complete understanding that one is indeed conscious of one's duty to one's Lord.
To be thorough stems from a desire to be perfect to the extent that this is humanly possible. Seeking perfection in our actions and speech from an early age helps us to develop a keen eye, not only for thoroughness in our own life, but also for thoroughness in the lives of those around us.
We read in the Muwatta of Imaam Malik "Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'I was sent to perfect good character" (Hadith 47.1.8).
Developing the habit of being focused ensures that you are awake, alert, and totally motivated to work on and complete the task at hand, whatever it may be. Among the best ways to develop focus is to practice praying with deep concentration to the extent that you are almost unaware of your surroundings.
Allah Most High tells us in the Qur`an that the believers are "those who humble themselves in their prayers" (Al-Mu'minun 23:2)
The last thing we should attribute to Islam is the notion that its teachings somehow make us late, slow, slugging, and anything but punctual. One of the central pillars of Islam is prayer, and Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (saws) have given us clear reminders that we are to establish prayers at their due times.
When `Abdullah asked "which deed is the dearest to Allah?" the Prophet Muhammad (saws) replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times" (Bukhari, 10.505).
Apart from all the habits listed above, perhaps the one that is sure to help you become a highly successful Muslim youth is that of being consistent. One cannot be truthful one day and a liar the next; one cannot be trustworthy in one instance and totally unreliable in the next; and so on for each of the other habits.
Indeed, the Mother of the Believers `A'ishah narrates that "the most beloved action to Allah's Apostle was that which is done continuously and regularly." (Bukhari, 76.469).
Originally written by Altaf Hussain.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
If you have not been watching the news, there has been a systematic assualt on Muslim organization since last summer, especially since the end of the Lebanon assualt by Israel, not to say that the two are related.
First it began with Dr. Maher Hathout out in Southern California, who was recieving a Los Angeles Human Relations award, the first one to go to a Muslim. He and to a certain extent, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, that he is an adivsor to were attacked for being "pro-Palestinian" and not "nice" to the Jewish community. Dr. Hathout appologized for his remarks that "offended" some in the Jewish community and immediatly began putting together, along with the Progress Jewish Alliance a community dialogue- jump starting a previously began project.
Then came the attack on Al-Maghrib and its teachers by Daniel Pipes and his cronies. They do not even deserve mention. After that came the CAIR and Senator Barbara Boxer fiasco, followed by the Florida bigot scandal, then followed by attacks on the UCI Muslim Student Association, followed by more attacks on CAIR...but the point here, is that even with all the attacks on the Muslim community there is hope.
There was also the protests put on by the United American Committee (what the heck is that, its so ambigous) on March 31, which they have declared as "Rally Against Islamofacism Day". Southern Califronia Infocus has a nice article on the "Pro Israel groups that target Muslims"
The funny thing about this rally was that everyone was saying that Israel was the issue, in that Muslim must accept Israel- we can not criticize or speak bad of Israel- infact the guy in the picture went far enough to say that Islam became dead in 1948 when Israel was created, the nutcase that said that is also a "co-founder" of UAC. But the entire thing was ideological rhetoric about how Muslims do not belong in the US and how Islam should be erased off the face of the planet.
Sestak told dinner attendees: "CAIR does such important and necessary work in a difficult environment to change such perceptions and wrongs -- from racial profiling and civil rights to promoting justice and mutual understanding -- at a time when it is challenging to be an American-Muslim."
"We need to claim our values, not betray them, by ensuring there is not a psychology that pulls out of the rich fabric of our American community those who look like 'one of them.' We are better than that," said Sestak.
Sestak, was the guy being attacked for attending a CAIR Philidelphia banquet, their first ever and with a contigent of Anti-Muslim protesters, Joe Kaufman flew in from Florida!!!
Congrats to CAIR Phili and most importantly to the Muslim community in Philidelphia for with standing the storm!
Saturday, April 7, 2007
The story so far: Sami al-Arian, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian, was a respected computer professor at the University of South Florida who tried, however vainly, to communicate the real tragedy of Palestinian Arabs to the US government. But according to Sugg, Israel's lobbyists were enraged by his lessons - al-Arian's family was driven from Palestine in 1948 - and in 2003, at the instigation of Attorney General Ashcroft, he was arrested and charged with conspiring "to murder and maim" outside the United States and with raising money for Islamic Jihad in "Palestine". He was held for two and a half years in solitary confinement, hobbling half a mile, his hands and feet shackled, merely to talk to his lawyers.
Al-Arian's $50m (£25m) Tampa trial lasted six months; the government called 80 witnesses (21 from Israel) and used 400 intercepted phone calls along with evidence of a conversation that a co-defendant had with al-Arian in - wait for it - a dream. The local judge, a certain James Moody, vetoed any remarks about Israeli military occupation or about UN Security Council Resolution 242, on the grounds that they would endanger the impartiality of the jurors.
In December, 2005, al-Arian was acquitted on the most serious charges and on those remaining; the jurors voted 10 to two for acquittal. Because the FBI wanted to make further charges, al-Arian's lawyers told him to make a plea that would end any further prosecution. Arriving for his sentence, however, al-Arian - who assumed time served would be his punishment, followed by deportation - found Moody talking about "blood" on the defendant's hands and ensured he would have to spend another 11 months in jail. Then prosecutor Gordon Kromberg insisted that the Palestinian prisoner should testify against an Islamic think tank. Al-Arian believed his plea bargain had been dishonoured and refused to testify. He was held in contempt. And continues to languish in prison.
As the reporter who first revealed the death of hotel worker Baha Mousa in British custody in Basra - I suppose we must always refer to his demise as "death" now that the soldiers present at his savage beating have been acquitted of murder - I can attest that Arab Muslims know all too well how gentle and refined our boys are during interrogation. It is we, the British at home, who are not supposed to believe in torture. The Iraqis know all about it - and who knew all about Mousa's fate long before I reported it for The Independent on Sunday.
Because it's really all about shutting the reality of the Middle East off from us. It's to prevent the British and American people from questioning the immoral and cruel and internationally illegal occupation of Muslim lands.
And in the Land of the Free, this systematic censorship of Middle East reality continues even in the country's schools. Now the principal of a Connecticut high school has banned a play by pupils, based on the letters and words of US soldiers serving in Iraq. Entitled Voices in Conflict, Natalie Kropf, Seth Koproski, James Presson and their fellow pupils at Wilton High School compiled the reflections of soldiers and others - including a 19-year-old Wilton High graduate killed in Iraq - to create their own play. To no avail. The drama might hurt those "who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving as we speak", proclaimed Timothy Canty, Wilton High's principal. And - my favourite line - Canty believed there was not enough rehearsal time to ensure the play would provide "a legitimate instructional experience for our students".
And of course, I can quite see Mr Canty's point. Students who have produced Arthur Miller's The Crucible were told by Mr Canty - whose own war experiences, if any, have gone unrecorded - that it wasn't their place to tell audiences what soldiers were thinking. The pupils of Wilton High are now being inundated with offers to perform at other venues. Personally, I think Mr Canty may have a point. He would do much better to encourage his students to perform Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, a drama of massive violence, torture, rape, mutilation and honour killing. It would make Iraq perfectly explicable to the good people of Connecticut. A "legitimate instructional experience" if ever there was one.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Muslim Friendly Firefox Add-On #1: Fzami
I'm not quite sure why the creator of this add-on named it Fzami but this add-on allows you to display the prayer times for all 5 prayers or the next prayer at the bottom of your browser. Installs with a very clean look and you can adjust the time for your local city without taking up space on your desktop! (The list of prayer times shown in the picture below only appears when you place your mouse on the prayer times at the bottom of your browser).
(( Download Fzami Here ))
Muslim Friendly Firefox Add-On #2: Azan Times!
This add-on is also used for Prayer reminders except it has a count down system. This means that it will tell you the hours, minutes and even seconds until the next prayer! (The list of prayer times shown in the picture below only appears when you place your mouse on the prayer times at the bottom of your browser). I like this one a lot because it makes it easy to plan your day around your prayers.
(( Download Azan Times! Here ))
in sha' Allah there will be more Muslim friendly add-ons coming soon - keep it up Firefox!!
..and Internet Explorer, step it up!!
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
So I grabbed my friend and we sat with the man over lunch as he told us his life story. He told us how he and his wife had come here from Washington D.C., how he had been in a car accident where his car was totaled (hence the cane) and all of his money went off with the car to the impound. He told us how he and his wife have been staying in a really cheap motel/temporary housing complex in Oakland and just need some time to recuperate and some money to get readjusted. He also told us that he had approached the people in charge of masjid facilities and finances, the executive board, and they declined assistance.
I asked politely if I could talk to my friend in private. He agreed. "You know, I believe him and his story. But if the masjid cant help him, what are we going to do? What can we do?"
I have yet to attend the masjid executive board meeting, but I can understand and sympathize with the masjid because of course their bookkeeping and accounting records must be immaculate for their own integrity's sake (tax purposes and what not). It would be difficult to provide charity on a one-on-one basis; they cannot give zakat collected money to just anyone apparently (guilt by association?? speculative but possible). The man told us that they need to see a California ID to start off. But I will investigate further.
As a temporary solution, we pooled some money together and gave it to the man. But I know he is not the only case; we just happened to be there when he was.
Sometimes, this all doesn't make sense to me. We can hold events and raise money for people on the other side of the world, but we can't even help the people down the street in our own communities? Or why cant we just give ans support; our intention is to do so to help the man and his wife for the sake of God, whoever he is? Isn't that part of faith? Where are our community service centers? All I am seeing lately are buildings to pray in and hold events for.
I know this is a complex issue that requires some kind of an infrastructure/process/framework. So I open it up to the other writers and readers. Have you ever come across an instance like this in your community? How do your community leaders handle it? What services do they/can they provide? What do you think we could do on an individual level, and possibly a community-wide level? To be continued....
If you haven't this is how it stands- The reporting of all funds raised by presidential nominee's needed to be reported and were made public, and here is what it looks like:
1. Hillary Clinton some 26 million dollars
2. Barack Obama some 24 million dollars
3. Mit Romney some 21 million dollars
4. all the others running below the meager 15 million dollar mark.
Read more here to see what the figures are like and how significant this plays into the entire race.
But where are the American Muslims. While our community is still reeling from the 2000 election and the support of Bush and the falling out with the Republicans that followed, along with the apathy, and then also the militant anti-participation in American National politics here is just a fun way to gauge which way the American Community is putting their weight behind...well so far the winner seems to be the Obama juggernaut.
Vote at InFocus's poll by going here.
Also leave your comment, even if you find my stance on national elections to be obnoxious, do please leave a comment!
RADIO INTIFADA 4-05 - WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED! Deir Yassin, Land Day and Free Speech Radio
Voices from Kolkata to Casablanca
Voices of struggle, Voices for change
Thursday, April 5, 2007, 3-4pm
WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED!
In remembrance of Deir Yassin & Land Day,
Celebrating Free Speech Radio
On April 9, 1948, 124 Palestinians in the village of DeirYassin outside Jeruslaem were massacred in a prelude to what Palestinians call the nakba – the catastrophe – that led to the expulsion and flight of 750,000 Palestinians from what became Israel. 28 years later, on March 30th, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed and 100 injured as they went on strike against massive land confiscations in the Galilee.
This week’s program commemorates those events with a focus on the ongoing struggle for peace and justice waged on the ground by Palestinians, Israelis and internationals – and their refusal to be silenced.
Monday, April 2, 2007
If we desire so badly for non-Muslims to accept us and tolerate our rituals and practices, our prayers, our fasting, our style of dress, then we, too, must be the loudest voice for tolerance of other cultures and religious traditions. We must be that very last people to make disparaging comments about those practicing other religions, especially our cousins in faith, the People of the Book, for Allah says in the Qur’an in Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 62:
“Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”
We can’t just rally and chant and protest for Muslims and causes affecting Islam. We have to be the voice of tolerance and justice for every group and every person on earth, even if it means that we have to speak out against people of our own culture and our own faith. For Allah reminds us in the Holy Qur’an in Surat An-Nisa, Verse 135,
“Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor. For God has enough compassion for all. Follow not the lusts of your hearts, so you won’t deviate from the straight path.”
Of course, as Muslims, our aim is to ensure that Islam is protected and that our rights as an ummah are upheld and honored. However, we must also remember that every single person is a potential Muslim, every group is a potential ally of our cause, and every creation is a miracle of Allah (swt). Therefore, every creature, unless an open enemy of Islam, deserves our love, honor, and respect. Each of these people also deserves our energy in our fight for justice and tolerance.
We cannot be afraid to call out our own when it comes to those Muslims around the world who persecute, dishonor, and disregard the rights of others. Where we see wrongdoing, we must stand up for the right, no matter if we criticize our own brothers and sisters. The best form of love is that which is honest and forthcoming.
Justice Dignity Firmness Tolerance Patience Perseverance Sincerity Responsibility Honesty Fair-Dealing
These are the virtues that we must uphold, that we must cultivate as an ummah, and that we must develop within ourselves if we are to be the respectable community following in the footsteps of our beloved Prophet (pbuh).
May Allah instill in us the virtues that made the Prophet (pbuh) successful and great in his leadership of our ummah. May Allah give us the fortitude and maturity to look within our own hearts and fix our own problems before looking for the faults of others. May Allah give us the courage to stand up for the rights of others. May Allah bless us with intelligence, integrity, dignity, and purity as individuals and as a global community so that we may be worthy to stand in the presence of Allah on the Day of Judgment as servants who lived for his love and approval.