Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The 10 sacred days are upon us again, and it feels like Ramadan just ended? Here is an amazing reminder from Imam Zaid Shakir, whose book "Scattered Picutre: Reflections of An American Muslim" I am currently rereading:
The story of Pilgrimage (Hajj) and the feast ('Id) that accompanies it focuses our attention on the story of Abraham AS. God mentions the origins of the Pilgrimage when He orders Abraham AS, "Proclaim the Pilgrimage to all of humanity; they will respond, coming (to the sacred House) on foot, riding every possible conveyance, coming from every distant path. (22:27) It is related that Abraham AS responded by saying, "My Lord! How can I call all of humanity when my voice will not carry that far?" God said, "Issue the call, and We will make your voice reach them." Abraham AS then stood at his station (Maqam) and proclaimed, "O People! Your Lord has established a house of worship, make pilgrimage onto it!" It is then related that God caused the mountains to bow low in humility, and Abraham's AS voice traveled to the far corners of the Earth. Every animate and inanimate creation, along with those who had been decreed to make the Pilgrimage until the Day of Resurrection, then proclaimed, "We are responding in your dutiful service, o God! We are responding (labbaykallahmumma Labbayk)!"
Now that you know the immensity of these 10 days, go and find out what you can do since you might be like me, watching from afar as the Brothers and Sisters answer Abraham AS call this year!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
From the UNFPA:
Violence against women is the most prevalent and least punished crime in the world. It is also a grave threat to health and well-being. Together with the global financial crisis and climate change, it constitutes a major challenge of our time.AND
Today, as we commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us unite for human rights and dignity for all. Let us raise our voices and intensify efforts for zero tolerance of violence against girls and women. And let us salute those who are working hard on this important issue. The women, men and young people who actively challenge discrimination and violence against women deserve increased support.
Gender-based violence also serves – by intention or effect – to perpetuate male power and control. It is sustained by a culture of silence and denial of the seriousness of the health consequences of abuse. In addition to the harm they exact on the individual level, these consequences also exact a social toll and place a heavy and unnecessary burden on health services.AND
Around the world, as many as one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way - most often by someone she knows, including by her husband or another male family member; one woman in four has been abused during pregnancy.
If nothing else, I urge you to take a moment after reading this to say a dua/prayer for the victims of violence and abuse worldwide.
Friday, November 21, 2008
"We never would have accepted a site if the government of Israel or the Jerusalem Municipality had said it was a Muslim cemetery."
"We would have laughed. It would have been preposterous. We never would have accepted it."
If that were the case then why, after finding 250 bodies does the Museum of Tolerance construction continue?
Was it not enough for Rabbi Heir to know that 250 bodies, marked or unmarked, makes for something of a graveyard? In fact archeologists are suggesting that under this initial layer of bodies there is most likely another five or six layers of graves. In fact at Mamun'Allah cemetary was the largest Muslim cemetery in Palestine, with an estimated 15,000 bodies buried there. It included Sahaba and mujahedeen who fought with Salaha-udin to take back Al-Quds from the Crudsaders, sufi saints and hanafi scholars, qadi's, mufti's and the rich of Al-Quds, the poor and destitute, along with countless others- Jews and Christians-before the Muslims arrived there.
So when Rabbi Heir says it was a parking lot for the past 50 years and Muslims (extremists) are only doing it becuase it offers a chance for "land grab" in West Jerusalem, it should shame us all into action!
How can a Rabbi, a person who is responsible for peoples lives, morals, principles, entrusted with the sacred rituals of birth, marriage, community and DEATH be so cold and distant as to say that Jews should not be held to a higher standard then Muslims hold themselves when it comes to their dead.
Since when are the dead, of any faith treated wtih this sort of dignity. Since when can you tell a family whose ancestors are buried in the graveyard that "your religious leaders said its not sacred anymore, that once they were buidling a school on all of it, that they built a parking lot on it, that they built a hotel on it". Did ever cross the Rabbi's mind under what conditions those decisions were made, by whom and for what purpose those decisions were made?
The Rabbi, for promoting understanding and tolerance, has no inkling that those "Muslim scholars and trustees" he refers to are not accepted by the vast Palestinian diaspora as being representative of their will, that they are appointed by the Israeli government and many times rubber stamp decision already made by the Israeli government.
All this aside, how can a Rabbi think that a finding bodies under the ground would mean the continuation of building a Museum of Tolerance? I mean imagine if Europe decided to destroy derilect Jewish cemeteries in Poland or Germany or France, or worse to "develop with luxury apartments and districts" by bulldozing concentration camps and "sealing under the foundation" the bodies of those countless Jews who were murdered by the Nazi's. Would it be acceptable if instead that development was a "Museum of Understanding" to uplift and bring business to a really hard press region?
I would hope Muslims would be the first to stand up and say "No" to such a thing, as I would hope a Rabbi representing an organization that purports itself to be a international "human rights organization" would be the first to step and say, "this is wrong, I will not desecrate the resting place of the dead in order to build a Museum of Tolerance."
When the Rabbi and the proponents say its "just a parking lot" then my response is does a parking lot have hundreds if not thousands of graves? And how would we, in any corner of the world, treat the graves of any of our deceased? Does a parking lot look like this:
Does that look like a parking lot to you?
Take action, dont be bullied into silence on this issue. Check out what you can do here
In the recent division within the Anglican Church, several Bishops expressed the view that homosexuality is “unnatural” because it does not occur in other species. One may ask ‘are not human beings part of nature?’
What does nature have to do with anything anyway? Is it natural to wear clothes, drive cars, use money or fire satellites into orbit? Other species don’t do that
either. Should we therefore refrain from space travel as our sons hamster has
not reached the moon?
What relevance does natural or unnatural have on the actions of man. Such arguments have no rational extension.
Islam takes a different stance on sexuality. Islam sees the human being as a human being and so treats our human problems in an exclusively human way. From an Islamo-psychological perspective the human being has instincts, drives and needs. Failing to satisfy our instincts and drives can lead to misery and so the suppression of “human nature” is seen as oppressive.
Therefore, brilliant medieval Islamic scholars described human nature including in it three core instincts: procreation, survival and sanctification. These encompass all human drives. So it was Islam which, many years before the likes of Freud and
Jung, actually announced the liberating position on who we are and said “it’s ok to be human.” So Muslims do not claim that homosexuality is unnatural.
However, Islam just like any other way of life has a frame of reference. Most Western countries have laws that prevent the sexual abuse of children, polyandry and cannibalism. If it were argued that these crimes were really an expression of human nature, most would reject them as completely inappropriate actions.
Islam, like many other spiritual traditions, argues that homosexuality is not the right way to manifest the instinct of procreation. It is a behaviour that negates the Islamic vision of society which is one of extended families connected by marriage between men and women. Hence Islam has viewed the public expression of homosexuality as a crime and as a result has placed a mechanism in which to protect its vision for society.
This doesn’t mean that homosexuals are to be seen as anything other than human. The Islamic tradition argues that one must be just and express sincere kindness to all people. Homosexuality is just one of many sexual practices that do not fit with the Islamic vision of society such as sex outside of marriage, wife-swapping and swingers parties! Many Muslims have had their own internal struggles with expressing their procreation instinct. With their conviction in the Islamic way of life, they have successfully re-constructed their dispositions to be in line with what they love, agree with and submit to - Islam.
Some people object to Islam making the public expression of homosexuality a criminal act. This is subjective and only strikes a chord amongst those who cannot escape the social constructs in their own societies.
I'm not sure I agree with his whole natural vs. unnatural argument (afterall, can't we say that the majority is the natural and creatures such as cannibalists are exceptions?). More importantly, I'm not sure if his statement: "Islam takes a different stance on sexuality" is completely accurate. Are there not other authentic opinions? I seem to remember hearing the unnatural argument from some Muslim teachers/scholars, but I may be wrong.
Hat tip: Marya Bangee
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Israeli president Shimon Peres was at Ofxord yesterday to deliver a speech on world peace, ironically, as the head of state of Israel. The lecture was titled The Globalization of Peace that is part of a series of lectures Peace Lectures: Inaugurated by Shimon Peres.
While Peres was giving his speech, student protests could be heard outside throughout the entire duration. At one point, several student stood up and stated “I represent all the Palestinians who...”. One of them was forced out of the venue.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
According to the Workplace Prof. Blog, the recent consent decrees preliminarily approved by a district court judge in Minnesota may be the first of their kind. The EEOC charges against Gold’n Plump Poultry, Inc.and The Work Connection regarding the rights of Muslim employees with respect to prayer breaks look like they will be settled!
- The religious discrimination prohibition found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Gold'n Plump employees will receive an additional paid break, for one of the plant areas, during the 2nd half of each shift.
- Break timings will fluctuate year round to accommodate prayer times.
- Gold'n Plump will pay $215,000 to a group of Muslim employees "who may have been [improperly] disciplined or discharged when they took breaks to pray."
- Gold'n Plump will pay $720,000 in attorneys' fees.
- The Work Connection, the employee placement service that referred workers to Gold'n Plump, will pay $150,000 to the class as a consequence of having asked potential workers to sign a form verifying they "would not refuse to handle pork" in the course of their work as well as for rejecting workers who refused to sign the form.
- The Work Connection will discontinue it's use of the questionable form and will forward placement offers to those workers it had previously turned away.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
For Ali Malik, who visited Israel and Palestine in September with 13 other UC Irvine students, the trip’s highlight wasn’t on the official itinerary. During the group’s stay in Jerusalem, Malik walked every morning to the Dome of the Rock – the Muslim mosque – to pray.
“On the way, I’d see Christians going to church and Jews going to the Wailing Wall, and I realized we were all going for the same purpose – to worship and please our lord,” says Malik, who took the trip as part of the student-led Olive Tree Initiative. “It had a huge impact on me.”
Founded in 2007, the initiative comprises student leaders from Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze and unaffiliated backgrounds. They include members of Anteaters for Israel, Hillel, Muslim Student Union, Society of Arab Students, Middle East Studies Student Initiative and other campus organizations. Finding common ground and opening dialogue on the Middle East conflict among people with different ideologies is a key goal of the initiative.
After spending several months studying Arabic in Damascus through the International Opportunities Program, Malik joined his fellow students on the two-week visit to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Haifa and other cities within Israel and Palestinian territories. They talked with academics, community and religious leaders, and activists in the region.
“You can study these things in books, but being there brings them to life,” Malik says. “The trip revamped my opinion of the conflict. I now feel that, although it’s a deeply complicated issue, it’s resolvable if we can talk to each other.”
For their efforts, Malik and Moran Cohen (to be featured in a Nov. 10 Spotlight) both received the XIV Dalai Lama Endowed Scholarship, which recognizes UCI students committed to ethics and leadership on campus and in the community.
He and Cohen will use their scholarship – which includes individual awards of $7,500 and a shared award of $2,500 – to “work rationally for peace” and foster more conversations about the conflict. They participated in Olive Tree Initiative’s first public forum Oct. 23 before a packed crowd in the Student Center’s Crystal Cove Auditorium, and they hope to do more at local mosques, synagogues and campus venues. They also want to recruit new initiative members and organize another Middle East trip next fall.
Full press release here
I don't know much about the initiative but sounds like a step in the right direction...may Allah (swt) put barakah in your efforts Br. Ali. Praying in al-Aqsa everyday...a dream come true...
Monday, November 10, 2008
Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel is a member of the so-called New Democrat Coalition (NDC), of group of center-right pro-business Congressional Democrats affiliated with the Democratic Leadership Conference, which is dedicated to moving the Democratic Party away from its more liberal and progressive base. Numbering only 58 members out of 236 Democrats in the current House of Representatives, the NDC has worked closely with its Republican colleagues in pushing through and passing such legislation as those providing President Bush with "fast-track" trade authority in order to bypass efforts by labor, environmentalists and other public interest groups to promote fairer trade policy.
Emanuel began his political career as a senior adviser and chief fundraiser for the successful 1989 Chicago mayoral campaign of Richard M. Daley to seize back City Hall from reformists who had challenged the corrupt political machine of this father, Richard J. Daley. Emanuel later became a senior adviser to Bill Clinton at the White House from 1993 to 1998, serving as Assistant to the President for Political Affairs and then Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy, and was credited with playing a major role in shifting the Clinton administration's foreign and domestic policy agenda to the right. Emanuel was the single most important official involved in pushing through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the bill ending Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), and Clinton's draconian crime bill, among other legislation.
We might be more relevant if we stopped honing in only ONE issue, and formulated arguments about why this man is bad on so many more levels than just Palestine. It isn't just about our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. It's about our millions of neighbors who have been left "barely" living as a result of NAFTA and bad AFDC legislation. When will we see that?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Guest Post by Fariha Tayyab
After interviewing with a reporter from the Houston Chronicle mid last week on the Muslim community's reaction to recent racial uproar in both campaigns, I got to thinking, thinking a lot to where I felt a bit trapped. And now I've decided to speak or rather explain to everyone who is confused as to why I support who I do and why it matters.
(Side note: For those of you who would like to read a critique of Obama and his campaign addressing each issue area please let me know. I have a great thorough email sent from a friend titled "Obama and the Muslim vote")
Maybe it's not about the lost vote, maybe it's about a sincere vote that is lost yet again.
We live in a bi-world. Bi-partisan to be more specific. It is so because well we didn't really do anything and more importantly because we chose not to. Ross Perot, as is well known, a 3rd party candidate came really close to being in the main race, but yet he was polling below 10percent. Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent this year and a fourth time in national polls. He polled above 5 percent and event reached 10percent at one time. Therefore, a vote like Ralph Nader's isn't wasted or 'lost'...That's just a myth what we're taught. The democrats even wrongly blamed, Nader for Bush's victory in 2000 (with logic in mind that if Nader's voters would have voted for Kerry maybe he would have won stepping aside all other significant reasons why Gore lost). Furthermore, Bush defeated Al Gore in FL by around 500 votes and Nader received close to 100k votes in Florida. Many other 3rd party candidates also received more than those 500 or so votes... A point to just let flush through your mind, so your vote is not lost, it's not unheard, its not overlooked. Those who do stand up for their principles, well its seen. More, here.
In eight years, everyone seems to have been worked up and passionate about this election. We seem to be taking no more of Bush-it. So the word change resonates throughout our political thought processes. And yet really its just not change, just a tweek in how things were and a beacon of hope that seems to shift and sway to where it almost obliterated concept of reliability and consistency. Whether it be the children from Ron Clark elementary, or the pyscho 'kill him' chanters at McCains rally's, or the man who names his baby Sarah McCain Palin, or even the movie Obsessions, or even Republican leadership changing their stance or shifting out of the scene because "Palin is like a cancer", or any of the enthused Obama supporters and all their interesting actions, or maybe even all the Muslims who vote together.
Your best teacher is your last mistake.
Vote together for a man who knows he has gotten our vote; who understands he doesn't have to step into ONE MOSQUE, because he already has our vote. He doesn't have to stay consistent and can unconditionally support [apartheid] Israel and offer more than 3billion in aid annually, create tension and talk about proactive action for Pakistan insurgencies, or the many other issues a Muslim vote would be 'concerned' with and seem to have always been a bit too concerned with. He has our vote, and he will regardless. Not because we love Obama, but because we choose to be involved to not get another Bush or McCain, who God forbid wins. The thought of that makes us cringe. Expediency or sincere voting?
What about the issues that McCain doesn't mention? Obama does? What about the issues neither mentions? The one's that affect us first and foremost? What about the military budget? Alternative Energy? Corporate welfare and crime? the Justice system? US Policy on Middle East? Etc. All these affect us but yet Obama doesn't address them. Address the real issues.
He's a writer, a professor, a lawyer, a politician, a activist, a journalist, a speaker, a trooper, a hero. A man who started more than 10 nonprofits, one who broke Guinness book of world records for most speeches given in a day, whose one of multiple books was ranked 38th amongst 100 top pieces of Journalist for 20th century, who both Life and Time magazine named 100 most influential Americans in 20th century and even in history. Not to mention his running mate, Matt Gonzalez, who is also phenomenal in a myriad of ways, that this email would only drag on, but most of us know him as the one who almost won mayoral race in San Francisco in 2003.
Other campaigns are driven by organizations and political action committees and platforms that definitely have their own agenda. Their money is supporting within both campaigns. Has anyone really stopped to think about this, in depth or even on surface level? It's almost as if you pay and you get your voice heard. So then what is change? Because the people putting money in don't seem to be wanting it. Nader only accepts money from individuals and in turn for the last 30+ or so years Nader puts interest of the people at the front. "Nader raiders" didn't just come and go, they came and stayed, they wrote books about him, their hero, they worked to continue to establish his non profits, they amongst everything else voted for him, and shifted the trend.
The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference.
One's not sure what to say, let's just say Obama is Muslim, its a disgust for him to ever admit maybe 1% of him was or could be. It would hurt his campaign which is honestly understandable, because he is all about change and voting for the people. If those who are voting on more shallower terms on basis of surface level and minority status, well maybe there is some triggering factor for doing so. On a shallow note, Nader is first Arab American presidential candidate (his parents were from Lebanon and Catholic) and not only is his stance pro Palestine but he's also not hiding in corners erasing his identity and rather embracing it amongst other things. Random point that doesn't really matter unless your voting on a 'I vote minority' basis. At his fourth round of elections, there is some merit and sincerity in Nader, a trooper. It's about challenging the status quo, and about not giving up. And now he is on the ballot in 45 states.
A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.
So the biggest, most comprehensive, overall argument remains: If We don't want McCain, so we vote Obama. Expediency at it's best. However, this doesn't seem to hold immense amounts of logical thought or firmness it just seems to be to some, borderline jargon. As those of us who are Muslim peoples, we come from our ideals. Rather we are our ideals. And our religion and it's fundamental concepts were strived for, even if they weren't achievable within a short time. It was the ideal that mattered, the overall message, and the true values we stood for, that was what kept Muslim thought alive. Never ending struggle now, and the never ending struggle then. We aren't a people to trade off in the least, rather we have patience to the most. So even on an "Islamic" note this doesn't have much standing. What isn't a reality now in four years, isn't going to be a reality ever really if we don't start to make it one and mold things. For those who aren't voting and seem to be a more political Islamic inclined kind of ideology, its because you don't support these candidates because they are both evil. This also to some is flawed logic, however there is an alternative? Yes, indeed.
Once you don't vote your ideals, that has serious undermining affects. It erodes the moral basis of our democracy.
So as Americans we believe in democracy, what was once brought up as democratic ideals and values, but what is not. And not only what has not been but what will not become if we as a people aren't proactive. Change is there, change is real. and if you let it be change is possible. However it is not through the avenues of Mu-Barack. There is no really blessing in that, if we vote for him out of the dislike for McCain.
As Nader explains in an interview, "One feels an obligation, Tim, to try to open the doorways, to try to get better ballot access, to respect dissent in America in the terms of third parties and, and independent candidates; to recognize historically that great issues have come in our history against slavery and women rights to vote and worker and farmer progressives, through little parties that never ran--won any national election. Dissent is the mother of ascent. And in that context, I have decided to run for president."
Be real with yourself. Be a trooper. Be a true American and holdup democratic ideals, in whichever candidate you find it in and God bless. But today only Ralph Nader seems to be real and about change.
Do not let another vote be lost, yet again!
*All italics where Nader quotes. Glad you enjoyed
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The Green Party Presidential ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente brings something special and unprecedented to U.S. politics. Not only are they the first all women-of-color ticket in recent memory to get ballot access in most states. These women take racial justice seriously, and have made strides to put gender at the center of a progressive agenda. For these two, it's more than skin deep.
They're the Presidential ticket that talks about amnesty for undocumented workers, that opposes guest worker programs as riddled with abuses, because they believe a just immigration reform means addressing the trade and economic policies fueling poverty and migration. They're the ticket that demands reparations in the form of federal investment in low-income families and communities of color, to end racial disparities in health, housing, education, and incarceration. They call for the right of return for Katrina survivors; an end to prisons for profit, to the War on Drugs. And they speak of reproductive justice – not just the right to abortion, but actual healthcare access; of freedom from coerced or uninformed medication and sterilization.
Nowhere do we see Nader, or white male Third-Party-politics-as-usual, bringing in these issues – this slice on life, or sensitivity. McKinney, for instance, points out that Social Security cuts will disproportionately harm women. The Green Party candidates offer to do us the public service of contesting Palin's brand of "feminism." Let's take them up on it.
. . .
But each vote for them contributes towards building unprecedented ballot access, federal funds, and an inroad to the national debates, for the Green Party. If McKinney / Clemente get 5% of the national vote, the Green Party qualifies for millions of dollars in federal matching funds for 2012 – a significant dent in the two-party system. Under the electoral college's winner-takes-all system, not every vote for a major candidate counts; but by supporting a minor candidate, we can strategically use our votes to institutionalize a progressive platform.
. . .
In the words of McKinney herself: "We are in this to build a movement. We are willing to struggle for as long as it takes to have our values prevail in public policy." She reminds us, "Voters in this country are scared into not voting their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. But in Bolivia and Ecuador and Argentina and Chile and Nicaragua and Spain, and India and Cote d'Ivoire and Haiti, voters were not afraid to vote their hopes and dreams, and guess what. Their dreams came true. Ours can, too."
. . .
There is not a contradiction between supporting Obama's victory over McCain, and spreading the word on McKinney – because we believe her politics should be included in the debates; and believe all voters should be aware she and the Greens exist as an option.
There is not a contradiction between spending time to campaign for Obama in key swing states, and pledging your own vote to McKinney – particularly in Democratic strongholds such as California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Oregon, or Washington, where Obama will win landslide; or Republican states where McCain is assured of victory.
As an example, in 2004, Kerry beat Bush in Massachusetts 62% to 32%, by over 700,000 votes. 5% of the vote would have been around 140,000 ballots, but third party candidates actually got around 1% altogether, or 27,000. This election, 35 states are not swing states.
. . .
In August, AntiWar.com featured a line-up of McCain, Obama, Nader, and Barr. Incidentally, reflecting a common trend in much progressive media, over 80% of the site's columnists and regular contributors are male. When challenged by readers about McKinney's absence, the editors explained that both she, and ultra-rightwing, xenophobic, anti-abortion Chuck Baldwin – who seeks to cut all federal investment in communities of color – were omitted. Not due to bias against McKinney as a black woman, but because, an editor flippantly wrote, both of the candidates are "pretty perfect" on foreign policy. If McKinney's stance was so perfect, why wouldn't the site choose to promote her as a standard-bearer? And why instead place her on equal footing with a racist, sexist Baldwin? Besides not considering economic inequality, immigration policy or internal colonization as relevant to imperialism, AntiWar.com must simply have not viewed her as a serious contender.
Why has McKinney had more trouble getting attention from left organizations and institutions compared to Nader, Green Party candidate in 2000? After all, she, too, champions universal healthcare under a single-payer system; progressive taxation; repealing free trade agreements and abolishing the anti-union Taft-Hartley act. She takes a stronger stance against war and occupation, urging an immediate and orderly withdrawal from both Iraq and Afghanistan. And she has vocally opposed the bail out.
. . .
The right-wingers have meticulously learned to rig the electoral system in their favor. Let's take it back.
Vote truth this year, and work for it next.