Friday, August 29, 2008

Islam and Feminism

Translating feminism into Islam

By Faisal al Yafai

The parameters have shifted: the rise of political Islam means feminism must now use the language of religion. Can it survive?

…Shaaban, better known to western audiences as a regular voice for the Assad government on English television networks, is one of the Arab world's most prominent feminists. She will be one of the keynote speakers at this year's International Congress on Islamic Feminism in Barcelona, along with Britain's Baroness Uddin and the American professor Amina Wadud, who gained notoriety when she led a mixed gender prayer group in New York.

Even in this one conference, one can see the threads of dissent among feminists in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Some, like Shaaban, come from a secular perspective, whereas Wadud looks to Islamic principles for her feminism. Both, however, use the language and example of Islam – and that has been their downfall.

Those feminists who come out of a more secular tradition tend to emphasise individual empowerment as a societal good. Thus traditional routes to gender equality – education, work and laws – are acclaimed because they allow societies to progress. In her speech, Shaaban quoted Syria's former president Hafez Al Assad saying: "A society must not work with half its members, but must rather work with full power and all its members."

…That reality is Islam. The rise of political Islam has affected even feminism. The Islamic feminists have a more individualistic model. For them, gender equality and empowerment is more a factor of being a good Muslim, of living an ideal Islamic life.

Wadud – like two other feminists, the US academic Margot Badran and the Moroccan doctor and writer Asma Lamrabet, both of whom will be at the conference – argue that the codification of Islamic law that took place during the 9th century drew heavily on patriarchal traditions of the day and thus, perhaps unwittingly, watered down the clear principles of equality they believe are found in the Qur'an. They aim their efforts at reinterpreting the religious texts.

Secular feminists, conscious of the way the language of Islam has permeated the Middle East, have tended to try and articulate their ideas of gender equality in Islamic terms (by, for instance, pointing out the wives of Islam's founder were businesswomen and army commanders). The problem, however, is that that language of Islam, or religious reform, has been so totally appropriated by political Islam, that even when feminists who begin from a secular point of view use it, it sounds religious. When Islamic feminists use it, they are playing on the Islamists pitch, with an immediate disadvantage.

Take the burning of women's schools in Pakistan (and Afghanistan). The now-resurgent Taliban say they are doing this because Islamic law forbids women's education; the Islamic feminists reply that in fact education is a religious duty. It becomes a theological argument. Remember who wins theological arguments? The side with the most guns.

There is a way back. Feminism in the Arab and Islamic worlds, like feminism in the west, is struggling to find ways to remain relevant to a new generation. In the west, feminism's trajectory was derailed from its early successes by increased freedom, legislation and materialism. There is a strong sense among women that feminism – as it is usually understood – no longer provides answers. It doesn't even provide the right questions.

…Feminism seems like a luxury, and a decadent one at that, unable to provide answers to pressing questions such as political reform, the end of foreign occupations, and the rise of political Islam. Worse, much feminism, in its haste to show how its ideas have Arab and Muslim roots – and are not just western imports, as their detractors charge – has looked too much to the past: to Islamic history, to Arab writers, to more open times. But feminists, of whatever stripe, need to show how their ideas can solve the problems that Jordanian and Indonesian and African and European women experience today. The problems of poverty, of education, of discriminatory laws. They need to show, for example, how better laws, and not more religion, can provide a solution to sexual harassment and violence in the region…

Source. More to come on this topic later.

American Muslim officer under fire again

Excerpts from an article by Br. Mauri' Saalakhan, to be published soon in one or more American Muslim publications (emphasis added):

The opening lines of a front-page report that appeared in the Monday, July 28, 2008 edition of the Connecticut Post said it all:

“Mustafa Salahuddin has a scrapbook filled with commendations he has earned during nearly two decades as a police officer. There are thank-you notes from people whose cases Salahuddin has investigated. There are certificates from the Ansonia Police Department marking milestones of service and successful investigations. But now, Salahuddin faces larceny charges that he says will tarnish the reputation he has tried to build as a respected and responsible officer.”

In July 2008, Officer Salahuddin was charged with stealing a $25 garden hose from the Ansonia Police Department, even though it was later found on the grounds of the department. Salahuddin maintains the charge was lodged in retaliation over his differences with the department’s leadership. He has a history of not only standing up for his rights, but standing up for the rights of others as well.

As noted in an interview with the Connecticut Post, Salahuddin stated, “I’m a very outspoken officer within the department. I stand up for my rights and I help others stand up for theirs.” This has resulted in friction between him and members of the upper command, including Ansonia Police Chief Kevin Hale.

It should also be noted that Officer Salahuddin was the first Muslim police officer in America to successfully sue his department for the right to reasonable religious accommodations - his request to wear a neatly-trimmed beard while in uniform. He believes that among other issues, there are lingering resentments stemming from that successful lawsuit which also factor into this latest attack on his otherwise sterling reputation.

Chief Hale reportedly asked the State Police to investigate the possible theft of the water hose after a Department of Public Works employee reported the hose missing, and a surveillance camera reportedly showed Officer Salahuddin with the hose in his possession. (You heard it right; the police chief requested the intervention of the State Police concerning a $25 waterhose, and before speaking with the officer in question himself.)


He said something else in his interview with the Connecticut Post that for this writer was chilling: “My tenure here has been good in terms of the community, but a disaster in terms of the department. On the streets I feel safe, but in the department I never feel safe.”


Officer Salahuddin’s principled commitment to being a “good officer” has been rewarded with very visible support from the community he has served. The state and local branches of the NAACP, in conjunction with a local church, led a protest march on Monday, July 28, in support of Officer Salahuddin. The crowd marched from the Clinton AME Church on Central Avenue to City Hall, where Ansonia Mayor Jim Della Volpe came out to speak to them.


Officer Mustafa S. Salahuddin has been placed on administrative leave with pay until the case is resolved. He has been charged with “Larceny in the Sixth Degree,” for which he has already pled NOT GUILTY. His trial is scheduled to begin on the morning of Thursday, September 4, 2008, in the Derby Superior Court - located at 106 Elizabeth Street, Derby, Connecticut 06418.

May Allah (swt) grant this brother freedom and justice.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Free Hospital Project

Guest Request from Madina Humkar

Asalaam alaikum everyone,
I am asking all of you to please vote for this extremely important project. Justin Schreiber, my former office manager at the Community Programs office at UCLA, started a Free Hospital Project. The only way it can become reality is if you support it through the American Express Members Project.

Go to: Members Project

You can login if you have an American Express card, if not just make a guest account and vote! (type in: "Free Hospital Project" in the search engine)

Please forward this email to all your family and friends!!

Here is a brief summary of the project:

The Free Hospital Project
Submitted by: tshollowmen
Updated: 2008-08-20 01:39:01.0
Project ID: XQYNLO

Given the lack of health insurance coverage in the US, a new health care model is needed. Through a holistic approach utilizing diverse staff to encourage communication regarding such issues as hunger and homelessness, we will provide an environment to make health care an integral and fun part of daily life through a free hospital that breaks the traditional mold. Alliances developed to promote education and living skills will promote active local involvement to allow for social change.

In the US, 41.2 million people lack insurance, but many more are underinsured. Also, many people feel that their medical experience is cold and intimidating. A change is required that looks at preventative health care and providers more versed in cultural competency, community needs and how to incorporate tools such as humor in their patient care. Thus, the aim of this program will be to provide a hospital with free care that focuses on health over disease, and increase access to all.

We expect a huge impact for the communities served by increasing access to health care not previously available. The goal is for the hospital to target a person's well-being recognizing how education, counseling, food and shelter are key components to health. The intention is to serve as a model changing the way health care is delivered nationally, with health professionals forming partnerships with the community to best serve their patients and removing the huge financial burden of health care.

As a medical student I have seen those who lack health care and how the focus is not promoting health. I volunteered in Bolivia for a summer where each child there had free health care. I have seen what a positive impact taking time to talk with a patient or making them smile can make on their health. These things encourage me to build a hospital for those in need. This is based on the inspiration of a group of people who want change and view this hospital as the way to start.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Another "t" movie review by yours truly. I had a chance to screen "Traitor" with Jeff the producer of the film staring Jon Cheadle and Guy Pierce. The movie is great to encourage your "non-Muslim" American friends to go watch. I personally found the movie to not be worthwhile in its storyline, acting, character development or content- it did however, set a new standard for the "terrorism" genre of movies now oozing out of Hollywood.

In the movie, Samir is the protagonist (Cheadle's character) who is a devout Muslim and undercover within a terrorist group planning bombings across the globe. He is conflicted because as a Muslim he is carrying out bombings in order to kill, disrupt and destroy the terrorist organization he has infiltrated with innocent people dying in the process.

For this sole reason I think the movie is a worthwhile watch for non-Muslims because it challenges a list of notions about Islams, Muslims and American Muslims. For example, here the Muslims that are the bad guys are the ones that take up the secular robe- drink, fornicate, piercing, tattoos etc- while the good devout Muslims are the ones who have beards, pray, wear hijab. The strong Muslims who stick to the religious principles are also women in this movie. Cheadles character also challenges on many occasions the perverted notions espoused by the terrorists. Another important factor is the FBI is given a role through Guy Pierces character that is intelligent, not the bust the door down arrest everyone and their momma sorta of agent.

The movie will be "stomach churning" for Muslims. I mean to sit and watch a flick that goes through and shows how Hollywood portrays terrorists, who are Muslims, using Islam to justify their cause is never an easy process because it forces Muslims to come to terms with a reality, though existing and heard of on a daily basis, is not experienced in day to day life and practice. The majority of Muslims will find many things in the movie that do not fit the Islam and so will have a hard time to sit through a movie because a movie, like a radio show, does not allow you to counter the message being put forth and forces you to sit and take it in.

One thing the Jeff, the producer pointed out, was that he admitted that movies in the terrorism genre portraying Muslim have been very black and white, while growing up in England during the Ireland conflict, the characters and storyline of movies and shows portraying that conflict consistently portrayed it as being more complicated and dynamic then the simplistic Irish are evil sort. He mentioned that that is lacking in Hollywood and in America and while it was not his goal to bring that to Hollywood it was definitely important for him to develop a story that was larger then nabbing the "bad guy".

With no outlet to vent or protest the obvious problematic themes reoccurring in the movie, it leaves a Muslim with very little good will toward the director or actors. Its best for Muslims to avoid the film and encourage their friends and neighbors to go watch and get a different perspective, because in this film, the devout practicing Muslim as portrayed by Cheadle is the hero.

You can read better reviews of the film here, here and here.

From Gaza, in solidarity

Yes, the two wooden fishing boats managed to break the mighty seige and sailed in to Gaza with the whole world watching. Their primary goal was to draw attention to the inhumane yet human-made tragedy in Gaza. Mission accomplished.

Below are excerpts from the activists describing their first hours in Gaza (first two from email messages, third from published article).

Aug 23rd, 2008; Mary Hughes:

I woke up this morning wondering if it was all a dream. And then I looked through the window and saw the harbor, and the fishing boats, and our two proud lttle boats, the FREE GAZA and the LIBERTY, bobbing gently in the Gaza breeze and I could finally believe we are here!

There are not enough words to describe the feelings we all had as we saw the shores of Gaza appear on our horizon, and then as we got closer and closer we were welcomed by the first of dozens of fishing boats, all crowded with cheering, waving Gazans who had waited since early morning for our arrival. Dozens of them jumped into the water and climbed aboard our boats, cheering and waving and hugging everybody, smiling and telling us "you are welcome." I don't know how so many members of our welcoming committee managed to crowd onto the two piers.... women, men, children, a band playing for us, police trying to control them as more of them jumped into the water to reach us.

It was truly an experience for a lifetime. Surreal. After two years of planning and hoping, and disappointments, and great sadness when our beloved friend Riad was suddenly gone from us. But his spirit is here with us, and many of us wore pink shirts in his memory.

There is so much more to say, but for now this is just to say we have arrived, we are elated, we are humbled, we could not have achieved this without the support of so many friends and strangers who believed in us.

Shukran, and love to all of you.

Mary in Gaza City


Aug 23rd, 2008; Greta Berlin:

A few hundred meters before we navigated through the small opening into the port, we were met by dozens of fishing boats loaded with people. Little boys jumped in the water to swim around us. We had blown up balloons (yes, they are biodegradable) and dropped them in the water as the young boys swam around catching their trophies. On each red, white, black and green balloon, it said FREE PALESTINE with a dove on it. Those of us who were parents on board held our breath as the swimmers mutliplied. I don't know how our two captains managed to lightly pull into the dock amid all of the other boats and people, but they did.

Today, I looked out the window of this beautiful hotel we're staying in, and there were the boats, and we had really arrived. A sour-faced Israeli official announced last night that "We have decided to let the boats through this time, but we will look at other trips on a case by case basis."? In short, our little group of 40+ human rights workers not only won the right to enter Gaza, but we won the PR battle as well.

There wasn't an Israeli warship in sight. They withdrew everything. In the 30 hours we have traveled from Cyprus to Gaza, most of us seasick, the electronic systems jammed, barely able to communicate from boat to boat, we knew we had broken Israel's siege of this small seashore community.

The quay was packed with people.... packed. The video doesn't begin to do it justice. Many literally fell into the boats in an attempt to interview us, grabbing us by the hand, pulling us in front of cameras. Tony Blair's sister-in-law was brilliant, the face of the internationals here. Jeff Halper, the Israeli professor was passionate, all of us were crying.


August 26, 2008. Huwaida Arraf:

Our two boats were greeted upon arrival by thousands of jubilant Palestinians who in 41 years of occupation had never witnessed such a scene. To get there we braved anonymous death threats and the Israeli military interfering with our means of communications despite rough seas that jeopardized our safety. Before our departure, the Israeli foreign ministry asserted its right to use force against our unarmed boats.

We nevertheless resolved to act, to symbolically end the siege of Gaza -- and to do as civilians what governments have lacked the compassion or courage to do themselves. Once here, we delivered critical supplies such as hearing aids, batteries for medical equipment and painkillers.

When a massive earthquake rocked China and cyclones ravaged Myanmar, the world responded. Governments and civilians alike rallied to help. Yet world governments have witnessed a manmade humanitarian catastrophe unfold before our eyes in Gaza. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, has asserted that "Gaza is on the threshold of becoming the first territory to be intentionally reduced to a state of abject destitution, with the knowledge, acquiescence and -- some would say -- encouragement of the international community."

Continue here

Since those exhilarating moments of arrival, the activists have been meeting community representatives in Gaza and joining peaceful demonstrations whenever they could. Jeff Halper was arrested yesterday in Sderot as he was making his way back to his home in the apartheid state. The boats are scheduled to leave this Thursday taking with them Palestinian students who were denied access to their universities, and women to be reunited with their families.

What next? A small group of activists have redefined the meaning of solidarity. They have challenged other activists to take their work to the next level, and the world to prove its humanity. No one can claim ignorance any longer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Towelhead"- is a racial/religious slur?

Salaam Buddies! Ramadan is just around the corner and it seems that we might be loosing some steam?! No way! Remember "Faith in Action" we never run/turn/put our heads in the sand!

Which brings me to a question- Do you consider "TOWELHEAD" a religious/racial slur? Is it akin to calling someone a "heeb" (Jewish people), "nigger"- please you get the picture right?

The reason I ask this is because I am stuck in a bit of a moral dilemma. Its a moral dilemma because I can understand both sides of the argument and can not really be persuaded to take a side. Obviously as a kid growing up during the Gulf War (first one), there were numerous times I was called this along with the other not so pleasant epithets. I have a bit of a difficult time when people use this term to describe people, however, when used in a "artistic"- if one may call it that- way I do not seem to have issue with it. I do go with the consensus at CAIR, however, I wanted to get some of your opinions on it.

This conversation comes up due to a recent flap with Warner Brothers Entertainment and their issueing of a movie that was named after a book by the title of "Towelhead".

There is a lot more to add to me but I have little time right now so share your thoughts as it may help me put together a more complete analysis of all this.



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sister power in action...

Check out the wonderful work a dear sister from the SoCal community is doing with Girls Inc:

At first, the idea of watching a music video of one of their favorite rappers Lil Wayne without the music did not appeal at all to the group of students in Noreen Rahman's classroom.

In fact, a collective groan erupted from the all-girl class when Rahman announced that she would mute the music to Lil Wayne's song "Lollipop" as they watched the video. "No music?" the girls said as they glanced quizzically at each other.

Rahman, however, had a plan, and she quickly explained to the girls, who ranged in age between 11 and 14, that often the music and lyrics distract from what they're seeing on the television screen.


When Rahman, a prevention programs coordinator for Girls Inc., asked the class of 19 girls what they thought of Lil Wayne's video, they immediately zeroed in on the sexual portions. Fourteen-year-old Raquel Espinoza noticed there were "too many girls in short things" and that the women were "promiscuous."

When Rahman asked them what message they took from the video, 12-year-old Courtney Manley succinctly summed it up with: "That boys can be like players and have lots of women."

After four weeks of body image classes, these girls had learned to distinguish between what Rahman called the audience message and hidden messages, between sexual objectification and consensual objectification. They smartly pointed out that the video was disrespectful of women and that women in the video competed for the rappers' attention by wearing risqué clothing.

"They feel they have to because of what they see. They're influenced," said Emily Ramos, 11.

Continue here

Something to consider for those of you who don't think medicine/engineering are exactly right for them...

Making the Most of Election Year

Senator Obama finally announced his vice-president choice, Senator Joe Biden - and I just took action with to make this national political moment a meaningful poverty-fighting moment.

Click the link below to send Joe Biden a digital postcard letting him know that you want leadership as committed to ending extreme poverty and global disease as we are.

It's important we contact him now, before he gets swept-up in an inevitable blur of coast-to-coast campaigning and crushing national media attention.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hijabi Rockin' Out At The Olympics

I'm not watching the Olympics, but this headline caught my attention:

While most attention in the event is on the duel between the Jamaican and American sprinters, [Roqaya] Al-Gassra has qualified for the semifinals wearing a neck-to-ankle suit and hajib, a full Muslim headscarf.

The 25-year-old Bahrain sprinter won the second of four second-round heats Tuesday in 22.76 seconds, beating Muriel Hurtis-Houari of France and Sri Lanka's Susanthika Jayasinghe.

Full Story: NBC Olympics
Additional Pictures: Zimbio

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not Sold on Obama, yet You Want McCain (then)?

Spread the news.

McCain considers the "wealthy" individuals who earn $5 million a year. Subsequently that makes most athletes (who happen to be Black) the most wealthiest Americans? Is McCain being for reals?

I'm Still Not Sold On Obama..

Where does Barack Obama stand on America's endless war?

Obama plans to "redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months" - while sending 14,000 of them to expand the war in Afghanistan! He has never called the war categorically illegal and immoral, or a war crime. Instead he calls for a troop increase and "the first truly 21st century military ... We must maintain the strongest, best-equipped military in the world."Obama has threatened (several times) to attack Iran, including with nukes, over nukes Iran doesn't have. He's threatened (several times) to attack Pakistan and he embraces Israel as if it were the 51st state audience. In Miami in August 2007, he said as president he would not lift the U.S. embargo against Cuba because it is "an important inducement for change."
And ask yourself why any "peace candidate" would have as his top foreign policy advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright.

Where does Barack Obama stand on torture?

After 8 years of this abominable Bush Regime, after all we now know about the secret renditions and secret torture sites, and the White House meetings where the torture was planned at the top - after the rest of the world has come to know that America has been guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity - is Barack Obama saying it's time to hold these people accountable? No, he is promising there will be investigations, AND he is promising there will be NO prosecutions during his first term.

Where does Barack Obama stand on the fascist FISA bill?

In light of all we now know about the spying and lying, and the construction of a whole new outrageous level of state spying on people in this country, what does Obama say about these clearly impeachable offenses? Does he distance himself from the outrages and crimes of the Bush Regime? When the FISA bill came up, Obama said he would vote against it. Then he voted for it.

Where does Barack Obama stand on the persecution of immigrants?

Obama voted for the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which authorized construction of the five segments of the new wall along the U.S./Mexican border.
Additional Information: World Can't Wait

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Letter From Toronto's Eighteen

Nineteen million, two-hundred eighty-four thousand, four-thousand eight hundred and three. The number of times we inhaled injustice, the breaths that our lungs set free… On the second of June, two-thousand and six, we were coerced out of lightness into dark…Where cruelty was hired, where mercy was fired, where prejudice was the crowned monarch

Our deeply missed family, our dearly beloved friends, our honorable community of belief, allow us to share some words of honesty…some facts that may come to your relief. While we have been pushed to the edge of the cliff, to the capacity that a human could bear…We invite you to witness some blessings we were given, and we dare you to even compare.

When the hour glass of life started pouring down sand, seven hundred fifty-five days ago, each one of us darted towards a goal to achieve, like arrows projected from a bow: We extend our glad tidings, we hereby announce, that one of us has memorized the Quran. In the span of this time, how high did you climb? By Allah, what deeds have you drawn?

Arms raised to the sky, never daring to ask why, we would stand before Allah for days, running empty on tears, losing all of our fears, praying desperately that it's just a phase…A pill you can not swallow, a well so dark and hollow; we long for our families, we long…Our siblings, our parents, our wives and our children, hold on to His mercy, be strong.

When you saw us behind bars, you stared hard at our scars, and temporarily took a sneeze of our flu, you felt our restrains; turned your watches into chains, and attempted to live through it too.
We thank you for your empathy, and your feelings of sympathy, even though we need not your awe: Because a cell is not a cell, a cell is not a cell, when you sell your soul to Allah.

But we have one burning question inflaming our chests, torching our conscience from ease…Why did you regret us, and eventually forget us? Please give us a good reason for this, please…Please tell us the address to Benefit of Doubt, please give us a Google map to "Fair Trial". Please tell us where they wholesale "Friends-no-matter-What", or if e-bay will auction off a smile.

Please tell us why you ran, as far as you can, avoiding us, ashamed and disgraced…Please tell us why the steel you saw on our heel, ordered our great times from your memories erased? Have you forgotten our Love, for The One who forbade, the killing of an innocent soul? Then why did you stand by, without caring to testify, that your brothers do not deserve this hole?

When one of us earned trial, with a two-year olds' smile, we would pray to be gifted with wings, not so we can fly out of this cage of ruin, but to intercede for our brother like kings. If only you came out, to support your brother's bout, maybe then the judge would have agreed, that eighteen lives have been utterly destroyed, that it is about time that they are all freed.

It may seem unfortunate, and worthy of your pity, that our hours were converted into years, that we missed watching our babies spill their food; or watching our fathers as their hair disappears.

But we hereby announce, that in the deduction of this logic, there has been one great flaw; a cell is not a cell. A cell is not a cell, when you sell your soul to Allah.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Follow up on Border Crossings

I wrote a week or so ago about my border crossing experience, my suggestion was- If your European don't bother coming to the United States, go else where for the holidays. You can read the original post here.

That post got me the notoriety of being a plotter to assassinate the President. Though, the right wing "tar and feather" campaign and this idea of "guilt by association" labeled on me is quite McCarthyesque. I find that there is a bit of humor in it all. If all this is a battle of expression/idea's, I think then the playing field for me is a bit tilted in that the campaign waged against any Muslim political, social, spiritual activist is absurd. At the end, the only good Muslim is one who isn't a Muslim- and that, that is not an option for me, and I assume any observant Muslim.

The God Blog, a blog I continuously link on Muslamics, and not necessarily one I agree with when it comes to coverage of Muslim issues- (I feel that it is a bit slanted toward an agenda, but one that I think Muslims around the world need to fess up too, that yes there are things people do in the name of Islam, being Muslims that goes unchallanged and needs to be challanged, but there is a proper way (adhaab) and a time for it, and these issues do need to be addressed sooner rather then later) has a piece on the character assasintation and the discussion that follows in the comments is interesting and worth a read, so check it out and please participate in the discussion.

Obviously if people are experiencing delays, being put on "lists", have no way to clear their names and face not only humiliation, but second class status something must be done. That something must be within the law, even if it means using the law to sue the government to ensure that one citizen is not made to be a second class citizen at the expense of another. The argument that wins, wins and so be the law (policy) of the land, however, Americans should always reserve the right to continuously challenge any law (policy)- whether it be abortion, gay marriage, or even border delays.

Last week, after my own border experience and then dealing with four more complaints at the same border, I was angry and frustrated, and couldn't think of any solution to this ordeal that innocent people go through. Most are only told "its a mix up", "sorry the agents didn't know what they are talking about", or worse the continous stopping to the point where all the agents know you by name and its no longer a procedure just a joke, there has to be some solution to clear oneself. I was delighted that some one is looking into solutions beyond "talking" about it and are taking the government to task for its misguided and inappropriate, waste of time border policy.

Watch the video and learn more:

Alternate Reporting of Georgia/Russia Conflict

Here is an article and links regarding the Georgia- Russia conflict for those of us who may be confused on what is really happening over there and who don't trust CNN or Faux news. If anyone has anything they'd like to add please feel free to post or comment.

Civilian Genocide, Dead Americans, Cost of US-Russia Proxy War
Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
Monday, August 11, 2008

The truth behind who is primarily responsible for the bloodshed unfolding in South Ossetia and surrounding areas has been buried by the western corporate media. Georgian forces, with a green light from NATO and the support of American and Ukrainian mercenaries, launched a brutal attack targeting civilians and Russian peacekeepers timed to coincide with the opening of the Beijing Olympics so as to temporarily deflect attention before the inevitable Russian response, by which time the global media machine kicked into high gear to smear Russia as the villains of the entire piece.

To accept such a characterization is not parroting Russian military propaganda, it is a reflection of the stone cold fact that Georgia was responsible for the first provocation - which itself amounted to a war crime - that launched the conflict.

That is not to hide from the fact that Russia’s unrelenting response continues to slaughter untold numbers of innocent people.

The initial Georgian bombardment of the provincial capital Tskhinvali was primarily directed to achieve maximum civilian casualties, with residential areas, hospitals and the university being targeted, leading to at least 1500 civilian deaths according to both western and Russian sources.

“The air and artillery bombardment left the provincial capital without water, food, electricity and gas. Horrified civilians crawled out of the basements into the streets as fighting eased, looking for supplies,” reported the Associated Press.

Reports of the initial carnage metered out by Georgian forces and the slaughter of Russian peacekeepers are difficult to find, because they have already been buried under the deluge of condemnation about Russia’s heavy-handed response.

American citizen and resident of South Ossetia Joe Mestas described the war crimes he witnessed being carried out by Georgian forces, back by U.S. support, against innocent civilians.

“I thought that since U.S. is supporting Georgia there would be some control over the situation in South Ossetia and that there would be a peaceful solution to the conflict. But what is happening there now it’s not just war, but war crimes. George Bush and [Georgian president] Mikhail Saakashvili should answer to the crimes that are being committed – the killing of innocent people, running over by tanks of children and women, throwing grenades into cellars where people are hiding,” Mestas said.

“The war is when military fight against military. But the Georgian army is killing innocent civilians. This is genocide,” he added.

Please continue article here.

U.S. and Israel support Georgian genocide in Ossetia

American mercenaries used in US-Russia proxy war?

Excellent explanation of aspects of the Russia/Georgia conflict

Alternate articles here, here, and here.

Corporations Avoided All Federal Income Taxes 98- 05

WASHINGTON - Unlike the rest of us, most U.S. corporations and foreign companies doing business in the United States pay no federal income tax, according to a new report from Congress.

The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released today, said two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, and about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over that period.

Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO's estimate.

"It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, who asked for the GAO study with fellow Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan.

Continue article here.

If you think about it, this is crazy! What if we made all U.S. and "Foreign" (Cayman Islands) Corporations
pay their constitutionally mandated Federal Income Taxes...and ended Federal Income Tax for individuals? There would be more money in the Treasury than ever. Too bad we continue to get ripped off and continue to do nothing about it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Henna Adivisory

I know many Muslim cultures have henna as a staple for weddings. Its almost required that the bride get it done if she wishes to have a proper wedding. Henna through Bollywood has also become quite popular amongst the American crowd.

But it takes an American to find a problem with a practice as old as humanity itself. Here is an article from NBC that tells of the "henna hazard". (White people breaking out in blisters because of an allergic reaction to henna) This might have an impact on some brown people seeing that many eating and drinking in America have developed certain sensitivities too, as my grandmother complained about us Pakistani Americans whenever she visited, God rest her soul.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Students and striking workers picket Starbucks at LSE

Photo credit: La Lutte Continue!

Students and striking local government workers united to picket a London School of Economics (LSE) event in Starbucks on Kingsway, Holborn last week, in opposition to their support for the state of Israel's occupation of Palestine.

The LSE Annual Fund and Alumni Relations departments had teamed up with Starbucks to offer an "afternoon of free coffee and cake tasting for Postgraduates," in a clear attempt by the global coffee chain to undermine the role of the LSE Students' Union as the primary supplier of refreshments on LSE's campus.

Students have previously expressed outrage at LSE Director Howard Davies' active support of organizations complicit with Israel's occupation of Palestine. Davies, a member of the National Council of the Academic Study Group of the Friends of Israel Education Foundation, has previously refused the School's endorsement of informal links established between LSE academics and Birzeit University in Palestine. The Academic Study Group was founded in 1977 for the "promotion of new collaborations" with Israeli institutions. Israeli human rights groups have accused these institutions of being "part and parcel of Israel's colonial system of oppression against the Palestinians."


Meanwhile, Starkbucks CEO and Chairman Howard Schulze is renowned for actively supporting the Zionist occupation of Palestine. In 1998 he was honored by the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah with "The Israel 50th Anniversary Friend of Zion Tribute Award" for his services to the Zionist state in "playing a key role in promoting close alliance between the United States and Israel." The Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah funds Israeli arms fairs and the Zionist propaganda website, Schulz's work as a propagandist for Israel has been praised by the Israeli Foreign Ministry as being key to Israel's long-term PR success. In 2002, whilst the Israeli army was slaughtering Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and Bethlehem he made a provocative speech blaming the Palestinians of terrorism, suggesting the intifada was a manifestation of anti- Semitism, and asked people to unite behind Israel. Starbucks still continues to support Zionism by sponsoring fund raisers for Israel.


UNISON activist and former LSE student, James Caspell stated: "Whilst we are striking over fair pay, students and workers in Britain should unite and show solidarity with our Palestinian comrades at every opportunity, who live in effective open air prisons and denied of basic material security."

LSE Students' Union is twinned with An-Najah University in the West Bank, and last year voted to divest from companies operating in Israel or providing the state with arms.

Complete article at Electronic Intifada
Great to see union activits and students working together for a just cause. Also, I can't believe LSE managed to twin with An-Najah considering their zionist-sympathetic director.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Global Rich List

I'm broke, or so I think. Additionally, I'm currently freaking out about how I'm going to pay for my last year of law school. I'm paying out at least six times more than I'm bringing in. And yet, based on an income evaluation alone I'm still in the top 14% richest people in the world!

Where do you rank?

To put a few things in perspective:

$8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.

$30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.

$73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.

$2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.

Amazing, right? We're broke, but not really. Check it out: Global Rich List

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Where in the World is Affad Shaikh

Since my last significant post, I would say its been two months or so. I have been pre-occupied. I went to go watch my Aunt die from Leukemia in Pakistan, so slowly died from the pollution and inept treatment of the physicians and staff at a so called "cancer specialty" hospital. (more on my adventures there later) These past few years, I have lost so many loved ones, that death has almost been a consistent guest in my life.

Then I came back and promptly saw a friend, former apartment mate, get married then a few other friends get married, met my other apartment mates fiance, and figured out my own living situation. I guess you can say, I now am a grown up, with my own studio in Orange County, having to take care of myself the whole nine yards.

I do admit the solitude in my new studio seems liberating. I haven't had to much time to enjoy its wonderful environment, as I have spent a lot of time moving, sorting, organizing my stuff. I lived a pretty chaotic, disorganized lifestyle these past few years. I guess that is what they call the "college years" and the "post undergrad" lifestyle. Its apparently settling in that I need to have stability of sorts.

Though my trip to Pakistan, subsequently to Mexico as well, re-enforced the fact that there is ever so much more to life then living in my bubble. I am reflecting on this fact and finding that my desire to see, and experience, the world is to strong to be neglected. For instance the Islam in Malaysia I experienced was something else, worth investigating further. The Islam in Pakistan, was actually a bit of a disappointment, such clash of ideas, like I might have mentioned to several people, its like Pakistan has several tracks that its traveling on, it happens that right now they all line up. In the near future the tracks will veer and that will be a dangerous thing to see. (Sadly, never did I think I would fear people with beards, but there I seriously questioned my security and well being as I went to the market, or filled up at a gas station, worse ride in a taxi.)

Work has occupied my life mostly- since I have gotten back its been hectic catching up with cases, deadlines, reports, requests, event attendance and the list goes on. But also I have been busy with this stupid desire to create a space of my own in my new studio. I have sort of brought out the inner interior designer our of me. But its not without help! I turn to Apartment Therapy to be my shining light, to figure out how to give my eclectic nature a physical form in the space I call my studio.

I know its a space that I rent. That I am limited in my ability to change the space, as well as the fact that I might move to some other situation at any given time, but I almost feel obligated to give manifestation to a sophisticated style of living rather then the "card board box dining table" I have been living these past several years. I believe my car will thank me for this change, its served as my closet, sometimes my bed, other times my study area.

One thing that excites me is that in the near future, I will come home from work, clean up, eat dinner and sit down with my long list of books to read and just begin reading. I miss that a lot. I want to read the book on my desk "Eastern Origins of Western Civilizations" or the book on "Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence" by Kamali, there is the historical fiction "Saracean Blade" and the Sci-Fi thrillers "Song of Ice and Fire" (4 of them, I highly recommend).

I don't mind coming and sitting on my couch and watching a movie, maybe the ending of "Jab we met"- Bollywood movie that got interrupted in Pakistan because of the regular power outages. Or even, finally sitting and playing Half Life for XBox, its sad, but as a college student doing all the things I did, I forced myself to stay away from video games. I think, I won't mind going to an Al-Maghrib seminar, in fact, if all goes well I hope to attend the one coming up later this month "The Torchbearers"- THIS WILL BE GREAT BOOST for my faith, especially with Ramadan coming up.

Its time to slow things down in life. To take it with a bit more ease. I get to caught up with things here, things there, and everywhere. My weakness has been my lack of focusing on "me" and having a place of my own, I look forward to that self dotting. I deserve it. I do.

Possibly even posting up some actually meaningful posts for you all to read, rather then the half-arsed nonesense you sometimes see posted by me.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Fasting During Sha'ban

A reminder of the virtues of fasting during the month of Sha`ban (which has just begun in many countries around the world) from Imam Zaid Shakir's blog:

Sha’ban is a month of good that introduces the great month of Ramadan. The Prophet, peace upon him, used to fast voluntarily during this month more so than in any other month. One of the motivations for that, as we will mention below, is that Sha’ban is the month during which the deeds performed by the servant ascend to God. What follows is a discussion around fasting during the month of Sha’ban.

Usama b. Zayd relates: “The Prophet, peace and mercy of God upon him, used to fast so many days in succession that we said, ‘He will never break his fast.’ At other times he would go without fasting for so long until we said, ‘He will never again fast;’ except for two days, which he would fast even if they occurred during the times he was not fasting consecutive days. Furthermore, he would not fast in any month as many days as he fasted during Sha’ban. I said: ‘O Messenger of God! Sometimes you fast so much it is as if you will never break your fast, at other times you leave fasting for such a long stint it is as if you will never again fast [voluntarily]; except for two days that you always fast.’ He asked: ‘Which two days are those?’ I replied: ‘Monday and Thursday.’ The Prophet, peace upon him, said: ‘Those are two days in which the deeds are presented to the Lord of the Worlds. I love that my deeds are presented while I am fasting.’ I said: ‘I do not see you fasting in any month like you fast during Sha’ban.’ The Prophet, peace and mercy of God upon him, said: “That is a month occurring between Rajab and Ramadan that many people neglect. It is a month in which the deeds ascend to the Lord of the Worlds, be He Mighty and Majesty, and I love for my deeds to ascend while I am fasting.” Related by Imam Ahmad and Imam Al-Nasa’i


There are other reasons we are encouraged to fast in Sha’ban, Ibn Rajab mentions a few. Among them, in summary:

1. People tend to neglect Sha’ban as it occurs between Rajab, one of the sacred months, and Ramadan, the great month of fasting and Qur’an. Therefore, we are encouraged to fast it by way of reviving it and not neglecting it.

2. Fasting during it is easier to hide. All observant Muslims are fasting in Ramadan, and many place great emphasis on fasting during Rajab. Therefore, those who fast Sha’ban are doing so against the expectations of most people and can therefore more easily hide the fact that they are fasting. There is great virtue, under normal circumstances in hiding our voluntary acts. One anecdote in this regard mentions a man who fasted voluntarily for forty years without anyone knowing it, even his family. Every morning he would leave home with two loaves of bread in his hand. He would give them away in charity. His family thought that he was eating them, and the people in the marketplace where he worked thought that he was selling them.

3. A third reason is related to the previous one. Because many people are fasting during Ramadan and Rajab, it is easier to fast then as large groups engaging in a particular act of worship make it easier for an individual to undertake that act. Hence, the increased difficulty of fasting during Sha’ban led the Prophet to place great emphasis on it.[2]