Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Two great minds, two great articles

Both Tariq Ramadan and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf have recently written pieces on the sad maladies that is anti semetism that infects the muslim ummah.

From Br. Tariq:

The situation is far too serious for one to be satisfied by simple explanations based on current frustrations. In the name of their faith and their conscience, Muslims must take a clear position so that a pernicious atmosphere does not take hold in the Western countries. Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the rejection of a human being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One must say unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and indefensible. The message of Islam requires respect of Jewish faith and spirituality as noble expressions of "The People of the Book".

And Sheikh Hamza:

In our inherent contradictions as humans, and in order to validate our own pain, we deny the pain of others. But it is in acknowledging the pain of others that we achieve fully our humanity. A close friend of mine, a professor of religion in a Muslim country for many years, recently told me that his wife, an English teacher in that country, had wanted to use Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl as a text for her Muslim pupils. But the school administrators repeatedly denied her request because they deemed it inappropriate reading for young Muslims. It is sad that the current political morass in the Middle East has led to this intolerable refusal to confront a people’s collective suffering. Perhaps in acknowledging that immense past of Jewish suffering, in which the Holocaust is only the most heinous chapter, Muslims can better help the Jewish community to understand the current Muslim pain in Palestine, Iraq and other places. In finding out about others, we encourage others to find out about us. It would greatly help our Jewish brethren to know the historical facts of Jewish experience in the Muslim world, which are often heartening and humanizing and very different from their European experience. In our mutual edification, we grow together.

inshaAllah ta'ala one day voices like these will be loudly and publically embraced by the majority of the ummah.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Free our Talib

From the LA Times, who apparently know a bit about arabic noun declension.

Some will object that Lindh pleaded guilty knowing he could receive this sentence. His plea was entered, however, under what one can only call extreme duress. A poll of potential jurors in the Eastern District of Virginia at that time found that more than a third were ready to sentence him to death without even hearing the case against him. His lawyers cut the best deal they could, but Lindh has spent nearly a quarter of his life in custody for his foolish decision to pursue his religious convictions by aiding another country in its civil war. Without relief, he will spend another dozen years, at least, behind bars.

The concept of mercy spans testaments and faiths, and any system of justice requires the embrace of mercy for leavening and legitimacy. In this case, justice has been served by Lindh's time in prison. Now Bush is uniquely positioned to grant mercy, for while many will long argue over the effectiveness if his war on terror, none question his commitment to it. By giving Lindh a commutation, Bush could prove that his war is, as he often and properly asserts, not against Islam but against those who seek to harm America. Lindh never sought to harm his country; he has served long enough. Bush should send him home.

Esquire magazine wrote an excellent piece last year that explores Lindh's background, his conversion to Islam, his zealousness that drove him to Afghanistan, and his life at present in jail. Reading things like this, it makes me take a step back to examine my life. Lindh and I are almost the same age. We come from similar family backgrounds, and sought to escape the white mundaity that was suburbia, although his path to a turn mine didn't before returning to Islam. Malcolm X peaked both our interests in Islam. And yet, he ended up in prison, not allowed to speak arabic, at the same time I was safely attending classes at University and flirting with the idea of putting on hijab, my big jihad. Granted, our similarities are probably only superficial, but it does make me ponder the choices I've made and where I've ended up.

I hope the brother has found some stability at last and that he can grown and mature in his deen. It'll be interesting to see if anything becomes of his case.

The Demise of Imam Faustus

Brother Neurocentric wrote the drama the Demise of Imam Faustus for a group of british muslim secondary students. You can buy the book, and now, you can see parts of it online. Haven't done either yet, but the book is on my to read list, and I'll watch the videos when I get home inshaAllah.

The story of ‘Faust’ has become an important part of modern European mythology as the tale of a man who sold his soul to the devil in return for unlimited power and wealth. Here Faustus rears his head once more at a moment of religious controversy when the role of religion—and of Islam in particular—in society is the subject of fierce debate. The Demise of Imam Faustus, a drama by Matthew Wilkinson deals unashamedly with religious themes: the relationship of man with God and the impact of his conduct in this life on the eternal destination of his soul.

It's been a long time since I've written any scripts, or much of anything of substance asside from college papers. In junior high and high school, I enjoyed writing for the sake of writing, and wrote several short plays to be performed by my church's youth group. But since college, I haven't had that same spark. Br. Neurocentric has written some about his struggles and embrace of writing as a muslim. Definately something to reflect on as I contemplate picking up the pen (or keyboard as it were) again.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Coming soon to the US of A?

According to the Silk Route stocklist, it looks like they've got a distributer in the US. Oooo, now if only he would hurry up and start selling online! You can view their stuff at the new islamicdesignhouse website, where it looks like they're also going to be selling shirts with Aerosol Arabic and VisualDhikr designs on them. Weee!

Dave Chappelle finally coming out?

Via MR:

The comedian Dave Chappelle has been shy about broadcasting his muslim faith. Rumors abounded when he absconded to South Africa and dissed his highly rated comedy central show. Had he finally cracked, or was he seeking spiritual solas with fellow muslims.

Now, it looks like he's finally embracing his muslim identity and producing a full length video of the Allah Made me Funny Comedy Tour. Br. MR has a press release on his blog, although I can't seem to find it on the tour website. I hope he talks about his faith more often.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Tariq Ramadan speaking out

From the Washington Post's Muslims Speak Out section, Tariq Ramadan answers two questions about jihad and apostacy, as well as the the omni present "treatment of women in Islam" schtick. Can't say enough good things about this guy. I'm saving his jihad response for future reference in debates against those who insist that it is nothing more than terrorism. Also, I need to find the work of Jalal ad-Dîn as-Suyutî he mentions. That's one of the things I love about Islam. This deen has such a rich and deep intellectual history, you're always finding something new to explore

The concept of “jihad” has different meanings and a scholar such as Jalal ad-Dîn as-Suyutî (15th century), while studying its scope, highlighted 80 different dimensions, uses and objectives related to its place in Islamic teachings. Its root “ja-ha-da” means “making an effort”, “exerting oneself” in order to promote good or to resist wrongdoing, evil or oppression. Every individual trying to resist her/his own negative temptations is engaged in “jihad” and the first time the word is used in the Qur’an (25:52), it refers to an intellectual and spiritual resistance by the means of the Qur’an itself.

In all its dimensions, the essence of “jihad” is “to resist” in the name of justice and dignity. When there is an armed aggression, Muslims have the right to protect themselves and to defend their rights. Here “jihâd” means “qitâl” (armed struggle). The use of violence and weapons must be adjusted to the nature of the aggression itself: an armed aggression may justify an armed resistance if there is no other way to come to a peaceful agreement. But the use of violence and weapons must be proportionate and never target innocent people, women, children, the elderly, and even fruit trees as Abû Bakr, the first successor of the Prophet, stated following Muhammad’s teachings. Jihad never means “holy war” in order “to impose” or “to propagate” Islam everywhere. In fact jihâd and qitâl mean exactly the opposite of what we commonly think: rather than being the justifying instruments of war, they are the imposed measures to achieve peace by resisting an unjust aggression.

In specific situations – when one faces an army and has no weapons or other means to resist – it may be understandable and justifiable to consider sacrificing one’s life in attempts to reach the armed soldiers. Here we are not far from a kind of suicide but it is related to three specific conditions: 1. It must be in a time of declared war; 2. when no other means of resisting are available; 3. the targets must be exclusively the army of the enemies and its armed soldiers. Today’s suicide bombers who are killing innocent people are not only not respecting the Islamic teachings as to the ethics of war but are in fact indulging in anti-Islamic actions.

Polygany blogs hit the mainstream

Ok, I admit it, I'm an avid reader of polygany blogs. Although I don't have time to watch soap operas, I'm thoroughly addicted to these online, real life muslim mini soaps that have unfolded in front of my very eyes over the past few years. I'll recount the tales to the husband, flaburgasted by what I read - OMG, guess what happened to HA this time?

The husband then takes the opportunity to make polygany jokes, to which I remind him that he's certainly allowed to have more than one wife - I just won't be one of them. And, as always, he smiles, hugs me and tells me that one wife is headache enough. It's a long running joke between us, although I do have a clause in my marriage contract that gives me the right to an excellent settlement and divorce if he decides down the road to become polyganous. We continue to have serious, deen-y talks about the subject, exploring hypotheticals, but at this point in my life and most likely in the future, I'll stick to monogamy.

Now, polygany blogs have lept from the shadows and landed in the mainstream media, or at least at Slate.com. Polyganous Blessings is on my CW (cowife) blog roll, although she rarely updates it anymore. There have been several CW bloggers, but unfortunately, most don't write for very long. HA and Safa update much more regularly, and I've laughed and cried along with them on their journeys down the bumpy road of polygany. There are other CW (and ex CW) blogs out there that are accessable through the spiderweb of blogrolls, but HA and Safa are definately the cream of the crop.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Muslims in the media

Wow, Newsweek is all over Islam this week.

Newsweek and MSNBC has a section on Islam in America. Heck, it looks like their upcoming issue is a whole special on Islam in America. Too bad my parents don't subscribe to this publication anymore. I'll just have to buy it from the local Barnes and Noble, check to make sure the content is decent, and accidentally leave it behind next time I go to visit them.

And, Newsweek and the Washington Post have subsection in their On Faith Series on Muslims Speak Out. Haven't gotten a chance to read much from either of these two sections yet, but I am hoping that they are knowledgable and go beyond the "Islam means peace" that american muslims have been reduced to parroting these last few years.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Australia is oh so far away...

...and everything in Australia seems to be a wee bit on the expensive side, but dang, this site has some great hijab ideas!

This underscarf/shirt would make clothes shopping so much easier! Unfortunately it seems that most cute shirts have a wide/deep neck, and my scarves never seem to stay when I try to cover up the gaping maw. The scarves are also cute (but waaay too expensive), and the styling going on with the undershirts and scarves looks fabulous.

Umm Yasmin purchased some and has a review.

*daydreams* Maybe someone will sell these in the US someday.

Tajweed podcasts

This tajweed podcast looks interesting, and hopefully, promising. I did tell the husband recently that I'd like to learn at least the basics of tajweed, so inshaAllah with his help and with this podcast, I'll be on my way.

From his blog, here's some info about the creator of the podcast:

khaled Bouchafaa
has been teaching Quran and Tajweed for the last 20 years in various Islamic colleges and masjids. He has been authorised by the Qurra to teach this sacred knowledge of tajweed and Quran. He began his studies of Qiraat in Algeria (from Sheikh Sharati rhm who was the student of the famous Sheikh Abdul-Aziz abul Uyun as Sud and from Sheikh Ahmed Ma'but who was the student of Bakri at Tarabishi) and acquired further knowledge from eminent Scholars of Qiraat in Damascus (Sheikh Abu Sulayman az Zabibi, Sheikh Abdur Razaq al Halabi and the Imam of Jamia al Qitat Sheikh Abu Usamah Basha). In addition, he has studied with Egyptian qarris (Sheikh Hassan Marzug al Jizzi). Sheikh Khaled recites Quran with riwayat Hafs by the Shatibiyah tariq and riwayat Warsh by the Al-Azraq tariq. Currently, he is a teacher of Quran in the largest Islamic School of Australia, is a volunteer Imam and provides tajweed lessons in English and Arabic in his local area.

These are some other tajweed related sites I'm planning on looking into when I have more time:

Monday, July 16, 2007

Harry Potter squee!

Ok, so I didn't get the skirt I had my eye on, but I did get a sweeeeet Dumbledore's Army bag. inshaAllah I'll get it this week before the big book release at midnight on Friday. I'm trying to convince the husband that it would be fun to go to a bookstore at 11 pm to eat pizza, drink butterbeer and play Harry Potter charades until the book release at midnight. For some reason, he's just not convinced. So inshaAllah I'll pick my reserved copy up bright and early Saturday morning and dig in - gotta finish it before our 4:00 meeting with the Jehovahs' Witnesses -the husband is becoming quite a little Ahmed Deedat and I'm his official "translator."

Now, Islam in Harry Potter ~ not much has been written on it, aside from the "don't let your kids read it" type of thing. There is the humerous piece about the Hogwarts MSA, but that's just about it. Oh, and it looks like Muslim Girl Magazine readers are Harry Potter fan girls. I've only noticed two possible muslim characters in my recent rereading of books one through 6

Hassan Moustafa - appears on page 106 of book 4. Quiddich World Cup Referee. Gets enchanted by the velas, and then attempts to throw them off the field.
A wizard I who's name I can't remember - wanted to import flying carpets, but couldn't as they are muggle artifacts.

Yeah, so that's pretty much it - Harry Potter and Islam. Not much to say. Just wanted an excuse to write about my new bag. It's so puuuurty!

4 days, 3 hours and 49 minutes until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Judge orders man to leave Irvine mosque alone

Worshipers say they reported him to authorities after he asked to become a convert and began talking about jihad.

At the beginning, worshipers at the Islamic Center of Irvine said, they thought
Craig Monteilh was just an overzealous convert when he criticized U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. But when he started talking about jihad and dropped oblique references to violence, congregants contacted authorities.

Can't find much else on it, although I'll keep my eyes peeled. Can't say I've come across any of these crazed converts or similarly thinking born muslims in real life, but I've run across them online.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Before Ramadan there is...

...Rajab and Sha'ban. Looks like Rajab will start this weekend.

It has been mentioned by Abu’ Nu’aim in ‘Hilya’ from Anas Ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) he said, that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) used to make the following dua, when the month of Rajab came in:

‘Allahuma Barik lana fi Rajaba wa Sha’bana wa ballighna Ramadhan’

Oh Allah, bless us in Rajab and Shaban, and allow us to reach Ramadan

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Oh man, I so want this skirt. And it's only on sale through this weekend. Maybe my husband will read this blog entry and get it for me as a present *whistles*

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ghazzali wishlist

One of my favorite books that occupies a permenant place on my nightstand is "Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship," taken from the Ihya ‘Ulum al-Din by Imam al Ghazzali.

Aside from wanting to read/own all his works, there are a few Imam al Ghazzali related things that are also on my wishlist:

Al-Ghazali: Alchemist of Happiness dvd
Alchemy of Happiness Hamza Yusuf cd set

I've seen a lot of excellent reviews for both around the net.

Scholars of Peace

via Deenport

The Islamic Tradition and Historic Conflict Resolution in Timbuktu

Fascinating, I hope I can find more on these practices. I took an African History class freshman year, but can't remember much. Guess I'll have to dig around to find my old books and re read about Timbuktu, and browse the Libraries of Timbuktu website.

Affordable art

Prints are available for some artwork at Deviant Art. It's an affordable way to support muslim artists. Check these out.

Monday, July 9, 2007

most wonderful time of the year!

*skips along singing* ...it's the most wonderful time of the year...it's the hap -happiest season of all...with those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings...when friends come to call It's the hap - happiest season of all!

Yup, the most wonderful time of year is coming in 2 months, and I've already got the fever. No, not santa claus time, silly, it's Ramadan, baby, yeah! Gotta get my goals sorted out and my stuff in order so I can make the best of the month inshaAllah.

Before Ramadan:

1. Pray all 5 fard with at least 5 minutes of dua and dhikr after.

2. Read through the Qur'an. I have an excellent arabic/english quran podcast on my ipod. The translation is the saheeh international version, which just so happens to be the same translation as my little travel zippy quran (which they apparently don't sell anymore, much to my dismay after I've recommended it to several people who've been unable to find it). So, I can sit on the bus, listen to the arabic, and then read along with the english translation. inshaAllah my goal is to get through the end of the podcast, which is now at surah 66.

During Ramadan:

1. Pray witr every day.

2. Pray at least one taraweeh at the masjid a week. This is something I loved to do in college, but have slacked on since graduating and getting married. The husband holds the opinion that praying taraweeh at home is better than at the masjid, so he hasn't been too enthusiastic about going. But, inshaAllah this year I'm going to make the effort to go, even if it is on my own.

3. Go to the iftar potlucks. So far, I've only been a moocher at the community iftars, coming on Saturday and Sunday when people volunteer to make food. But inshaAllah this year I'm going to go to the potlucks that are on Friday night. I've been cooking more, and I think I have a few recipes that will satisfy the diverse community at the masjid.

4. Read the entire Qur'an in arabic and english. Since my ability to read the arabic script still sucks, I will rely on my most excellent Muhammad Asad translation, that has the arabic script, roman transliteration, english translation and extensive footnotes. I figure I'll pick out a recitation I really like, recite along with it for a page (using the transliteration), then go back, read the english translation and go over the footnotes. I figure this will take up a huge chunk of time, so I'll have to set aside blocks and commit to it. Unfortunately, the book is too large to take on the bus, but maybe I can find just a smaller transliteration, and do the arabic listening/reciting quietly on my hour long commutes to and from work.

I've always had reading the entire quran as a goal, but after an initial burst of energy, I peter off. Anyone want to be my quran reading buddy? We can hold each other accountable. Since my available time varies day to day, I thought rather than say a juz a day, the goal could be 7 juz in a week, so that it would be possible to catch up/work ahead on the weekends when there is more time available.

*note, all pictures in this post are from deviantart. Click on the pics to find more from these talented artists*

After Salat

What do you do after salat? Usually, I make my salaams to my recording angels (kiraman katibeen) and pop up right away to go about my dunya business. My husband, on the other hand, usually remains seated and makes dhikr and dua. He's been nagging me for awhile to try it, and subhanAllah, I didn't know what I was missing. Think about it, if you sit an extra 5 minutes after each prayer in remembrance and praise of God, that's an extra 25 minutes each day you spend in worship.

If you have trouble concentrating in salat, this is a chance to refocus on God and worship in the way that helps you connect best. Heck, it could even help if you've apt to rush through salat so that you can get to the other stuff on your mind. Rather than having those nagging thoughts about dunya at the back of your mind urging you to hurry up, you know that you have a set amount of time after the salat to dedicate to God. So, there's no sense in rushing the salat if you will be sitting afterwards in dhikr and dua.

Why not pick a dua and commit to making it after every prayer? Make it a part of your routine.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Allahu Akbar...

...God is greater than...

...all my troubles.

SubhanAllah, Glory be to Him!