Friday, March 30, 2007

The Price of Progress

Someone sent me this article today. It oulines plans on building a shopping mall right next to the Ka'bah in Makkah. I find this to be disheartening and quite sad. Setting aside the Islamic rulings and such, I think it's so disrespectful and in some ways, defeats the objectives of Hajj.

Hajj is meant to be a journey of self-realization, to become closer to God, and to overcome materialism. I have never gone for hajj, but I can imagine: you're constantly shoulder-to-shoulder with people from all over the world, from completely different walks of life - the rich and the poor. At this time you must realize your inherent insignificance and come to a sense of humility - the world is bigger than just you. This is a time where we eat and drink and sleep with other Muslims we have never met, and probably will never see again. We are all equal in the sight of God.

And now, they are introducing huge shopping malls with familiar brand name stores. Instead of going to Makkah to get away from extremist-materialist ideologies, it seems that now we'll just be falling into the same clutches. I don't have a problem with businesses making money off of pilgrims per se, but building a huge hunk of materialism that overlooks the ka'bah and that people will go to after they've circulated the ka'bah seven times, it's just not right.

But I could be wrong, what do you think?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Letter from Madinah

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the home of Abraham, Muhammad and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors.

I have been blessed to visit the Holy City of Mecca, I have made my seven circuits around the Ka'ba, led by a young Mutawaf named Muhammad, I drank water from the well of the Zam Zam. I ran seven times back and forth between the hills of Mt. Al-Safa and Al Marwah. I have prayed in the ancient city of Mina, and I have prayed on Mt. Arafat.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white - but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug - while praying to the same God - with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) - because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man - and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their 'differences' in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called 'Christian' white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster - the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities - he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path, I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the walls and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth - the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to.

Never have I been so highly honored. Never have I been made to feel more humble and unworthy. Who would believe the blessings that have been heaped upon an American Negro? A few nights ago, a man who would be called in America a white man, a United Nations diplomat, an ambassador, a companion of kings, gave me his hotel suite, his bed. Never would I have even thought of dreaming that I would ever be a recipient of such honors - honors that in America would be bestowed upon a King - not a Negro.

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.


Al-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Nervousness gives rise to:

I'm doing a speech tomorrow, Sunday, at the new multifaith centre in front of some scary U of T people. I am quite nervous, especially since I have yet to prepare anything. To calm me down, I've made up some stupid poems.

There was once a lady in charge,
her feet were incredibly large
she ate some cake during an earthquake
that strange young woman in charge.

There once was girl from toronto
who was used to having things done PRONTO
she was delayed by a boy (who she went on to destroy)
That head strong girl from toronto.

I don't know, I can't think of any more. I'm going to go write my speech, now that I've gotten some ridiculousness out of my brain. Bye.

ps: is it weird to talk to your food? I just went to the fridge and took out some grapes and said "hello grapes, how are you?" Then I continued "grapes, I'd like you to meet my mouth." My little sister gave me a look of horror. I think she thinks I'm a psychopath.

Okay bye for real this time. Bye.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I'm up at 1:20 am...not really sure why. Check out (like removed - you guys are so annoying!) and fill out the names of your crushes. I know this seems really lame, but it ends up being pretty hilarious at the end. Trust me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Three Things

My friend told me to fill this out a while ago. Luckily, since I have a paper due tomorrow that I haven't started on, I figured it would be the prefect time to post!

Three things that scare me:
1. Stalkers
2. The fear of going to prayer, taking off my shoes and finding out there is a huge hole in my sock
3. Public speaking, which I will have to in a few days, yikes.

Three people who make me laugh:
1. Sara and her interesting socks
2. Hajera and her interesting stories about boys
3. Safiyyah and her interesting conjectures and dreams of being a wedding planner.
4. My mom (I just had to include her, she's great).

Three things I love:
1. Food of all kinds.
2. Sleeping in.
3. writing poetry.

Three things I hate:
1. Crowds of people who do stupid things because they can.
2. Waiting in line…and just waiting, in general.
3. Coming home and realizing that your brother ate all the food in the house and then some.

Three things I don’t understand:
1. The world.
2. People in the world.
3. Heels.

Three things on my desk:
1. The Pride and Prejudice DVD
2. Scissors, a fork, markers, pencils, tape, a watch, a brush (I could go on)
3. a stack of books about half a metre high

Three things I’m doing right now:
1. Writing an essay due tomorrow.
2. Wondering at the complexities of life.
3. Wondering if I have ADD.

Three things I want to do before I die:
1. Go for Hajj.
2. Live in Madinah.
3. Publish a book of poetry.

Three things I can do:
1. Write nonesense and still get an A.
2. Make my bed in the morning.
3. Make boys feel intimidated.

Three things you should listen to:
1. Me.
2. Your heart.
3. Me.

Three things I’d like to learn:
1. How to tie my shoelaces so I can stop wearing velcro shoes. It’s embarrassing.
2. How to be nice.
3. How to stop holding grudges.

Three People I'd like to have a conversation with:
1. Abu Bakr.
2. Jane Austen.
3. Kermit the Frog.

Three TV shows/books I watched/read as a child:
1. Sesame Street – Oscar the grouch is the best.
2. All those Ramona books, Superfudge, Garfield comics.
3. Woody Woodpecker. The best show ever made.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Conversation with God

I heard a great story today that I thought I'd share...

The story is about the battle of Uhud that was fought against the pagans at the time of prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The Muslims lost the battle because of their failure to follow the prophet's instructions - the archers left their positions to collect war spoils when they thought the war was over (though they had been given strict orders to stay atop the Mount Uhud). So the Meccan army saw that the Muslims had left their posts, and returned to fight once again, this time surrounding the Muslims from the front and the back.

Something close to a massacre took place and there was chaos in the Muslim army. One of the Muslims who was killed that day was Abdullah ibn Amr, may God be pleased with him. Although many of the army fled, and some effectually paralyzed by grief because of the rumour that the prophet had been killed, Abdullah fought until the end and was killed for the sake of his Lord.

His son, Jabir, was crying over his father and prophet Muhammad came to him and said, "O Jabir, why do I see you sad?" Jabir said, "O Messenger of Allah, my father was martyred and left behind debts and children." The prophet said: "Should I tell you that Allah never spoke to anyone except from behind a veil? However, He spoke to your father directly. He said 'ask Me and I will give you.' He (Abdullah) said, 'I ask that I am returned to life so that I am killed in Your cause again.' The Lord, Exalted is He, said, 'I have spoken the word that they shall not be returned back to to it (this life).' Abdullah said, 'O Lord, then convey the news to those I left behind.'" So God revealed:

"And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed on them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those after them who have not yet joined them - that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve" (Alee Imran: 169-170).
Imagine a verse of the Qur'an being revealed in response to your father's conversation with God, and that verse being recited for over 1400 years, until this day. I can't think of anything more honourable and comforting to a grieving son.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"and this is all the reply I am to expect?"

I was watching this yesterday:

"In vain, I have will NOT do. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." Classic!

Anyways, I have to go to school now. Bye.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

What a Boy Wants

The Fool is never quite sure what boys want. Interestingly enough, the Fool’s most recent foray into the marriage question involved a suitor who was thoroughly captivated by her brains and charm. When asked about his expectations, however, he remarked that most of all he dreamed of a woman who would be awaiting his arrival from work every night. She had to cook too, he said, and cook well. While The Fool was not averse to cooking and believed the idea of waiting on her husband rather charming, she knew that the expectations of this enamoured suitor were incompatible with her own. Hence she was forced to send him on his way. She wonders still why he chose her, knowing what she was like and then expecting that somehow she might, after marriage, morph into a stay-at-home wife at his beck and call.

But The Fool knows only too well how very strange are the tastes of boys. The Fool had once naively imagined boys to be less finicky than girls, thinking that in fact they passively acquiesced to the wishes of their parents when it came to their marriage partners. Now The Fool knows differently, and what has been particularly instrumental in the changing of her mind is the following sign which she recently discovered posted in a boy’s room – a boy The Fool knows only too well. Said boy wears trucker shirts and drives huge tractors, but most of all he seems to delight in the strange sport that is throwing a sharp hook into the water along with other unusual accoutrements and waiting gleefully and endlessly for the innocent fish of the water to swim towards these delicious morcels of food without realizing for even a moment that they might be approaching their tragic demise.

Said boy has very clear expectations of his girl. In particular, she must be unafraid of worms and other slippery or sharp things. The sign below should enlighten confused readers and would-be applicants:

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Responsibility rests with Muslims"

I'm sure you've all heard about the girl who was prevented from playing a soccer game in Quebec because she was wearing the hijab. I read this letter to the editor in the Toronto Star today:

Mar 06, 2007

I am a feminist and strongly support Muslim girls and women playing soccer, so I followed closely the current situation in which a young female soccer player was ejected from playing in a game because she wore a hijab. The rules of FIFA, soccer's international governing body, seem to say playing soccer with a cloth tied around one's head and neck is not very safe. That sounds rather sensible to me.

If one chooses to adhere to a belief system that requires females to wear such a cloth, it would seem to me that it would be up to the religion to excuse females from wearing that attire when playing soccer. Religions are known to excuse people from certain requirements, such as fasting in order to take medication.

As Muslim females integrate into the greater society, Islam should make changes that will facilitate their involvement.

Elka Ruth Enola, Oakville

It's clear that this woman is well-intentioned and one of the more intellectual people writing to the paper. However, there is something fundamentally wrong with this letter and the attitudes of so many people out there. It's this: "As Muslim females integrate into the greater society, Islam should make changes that will facilitate their involvement."

The thing that many non-Muslims seem not to understand about Islam and Muslims is that we believe in an All-Knowing Creator who has given us a set of guidelines to live by. These guidelines are for our own benefit and discarding them or changing them to "facilitate our involvement" is somewhat absurd. You are asking me to give up something that I believe God has legislated for me, in order to adhere to man-made legislation. You're asking me to leave behind an integral part of my self in order to please people. Perhaps Christianity and other faiths have been wishy-washy when it comes to changing God-given rules and laws, but I hope that Islam will never follow suit.

The responses that Canadians have shown (even the ones who want to accept and understand diversity) just goes to show how strange our perception of "muliti-culturalism" really is. The way it's being practiced in many parts of Canada today (especially Quebec) indicates that when Canadians say "multi-culturalism," it really means "we'll accept you because we have to, but the law of the white folks is still THE law. If you can't accept that, well then you don't belong here." It's the same way the indigenous people of Canada were treated, and are still treated today. The reality is, many people see us as inferiors who don't have the same rights as they do - a surprising attitude for a country that was built on the backs of immigrants, the modern-day slaves.

The case with the young girl forced to leave her soccer game is just the tip of the iceberg. On a global scale, these small and somewhat insignifant events bring to light the overarching attitudes of people - and it is definitely not pretty.

My Canadian friends and brethren can learn a little bit from Muhammad, peace be upon him, who once said: Ignorance is a disease, and it's cure is a question.

When Cats Attack

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Muslim Men: a Study of Racism and the Perception of Beauty

The Qur'an says: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)" (Qur'an 49: 13). But, the question is, do we practise what we preach?

My friend and I recently decided to do a sociological experiment of sorts on the attitude of Muslim men towards female beauty. Let me begin by saying that this was a highly unethical way to obtain this type of information, and if I was really a researcher, I would probably be fired if I tried to pass this as real research - just something to keep in mind.

Our method: we went onto a Muslim matrimonial website and registered as two women interested in finding spouses. One of us registered as a 22-year old blonde, green-eyed convert to Islam. The other registered as a 22-year old Pakistani girl. The two profiles were almost identical, just to make sure that we could judge the responses of men based on the race of each woman, as opposed to some other quality. Both the convert and the Pakistani were religious, the same age, looking for the same type of spouse, etc. Neither profile included a picture. Our hypothesis was that the convert would get more "proposals" than the Pakistani, simply due to the fact that she is the eurocentric ideal of beauty. (Plus, the men didn't have to convert her before marrying her!)

Our findings: Lo and behold, we were right. Over the course of a few weeks, the convert got over one hundred emails from interested males (some of whom were very scary and strange). The young Pakistani woman on the other hand, started out quite slowly with around 30 emails in the same period of time. Although we expected a higher number for Alice, we didn't realize she would get more than double what Samreen got. It was a bit unnerving.

Discussion: It is evident that these Muslim men were more interested in the blonde woman than the Asian one. What is it about the blonde and blue-eyed beauty that makes men oggle? Even without a picture of the female convert to rely on, she still got the overwhelmingly higher amount of "requests" than her darker-skinned companion (who, by the way, made sure to say she was "fair-skinned" on her profile). Could it possibly be that white women are simply prettier? Or is it something deeper? Could it be that people are so enamoured with western ideas of everything, not only beauty, and therefore program themselves to desire all that is Western and more "civilized"? Or is it perhaps because people are so easily indoctrinated by media, that they adopt the media's definition of what beauty means? It's a puzzle to me that has yet to be put together.

Again, I will reiterate the unethical nature of this study. It is definitely not a representative sample of Muslim men. It will comfort you to know that none of the emails were replied to, and no rejections were given out, so no feelings were hurt. (And it was pretty clear that some of the men had form emails that they just sent out to anything breathing, as long as it was female.)

All that being said, the whole notion that one woman in our study was preferred over the other simply because of her imagined physical appearance goes against the core beliefs of Islam. Muslims looking for spouses should judge them not upon appearance, but upon character and intellect. Appearance should still be a major factor in choosing a spouse, but not to the extent to which we found in our study! It is disappointing, to say the least.

What do you make of all this?