Browsing "islam op-eds"
Jun 11, 2010 - islam op-eds    5 Comments

Compassion and Mercy

rahmaa

Has anyone ever thought about what differentiates us from animals? Like really thought about it? They eat, we eat. They sleep, we sleep. They have relationships, so do we. Is it that we think? That we have complex societies? But so do they. So what makes us different? We worship Allah but so do they (better than us).

What makes us different is our choices. We have the choice of going against our Nafs (self). Instead of following our lower instincts, emotions and base needs, we can choose not to follow them. We can rise above and try to emulate more ‘divine’ qualities. This is what makes us superior to other creatures.

When someone hurts us or does wrong to us, our first instinct is to hate or for revenge. But to rise above it, turn against those instincts and choose to forgive or show mercy truly takes struggle and exertion. It takes our true humanity coming through. Can you see a lion standing over a baby gazelle saying, “Awww poor thing I guess I won’t eat it!”? Never happens. :) But humans, what makes us different is our ability to go against ourselves and show this compassion and mercy.

A Hadith says “Show mercy so that you may be shown mercy, forgive and Allah will forgive you.” The Quran asks us “Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?” [Quran 24:22]

The reason I say all this is that I’ve witnessed people not showing compassion and mercy in certain circumstances. And Yes they may have the right NOT to, having gone through a great injustice, but I can’t describe how absolutely cold and ugly it is. It is animalistic and base. It is not human. Not being able to show mercy just puts us back on par with animals.

And when is the time to show mercy? When things are all great and we are rich and we deign to drop a penny in a bum’s cup on our way into Macy’s? No, it’s in those greatest times and trials where we are tested the most. When we don’t WANT to forgive. When our rights have been trampled upon. When we have been hurt the most. When our instinct is to hurt and hate back and punish. We stand over the gazelle with the knife in our hand, hatred in our eyes, but then we stop. We breathe, we look away, we drop the knife and walk away. We even force ourselves to make sure the gazelle is ok. We realize that it is we who were wrong. That we are human beings created in the best of moulds. That we must strive towards compassion and mercy if we are to expect any ourselves.

It is hard, yes. So is giving Zakat in hard times, so is fasting when we’re hungry. What was all that about? Allah trying to teach us to give up our earthly desires and strive for something better. To train us to be above our Nafs, to become more than animals, to become the best of creation.

I leave you to think about this the next time such a circumstances comes your way when you really don’t want to forgive or show mercy.

Mercy

"Show Mercy So That You May Be Shown Mercy"

May 7, 2010 - islam op-eds    5 Comments

Another Sad Day for American Muslims

Last weekend 5 million American Musims collectively gave a sigh of relief when the NYC Times Square bomber suspect was said to be a white male. I watched the grainy video of the guy who took off his shirt and stuffed it in a bag at least three times to make sure he was “white” and not “Arab”. (Don’t lie you did it too!) Yup, that male pattern baldness and paunchiness in a certain way did not look Arab at all. Got to be one of those crazy I-hate-the-IRS lost my-house-to-mortgage guys. PHEW.

We even had the luxury of making a few jokes at Fox News’s expense. Later the next evening my Mom came home and was like “You know what they’re saying! It was a Pakistani-Muslim guy!”. I was like “NUH-UH! I just checked CNN and they still don’t know who did it. How do you know?”  “That’s what they’re saying at the Pakistani store”, she nodded sagely, “Yes and I bought some mangos, $1 each so expensive!” What the heck… I thought, and not about the mangos. Later the next day is when the story broke.  Aunties at the local Paki-Mart: 1  CNN: 0

I think the major feeling I and most Muslims have right now is ANGER. Just plain anger. How could this idiot go and actually try to do something like this.  Go against ALL the teachings of Islam and make life worse for Muslims everywhere. It just doesn’t make sense to me in this day and age of CSI, all-seeing CCTV, GPS tracking on everything and government access to everything, that anyone thinks they can pull off the perfect crime, especially a crime of this magnitude with this much man-power and technology on hand to track it. What a complete idiot.

And what did he gain?? Ruined his life, his wife’s life, his two kids, his extended family. Pakistan again under questions. Muslims in the US again under question. Damaged the name of Islam. Tried to kill innocent people walking around Times Square??!!! For what?!! What an idiot. Honestly I would like to punch him in the face and I’m not even kidding. And I’m a very petite non-violent person but I’d like to, even for just his wife and children.

Ugh.

So now the Islamophobes are out in force once again. Writing their anti-Islam blog tirades with glee, racist Republicans are shaking their fists over more racial profiling and changing immigration laws, the usual ex-Muslims are probably typing(howling) into the night trying to get their latest new coffee table hate-Islam book out to their publishers.

And of course there are the feature news stories with the neighbors coming out as usual to say he “was a quiet guy” but “they always had a funny feeling about him” and that he used to “jog at night wearing all black” and that he once said “he didn’t like Bush or his foreign policy.”  AND, AND most suspicious of all, they once had a “tag sale selling their stuff”. Very ominous indeed. And then there are the pictures. The main picture spread all over the media of him is actually him cropped out of a picture holding his baby. Obviously not good media to show a picture of a man holding a newborn baby with headlines screaming terrorist. Then there are pictures of him with his snazzy bluetooth driving, with a camera and his arms around his wife in front a famous NYC tourist landmark. Pictures of the 300k house he took a mortgage out on and lost, interior and exterior. (One articled labeled the earthtone decorating scheme “unfortunate”.)

And they say he confessed everything and “cooperated”. AFTER 8 hours of interrogation, they THEN read him his rights and he cooperated some more and admitted to everything. Hmm.

I just don’t get it. He may have lost his house with the mortgage (which he shouldn’t have had in the first place as a Muslim. This is why mortgages are Haram because you are buying on complete speculative credit which can easily backfire on you and if it doesn’t you still end up paying through the nose) and now he was bankrupt. But come on why throw your whole life away? “He did not seem radicalized or particularly religious”, they said. No one in the American Muslim community has ever heard of him. He had no ties to even local Mosques. Ok.

He had an MBA! I can’t understand it. America seems stumped too, there’s headlines like “From fatherly family man to Taliban bomber”.  But then the media comes to their senses and realizes he was MUSLIM and that should be enough. So he must have been an Al-Qaida agent or Taliban. Nope no ties there either. Taliban said they don’t know him but give him a pat on the head. Huh?!  He must hate our freedoms… even though… he lived all of them… big house, 2 kids, wife, job in the city…wait… still kinda confused.

The latest is that his wife graduated from a college in Colorado. This is breaking news because didn’t some other wack terrorist like live somewhere in Denver once too? There must be a connection! All these Mozlims must be in on it together! Tune in to Fox-News………

Anyways, just another sad sad day being an American Muslim.

Read my related “Dear ‘Muslim’ terrorist” post.

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Ruined Lives…

I think I’ll cry if I look at that baby one more time.

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faisal_shahzadfull

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shahzadfamily

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shahzadhouse

Tour of Inside the House by CNN

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Pictures from media outlets, myspace or Orkut (where ppl are posting horrible things on her profile). Why don’t they just delete her profile there?

Mar 12, 2010 - islam op-eds    16 Comments

Top 10 Problems of the Muslim World We Need to Fix ASAP

muslimworld

Many Muslims in the world consistently blame the “West” for all their problems. No doubt, many of the problems in the Muslim world stem from decisions made in the West. i.e… the arbitrary creation of Israel, the blind unconditional support of Israel in its occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, sanctions as political punishment regardless of innocent victims, aid as political reward regardless of ethics, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocent Muslims throughout the world, the absolute hypocrisy of foreign policy and at times domestic policy… I mean this list is just endless ;)

BUT sometimes we forget that the Muslim world is just as much to blame for the condition of Muslims all over the world as anyone else, if not more so. Unless we fix our own problems we will never be able to step forward and try to change our condition. Leaving these problems out there is also our weakness and they enable others to take advantage of and in the end, oppress us.

So, having lived in the Muslim world for a period of time and a lifetime in the West, these are some things that I see as the major problems or hurdles we need to change in the Muslim world first, before we blame others. I think we really need to look at ourselves objectively and realize the wrongs that go on among us, just as much as we like to analyze ‘the other’.

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#1. Doing the world’s dirty work - Sending innocent people to Muslim countries TO GET TORTURED. Why should the world care that Muslims are being tortured in Guantanamo and Bagram when Muslim countries practice torture as a regular interrogation method? When America sends innocent Muslims TO Muslim countries to be tortured! It’s really quite disgusting. Torture is completely antithetical to the principles of Islam. There are just no words. (And still we like to blame the West for everything.)

#2. Racial inequalities - Let’s talk about the status of workers in Muslim countries, such as maids in Saudi or construction workers in the Emirates. These workers are abused freely, by individuals and by society. Underpaid, overworked, they live in hovels, are paid a pittance, have no rights or recourse if abused. They are never allowed to be citizens, they don’t have the same rights as their boss or the citizen down the street. They can’t even send their kids to the same school or go to the same hospital. I mean call America the devil all you want but at least they theoretically have some type of equality and rights for people who live and work in their country. We read stories after stories of abuse and first hand accounts, with very little reform or accountability. Yes, I know these people are poor and need to go to Muslim countries to work. But if the oppressed accept their oppression due to circumstance and we take advantage of it, what does that make us? (And ours is a Deen that always was the first to defend and help the oppressed and emphasized the equality of all peoples.)

#3. Corruption/Bribes - Corruption in Muslim countries is so rife. Why is a Muslim country always #1 or #2 on the list of most corrupt countries, I always have to ask? Corruption is so common that regular bribe amounts are listed in tourist guides. Want to get telephone services? Want to get out of an airport? Want to do anything? This isn’t like a tax or a tip, this is plain corruption. Want to cover up a crime? Want to commit a crime? It seems like Islam has become only form to people. Pray, fast, maybe go to Hajj and that’s it. But what about your character, your morals, your ethics. Cheating other people. Rampant nepotism. Covering up of inequalities and wrongful actions?

#4. Bureaucracy - This is tied to the one before. Have you ever tried to go to a Muslim country and get a visa? Before I left someone sent me a step by step list of how to establish an Iqama (residency visa) in a particular country. It was 6 handwritten pages and no joke, it listed how to go from this office to that office to that building and get this stamp from this person and so on and so on. It was all description because there are no addresses or official ways of doing anything! We are in such a hurry to modernize and be just like the West, why don’t we copy some good organization and efficiency skills eh. This probably goes back to another big problem in the Muslim world:  The rote learning and non-encouragement of any questioning, creativity or innovation in the Muslim world. Also related, where is the work ethic in Muslim countries? Besides “Inshaallah Bokra Mumkin”. Now I know for Muslims we have a different focus on life and it’s not to go to work everyday, make money and consume more Dunya. But somehow I just see this slowly being lost in Muslim countries. Where’s our pride and responsibility in working hard, building, inventing, improving, creating.

#5. Emotional Islam - We Muslims always get upset when we see something wrong or offensive to our religion. Such as… the Danish cartoons or the Salman Rushdie book (or a teddy bear named Muhammad?!) or whatever else. There’s a lot of evil in the world and there are a lot of people that hate Islam. But us becoming emotional or upset about such things does nothing. Nothing constructive or progressive comes from it. Imagine if every Muslim that was offended by the Danish cartoons went out and held one positive event about Islam in their town. Imagine if every Muslim that burned (or like me returned the book to the library thinking it was the dumbest book I ever read) a hateful book on Islam, instead talked to one person about the life of Prophet Muhammad (s). It’s so easy for us to hold protests, hold up signs and yell slogans, even easier to turn to violence. But why aren’t we doing the real work? Working on real Dawah, real programs, on our youth… in so many needed areas?

#6. Opression of women – No Islam does not oppress Muslim women, but Muslims sure do. Or should I say they let others do. How can honor killings be common in certain areas of the Muslim world? Killing innocent girls. Something so vile, that the Quran even asks why a person would do it. And tried and convicted they receive 2 years. Really? A 10 year old sold by her father and forced to marry an 80 year old. Really, that’s acceptable to us? Throwing acid on little girls going to school. Domestic violence against women. I mean there are no words.  We will never even take a step forward if we don’t eradicate these evils.

#7. Copying everything western – The Muslim world loves copying and imitating everything western. They love western clothes, western movies, western architecture, western music, western pop stars. What happened to our values? What happened to our own appreciation of our own beautiful things. Our beautiful clothes, music, people, architecture, rich cultural heritage. Chai, Rumi and Ghazals seem to be more appreciated in the West than anywhere else these days. Why can’t we have pride in and develop our own culture which is more in tune with our values? [And one thing that really bothers me...Why do rich Muslims frequent Parisian fashion houses when it is a crime to dress as a Muslim in France?] (Sigh, and again it’s the West that’s oppressing us.)

#8. Lack of superior media and propaganda – Yes please. We need some. The Muslim world really needs some good PR people. Not to mention journalists, authors, pundits, politically savvy leaders and so on. Why (,when we have right on our side you ask)? Because the Islam haters are much better at this than we are. They are able to turn an innocent victim into a terrorist in a heartbeat. They are able to justify things like racial profiling, torture and extraordinary rendition. They somehow make extreme Islam-haters into “experts on Islam and the Muslim world” on Fox News. Definitely a huge problem.

#9. No viable economic system - Islamic economics is beautiful. It’s fair. It’s sustainable. It has ethics and morals and has a built in system of checks and balances. It protects people from being exploited and it prevents people from doing the exploiting. And yet we aren’t using it. We are using a system of interest and usury that makes the poor poorer and the rich richer. A whole other subject is also how much money is being wasted on extreme luxuries instead of development in Muslim countries. The wealth of certain Muslims is phenomenal… how about spending a little to help other Muslims instead of that new car/clothes/billion dollar mansion. (Did you know that the only buyers of Parisian fashion houses are 1. the nouveau riche of Russia and 2. wealthy Arabs from the Gulf.)

#10. Nationalism and disunity – Can I just say… Algeria vs Egypt :p or let me say Egypt’s refusal to allow Gazans sanctuary. Everyone has pride in their country and background, but it is our faith that unites us all. Divided we are easily picked out by enemies. Divided we will always fall. History shows again and again that the way to attack Muslims is to cause division and disunity. We are then easily defeated.

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Yes, it’s painful to look at ourselves this way. How far we have come from practicing our Deen. :( If we could just practice the noble principles of Islam in all aspects of our life, socially, politically, economically, in character, in relations with others, how different we would be! And how different our world would be.

Have we forgotten the words of the Quran that say “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in their hearts.” What’s in our hearts these days? Is it “hatred of the West”? Is it “love of the Dunya” or is it “love of Islam and our fellow Muslims”? Do we want for them what we want for ourselves?

In conclusion, I contend that if Muslims were to fix these problems and go back to practicing Islam in all realms, inner and outer, form and character, there is no power on earth that could defeat them in any aspect.

Thanks for reading.

The End.

Outtakes: lack of lines!, no dark chocolate, pizza made of ketchup?!, guys who yell ‘u beetiful’