Religion

The Politics of Bin Laden

I was putting my shoes on when I heard my mom say, “He’s now in heaven” as my sister nodded approvingly. I looked back to see what my mom was referring to. It was an image of Osama bin Laden on the television, then I realized. Naturally, I had my own reaction to the announcement of this man’s death. Everyone does, even those who believe it is all a hoax. “Even if he is responsible for the deaths of many Muslims? I asked my mom. She should know this because she was in Nairobi the day the US embassy was bombed there. Many Muslims were killed that day (of the 12 Americans killed, one was a Muslim-American). And in Dar es Salaam, all the 11 people killed were Muslims. When bin Laden was asked why did he kill those Muslims, he responded by saying that “good Muslims should be at the mosque on Friday.”

So how does someone who not only kills innocent people in general, but also fellow Muslims, get sympathy from my apolitical mom? It is very strange indeed to see very rational, and quite well-informed, people become emotionally sympathetic to such a fellow. We are taught, from an early age, that to not say bad things about the dead but does that mean we forget and praise people whose very identity as we know is about killing lots of people? Conversely, it is horrifying to see people so jubilantly celebrate the taking of a human life regardless of how evil or accused evil the person was (which is a sad reflection on humanity, to say the least). For all we know, bin Laden could have been a great father, husband, brother, son, uncle, and friend. Only those who knew him would have the benefit of knowing that. But his identity to the world was as the leader and chief financier of Al Qaeda whose bombings have killed countless innocent people, both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Yet, as he has portrayed himself as the ‘defender’ of Muslims, by also killing many Muslims along the way, bin Laden has managed to create a political identity that many have come to sympathize with even as they recognize his undoubtedly horrible acts of violence and destruction that killed thousands of people, in addition to his cancerous ideology that will continue to outlive long after most people forget his image. He did of course defend his fellow Muslims earlier in his career – fighting and defeating the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But does that justify such a sympathy after the many more innocent people he killed since creating Al Qaeda? It still amazes me how many people I come across that believe bin Laden was a religious leader. Of course he was not, despite his followers calling him Sheikh Osama. He was a political figure, who has single-handedly changed geopolitics forever.

It is a grave mistake, then, to see his death as anything but a martyr.

Categories: politics, Religion, Terrorism | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Misperception of Independence

By A Muslim-African Woman in the ‘Diaspora’

***

I write this as a conclusion of my own experience and the experience of many women I personally came to know

Through my high school and college education, I was taught and reminded constantly of the inequality that women suffered for centuries. In the literature classes, I read about women inferiority which is portrayed in almost all of the classic writings. In sociology, I learned about the studies that document the gender differences and oppression of women. In psychology, I learn about Freud’s theories belittling woman to nothing but little envies creature of the man’s far better equipment. In Religion class, I learned how almost all religions of the world favor the superiority of men while treating women as a second class citizen. Most importantly, in history, I learned of the few great women who made it through the pens and into books of male historians. In the Art class, I learned of the notorious Artists who saw in a woman nothing but a magnificent sculpture and a piece of Art. And in many other classes, many young women including myself were daily reminded of the weak creature we once were and will always be under the domination of the almighty Man.

Now, growing up with that ideology, many young women come to aggressively fight against all these cultural and religious believes to gain their power and absolute independence. And that is what I personally did. I became a working woman at a very young age. I supported myself to the best I could. I allowed no one to help me, but few family members. Also, I had to live with the family, because it is a cultural must. Yet I was able to declare my independence from the domination of the “man.” Thus, I was powerful in my own world. I built a strong shield, a weakness-free zone that I imprisoned myself in. I armed myself with my job, education, and rights and fought against every feminine behavior that presented any signs of a weak and a needy female. And still today, our text books, the media, and society keep on boosting or fueling this understanding. They remind us how Women must abandon their femininity and fight endlessly to earn respect and survive in the man’s world.

As a consequence of this war, women became too independent, that a man’s presence on earth is almost useless. We can cook, we can clean, we can drive, we can cut the grass, we can earn a living, we can take the trash out, we can travel, and we can surely just buy a gun for protection or get an alarm system set up in the house, or even hire a body guard “who might be a man, but paid of course.” A need for “Adam” is just a need for a person to interfere and control one’s life.

Lately, and after years of fighting, I have come to learn that our perception of independence and the theories of power of men vs. weakness of women are false. Sadly, our teachers have betrayed us. So did our families who themselves misunderstood the religion and blindingly imposed on us cultural believes that striped away our rights, chocked our dreams, and left us wandering on the scriptures of modern western writers who so inaccurately claim to know all the rights of women and the way to claim these lost rights.

Categories: Africa Related, Education, Life Style, Religion, Women | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Eid Mubarak Ya’ll!

It turns out my prediction of divided end to Ramadan somehow came true. It was the first time ever that most Muslim countries started this month together, which seemed would end the same way. Half of my family did not fast on Tuesday while the other half did. Our next door city made their Eid prayer on Tuesday while our city celebrated on Wednesday. As my friend would say, you gotta love the Muslims!

If you celebrated on Tuesday or Wednesday, Happy Eid anyway! And keep of the weight.

Categories: Religion | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Keep Your Thoughts…

I like everything about Ramadan; I like the discipline, the self-control, and the forced slow-down of life for these 30 days. It takes a lot to do these and I think it’s cool that I’m one of the humanity that can say they’ve done this most of their life after I’m 9 feet under. 

But I have one problem: I can’t cuss. Now I should clarify that I don’t actually cuss out-loud even the rest of the year. I just cuss in my head, that’s all. But with Ramadan, at least during the day, I can’t cuss because the thought is the same thing as the action so if I do cuss, my fast automatically becomes Makrooh

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one who cusses in his head.

Categories: Religion | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Ramadan Mubarak!

Starting on Monday (Sept. 1), for the majority of the Muslim population worldwide will start the holy month of Ramadan. Perhaps this is the first time the majority of the Islamic world will all start Ramadan at the same time, although no one knows if the ending will be as consensus as the start. 

To all my fellow brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and everywhere else in the world who are facing ever difficult circumstances, your not far from my mind or supplications. 

I wish all my brothers and sisters a very prosperous month of Ramadan. 

Ramadan Mubarak.

-Om

Categories: Religion | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

My Problem With The Associated Press

I often stumble on an Associated Press wire stories and almost always I find something deeply disturbing about their stories, particularly how they report it. During the Election crisis in Kenya, the AP was reporting in every piece that “Kenya was a prosperous democracy in Africa” before the election or “Kenya was an economic powerhouse” in Africa. I complained about this in my posts about the violence in the aftermath of those elections. I have read countless AP dispatches that are either flat-out biased or amazingly ill-informed of the facts. Once again, I was not disappointed today in an article entitled “Pope baptizes prominent Italian Muslim,” in which a “Muslim” man converts to Catholicism.

The article goes into a great detail about the ceremony itself and the Pope’s remarks. But the problem of this article is that the man, Magdi Allam, an Egyptian newspaper commentator married to a Catholic woman, is not a Muslim and was never a Muslim because he says so himself in the article! How incompetent are these people to quote a man that is directly contradicting the premise of their article’s? In the article they tell us that Mr. Allam is a prominent “Muslim” who is very critical of extremists and Islam in general, which is fine considering the fact that he HAS a right to say and express his opinion, but the problem is when a news organization like the AP says this man is a “prominent Italian Muslim,” we expect to learn that the man was at least a “former Muslim” but has now left Islam because such and such.

However, what we learn in the article is a man (in his own words) who NEVER prayed five times a day in his life (a requirement for an adult person to be considered a Muslim), NEVER fasted once in his life (again, a requirement), and is a proud Zionist who has written a book advocating for the annihilation of the Palestinian people, a sign that should’ve alerted these incompetent people at the AP. Mr. Allam never claims in the article to have ever been a Muslim, although his mom was a devout Muslim and once accompanied her in her pilgrimage to Maccah. In fact, Mr. Allam tells the AP that he had a Communion when he was “13 or 14” – again, a red flag that the monkeys at the AP have conveniently overlooked. Any intelligent person knows that Egypt has the largest Christian population in the Middle East, perhaps an indication that leaves one to wonder if Mr. Allam was a Christian all of his life but just never professed it in public. Whatever the case maybe, the AP did a great disservice to Mr. Allam and more importantly, to themselves.

Needless to say, never take any Associated Press’s articles as facts or unbiased, but if you do, check their facts because the majority of the time the AP is full of shitty information, so consume at your own peril.

Categories: In the News, Religion | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

American Religion X

A new survey released by the Pew Foundation this week finds that more Americans are becoming “unaffiliated” while at the same time more Americans are becoming more religious i.e. rigid, fanatical, extremists, Pat Robertson, et al. The study also finds that Hindus are the best educated and among wealthiest Americans – no surprise there at all. But what was surprising was the fact that Muslims are about to beat Mormons in terms of children making! Wow, this is a big achievement for Muslims, to finally be perceived for something other than terror/violence in America. I mean, doesn’t that just depress Mormons? I feel for you, Mormons. Don’t give up.

On the other hand, the study suggests that most of the “unaffiliated” are former Catholics. No surprise there either since there were millions of child molestation lawsuits and criminal prosecutions against the Catholic church in the past 7 years. Anyway, what does “unaffiliated” mean? It seems that a lot of people are describing themselves as such these days because Atheism or Agnostic terms are mostly associated with negativity in the American religious landscape, even if the atheists/agnostics don’t want to admit it. In fact, an earlier survey found that the majority of Americans who describe themselves as “religious” or have some kind of religious affiliation, strongly dislike atheists/agnostic to the point where many of the surveyed said they’d rather have their child date/marry a Muslim than an atheist/agnostic. Ouch. That says a lot when you’re even hated more than Muslims in America.

Categories: Religion | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Really???

sudan-protest.jpg

I don’t know whether to laugh, get mad, or both, it seems that we Muslims have lately become quite sensitive. More accurately, we have become a rerun stock footage for substance-less 24-hour cable “news” channels and comedy goldmine for every comedian’s punchline. Do we really have to go out on the street to protest and call for the execution of a schoolteacher, whose only crime was to ask her pupils what they want to name a teddy bear? Is that how low and degenerate this Ummah has become? What about the fact that protesters in Khartoum are conveniently looking the other way when hundreds of thousands of their fellow Muslims and countrymen continue to suffer in Darfur? How barbarously hypocritical is that?

No wonder the Western media has been taking this stupidity of Muslims to the fullest advantage by running it ceaselessly in the continues 24-hour cycle since the story broke. Needless to say, when I hear Muslim leaders blame the media for the bad image of Muslims in the West, I can’t help but smirk at this suggestion. It is true that we have a lot of axes to grind against the West and its continues war against Islam and its followers, but come on! Going on the streets to protest and call for an execution for this? Why aren’t these people in Khartoum protesting the conflict in Darfur? It never ceases to amaze me how this Ummah have fragmented and broken down internally. I can only wonder what non-Muslims around the world will take from this story – what they always believed about Muslims, thanks to the Western media or just another reason to fear Muslims for their madness at non-story stories? Only time will tell. However, what I take from this story is that we, the Muslims, need to take a serious look in the mirror, then evaluate our priorities.

Categories: Religion | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Masjid Etiquette: The Sequel?

I don’t know where to begin with this one. When it happened, I couldn’t stop laughing – in the sense of, “Damn, that was the stupidest thing a Muslim ever did at the Masjid.” Last Friday, I went to the Masjid for my usual Friday Jum’a prayer, but the shift I went to was not my usual third shift. My friend got out of school early and was dropping an item he had borrowed from me, so I just decided to go with him to the second shift instead of waiting for the third. Plus, I did need a ride to the Masjid, after all.

We get to the Masjid around 12:30ish and decide to park on a spot we found on a curve in front of the Masjid. At this point, there are no cars behind us and we are all set to park on our spot. So my friend starts to reverse slowly, as he has no reason to reverse faster, but BOOM! Our fellow Muslim comes from nowhere and fits himself nicely into our spot. Mind you, I’m realistic and I know this happens all the time – at the mall, school, hospital, and movie theaters, but I did not expect it to happen in front of the house of Allah. I just think there ought to be a higher code of conduct when we are at the Masjid. But obviously there are people who like to do otherwise.

We were so speechless that the only thing we could do was just laugh and shake our heads. As it turns out, this brother apparently saw us about to park from a distance and sped up like the Talladega race and pulled in to our spot – nearly causing a crash. If I was driving that car, I’m almost certain we would’ve gotten into an accident because I was not expecting anyone, much less someone taking our spot, to be behind us when we were reversing. Fortunately my friend’s good reflex and attention saved us.

Categories: Religion | 5 Comments

Masjid Etiquette 101

I usually wake up late when I don’t have classes, like Fridays. So I always prefer to go to the last khutbah since there are three of them, so I decided to go to the first one today after I came back from the dentist, which was for my sis. I get there and I sit next to this African-American brother who is sitting against the wall. So within five minutes, this brother starts snorting so hard that he startles me and the brother sitting next to me. At this point, I’m faced with a decision that I never like to make – wake someone up. I don’t like being waken up, neither do I like to wake people up, but I didn’t want to let him sleep either because one, his wudhu would nullify, and two, his snorting was just too much. Besides, the khutbah is only 30 minute long.

If you were in my situation, would you have woken him up?

And then came the most annoying of all – the cellphone guy. Every Friday, whether it’s the first, second, or third Jum’ah, there’s always one brother who comes in to the Masjid with his cellphone on (I can’t speak for the sisters since we’re too far apart to hear their cellphones, but they sure do talk a lot; no disrespect, but sisters talk a lot, especially during in between Taraweeh prayers) and it’s not that he forgets to turn it off before coming to the Masjid, but the fact that the cell ringing three different times within span of 5 minutes? That isn’t being forgetful, but just plain disrespectful to the house of Allah, and its visitors. They don’t even have to turn their cellphone off, they just have to put it on vibration mode – mine is on vibration mode 24/7 and I don’t miss a damn call.

Actually, I have this uncle who refuses to put his cell on vibration because he thinks he can leave his cell in his car, but forgets to do that most of the time and gets calls during the khutbah or the prayer. I get so angry sometimes when he does this that I yell at him, but he never changes. How does one deal with these kinds of people? You can’t kick them out of the Masjid yet you can’t get them to use vibration – Oh Allah, help us!

Categories: Religion | 6 Comments

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