Sunday, April 29, 2007

Iraqi Parliament Going on Vacation?!

It happens annually at my masjid: the mass exodus abroad.

Right after school ends, families beginning leaving for vacation "home" or to "my country".

The only Muslims left are the locals (usually born Americans converts who are already "home"), the poor, and the "undocumented" who would love to visit "home" but cannot for obvious reasons.

Just about everything at the masjid comes to a dead halt: halaqa, school, Arabic class, board meetings, special events, etc. No decisions are made until those who went "home" come back home again. Those of us left here over the summer are in an Islamic Twilight Zone until the end of August.

Why is this so?

Something I saw on the Sunday morning political talk shows gave me a clue.

My ears perked up as I heard that the Iraqi Parliament is scheduled to take a TWO MONTH vacation soon. What!!! A TWO MONTH vacation? With all that is going on over there?

I couldn't believe my ears!

Maybe the Iraqi Parliament has taken a cue from the American Congress, who leaves Washington, DC, on a regular basis for long weekends, vacations, breaks, etc. When they are in session, they don't get much accomplished except partisan bickering. What of the people's business? Don't ask.

Most Iraqi Parliament members don't even live in Iraq. They live abroad. What? Again, I couldn't believe my ears! No wonder they're not in touch with what's going on in Iraq. When they leave for vacation and return to wherever they live "abroad", do they tell people that they're going "home"?

Maybe the Iraqi Parliament has taken a cue from the Palestinians. When Yasser Arafat and his administration were in power, most of their families lived "abroad" too. Did they think it too dangerous to have their own families living and working in Palestine? Do the Iraqi government officials think it too dangerous to have their families living and working in Iraq?

If the answer is "yes", that the country is too dangerous or unstable, then why don't they remain in Iraq and tend to the people's business?!

After all, the Iraqi people cannot take a two month vacation from the madness. Neither can the coalition members unless they have replacements.

And the "insurgents" don't take vacations either.

George Bush tells us that we will stand down when the Iraqis are able to stand up. How will the Iraqis be able to do this, when their own leaders go "home" for two months, leaving them alone to face the car bombings, market explosions, mosque devastations, sectarian violence, tribal/clan disputes, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Portrait

(photograph by S. E. Jihad Levine, Hill District, Pittsburgh, PA, Summer 1975)

As a young photography student,
I remember a distinct
incident while taking
photographs in the “ghetto”.

A black man was
laying on a playground bench,
nodding off a drunk.

When he noticed me,
I asked permission to take his picture;
surprisingly, he agreed without inhibition.

He started to clear the
debris and garbage
from the area below the bench.

As he bent down to push aside
the crumpled, cellophane cigarette packs
and discarded, empty food wrappers
I snapped a shot.

He lifted a broken whiskey bottle,
and I snapped a shot.

He finally raised his head,
exalted, ready,
expecting to be photographed.

I had no more film;
I was ashamed.
I, who was so eager,
to capture misery.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Human Costs of the Iraq War

U. S. Military Dead - 3,256
U. S. Military Wounded - 26,188
Iraqi Civilian Dead - 60,411*
Journalists Killed - 155
Contractors Killed - 390

Figures are as of March 30, 2007

(Sources: and

* This is the minimum estimate; Iraqi Body Count gives a maximum estimate of 66,280 but other estimates are as high as 655,000. (Source:

from The Williamsport Guardian,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Waleed Shaalan - Virginia Tech MSA Student

Ina Lillahi wa ina Ilayhi rajeoon ... Brother Waleed Shaalan, victim of Virginia Tech shootings.

The Virginia Tech MSA is collecting money for Brother Waleed's family ... to read more, and to donate Insha Allah, click here

Monday, April 09, 2007

More Forced Hijab

Jill Carroll as a hostage - Another picture that depicts hijab as a symbol of oppression and religious extremeism.

Last year I wrote a poem that was published on I love my hijab and wrote a little poem to celebrate it:


I wear my hijab for Allah,
Not for my father
Not for my husband
Not for my brother
Not for any other

Than Allah

I cover myself for Allah,
No one makes me
No one forsakes me
No one rejects me
No one subjects me

But Allah

My modesty is for Allah,
Commanded in Qu'ran
For Him and no one else
Seeking His reward
Moving closer to Allah

Friday, April 06, 2007

Someone Finally Asked My Opinion!

I've always been fascinated by the results of polls and statistics in news articles.

"67% of all Americans believe ..." or "38% of all women think ..." etc. Everyone has heard these types of statistics.

I used to ask myself where they got this stuff. Who did they talk to? Why hasn't anyone ever asked me?

Well, last night someone finally asked my opinion! I participated in a telephone poll!

The questions went something like this:

1. Have higher gas prices changed your standard of living? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.
(I over-budget for gas, so I have a cushion for price fluctuations.)

2. Do you approve of the job that George Bush is doing? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.
(Well, that's a loaded question!)

3. Are you in fear of losing your job in the near future? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.
(Seeing how I work in a prison, losing my job is not the main fear in my workplace!)

4. Do you think that America is in a recession? Press 1 for yes, press 2 for no.
(I don't know much about Economics; I wish there was a "not sure" choice.)

I'm not sure of the validity of my responses, but it was fun to participate!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Nancy Pelosi in Hijab!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alhamdulillah! Here's a photo I never thought I would see! This photo is from her trip to Syria. (Photo from Reuters)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Happy Passover!

Happy Passover to my Jewish family and friends!

"Hamburg Haggadah 1731, Dorot Jewish Division, The New York Public Library