Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blue Moon!

Image credit

Tonight there is a "blue moon."

According to the Farmers' Almanac, "blue moon" is a term used to describe the second full moon that occurs in the same month. A "blue moon" occurs every 2 1/2 to 3 years in the Gregorian calendar. In spite of the name, the second full moon of the month is not blue in color.

Two full months in one month? Alhamdulillah!

Do two full months in one month affect us as Muslims? The answer is "no," but is seems like there should be a special dua or something for it, lol.

I asked Brother Khalid Shaukat from Moonsighting.com about the "blue moon." He is a great brother, Masha Allah; he responded to my email almost immediately and put up the response on his website (see 7.23).

While you're over at his site, play a few of the games on the menu. "Do NOT Click" is cute, and he has some neat Math Jokes and Puzzles for your New Year's Eve enjoyment!



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Joints Salaaming Each Other?!


Knee Arthritis - Image Credit Here

While doing research for a grief pamphlet from the Islaamic perspective I am writing for the prison, I came across the following hadith. It describes what happens, in part, during the dying process:

"Abu Hudbah Ibrahim bin Hudbah related from Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (saw) said: 'Indeed, the worshipper experiences the agonies and pangs of death; his joints bid one another peace, saying, 'And peace be upon you; you part from me and I part from you until the Day of Judgement.'" (It was mentioned by Ibn 'Iraq in Tanzib Ash-Shari'ah 2:375, and he attributed it to Ad-Dailami, from Anas.)

Subhan'Allah!

Being a person who suffers from severe arthritis along with MS and peripheral neuropathy, Alhamdulillah, this hadith jumped off the page at me.

Just the vision of my poor joints saying "as salaamu alaikum" to each other at my death is somehow comforting and increases hope for the Day of Judgement.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A New Camera, and Some Thoughts About Photography

After MONTHS of trolling Best Buy and Staples (I just can't pass up the camera section), I finally purchased a new camera - which I need like a hole in the head, as my mother used to say (I now own three digital cameras).

My new one is a Nikon Coolpix S630! It has 12 megapixels, 7x zoom, 2.7 inch LCD screen, and vibration reduction. The vibration reduction, or image stabilization feature is very important to me with my MS. I usually shoot about 5 or more shots of something to ensure that I get one or two good pictures due to my shaking and tremors. Sometimes, the images look great on the screen, but when I download them to my computer, I can scream because they are so blurry. Alas, at times, when I am really in a flare up, even image stabilization does not help.

I was in the market for a more powerful point-and-shoot. I just love that I can stick these cameras in my purse when I'm on the go. Since I've revived my passion for photography, I look at everything with a photographer's eye.

The point-and-shoots are also great to stick in your pocket! I do this when I'm out in my garden.

Before purchasing my new Nikon, I was using a Canon point-and-shoot, a Power Shot SD1100 IS Digital Elph. I still love this camera, especially for its feature of an old-fashioned view finder. Most of the new digitals do not have one. Plus, if it's super sunny outside, most digital camera viewing screens turn very dark or even black! If you are in the market for a new digital point-and-shoot, you wouldn't be sorry if you bought a Canon Power Shot. My Power Shot has 8 megapixels and a smaller zoom. It also has image stabilization.

But the huge happiness for me is that this camera is my first Nikon.

When I was in art school, Nikon was the camera to have. All of my teachers had either a Nikon or a Leica. Those of us who couldn't afford them had Canons.

We were taught that it is not necessarily the camera that makes a great picture, but rather the skill of the photographer, both IN and OUT of the darkroom (now in front of your computer after you download your shots). We learned all about aperature, lens, film speed, and lighting. The modern photographer hobbiest doesn't have to worry about this stuff. They don't even have to use film anymore; all the pictures are on a memory card! I remember 15 of us students in art school, crammed into a dark room, each of us with a 100 ft. roll of film and a pair of scissors in our hands, instructed to cut strips of 36 exposures, and then wind them onto a roll and cartridge. You had to do it all by feel. And you had to stay in that hot, dark room until every student finished the task, lol. Not an activity for the claustrophic person! We worked exclusively in black and white; forget about color.

Now, the digital camera and computer it all.

The old-head photographer's studio contained a number of cameras with various lights and filters to go with them, an enlarger for printing, paper, developing trays, burning tools, chemicals, lines for hanging film and prints to dry, etc.

A lot of specialty photography and camera shops have shut down since digital photography and the big box digital stores have appeared on the scene.

I have friends, a husband and wife, who own a photography studio and imaging shop. They also specialize in custom framing. I met them when I needed to have some Islaamic calligraphy framed. The wife told me that she had an art intern from one of the local universities. They had an appointment for some marriage engagement pictures, and the wife had the intern take some shots. They turned out really really horrible. The wife said that the schools aren't really teaching students how to take good pictures like they did when we went to school. The focus is on image editing - fixing them in PhotoShop or Nik. (Nik, hee hee - my next investment!)

Just think of the power of a well taken image AND powerful editing software!

What do you think? Any old-head photographers out there who read me? Or you younger digital photographers? Anyone have a Nikon Coolpix?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Happening - A Lesson in Forgiveness


I just finished reading this book, "The Happening: Amish School Shooting ... An Amazing Story of Forgiveness," by Harvey Yoder.

I have a different edition, it appears, from the one that is sold on Amazon.com. I purchased it in the pharmacy, of all places, the other day while I was waiting to get a prescription refilled. They have a book rack with various paperbacks on it.

When I noticed this book, I immediately picked it up.

I live in an area of Pennsylvania that is heavily populated with Amish and Mennonite people. They are respected members of any community where they live. The Amish and Mennonites are self-sufficient and law-abiding. They are what we call in these parts, "God-fearing folks."

The Amish and the Mennonites move quietly among us here in Pennsylvania. You see them in the Wal-Mart, and at the local grocery store where there is a hitch in the parking lot to secure horses. We patiently avoid their buggies on the streets and major highways where they can always be seen going to and fro.

But for the most part, the Amish and Mennonites also live in solitude and keep to themselves. Very few people outside of their direct communities really know them.

At times, the Amish have been victims of crime. Disrespectful teenagers have threatened to run their buggies off the road. They have been called names. When I used to work in the male correctional facility, I knew of one inmate who was incarcerated for raping an Amish girl while she worked alone in the fields. These days, Amish girls do not work alone in the fields.

But what happend on October 2, 2006, was a horror beyond any description.

As Mr. Yoder says in his book, "A lone gunman ... brought the community together in a way he could never have imagined in his wildest, most deranged moments."

On that October morning, a non Amish man, known to the Amish community because he drove a local milk truck that stopped at their farms, entered an Amish school house, took hostages, and ended up murdering five young innocent girls and injuring more - both physically and psychologically.

The Amish refer to the event as "the happening."

I live within driving distance of Nickle Mines, near Lancaster, PA. And because we have so many Amish here in our own community, everyone was in shock and horror when the happening occurred. It was like it happened to our own Amish neighbors here in our own community. Everyone wanted to help. Everyone prayed for the children and their families. People from all over the world responded with love and kindness. Because I used to live in a one-room schoolhouse and can remember the physical layout of the building, I could especially imagine the horror of that morning.

All the while, the Amish struggled with their grief and their desire to maintain privacy. As Mr. Yoder writes, the Amish shun the public spotlight.

Mr. Yoder's book can be classified as historical fiction, I guess. It is told from the point of view of a little girl named Rebecca Sue. She is a compilation of the survivors of the shootings. Mr. Yoder moved to the area and did extensive research for his book.

The amazing message of this book is not the details of the shooting, which are accurate from what I remember from the news reports. Rather, the message of the book is about forgiveness. About what we can learn about forgiveness from the Amish community. Mr. Yoder writes,

"The evening after the shootings, an Amishman visited the grandfather of the gunman's widow and offered his condolences. But more than that, he gave the gift of forgiveness. This is what continued to rivet the attention of the world, even after the initial shock of the massacre wore off. Stories leaked out, telling of Amish families attending the gunman's funeral, and of Amish people contacting the widow to assure her that they held no malice toward her in their hearts."

The Amish even shared part of the huge sum of donated money that came in from all over the world with the gunman's family.

The Amish truly exemplify the Christian value of forgiveness. How do they do it? Mr. Yoder explains:

"Man's natural inclination when wronged is to revenge. Even dedicated Christians struggle with conflicting emotions and sometimes have to forgive over and over. But we all have a choice. Love and forgiveness can hardly be separated. Neither can hate and revenge. God gave each of us a will which only we can exercise. We have to choose between love and hate, forgiveness and revenge. Our feelings are not sufficient for the task. We have to make a conscious choice, and our feelings will follow. When we examine these decisions in the light of Christ's ... teachings, the right choice becomes obvious."

Read this book, and read about the choices the Amish made within the framework of their Christian teachings. The Amish can teach all of us important lessons, no matter what our faith tradition.

I promise you that you will need tissues for your tears more than once before you finish the story.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lipstick on a Pig

(Campaign plea to Candidate Obama)

Okay, I'm not going to sit on the fat man's lap as I suggested in my last post. I wouldn't do something like that, lol. And "no," I wasn't smoking any of the herbs I harvested from my garden last year like SabiWabi suggested in her drive-by comment on this post, lol. Just talking "smack" as they say.

Something else is on my mind today. The "closing" of Gitmo.

Obama is getting on my nerves. It's getting harder and harder to defend this guy. And I'm starting to get suspicious. Especially because he has gone back on his campaign word so many times by now. I guess I'm not the only one who talks "smack" sometimes. Hey, I lived in Chicago for a few years as a child. Maybe it's our culture, lol?

Anyhow, the latest "smack" is Gitmo. Am I say "smack" because Obama of all people, being a former senator, knows how difficult it is to change things in government.

"We the sheeple" as Michael Savage often calls the American people, as well as the rest of the people in the world, rejoiced when Candidate Obama promised to close the "detention" facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Little did we realize that it was like "putting lipstick on a pig," to borrow another campaign phrase.

President Obama isn't closing Gitmo, he is just changing its address

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Obama's first executive order as president was to order the closing of Gitmo, as the detention facility is called, within a year. But over the following months, barrier after barrier, delay after delay, has resulted in Gitmo still standing almost a year later.

Today, there remains about 200 Muslims suspected of terrorism and other "charges," many held without due legal process. The media claims that about 20 of the detainees are classified as "high-value."

So what of the other 180 detainees? What makes them different security-wise from the Blind Sheikh or the Shoe Bomber who are currently serving sentences in the super max prison in Colorado. The difference is that the Blind Sheikh and the Shoe Bomber HAVE HAD THEIR DAY IN COURT. They have had actual charges pressed against them for which they were tried and convicted.

Is it true, as Chaplain James Yee, former Gitmo chaplain, says in his book, For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire, (excellent read, BTW) that many of these detainees are just poor schmucks caught up in the events of the day, or victims of tribal fueding, etc. (my wording)? A lot of people were caught up in the net and brought to Gitmo, journalists, etc. It has been maintained, for example, that after 9/11, tribal leaders and war lords turned in their enemies and competitors to the US Military in Afghanistan, claiming that they were terrorists, and these schmucks were transferred to Gitmo.

For example, when Chaplain Yee was there, there were "juvenile enemy combatants" at Gitmo. No one knew for sure their ages, but Yee maintains:

1. Ismail - age 14
2. Naqibullah - age 12 or 13
3. Asadullah - age 12 or 13

"The guards sometimes allowed the boys outside to kick a soccer ball or throw a football in the small backyard, and there was a television and a VCR in the small living room. For a time, they were given a few videos, including Tom Hanks in Cast Away. They watched that movie repeatedly. 'Don't you get sick of watching the same movie over and over?' I asked them. 'No, Chaplain,' Asadullah said. 'I love this story."

When visiting reporters came and the media wrote about the boys loving this movie, General Miller "became very upset. Why are we showing a movie to young prisoners about a man's struggle with being trapped on a desert island? ... After that, Cast Away disappeared from the house."

'Sometimes the interrogators gave ice cream to the boy they're interrogating,' one MP told me ... 'But I've seen times when they think they're going to get the ice cream and they don't,' he added. 'It really screws with the boys' heads.'

In fairness to some of the Gitmo guards, a lot of them had compassion for the boys and dealt with them like their own young children at home, putting them on time-outs when their childhood games got out of hand, etc., and telling Chaplain Yee when they thought something sucked as evidenced above.

"I had no idea why Ismail, Naqibullah, and Asadullah had been brought to Guantanamo. There were rumors they had planted mines against American forces. Other troopers heard that they had been raped after being captured by the Northern Alliance and American forces."

(above from ppgs 93-95 of Chaplain Yee's book)

My readers ... read this book!

I don't know if these young boys are still at Gitmo, but, I have digressed from my post. My point in digressing is to suggest that things may not necessarily be as they seem in some media reports. Granted, I'm sure there are real terrorists there, but like I said, many of the detainees appear to have been caught up in the net. Back to my post :)

So what is the Obama Administration's solution to the Gitmo problem since he cannot meet the one year deadline? Move the detainees to a prison facility in - where else - but his home state of Illinois.

Good looking out Obama!

The federal government will buy the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois, to house the Gitmo detainees until President Obama can figure out how to get himself out of the promise he made to the American people and the world.

Will the new rally cry be, "Close Thomson?"

The "campaigns" in Iraq and Afghanistan are referred to as "wars." Everyone agrees on that term. So why don't the Gitmo detainees have the status of prisoners of war? Hmm - because they would have different legal rights, that's why.

Lipstick on a pig.

I have worked in the criminal justice system for many years. As someone who works "on the wrong side of the bars" as the inmates say, lol, I have always minimized the claims made by many, including Muslims (originally asserted by the Nation of Islam), that the US prison system is nothing more than a money-making venture.

There is no doubt that an entire economy has risen to serve the prison system. Prisons, especially those with large populations (think 5,000 or more inmates in one overcrowded facility), are like small self-contained communities. Many have their own zip code. Inmates must be fed and clothed. Prisons use huge amounts of public utilities. The cost of providing medical care to inmates is off the charts. If you agree that America needs health care reform, you'd be blown away by the situation in the prison system.

However, with few exceptions, no one has sent an engraved personal invitation to people who end up in prison. Most of them have truly DONE SOMETHING to land theirselves there.

But I think this Gitmo "closing" is truly an unfortunate example of pumping up the prison economy in the US. The Thomson Center was opened in 2001 and remained "under-used" and practically empty since then. Why? I don't understand - considering the prison overcrowding situation in the US. Focus on "2001." Did they decide to "under-use" it and keep the facility as a reserve "just in case?"

Experts project that a billion dollars will be injected into the small rural Thomson community. Two thousand jobs are expected to pump up the community.

I heard another report on CNN that there will be (I forget the exact numbers) 10 military guards or 20 military guards to one detainee at Thomson. Let's do the math:

10 x 200 = 2,000
20 x 200 = 4,000

Hmm ... 2,000 to 4,000 military jobs. How do the people of rural Thomson, IL, benefit from jobs coming to their area? Does the media report of 2,000 jobs exclude the military jobs?

And wait a minute: the MILITARY in the US prison system? Maybe their plans are to turn Thomson into a brig? They have to do something; they can't call it a regular prison unless they do change the nature of it because it is against the law for the military to be used in regular US prisons.

Well, this post is becoming too long. If you readers are interested in this topic, I will make another post Insha Allah.

I'm not saying that Obama has done all this on purpose, or at least, I hope not. What I am saying is that this whole thing stinks. His back is sure up against the wall. And this is not a post against the military or the government.

It's a post about keeping promises.

What do you think?

(UPDATE: Umar Lee has a post here that describes the situation of the Uighur detainees at Gitmo and how the US Military "paid" the Afghans for so-called terrorists.)







Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Where's the Christmas Tree?


This is a picture of me and Santa Claus. On the back is scribbled, "3 1/2 years old." I recognize the handwriting as belonging to my mother. Since my family lived in New York City when I was that age, this picture was most likely taken in a Manhattan department store. One of the best gifts left to me by family is a rich photographic history of my childhood. I was the first child in my Jewish family. And I was also the first grandchild. So, if I burped, they photographed it! My mother was a Christian, and the annual ritual of taking a photo with Santa is well documented. I have a whole series of them!

The Christmas holiday season can be a source of anxiety and pain for some Muslim re-verts. It was for me at the time I wrote this article. It used to be real painful for me due to childhood memories, and due to not feeling truly a part of my Muslim community.

Alhamdulillah, I have worked through those kinds of issues. It doesn't bother me anymore that the Muslims in my community don't invite me to Eid parties or iftars. I must admit that I get invited RARELY, so I can't say never.

It also doesn't bother me anymore when I go to the mall or someplace else and see all of the Christmas decorations and all. As a matter of fact, it bothers me when I don't see them.

Today, I went up on the "strip" where the mall and the stores are to go to my bank and to run some errands. My bank had absolutely NO decorations at all. I asked the teller, "Where's your Christmas tree?" She smirked and grunted. Apparently, my bank is another casualty of the atheists, some minority faith group members, and the ACLU in America.

Come on. This is America. What's wrong with the Christians painting the town red during their Christmas holiday? What's wrong with the Jews having public Channukah displays? Or the Muslims having Eid displays? Or anyone else having any other type of display?

Don't the atheists and others who have a problem with religious displays have the majority of the year to have NOTHING displayed?

Can you imagine Egypt or Saudi or any Muslim populated country not having the town deocrated during Ramadan and Eid?

Jeez - even the American Nazi party has a constitutional right to march in parades in America.

It makes me mad. Diversity used to be valued in America. Now, it's dog against dog.

When I arrived at the mall, I saw Santa Claus sitting on his chair. Little children were going up to him, sitting on his lap, and telling him what they wanted him to bring them for Christmas. The mall was also offering the opportunity to be pictured with Santa.

I'm telling you: I had an overwhelming urge to wait my turn, sit on Santa's lap, and tell him that I wanted peace in the world or some other dumb wish for the Christmas season. I wanted a photo, too.

What a photo that would be to add to my collection of childhood Santa photos? Can you see it now? Me: hijab and all, sitting in Santa's lap, loool?

Hmm ... I may do it yet. If I do, I'll post the picture.

Would you like me to do it?

Haram police: please stay away.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Bottomless Pit


Move closer to your screen, and then draw away ... see what happens!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Friday, December 04, 2009

Large Print Qur'an?


I've been looking for a large print Noble Qur'an for a person who is almost legally blind. She can see a little bit, but needs real large print, or print large enough so she can hold the book close.

There doesn't appear to be such a Qur'an.

There are large print Bibles and Torahs, but no large print Qur'ans.

Does anyone have any ideas, or resources I have not checked?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World Aids Day

Image credit: Art As Authority


IN MEMORY OF RAMON LUIS ROSA
Originally published in The Body Positive: A Magazine By and For People Affected by HIV/AIDS
January 1993

Written on World AIDS Day in 1992
for My Friend, Ramon
Sunrise: 6/11/56 - Sunset: 5/18/92

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
in your all-knowing way,
you said to me one day,
"You're going to miss me
when I'm gone."

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
I said to you, "No."
that I wouldn't be sad when you go,
that I would celebrate
your release from AIDS.

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
You were right!!!
To survive without you is a daily fight.
AIDS has released you,
but it continues to incarcerate me.

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
I sit alone in a spiritual prison cell like a thief.
The only crime I'm guilty of is grief.
You were so right.
I miss you!!!

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
I pray, beg, plead, and cajole
in vain with my God to grant me parole,
But, I guess I might have to serve my full sentence;
only then will He set me free.

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
you have given me something to share with others.
Our experience will benefit all sisters and brothers
and the people in their lives
who live with AIDS.

Ramoncito, mi Querido,
I love you, and I miss you.
I don't know what else to do
except to make sure that
our message is carried on.

Carinosamente,
Tu cuidadora en vida y tu amiga para siempre ...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rights of Children in Islam and Thoughts on the Children of Reverts to Islam


Muslims are told that children are a gift from Allaah (swt) and they are the adornment of the worldly life (Your Flesh and Blood: A Lecture on the Rights of Children, Sh. Baazmool).

Sh. Baazmool writes that the prophets and virtuous people would ask Allaah (swt) to grant them righteous offspring.

People have a great responsibility toward children. Many of us do fulfil our obligation toward children, but many of us do not.

I am not only talking about our responsibility toward OUR children, our flesh and blood, but responsibility toward ALL children, including those that some of us Muslims perceive as "non Muslim" children.

After all, the Messenger (saw) of Allaah (swt) told us that "There is no child except that he is born upon true faith (fitrah), but it is his parents that make him a Jew or a Christian or a Zoroastrian. Just as an animal gives birth to a baby animal that is whole, do you find it mutilated?"

"Mutilate." Ya Allah. Such a strong word!

How do we mutilate our children? We do so by not fulfilling their rights upon us.

Yes, children have rights.

Sh. Baazmool mentions 12 rights of children in his lecture. Basically, they are:

1. Choosing a good name for him.
2. Holding an 'Aqeeqah for him.
3. Breastfeeding him.
4. Paying his expenses.
5. Being fair when giving out gifts.
6. Commanding them to pray and being patient with them upon that.
7. Beware of supplicating against them.
8. The order to restrain children during the Hours in which the Jinn spread out.
9. Inciting them to keep good company and warning them about bad companions.
10. Being merciful and compassionate towards them.
11. Serving as good role-models for them.
12. Teaching them the aspects of the Religion that they are required to learn.

At the risk of standing on my soapbox and ranting, just review the above list and I am sure that you can come up with numerous examples of how Muslims trample and violate the rights of children.

I personally have no biological children. But, I am in contact with a lot of children in my role as an Islamic weekend school teacher, and general all-around Muslim Auntie.

Some sisters have said that I can "never understand" because I don't have children of my own.

Well, sisters, it's not rocket science.

For example, I have a pre-schooler in one of my classes (age 3, almost 4) who can recite the al-Fatiha.

Then I have a 7 year old child in my kindergarten class who cannot recite the al-Fatiha.

One doesn't need to have children of her own to understand why that is so.

One of my friends came to my house the other day. I keep toys and games for child visitors so they don't feel the need to explore my aquarium or china cabinet. Anyhow, her children were playing with a game that had a LOAD of pieces to it. To my shock, when the kids were ready to go home, the entire game had been put back in its box nice and neat. All the game cards. All the game pieces. The game was neater when they were done with it than how I had given it to them, lol.

Why "to my shock?" Because at the masjid, the majority of the children think I am their maid. And so do some of their parents.

Again, one doesn't need to have children of her own to understand why that is so.

(Okay. I know I said I wouldn't get on my soapbox.)

Which brings me to the dear sweet children in the pictures of this post.

They are the children of a new Shahadah that is like a daughter to me. What's so unusual about that? What's so special about these pictures and these children, Safiyyah?

Well, these are "Christian" children. They live with their Christian father and grandmother. When they come to my house, they want to wear hijab. When it is time for salaat, they stand in line, and mimic our every movement. It is so precious to see the little one moving her finger during the Tashahud!

No one forced or told these kids that they had to pray when it was time for prayer.

No one asked them to put these amira hijabs on their heads.

They asked me for hijabs. Last time they visited me, they returned the hijabs to me when they left. This time, the oldest one asked me if she could take the hijab with her. Subhan'Allah!

And when we lined up for prayer, they lined up.

"... the fitrah of Allaah which He created mankind upon." (Ar-Room: 30)

A hadith states that a Muslim should order a child to pray when they are seven years old. If by age ten, the child refuses, the parent can "beat them to it" meaning the prayer.

Ya Allah. I don't think that beating a child will make him love salaat and Islam. And the thought of beating a child to make him pray Insha Allah horrifies most Muslims.

The point is that the parent has 3 years to teach the child the importance of salaat. Three years to facilitate the child's love for salaat.

If a child does not appreciate that importance in the three year period, I believe we should reconsider who it is that needs the beating.

Yes, you have some rebellious children, but most children WANT to please a parent or an adult. It is our job to be patient with kids and make them LOVE Islam.

But if a parent or adult doesn't lay the framework, the child will end up with his rights and has imaan mutilated.

These children are curious for Islaam because they see the role of it in the lives of Mommy and Auntie Safiyyah.

Your children copy you. If your kid doesn't do this or doesn't do that, perhaps it is because they do not have a role model in the house?

For the new Shahadahs with children: be patient with your kids and set a good example. Make your kids hungry for this deen. On their own! If this happens, I believe that kids will always be in it for Allaah (swt) and themselves. No one will have to "order" them or "beat them to" any act of worship or deen!

Sh. Baazmool reminds us that it is our hope that a child will supplicate for his parents.

Abu Hurairah (ro) reported that Allaah's Messenger (swt) said: "When a person dies, his good deeds come to an end except for three: A recurring charity, knowledge that is benefitted from, or a righteous child that supplicates for him." (Muslim)

May all of our children become righteous Muslims and supplicate for us when we are gone/Ameen!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Blog is Moving ...

Image Credit: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons


Yes, this blog is moving. In a few days, the transition will be complete for a REAL WEBSITE!

Please change your bookmarks to http://www.shaalom2salaam.com/.

I'm not sure how long http://www.shaalom2salaam.blogspot/ will work, so be sure to update the link.

In the meantime, please be patient with some of the messed up configurations on my sidebar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seeking Shalom


On Sunday, the local rabbi, Nina Mandel, and I joined a group of Christians to celebrate peace.

It was a very beautiful affair (other than the rags comment) and everyone felt real warm and fuzzy after it was all done!

Church Women United is the group who sponsored the Seeking Shalom event.

They honored Nina and I with their Human Rights Award.

Here's a link to the local news coverage of the event.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rag

Image credit here

I was at an interfaith event today. It was actually a very beautiful experience.

After it was over, people were milling around, talking ...

Someone actually said to me, "If I were you, when September 11th happened, I would have ripped that rag off my head and said I didn't want anything more to do what that religion."

Jeez ... what is it with people?

Major Hasan?

The 9/11 trials in New York City?

The masjid assets being taken over as a result of Iranian money?

The GITMO prisoners moving to Illinois?

The Virginia sniper execution?

Since the Major Hasan horror, I feel a little like I did after 9/11 happened ... scared ... tired ... sooo tired.

A rag is such a dirty thing. My hijab is not a dirty thing.

"This is not a rag, ma'am," I replied. "It's called a hijab."

How else can you respond to such an offense without being offensive yourself?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lou Dobbs




Well, it's happened: CNN has pushed out Lou Dobbs.

CNN has been under pressure by "immigration" and Latino groups to get rid of Dobbs.

I'll tell you; I have been a loyal fan of Lou Dobbs for years.

I do not think he is a racist. Nor do I think he is against immigration.

What he does speak out against is "illegal" immigration. I put the word "illegal" in parentheses because some people do not like the word, stating that no human being is illegal. That is not the purpose of my post.

Why do people believe that America does not have the right to sovereign borders?! Anyone reading this who has been to Hajj can tell you that the Saudis keep your passport until you leave their country. And at that, you need an exit visa.

Other countries in the Middle East also require you to surrender your passport while you are visiting. And some of them also have exit visa requirements.

So, why not America? America has a very generous immigration system, although there are some bureacratic problems with it that need to be fixed.

You may say that America does not belong to the people who currently live here. That many who enter the US "illegally" are just coming to their own country anyhow. That we, who currently inhabit America, are the illegal people.

If you believe that, you should be prepared to pack up and move to the country where your ancestors came from. Give America back to the indigenous peoples.

But I digress from Lou Dobbs.

Lou Dobbs. Racist? Anti-Latino? Few people know that his wife is a Latina!

Sometimes when Caucasian people give their opinions or tell the truth, or what they perceive to be the truth, others accuse them of racism.

These accusations did not stop Lou Dobbs.

Lou also spoke out - very early - before anyone else was talking about it - against the outsourcing of American jobs. Against the tax cheating and greed of some multinational corporations.

He also spoke out against corporate greed within our American borders - long before the current economic crisis.

Lou also exposed the corruption of some politicians in Washington. Exposed the danger of the "beltway" attitude.

Whether you like or dislike Lou, or agree or disagree with him, the biggest tragedy, and the purpose of this post, is that CNN has caved in to special interest groups.

I'm sure that CNN management tried to get Lou to "go with the flow," and the "official" version is that Lou left to explore other opportunities. But as Sarah Palin said - only dead fish go with the flow.

How sad that CNN, one of the largest cable media networks in the world, has decided to silence a voice that provided debate and conflicting views.

God forbid that the American people should hear a viewpoint other than the liberal media talking points.

Debate and conflicting views are part of what makes America great. The voice of Lou Dobbs and others will not be silenced though.

See you on the radio Lou!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Care for the Caregiver



This morning on TV, I saw U.S. Army Chaplain, Michael Spikes, who is based at Fort Hood, TX, give an interview about the challenges of being a military chaplain during a crisis.

He explained that "counseling the wounded" is about more than physical concerns. In a crisis or emergency, the chaplain provides an opportunity for people to talk about their feelings so spiritual healing can begin. The chaplain also encourages a person to seek out support from wherever it exists for the person. Chaplains assure people that it is okay to ask spiritual questions, such as "Why did God allow this to happen?"

All chaplains (military, prison, university, hospital and others) provide counseling. It is referred to as pastoral counseling.

During a crisis, everyone looks to the chaplain to say just the right words of comfort, to make them feel better, to lighten the load.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer, former Muslim chaplain at Fort Hood, Major Khalid Shabazz, said that there is no care for the care giver. "We're supposed to be the strong ones," he said.

What happens when the chaplain struggles to be strong though?

For me, being a chaplain is the most emotionally difficult job I have ever had. I have seen and heard things that have shaken me to my core. Trust me, I'm no light weight. I worked in the prison many years before I retired from my job as a substance abuse counselor and then returned as the Muslim chaplain. And I spent years on the streets in my jahiliyah. But I had a professional crisis not too long ago, right after the Eid al-Fitr.

One of the Muslim sisters at our prison committed suicide. She hung herself. Unlike the other time, this time it was for real - she died.

She was a very young inmate, and a recent "shahadah." I knew her well, from when she first entered our institution. I did her substance abuse evaluation for classification, and she ended up in one of my substance abuse treatment groups when I worked full time as a counselor. You can imagine how thrilled I was when she made a decision to accept Islam! She looked so sweet in her hijab, Alhamdulillah.

But she was a tortured soul. And she had mental health issues.

She left us on a weekend, and I had a chaplain's conference to go to during the week. I was originally going to take the whole week off, but then changed my plans to return to work that following Friday to lead my community in a Janaza prayer for the young sister.

During the week leading up to Friday, I was grieving. I cried and cried. I also talked to my close friends about it.

When Friday came, I thought I would be okay, that I could be strong ... for the inmates.

I prepared a little something to read because we invited the entire inmate community to the Chapel. I was nervous, but felt I was being strong ...

Until the end.

When I started to say the duas, I fell apart. I choked up. The tears flowed. I could barely continue.

But I hung in there. I wanted to set an example. To let the inmates know that it was okay to openly grieve.

"You cannot mourn in jail," wrote Marta Green, D.Min., a Mental Health Specialist in Montefiore/Riker's Island Prison. "You have to be macho: any sign of weakness and you will be beaten, robbed, or raped ... The energy blocked from mourning goes to violence instead ... The jails are violent because they contain anxious, frightened men who have been deprived of the numbing power of drugs that so many of them are used to using as a means of not feeling. As a result, many are left with only violence to help them balance their inner worlds. If they had the safety to mourn, they might have a chance to learn other means of coping, but the jail culture does not allow for this."

I like to think that, Insha Allah, I was able to show the women at our institution that it is safe to openly mourn.

The chaplain sometimes leads by example. I made a decision that I didn't have to be strong that day. For this caregiver, this decision was a type of self-care.

Every chaplain should have someone that he or she can go to for comfort. I am blessed to have close friends I can talk to when I need to. I also take advantage of the great chaplain colleagues I have at the prison.

Chaplains who fail to do this can be at high risk for "compassion fatigue" which is similar to burnout. It's not a happy place to be for any professional chaplain. More importantly, it prevents the chaplain from being successful in helping those in her care who need her.

"We don't pretend to know the answers," Chaplain Spikes said this morning. "Chaplains help people to journey through the process."

It is my dua that Chaplain Spikes and all of the chaplains and other caregivers at the military base at Fort Hood, TX, will remember to take care of themselves so they don't become wounded healers.

Ameen.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Fall KaleidoLeaves


Once again, Jazaka Allahu Khayrn to my digital art mentoress, Marahm, for turning me on to the wonderful world of digital kaleidoscopes.

You can see all of the sister's digital imaging here. Her work will absolutely blow you away, Masha Allah.

Fall KaleidoLeaves is my first effort.

What do you think?!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Mubarak?

Everywhere you find Muslims gathered, you will usually find food.

At Sunday school lunch today, there was a wide variety of goodies as usual. In addition to the usual pizza, some of the Pakistani sisters brought food.

I noticed the cookies and brownies and immediately took a "few." Then I noticed something strange on the cookies: there was an image of a witch riding a broom!

Apparently, someone had them left over from Halloween.

It got me to thinking about secular holidays and the holidays of other faith groups when I was a Jewish child.

I was always bugging my Jewish grandmother:

"Bubbe? Why don't we have a Christmas tree?"

"Bubbe? Will we be getting Christmas presents?"

"Bubbe? Can we make Easter eggs?"

etc.

My bubbe ... she had a simple response. She would tell me, "That's what they do. We're Jewish. We don't do that."

"Oh," I would respond. It was that simple for me.

But I can imagine how difficult it can be for some Muslim kids. And the Muslim parents don't want their children to feel left out from their friends, or feel weird or different at the school. So, they give in, figuring, "what can it hurt?" Yet others respond that they feel it is a "learning opportunity" for them and their families.

Why can't the parents just explain to their children that "We're Muslims. We don't do that. That's why they do?"

Is it that difficult?

If you're a parent, please tell me how you handle these situations. If you're not a parent, and have a respectful opinion, you can comment, too!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Buddy

This is my new cat.

Actually, he's my neighbor's cat. But, I made the mistake of feeding him a few times. So now he's as good as my cat :)

His name is Buddy.


Every time I step outside of my door, Buddy comes rushing over to my porch.




Buddy was living with my neighbor's daughter. When she returned home to live with my neighbor, Buddy came with her. But since he is destructive in the house, he now lives outside.

Awww ... how could you throw a cute guy like this outside?


I usually give Buddy a handful of dry cat food.

Yesterday, I gave Buddy a can of wet food.


In the way of cat gratitude, this is what Buddy left on my door step this morning. (I spared you all a close-up!)



I guess he loves me :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Jihad and Some Thoughts on Personal Emergency Preparedness


Somes I watch CNN too much. This outlet is one of my sources for what's going on in the world. I really like it because no one can beat them when it comes to breaking news.

But the recent Balloon Boy madness (no, I'm not linking to it) almost did me in, chasing me to my old standbys: History Channel, National Geographic, SciFi, etc.

You all know that the media sometimes has a tendency to overblow things with their parade of talking heads, one-sided perspective, etc. However, in the case of the H1N1 or "Swine Flu," I thank Allah (swt) for CNN's coverage. It's about the only place one can get some real comprehensive coverage.

Why do I worry about H1N1?

Well, I am in one of the high risk categories: Adults Under 65 with Certain Underlying Medical Conditions (People with conditions including asthma, diabetes, suppressed immune systems, heart disease, kidney disease, and neurocognitive and neuromuscular disorders should receive the H1N1 vaccination to prevent further complications.)

I have asthma (in addition to a host of other opportunities to expiate sin, Alhamdulillah). And every year, I get pnemonia. So my jihad to find an H1N1 shot has begun. But I haven't had much luck. It's been downright frustrating. I have had to do a lot of leg work and personal research.

1. I started with my doctor's office:

a. no, we don't have the shots/spray yet
b. no, we don't know when we'll be getting it
c. you're not in a high risk group (WTF?!)
d. no, we're not keeping a waiting list
e. no, we don't have a strategic plan for who will be getting them when/if the supply arrives
f. no, we don't have the ability to identify our patients who are in the high risk group (despite the fact that my provider uses automated medical records - my doctor comes into my room with a laptop each time she seems me - shouldn't they be able to press a key and come up with the info? They know how to call me when it's time for an annual gynecological exam! Even my vetinarian sends me yearly check up postcards for my cats!)
g. no, we have no plan - we have thousands of patients - how can you expect us to do this - keep calling back - first-come, first-serve basis when/if the supply arrives

2. Next step is that I vent to my Muslim sister about the situation. Well, she took her son to the local medical center clinic for some other problem, and he was offered the vaccine while they were there. But she (who is an educated university professor) didn't let them give it to him due to conspiracy theories about the vaccine. "I don't know enough about it, if it's safe, what's in it, I'd like to know more." Okay sis. You have this right.

(Sister, if you're reading this, you know I love you. But do you REALLY KNOW what EXACTLY is in that seasonal flu shot you got? No. You relied on what information is out there.)

An Aside/Rant - SabiWabi has covered this issue over at her place. Jazaka Allahu Khayr, Sabi. Conspiracy theories can kill Muslims. Yes, I know there is unsavory history in the past (Tuskeegee experiments, etc.). But, if you watched the 60 Minutes coverage a few weeks ago of children in intensive care with Swine Flu, or watched the crying grieving parents who regretted the decision to not vaccinate their kids who died from Swine Flu, you'd probably be standing outside of your doctor's office with a flaming torch. You, as an informed Muslim parent, must study the available facts/research and make a decision for your children. Don't drink the Kool-Aid in Muslim cyber-space.

3. I call my doc back over the weekend and leave a message on their machine. I'm coming next week, Insha Allah, for blood work, I tell them. I explain that I was told that the local medical center has the vaccine in. I'll take the vaccine while I'm there for blood work. They call me back - no can do. We don't have it. (Why not? Did your practice register with the government for a supply?)

4. I call the medical center next. They tell me that they do not have a supply of vaccine. I confront them. I tell them that my friend's son was offered a vaccine there. And while she was there, she claims that she was offered one. The phone operator acts confused. I remain silent on the other end and wait. She then admits to me that they had it in their Pediatric Clinic - but only for their clinic patients. They only ordered enough for them, no extra for availability to the non-clinic public should the request be made.

Ah ha - there are secret guarded supplies (ya conspiracy theories!). Couldn't she have told the truth in the first place instead of saying that they didn't have it. Translation: "We don't have it for you or your family!"

But she does give me feedback. She suggests that I call the number on the back of my insurance card. She claims that the insurance companies HAVE TO keep a list of providers.

5. I call my insurance company. No, it is not true; we have no such list. How can we know which health care providers have registered to receive a supply for their practices?

6. I check the PA Department of Health website. No luck. But, they suggest to keep checking back. When they know something, they will post it, they claim.

So, this is where it is at to date for me.

But I wonder. If a person like me - who is resourceful, pissed off and motivated when on a mission, computer literate, insurance covered, etc. - is frustrated, imagine how everyone else is coping?

What about those people and parents who are not as blessed as I am?

What about the uninsured? Those not affiliated with a doctor or clinic? Those who have to use emergency rooms as their primary health care provider?

Who protects the general public at large? Is the H1N1 situation a healthcare Katrina in the making?

Maybe the people in the Survivalist movement are on to something. Is it any wonder that there are people in America stocking up on guns, ammo, food, water, medicine, generators, batteries, etc. What will you do when you can't use your laptop, iPhone, or Blackberry, loool?

President Obama has declared a national emergency for the H1N1 flu crisis. It is supposed to help cut the red tape. Oh yea, right.

Concerning the conspiracy theories about the vaccine, I know of one way President Obama can help.

Remember when he and his wife went to Kenya before he was running for president? Remember how he and his wife got tested for HIV, right in front of the people, and with media cameras covering the event?

Why doesn't he have his little girls get the vaccine and cover it the same way? I think it would help the American people and those everywhere else feel better about getting their kids vaccinated.

One thing I'm doing while I'm waiting for my vaccine? I'm changing doctors!

Go Yankees!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Second Islamic Writers Alliance (IWA) Anthology Now Available for Sale!


Muslim Writers Publishing (MWP) and the Islamic Writers Alliance are proud to announce the release for sale of our second anthology, Many Voices, One Faith II - Islamic Fiction Stories.

Yours truly has two short stories published in this anthology, Alhamdulillah!

Book Description:
Today's world is indeed a global village. The wonders of technology in communication and travel have cut through the distant miles which used to separate us from one another. Many Voices, One Faith II - Islamic Fiction Stories is a literary example of the small world we are all a part of, showcasing the talents of the Islamic Writers Alliance membership which reach around the globe in their respective residences and origins. From the cover design of one of the beautiful names of Allah, beautiful and original interior illustrations, and the unique story-telling talent of the authors, their original stories combine the diversity and flavor of their backgrounds. You will find almost every region of the world exemplified in these wonderful Islamic fiction stories which skillfully and creatively present the importance of Islam in our daily lives. Many Voices, One Faith II - Islamic Fiction Stories is an enjoyable, entertaining, and enlightening read for non-Muslims as well as Muslims. Many Voices, One Faith II - Islamic Fiction Stories is the ultimate in the variety of selections written by some of the best Islamic Fiction authors in today's fiction book markets. Read. Enjoy. Benefit.

Pages: 236
Format: 6 x 9 paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9819770-1-0
Reading Levels: Teen and Adult
List Price: $12.95

The anthology will be listed at popular online retail stores in about a week. If you want to order now please do so by sending the following information to this email address: widadld@yahoo.com. Be sure you include the following mailing information: Your mailing name, mailing address (street/city/state/zip code) and phone # and number of copies you would like to order. You will be notified by email of the total cost including shipping fee. You can then advise if you will pay using USD check or payment through PayPal by sending payment to widadld@yahoo.com.

You can also order from me in about a week, Insha Allah!

I'm so psyched!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Abu Sinan and His Family Need Help!


This is a photo of Sinan. He is the son of our fellow blogger and Muslim brother, Abu Sinan.

Little Sinan lives with Autism and the family needs help to provide therapy for him.

Please go here to read about Sinan and help if you can.

May Allah (swt) reward you if you can help. No amount is too small.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fighting Poverty with Shirk?

I received the following press release from ISNA today. Sounds like a nice thing ... until you read the "interfaith prayer" closely. See for yourself and read my feedback at the end:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

National Faith Leaders Offer Interfaith Prayer in Effort to Create Good Jobs, Green Jobs for Nation’s Poor

Source: ISNA (Washington, DC – October 13, 2009) Four national faith leaders representing Jews, Christians and Muslims have united to offer a new interfaith prayer calling for the creation of new, sustainable and green job opportunities for the poor.

Written by Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA); Rev. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA); Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Christ in the USA; and Dr. Sayyid Syeed, national director for the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances, the new prayer will be offered at public events across the country during the Fighting Poverty with Faith: Good Jobs, Green Jobs mobilization effort, including a special reading by the prayer’s authors at the Fighting Poverty with Faith’s concluding event in Washington on October 21.

Held this year between October 14 and 21, the Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization will organize members from 34 national faith organizations at public events across the country to encourage government officials to fight poverty by ensuring equal opportunities for training and employment for the nation’s most vulnerable while working to usher in a new green economy.

The religious leaders’ prayer reads:

Merciful and compassionate God, Divine Architect, Your people and your planet call to you, for both are suffering.
So many of your children cry out for shelter, food, and meaningful work. Make us partners, we pray, in your work of caring for all in need.
So much of your Creation groans from the effects of our pollution. Make us partners, we pray, in your work of healing the earth. Help us to create jobs that both honor the needs of your planet as well as those holy souls who have no work.
Please give to those who lead a vision of the day when every person, created in your sacred image, has employment with a living wage. Give to us gathered here the courage to speak for those without voice, the strength to act on our convictions, the discernment to see the world as you want it to be, and the wisdom to respond together as persons of different faiths. In these moments with one another, may we feel your presence and together praise your holy name.
Amen


Okay readers ...

Will Dr. Sayyid Syeed from ISNA and other Muslims "leaders" be reading this "prayer," asking Allah (swt) to make His "children" partners with Him?!

I am shocked beyond words at ISNA. I'm sure I will have more to say later :)

The biggest problem here, other than the obvious shirk, is that ISNA seeks to represent all Muslims in North America. They are already trying to push their astrological dates on us for Ramadan and Eid.

I think it is dangerous that they will soon be the organization in America speaking for all Muslims. Then we will all have to abide by their view of Islam.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tara ...



Tara,
Your face and your smile haunts me
I am so sorry
Please forgive me
I didn't know that you
Were in so much pain

May your Shahadah
Speak for you on
The Last Day
Ameen

Thursday, October 01, 2009

CNN Hero of the Year


I voted for Brad Blauser.

Brad Blauser is providing hope and mobility to disabled children and their families in Iraq. Since 2005, his Wheelchairs for Iraqi Kids program has distributed nearly 650 free pediatric wheelchairs to children in need. Full story

You can vote for him or some other deserving person. Trust me; it is really difficult to choose!

Go to: http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Microsoft: Laughing all the Way to the Bank

I like to mess around with digital graphics. And I'm a little bit of a computer program geek. Granted, I don't know much - just a little of this, and a little of that - enough to have fun with various programs.

This is why a program manual is a necessity for me.

In the past few years, I have noticed that fewer and fewer program manufacturers give the customer an actual printed manual. The trend has moved to online manuals and tutorials.

But now, some of the manufacturers are not even doing that!!!

They have a new scheme. Forcing the customers to muddle their way through and figure it out for themselves, or even worse, forcing them to resort to buying a printed manual.

This is a great scheme folks. These people are laughing all the way to the bank, I tell you!

Yesterday, I broke down and bought Microsoft Office Publisher 2007.


Yea me! Lucky me! Just think of all the neat stuff I can do now!

Well, yes, if I knew how. Publisher does not have an online manual included with the program. They do have a few online tutorials, but heck, there's nothing like a hard copy manual with an index.

So, I went to Amazon and looked to see if they had a "For Dummies" for Publisher. Yes, they do:

$16.49 brand new.

But, ah ha - look what else they have for $16.49:


So, here's the missing manual!

Microsoft is smart. They see the Dummies folks making money on the manual writing business. So, they figured they'd compete.

They now have a Microsoft Press, and it publishes the Step by Step series for all of its products!!!

Microsoft - you suck.

You know what I'm going to do?

I'm going to let everyone I know put the software I bought on their computer.

Heck, I might even sell it for a nice discounted price :)


Image from acctaxpayers.com

Okay readers. I'm off to Amazon to buy the Dummies manual. I refuse on principle to buy any manual from Microsoft Press.

I'll put my new Publisher manual on my bookshelf next to this one:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pelee Mum


Berries!

"...though I spilled my store of ink, you need not trouble to send more, as one of the men has shown me an ingenious receipt for a serviceable substitute made from the season's last blackberries. So am I able to send 'sweet words' to you!" ("March" by Geraldine Brooks)

Greetings of Peace Dear Readers:

Eid Mubarak and sweet words to you all/Ameen.

... The season's last berries.

In my area of Pennsylvania, our early summer was cool. My tomatoes didn't turn red until late August due to lack of hot, humid days and nights.

My berries bushes that I planted last fall didn't give me berries right away either. Since I just planted the bushes last year, I figured I wouldn't get many berries until next year.

But, just as the tomatoes were at their last, an infusion of berries appeared. I have been getting a pint or so every other day. Insha Allah next year will be a real huge harvest!

Here are this year's:


Alhamdulillah!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Many Poetic Voices, One Faith


As the 2009-2010 director of the Islamic Writers Alliance (IWA), I am proud to present our new anthology, Many Poetic Voices, One Faith which was just released!

I have also contributed two poems to this anthology: The Last Sermon - Ninth Day of Dhul-Hijjah, 10 A.H. and Far From the Family Fold.

Okay, enough bragging, Masha Allah. About the anthology (from its back cover):

"Many Poetric Voices, One Faith is your window into the world of Islam through poetry! Come on in and find out what's waiting here for you inside the attractive cover designed by talented IWA member artist, Nazaahah Amin. The award-winning poems written by Karen English, Marwa Elnaggar, Camilla Sayf, Corey Habbas, Julinar Diab, and additional poems written by 31 IWA member poets are enlightening, entertaining, and rich in a diversity of topics from a point-by-point description of a soul mate to a sonnet-ode dedicated to a loving and missed mother; from vivid reminders and poetic verse awakening us all to the evils of domestic violence to heart-wrenching reminiscences of the plight of the Muslim convert; from beautiful English renditions of the traditional and ancient Arabic ghazal to the plight of eighteenth centry slaves; from a thought-provoking rendition of life from birth to the grave and beyond; from a thoughtful insight into the signifiance of a single raindrop to a very moving and heart-warming dedication of life from a long-gone friend. All this and much more is waiting for you when you read the poetry of our IWA poets' many voices and their one faith, Islam."

Title: Many Poetic Voices, One Faith
Author: Islamic Writers Alliance
Pages: 118
Format: 6 x 9 paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9819770-0-3
Reading Levels: Teen and Adult
List Price: $8.95

If you would like a copy for an Eid gift or just for your own pleasure, you can order it from me. Send a check or money order for $8.95 to me at:

S. E. Jihad Levine, Director
Islamic Writers Alliance
P.O. Box 299
Sunbury, PA 17801

US Orders Only
Shipping and Handling is On Me!!!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Oh Joy - Here's a Bright Idea - Family I'tikaaf Night

I received this in my inbox:

From: Muhammad Alshareef info@discoverulife.com
Subject: Idea: Family I'tikaaf night ...
To: "Safiyyah"
Jihadlevine@yahoo.com
Date: Saturday, September 12, 2009, 5:01 AM

Safiyyah, Idea: Family I'tikaaf night!

Why not head out to the Masjid tonight as a family and spend the whole night worshipping Allah?

If you have younger family members, just make sure they are by your side and not disturbing anyone and you should be alright.

In sha Allah, it'll be an unforgettable family experience, and may be so enjoyable that everyone may wish to do it again and again!

With best wishes to see you succeed at the highest level!
- Muhammad Alshareef
http://www.postramadan.com/AlMaghrib Institute, 1 stafford Rd, Ottawa, ON K2H 1B9, Canada

Now - Brother Muhammad: I love you dearly for the sake of Allah (swt) and enjoy your emails in my inbox. And may Allah (swt) reward you for publishing what you deem to be a great suggestion/Ameen. But -

THIS IDEA IS INSANE!

If Jumuah and Eid prayer are indicators that sisters will keep their children by their sides so that they do not disturb others while they are trying to worship ... well, joy, I'll bet we all look forward to being tortured by these kids the whole night while trying to worship in the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan.

And don't anyone try to claim that they will fall asleep!

And how is it a "family" i'tikaaf night when the little darlings will not be with BOTH mommy and daddy, as a family, but will in fact probably be in the women's section? And if the darlings do run around and end up in the men's section, they will probably be chased back to the women's section.

Jeez - it used to be that even sisters didn't go to the masjid to do i'tikaaf. We used to bring food to the men while they were there.

I know. I know. I'm a Ramadan Grinch!

Okay, Brooke - tag, you're it!!! loool.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Canna Lillies

Sister Zakiyyah, my dear friend, gave me some canna lilly bulbs this past spring. I waited and waited for the bulbs to come up. Nothing. Then, almost overnight, look what happened (kind of remind you of the green tomates post, lol?)!



Here are some of the blooms up close. I have coral, pink, and yellow ones. The yellow one with the tiger-looking pattern kind of reminds me of orchids a little bit!



Jazaka Allahu Khayrn dear Zakiyyah. You were right: they are breathtaking, Alhamdulillah!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Language - The Mysterious Access to Allah?

As Salaamu Alaikum and Greetings of Peace:

Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim readers, and hello to everyone else.

I have been so busy at the prison, trying to get everyone, staff and inmates, settled in for the month of Ramadan. The holy month creates a huge change in prison routine, so you can imagine how the initial week or so makes everyone a little crazy, lol. So, forgive me if I have not responded to comments and such. Anyhow...

I have been thinking about language a lot lately. Why? Because I just ordered a Qur'an with French translation for a Cambodian inmate.

Inmates (as well as Muslims in the street, especially re-verts) try to pepper their speech with Arabic. For example, if I ask an inmate "how are you?" I am likely to get "tayeeb" as a response. The correct response for a woman would be "tayeeba" but "tayeeb" is what inmates learn through the various generalized Arabic books and Arabic expression charts that they have access to. I also get "naam" as a response to questions I ask. Or, "shukran" as an expression of thanks or gratitude.

Inmates are always asking me how-do-you-say questions about the Arabic language, to which I have to tell them I-don't-know-but-I-can-find-out-for-you-insha-Allah."



Personally, I have learned how to make salaat in Arabic because it is required. (Anyone who disputes this, perhaps it is a post for another time.)

And I have learned my surahs in Arabic. Granted, I do not know many, but the ones I do know I feel that I can recite as perfectly as I am able, Alhamdulillah.

Subhan'Allah.

I admit that I am resistant to learning Arabic for any purpose other than religious ones. Why? Well, it's not that I have anything against Arabs or the Arabic language, it's just that it's not a priority for me. I did make it a priority to learn how to pronounce the letters of the Arabic alphabet properly, and it is a priority for me to learn more surahs, but not to speak the Arabic language in general. I refuse to run around replying "naam" or "lah" to questions asked of me.

Perhaps this resistance has roots in my childhood. My father was Jewish, and my mother was Catholic.

In the synagogue, children were pressured to learn Hebrew.



And in Catholic Sunday school, children were pressured to learn Latin.

All synagogue services were in Hebrew, and Mass was celebrated in Latin (although the Catholic church has changed that).

Is access to God dependent upon one's ability to speak a certain language? Especially one that is not their own? Jeez!!!

Before anyone accuses me of being a Muslim heathen, can you answer the following questions?

Are we, as Muslims, required to learn the Arabic language? Do the People of Paradise speak Arabic? Will Allah speak to us in Arabic in Jennah?

Many Muslims will answer "yes" to these questions.

But, I did a little investigation.

According to Shaykh Al-Munajjid from Islam QA, specifically, Fatwa No. 83262:

"There is no mention in the Qur'aan or in the saheeh Sunnah - as far as we know - of which language is spoken by the people of Paradise. What is narrated concerning that is a hadeeth which is not soundly narrated from our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and some other reports (athaar)."

Here is the hadith that has been narrated:

"It was narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Awsat, al-Haakim, al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Eemaan and others that Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Love the Arabs for three reasons, because I am an Arab, the Qur’aan is Arabic and the speech of the people of Paradise is Arabic.”

You can read the full discussion of this hadith in the fatwa, but it also relates:

"Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked: in what (language) will Allaah address the people on the Day of Resurrection? Will Allaah address them in the tongue of the Arabs? Is it true that the language of the people of Hell will be Farsi and that the language of the people of Paradise will be Arabic? He replied: Praise be to Allaah, the Lord of the Worlds. It is not known what language the people will speak on that Day, or in what language they will hear the words of the Lord, may He be exalted, because Allaah has not told us anything about that, nor has His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). It is not true that Farsi will be the language of the people of Hell, or that Arabic will be the language of the people of Paradise. We do not know of any discussion of that among the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them), rather all of them refrained from speaking of that because speaking about such a thing is discussion of something unnecessary… but there was a dispute concerning that among later scholars. Some people said that they will be addressed in Arabic and others said that the people of Hell will respond in Farsi, which will be their language in Hell. Others said that they will be addressed in Syriac because that was the language of Adam and from it stemmed all other languages. Others said that the people of Paradise will speak Arabic. There is no basis for any of these ideas, whether on the grounds of common sense or in any report or text, rather they are mere claims that are devoid of any evidence. And Allaah knows best and is most Wise."

Hmmm ...

Arabic is the language of the Qur'an, so we must study enough Arabic to accomplish the goal of reading and comprehension of the Qur'an. And there is sound saheeh hadith to that end:

The People of the Quran are from Best of People:

‘Uthmaan said that the Prophet said: “The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it to others.” [Al-Bukhaari]

There are Ten Rewards for Every Letter Recited from the Quran

As a Hadeeth (prophetic statement) in At-Tirmithi proves: “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allaah, he will have a reward, and this reward will be multiplied by ten. I am not saying that 'Alif, Laam, Meem' (a combination of letters frequently mentioned in the Holy Quran) is a letter, rather I am saying that 'Alif' is a letter, 'Laam' is a letter and 'Meem' is a letter.” [At-Tirmithi] So increase your recitation of the Quran to gain these merits, as well as the following ones.

The Reciters of the Quran Will Be in the Company of the Noble and Obedient Angels

‘Aa'ishah related that the Prophet said: “Indeed the one who recites the Quran beautifully, smoothly, and precisely, will be in the company of the noble and obedient angels. As for the one who recites with difficulty, stammering or stumbling through its verses, then he will have twice that reward.” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]


So dear brother or sister Muslim, do not let the Shaytaan (Satan) give you false excuses, such as 'I am not an Arab.' or 'It is not in my language.' This Hadeeth is a firm proof against these whisperings.

Dedicate yourself to the Book of Allaah, whether you are an Arab or not! The excuses have been eliminated and the pathway has been cleared for you to embrace the Book of Allaah without holding back or offering excuses! Surely you will not hesitate to seek a teacher or a study circle for the Quran once you hear the last and perhaps greatest benefits of reading and contemplating over the Quran.

One's Position and Rank in Paradise is Determined by the Amount of Quran He Memorised in this Lifed compehending the Qur'an.

For all of you non Arab Muslims like me out there:

May your rewards be doubled as you increase your Arabic knowledge of this deen during this blessed month of Ramadan/Ameen!