Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Flight 93 Temporary Memorial

All images in this post are mine except the above one which is from:
(Be sure to visit this site; it contains detailed information and more photos.)

On Tuesday, I went to Somerset, PA, for a business meeting. I arrived there late afternoon, so I decided to visit the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial.

See the little American flag in the center of the above photo?

Flight 93 crashed there on September 11, 2001, in the area between the American flag and the trees.

Visitors to the site are not permitted to go down to the ground where the plane came down; that honor is reserved for the family and close friends of those who died that day.

A visitor to the temporary memorial drives up a little hill, and I dare to say that not many people are prepared for what they will see. Once over the hill, the visitor is greeted by an expansive open field. The whole sky is wide open before you! I'll bet that one can see for hundreds of miles.

I am glad that I got to visit the temporary memorial before construction begins on the permanent national memorial. I also was fortunate to see "Ground Zero" in New York City in 2003.

But I got really choked up seeing the site in Somerset. I was thinking about how merciful Allah (swt) is. For real, if that plane would have gone down anywhere else except in that field, there would have been a lot more injury and death. For example, there are two state prisons in Somerset. Imagine if the plane would have crashed there? Or in the town? Ya Allah.

Below are some pictures I took. I was only able to take these before my camera battery died. We are scheduled to have a conference near there in October, and Insha Allah, I will visit the memorial site again and be prepared with extra batteries.

Many people have left numerous items and momentos at the site.

I left a tasbih.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Muslim Bernie Madoff: Is It Possible?

I've been real busy and haven't been blogging much lately. I also haven't been visiting and commenting on blogs like I usually do. So, if you've been missing me, know that it's nothing personal.

I've been spending practically all of my days editing a novel for a traditional publishing house. I'm very excited about this as it's my first professional editing opportunity.

I am usually sitting on my bed with CNN or some other news program playing in the background. Lately, the cable news channels blather on all day about the Ponzi scheme swindler, Bernie Madoff.

Most of Madoff's victims were Jewish people and Jewish charity organizations. I can understand how this happened. Honestly, I can.

I remember when my mother died. I was Jewish at the time. All of a sudden, I found myself on the fortunate end of a large inheritance. After a few weeks, my rabbi called me. He said that he was aware that I had come into a large amount of money. He said that he wanted my money to be safe and suggested someone from our synagogue that he said could be trusted to help me invest the money. I took him up on his recommendation and, Alhamdulillah, the man was straight up and did right by me.

Why did I do it? Why did I entrust a huge sum of money to someone I didn't know from a can of paint?

Because my rabbi suggested it.

I trusted my rabbi.

I had trust in Jewish people.

As I watch all of the Madoff coverage, I found myself wondering whether there are any Muslim Bernie Madoffs out there.

You know, a Muslim brother or sister that we would trust if they were recommended by our imam or masjid director. After all, Muslims are not supposed to be suspicious of each other. All Muslims are out for the good of other Muslims. Right?

This is just my personal experience, but I can't tell you how many times I have been ripped off by Muslims, Astirghfallah.

And not just for money, but also for other things - like my heart, my reputation, my safety, my trust, etc.

I get nauseated when I receive emails in my inbox from so-called Muslim brothers and sisters in Africa telling me how much they want to "share" fortunes with me if only I would help them to resolve a temporary banking snag - like letting them use my checking account or Social Security number, lol.

What do you think? Will we hear about a Muslim Bernie Madoff in the near future?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ishmael Khaldi: Voices From The Israeli Muslims

While we hear and read many opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, mostly from the Muslim or Zionist perspectives, it is fascinating to hear a voice that is seldom heard. That is, the voice of the Muslim Israeli.

The article below originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. It was reprinted on

The author of the article is Ishmael Khaldi. He is the Deputy Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest (USA).

His perspective is interesting. After reading the article, tell me what you think.

A Muslim's Letter to the Organizers of Israel Apartheid Week by Ishmael Khaldi

For those who haven't heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.

Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to "dialogue" with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master's degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.

I am a proud Israeli -- along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose -- educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay's rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation -- Israel's minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East.

So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

You deny Israel the fundamental right of every society to defend itself: You condemn Israel for building a security barrier to protect its citizens from suicide bombers and for striking at buildings from which missiles are launched at its cities - but you never offer an alternative. Aren't you practicing yourself a deep form of racism by denying an entire society the right to defend itself?

Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: Do Israel's Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage -- you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available.

You are betraying the moderate Muslims and Jews who are working to achieve peace: Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing down by falsely vilifying one side.

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:

If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My Twin Soul!

Oh my goodness! Here's a Muslim chaplain like me: he has a Jewish father and a Christian mother! And he's a revert to Islam:


First published: Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nur Tiven: Pastoral care intern at Albany Medical Center Hospital
Background: 30, born and raised in the Berkshires. Studied divinity at Suluk Academy, New Lebanon, with focus on Islam and interfaith. Lives in Albany.

What is your religious background?

I wasn't raised overtly religious. My mother was Christian and my father Jewish. I converted to Islam in my early 20s.

What drew you to chaplaincy?

I had a longing to be of service to humanity so we are not doing things just for ourselves. The goal is to be a servant of God and serve whatever need presents itself ­— the poor, the sick. Previously, I had been doing a "bouquet of things" — teaching as a youth mentor, artist, musician. The longing to focus welled up in me. Chaplaincy has become my vocation.

Read the rest here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Cool Companion Award

Umm Hasan created the beautiful Companion Awards that you see above, Masha Allah. She says:

"The essence of the awards was to show my appreciation for all those who visit, and comment on my blog. So I would request that as you put the award on your own blog please, do a post passing the award to the people who visit your own blog, or on your blog roll so its your choice, even if you just pass by and like the award, take one and enjoy it insha'Allah :). Share the sister/brotherhood of Islam."

Jazaka Allahu Khayrn Umm Hasan for offering this award to me as well as to others!

And to anyone who passes by here and reads this, please do choose an award for yourself. And don't forget to make a post such as I have here as Umm Hasan has requested.

Our Messenger (saw) said, "Man is on the religion of his friend, so let every one of you examine who he befriends." (Abu Daawood and Others)

Umm Hasan, I am blessed to know you as my Companion!