Wednesday, December 28, 2011

International Nurse-In Day

"The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those (parents) who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother's food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child ... And fear Allah and know that Allah is All-Seer of what you do." (Qur'an 2:233)

It appears that some ignorant employees at a Houston, TX, Target store, and then management at Target's corporate customer service, put their stupidity and the store chain in the international spotlight.

According to Target Nurse-In, a Facebook group:

"Recently a mama was nursing her babe in a local Houston area Target. When she was asked to move to a private location, she refused, and was harassed and humiliated by three separate employees. She then called Target's corporate customer service number and was told by a representative, and then her supervisor that they were aware of the laws, but ...that just because something is lawful doesn't mean its acceptable in their store."

Way to go Target!  The Target Nurse-In group has 6,000+ members and is growing.  If only those group members stopped buying from you, if would significantly affect your financial bottom line.  Not good management strategy any time, especially in this poor economy.

Target Nurse-In called for an "International Nurse-In" day which was held this morning all over the world at 10:00 a.m. Target has retail stores all over America; they also have corporate locations in other countries.

The goal of the protest is to show Target how many mamas they offended, and to impress upon them that women have a legal right to shop (and do whatever in public) and meet their baby's needs at the same time. They also insist that public humiliation for breast-feeding in public will not be tolerated.

So my camera and I mosey on over to our local Target store which is located in Selinsgrove, PA, to see if any mamas would show up to take part in the protest. Selinsgrove is a rural-like area and a bedroom community to the state's capitol, Harrisburg, PA. People aren't super politically active here, but every once in awhile they surprise you! I had to pick up a few things at Target anyhow.

I arrived around 10:00 a.m. Looking around, I see no mamas, no protest signs, nothing unusual. So I proceeded to pick up the few things I needed. When I got to the check-out, I asked the clerk, "Any breast-feeding mamas show up this morning?"

"Not yet," she replied with a grim look. Guess the store manager warned the staff that there "could" potentially be some trouble this morning, lol.

I steer my cart out of the check-out aisle and head out of the store. I happen to glance to my right, just before exiting when I saw them: three mamas peacefully breast feeding their babies in a cafe area next to the store exit!

Peacefully ... so peacefully and discreetly that the Target staff didn't even know they were there! Peacefully ... probably the same way the mama in Houston was feeding her baby while shopping ... Peacefully ... until some ignorant folks accosted her and her baby ... .

I was so thrilled! I eagerly approached them and said, "Are you the Nurse-In mamas?!

Yes, they were! Three brave mamas! And one brave daddy who was supporting the mamas!

Before you poo-poo only three mamas, I want to tell you that their action this morning is HUGE for our area. They were very courageous, and I am proud of them and their families. Here they are:

All Images Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Ho Ho Ho!

See slideshow of Santa joining West Bank protest ...

Chanukah, Hanukkah, However You Want to Spell It!

"Dreidel, Dreidel, I Made It Out of Clay"
Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 01, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

"Jorge Garcia Campos"
Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine
All Rights Reserved

"It is a stupefying thing, grief.  It comes over me sharply, at unexpected moments, in the middle of me cooking something he would have liked, or hearing music he enjoyed .... I stop, I cry; I let the feeling feel me.  And then I do the hardest thing: I put aside the guilt I feel about surviving and being well, and continue with my life."   - Doug Federhart *

*Tilleraas, Perry.  The Color of Light, 1988.  Hazelden Meditation Series

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Copyright 2011, S. E.Jihad Levine
All Rights Reserved

عَنْ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أُرِيتُ النَّارَ فَإِذَا أَكْثَرُ أَهْلِهَا النِّسَاءُ يَكْفُرْنَ قِيلَ أَيَكْفُرْنَ بِاللَّهِ قَالَ يَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ وَيَكْفُرْنَ الْإِحْسَانَ لَوْ أَحْسَنْتَ إِلَى إِحْدَاهُنَّ الدَّهْرَ ثُمَّ رَأَتْ مِنْكَ شَيْئًا قَالَتْ مَا رَأَيْتُ مِنْكَ خَيْرًا قَطُّ
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The Prophet said: “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful.” It was asked, “Do they disbelieve in Allah?” (or are they ungrateful to Allah?) He replied, “They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, ‘I have never received any good from you.” (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 28)

I never thought it would happen to me; I've been so careful up to this point. But last week, I found myself up to my eyeballs in Facebook fitna. 

I use my real name on Facebook. It helps me to maintain my integrity. Because you know once something's out there on the Internet with your name, it will ALWAYS be there.  Using my real name helps to keep me honest.  It's so easy to be a cyber idiot when you write under the cloak of "Anonymous," "Muslimah38," "Umm Jessica," or whatever - I think you get the point.

So I received a message from a Muslim sister who is the wife of a brother I have "known" a long time through blogging and various groups.  The message was not public, but was sent to a select group of "friends" who the sister stated she has had the "honor" to know over the years.  I only "friended" her because I know her husband.

Anyhow, the sister goes into a long venomous diatribe about her husband, who she is in the process of getting a divorce from, and provides intimate details about their marriage which shocked me.

Believe me, I understand the emotional pain of the divorce process.  But this stuff was vicious and much more information that I needed to know about their marital problems.  Then her "friends" left all kind of equally deprecating comments about the husband.  I was really blown away.  All that coming from Muslim women.

I thought about it carefully over a few days because I wanted to be tactful and before I replied with naseeha.  I figured I should reply, and that she wanted a reply, or some kind of feedback or support.  After all, why would she include me, her "honored" Facebook friend in her message?  This was my comment:

"As with any test, we should remember Allaah t'ala in all of our affairs.  How we respond to tests and trials determines the reward.  Maybe Allaah is doing you a favor, Sis _______, or vice versa.  Don't be ungrateful to Him by spreading your private marital business on FB, even though it's a note to a select few.  Some of these 'friends' you may not even known very well or know personally.  I know this is difficult for you, but please - maintain your dignity as a Muslim woman and mother.  You are a queen and deserve self-respect.  As to the rest of you, unless you know _______ or _______ personally, I would refrain from character attacks against them.  We can love and support Sis _______ without stooping that low.  Sis _______, I am not judging you; I feel for you, wa'ala.  I do.  Please accept this naseeha in the spirit it is being given :)"

She replied that I should feel free to use the un-friend button on my Facebook profile.

Then the fitna started flying!

Her "friends," Muslim women at that, started to attack me in their comments.  I guess I was not supposed to give the sister honest Islaamic feedback, but rather I was supposed to jump on the band wagon and start running down her husband.

I was told that I am judgmental.  And who am I, a revert at that, to give feedback, acting like I know everything.

And especially a revert like me with a Jewish name.  Was I really a Muslim?  I didn't even have a "real" (read Arab) Muslim name.

I was told that I am over zealous in my practice of faith and have crossed the line in "giving instructions" to others on how they should or should not behave. 

"Hypocritical nonsense."  "Condescending attitude ..."

Another Muslim sister said I should take a hike out of the USA to a place where I better fit in.

And finally - the sister who wrote that I made her want to puke.

All these sisters ... why didn't one of them remind the sister of Allaah (swt).

Why is it when you remind some sisters about Allaah (swt) they jump all over you and accuse you of being judgmental, or worse yet, attack you?

Intellectually, I know it's because they may feel guilty, etc., and deep down they may know you're right.  They may feel embarrassed and become defensive.  So they strike out at you.  It's not always easy to be patience in the face of adversity. 

But then sometimes you just want to say "fuck it."  FUCK IT!!!

And your want your sisters to hold you, raise their voices with you, join you in a chorous, screaming from the highest hilltop, so the whole world can hear: "FUCK IT!  FUCK HIM!"

So, please, tell me.  Please.  Was I a condescending ass?  Do I owe the sister an apology?  Was I right and they were wrong?  Do I need to use the un-friend button?

Or do I need to join the chorous?

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatu!

Wow! I've been so busy!

In addition to my usual tendency to over-schedule myself, lol, I just returned from another trip to Turkey.  The first two times I went, our itinerary was limited to Istanbul.  This time, we visited five cities altogether! 

From Istanbul, we took a plane to Sanliurfa, also known as the City of Ur, City of the Prophets, birthplace of the Prophet Ibriheem (as), place of trial and healing of Ayyub (as), etc., birthplace of Ibn Tamiyyah (ra) ... The city of Harran, mere miles from the northern border of Syria, was my favorite place in Sanliurfa.

From Sanliurfa, we journeyed to Ankara, then on to Konya, then on to Izmir, and then returned to Istanbul.

All of this in 10 days!!!  Got great photographs.  Visit me at my Flickr site (link on the sidebar here) and click on "Sanliurfa" and "Harran" folders.  Eventually, I will add Konya and Izmir folders, Insha Allaah.

I returned home to the wonderful news that "Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women" will be released for publication in February of 2012.

And I can finally announce to you all that Yours Truly has contributed her story to this anthology!

Below is a description of the book from Amazon (where the book is available for pre-order):

"In this groundbreaking collection, American Muslim women writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their real-life tales of flirting, dating, longing, and sex.  Their stories show just how varied the search for love can be -- from singles' events and college flirtations to arranged marriages, all with a uniquely Muslim twist.

These heartfelt tales are filled with passion and hope, loss and longing.  One follows the quintessential single woman in the big city as she takes a chance on a Muslim speed-dating event.  Another tells of a shy student from a liberal college town who falls in love online and must reveal her secret to her conseervative family.  A third recounts a Southern girl who surprises herself by agressing to an arranged marriage, unexpectedly finding the love of her life. 

These compelling stories of love and romance create an irresistible balance of heart-warming and tantalizing, always revealing and deeply relatable."

Writing the story of my search for love and happiness within the context of Islaamic marriage was difficult and challenging for me.  At first, I wrote it in a very general way, without much detail.  Since I was using my real name for the story, I was shy to release intimate information about my family and husbands (yes, more than one: buy the book and read the details!).  But the editors, Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu, did an expert job of helping me to flesh out the details while still maintaining integrity and sensitivity. 

I say it was challenging to write this story because the process forced me to take a good look at myself: at my personal strengths and weaknesses, my choices, and mostly importantly, my relationship with Allaah t'ala.

Writing my story catapulted me, again, into the past, dared me to re-live the pain and learn from it, but most of all, affirmed that Allaah t'ala is sufficient for me, and trust in Him always pays off!

You can see our Facebook page here.  Please visit there often for updates, and be sure to "like" us!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

                                         Shofar (שופר) by S. E. Jihad Levine    
                                                    Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved
The shofar (שופר) is a Jewish instrument most often made from a ram’s horn, though it can also be made from the horn of a sheep or goat. It makes a trumpet-like sound and is traditionally blown on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.

Taken at Congregation Beth El, Sunbury, PA, on 9/11/2011 - 10th Anniversary of the 9/11/2001 attacks on America at New York City, Washington DC, and Shanksville, PA

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramadhaan 1432 A.H./2011 The Welcoming Sermon

Image Credit: Sana Az

Bismillaah, wal-hamdulilaah, was-salaatu was-salaamu 'alaa rasoolillaah,As Salaamu 'Alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakatuh:

Alhamdulillah, we in America who follow High Judiciary Council of Saudi Arabia for the start of the month of Ramadhaan have been notified of their official decision and announcement by email from the folks at Authentic Statements, may Allaah t'ala reward them and their families.  Ameen.

"Just a short time ago, Fatwa-Online was informed of the official decision and announcement of the High Judiciary Council (HJC) of Saudi Arabia that since the moon of Ramadhaan was not sighted this evening, here in Saudi Arabia, we shall be completing thirty (30) days of Sha'baan (1432 A.H.), in accordance with the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam):

((Fast when you see the crescent. If it is obscured to you, then complete thirty days of Sha'baan. And break your fast when you see the crescent. If it is obscured to you then fast thirty days)), [transmitted by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim].

Therefore, many of us will be starting our taraawee prayers Sunday evening, July 31st, in preparation for the first fast of Ramadhaan on Monday, August 1st, Insha Allaah.

Alhamdulillah, that we Muslims have lived to see another Ramadhaan!

On this last day of Shabaan, I thought I would share the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وسلم  welcoming sermon for Ramadhaan from the book, The Prophet's Ramadhaan: How the Prophet Observed the Month of Ramadhaan by Mufti Muhammad Khan Qaadri, translated by Muhammad Sajid, pp. 18-19.  The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم  delivered this sermon on the last day of Shabaan.  He صلى الله عليه وسلم  said:

"Oh People, a very blessed month is about to come over you.  A month in which is a night better than a thousand months.  A month whose fasts Allaah (swt) has prescribed for you and made it's Qiyyam a source of reward.  Whoever gets close to Allaah (swt) in it with (voluntary) good deeds will be like the one undertaking fard in other months.  And whoever fulfils a fard in it will be like fulfilling 70 fard in another month.  It is a month of patience and the reward of patience is paradise.  It is a month of empathy and a month in whichs the beliver's rizq (livelihood) is increased.  Whoever (provides food to) opens the fast of another will have forgiveness for his sins and freedom from Hell.  He will receive the same reward as the fasting person and there will be no reduction in the reward of the fasting person.  On this the companions pointed out 'Not all of us have the means to feed a fasting person to his full.'  The Prophet replied '(My purpose was not that he be fed to his fill but )Allah (swt) will give such reward to anyone who gives even one date or one drop of water or milk.'  It is a month whose first is mercy, whose middle is forgiveness and whose last is freedom from Hell.  Whoever lightens the burden of his worker Allah (swt) will forgive and free him from Hell.  Make plentiful four things in it; with two of them you can please your Lord and without the other two you cannot survivie.  The two things with which you can please your Lord are the Kalima Tayyiba (its dhikr) and Istigfaar (seeking forgiveness).  The two things without which you cannot survive are asking Allah (swt) for paradise and seeking His refuge from the fire.  And whoever gives water to a fasting person Allah (swt) will (on the day of Qiyaamah) quench him from my fountain from which he will not feel any thirst up until entering paradise.' (Sahih Ibn Khuzayma)


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Leslie, Of Blessed Memory

I knew it would happen one day.   

We all did. Any of us who are recovering addicts or who love addicts know that if he/she doesn't get into recovery, one day we will find out that the disease of addiction has claimed them.

I knew one day addiction would kill Amy Winehouse.

Addiction kills: ... overdose, HIV/AIDS, murder, liver disease, stomach disease, suicide ... the list of how we die goes on and on.

So it was with great sadness that I listened to the details on TV of how Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment. They've done an autopsy, but ...

I felt a great kinship to Amy Winehouse. Mainly because she was Jewish and an addict. Statistics claim that the rate of addiction among Jews is very low.

I remember once going to a recovery gathering in West Palm Beach, Florida. I was visiting my grandparents at the time and as was my habit, I sought out recovering people wherever I traveled. It was so funny. Us Jews in the room recognized each other right away. We were all looking at each other like, "Hey, we're not supposed to be here!"

But meeting other Jewish addicts probably helped us not to feel so isolated and like a freak in our Jewish communities.

Yes, I know plenty of Jewish addicts.

And Amy Winehouse's death reminded me of one Jewish addict I was very close to in particular. Amy's death washed fresh waves of grief over my heart and made me take a trip down memory lane to think of my friend, Leslie, of blessed memory.

Yes, Leslie, is dead, too.

She even looked a lot like Amy Winehouse. Or maybe Amy looked like Leslie, lol. The hair, the tattos, the slim frame.  This picture was taken when we vacationed in Puerto Rico together.  Leslie was so crazy about butterflies that she tattoed them all over her body.  She was so happy when we visited the Butterfly Gallery in San Juan:

Leslie had another chronic disease, one that is ultimately fatal.  She found out very early in her recovery and she stayed clean and sober for over 10 years, serving as a model and example for others that anyone can stay clean no matter what.  And this was very early in the days of this particular disease.  We didn't have the treatment and medications we have now that help people live a long long time.  In Leslie's time, one's days were numbered.

She was a substance abuse counselor in a treatment center where I was working, and that's where I met her.  We had close friends in common and we hit it off right away.  She was a great lady, full of fun, always doing something, and always going somewhere.  She was in a relationship with a great guy.  Those were the days one puts in the bank.

Years later, Leslie started to get sick.  Her lab work wasn't good, and she felt a lot of fear.  To make a long story short, she relapsed and started to use drugs again.  The addiction was back in full swing and it exacerbated her "other disease." 

Leslie was back to reckless and self-destructive behavior.  No one could help her.  She wouldn't listen to any of us. 

Like Amy Winehouse, Leslie was found dead in her apartment.  I still think about her a lot, and still love her. 

At her funeral, we released butterflies.

Next year Insha Allaah, I will be clean 30 years.  This is the first time I've "come out" online about my own addiction.  To people who know me personally and professionally, it's no secret that I'm a recovering addict. 

Maybe now that I'm out I can write more about Islaam and addiction!

In the meantime, if you know anyone who is suffering with the disease of addiction, get them help.  Don't stop trying.  No matter how much they resist your efforts and push you away. 

I wish I would have tried harder to help Leslie. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is It Dinner Time Yet?!

Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved
My "neighbor's" cat, Mocha.  He used to live with my Buddy and therefore is the only cat that can come on our porch without Buddy freaking out and chasing the intruder off!  Mocha shows up on the porch twice a day at mealtime and I've even caught him sleeping in my flower bed. 

Hope you all are well, and having a great summer.  For me, I have been busy gardening and have had guests in my home.

So, Insha Allaah, you will be patient awhile longer for posts from me and will enjoy my photographs in the meantime :)

Insha Allaah I will have GREAT news to share in the coming month or so!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ZUCCINI BLOSSOM by S. E. Jihad Levine, copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Peer in to get a preview of how your food forms. Subhan'Allaah!

"It is He Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds ..." (Qur'an, Al-An'am: 99)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Learning the Arabic Alphabet!

Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Palestine and Israel (I/P) - My Position

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, a little bit after midnight (actually Thursday morning), I am scheduled to be interviewed by talk show host LiAmi Lawrence on RADIOKOLAMERICA.COM

LiAmi's audience are primarily Israeli citizens living in America, but he tells me that he also has a very diverse audience. 

The program will run 9-11 p.m. PST, which starts at midnight on the East Coast.  I will be the first interview so tune in at midnight and you should hear us shortly after.

I wanted to think out loud here a little bit ahead of tomorrow's interview.

Many people are interested in my story because I was raised Jewish (by a Christian mother and a Jewish father) and converted to Islaam later in life.  Many people, both Muslims and non Muslims, find it curious that a Jew could be attracted to Islaam.  I'm not sure why, because both religions have a LOT in common. 

So people are always interested in my story.  And they are especially amused at the thought of a former Jew being a Muslim chaplain. 

Two principal things caused me to leave Judaism:  Jesus and Zionism.

My mother never converted to Judaism after marrying my father, and she remained a practicing Christian, actually a Catholic.  Because of that, my brother and I were exposed to Christianity and its beliefs.  After my parents divorced, when I was about 12 years old, she forced us into Catholic baptisim and it was then I learned about Jesus (as).

Although I never believed that Jesus (as) was the son of G-d, nor did I believe that he was part of a trinity, or that G-d Himself was part of a trinity, Jesus (as) left a mark on my heart.

So as a child, it was initially Jesus (as) who started to pull me away from the religion of Judaism.  Although he left a mark on me, he didn't totally pull me away from Judaism due to Zionism.  I had an identity as a Jew and at the time I didn't know I could still culturally and ethnically identify myself as Jewish while being a member of another religion (Islaam) at the same time.  I now know that is possible.

I consider myself a cultural and ethnic Ashkenazi Jew (Polish) who is a Muslim. 

I was an ardent Zionist through my mid twenties.  I loved Israel and wrote many poems to her.  I published one on here before.  Like many other Jews, I didn't know anything about Palestine or Palestinians.  1948 and 1967 were sources of pride to me, but I didn't understand why at the time.  I was ignorant of the facts on the ground.  All I knew was that "we" got "our" country back - finally. 

When I became a Muslim, I started to learn.  First of all, it became clear very early to me that a lot of Muslims didn't like us (Jews).  Well, what's new, I thought.  I lot of people don't like us.  But I began to learn why many Muslims didn't like us.  And it had to do with Israel/Palestine (I/P). 

So I began to research ...

Because of my identify, my heart is with all the people in that land. 

But more importantly, as a human being, I cannot stomach what is going on over there.  It makes me sick and ashamed.

I want it to be different.

What goes on over there happens in a lot of places all over the world.  But for Jews, with a collective memory of the Holocaust, to subject the Palestinians to a lot of what we were subjected to in Eastern Europe makes me sick.

I wanted to collect my thoughts in one place and put them down on paper, in this case a computer screen.  I also want to raise awareness. 

This is a list of what I object to:

1.  The humanitarian 
impact of Israeli measures in Occupied Palestinian Terroritory (OPT)

Under international law, Israel must ensure that persons under its jurisdiction enjoy the fulfilment of their human rights, including the right to housing, health, education, and water. UNRWA calls on Israel to respect its legal obligations.

2.  The Separation Wall


Israel states that this wall is necessary in order to protect it, to prevent the access to Israel by Palestinian suicide bombers.  Building a wall around "Israel" is reminiscent of the East Berlin Wall.  It impedes access to education and healthcare for the Palestinian people and healthcare workers.  Besides, it is downright fucking humiliating and degrading.  It separates Palestinian families. 

The UN International Court of Justice has ruled that Israel's barrier is illegal and that it violates International Law.  The court said it should be torn down.  But Israel has ignored this ruling and the Separation Wall stands.

3.  Illegal Settlement Building

It is prohibited under international law for Israel (or any other country) to transfer its citizens to occupied terrority.  But Israel continues to allow "settlers" to build and expand in occupied terrority.  Extreme settlers engage in violence against Palestinians in a measure called "price tags."  On the rare occasion when the Israeli government rules against the settlers, they take revenge and retaliate against Palestinians.  There is also a price tag on Palestinian violence in the form of mosque burning, destruction of Palestinian agriculture and animals, burning of olive groves, physical assaults, vandalism of wells and property, and on and on.  One hateful price tag occurs when settlers (who are usually on hilltops) open their sewage and allow it to pour down on to Palestinian towns and into Palestinian fields.  And no, it doesn't fertilize the fields, it destroys them.

4.  The status of East Jerusalem

To include planning and zoning restrictions, house demolitions and displacements, residency status problems, etc.

5.  Annexation and Land Confiscation

To include declaring Palestinian owned land as a closed military zone.  This is the only declaration Israel legally can use to appropriate Palestinian land under international law and they take full advantage (mis-use) of it.

6.  Refugees

There are Palestinian refugees who have been driven out of their land or who have fled all over the world.  But they are especially living in numeorus refugee camps surrounding Israel in places like Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt.

What is to be done with all of these people?  What rights do they have?

Refugees have an internationally recognized right of:

a.  right of return - whether they fled or where forced
b.  compensation for damages
c.  right to regain their properties or receive compensation
d.  right to support for voluntary resettlement

right is supported by customary international law, international humanitarian law, and human rights laws.  In the specific case of the Palestinians, this right was affirmed by the United Nations Resolution 194 of 1948, and has been reaffirmed repeatedly by that same body, and has also been recognized by independent organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  The U.S. government supported Resolution 194, and voted repeatedly to affirm it until 1993. At that time, the Clinton administration began to refer to Palestinian refugee rights as matters to be negotiated between the parties to the conflict. (source)


I'm purposely 
not going into a lot of detail here on any of what I mentioned above, like I said, I'm just trying to organize my mind. 

I'm not interested in Israeli justifications, rationalizations, excuses, or anything else for why they do what they do.

I am against violence - whether it's aimed at the Palestinian population OR the Israeli population.

There are three major positions for resolution of the I/P problem.  Yes, there are others, but these three are the most often put on the table.

1.  Israel wants it all.

2.  The Palestinians want it all (back).
3.  A two-state solution.

Here's my position:  a two-state solution based on 1967 agreements as a starting point.  My position is not popular among many Muslims, believe me. 

But let's get real.  Israel is not going anywhere.  Do Muslims really believe that some day Israel will be wiped off the map?  But there must be justice and a resolution for the Palestinian people.

Allahu Alim.  Only G-d knows this.

But for now, what is needed is a solution to this madness.  The two sides must engage in real talk.  They must stop with all the excuses and why they can't "get 'er done." 

It appears to be the leaders of both I/P that impede the peace process.

Survey after survey show that people want peace. 

There are both Palestinian and Israeli peace and human rights organizations that are working hard to make peace happen.  Let's pray for these people and groups that they are successful in driving public opinion and public policy.

So, hopefully, you will listen to me tomorrow night.  LiAmi tells me his website will have a link to the interview in case you can't stay up late.

Keep me in your du'a.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pensamientos ... Palestinian Farmers ... Hispanic Agricultural Workers

Gardening is one of the things I most enjoy in this life.  Whether it's outside or inside, I garden all year around. 

Gardening gives me time to be alone with my thoughts, to think about all kinds of things, especially things that trouble me. 

Take anger and frustration for instance.  There's nothing better, for me, to alleviate anger and frustration than pulling weeds and trimming flowers.  And believe me, there are plenty of them in the garden.  The above picture is just today's take. 

I think about Palestine and Israel - a lot.

I am a Muslim who has a Christian mother and a Jewish father.  My heart and soul are anchored in Israel/Palestine (I/P) which is an important piece of real estate to all three faith groups. 

I care about what happens there.

I think often of Palestinian farmers.  I see pictures of Palestinian farmers waiting in long lines to pass through check points to get into their fields.  Sometimes they are not let through.  Or they are held in a series of check point lines by IDF for so long that their perishable produce wilts.  Gardening and working a field are acts of immediacy.  If you don't understand what I mean, get a bunch of stuff for a salad out and let it sit on your kitchen counter for an afternoon and you'll see what I mean.  Or, if you have a garden, don't go out there for a few days, and see how the weeds overgrow everything.  You saw the picture of my day's take of weeds.  My garden is about the length of two and a half double-car garages.  Imagine an entire field. 

Palestinian farmers depend a lot on wells to irrigate their fields.  Israel has diverted much of the water in the Occupied Territories for use by the Israeli people.  Yes, the Palestinians are allocated water by Israel, but it is not enough.  Some Palestinian farmers dig "illegal" wells and when they are discovered, the IDF comes and destroys them.  Likewise, it is illegal for Palestinian farmers to even collect rain water.  When discovered, the IDF blows up the cisterns.

Sometimes I try to clear my mind while in the garden.  I try to focus on the glory of Allaah t'ala creation.  Just look at this for an example:

In the following weeks, this dainty yellow blossom will become a cucumber!  Subhan'Allaah!

I think about other farmers and farm workers too. 

As I was gardening this morning, I was thinking about the meaning of the word "wetback," a slander term often used to refer to Mexican and other Hispanic farm workers.  They are out in the fields in California, the Southwest USA, and other agricultural areas of America for very long hours.  I can't even start to imagine how much they sweat doing this work so the people of America can have produce on their plates. 

Why was I thinking about this?  Well, as I move through the rows of my garden, weeding, or pulling radishes and other stuff, I sweat like crazy. I mean it drips off of me. 

I guess that makes me a wetback too!

Look at this vintage hoe/rake:
One of my neighbors gave it to me.  I belonged to her grandfather!  She and her husband don't garden anymore, so they gifted it to me.  Alhamdulillah, I was moved to tears for such a beautiful gesture.  You can't buy these anymore.  The picture doesn't show it, but the tips of this hoe are flat.  I move through my garden with this thing like I do across my kitchen floor with my broom.  It makes my work so easy and I don't have to schlep out the roto-tiller which is destructive to the garden insects in the dirt. 

At harvest time, I give my neighbors bags of vegetables!

When I come in from the garden, I have a smoothie. 

I use soy milk with vanilla flavor, two dates, one prune, my garden mint, and whatever fruit I have.  Currently, I am using organic blueberries from the store, and my own strawberries:


I hate to sound like an advertisement for something, but these prunes shown below are soooo excellent!  I have 62 years old and have NEVER found a prune I like until now.  They taste so good!  Plus, they are individually wrapped.  They have a better shelf life this way, and they are easy to carry.  They are soft as butter.  You can put them in your family's lunches or carry them in your purse or pocket for a healthy snack.  Plus, I read online that prunes are very valuable for those tying to lose weight or maintain healthy weight.
Here's the payoff - my smoothie made in my vintage blender:
Final image - some of my lavender blossoms.  Jazaka Allahu Khayrn Sister Mumina!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anybody Out There?

                                                  (Israeli Apartheid Wall)

Israel built a Separation Wall between them and the Palestinians.

The reason: for "security," to prevent suicide bombers from walking from the Occupied Palestinian Terror-tories to Israel.

The UN International Court of Justice has ruled Israel's barrier illegal, stating that it violates international law, and that it should be torn down. 

The Apartheid Wall is a huge fitnah for both Palestinians and Israelis.  But most of all, for the Palestinian people.

Have you ever seen it?  Maybe you have seen snippets of it on the Internet.

Blogger, "northshorewoman" has a cyber walk along this wall posted on her blog. 

Here's YOUR chance to take a walk alongside this wall.  You MUST see this video.  You HAVE TO witness this.  Especially if you're an American.  After all, your tax money has contributed to it.  Are you okay with that?

But watch the video for yourself (second video in her post):

northshorewoman: a cyber saha through the West Bank: "I went for a cyber walk through parts of the West Bank today. I was not expecting to, but in the manner of a saha , I aimlessly wandered the..."

Anyone listening?  Anyone out there? 

To borrow a slogan from the HIV AIDS movement:  Silence = Death.

Silencio = Muerte

Oh, and while you're at it, go to American Jew Lucas Koerner's blog.  Read his words, see his images, and watch a video about how HIS PEOPLE treated him in Israel while he was there protesting on Jerusalem Day - all because he does not agree with their measures regarding the Palestinian "problem" and dared to peacefully express his views.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

iPhone "Diana" Photography

uploaded by Shaalom2Salaam (Safiyyah).
This photo was taken with the iPhone app, "Diana."
Digital Digital Diana replicates the 1960s cheap 120 camera called the "Diana." This toy camera was made entirely of plastic, and quality control was lacking. Considered a dismal failure, the Diana was discontinued in the 1970s.
Like any artist, only after death is their true beauty and value discovered. In later years, the Diana became a cult classic among photographers who consider their work art.
The dreamy, out-of-focus, grainy, light-leaked images lent unique moods to the photos exposed in the little blue plastic camera from Hong Kong. Each Diana had a character of its own. Like snowflakes, no two lenses were alike.
The Diana quickly rose to the paramount of the cult art class, making it one of the most sought after, extinct analog cameras ever.  (description taken from iTunes App Store).
I thought my old antique Singer sewing machine to be the perfect subject for my debut into Diana photography.
I got this machine in a yard sale for $10, put $80 into it, and Alhamdulillah, I have a great working machine. So much so, that I gave my new one away! It is truly a spiritual experience to use this sewing machine. It's one of the first Singers converted to electricity. Masha Allaah that they kept the beloved Singer body.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sunday Morning ...

Alhamdulillah, this is my first free Sunday morning.

Islaamic weekend school graduation was last week, and I am free under after Ramadan. I'll definitely miss all the children, but it will be so cool so see how much they've grown over the summer months when I see them again during Ramadan, Insha Allaah.

I spent my first free Sunday morning in my garden. There's plenty of work to do out there. Part of my morning routine is to spend an hour or so out there after breakfast and after the pain pill kicks in :)

It rained real hard last night, Alhamdulillah. My gardening pal, Buddy, and I went out to see how things were.

This is a partial picture of my garden.  In this view, I have planted three rows of carrots, two rows of radishes, two rows of beets, almost a dozen tomato plants, a few rows of peppers (green, red, and yellow), and a lot of beans in whatever space is left all around the periphery of the garden.  Behind the camera are rows of zucchini and cucumber, and of course, more beans :)

Before I go in, I can see that the weeds have taken over.  Buddy and I go in:

"OMG Mom!  Look at all this work!"

"I'm out of here!"

"I think I'll hang out right here, and watch YOU work."

After "we're" done, we go to look along side of the garage:

Check out these raspberry bushes!  Last fall, I cut the canes back to about two inches.  My husband and my neighbors thought I was nuts.  But look now!  "Pruning is a plant's friend."  I have another neighbor who freaks out when I take the hedge trimmer to my bushes.  You'd think they'd learn by now, from the beautiful results, that pruning and trimming is a healthy thing to do.  My raspberry bushes have grown almost to the garage door knob in just over two months.  Insha Allaah we will have berries real soon :)

Finally, I can't resist photographing roses and other flowers after an evening's rain.  The lady who owned this house before I did, planted roses on one whole side of the house.  I have red, pink, mauve, and yellow ones.  I have cut roses inside my house all summer and most of fall.  All of these roses are frost resistant.

Roses are a sadaqa for the eyes and nose.  Masha Allaah, Allahu Akbar!  How beautiful is Allaah's world!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Masha Allaah, the Cats of Istanbul!

Copyright 2011, S. E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

First Strawberries!

First strawberries!  Yum!  Once you eat strawberries from your own (or someone else's) garden, you will NEVER buy them in a store again.  I gathered these, plucked a sprig of mint on my way into the house, and immediately made myself a fresh smoothie.

With all the wet weather we had a few weeks ago, I was really worried.  But today and yesterday I actually went out to the garden with a hose!  It's been real hot and we had a lot of sun, Alhamdulillah, so everything's coming up nicely. 

It's been SO hot that my garden friend, Buddy, doesn't even care to move from his place on the shaded front porch to joint me in the garden as he usually does.

What a wimp!

Friday, May 27, 2011

S. E. Jihad Levine, Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved

Masha Allaah!  I love this time of the year!

Hope you all and your families are well.  I've been sooo busy the past few weeks.

The garden is finally in.  Now I weed and wait.

Our masjid's weekend school graduation is this Sunday; the kids have been practicing real hard and they're very excited.  Insha Allaah I'll have some nice pictures for your next week.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nakba 63

May 15, 2011: 63 years of Palestinian occupation and oppression.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tears ...

Tears ..., originally uploaded by Shaalom2Salaam (Safiyyah).

Abu Hurayrah (ra) stated that once the Prophet (saw) met a group of his companions who were conversing together laughing. He (saw) remarked, "By Him Who has my life in His power, if you were to know what I knew then you would laugh little and weep much." He (saw) then went away from while they wept.

(Copyright 2011, S.E. Jihad Levine, All Rights Reserved)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The Assassination of OBL

The other night I fell asleep with the TV on and woke up a few hours later.  My bleary eyes caught CNN's "Breaking News" banner and I was stunned to see "Osama bin Laden Dead."

It was like one or two in the morning, can't remember, but then I was even more stunned to see students from George Washington University running to the gates of the White House, screaming, yelling, celebrating, chanting "USA!" ...

Then an impromptu crowd grew in New York City ...

I'm telling you - nothing short of a fire or some other emergency could get me into the streets at that hour at my age, lol.

Anyhow, in the few days since the assassination of OBL, there has been much celebration in America and some other places.  And once again, everyone dredges up a very detailed list of OBL's character defects.

Inititally, I thought I was alone in feeling a bit sad about OBL's death.  Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly no fan of OBL and don't agree with his interpretation of Islaam. 

But I'm not going to make takfir on him, or be glad that he is dead.

It was the same with me when Saadam Hussein was executed.  I felt shame at the way the executioners taunted and humiliated him before they hung him.  I even felt shame at watching the video.

Some call it justice.

I call it vengeance and revenge. 

Most major religions make general caution against these emotional states. 

"Vengeance is Mine," Christians are told in the book of Romans.

"Do not speak ill of the dead, for they have seen the result of their past deeds," Muslims are reminded in Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Number 76.

Jewish law also warns about lashon hara (evil speech) against the dead. 

I emphasize "general" caution because, like everything else, one can never generalize when it comes to religion. 

But I think Martin Luther King, Jr., put it into words best:

"I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."

Do we really think the world will be cured of its hate and darkness now that OBL is gone?

I don't think so.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fatih, Istanbul Turkey

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mannequin in the Grand Bazaar

Mannequin in the Grand Bazaar, (Istanbul, Turkey) originally uploaded by Shaalom2Salaam (Safiyyah).
There are those
among us
who are
then played
neglected ...
They look good
on the outside
but inside
cease to live anymore ...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Akilam School, Istanbul Turkey

Last year, our group visited the Akilam School in Istanbul, Turkey.

The visit to the school was the highlight of the trip for me.  I remember getting a teary-eyed, tight-squeeze hug from each student when we left, along with "See you in Jennah, Insha Allaah." 

None of us was sure we'd ever see each other again in this dunya.

So, Alhamdulillah, I was thrilled to find out that we would be visiting the school again this year!

My traveling companion, Sister Megan, and I got to teach an English class.  We had so much fun!  It was great being with the sisters again.

I can't tell you the feeling I have in my heart for these sisters.  I have real mad love for them.  I am so proud of them!  I smile everytime I think of them, or see pictures of them.

The visit and opportunity to see them again was truly heaven :)

May Allaah t'ala bless them, guide them, and reward them and their families.  Ameen.

Sisters, Insha Allaah we will see each other again in 2012. 

Spring: I'm Ready for a Change!

 I'll give you a break for a moment (just a moment) from the Istanbul pictures, and share with you some of what I'm thinking and feeling today.

Spring is in the air in the northeast United States.  Everything is starting to bloom and color is everywhere.

I clean off my front porch and went to buy leftover Easter flowers.  After they finish, I can plant them on the side of the house.  Sitting in my porch rocking chair, I am enjoying the flower scent that whiffs by my nose, carried by an unusual warm spring breeze.

The flowers remind me of Istanbul; tulips and other flowers are everywhere!  Last year we were there at the end of February and it was PrimeRose season.  April is tulip season.  The Turks have planted them everywhere in Istanbul, alongside the roads, and in planters ... I'll bet they invested in thousands and thousands of tulip bulbs.  The reward is displays like this:

Yeah, I'm glad it's Spring and am ready for the change that comes with it. 

With everything going on in the world, I'm ready for something different.

Wildfires, tornadoes, floods ...

Libya, Palestine, Syria ...

And Obama and the "Birther" issue.  If his birth certificate exists like many maintain, including people who claim that they saw it, why doesn't this guy (Obama) just show it to us and get it over with already?  Jeez!  What bullshit.

So - I'm psyched and ready for the royal wedding on Friday!!!  For one day, I'd like to experience a fantasy and forget about everything going on until at least Saturday :)  It makes me really feel my age to think back on how I watched the wedding of Prince William's parents :(

Okay, that's it :)  Back to the Istanbul photographs!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Seed Seller at the Yeni Jami Mosque

"Seed Seller at Yeni Jami Mosque"
Istanbul, Turkey
S. E. Jihad Levine
Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved
The Yeni Jami Mosque sits right next to the Bosphorous.  So of course, there are zillions of pigeons and sea gulls flying around.  This lady sells seeds to the tourists.  Tourists and children love to throw the food to the birds.  

Turkish Hamals

You can see these guys all over Istanbul.  They are called "hamals," or porters.  Their job is to carry heavy loads on their backs.  The first image in the collage shows what the frame looks like without a load; the rest of them show hamals carrying loads.  What is so amazing is that the majority of the hamals I saw are not young men.  And Istanbul is a city of hills.  Incredible!

I apologize for the smallness of this collage.  I can't get the image any bigger due to having a sidebar on this site.

Go to my Flickr to see it a bit better!