Category Archives: Society

Muslim Lives Matter: Bias in the Mainstream Media

While main stream media is a little confused as to how a crime can happen against Muslims, I can confirm that it can and it did. I would also like to clarify that the shooter of the three Muslims in Chapel Hill was an atheist, Richard Dawkins fan, Inspired by Sam Harris rhetoric, a lover of guns and promoter of new-atheism. He is a non-Muslim terrorist and this was an act of terror, not just a simple hate crime, like painting hateful graffiti on the wall of a Masjid. Muslim lives matter!

And say not of those who are slain in the way of Allah: “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. Qur’an 2:154

Media coverage has been disgusting. It took a very long time for media to start properly reporting on the issue and when it did, they made it sound as if Muslims lives are not as important.

Media Bias
Fox news website reporting the Chapel Hill shooting right at the bottom of the page

So do not worry, it is not Ghaza that gets imbalanced media coverage, if something happened here in Australia, in the states or any other country, unless Muslims can be blamed, the news will not get enough coverage.

I personally  first read about the shooting on Twitter:

It appeared that the the idea of reporting by mainstream media was also to collect twitter feeds and republish them on a page, like this:

It didn’t seem important for mainstream media to send a reporter to the scene and instead relied on social media.

Activists and cartoonists have been quick to condemn mainstream media for their bias and sub-slandered reporting of crimes against Muslims. Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) Tweeted this gem:

Muslim Lives Matter by Carlos Latuff
Muslim Lives Matter (#ChapelHillShooting) by Carlos Latuff

The three Muslims who were murdered in cold blood were Deah, his wife Yosur and her sister Razan were three exemplary young people who enjoyed life, worked hard, did voluntary work, helped the poor and less fortunate. You can see Deah in this video trying to raise funds for Project:Refugee Smiles, a dental relief program for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Deah and Yosur had just got married less than 2 months ago. Surely they had plans to live a long life happily, finish their studies, settle down, bring new lives into this world and whatever else a young couple dream of. Alas they were not given the chance to do any of those. May Allah disgrace this murderer who has robbed a family of their future.

The man charged with this crime, many have already anticipated will be deemed mentally ill and put into an institution. I hope this is not the case and he faces the full force of law and is given the maximum possible sentence.

No amount of condolences and sympathy will lessen the pain their family is feeling right now. All we can do is to pray for them.

May Allah forgive and make Jannat al-Firdaws the abode of Deah, Yosur and Razan and bestow upon their loved ones patience and comfort in the face of such calamity.

That Friday Energy

That Friday Energy
That Friday Energy

You have got to love Fridays for the sheer amount of energy you feel thinking it is the last day of the week. It is weird. One should feel more tired, worn-out after a long week of work, yet it is not the case. It is obviously all in our heads. We could score the same amount of energy or thereabouts other days if we were to think.

There is no doubt we all like to be in the comfort of our homes with our loved ones or out there doing something fun. But if we manage to change our workplace to accommodate some level of comfort or fun, then perhaps we could manage to feel as energetic as Fridays, every other day. So what is stopping us? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons we might feel like crap at work:

  • We no longer enjoy the work we do (or we never did)
  • We no longer like the people we work with (or never did)
  • We see our work as means to an end
  • Our work environment is boring/unpleasant
  • Our work hours are not flexible

There could be a lot of other reasons but we suffice with the above.

If you do not enjoy our work but you used to do, maybe something changed or you changed or it probably became very routine. In these cases there are things you can do change things around.

Obviously, you can always look for new opportunities within the organisation you work for or elsewhere. You can also ask around for secondment opportunities which is a good idea to move away from that routine day-to-day work you do. But the way to make things interesting in your current work is to suggest new ideas to management to improve the way you work, experiment with methodologies, use your break time to do something different every time.

You cannot change people’s attitude easily, if someone’s negative attitude is causing you grief at work. Sometimes it could be the way we perceive things and they may not be that way in reality. See, if your issue is you and not that person. In which case it is simpler, because you will have to change your attitude. But if it is definitely the other person’s fault, then perhaps speak with them. It could be a misunderstanding or if you are right and reasonable and they are reasonable, then they might agree to adjust. Let go of petty disagreements. Be accepting of people as long as their behaviour is not harming you in any way. At the same time, don’t be a pushover. Stand up for yourself.

For a lot of us, our work may be just a means to an end. But there is no reason one should suffer under it. You shouldn’t think of your work as only a source of income but also as a way that you are contributing to the society in a way or other, of course unless you are doing dodgy and/or criminal stuff in which case you should suffer, regardless. You should feel proud of what you do.

Think about the last person you served or worked with or your last achievement no matter how small. Think about how it may have made a difference or made someone’s problems diminish or go away. Right about now, you should feel good about yourself.
It is not about how big a deal it was to you but what it meant to them and how it would have them a step closer to their goal. Think how you do this all the time, day in and day out. This way, your work will be a source of happiness and you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

I am sure these are very simple common sense issues that everyone at some point thought about, but it is a good thing to remind ourselves every now and again that we are important and what we do is important, if not to everyone, to those who are directly or indirectly impacted positively by it.

Now tap that Friday energy every day and feel the best you can feel every day of the week.

A Shared Ramadan Experience

We are only two Muslims in our company, but every Ramadan almost everyone else fasts one day to share the Ramadan experience with us. Our work organises a dinner for those who fast. This year, one of our colleagues emailed us the following and with her permission I decided to post it here.

Iftar
Iftar at Lazzat Kadah

When we were first approached and invited to be a part of Ramadan we all thought that it would be a breeze, a lot of us are constantly forgetting to eat lunch anyway, skipping dinner or breakfast because we are too busy too.

What we realised as we inched closer and closer to the day (Tuesday this week) was that there wouldn’t be a cup of tea on arrival at the office in the morning. No afternoon coffee and banana. No glass of water to sip on to keep us refreshed throughout the day. What we all also didn’t realise is that we would have to wake up before the crack of dawn to eat. I know that was my plan, but at 5.30 in the morning just didn’t happen for some reason 😉 zzzzzzzz

So, at 8.30am when I arrived at the office I was already hungry. Mainly because I knew there was 8 hours and 6 minutes until anything was going in my mouth. I know I wasn’t the only one on the countdown to 5.36pm.

I think the biggest struggle throughout the office was not having a comforting, refreshing cup of tea or coffee and having some kind of fruit or snack to get us through the afternoon slowdown.

Anyway, all 12 of us made it as far as I am aware (unless someone did a sneaky). 8 of us then made the journey, which seemed to take forever on an empty tummy, to Lazzat Kadah, a Pakistani Restaurant in Coburg for our well deserved Iftar.

I know that I will be taking part in Ramadan fasting next year and I hope that others will continue to do so. It wasn’t only my first time taking part in fasting (I don’t count the 40 hour famine when I was 8, I had 2 packets of barley sugars and a carton of just juice) it was the first time for a few others in the office too. I have heard that the first time is the hardest, and that it gets easier. I hope this is true. I guess we will all find out next year 🙂

Thanks for organising this great experience. I really, really really appreciated my tea this morning.

How a Distraction Becomes an Obsession

As Muslims we believe that the true purpose of our lives is to know and worship the one and only Creator. Numerous Qur’anic verses point to the fact that life was not created without purpose:

  • Human was created to worship Allah (Qur’an 51:56)
  • Life was not created without purpose (Qur’an 38:27)
  • Humans were created to be conscious of themselves and Allah and become righteous (Qur’an 2:21, 49:13)

All of the verses mentioned above, and several more, refer to the fact that the purpose of our existence is to attain righteousness, become God-conscious, and to understand life and be aware of one another.

We can conclude that humans are capable to reaching the heights of righteousness. It would be pointless if the purpose of creation was God-consciousness, yet humans did not possess the capability to do so. However, Allah (SWT) also says in the Qur’an that humans are created weak; consequently, He (SWT) has made the path very clear and removed the obstacles (Qur’an 4:28). This does not mean that we will not face any challenges. What it means is that the challenges that we are given will be according to our strength (Qur’an 2:286).

Islam is about balance. It does not dictate that we live a life of isolation and complete austerity. Islam is not into the business of making our lives difficult and miserable. The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

Do not overburden yourselves, lest you perish. People [before you] overburdened themselves and perished. Their remains are found in hermitages and monasteries. (Musnad of Abu Ya’la)

The prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) always disagreed with excessiveness. He, may peace and blessing be upon him, once said to Abdullah ibn Amr, ‘Have I heard right that you fast everyday and stand in prayer all night?’ Abdullah replied, ‘Yes, O Messenger of God: The Prophet said, ‘Do not do that. Fast, as well as, eat and drink. Stand in prayer, as well as, sleep. This is because your body has a right upon you, your eyes have a right upon you, your wife has a right upon you, and your guest has a right upon you (Bukhari, Muslim)

Islam does not stop us from amusement, having fun, or enjoying ourselves. It actually encourages physical activities, competitions, and gatherings; all within the Halal limits. But we are not perfect. We make mistakes; we commit sins; we neglect our duties and forget the purpose of our existence. We get distracted, and then we overcome and move on. Nevertheless, sometimes these distractions can morph into something more; more than just a momentary disruption.

There is no such thing as good obsession even if the object of the obsession is something good. The fact that it becomes an excessiveness makes it harmful and against the teachings of Islam. However, when a distraction becomes an obsession, it is a greater problem because it should not last long enough to become a potential for an obsession.

Are you obsessed with your handheld devices? A lot of us are. There is a wealth of useful and worthy information that you can now hold in the palm of your hand; but at the same time, there is the possibility of misusing it for vain and useless activities. Assume you are reading an article on your iPad and then there is a game ad. on that page. It distracts you. You become interested in the content of the ad, the game that it was advertising. So you hop on to App Store and find the app for that game and buy it. Minutes later you find yourself playing the game. A few hours later, you realize that you are playing at the expense of work or study. Days later, you find yourself playing it every single chance you get. This is how a distraction becomes an obsession. The ad on the page was only few seconds long, but now you are losing precious time playing the game.

We cannot avoid distractions all the time, but we can control them and make sure they do not turn into obsessions. It is in our nature to like amusements, whether it is by watching TV, browsing the world wide web, going out with friends or any other type of entertainment, but we need to take a balanced approach. Excessive amusements has the potential to murder our soul and we need our soul to reach the purpose of our lives.

Afghan Girls and the Dilemma of Marriage

Contributed by Haya

Afghan girls and Dilemma of Marriage

Except for the monks, priests and nuns who wish to remain celibate and dedicate their lives in worshiping God, sacrificing affection, love, partnership and children then this article will not interest you. The rest of us who are too selfish to do so may read on.

Now, I’m not going to talk about the wedding expenses or what marriage in itself looks like as I haven’t got the experience to do so and my version may mislead many of those who wish to be realistic about it – which is probably the best way to do it. Thanks to the many hours dedicated to Bollywood movies that have forever ingrained in me the hope that I will find Raj and I will be his Simran have probably set my expectations bar way too high that if I jump to pull it back down I wouldn’t reach.
However, what I can be useful for is to give a little walk into the mind of single Afghan girls who suffer the pressures of the community and society at large that have been put on her when finding her spouse. Of course this will not be a general account but I will do my best to incorporate what I can of every version of an Afghan girl from the highly conservative to the “ultramodern”.

Buckle up guys, you heard it here first from some random anonymous claiming to be a single Afghan girl but for all you know can be a balding Afghan father crying out to single Afghan men out there to give their daughters the benefit of the doubt.

For starters let’s begin with the fundamentals that apply to every version of an Afghan girl whether she fears God or fears getting caught by her dad.

Introducing the AGE BRACKET!
That’s right folks we have an expiry date. 17-26 if you aint married in this bracket you have one of the following;

  1. A past that everyone knows about
  2. In love with an Indian or a White boy
  3. Has no idea how to wrap up a quick Qabeli palao
  4. Has a tongue so sharp she strikes before you serve

If she’s lucky and ends up being a Doctor or a Lawyer then they might forgive her a couple of years otherwise she has no reason to be picky and it serves her right for still being single! That ought to show her!
Second.
Anything outside the border specially Pakistani or Iranian you’ve sold your soul to the devil and you deserve to be outcast from the community and your parents for the rest of their lives will have to give apologetic smiles upon entering functions and “mehmanis” where they’ll be asked about how their foreign son-in-law is doing. This is still an exaggeration! Oh, no silly not the last part, I mean how we can only select from Afghan guys, we have families that won’t look past their own ethnicities within Afghanistan, better yet they might even tell you you’re stuck to picking from your first cousins. Enjoy!

Of course this is totally flexible to the Afghan guy. Why would I even bother talking about that? I mean his one legitimate excuse is … “Well he’s guy!” DUH!

Anyway, again we are subject to random searches that take place when our parents suspect that Mariam may just be Michael. Whether Afghan parents like it or not there’s MSN, Facebook and a plethora of other means that technology today has made possible. Seat belting them into everything they do in life will teach them to be dependent and naive forever; they might as well tie us in a straight jacket.
Either way, they are going to go behind their parents’ backs, because their hot-blooded and no amount of security will have them monitored every step of the way. Even if she does and is caught, she has tarnished her father’s name and it’s her fault for not suppressing her wishes to spend her life with someone she has a mutual understating and interest with.

I don’t see how Afghan families do not allow their daughters to have chaperoned meetings with individuals so that they may have the chance to formally meet and exercise their birth right. The girls suffer the most because we live in a box that has a ticking time bomb on it. We have to race to find the groom before the alarm beeps and we realise we are a day over the bracket.

The pressure does not only stop there. Treading softly all our life until we are married is our duty upon us. Obviously, in many cases if this does not work out then we ship her off to Afghanistan and we hand her over to the next guy that gets a wife and a free ticket to the land of the white man. Buy one, get one free!

We don’t need to treat our daughters like possessions. Women have been suffering enough as history illustrates very clearly. There is not one type of Afghan girl willing to sacrifice her list that her future husband would tick most of the boxes. There are many dynamics to her and each one whether she is traditional, conservative or modern lives a different day-to-day life in which they have different ideals and expectations that they want in a man.

As a Muslimah, I understand that Islam has freed us of the shackles of nationalism and limiting ourselves to one race.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people and tribes so that you may know one another” (Qur’an 49: 13)

There is nothing wrong with marrying within your own race and to limit the differences as much as possible, but only if it is an option and not a requirement.

There are many ways in which women can get to know a prospective husband the” safe way”, rather than having to wake up a day after your wedding and getting ready for work when your new husband asks you “Where do you think you’re going?”

Marriage is the biggest decision of our lives. There is a biological clock that we should pay attention to, but not to rush into it.
If parents teach their daughters that they are free to choose and select their life partner but to consult that matter as a family and to exercise that right in a manner pleasing and safe and stop shipping off their daughters and making them someone else’s problem when they “deviate”. The problem can be nipped in the bud.

Parents play a major role in every child’s life and being brought up with Afghan values and the culture is to be respected. However, we should keep in mind that times are changing and Afghan girls are no longer submissive and will not allow to be treated how they were back in the days. We have rights that are given to us and being able to select our life partner without feeling like running a marathon is an obvious one.

In conclusion, if you are still here reading then congratulations you are one step better at knowing what we deal with.

Bottom line is that the only way for an Afghan girl to get married is not with her cousin, who she calls her brother one day and is then walking down the aisle hand in hand with him the next day because her parents weren’t able to trust anyone else. She does not need to be shipped off and made somebody else’s business either (although this is not a bad idea sometimes but there may be backlash).

Taking your sweet time cruising through life and then realising the only way you will have kids is through IVF or adopting isn’t the way to go either and neither am I trying to say we need to be treated like princess’s. There needs to be a balance of what someone is comfortable with. As Afghans are pretty divided when it comes to being traditional, conservative or westernised, every family will have a different take on the issue. We just need to sit back a little and stop standing on our toes all the time. Otherwise it’s just a vicious cycle that never ends and creates more problems than it does solutions.

 

Muslims’ Obsession with Christmas

Muslims and Christmas
Muslims and Christmas

Every year close to Christmas you would see forums, blogs, chat rooms where some Muslims are talking about how Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus and Christians are wrong to celebrate it, and how it is not mentioned in the Bible.

It is one thing to tell your fellow Muslims not to celebrate Christmas and not to say “Merry Christmas”, but to keep talking about how wrong of the Christians to celebrate this is just ridiculous. Even a Da’wah TV program called “The Deen Show” had an interview with some scholar about the fact that Santa is not in the Bible.

Obviously we cannot get our priorities right. There are far more pressing issues that we Muslims face as a community and on individual levels. Our people are starving, war is destroying our homes, corruption is ruining our countries, yet as soon as Christmas or Easter is close, the same war against Christmas beings.

I frequent a forum that most of the members are Muslim. Every year there are new threads about all or some of the issues such as putting decorative lights up in Christmas, Saying Merry Christmas to Christians, Christmas is pagan holiday, Santa is a marketing scheme, Valentine’s day is Haram, Easter is not Christian in origin and the list goes on.

I am not sure I understand this obsession, but I am certain there are more important things in life. I thought here I’d give a list of activities in no particular order to delve into, instead of wasting your time offending Christians on their festive day:

  1. Volunteer to clean your local Masjid
  2. Memorize some verses of Qur’an
  3. Pray Nawafil
  4. Organise a social Halal event for Muslims
  5. Plant a tree
  6. Collect donation for the needy
  7. Prepare meal for homeless
  8. Volunteer at a shelter
  9. Register for foster parenting (You will be amazed how many Muslim kids need foster parenting)
  10. Take your parents out for dinner
  11. Go to YouTube and listen to a lecture
  12. Update your blog
  13. Donate to a charity organisation of your choice
  14. Tutor your younger siblings
  15. Read a story to little kids
  16. Prepare a meal for your family
  17. Recite longer Surrahs in your prayer
  18. Pick up your phone and call a friend that you haven’t spoken for a while
  19. Visit your grand parents
  20. Visit the Blog Etcetera and leave a comment or two.