Archive for October, 2010

More Like Insanity: Another Perspective

More Like Insanity

By Fatemah Meghji

Earlier this year, I stood for hours in the rain on the streets of New York to attend a filming of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. And I had a good time- I honestly enjoy it when Jon rips apart Fox News, CNN, and the joke of a media that exists. I also had the opportunity to ask Jon a question, and so, I asked him if his political commentary had a point in the larger scheme of things as he exposed the hypocrisies of the media and in a way, brought the reality of some situations to the forefront (for example, his clip on Operation Cast Lead). His response was that he was not trying to pursue any agenda or even portray the real news, that it was just humor meant to expose every absurdity, and that if the Daily Show took a stance, they would become the very demagogues they seek to mock. In fact, he said, “There is no point. That’s the point.” I was slightly disappointed in his response, but thought to myself that if he did have a point in what he did, he wasn’t going to tell the whole world about it- that would defeat the purpose if his agenda was noble in any way.

After this weekend though, I have to say that I honestly believe that you meant what you said, Jon, and I apologize for doubting you. And I’m positive that there is no point meant in your comedy nor do you intend to inspire anybody to stand up for real change in a disintegrating society. At the so-called Rally to Restore Sanity, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, you proved that the rally (if it can even be called a rally since rallies usually have a point) should have been called the Rally to Restore Ignorance and Apathy.
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31

10 2010

Rally for Sanity: My Perspective

As soon as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announced their rallies in D.C., my sister and I knew we had to get here. I’ve always been a big fan of their shows, mostly because they make me laugh on a daily basis, and everyone can use a laugh after a long day.

We decided to take a road trip from Chicago and set out on the 12-hour drive on Friday. It was an amazing day for a drive, and we felt a real camaraderie with all the other travelers we saw on the road with “Rally to Restore Sanity” or “March to Keep Fear Alive” posters on their cars. We honked at people with slogans on their windshields, and they were always excited to get a reaction from strangers on the road. We didn’t know what to expect from the event itself, but we knew that whatever happened, it would be a fun experience.

My sister, my cousin and I set out on Saturday morning from Arlington, Va. to catch the Metro into D.C., but we soon realized that wouldn’t be an easy task. The line snaked up the escalator with people waiting to purchase tickets. We quickly switched game plans and asked my cousin’s husband to drive us as far as he could without getting stuck in traffic. It was a pleasant surprise to see that there was absolutely no traffic in town because everyone decided to use public transport. Read the rest of this entry →

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30

10 2010

Forgiveness

For·give·ness [fer-giv-nis]

1. act of forgiving; state of being forgiven.
2. disposition or willingness to forgive. [1]

Forgiveness is a term that has become so foreign to us. In our daily interactions with various human beings, we consistently err due to our many imperfections. We hurt each other intentionally or unintentionally in all directions because of our misconduct. If we each contemplated on how many people we have hurt and how much we are in need of their forgiveness, we would not be as stingy in forgiving those who have wronged us. We like judging others and their faults while remaining blind to our own shortcomings. We rack our memories for the one time we helped a fellow human being, but easily forget how many times we have wronged them. A true believer’s mind should be humbled and occupied with trying to fix their own deficiencies to the point that they do not have the time to raise their head to focus on others’ faults.

It is even more fascinating how we fool ourselves into thinking we are gracious and forgiving. We say by our tongue that we forgive a person, yet we act contrary to this. We start talking behind that person’s back and ruin their reputation. I’ve seen horrific examples in our communities where one family has some conflicts with another family, resulting in bad mouthing and back-biting for years. You could live thousands of miles away from either family, and are still bound to hear something negative about one family or the other. It is so upsetting and disturbing how we let our tongues loose, and don’t realize how much we hurt people by it. We might even be a step higher in our act of forgiveness that we do not mention a person’s faults to others, but we still choose to distance ourselves from them. This is wrong as well. How would we feel if Allah distanced Himself from us for every sin we committed?

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29

10 2010

American Birthing

Americans attempt to control their environment in every possible way they can, and prepare for the worst possible scenario just in case. From terrorism to flu season to food poisoning outbreaks, we seem paralyzed by the thought that something “might” go wrong.  I am not sure from where this fear stems, but I also have no doubt that corporate interests and politicians play a role in financially maximizing the vulnerability we have as humans to feel secure.

I had never stopped to think about how irrational and anxiety-driven we truly are in this country until I began investigating our birthing practices.  I remember talking to a woman once, in my local community, who was planning a homebirth and I kept thinking, how irresponsible of this mother- what if something goes wrong? However, when I came to understand the process of giving birth and comparing our practices to other cultures in the world, my whole perspective changed.  For the remainder of this article, I will describe the current model of maternal care in The Netherlands.  I hope to deconstruct the image that many people have of maternity care and birthing in this country by providing a counter-example.  In the next articles that I write, I will describe the problems with our current system and steps that need to be taken to ameliorate the situation.

The basic premise of maternity care in The Netherlands is that pregnancy and birth are fundamentally normal and physiologic processes.  About one third (>30%) of women in The Netherlands give birth in their home; this rate is less than 1% in America (1).  Contrary to popular belief in America, the high home birth rate does not make The Netherlands an unsafe place for women to deliver babies.  In fact, the infant mortality rate in The Netherlands is significantly lower than the United States (1).

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26

10 2010

Vote

It’s just a matter of days until the mid-term elections. Because they’re just the mid-term elections, they might not seem as important, might not seem as big, but, the stakes are high. There are 37 states electing governors this year. That’s 37 races that will help define the future of 37 states –37 opportunities to make a real difference in our schools, 37 opportunities to fund universities, 37 opportunities to make a lasting difference in the environment. And then there is the political difference –these 37 new leaders will also help to redraw the political lines within their states, helping to determine the balance of power between two political parties, and within Congress.

And then there is Congress – our national legislators, our law makers. This is the body that passes our national budget, determines allocation of funds. There are 19 seats in play in the Senate, 109 seats in play in the House. These lawmakers will determine the future of health care reform, decide whether to ratify important international treaties, and generally impact the quality of our lives. They have the potential to drag our country to a standstill over politics as other countries continue to improve their schools and promote trade. Or, they have the potential to push a real reform agenda, partnering with the President to help improve the way that we govern.

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24

10 2010

Outlandish: An Overseas Phenomenon

Outlandish was born out of the creativity of three friends, Waqas Qadri, Isam Bachiri, and Lenny Martinez in Denmark in 1997. Originally from Morocco, Pakistan, and Honduras, they share common experiences from the youth clubs and soccer fields in the Western suburbs of Copenhagen. Outlandish, or OL, as their fan base refers to them, fuses American Hip Hop with Arab and Bollywood beats. Their song lyrics are in English, Danish, Spanish, Urdu, and Arabic and tackle issues such as religion, brotherhood, oppression, and politics, but also aspects of daily life. The band aims to create a musical narrative of contemporary society. This is “the vantage point called ‘the world we live in’, according to their website Outlandmoro.com. Although Waqas and Isam are Muslim, OL is not an exclusively Muslim band, with devout Catholic, Lenny Martinez who raps in Spanish, completing the trio.

In Europe, especially Denmark, OL has gained fame and following, garnering six Danish Music Award nominations and winning Best Hip Hop Album. Continentally, the song Aicha was an instant hit, climbing all the way to top of the charts all across Europe and propelling OL to radio stations, magazines, and even television. Their second album, Bread & Barrels of Water, took off after its release in 2002 which was followed by Closer Than Veins in 2005.

What has made OL popular among Muslims?

For many Muslims in the West, OL represents music that is compatible with their location, yet also identifiable lyrically. Some topics OL covers relate to Muslims directly such as Hajj, the Palestinian struggle, and Hijab. Many young Muslims use OL as a way to cope with the problems they face in the West. According to one Muslim student, “The religious aspect has been such a blessing, when you feel tired with life and you need that extra inspiration to go pray, I got that from [OL].”

Dira, a Muslima from New York explained that Muslims in America are constantly looking for inspiration, motivation, and ways to strengthen their Imaan which is something that OL did for her after seeing their music video of women wearing Hijab.

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22

10 2010

Where is a Woman’s Place?

Usually it’s right in front of the stove, stirring away. Or chasing a child around the house.

In many cultures, a woman is hardly thought of as the one doing anything important or worthwhile. In fact it is often joked about, usually in sitcoms.

Husband coming home from work: I am so tired.
Wife: No kidding. Me too.
Husband to wife: Why you? You were home all day. How can you be tired?
Wife: Uh, I was potty training Junior. Then I washed clothes and folded laundry. Later, I had to pick up the kids from school, do grocery shopping, mail a package, then run back home to start dinner.
Husband: Yeah, but that’s your job.
Wife: (Evil glare.)

I grew up with a stay-at-home mom. She was always there and always doing the typical “mom” things: cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc. So it felt a bit odd when I became the full-time professional and soon had my own child. I became something I had never known: I became a working mom. I swore I would never do it, but I loved my job as an editor. I also had a trustworthy babysitter – my stay-at-home mom.
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15

10 2010

Travelers of this World: Spiritual and Physical

يَا أَيُّهَا الْإِنسَانُ إِنَّكَ كَادِحٌ  إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ كَدْحًا فَمُلَاقِيهِ

O man! surely you must strive (to attain) to your Lord, a hard striving until you meet Him. (Quran 84:6)

There are two types of traveling in this world: the spiritual and material. The material travel would be defined as the physical transportation of a person from one location to the next, similar to when one takes a vacation. The spiritual travel is the traveling of a person’s soul, and as a consequence, the spiritual growth they attain throughout their life.

1. Destination: For any type of traveling, there needs to be a starting and ending location. When a person goes on a vacation, they leave their hometown for another place. In the spiritual journey, one is traveling from Allah and returning back to Him: “To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return” (Quran 2:156).

2. Items: In both trips you need to go prepared- so you pack and take your necessities with you. In a physical journey, this entails taking some basic things such as clothing and food. In the spiritual journey, one only takes their actions. As Imam Ali (as) states: What a long way this is and how little are my provisions.

3.  Perishable items: When a person is taking a road trip, they usually don’t take perishable items, such as meat. They know it will rot. In the spiritual journey be careful not to take someone along who will destroy your soul and leave it diseased.

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13

10 2010

A Real American Hero

“O you who believe! If you fear Allah, He will grant you a Criterion (to judge between right and wrong)…” (Surah al-Anfal; 8:29)

They ask why I love you; you were an ordinary man;
I tell them I can’t put it into words, maybe you can?

They say we are irrational, always talking conspiracies;
You started a speech “Ladies and Gentlemen, friends & enemies…”

They say to Mahmoud, it’s no time for twin tower truth;
But you said at JFK’s death, “chickens coming home to roost.”

They say my-way or the highway, some leaders these days;
Don’t confuse “methods with the objectives” that was your way.

They said Obama is better; let’s vote for him this time!
You said a “ballot is like a bullet,” so I didn’t use mine.
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10

10 2010

Despair

Har jagah mere chamakne se ujla hojai

Average Destruction of 2005 Earthquake in Kashmir

October 8th marks the anniversary for the massive earthquake that jarred Kashmir and left more than more than 80,000 dead, mostly children in their schools.  Dead before they had really ever had a chance to live.

When I went to Kashmir several months later to try to do my part, I was overcome by the injustice of what had happened. But, I left with some semblance of hope — hope in the beauty of the people I had met there; hope in the children who I had played with, who had taught me so much; hope in the future; hope in Pakistan.

Kashmir: Teaching in Tent

Now, five years later, I struggle to look at Pakistan without despair. Since then, a cyclone devastated Baluchistan, fighting destroyed Swat, conflict has torn apart the frontier and bombs at the hands of Muslims have ripped apart the very heart and soul of a once great nation. If the country was not tattered enough, August brought forth one of the great plagues: floods. Floods that have literally drowned a nation. Floods that have

BBC: Extent of Flooding

wiped out crops — wiped out next year’s food for a nation of 180 million people. Floods that have destroyed homes, destroyed houses, destroyed roads and bridges. Floods that have destroyed lives. Floods that have been so cruel as to have killed children; children who are pure, who are innocent, who haven’t even had a chance to live yet. Floods that have washed up mud, but have also washed off dirt from the problems of poverty, that have brought to light the injustice and inequity of the past 60 years. Floods that have left children more vulnerable, more hurt, more victimized than ever before.

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08

10 2010