Archive for August, 2011

Libya: The Case Against False Dichotomy

The spark for Libya, which ignited much of the protests and demonstrations highlighted by the mainstream media, was struck in and around mid-February – only a few days after the fall of Mubarak. The timeline in this case is fairly important in assessing how quickly things have progressed in the country – from rising action to the climax, where we seem to stand now. In late February is where we begin to see actual movement by the international community, including the Arab League which suspended Libya from meetings until the crisis in the country would end.

During late February, the National Transitional Council – which is the oppositions political body, now recognized by over 45 countries as Libya’s legitimate government, was also created. The executive board was formed in March, chaired by Mustafa Abdul Jalil former Minister of Justice under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

In March the UN declared a no-fly-zone over Libya, supported by the international community and NTC chairman Mustafa Jalil who called for its “immediate” placement, wherein NATO swiftly assumed command – arming and bolstering the rebels against Gaddafi’s regime and coordinating airstrikes. Prior to the implementation of the no-fly-zone over Libya there were arguments being made against such a maneuver; that bombing Libya’s air-defense would cause civilian casualties,which it did. In June NATO admitted to killing nine civilians, including two children, claiming that one of its air-strikes “went astray”. In August NATO was once again accused of killing Libyans, this time 85, in Zlitan; among the 85 killed were 32 women and 33 children when NATO targeted a residential area, shown below.

The number of civilian casualties has not been fully disclosed but one can assume the body count is climbing as we find ourselves watching a war unfold, a mixture of NATO-backed rebels versus Gaddafi loyalists and Libyans against NATO involvement who are also being targeted.

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08 2011

Gallery #3

Walking the street, pacing
the pious venerate, worship, diker
in Gallery #3

Those that have been waiting
pacing, revelation, visions
Gallery #3

Even I am
where, I
cannot find me
pacing, diker, revelation
Gallery #3
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08 2011


Force of a million souls—marching
force of a million souls—chanting
the force of a million souls

Revolutions hold us silent
between the chanting streets
a mother’s warmth comforts
a child’s fingers grasp
silent children
child silence

Eyes that escape us now
lost amid a mid-evil tapestry
those eyes



08 2011

“Contradictions Collapse”: Moral Dignity and Spending

“You only look smart.

You read about consumerism using Starbucks receipts as a bookmark.”[1]

In response to a question posed to me on a DePaul University radio show called Writing Our Story[2] faith I considered how my personal spending habits links me to worldwide suffering.

I believe there is often an inverse relationship between how much we spend and the amount of exploitation we are responsible for perpetuating. This is an important notion to consider in the context of the ideals that Muslims place on themselves.
Many active Muslims call for believers to detach from extravagant stuff and call for establishing Justice in their lives.

Within our frames of understanding, do these lead to a:

“Contradiction” from the Merriam Webster’s online dictionary: “a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent or contrary to one another.”

Let me make this a little more straight-forward. Some measure their frugality by the amount of money they spend on items.

  1. Instead of purchasing high-quality food they purchase processed or genetically modified foods.
  2. Instead of buying long-wearing, sustainable clothing they purchase their clothing at large department stores.
  3. Instead of buying high-quality, sturdy furniture they purchase flimsy pieces.


One of my contentions is that this frugality might actually plunge us deeper into systems of exploitation.[3]

  1. When one chooses cheaply-made foods over organic, fair-trade options one is buying into items that may use slave-labour or crops harvested by under-paid, migrant workers. Mass-produced, factory-foods are also ecologically unsustainable (especially meat products). Multi-national corporations run the food-game and this leads to damaging effects to all who……eat……or starve.[4] This is all said without considering health-effects.
  2. My inverse-relationship theory is weak in the clothing department primarily because many expensive, “high-end” brands also use exploitation to produce their garments. But, generally speaking, affordable, cheap clothing and footwear is made in sweat-shops. In some cases, children and women are being overworked and underpaid…for those sweet kicks.
  3. The furniture sold in the US is often made of rather cheap material. This leads to a high turn-around rate. We no longer repair our items—furniture, appliances, electronics—we just toss them and upgrade! I wonder how long the earth will take that.


In general terms I want to say that we should begin thinking about a few things. Perhaps our framework of buying cheap to be zahid (detached) needs to change. When we get suckered into buying cheap items that are produced by over-worked fellow humans, fall apart in no-time and destroy the earth, are we really being true to Islamic teachings because only paid 20 bucks for the shoes in our closet?

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08 2011