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

Muslim Girl Problems

My current obsession is the Twitter site

Some samples of her tweets:

love when a muslim grl announces her engagement to nonmuslim friends & they say”we didnt know u were dating someone!” #thatsbcwemet4daysago

my cousin got yelled at by her parents because she does not know how to iron and cook properly #shesaneurosurgeon

We all remember the day when someone told us we shouldn’t eat Lucky Charms and marshmallows bc there is pig in it. #wehatethatperson

I know there are people who aren’t happy with her observations or don’t think she’s funny, but I think she speaks to the majority of Muslims.

There are certain issues that come along with being a Muslim, and it’s fun to read someone else reflect on them in a “I totally know what you mean” way.

I’ve read plenty of literature written by Muslims, and my issue with these books has always been that I can’t relate to the experience that they’re putting across. Muslims tend to gloss over any realities of growing up with Islam and sugarcoat it for a non-Muslim audience. Read the rest of this entry →



07 2011

Coexist For a Good Cause

I work at a Christian-based non-profit organization called Mobile Loaves & Fishes, which feeds and houses the homeless in six cities across the U.S.  It was originally founded as a ministry of the St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Austin, Texas.  I applied to work here because I wanted to go home at the end of the day and feel like I’d made a positive contribution to the world.

The person who interviewed me is member of the Catholic clergy.   As my affiliations with Muslim organizations are very prominent on my resume, it was amusing to watch him choose his words delicately.  With great effort to avoid breaking employment laws, he attempted to find out how comfortable I would be working in a Christian environment.  I assured him as best I could that it would not be a problem for me.

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07 2011

T.S Eliot and Ezra Pound Degrade Life

In Washington Square Park–I purchased 1951 collection of poetry from one of my favorite poets Pablo Neruda. It was published by a leftist magazine called Masses & Mainstream, and sheds some much needed light on two modern paragons of poetry–T.S Eliot and Ezra Pound.

The introduction states:

As Neruda has said, before the warhawks of Wall Street and Washington can hurl the atom bomb they must first annihilate men morally. That is the mission of of their poets–the T.S Eliot and Ezra Pounds who degrade life and stultify the will to resist destruction. To this literature of decay and death Pablo Neruda opposes an art of moral grandeur…

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07 2011

Conversation with the Beloved

I said: “I will become the lover and you will become the beloved”

You glanced with kindness: “Are you sure?”

I said: “You’ll see”

You said: “I will be the lover, you the beloved”

I said: “No don’t say that … I’ll get upset”

You said: “You’ll see”

I said: “Doesn’t matter, you the lover and me the beloved or the other way around, let’s begin”

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07 2011

Difference and Representation

In Michael Cook’s Forbidding the Wrong in Islam—an abridged version of his Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought— a striking difference of opinion amongst Muslim jurists is shown in the picture he paints of “the duty”—to forbid wrong. One sees differences amongst jurists about the legality of certain musical instruments; some jurists forbade all instruments while others allowed for the use of some in certain circumstances.  On a much more problematic level there is a wide variety of opinions on the issue of taking up arms in order to enjoin good and forbid evil; some scholars reserved the right of the use of the sword and force to forbid wrong for the state only while others held that individuals can choose to use force without any recourse to any social or political authority or consensus. The implications here are immense: How does a Muslim society run itself if the people take a variety of juristic opinions with the assumption that these are all “legitimate”?

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06 2011

Can You Believe What She’s Wearing?

Just last week, when I went to the local masjid to pray jumuah, I was told I wasn’t dressed properly. I left the house thinking I looked perfectly appropriate for prayer, but apparently my sleeves were too short. It was a hot day, and I chose to wear something a little shorter than I normally would have. The sleeves were a little revealing, sure, but probably not something you would notice unless you were looking for fault with someone. And there’s definitely nothing scandalous about my wrists, I assure you.

I’m also working on a project at the same masjid, and one of the other volunteers was worried about the way she dresses. She’d never been to this masjid before, but she wants to get involved. She has some great ideas and is very enthusiastic. But, her one worry is that someone will call her out on the fact that her shirt may be deemed too tight or that strands of her hair are showing.

While I’ve tried to reassure her, there’s no hiding the fact that Muslims can be pretty judgmental when it comes to other Muslims. I know it’s not too much of a stretch that someone at some masjid has probably told this woman that she’s not dressed properly.

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06 2011