Monthly Archives: September 2010

Farewell to Summer 2010

I can’t believe summer is over, it passed so fast.  Since a picture is worth 1000 words here are the things that I will miss seeing, enjoying or doing during this fall:

 

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Opening the living room’s window and enjoying the view of green trees while working or reading Jordanian blogs.

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Enjoying my coffee with the sweet taste of Orange muffins or the sugary mango smoothie at It’s Grind’s patio. You got to love the sunshine.

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Sipping espresso, American, or Turkish coffee outside my apartment on early Saturday and Sunday morning while reading a book or watching Aljazeera on my iPod. image
image Morning dew image yes, morning dew
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Colorful birds

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and squirrels

 

See previous related posts:

Spring 2010 – I

Spring 2010 – II

Winter

Autumn

Summer

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Where did monkeys come from?

I could care less for both Christine O’Donnell (Tea Party and Republican politician) and Bill Maher (comedian who is known of his mockery of religions) but they are both now in the news. Recently, Bill Maher showed a clip from a 1998 program were Christine O’Donnell was a guest in his show. In that show, she said “evolution is a myth.” Of course his reason behind showing this video is to tell American voters that she is stupid, as simple as that.

 

I don’t know everything about the science of evolution. But the video specifically talked about the origin of man which I am very sure of. Man is created by God in the best form.

الَّذِي خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ

“Who hath created, and further, given order and proportion” [Quran translation by Yusuf  Ali: Al-A’la (87:2)].

The mockery, in the video, on O’Donnell is that she didn’t believe humans are an evolution of monkeys so she is stupid. Bill Maher even wonders how such person “could be in the senate” . In another word, he can’t imagine that someone who believes in God could be in the senate. Creation vs. Evolution is the biggest debatable subject in the American schools. Apparently, it is an issue that will never resolve anytime soon. I once read in the Time magazine (couple of years ago) that this issue is very sensitive people in the Academia never openly talk about it if they are siding with creation over evolution. Some professors in biology or related fields don’t even talk about it because they are afraid they might not get tenure. According to seculars you can’t be a scientist and believe in God.

Culture Shock in the Middle East

This is a true story as told by a conservative American Family from a small town in the Midwest. The Johnson (not their real surname) in the early 90s decided to visit Egypt. It was their first visit to the Middles East. The Johnson family was of the father, the mother and their two children.

Due to the long trip and because they reached their hotel in Cairo late at night they decided to have dinner in the hotel and sleep afterward. The next morning, all the four family members were so happy and excited of what they are going to see and experience; the pyramids, the desert, the camels, the souk, and the new faces and culture of course. The parents thought it will be the  journey of the lifetime for them and for their two children. Before even anyone go to freshen up the mother opened the curtain so they all can take a glimpse of what they are going to explore specially after hearing the loud sound of people and cars’ horns. The family stepped out onto the balcony which has a view of the downtown.

After couple of minutes of excitement, Mom and Dad weren’t as happy as their kids. They saw something they could never imagine it could happen in a conservative Muslim country, at least not in public and that excessive. Both parents were in shock, they asked the kids to go inside to freshen up so they can go to eat their breakfast. They just wanted to distract their kids while they think what they are going to do. Closing the curtain was the first thing the mother thought of.

The Johnson spent almost two days inside the hotel not going anywhere until another tourist explained to them that the public display of affection among men and among women should not be interpreted as homosexuality rather it is a culture thing. It is culturally accepted for men to walk hand in hand and kiss each others on the cheek in public and it is the same for women.

Upon understanding this weird culture habit the Johnson family was ready to enjoy the magnificent Cairo and they did.

And for this unexplained culture behavior, rarely you see Arab men kiss on the cheek in America and almost never on the streets. Instead, hugging is used as the preferred method of showing affection. Also, at no time you can see two heterosexual Arab men walking hand in hand on the downtowns or beaches of the USA because they know how this behavior is interpreted here.

Natural Contradiction

The continuity and progression of life is due to the natural contradiction God created.  Adam and Eve were created different to be able spawn new lives. The differences between Adam and Eve existed not for the sake of reproduction only but for the two to happily enjoy their life as two different species, a man and a woman, as long as they both live under God’s obedience.  

We said: "O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression." [Quran: Al-Baqara (2:35)]

Prophet Muhammad (Salla Allah Aleh Wa Salam) teaches us that God created us different:

Allah created Adam from a handful of dust taken from different lands, so the children of Adam have been created according to the composition of the land. Therefore from mankind we have white, red, black and yellow ones; we have good and evil, ease and sorrow, and what comes in between them. [Hadith: Sahih al Bukhari]

Thus, principally the life on earth is based on the natural contradiction, not similarity, God created. The cause of our problems on earth started when we failed to comprehend the fact that we are created different. Allah says:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). [Quran: Al-Hujurat (49:13)]

It is natural that we are different. Even physics laws tell us that only when a positive pole and a negative pole come close to each other a magnetic field or electric current will be generated. The simple rule is opposite attracts not repels. Alas, we don’t abide by this rule; we think that different people will harm us not help us.

It is due to Allah first then a Christian friend that I have never been to nightclubs or bars. Ten year ago, some Non-Muslim lab mates asked me, two other Muslims and our Christian friend to go with them to a nightclub. I was never been to a nightclub before so I didn’t mind going to see with my own eye what I usually see on movies. Besides, my other two Muslim friends were going so I said why not. Our Christian friend on the other hand refused to go because he didn’t want to see lots of women’s skins and people drinking. Allah reminded me through a Christian what is haraam (forbidden). He asks me lots of difficult questions that I don’t have answer to. I never felt annoyed or deceived because of his questions. He likes me because I answer honestly what I know. The fact that he wakes up before 6 am in the morning every day to read from the Bible makes me sure of his love to Allah.

It is only those who don’t understand their religion would rather eradicate others than accept them into their religion. 

Muslims’ Nightlife

During Ramadan and other festivities like Eid and Friday prayer Mosques no longer can accommodate the huge number of worshippers so people pray around the Mosques. This is a video shot in Alexandria during the 27th of Ramadan 1431 Hijri (September 2010). The video brought tears to my eye and made me feel very proud of my religion and what it stands for.

Islam was, is and will be the religion of justice and peace regardless of what some, so called, Muslims want it to be. Spreading Islam should be done by making others love you not fear you, that is the true message of Islam.

 

The Man Waiting to be Rescued

This is a story I once heard form a friend. I don’t know the source or the origin of this story but it sure has some lessons to learn from.

It has been said that a small town was hit by a devastating flood. The disaster was so severe it caused the town to drown in water and consequently many people died. Survivors climbed to the roof of their houses waiting for help since the only way to move around was by boat or whatever that could float.

Some locals who have small boats started helping people moving to dry areas. One of the survivors was known by everyone in the town to be a religious man. He was alone on top of his house praying and asking God for help. Of course, he didn’t forget to thank God for rescuing him from death. During his uninterrupted praying and supplication a small boat full of people came by. A man on the boat asked him to jump and come with them but he refused  and told them that the boat is too small to take them all and so he will wait for the proper help. Actually, he was waiting for the city’s big and safe boats. Unfortunately for this man he was living far from the town’s housing area and because of that he had to wait until the next day to see the second rescue boat. This boat was also owned by a local, it was full of people but a little bit bigger than the previous one. But again the man refused to go with them and told them that he will wait for the proper help.  In the third day, the man became physically weak but he was still strong spiritually and believed that help will eventually come and so he continued to pray day and night. The proper help from the city or the government the man was waiting for never came but instead a third small boat came. Again, he refused to join them, although there were only two persons inboard, assuring them that the city will send him help soon since it is already three days since the flood occurred.

Later, after couple more days and no more rescue boats the man died when he got very sick and ran out of food. The story says that the man was angry because of the way he was left to die alone without being rescued by God. When the man meet with God he was eager to ask him why he left him to die alone and didn’t send rescue although he spent all the time praying to him. Moreover, he continued to brag about his trust, believe and devotion to God. When he finished, God replied “I know how much you love me and for that I sent you help three times!”

Rev. Deborah C. Lindsay Preaching on Islamophobia

This is part of a sermon that both Muslims and Christians need to listen to. A very powerful and emotional message from Rev. Deborah C. Lindsay, First Community Church, Columbus, OH. I first knew about it this morning from Al-Arabia website [Arabic]. But it seems the video is spreading among Muslims on facebook.

She was very accurate of blaming the media accusing it of spreading fear among Americans:

There are too many people getting too much face time on television who claim exhausted status for Christianity and who are demeaning other faith traditions particularly that of Islam and my friends this has got to stop.

She then talked about religion humility:

A conversation about God demand grace and openness and wiliness to learn, to have our own ideas challenged, our conviction questioned. These are the hallmarks of humility… When you speak of God your voice should shake a little.

She explained very gracefully the message of the Quran and quoted a verse from the Quran which has an equivalent in the Bible:

But also like the bible the predominant message of the Quran is of peace and care and  loving God justice care for the neighbor care for the stranger. In the Bible we have thou shall not kill. In the Quran we have whoever kills another surely he is killing all of humanity and whoever saves the life of another surely he saves the lives of all humanity. These are words of peace words of faith words that could save the world, if we will take them to heart.

And her final message is:

Don’t focus on this tiny group of extremists who commit acts of violence, focus on the hundreds of millions of Muslim people in world who are people of faith whose priorities and concerns and families are not so different from your own.

I highly recommend watching the video, it is really a very interesting and gets emotional at the end. Thank you, Rev. Deborah C. Lindsay. People in the Muslim world will appreciate such openness and religion humility.

Friendship!

During the low times in my life I may sometime feel a sort of narcissism and brag to myself that I am better than others. I would tell myself that I am a very good person and may selfishly and foolishly believe that I am one of a kind. But I believe Almighty would always send us different signs and it is up to us to whether learn something from these messages or not. Here are four signs that should keep me humble and remind me that there are always people out there who are better than me (or I, if you wish).

  • An invitation — During the 30 days of Ramadan I have been invited to Iftar (breaking the fast) by many friends but two friends asked me to have Iftar with their families every single day. They both insisted that I eat in their houses for the whole month of Ramadan. Those are not relatives or childhood friends they are two men who I only knew during my expat years.
  • A phone call — Three days before Eid Al-Fitr a very dear friend popped up in my dream. I have not seen or talked to him for about three years. This same friend called me on the first day of Eid to say hello and wish me a happy Eid. The dream was an indication that I should have called him but he imagepreceded me in doing good.
  • A gift – Only one day before Eid I received by mail a very dear gift to my stomach (a Baklawa mix) from a very close friend from another state. Receiving a gift out of no where is out of the ordinary and sending a gift to someone by mail is a beautiful gesture by kind people.
  • A traveler — A friend drove three and half hours to spend this Eid with us  here in the city.

A dear friend is not necessarily someone who is close in proximity to you; he might be very far away but still remembers and cares about you. Lucky are those who have many good friends, lucky me!

What Germany Needs to Learn from America?

imageWhile 1.5 Billion Muslims are preparing for their Eid festivity German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to ignore the feelings of Muslims and insult them by honoring Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard with a press freedom award.

The illustrations triggered riots around the world that caused at least 50 deaths [WSJ]. Yet, in the eye of Germany Westergaard  is a hero.

BBC

Presenting him with a press freedom award, Mrs Merkel said Mr Westergaard was entitled to draw his caricatures. "Europe is a place where a cartoonist is allowed to draw something like this," she said.

"It’s about whether in a Western society with its values he [Mr Westergaard] is allowed to publish his Muhammad cartoons, or not. Is he allowed to do it? Yes he is," Ms Merkel said.

Germany, definitely didn’t get this one right especially that its leader was involved in honoring a man who caused so much pain to 1.5 Billion Muslims. This stupid, ignorant and childish act by German Chancellor is no doubt a strong message to Muslims in Europe.

Luckily on the other hand, America stood firmly against the burning of the Quran. Everyone from President Obama, to Christian leaders, to politicians, to common citizens they all condemned the burning of the Quran. Instead of bragging about freedom-of-speech as European leaders did when the 2005 cartoons published, top politician and religious leaders condemned this act which led the pastor to cancel his stupid plan.

A applaud to America for standing against what parts its citizens regardless of their religion.

Wish you a happy and blessed Eid!