Monthly Archives: March 2012

What is your price?

Today, many Americans waited in long queues hoping to be 1 out of 175 million to win the $640 million mega lottery prize. The prize money is so big it made me ponder. In movies, the bad guy sometimes asks the good guy “what is your price?” This typical statement indicates that every man has a price that will make him deviate from whatever he stands for.

In Islam, lottery is considered one form of gambling and therefore it is haram (unlawful). As far as I know, without exceptions, all Muslim scholars agreed that gambling is a sin regardless of the way it is executed.

If no one wins Friday night, the jackpot will grow to $975 million. Lottery officials are considering moving the next drawing after Friday to Times Square in New York City as the anticipation and jackpot build, DeFrancisco said.

It is very easy for us to keep away from something when we don’t like it. For example, eating pork in Islam is haram and since Muslims grow up not eating pork meat it is very easy for them to not crave it. So, I don’t think Muslims struggle by not eating pork meat. There are Muslims though who drink alcohol and refuse to eat pork. They claim they don’t eat pork because it is haram but they can’t answer why they drink alcohol although drinking is a bigger sin than eating pork. My answer is because not eating pork is much easier thing to do than not drinking alcohol. There are many such examples. My idea is that we very often follow our religion’s command when it is easy to do or falls under our habits, cultures or traditions.

Now, going back to the $640 million lottery. How about buying a lottery ticket for a chance to win $600 million? I am sure many Muslims including myself will say “NEVER.” But let us make it a more challenging thing to test our belief, integrity, honesty or whatever makes us good followers of the religion*. What if the chance of winning the lottery is not 1 in 175 million but is 1 in 2. Assume no one won the lottery and only two tickets left. You got a chance to buy one ticket. You know for sure that one of the two tickets will make you $600 million richer. Would you buy this $1 ticket?**

If you answered no then you are not honest. Unless we are in the same situation we can’t answer this question. If you are a religious person you would hope to still say no and not disobey God no matter what but you don’t know yourself unless you are in the same situation. I don’t know whether every man has a price or not but I think our values are not unbreakable as we love to believe.

* Do you know of other religion, beside Islam, that considers gambling or lottery to be a sin?

** This question is for people who don’t buy lottery tickets because of their religion.

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Las Vegas – Le Rêve

Instantly, as we prepared to sit on our designated seats at Wynn’s Las Vegas theater we felt we were in a magical place. The theater was nothing like anything we have seen before. Unlike others the stage is in the center of the theater surrounded by the audience seats. To our excitement the stage was covered by fog and we could feel that below the thick layer of fog was water. Something like a pool.  If the scene of the theater from inside was not enchanting enough we could feel cool mists all over the place.

Of course as much as we were enchanted by the theater the performance was spectacular and unequivalent to anything I have seen before. Le Reve means the dream and indeed everything about this show feels like a beautiful dream. I can write forever about the show but I am sure whatever I write can never give the show the least amount of credit it deserves. It is simply outstanding and a dream that I hope I will never forget. If you ever visited Las Vegas make sure not to miss this one.

Unfortunately, taking pictures was not allowed so I am using the theater’s website pictures:

Wynn Theater

Why hate groups and hate crimes are in the rise?

It amazes me how the land of enforced zero-tolerance law, democracy, freedom and political correctness is still exposed to hate crimes. Such place should have the lowest number of hate crimes. However, what is good about the US is that it is the land of numbers and statistics as well.

The number of groups whose ideology is organized against specific racial, religious, sexual or other characteristics has risen steadily since 2000, when 602 were identified, the [Southern Poverty Law] center said… In 2011, the center tracked 1,274 of those groups, up from 824 the year before. [Source: NYT]

Hate Groups in the USA 2000 - 2011

I wonder what actions the US took or is going to take to reduce these numbers and equally important to study why hate groups are in the rise?

The following are three shocking crimes the nation is talking about:

A 32-year-old Iraqi mother of five who was found severely beaten, by her 17-year-old daughter in their home, next to a threatening note saying “go back to your country” died on Saturday March 24th. [Source: yahoo]

A more controversial [hate] crime took place in Florida where a 17-year-old black teen was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman. The incident has turned questions about race and guns into a national debate. [Source: latimes]

This week, three white Mississippi men pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes in connection with the 2011 beating death of an African-American man. Anderson, 47, died after he was beaten and run over by a truck driven by Dedmon, who was part of a group of seven white youths who decided to “go f**k with some niggers” after a night of partying and drinking, law enforcement officials have said, quoting some of the suspects in the case. [Source: cnn]

As much as we like to brag about loving and practicing freedom of speech but sometimes not taking action against a hate group may lead to such crimes or at least may cause unfavorable consequences.

Doing good while we can

Two weeks ago, during one weekday, about sixty men meet after midday to fulfill a mission they felt it was obligatory on them. Sixty men meet at the same time and same place for the sake of one man. Some of these men skipped their lunch others missed their classes to be in the town’s only masjid (mosque). When everyone was ready they rode their cars and headed thirty miles south of the town to another nearby city.

When we reached our destination more men were waiting for us. Our destination was a plain land. It was very muddy because of last night’s heavy rain. We walked in silence. I could hear some men whispering others were murmuring.

The recently dug out grave at the other end of the small land was deep. The three men who jumped into the grave to pull the body down were covered up to their chests. Couple of men gave directions on how to properly place the body according to the Islamic tradition and what to say while the body is pulled down and laid properly. Others stepped up to help, each carrying a shovel ready to cover the grave. I moved back to give space for those who want to help not just to stand still and watch. I am not at my best in such situations.

The man whom we lost was no angle or prophet. He was a normal man. Yet, when he passed away I heard nothing but good things about him. How he comes to the masjid everyday. How he is always smiling. How much he likes kids. How much he helps with the masjid’s maintenance. I knew him for eight hears and yes he is all that. But the problem is why we only remember the good things about people only when we lose them? He was born in Pakistan among his Pakistani blood family and buried in the Midwest among a new bigger multiracial and multinational family.

After we laid down our deceased in the five feet grave and then fully covered him with the muddy soil we prayed for him a better life in a better place. When we were done the sixty men headed back to their usual businesses except one whom we left there for good.

Death, unparalleled to any other fact, is the only reality that constantly reminds us that we are helpless in front of God’s will. It is a sign that while living this short life we need to be at our best behavior. Life is so short to be wasted …