Monthly Archives: April 2012

The problem with Eltahawy’s argument

A good Muslim is the one who is moderate in his belief and practice. I do agree with this statement. Moderation is actually a key teaching in Islam. But the definition of moderate is different according to Americans and Europeans. A Moderate Muslim is one whose ideology and practice are agreeable to the American and European societies.

For example, Muslim women not wearing hijab and out spoken about how Muslim men are using their women as slaves are considered moderate Muslims. Mona Eltahawy, Ayaan Hirsi Al and Irshad Manji are best examples of how a moderate Muslims should be. The west takes them for granted as how Muslim women should be and urge all Muslim women to take them as role models. According to many Westerners, it is a FACT that Muslim men are selfish, abusing, polygamists, and wives beating. Hence, Muslim women should rebel against their masters.

One good thing about Eltahawy’s article is that many women, Muslims and non-Muslims, even Muslim feminists didn’t accept her argument that Muslim men hate women. There were huge numbers of articles against her argument. For anyone who has the slightest knowledge in conducting research can easily falsify her argument. Eltahawy’s based her article on listing some examples of how Muslim men treat women. Don’t you think we can list some bad examples from any culture and conclude with a result that will support our claim? But of course the western media is not interested in such article unless it is about Muslim weirdos. Since 1975 number of abortion operations in the U.S. never falls under 1 million. The total number of abortions performed in the U.S. since 1973 equals 54,559,615 [source]. Did all Americans participate in terminating the lives of 54 million fetuses? Did all Americans support the killing of 1 million fetuses every year? I always say that every culture has its good and bad practices. To generalize about the entire culture is very condescending and simplistic way of thinking.

While thousands of brave Arab men been savagely killed, jailed, and tortured to secure a better life to their families -ironically this includes mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and female relatives- during this current “Arab Revolution”, Eltahawy chose to climb to the top of the media ladder and secure fame in Western media. She took advantage of an old Western cliché that Muslim men abuse their women and built her argument on that. I believe her article would harms and damages any support Arabs would receive from Americans and Europeans to seek freedom from tyrant regimes. She offered a Carte Blanche to the West to not support any change in the Arab world fearing of monsters taking control of the country.

On behalf of Arab husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers who work very hard to make sure that they can put food on their families table out of LOVE for their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters I say you are wrong Mona Eltahawy and those women who celebrated your article. I would like to ask those women to be fair and answer why millions of Arab men cross the borders far away from their homes? And why thousands of North African men put their lives at risk crossing the Mediterranean Sea on small boats?

Although there are many bad practices by Muslim men but Eltahawy’s article was a cheap way to take advantage of abused Muslim women instead of helping their cause. I don’t think trashing a culture and religion, like Eltahawy’s did, is meant to be a positive criticism rather it was a way to secure many columns in Western newspapers and magazines.

Picture America: Smoke free property

It is been years since I saw anyone smoking indoors. Luckily, recently a more strict ban on smoking has been initiated by some institutes; that is, smoke-free property. My university is going to be a smoke-free campus by January 2014. Currently, smoking is allowed only on few designated open areas on campus. I wonder what would be next to limit more smoking in the USA? Would the USA be one day a smoke-free zone?

Here is some pictures of our city’s public library and its smoke-free property sign.

Arabs Media – A reality check from a 1968 theater play

Once in an English Communication class, attended by only international students, we had a discussion about printed newspapers. A South Korean student mentioned how his government limits number of copies printed for each privately-owned newspaper. Our American teacher didn’t infer the reason since logically the more newspapers sold the more taxes the government generates. I explained to the instructor that some governments have their own newspaper, or government-sponsored, hence they want to make sure that their word takes precedence over other opinions, money comes second to what they need to convince the public about.

Jordanian government for example used, and maybe still, requires public companies and institutes to advertise in government sponsored newspaper. This way the government makes sure their newspaper never goes out of print.

In the Lebanese theater play Al-Shakhes  (loosely translated as The Governor or the Ruler), 1968, the city manager ordered all street vendors to be moved away before the governor’s arrival. This practice is done in most if not all Arab countries to show the ruler that the country is doing great under his wise leadership; advanced, clean, safe and no poor people. During the governor’s visit a female street vendor showed up and caused some disturbance. Here is an excerpt* of what happened next:

City manager:Yes, press secretary?
Press secretary: We sent the complaint to the court.
City manager: And what did the newspapers say?
Press secretary: They condemned what the woman did.
City manager: All newspapers?
Press secretary: Those with us wrote for our sake.
City manager: Did anyone send telegram [to us condemning what the woman did]?
Press secretary: No one yet.
City manager: Send to those who usually send to send us a telegram.

More than four decades have passed and I don’t think we have seen much improvement since then. And of course internet soon to join what governments control since governments know best.
* In Arabic:

نعم يا أمين السر؟
حولنا الدعوه على المحكمه
والجرايد شو أآلت؟
استنكرت عمل البنت يللي اساءت للشخص
كل الجرايد؟
اللي معنا كتبوا معنا
حدى بعت برئيات؟
بعد ما في برئيات
ابعتوا للي بيبعتوا خليهم يبعتوا

Expressing who you are in your resume

I found the answer of the question below interesting, since I can relate to it, while reading the book “Can I wear my nose ring to the interview?” by Ellen Gordon Reeves.

I am frequently asked if -and how- one should indicate things like race, socioeconomic status, religion, sense of humor, sexual or political orientation, health and marital status. If you wish to define yourself in some particular way, it’s easiest to do it in the Activities and Interests section of your resume: Gay students’ Association, Church Choir, Campus Hillel African-American Students’ Association, Young Republicans Club, and so on. Markers can work for or against you, depending on your reader’s personality and politics. Usually it’s worth the risk: By showing your true colors, you can find like-minded colleagues, increasing the chances of a comfortable work environment.

I asked many professionals similar question but no one seems to have a good definitive answer. I agree with the answer given by the author here. One should be forward about who he or she is especially for practicing Muslims, in non-Muslim countries, who need to pray during business hours. Muslim women may also want to ask about the dress code for some particular jobs.

In my resume, among other training or activities I include the following:

Muslim Student Organization (MSO), President 2009/2010
Muslim Student Organization (MSO), Treasurer 2005/2006
Islamic Center of Rolla-Missouri, Treasurer 2003/2004

As the author mentioned, such markers can work for me in case the employer recognizes and values volunteerism, teamwork and people with leadership qualities. On the other hand, such markers can work against me as well but I don’t want to end up in a work environment where people judge my work because of my religion and not because of my hard work.

Be truthful about who you are anytime and anywhere.

Harvard Joe and the Fisherman: A Tale of Success

This is a story from “The 4 Essentials of Entrepreneurial Thinking” by Cliff Michaels. Luckily, I found the text of the story in the author’s blog.

After graduating from Harvard Business School, an American stock broker named Joe decided to take a vacation. He chose a small island, famous for its quiet fishing village and local smiles. If only to take his mind off business a few days, Joe vowed he would fish a little and avoid the money-talk so prevalent on Wall Street.

On his first day of vacation, Joe strolled along the beach. He spotted a small fishing boat coming into shore. Inside the boat were a lone fisherman and a fresh catch of large tunas. Dozens of locals and tourists were handing over cash as the fisherman docked his boat. Joe was so impressed, he complimented the fisherman and asked how long it took to catch so many fish.

“Not long at all,” said the fisherman. “Plenty of fish in these waters.”

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” asked Joe. “You could certainly make more money in such rich waters.”

The fisherman smiled and said, “Oh, I catch more than enough to support my family and lifestyle.”

“But what do you do with the rest of your time?” asked Joe.

The fisherman replied, “I read, nap, and play with my daughters. Some days I teach kids how to fish. Other days I play soccer with school children. In the afternoons, I stroll into the village where I sip wine and play guitar with my lovely wife and friends. Most nights we cook fish and share recipes with tourists.”

“Wow, you have lots of free time,” said Joe. “Listen, I have an MBA. I can help you vastly expand your business. If you simply spend more time fishing, you would soon earn enough money for a bigger boat.”

“Really?” asked the fisherman.

“Absolutely,” said Joe. “And with a bigger boat, you could catch enough fish to buy several boats, then a whole fleet. At that point you would be successful enough to sell directly to a processor, cutting out the middleman, and vastly increasing your profits. Eventually, you could open your own cannery, controlling product and distribution!”

“Then what?” asked the fisherman.

“If all goes well, you’ll find yourself in a big city, running a rapidly expanding empire,” said Joe.

“How long would all this take?” asked the fisherman.

“Not long at all. Maybe 7 to 10 years,” replied Joe.” With me as your CEO, I’ll bet we can do it in 6 years if we hustle. I’m all about the hustle!”

“Wow. Then what?” asked the fisherman.

Joe grinned and said, “Well, here’s the best part. When the time is right, we could take the company public or sell the enterprise to the highest bidder. At that point, you would be very rich — a millionaire many times over.”

“Really? A millionaire? Then what?” asked the fisherman.

“What do you mean?” asked Joe.

“I mean, what would I do if I was a millionaire?” asked the fisherman.

“Whatever you like,” said Joe. “You could retire, move to a tiny coastal village, fish a little, play with your kids … stroll into the village each night to sip wine … and play guitar with your wife and friends … and …”

Without another word, Joe and the fisherman shared a good laugh.

Which comes first law or religion?

Mary: Imagine a man with a gun. You’d be scared. So would I. But what if you saw him walk into a playground and point that gun at a child, how scared would you be then? And if you saw him pull the trigger, shoot one child, then another? Would you still be scared? Or would you stop thinking about yourself and just try with every fiber of your being to stop him before he killed the whole school? Of course you would. I know your fear, Rachel. But always remember who we’re fighting for. And who we’re trying to stop.*

No doubt everyone will agree with Mary that the person shooting children should be stopped. But the critical question is how? I believe in such case a law officer on the scene is obliged to protect civilians and has the right to shoot the killer. But what if Mary was referring to a family planning doctor and the children were not in a school’s playground but in their mothers’ wombs?

It seems both Islam and Christianity agree that abortion is a sin because it is the act of killing a human. In Islam, there are exceptions to this rule for certain circumstances. Luckily, because Jordan’s religion according to its constitution is Islam abortion is impermissible. In the US, the issue of pro-life statute is very complicated and differs from state to state. In addition, the matter is still heavily discussed and debated until now.

Unfortunately, many Arabs are using and promoting phrases and ideas that they are not aware of its consequences. One of these ideas is “Religion is for God and the country is for all.” They of course want the separation of religion and state.

It is shame if we don’t trust God and are ashamed of his words to be our guidance. I believe this is what a separation means to those who are promoting it in our holy land, the land of the prophets.

Of course it is very imperative also to mention Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) hadith:

Whoever amongst you sees anything objectionable, let him change it with his hand, if he is not able, then with his tongue, and if he is not even able to do so, then with his heart, and the latter is the weakest form of faith.

This hadith gives us reason for not trying to change things that are beyond our capabilities and may cause harm to us. Mary, in the above scenario, plays the role of an American pro-life extremist who promotes killing  family planning doctors. Although, abortion is against her religion she should not tried to change things by hand (using violence) because such thing caused her to break the law and hence harm herself.

* From UK’s TV show MI5.

The best Jihad is to speak the word of truth to a tyrant ruler

For more than 20 years I used to stay in Damascus two months every summer. I grew up loving the City of Jasmine more than any other city. My visit to Syria used to be as much fun as any kid in Disney Land. I used to know every corner and every street in the city. There was so much to do in Damascus, two months were never enough for me. Having cousins my age in Damascus helped me a lot learn more about the culture and the places to be for teens.

But as I was growing up my love of the city started to fade away. I knew that living in Syria is not as visiting it. I still remember, although I was nine or ten, watching on Syrian TV an interview with one of Hama‘s aftermath prisoners. For some reason I vividly remember the interview and that we were having dinner at my grandparents’. My parents, grandparents, and my three uncles were there, we all were silent. Syrians were, and still until recently, so terrified no one could speak ill of the regime even in their houses. The prisoner on the TV was shaking and confused. He was bombarded with questions that all led him to say how sorry he was for what he did and how his life is nothing without Mr. President.

Later, I knew more about the dark side of the authoritarianism regime. Things in that beautiful country where not as pretty. Every citizen in Syria knows exactly what should be said and what not. A single politics-related mistake can cause a man to vanish. No record of him being in jails, hospitals, or any where else. In Syria, it is possible for a person to evaporate like water. 

But Arabs say “بقاء الحال من المحال” (translation: everything has an end). Therefore, they finally decided to do something about their miserable lives in the Middle East. Among all the Arab countries I have never expected any thing to happen in Syria but they proved me wrong.

Because I have relatives in Syria I don’t watch the news about Syria; I know exactly how bad things can get over there. And for that I don’t watch these videos about Syria on YouTube as well. The regime there is not like any other regime in any other Arab country, I know what they are capable of doing. Even though I am far away from the heat I don’t have the courage to speak up unlike the brave woman, Rima Dali, whom I read about yesterday. She was arrested because she had a banner that says “Stop the Killing. We want to build a nation for all Syrians.” [Aljazeera]

Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, taught us that the best Jihad is to speak the word of truth to a tyrant ruler. This woman is a hero. She is so courageous. I can never do any thing close to such bravery thing.

p.s. As I mentioned, I don’t watch news about Syria so I am sure there are other brave Syrian men and women. I am writing about this woman simply because I read her story.

I am a proud something

Jordan belongs to all Jordanians. Loyalty is only measured by one’s achievements and service to the country. The diversity in roots and heritage enriches our Jordanian national identity, which respects the rights of the citizenry, in a spirit of unity, tolerance and moderation, and opens the gates of diversity.

Speech from the Throne By His Majesty King Abdullah II
Opening the Second Ordinary Session of the 16th Parliament
Amman, Jordan
26 October 2011

Recently, it seems there is a lot of emphasis about where certain group of people is from. I have seen it a lot on Twitter and Facebook; “I am a proud Jordanian.” I personally don’t understand the reason behind using such slogan to write on one’s profile in social network sites. Unless, one is shoving it on the face of his enemy during a war I see no reason to define oneself as a “proud Jordanian.” For those of us, Jordanians, who were born during the past 50 years being Jordanian is nothing we achieved or worked hard to become. When a new baby is born to a Jordanian father, the baby automatically gets a Jordanian citizenship. I sacrificed nothing to become a Jordanian other than the fact that my father is a Jordanian who also did nothing to become a Jordanian other than that his father was a Jordanian too.

It is normal for parents to brag about their children, “my kid is an honor student” or “I am proud of my kid he or she did this or that.” Parents feel they did something right so they like to celebrate their children achievements. But can one be proud of something he has no hand what so ever in achieving? Can I, for example, feel proud of Honda industry because I own one? Or do you think it is normal for one to say “I am a proud white?” It sounds racists, doesn’t it?

I might be mistaken but I feel the “I am a proud Jordanian” slogan implies something not very positive against others. Slogans and kind words without actions are meaningless. For example, what good our children or spouses get if all what we have to offer them is to say “I love you?” Words without actions mean nothing. On the contrary, it may harm who we love more than do good.

I love Celtics region. Except their love of Beer I and the Irish both share many common things. We both love the green color, Pipers, Celtic songs, and lamb meet. I love their accent, their beautiful greenery landscape and their hot women. Should I start saying “I am a proud Irish?”

Being “proud” is a result of doing or achieving a task. It makes no sense for one to feel proud being tall, white or simply Jordanian. After all, we are all going to be accountable in front of God for what good and bad we did and how we treated other humans not for what passport we have.

Saying that, here are some tips of how one can show his love to his country beyond slogans and raising flags:

  1. Work hard in whatever you do. Whether you are a teacher, physician, postman, banker, or builder do your best.
  2. Treat public places same as you treat your own house.
  3. Treat immigrants well, regardless of where they came from. They chose your beloved country to work, visit, or study for a reason
  4. Like it or not, people living in your country, regardless of their origin, holding the same citizenship as yours are going nowhere deal rationally with it.
  5. Start by yourself and advocate others to ONLY throw trash in garbage bins. I feel embarrassed writing this to grownups but unfortunately it is reality and sometimes reality hurts.
  6. Respect your fellow countrymen and countrywomen.
  7. Beside medical doctors, teachers and policemen are the most two important jobs in any nation. A nation that has no respect to either is doomed to never be a safe place.
  8. Jordan is the only Arab country that when the king addresses his people he says “Jordanians from all roots and origins.” Let us honor such noble slogan
  9. Build a better future for your children by teaching them to love others. The consequences of such noble thing can be as big as preventing a war
  10. Jordan is the land of prophets. “A multitude of prophets have lived, died and been buried in the sacred Jordanian earth, other have passed through its lands, leaving thereafter their blessed traces. Jordan contains within its heart the graves and resting places of many of God’s elite and holy men.” The prophets loved their people more than they laved the land. Let us show respect to our prophets and this sacred land by behaving our best and follow their footsteps.

Let us work hard to be proud of how we will transform Jordan to a cleaner, safer, more educated, culturally open and more advanced country.