Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Does Halal Meat Makes You A Bigger Jerk?

I love Halal food, food that comes from a non forbidden source. However, I don't put up a fight when I cannot find it. I just go with the flow. Here's the deal, if I am in a Muslim owned store, I expect Halal food, it's what the owner says. I have little means to find out if the food is Muslim certified. I just have to have faith.

Those people I am speaking of make Islam seem like a handicap, not a religion about tolerance. For example, in France, many Muslims would put up a fight about being served Halal food. Their right, but they neglect in the process they come across as unreasonable, and wanting to be different than everyone else.

On one of my trips Roa and I met a French couple who were surprised that as Muslims we can eat regular meat from the grocery store (no pork of course), they thought we only can eat food killed by a Muslim person. That mentality shocked me. Then there are those people I have met who make sure to tell you "You are doing it wrong", "My Way or the highway" attitude. There's a room in Islam for both of us to be right, I choose to go with the license, they decide to make it difficult on themselves and amuse the rest of us.

But I found that people who strive for Halal food often miss the point of religion, which is to be a good example of tolerance. So often, you will hear Muslims living in non Muslim countries stressing the importance of Halal food. They feel they are entitled to, like the country owes it to them to cater to their needs.

Again, this is a business decision, if there is demand for something, supply will soon follow. However, I cannot be a jerk about it, if a store doesn't have such food, we can go with the license to eat food of the people of the book. But eating Halal food while being a jerk in the process does more damage to Islam than not eating Halal food.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons From A Friday Prayer Sermon

Three things I learned today by attending the Friday prayer sermon, at George Washington University at Merriam's Kitchen. I have been praying there for some time, and sometimes the sermons are good, sometimes they offer little substance. But today's, was one of the few days that I actually enjoyed and found to be educational.
  1. Humility is Crucial, this matters in all religions for sure, however, here's a quote I heard in Friday sermon that moved me, "A sin followed by humility, is better than a good deed followed by pride" This speaks volumes of people's mentalities. You do one good deed, and you think the world owes you. That's not the spirit. Pride tends to kill the most beautiful things in one's life.
  2. Weakness Is OK, fasting is hard. Muslims giving a number of permissions not to fast if they had some of those conditions. The second Khalif of Islam, Omar (peace be upon him) was told about a man who pledged to fast everyday in his life. Omar took a stick to that man and told him to break his life long voluntary fasting. So no need to be tough and do yourself harm to proof a point. You are creature of God, no need to test the limitations he has given you. That means, I will not try out for that ultra Marathon.
  3. Pure Income, the source of your income is important if you get your money from a questionable source, then that's not good. The quote goes something like this, "Purify your income, your prayers will be answered."
I do not like to talk much about religion in public, I think religion is personal and should stay this way.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

7 Earthquake Etiquettes

When I left my office building, there were no one outside, when I left the office, people started to gather around. Some weren't sure what the protocol was. A guy on the 5th floor yelled asking me if it was an earthquake. Confusion, fear and humor were all over the people's faces.
  1. If the earthquake hits and the first thought on you mind is to update your status, you need to check yourself into rehab.
  2. If you have the time to tweet about the earthquake, chances are it's not serious one.
  3. Yes, it's normal for all people to gather outside buildings when these things happen. Don't act like you are out of place.
  4. Please, put on something decent before you step our of your apartment. While the earthquake was shocking to many, the sight of you half naked is traumatizing to us all.
  5. Don't wait for someone to come to your rescue! You are on your own, dock and cover. Even a big government have limitations.
  6. Ease up on the phone, the network is overwhelming and busy, quit complaining about it already.
  7. Accommodate others, and don't tell horror stories about the time you were in Thailand/Mexico/Chile/Pakistan when that big earthquake arrived.
Bonus: while most people will do their best to grab their pets as they run out the door, cut people some slack for leaving their pets behind.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

DC Hit With 5.8 Earthquake

Washington, DC had been hit by an 5.8 Earthquake, that's funny, I thought that was part of Rick Perry and his party for tea plans to bringing change to Washington DC.

For residence of a city known for its movers and shakers, the earthquake was unmoving.

The elders of the tea party are calling for an inquiry on whether the CIA knew of the earthquake in advance or not.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

Charity in Islam

'Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: On them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve' (2:277)
The concept of charity in Islam is thus linked with justice. It is not limited to the redressal of grievances. It implies apart from the removal of handicaps, the recognition of the right that every human being has to attain the fullness of life.

There are two forms of charity in Islam - obligatory and voluntary, called Zakah and Sadaqah respectively.

As someone who worked with a number of Not for Profits here in DC and Utah. I am pretty informed about the trends and the habits of American giving. I have also helped plan fundraisers and drive for donations both for in kind and cash.

  1. You have to give something you would want to yourself. In other word, you cannot just give stuff that you don't want anymore, it has to be something of use to you. In America, they donate stuff that they have little use for, in the hopes someone else has better use for it--it's utilitarian.
  2. If you Buy your child an Armani jeans, you would want to buy the same brand for that orphan that you visit with. You cannot give them, Old Navy jeans. The charities has to come from something that you would want.
  3. You cannot talk about the deed you have done. You cannot go on and broadcast it like I know some donors do here. You give and forget. When it comes to charity, your left hand is not supposed to know what your right hand is doing.
  4. You are not supposed to donate and give two cents with your donation. For example, some people give money, but when they give the money, they say stuff that might hurt the person receiving the gift.
  5. Those in charge of distributing charity, need not to channel the money form its purpose. They can eat from it if it was food, the can even cut a salary, if it's their full time job. But most of all they need to do that in the littlest costs.
5 Different purposes/names for giving in Islam

1. Infaq fi Sabil Allah (spending in the path of Allah). Infaq Meaning spending benevolently

2. Ihsan Meaning the doing of good or (kindness and consideration

3. Zakah Meaning growth or purification

4. Sadaqah Derived from the root sidq and meaning truth, and comes to signify charitable deed

5. Khayrat Meaning good deeds
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Is The Middle East Is Like New York

It's no secret that any news from New York City gets treated as if it was national news. The city has the media outlets and biggest newspapers and blogs so they can afford to be obnoxious about being that awesome city. So the locals are used to thinking that if it happens in NY, their folks in Wyoming would know about it.

Same thing about many Middle Eastern cities. Since many American and world media outlets set considerable budget for their bureaus in the Middle East, and they often send their best reporters to cover than volatile region, you are most likely to get news coming form that part of the world. Media bosses would spend less for places in Asia and Africa, but even the littlest publication, radio network is savvy enough to send someone to cover that region.

The alpha reporter, the always changing middle east and the attention people pay to this region make even the silliest news news worthy here in the States. They report on popular shows, food and what American pop singers being followed. This is both good and bad. Maybe less reporting would prompt politicians to make a deal, the more people tune in the more passionate both sides become. I think this adds to the self centered style of thinking--the diva mindset.

But the ignore approach has not worked either.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jerusalem Is The Home Of The Original Bagel

Sure Jewish people would love to claim the bagel, and yes, some of the finest bagel shops exist in New York and take a center stage in Jewish life in that city. Every culture has something similar to this baked good. I say since Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities of the world, they might have a legitimate claim for what has later become the bagel.

For generation this baked goods has been a fixture in that city's diet, tourists would grab it and eat it. Locals would enjoy them by adding felafel and Thyme dip. Jerusalem is a n open city where Jews and Arabs live next to each other--not for long if Bibi has his way. It has been consumed for generations and thanks to some work of marketing savvy person, this ka'ak was adapted for the American on the go culture.

This video gives you a tour of the city where those vendors back their world famous Ka'ak. They talk to bakers and give you a big of history. Something about Jerusalem, its water, its air make this bagel the treat it is. This is culture exchange at its finest.

هارون عمايرة -كعك القدس "كعك بسمسم " Jerusalem Old City Bagel
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Sharia vs. Common Laws And America's Nutjobs

If you don't know that the extreme right wing conservative have been obsessing over Shaira Law in America, then you don't watch the news.

See some voices in America are now making themselves relevant again by making garbage up and manufacturing issues that have no relevance to the country. See, these people who are terror cheerleaders and get their paychecks from vilifying Islam need something that can keep their paychecks coming--they milked the terrorism cry for all it's worth. Along came this Sharia law stories, they have been telling.

Someone needs to get those think tans working again, so here comes their new manufactured "we are under attack" tag.

Sharia is Islamic law, and those people think we Muslims want to bring it here to America. But in all honesty, this is just a pile of unadulterated shi#! Why would Muslims bring Sharia to America when the same concept is not applied at Muslim countries themselves? They only time we hear Sharia is in civil court and divorce. And food diet. There are virtually no one else using sharia to go beyond labeling food and marrying and divorcing people.

So when those empty suits come and use loaded terms that has no meaning to most people, they are just telling you, "I know, I have done the research", some idiot unhappy about his/her job pick it up and makes a banner about it. While Islamic law was the base for many of your common laws here in the States (US common law taken form the British ones who back then borrowed from Islamic laws) But few of these people know that.

If those Muslims wanted to bring Sharia so bad to America, why don't they just go someplace else where those very laws are observed in the first place. What I know is this, the US constitution is a well regarded book among the great majority of Muslims, they are happy with it and it protect them and protects those gun waving few. We don't even implement Sharia laws in our own country.

The majority of Arab immigrants in America are Christians, and you know those ones won't be calling for Sharia and so does the Muslims themselves. Take for example, Sharia permits polygamy under certain conditions, but yet no other Muslim living in America subscribes to that principle. Instead they do what most decent Americans do, have an affair.

Plus these people who are introducing local laws in their states to ban any foreign laws are not reading their constitutions.
Article VI reads in part:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. [Emphasis added.]

Tool Time: Frank Gaffney, Beware EMP Attack!

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Do You Want Me To Take Your Picture?

This question never gets old!

As I visit a place out here in DC, or take the bus to NY, Philly or the train the Baltimore along with roa, I know I am certain to bring my camera for the journey. But this presents a problems, I do not care to take my pictures alone anymore. I am married now and Roa and I have to be together smiling in pictures--I better smile or else.

But the problem starts you can take so many pictures when you are holding the camera in your hand--I have long arms that help in that. But then the picture angle gets old. So you have to put on a face and ask complete strangers to take your picture. Some people ar enice, some people are indifferent. Some are single and hate seeing couples yet alone take their pictures.

So to do that, we have to profile people, who looks nice enough not to turn down our request, who looks too distracted on the phone and who looks in rush. I have been never turned down, most people are kind enough to take the camera. Sure most of them act like you have just given them the device that will launch the nuclear warhead. I make sure to ask them to take another one and another one just to be safe. It sucks to ask someone to take your picture and figure it was a lousy picture captured by your fancy camera.

And there are those nice people who see you trying to take a picture of yourself with your significant other, they volunteer to take your picture for you. This is what you would cool random acts of kindness. It takes guts to ask complete strangers to if you can do them a favor--people are weird here trust me.

And there are those people you would think they have nice cameras and they wouldn't mind snapping your picture, only to find out they have some mental disorder coming from being under appreciated, I take. Those young hipsters would tell you, "I am a professional photographer" that might be true Tommy, but you go no customer service. OK, I asked you to take my picture not make me look good or remove my red eyes you fool.

Sometimes, I think it would be funny if someone you gave them the camera, runs away with it. I think I would laugh if this happens.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Justice, The Essence Of Governance Is

In Islamic tradition, there are many voices that calls for establishing an Islamic country where the Koran is the Constitution of the land just like happened in Islam 1400 years ago. Whole a lot more voices counter such calls and instead advocate a civil state with man made laws instead of divine ones. This debate is in full swing in Egypt right now and we are reminded of that every day. Palestine has this argument few years ago, and as of right now it seems both sides have something to boast about.

But what's missing is an old Islamic principles which goes like this, "God would side would a just state that's not Muslim over a Muslim state that is unjust" It's pretty clear that justice not religion is the foundation of good governance. Many Muslims see this point too, they would abandon a Muslim country where justice takes a backseat to countries where justice is the rule not the exception.

To me that says, dogmatic labels and ideology don't matter as much as justice and fairness does. This is also supported by the story of the early Muslims who were sent to live in Ethiopia under a Christina king who was known to be just. My fear is this, some voices in the Islamist movement think it, their way or the highway. This thing scares their opponents who might be religious themselves.

So call it what you want, but if this state yet to be shaped in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia is just, it will last. The moment justice is missing, the social harmony will soon follow.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ramadan In A DC The Weekend

As you know Ramadan is in full swing, today is the 13th day of the holy month and there's nothing better than a fasting day during the weekend. Why you ask?

I can stay up till the hour we begin the fast, eating, hanging out and talking. Last night, I was out with Roa hanging out till 5 AM. It was fun, and exciting. However, if you are not into clubbing, bars and mediocre food, you are out of choices on where to kick it.

We live on U Street, DC's center of night life, but we are not into bar hopping, nor into jumbo pizza slices. All the fine places that sells cakes, crepes, close at 10, 11 the latest.

As we walk in the city streets, young people drunk and on their way to drink their night away walk in droves and block the sidewalks. Packs of young affluent and bored take on the city at night hoping to score. U Street is the center for African American culture as they have theaters, clubs and restaurants that cater to the needs of this demographics. You Get Your Ben Chili Bowl too and those overrated jazz venues.

The only time, I see such a racial mix is on the metro bus, U Street and the Obama rallies.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How Whole Foods Stole Ramadan

// you're reading...


How Whole Food Stole Ramadan

I have always thought that Whole Foods was elitist, but shopped there anyway. It’s very convenient and they offer a variety of brands and goods. Sure, I’m not down with the whole culture of whole food, but when I’m in Silver Spring Maryland, I stop by there and check their cheese collection and baked goods. There’s also a new store opening up in the Foggy Bottom area, in walking distance from my work, I am hoping to find some goods that cater to my every needs.

Now, comes the controversy of Whole Foods and its Halal in time for Ramadan. To read more click here. One of their stores in Texas saw some negative online comments from bloggers and conservatives who accused the company of promoting Ramadan and with it, Islam. So the company sent an internal email, now leaked, that reads:

“It is probably best that we don’t specifically call out or ‘promote’ Ramadan … We should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered ‘Celebrating or promoting’ Ramadan.”

I don’t blame them, the company doesn’t want to be distracted by a fight with people who have issues with reason and common sense. I’m mature enough to know that companies are about creating value and making customers happy. I don’t think a given store necessarily endorses a holiday when it promotes certain items that go with that holiday. But the folks complaining about Muslim diet in the Texas store are only giving Texas a bad name.

Whole Foods celebrates Christmas, Easter, Passover, and Hanukkah and I never found anything wrong with that. In fact, I am grateful they do it, it sort of makes me aware of how diverse America is. Such extreme right wing groups have been picking fights with Muslim Americans through every possible outlet. You would think a store like Whole Foods would be a safe from such delusional attacks.

Whole Foods should not have put itself in this position in the first place. People will always be upset. You do the right thing and stick to your decision. Caving in is your first mistake. I do however, give them credit for introducing a Halal food line.

This vocal and angry minority protesting the Ramadan line is pathetic. What’s next? Whole Foods logo is green, Hamas’ flag is green, it must be a conspiracy! How would they feel if an atheist group protested Whole Foods promotion of Christmas goods? While those few anonymous commentators hoped they would steal the spirit of Ramadan, I think they have failed. To get their Halal food, Muslim Americans will do what they have always done, spend their money at their locally owned grocery store that sells Halal food and observes Ramadan. Keeping the money in the community.

Once again Whole Foods’ actions put the crazies in the driver’s seat. Such a hateful bunch won’t live long. Their unbound hatred will damage their mental and physical wellness and none of the fine Whole Foods’ goods will help extend their lives.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

English Words I Love

Every now and then I see words in English that I feel I must look up becasue I have not heared them before or becasue they just sound exciting to learn. I know in this social media saavy world, it seems that abbrviation and smily faces are the way to go, but some old words die hard.
  1. Poignant: Touching and to the point. I wish I can be referred to by this word. I am only to the point when I am angry and when I am talking to my landlord.
  2. Vivacious: Lively, and full of animation. I like this word because you are either having a great time or it's a feast out there. I guess the viva part of the word we already know from our brethren South of the borders.
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Monday, August 08, 2011

Ramadan In The Mormon Heartland

Part 1 Ramadan Rituals I Grew Up With

Part 2 Ramadan Rituals I Experienced In Gaza

As a Muslim student on the predominately Mormon Campus at Brigham Young University (BYU), I wasn’t alone. There were roughly a 100 other Muslims students who attend BYU in Provo Utah, coming from Arab countries, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China and a few other places. My first Ramadan at BYU was the hardest, as I had just arrived and did not know many people on campus.

Ramadan has always been about sharing and big gatherings, but I had to live without those my first semester at BYU. I remember it was a normal thing for me to go by myself to the university food court and break my fast alone over a Subway sandwich or a hamburger. Being alone in Ramdan especially sucks if you come from a family of ten, like me. Followers of the Mormon faith can relate to all things Ramadan-they fast once a month, they give “fast offering”, and have big families where sharing is caring.

Most on campus had grown up in parts of America where they hadn’t ever meet a Muslim, so few people on campus knew what Ramadan is. For the majority, I was the first Muslim they meet and with that comes a lot of questions that gets old after awhile. It seemed to me, that most student events on campus where they would hand out free food take place when I am fasting which really pissed me off. But I was a guest and I do not get to dictate the calender. I had a campus job and it was in the dorm’s dining room “The Smith Center” where I helped prepare food that sometimes included pork. I was quite enough not to make waves about fasting. So I would prepare whatever food they had on the menu that day. Things you would do for $6.25 and hour! On one day, I had a long shift and they kitchen had access food so they asked us to eat. The chef was Italian American names Teresa who knew I was fasting so she asked me to take food home with me. She even packed me a box and insisted I do just that because I couldn’t eat on my shift. As I finished my shift and left with the food, a manger came racing after me telling me in front of some of his staff that I am stealing food. Needless to say, I lost it.

I said nothing and I headed back to the kitchen grabbed Teresa who give him s a piece of her Italian mind, leaving him feel like a glorified jackass. I gave him the food and I left saying, “I am not a thief” That night I would have a pizza for Iftar. Occasionally, the few Muslim students would hold pot lucks on campus and I used to like those very much. The Muslim families would prepare food and bring it to share, we would bring soda and drinks. It was not uncommon to have non fasting people form campus show up to those events and learn some culture. We always welcomed such interest until those people start lining up before you to grab as much food as they can put their hands one. Leaving the fasting people little food. While most students were considerate and wait till the fasting people serve themselves, not all. The university faculty who has lived in Muslim countries make sure to send us Ramadan greeting which was kind of them. Professor Chad Emmet, a professor of Geography that has lived in Indonesia would show up and bring food at those pot lucks and so did professor James Toronto, a professor of Arabic and Muslims studies. Both members of the Mormon church who have a spot spot on their hearts for all things Islam.

My second year on campus was much better, I have met a lot more people and since the terrorists attacks of 9/11 have already happened, there was a lot more students studying Arabic and Islam. One of the things that came out of that was the Alumni Association has started a new university tradition. Every Ramadan, the association would hold an elaborate Iftar dinner for the Muslim students on campus. I think the first one we have at a world famous Sundance resort which the university owns. This would serve two purposes, make the students feel that the university cares about them prompting them to become active alumni. Also the university will get a dose of diversity, the very thing that some care about. The break the fast idea came from Tod Hendricks, an Idaho man who has never met a Muslim in his life, but felt that outreach is important. Although Mr. Hendricks is no longer at BYU, and neither am I, we still keep in touch and I am on his Christmas card list. I remember as we sat to plan the event, I had to explain to the organizers the tradition of breaking the fast with a date. They really did not understand what I meant. Instead, they thought Muslims go on a date right before they break their fast. Until a person sitting in the meeting, brought up the word figs. Only then I was understood. It was both funny and strange. Later we had to deal with the meat being served at the dinner, the famous halal vs. zabiha argument was too complicated.

During my time in Utah, I had to answer a lot of questions about my faith and the practice and there were a lot of misinformed questions and opinions, but Mormons are aware of difference the perceived image of your faith and the reality of it. While many have worked so hard to get me to convert, at one point I had seven copies of the book of Mormons in different languages. The longer I stayed in Utah, the less energized those efforts have become. Many members of the church go the extra mile to accommodate others of different faith. Till this day, I still share a meal with my Mormon friends every Ramadan. We often do it in the first Sunday of the month when they tend to fast. While many things that a Muslim living in Utah must faces some major challenges, I have seen none and I have nothing but respect for those who help people get a taste of home away form home.

Last year I took my wife to see my alma matter, she was in love. The money y we landed in Salt Lake City Airport, she proclaimed “I now have arrived to America” people are smiling and they genuinely look happy to see you. My time at BYU helped her make up her mind and attend the Catholic University of America, here in Washington DC. We joke that maybe one day, our children can go to a Jewish university in New York.

[Tarboush Tip: Clay Adair]

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Friday, August 05, 2011

A Dunkin' Donuts Prostitute

I am reading this story about a young woman in a New Jersey Dunkin Donuts employee who was using her job as a cover for her professional job as a prostitute. I feel bad for the lady becasue what part of "cops like donuts" she doesn't understand? I mean, it was a matter of time that a cop would swing by and get offered her extra sugar?

She is defiantly poor, becasue if she she afford cable TV or the price of a movie ticket she would have known that those cops are donuts most loyal customers.

Dunkin' Donuts Cashier Used Drive-Thru To Offer Her 'Services,' Police Say

Extra sugar" took on a new meaning at Dunkin' Donuts when a cashier converted a Rockaway, N.J., branch of the national chain into a veritable red light district, police say. Melissa Redmond, 29, allegedly was using her night shifts to offer the coffee shop's customers her services as a prostitute on the side.

Redmond was nabbed Monday in what was known as "Operation Extra Sugar," according to a report in the Daily Record of Parsipanny. The incident took place at a branch of Dunkin' Donuts located just off Route 46 in northern New Jersey, some 20 minutes outside of New York City.
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Thursday, August 04, 2011

Yes, You Can Tip A Flight Attendant! Here's How

Airlines doesn't advice passengers to tip their flight crew. Staff are instructed not to accept tips and they are instructed to decline the first offer. After that all bets are off. I know the staff appreciates the tips and keeps their eye on you during the flight. You will be that one passenger that made their day and cared enough about them to give something.

That might earn you a free round of drinks or any request you make will be given priority. But I don't like the cash transactions and it might confuse things. Here's what I do and it usually puts me on the "friends" list for the flight staff. Give them chocolate! A fine bar of fancy chocolate that they can share with others. when you hand them the bard, suggest, this is a token of appreciation for their hard work.

This is simply the right thing to do, they are overworked, under appreciated and hate the food airlines serve nowadays. Just make sure not to make a scene about the whole thing. Happy Jetting Everyone!
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Monday, August 01, 2011

Ramadan Rituals I Grew Up With

As a little Palestinian boy in the United Arab Emirates, Ramadan was always a fun time for me. For starters, 15 days prior to the holy month, the young boys and girls would tour the neighborhood knocking doors and asking for treats. This is known as Haq Al Lylah. Some families would give us food, others candy and drinks, and few would give us cash. This is like that country’s Halloween without all the ghosts and the creeps. Once or twice, someone unleashed their dogs on us, but it wasn’t that bad. As a boy I heard countless stories of people being granted their wishes by the country’s rulers who were feeling rather charitable on those nights. Then Ramadan came, and everybody focused on drawing closer to God and, of course, indulging in overeating. In the UAE, my dad’s boss who is one of the native people would drop off fresh buttermilk for our family every week. Others would drop off fresh gooey dates, wanting to share the blessing of the month with everyone.

While we were guests of that country, Ramadan was the one time when we felt just like the local people. It was a wonderful time - a feeling of unity was over the country and everyone had plenty to eat and was able enjoy the special season. I remember on some evenings my family would skip Iftar to go to the mosque where they served an extravagant meal after the sunset prayer. On those nights, rich and poor ate together, Muslims and non-Muslims breaking bread together on the floor. The more affluent in the area would bring all sorts of food to share with the local people. I particularly remember going to those meals for the local food, the kind my Palestinian mother wouldn’t make: Harees, Hareesah, Haneed, Qimat and that pinkish drink we used to savor and use to quench our thirst with. A lot of people from India and Pakistan would be present there, too, as they tended to be single and have little income. The true feasts on those nights really brought the month of Ramadan to me.

At night my parents would take us to a Lebanese/Palestinian sweets shop in downtown Dubai, which was then a lot more local. The adults would sit around talk about politics in pre-Intifada Palestine and we would enjoy whatever deserts they are serving that night. The street lights and decorations were dazzling to our little minds. Afterward, Mother would go to the market, an open-air market and do her shopping for the next day. Going out to shop in the heat of the day was never very attractive to her or anyone else. During Ramadan my dad, who’s a smoker, would be rather on edge, so we kids all avoided getting on his bad side. But my mom would just laugh and dismiss his occasional silly outbursts.

Mid-day dad would go to the mosque to read some Koran as the boys in the block played a pre sunset soccer match. I remember we had a good team. I have always liked the goalie position. Dad would join us sometimes, and dare the kids to score on him as he stood in the goal. He pledged to pay any kid 10 Dirham if they could score on him. I remember being proud of my dad for doing that. He would claim he used to play for a team called the black panthers. Only one boy of the older kids ever managed to score on dad. After soccer we would walk together to the house for the Iftar meal. But right before the call to prayer, our Syrian and Egyptian neighbor would send us some of their dish of the day, and then we kids had to go back and give them some of what we had cooked. Toward the end of the day, everyone in the house would head to the mosque for Taraweeh prayer. I remember the prayer being very long, so the kids would cheat and play hide and seek at the mosque door and when the adults were done we would walk back with them as if we were praying there all along.

Then we headed back to Gaza…

[Tarboush Tip: Clay Adir]

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