Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ways My Arab Family Screws With My Head

Sure, they are the most loving, caring family who often stay close, which means you can never escape them. They are like capitalism where greed is good. They keep moving the goal posts as you approach them. At times, it seems that your own family is never happy with what you have accomplished, and thus they always set the next milestone for you. Like if you tell someone here in America that you got a new job, they just say "Congratulations", but Arab families in some twisted ways would rain on your parade. It turns out that my family are masters of the Back handed compliments, here’s a sample:

  1. “Mom, I met a cool girl!” “Good for you,” she says, “is she from a good family or does she watch MTV all day?”
  2. “I got married!” She says, “Cool, I look forward to the day you will have kids and they will fill the house for us.”--you live in a refugee camp
  3. “Dad, I have a baby girl!” He replies, “Cool, I look forward to the day you have a boy who will protect that princess.”
  4. “Brother, I got accepted into the Master's Program!” “Cool,” he says, “I look forward to the day you get your PhD.”
  5. “Sister, I got offered a job I have been wanting for a long time!” “Congrats, I look forward to the day you will have your own business.”
  6. “Grandpa, I bought a new car.” “Cool! I look forward to seeing this car trashed as it gives you joy and utility.”
  7. “Honey.... I hit my head!” “Sorry to hear that, I look forward to you living longer and hitting your head a few more times.”
  8. On Facebook, you put a picture of a nice dish you made, and your cousin writes you this comment, "I look forward to the day you have kids who will savor their mother's cooking!"
  9. “Mom, I just got accepted into Harvard!” “Congratulations, one day you will make a nice doctor”--what she refuses to believe is that you will be studying fashion design.

If the first thought on your mind is “WTF!”, then we are on the same page.

Such comments are sometimes innocent and mean no harm, but sometimes, they are meant to zing you. Bringing one some humility, as a reminder they still have a long way to go. They are rarely meant to make the case that you are not good enough!

My issue with such comments is that they are no longer about you. The family members hijack your news and write on it all their own wishes and dreams--all the things they think you would like because they themselves value them. It's tiring, really, to keep up with those games. I just keep a low profile and don’t tell my family much.

On a positive note, such wishes keep me going, marching toward the next big thing in life; they give me goals and purpose. I am sure Arabs are not the only ones who do that. Thank goodness there are the Italians.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Great Now You Are 30, What Now?

When you turn 30, you do not feel any different, but people around you know it. It’s when you talk to college aged people and they think what you have to say is no longer cool, but borderline sexual harassment and creepy. You see yourself as one of them, but they beg to differ.

30 is when you get your head together, but your body starts to fall apart
30 is when you start to understand things your parents did when you were a kid.
30 is when all these college kids start taking your advise seriously.

Lets all be gentlemen which means that we will always remember a woman-s birthday, but never remember her age.

At 30, your best friend becomes your second best friend, and Aleve takes over that spot. Seriously, do not leave home without it. And do not attempt to do any crazy stunts to show the 20 something that you still got it....you really don't anymore.

Let’s leave on a positive: you can date 40 year-old-women and their 20-year-old daughters!

Happy Birthday Kat!
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine Day, The Married Guy's Manual

You may want to call Valentine Day a day of extortion. But suck it up, when you get your own day you can stop whining. since that won't be happening anytime soon. Here's what you do.

Significant Other: "Honey, You Forget! Today is....(something happy)!"

You: "Ops!, My bad!"

Stock up on gifts. I always make sure I have at least two presents to give to Roa at any given moment. So if any occasion has slipped your mind, do not worry, you already have the present ready to go.

Make sure to hide the present in a place she would not normally look--maybe in your man cave. Do not make it easy to find. Because if she has found it, you have to explain to her that you are not having an affair. To safeguard against that, make sure to label your gifts with your spouse's name.

Unless your spouse likes all things aged, Do not store chocolate or any food items, certainly not chocolate--it does expire. And the last thing you need another side argument.

So here's the tip bling! necklaces, earning, rings and if you must some nice watch. Make sure they are sterling silver at least. that means she can wear them all the time and not worry about having to remove them when she showers. Sterling silver is like you, she is stuck with both of you.

I know, sets work best for Roa. Sure, you can stock up on perfume, but unless you plan on using them withing 12 months, do not bother, they really lose scent after a while--like a good bear they end up flat. So, here you have it, she will never ambush you again with some occasion that you have to have a gift ready for her! You are one step ahead of the curve.

The upside of that, you are always ready! And if some of your antics upset her, you are ready to surprise her and win her over--please do not go on cheating and think you can fix that with presents.

You are welcome!
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Friday, February 10, 2012

How Saudi Writer Hamza Kashgari Is Right

Saudi authorities are now chasing one of their own citizens who has been threatened after the issuance of a fatwa against him by some religious authorities in that country on charges that he insulted the Prophet Mohammad. As of this moment he is detained in Malaysia, who have said they will hand him over to the Saudis, who will in turn get creative on this bold writer.

Instead of giving this guy a trophy for speaking his mind, they detain him. No wonder this happens in Saudi Arabia—a country largely in denial and where casting the first stone seems to be their leadership's favorite pastime.

Here's what this writer said on Twitter, speaking on the Prophet Mohammad:

  1. “On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you,” he wrote in one tweet. My comment: Prophet Mohammad warned Muslims of worshiping him and forgetting his teachings. The Koran has the same language as well. The same people who are now piling on hamza are the same ones who make shrines for the prophet and other Early figures of Islam. Which funny because Islam ruled these things out.
  2. “On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more,” he wrote in a second. My comment: There are two sides of the prophet, the religious side which has been perfected and the personal side that was up for opinion and interpretation. At times, the prophet would consult his companions and seek their counsel.
  3. “On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more,” he concluded in a third. My comment: Again, we do not worship Mohammad, he is our beloved prophet. Instead of kissing his hand and such, we should perfect ourselves and cleanse our souls. That would bring us closer to God, his God and ours. If this is blasphemy then those celebrated Sufi scholars should also be executed it as well. Hamza has only echoed what famed thinkers of Islam have struggled with earlier.

It was OK to disagree with the prophet back then and there are times when he was told he was wrong and he changed course (the location of Bader is an example), and when people called him "unjust", he instructed his companions not to do harm to those people. At one time, his next-door neighbor put trash at his door and he would not fight them, but instead go visit with them. There are many stories like that, where blood was never shed.

What's worse than a guy peeing in the mosque and getting away with it in the presence of the prophet? These people were let go and there was no sharia trial for them. Hamza did none of that, yet he is being promised a death sentence. This goes to show you that Islam was a lot more tolerant back then than the version Wahabis and Salafis promote.

I think the fact that a lot of Muslims celebrate the prophet’s birthday is a made-up occasion. It should not be celebrated; the teachings of the man should be. Later Muslims wanted to maintain a connection with the prophet (peace be upon him), so they started loving the messenger and ignoring the message. The real motive behind the lynch mob's attacks on Hamza is his low opinion of the religious police in his beloved country. The religious police operates like a certified mafia that only applies punishment on those who have no connection with the rulers. Hamza's first offense in the eyes of this mafia is his speaking ill of them. Their sham outrage is laughable. They are just settling the score with this bold writer whose only guilt is believing the talk of free society the Saudi government speaks of.

Question: How many dictators do we know that claim to be from the house of the prophet, when in reality they are making a profit from the prophet?

It's a shame that such an issue is being raised. If they have their way, these few extremist loons of Islam in Saudi Arabia would execute the man and not even give him a chance to defend or explain his words. This is why they call for him to be tried in a sharia court for apostasy. These people should stick to their business and leave others to enjoy the Free Will that comes with Islam. And they need to remember that they do not have a monopoly on Islam. I maintain these people have every right to be offended, what they do not have a right to is to terrorize people for declaring their personal truths.

I hope those modern day Imams who tour around speaking about tolerant Islam will come to Hamza's defense and argue his case, because he did nothing wrong. And if they do not stand up for this young man, the misguided ones will certainly win. I know I am praying for Hamza and his family at this critical time. Hamza should not have to explain what he said, and he is not alone. There's nothing he said that I disagree with. Islam is about perfecting yourself, not just paying blind lip service to historic figures.

In reality all these people who might end up charging him are full of sins themselves, but they are much better actors who mange to sell an image of being pious. And there's nothing more zealots in any religion loath as much as someone who begs to think outside the box. Because, after all, it's their box. I am really sick of these loons speaking on behalf of my religion, when in reality their own offspring despise them and disapprove of their way of life.

[Hat Tip: Kellee Koenig]

P.S. This kind of backward thinking is not exclusive to Saudi Arabia; it has many franchises throughout the Arab world.

P.S. 2 If the Saudis so in love with the prophet why did they then turned his home into a public restroom? Watch here

Update: Malaysia deported a Saudi Arabian blogger on Sunday, police said, despite fears voiced by human rights groups that he could face execution in his home country over Twitter comments he made that were deemed insulting to the Prophet Mohammad.

For those who only understand Arabic:

القرآن واضح "لا إكراه في الدين" لماذا تريدون اجباره على اتباع منهجكم؟ لماذا تكرهون الاختلاف؟ وحتى بعد ان تراجع الشاب تقتادونه كمجرم لا يدري ماهو مصيره؟ لماذا نكره انفسنا لهذه الدرجة!؟

مهما كان ان كفر او صح الكلام ..يبقى حكمه عند من (( خلقه ))... وليس لأحد على احد من مسيطر .....فأذا اردنا التدقيق والتمحيص بكل (( الناس )) فأعتقد لن يسلم احدا من (( الخطا )) باحكام الدين حتى اللذين وكلوا انفسهم (( اولياء )) على الناس ..وقد نجد جرمهم وكفرهم (( اكثر )) كفرا وتعديا على الدين من المدعو (( السعودي كاشغري )).. نصيحه كلما زاد (( المزايدين ))بالدين قسوة واستغلاله على هذا الوجه ...سيكون رده الفعل عند الكثيرين اقسى ..وتفتح ابوا جهنم (( الدنيـا عليهم )) .. .

طيب تعالوا لنناقش أقوال الشاب لنتبين أين هي الإهانة، ألم يردد علماء الدين وفقهاءه أن لاكهنوت في الاسلام ، أي تستطيع أن توجه الكلام لنبي أو لإله بدون واسطة، صحيح؟ لقد توجه الكاتب لنبيه ليقول له مايجيش في صدره: قال له اتبسم إليك(محبة) قال له اصافحك الند للند ، ألم يخاطب أصحاب الدعوة(نبيهم ) وباسمه ؟، طبعاً فعلوا، والكاتب يقول في يوم مولدك أشاهدك أينما توجهت (محبة) يراه ويشعر به فهي محبة في الشعور، يقول له لن أقبل يدك، فهل كانوا يفعلون في زمانه؟ في صلح الحديبة وافق على نزع صفته كرسول لله ودونوا ذلك، حتى أن عمر قال له أليس هناك نبوة؟ ولكن كاشغري يقول أن هناك أشياء لايحبها فيه ، فهل الغزوات والسبي وتقسيم الغنائم ولبس الدروع وإرسال السرايا للقتل هي صفات يمكن مدحها ؟ أطلقوا سراح هذا الشاب وإلا ستثبتون أن هذا الدين هو دين عنف وإخضاع،وستكونون أول الخاسرين، أنقذوا دينكم واسمحوا بنقده طالما ارتضى أن يكون حكماً سياسياً.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Syria's Low Resolution Revolution!

Since the Arab Spring made a pit stop in Syria and I am happy to say change rocking that country that for long have abused and intimidated its own people. They had a long track record of abuse toward opposition and anyone the deem "unfit" with the narrative that has been crafted the the rotten Baath party.

Now, the government has pledged to reform their system and allow more freedom by lifting the emergency law. Some people were content with those promises. But then the Arabs have gotten a word that Iran has sent troops to support the Syrian regime in quelling the protests. the image of non Arab Shi'ite troops beating up Sunni people in Syria did not set well with the Gulf States.

They decided to act, and by that they have ruined the Arab Spring in Syrian, instead of a people demanding freedom, it has become a proxy war between funded groups. In one side you have the Free Syria Army and the Muslim Brotherhood receiving aid from Gulf States and some parties in Lebanon. On the other hand, there is the Syrian army supported by Iran and given international cover by both Russia and China.

Qatar has led the fight in the international stage and the media stage (thanks to Aljazeera) and suport has began to build up for the Anti Assad coalition. However, as an observers,I have four areas of concern here:

  1. Why we have yet to see a high tech video with a decent quality of those so called protests around Syria. It's always a grainy image with crappy audio.
  2. Why there have been some many manufactured and fabricated stories coming form Syria (using images from Libya, Palestine and passing them for Syria, and some gay Syrian girl in Damascus that we are told been invented by some dude in Georgia.)
  3. If thr Arab Gulf really wants to give people freedom, why do not they start next door and answer to call of the people of Bahrain?
  4. If there's is no such thing as a free lunch, why is the West rushing to support Syria? What's in it for them?
I will always be with the people, not regimes, however, I really want to know this is what they really want. I often read polls in which Syrians say that are happy with the current regime. So it's is not broken do not fix it. It's easy to dismiss those polls and say they have been produced under intimidation.

I am starting to think that foe's (many Arab leaders included)would rather see a civil war in Syria that a united yet defiant Syria. they are disguising their agenda by caling from freedom--something that no doubt Syria needs.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Fat, The Skinny And The Ugly Tax

Mississippi May Ban Restaurant Sales to the Obese on food that might contribute to obesity. This is beginning to sound like a decent law. However, I think to make sure this legislation is fair to all people, it needs an amendment.

Skinny people are no longer allowed in salad bars. Yes, those skinny people need some fat to keep their bodies healthy in the event of a health scare. It only sounds fair to me! The skinny cannot expect us to let them eat health food all the time, they need to do their part too. This is America and here, do not like anybody to get a free pass.

This is my simple contribution to humanity.

P.S. While on the subject, I think less attractive people should be also banned from salad bars. They may lose the weight, some things might never change so grab a bucket of that KFC chicken and be happy. Do not allow these attractive people at the salad bar get to you--unlike you they do not have anyone to share a meal with.
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Monday, February 06, 2012

Travel Like A Gazan and Other Cruel Jokes

The separation barrier that separate the Gaza Strip and Egypt continues to be an issue for the residence of the narrow strip. The project which was finished in 2005 prior to Israel’s Gaza pullout

The area borders Israel on the north and east, and entry into Israel is possible only at crossings under its control. Access to and from the Gaza Strip by sea, to the west, and by air, is under Israel's exclusive control. (For more info about the crossing and Israel read B'Tselem)

Israel built a barrier and 200–300 meter buffer zone in the Philadelphi corridor, that’s the distance a bus has to take you from the Palestinian side

To travel out of Gaza, all residents have to sign up with the local government who in turn reject your departure--mostly in criminal and political grounds.

The Egyptians share the info they get from the Palestinians with the Israelis and thus there is a lit of about 20 k to 50 thousand names on that list for people who cannot travel out of Gaza. Some of those on the list can also be criminal or drug deals with some crimes in Egypt. but the majority are people who might have affiliation with militant Palestinian groups.

And there is another list that Fatah helps put for people they do not like, the Mubarak men used to believe anything Fatah said, but this is not true right now.

Some people who are banned from entering Egypt or traveling through it--most Palestinians are not allowed into Egypt, but rather transported to the airport with police escort, a service many Gazans have come to actually enjoy, travel underground through the tunnels on the borders. But this service tends to be shady and not much info about the operation of tunnels is available.

To sum, to travel those 200 to 300 meters, Palestinians have to be given the green light from Hamas, Fatah, Israel and Egypt too. I have gone through this process few times and it's not easy--travel is not easy by nature, but this can be one hell of a humiliating experience that requires patience, resilience and a great deal of luck

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