Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Three Different Phases Of Islamic States

I have been studying up on my history and found myself studying a book about the Muslims states and the history of Islam and governance. We all now see Islamic law leaning politicians winning elections and preparing themselves to rule over countries for the first time.  

I have came to a conclusion about the three different phases a Muslim State goes through
  1. The Inception Stage; we love everyone, everybody is welcome and they can worship as they wish. Fasting with the Jews of Arabia on Yom Kippur.  This is the good phase where we see a hug fist and tolerances high. This is when people wanted to join the religion based on their heart not some calculation. The Muslims were learning the principles of the religion--they were weak and poor but had a lot of faith in what to come.   
  2. The Vulnerable Stage, the Muslims had to live in this one after they were defeated in the battle of Ohod. They lost really bad during this war after the other army lured the archers to collect the spoil of war before the war has ended.  In the aftermath, revenge was the normal. Anyone who has mocked Muslim state or disrespect had his head cut off. They really had to scare off people so that they can buy time tell they make a comeback. At this stage many of the common rules do not apply as people are emotional than logical. Think Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan 
  3. The Mighty State: Islam prevailed, people have submitted and joined the religion, no need for violence or senseless murder, people know you are in charge. This phase started as the Muslims walked into Mecca and told their enemies, stay in your home and you will not be fought, you are safe and so is your property and money. It's in this stage where forgiveness and the real civilization took hold. Universities and education were made a priority.  The States would defend itself and fight back those who fight them. It was at this stage, when Arabs started translating the literature work of the rest of the world to learn from them. Think Turkey, Indonesia
This is not unique to Muslims, you do not see much violence and senseless murder in a strong and well developed country. But then, if you dare to cross one of those mighty countries of today's world, you will hear the answer withing minutes. I know the States know this very well, the moment something about the mishandling for the Koran or an inappropriate quote about Islam comes out--they try to make it right in a bid not to come across as someone who belittles the religion of Islam or its figures. 

While I have tremendous disagreement with some of the Salafi groups, I happen to agree with them on few things. For example, I have read that in Tunisia they have tore down a number of shrines where some Muslims go to worship by the graveside of some righteous person. Many got upset, but not me....God does not need a middle man to answer your prayer, he hears you. No need to go visit the grave of some guy to ask him to pray on your behald, this is bullshit. By the same token I disagree with those who forget that there are no sainthood in Islam.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Afghanistan Solution, How To Exit In Style

It's clear to me that the more extreme elements in the Afghan society are not slowing down and they are certainly not letting others enjoy their life or even leave them in peace. There is certainly too much bloodshed, guns and people with agendas. Again, if this is the people of Afghanistan fighting off an occupation I will stand with them, but they are also damaging their own people and destroying their own economy.

I say, it's time for action, the military cannot win this--there is nothing to bomb really. And the mountainous region is no help either. I would suggest, evacuate all females from the country and their little kids with them. Leave the men behind to kill one another. If the goal is to give women freedom, this way you do that.

Again this cannot be optional thing, you need to evacuate women form Afghanistan, keep them separate from the men who might force them or intimidate them. If the women chose to go back to be with their husbands, they can do that and you should wish them well.

But those violent elements in the society would also learn a lesson without women, their life is shitty and that might teach them a lesson in women rights. If women are really suffering, they would take this offer and make a new life for themselves in a place of their choosing. Most countries would welcome women refugees--it's the men who cause trouble.

This would be cheaper solution than keeping armies and weapons from a dozen nations. This would give Afghanistan a choice, they can start over and get away from all the abuses (real or perceived). I think about 10 million women  would take up the offer. Iran, the Gulf, Canada, America should absorb these ladies in. This way the bleeding hearts can celebrate, the conservatives, can cheer the cuts in military spending and nation building--less taxes.

The men meanwhile, will keep fighting, or dabble into homosexuality--which by many religious accounts can bring destruction upon a nation. So let the extremists destroy bring destruction upon themselves. Otherwise, the leaders of the free world would have to cut their losses and be stuck in Afghanistan forever.       

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The One Way To Wake Me Up According To My Wife

True Story....

When I am tired, I dose off on the bed, I get in heavy sleep mode, and Roa knows that nothing can wake me up. That happened few days ago, I was exhausted, and was lacking in sleep. I slept while watching a comedy with her.

She let me sleep for an hour, but then she would not let me sleep early...and it's Ramadan, if you can eat, eat and do not sleep. So in order to wake me up...she used a fool proof trick. I learned this after I have gotten married.

It turn out no mater how tired I am, if I spot a plate of sliced up watermelons and a fork next to them, I will wake up, this is the bait Roa uses to get me back from my deep sleep. I have embraced it too. That's why Roa always makes sure, we got plety of watermelon--at least during the summer season.

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Me, Myself and My Muslim Eid

The Muslim holiday of Eid is almost upon us (this Sunday by most accounts), marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims abstain from many things including food and drinks from dawn to sunset. Eid is the day we no longer have to fast and we can feast upon whatever the heart desires. It’s a day where many Muslims get stomach aches from pigging out. I learned this the hard way a few years ago on my first Eid at home after being away for so long. The next day I fell ill due to eating lots of candy, desserts and nuts during my visits with family and friends.

I realize that many of the Muslim countries and communities around the globe have their own rituals to celebrate the day. The biggest winner on this day of celebration are the kids who extort cash and gifts from the adults in the family, most notably their parents. It’s a great day to be a kid as you get to buy pretty much whatever you like and eat all the candy and street food you can find.

I recall not going to sleep on the eve of Eid as the mosques go crazy with their microphone praying and wishing everyone a happy holiday. But that’s not why I would not go to sleep, it’s just that we are excited for this day to come. We would put our new clothes next to our beds and wake up first thing in the AM. We would break into our parents’ bedroom, kiss their hands looking cute and wait for them to give us our cut. This became an issue for many countries, as there would be a shortage of smaller bills and coins because everyone wants change to hand out to people. As kids, the last thing we wanted to hear from our parents was “I will you give you your cash gift once I have change.” Instead we would offer to go break the money for them and we would do just that.

I lived part of my childhood in Dubai, and on the day of the Eid we would wear our new clothes--the ones we bought just a few days prior, and then accompany our parents (mostly our dad) to the mosque. Everyone looked so happy and so shiny on this day, and yes, everyone gets a new pair of shoes, too. Aside from getting cash or (عيدية) from our parents, in Dubai it was common for strangers to offer you gifts, cash and candy on that day. Some would even walk around the rich neighborhood and knock on doors, asking for something. The streets were decorated, and the shops were well stocked with toys and anything that kids like.

At the mosque, complete strangers would shake your hand and give you hugs; people were joyous. I remember being impressed by the Pakistani and African Muslims who would wear their brightly-colored national dresses on this day--something I still see here in the States, too. Afterward, everyone would head home where they would partake of a feast--mostly containing salty food. In Egypt and many Arab countries they would consume Feisikh (grey mullet left out to putrefy, then salted and left to pickle for several months). I was not a fan, but my mom would never know it.

This is the one day when as a kid, you get to go through your wish list and pick out something nice for yourself. Some mothers try to reason with their kids and persuade them to let mommy hold that money for them--not me. I remember in every Arab country boys would buy kites, trucks and swords. But the most popular boy toy was a plastic gun, either water or firecracker. We would organize games where we’d play off against the guys two streets down from our homes. Needless to say, while boys are rolling in the dirt and running around, girls are looking snazzy with those fancy purses and popular dolls. In Dubai, the local politician would have an open house where people would come to meet and greet--they could also pick up a generous gift on their way out.

Most countries release some inmates on this day to have them be with their families, a nice gesture that most Muslim countries do around the holidays. TV would show the best movies and the best music videos all day in the hopes you would get home and watch their ads. Families would also visit with each other and bring sweets and sometimes raw meat.

Eid stops to be fun for boys who are in their early teens, as at that point people start to treat you as a grown man and not give you a cash gift. Lucky for the ladies, they will always get those cash gifts--people are very religious about this. Brothers, fathers, and uncles who are too poor to give out cash gifts still visit their female relatives and strive not to come empty-handed.

At one point when I realized I could no longer receive cash gifts, I figured out another way to make money. I started a toy stand where I would make money selling toys for boys and girls around town. I did well that day, even though I did not get to rest, but the money was worth it and I found a way to be busy on this day.

In Dubai we did not have family, but when we relocated to Gaza, the family came into the picture and we would get more cash gifts--also my dad had to give a lot more than he used to in Dubai. My lovely grandparents were the most generous with us and their gift to us meant a lot more. We liked their teasing and jokes about us--of course we would still kiss their hands and place it on our forehead. A few things make Eid different in Gaza: for starters, there seems to be a truce between the Occupation and the Palestinians on this day. It’s something that most appreciate, though the Israelis have used that day to sneakily abduct or assassinate people whom they do not like. Another thing is the funeral homes, where if a family has seen the passing of a family member it has an open house where people can swing by to visit with those in mourning. At the time, there were not too many places one could go in Gaza for Eid. You could either go to the beach or the Gaza business district and buy a liver and onion sandwich for about 25 cents. Yet somehow, family made all the difference and our days of celebrations were fun filled even in this hot spot. Regardless of where one lives, it’s always good to have a good time.
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Monday, August 06, 2012

Bizarre! Arabic Wedding Invitations/Announcements

A friend of mine asked me this: Do you guys--Palestinians send wedding invitation/announcements?

I said yes, but we do not include a photo. It turn out that including a photo with the wedding announcement has not gone mainstream here.

But I had one thing to share with my friend, some wedding invitations back home, they do not include the name of the bride. While the great majority do, a sizable number of people chooses to block the name of the bride place is with a flower.

So you will have the father of the groom and under it, the name of the groom, then next to them the name of the father of the bride and the name of his daughter is substituted it with a flower. This is not just the case with few families, many opt out for this practice in Jordan and most those Bedouin communities.

I know this is odd, it makes be women names are so shameful and for these people they are part of the national security. I think this is not only dated, it goes against nature and kills the joy of seeing the name of the bride on something other than her birth certificate.

A flower says, that our girl is too delicate to have a name and we think you guys are not worthy of knowing her fine name. It's also an insult to the guy who is not marrying a real person, but rather a flower. He spends the rest of his life sniffing its scent. This is about distrust in the good in people, like if I know the name of your gal, then I will use it in a disrespectful manner. Which goes to speak about this male dominant mentality.

I think people who do it ought to be ashamed of themselves. There's nothing embarrassing a bout the name of a woman. And I am hardly the only one who sees it this way. 
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Shootings in Rafah, Wisconsin and Madmen

Shooting in Rafah border, and the death of more than 15 Egyptian officers, I do not know who is behind this. Certainly most Palestinians would have no MOTIVE committing this senseless act of murder. I am now hearing and seeing more rage in Egypt that has been directed toward Gaza Strip and the Palestinians, some even want to see Egypt bomb Gaza.

I certainly understand the rage in Egypt, those fallen men are hero even in Palestine. And most people who work in the border are both Egyptians and Palestinians. The reality is, we do not knows many things, I happen to believe five things to be true:

  1. Egypt has ignored the Sinai desert--as they are also limited to what they can do due to the Camp David treaty.  
  2. In marginalized communities, extremists Muslims group (Jihad, Qaeda) thrive. And there are Palestinians reside in Egypt's border areas. 
  3. The current government of Egypt is Gaza's best friend in the world--they promise to east the siege and allow for freedom of movement. Why would Gaza want to crap where they eat? Plus, the government in Gaza and the one in Egypt stem from the same theological schools
  4. Israel/certain political groups in Egypt are not too happy about the government of Egypt acts of kindness toward Gaza.  
  5. The underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt need to be demolished, there is simply no need for them and they have served their purpose until the siege was made lighter late last year. Now, they are used for greed and people who bring in weird people and illegal merchandise.

Having said that, I stand firmly behind the government to f Egypt as they try to figure out what really happened and wish people would just refrain from jumping to conclusions. I would also ask the government in Gaza not to give the one in Egypt a hug of death. They are not in office to make Gaza a better place, they cannot do that until Egypt is back to speed.

In other news

A CNN Anchor commented on the horrific Sikh shootings in Wisconsin by saying "Sikhs are often unfairly targeted" and he went on to talk about how they are often mistaken for Muslims.

So that also would mean mean, if the shooting and attack were on a mosque, this would mean those Muslims are fairly targeted.

My thoughts go to the people of Wisconsin and in the Sikh community at those difficult times. 
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Thursday, August 02, 2012

My Palestinian Culture Allowed Me To Attend the Romney Institute

"For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted."

The Book Of Mormon (Mormon 8:37)

A few days I ago I was halfway through writing a post on the Romney family's generosity and the positive role they play at Brigham Young University, my alma mater. But then Presidential candidate Mitt Romney went to the Middle East, and in front of wealthy donors at a cozy fundraiser went on to bash my culture in his bid to impress few donors. His statements suggested Israeli culture helped explain the country's economic success. In an effort to butter up to wealthy Jewish donors, he felt compelled to tarnish my heritage. I wasn't aware that Mr. Romney was an anthropologist capable of making such bogus claims. From Yemen to Morocco the Arab press covered and criticized his racist remarks. Romney further attributed Israeli supremacy to its culture and of course the "divine hand of providence."  

For more than 60 years my family in Gaza, relatives in the West Bank and college buddies in East Jerusalem have being living under Israeli occupation. Violent airstrikes, murder, assassinations and land grabs do not allow for any economy to survive let alone thrive. Yes, Mitt Romney forgot about that little buzzkill known as the occupation. He wants the Palestinians to create an economy out of nothing while living within a militarized prions of walls, checkpoints fences and uniformed 19-year olds armed and ready to shoot.  

Palestinians cannot tend to their farms without first getting permission from the Israeli government to do so. Fishermen cannot get into the water without Israel allowing access to the sea. And if that's not enough, the occupation gets a say in what college students can chose to attend. They have vetoed thousands of students college choices and even banned them from seeking higher education in academic institutions that are not within their own towns.

Yet the Palestinian can do attitude, resilience and life loving nature continues to make the most of a God awful scenario. That's why people like me make their way to places like the United States for further education. Romney's remarks are racist as they have been rightfully dubbed by the mainstream. Those comments illustrate that the candidate has ill feeling toward poor people. If you are rich you have a superior culture. If you are poor, well, sucks to be you.

As a graduate student at Brigham Young University I was part of the 50 to 60 students admitted each year to the The Romney Institute of Public Management. An accredited program that grants a Master's degree in Public Administration. Certainly I wasn't the first Palestinian admitted to the program. The great majority of alumni of the program tend to gravitate toward public service and the not for profit sector. The program offered by the The Romney Institute of Public Management is unique in that they prepare generations of people who want to make the world a better place. For example, the institute has a social venture center where people learn to create new outlets to improve lives around the globe. I am now beginning to wonder if Romney believes or fully understands the consequences of his most recent remarks on the subject of poverty. Romney has brought shame on his good family's name.

While at my alma mater, I met countless Mormon students who studied abroad at the university's satellite campus in the old city of Jerusalem. After experiencing life under occupation, the great majority of those students came back with overwhelming support for the Palestinian cause. Something that disturbed some administrators. The students did not come back back philosophizing about God and culture, they saw fellow humans in distress and sympathized with them.

While I think some extremist elements in Israel might be pleased with Romney's racist remarks, I happen to think that the mainstream Israelis would not agree with him. As a Palestinian and alumni of Brigham Young University I find such remarks reprehensible . I'm deeply disappointed in his characterization of the poor and his insensitivity to the plight of people living under occupation.
Hat Tip: Joseph Abushawish
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Ramadan and The Muslims Contraception

Muslims do not need contraception pills and other family planning techniques, we have a system that works, we call it Ramadan.

By the same token in theory we do not need any diets of birth loss tablets, if we would keep off those desserts, we might lost some weight.

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