Any ideas as to what might happen if I started up a website like the one launched by the Combatant Clergy Society of Iran? In the meantime, if you're looking for ideas on what you can do for Palestine check out this post by Huda Shaka over at Muslamics.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Whenever I tell fashion conscious people my name, their eyes light up and they ask "ooh like the store?" To which I respond, "yes, like the store except with an H." And why not be happy to be related in name to a great store that sells cute, classy and relatively hijab friendly store at prices even I can afford?
Instead of respecting employees' right to join a union, since Fall 2007, ZARA has engaged in conduct which may have violated the Quebec Labour Code, including:If you're as bothered as I am by this sad turn of events at a store that I and many other women love, you can take action by sending a message to the President of Zara Canada.
- Firing four employees who supported the union at ZARA's Rockland Mall store in April and May 2008
- Demoting two employees who led a union drive at ZARA's downtown Montreal store in August 2007
- Holding anti-union meetings at three Montreal stores in 2007-2008, in one case telling employees that joining a union is "treason" against the company.
Subject: Respect Zara Workers' Right to Join a Union!
Dear Mr. Pastrana,
Zara is known as a progressive company on the cutting edge of fashion, but when it comes to respect for workers' rights, here in Canada Zara seems to be stuck in the 19th century.
As a Zara customer, I support the right of Zara workers to join a union and want to shop at a company that treats its employees with respect.
Respect Zara workers? right to join a union and commit to negotiating with them in good faith!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
This neighbors hadith came up in a conversation this evening. I'm posting it here as a reminder and also because I'm trying to understand the different ways it can be interpreted.
The Prophet (pbuh) explained to us how to take care of our neighbors in matters of famine and hunger: He is not believing in me, the one who sleeps full while his neighbor is hungry. [Al-Bazar]
Food for thought:
- There is a followup definition of what a neighbor is (40 houses in each direction); has the definition broadened as a result of the virtual era and the global economy?
- Can this be interpreted to go beyond sharing what I had for dinner? Is it fair to interpret it in a manner in which all of our economic decisions are included in the conversation? Take for example supporting businesses that are known for not paying a living wage: our support of these businesses drives legitimate businesses out of the market as they cannot compete (with say WalMart wages?) and consequently forces wage rates lower (and lower). When it is our "neighbors" who labor for these corporations, are we not in effect walking-talking violations of the command to ensure our neighbors do not go hungry?
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 11:52 PM
Friday, December 19, 2008
Dec 19, 2008
Senator Barbara Boxer
Constitution Avenue and 2nd Street, NE
Washington, DC 20510-0505
Dear Senator Boxer,
I join with people all over the world in condemning [apartheid] Israel's deliberate starvation of the Palestinian people in Gaza. The U.S. government sends $15 million each day to [apartheid] Israel. In addition to the military attacks against the people of Gaza, Gaza City residents are without electricity for up to 16 hours a day and half the city's residents receive water only once a week for a few hours. These are war crimes, and crimes against humanity. I demand that the United States end all funding for [apartheid] Israel.
Ms. Zahra Billoo
1505 4th St Apt 203
San Francisco, CA 94158-2270
Send your own letter, it's the LEAST we can do: Act Now
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
CAIRO: Exasperated by the pressures of a society obsessed with marriage and the production of children, a young Egyptian woman has come to the rescue of her country's stigmatized spinsters. In the hope of changing the prejudices suffered by the unmarried and to shed light on the difficulties of being a woman in a patriarchal society, Yomna Mokhtar set up "Spinsters for Change" about six months ago.
The group came to life on the Internet's social networking website Facebook, which has become a platform for a plethora of social protests in Egypt, and the 27-year-old's group now has more than 550 members. "Society takes a very negative view of unmarried people. It puts great pressure on them and marginalizes them" if they don't marry, Mokhtar, her face framed by an Islamic headscarf, told AFP.
In the conservative country where religion is omnipresent, getting married is an obligation for Christians and Muslims alike. Islamic associations regularly organize mass weddings for those who lack the considerable funds needed for their own lavish ceremony, with the aim of avoiding so-called "deviant" behavior - extramarital relations or homosexuality. Even though they may hold down regular jobs or are studying, unmarried women in Egypt are seen as incomplete, said Mokhtar, stressing the "psychological suffering" endured by some of her single friends.
AND, the best news related to the Bush shoe throwing fiasco:
An Egyptian man said Wednesday he was offering his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad Sunday,
The daughter, Amal Saad Gumaa, said she agreed with the idea. "This is something that would honour me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero," she told Reuters by telephone.
Her father, Saad Gumaa, said he had called Dergham, Zaidi's brother, to tell him of the offer. "I find nothing more valuable than my daughter to offer to him, and I am prepared to provide her with everything needed for marriage," he added.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Remember the Why Islam project I was very excited about a few months ago? I raved all about it, here. Well, great news: it's coming to San Francisco!
Volunteer, by clicking here.
Donate, by clicking here.
It's like voting: if you don't vote, don't complain about the government. If you don't do your fair share of dawah (this is definitely not the only way; if this does not float your boat, find another), you can't complain about Islamophobia.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
"Never neglect to give something away every day, even if a small amount, and do this early, for hardships do not corss [the protective barrier of] charity. Never disappoint a beggar who stands at your door; give him even as little as a date or less, for he is a gift from God to you. If you find nothing to give then send him away graciously with kind words and a promise.
When you give a needy person something, smile at him and be aware that it is you who are indebted to him, for he accepts a little from you for which you receive a reward worth more than the whole world. It has been said that a single morsel of food may bring a reward from God greater than Mount Uhud.
Do not let the fear of poverty prevent you from giving charity, for it is the abandonment of charity which brings on poverty. Charity on the contrary attracts wealth. If the pursuer of the world gave much charity it would return to him multiplied."
– The Book of Assistance, from Chapter on Zakat (p. 69).
Hijab Flutter: Ramadan Compact
Is this not amazing? Every dollar you give can bring you a reward greater than the mountains of Arabia. And if you can't give, a smile or a "God bless" or any other nice gesture still counts as giving! Further, how could we not want to give when we know that 1 in 5 children in Los Angeles and 1 in 4 children in San Francisco are living below the poverty line?
(Brown Bag Plugs: If you're looking for a grassroots window for giving in either the Los Angeles/Orange County or San Francisco area, please email me (by clicking HERE) and I'll let you how you can plug into the Winter Break projects I'm working on with friends.)
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
It was my first Eid away from home, and while it was different and I missed my family and Southern California friends I had a decent time. I mean who complains when you get to spend the day dressing up, praying, eating and spending time with friends? But of course the day closed with two very important very in-your-face reminders about the world we live in:
- As I left my friend to walk to her car, I heard yelling the street. So I stopped to make sure she was OK - she was. The person yelling in the street, was not. It seemed an indigent mentally unstable person had been upset by something and was now standing in the middle of a busy intersection shouting and kicking a street sign.
- As I walked to my car, a woman asked me for money for shoes. And sure enough, I looked down and this woman was standing around on a San Francisco winter night in the middle of downtown with just her socks on.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 11:55 PM
Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, is meant to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son on God's orders and takes place at the end of the pilgrimage. The holiday is a time for family, friendship and goodwill, a time for forgiveness and making amends and coming together.
The Hajj (pilgrimage) consists of several ceremonies, meant to symbolize the essential concepts of the Islamic faith, and to commemorate the trials of prophet Abraham and his family. The pilgrimage also enables Muslims from all around the world, of different colors, languages, races, and ethnicities, to come together in a spirit of universal brotherhood and sisterhood to worship God together.
Eid al-Adha is the auspicious day of sacrifice. The day on which Hazrat Ibrahim (Alayhi Salaam) was tested to sacrifice his beloved son, Hazrat Ismael (Alayhi Salaam) for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta'ala). To commemorate this event, Muslims have been directed to sacrifice animals on this day so that they can reflect upon this incident and learn a lesson from it. Muslims are further reminded of sacrifice by giving away a portion of this meat to the neediest in their communities.
Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd.
(Allah is the greatest, He is the greatest.
There is no god except Allah.
He is the greatest. All praises and thanks are for Him)
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 12:12 AM
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
This adds to the discussion regarding the difficulties in ensuring women worldwide have access to basic human rights:
What do you do when women cut other women because it is the only means of attaining a livelihood available to them?
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I'm writing a paper on female genital mutilation, and it's been a disturbing research experience. I'll share some of the stories I have found at another time.
However, on a related note (the depressing state of women's rights and safety everywhere) I was just forwarded a story about acid attacks in Asia. I met a victim of this this heinous crime years ago, but if I hadn't the severity of this type of attack would be nearly unbelievable:
This month in Afghanistan, men on motorcycles threw acid on a group of girls who dared to attend school. One of the girls, a 17-year-old named Shamsia, told reporters from her hospital bed: “I will go to my school even if they kill me. My message for the enemies is that if they do this 100 times, I am still going to continue my studies.”
When I met Naeema Azar, a Pakistani woman who had once been an attractive, self-confident real estate agent, she was wearing a black cloak that enveloped her head and face. Then she removed the covering, and I flinched.
Acid had burned away her left ear and most of her right ear. It had blinded her and burned away her eyelids and most of her face, leaving just bone.
Six skin grafts with flesh from her leg have helped, but she still cannot close her eyes or her mouth; she will not eat in front of others because it is too humiliating to have food slip out as she chews.
Hijab Flutter: Nazia Khan
Please keep the women of the world in your duas/prayers/thoughts.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
"Yes, I am an American. But I am an American in revolt. I am revolted by the holiday known as Thanksgiving."
It's as though we forget because time has passed. Or rather that we don't care, because we do not see ourselves as one with the victims of this genocide?
For many of us this “holiday” was explained for the first time in elementary school as a celebration of prosperity in the “New World”. I’m sure many of you remember those cherished moments in the Kinder when the teacher would dress you up like Colonists and Indians, y yo con un nopal en la frente often got stuck being a Pilgrim!
The teachers told us the stories of the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and how they triumphed over the cold winter and failed crops. These colonists were to serve as examples because their “rugged individualism” set the foundation for this nation. This, unfortunately, marks the beginning of the first of many lies and half-truths taught to us in school about how this Western Empire was established.
For our purposes we must go back in time a little further to see that the origins of November twenty-fifth are in fact much older than the foundations of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Subsequently we must go to VIII century Europe.
In the 8th century the Muslims (Moors) conquered Spain, Portugal and France and controlled it for over 700 years. These people threatened European Christians, meaning Western Civilization.
It was not until the late 15th century that in Spain on November 25, 1491, Santiago defeated the last Muslim stronghold in Grenada. On this day King Ferdinand gave thanks to God for this victory and the Pope of Rome declared this day to forever be a day of Thanksgiving for all European Christians.
The Hip-Hop lyricist, Rass Kass, in “Nature of the Threat” states that: “When you celebrate Thanksgiving, what you are actually celebrating is the proclamation of the Pope of Rome, who later in league with Queen Isabella, sent Cardinal Ximenos to Spain to murder any Blacks that resisted Christianity.” These genocidal policies were justified by Pope Nicholas in the Inter Cetera Papal Bull of 1452, which called for the King of Portugal “To invade, search out, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans, whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ”.
These are the true religious and political motivations that formulated the white supremacist mindset that was the foundations for the economic colonization of the Americas and its Native peoples.
Thanksgiving in the United States is a part of this tradition that celebrates the subjugation of non-Western people for colonial purposes. Its roots are more directly connected to the events that occurred in the Northeast in the year 1637, when 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot Tribe, gathered for their “Annual Green Corn Dance” in the area that is now known as Groton, Connecticut.
While they were gathered in this place of meeting, they were surrounded and attacked by mercenaries of the English and Dutch. The Indigenous people were ordered from their ceremonial structures and as they came forth, they were shot down. The rest were burned alive in their homes. The next day, the Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared a day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 Pequots. Subsequently, every Thanksgiving Day ordained by a Governor or President since was to honor that victory, thanking God that the “battle” had been won. The holiday on the 3rd Thursday of November we celebrate is in observation of that massacre and upholds this colonial mentality.
How will you celebrate Thankstaking day?
Full Article: La Prensa
Monday, November 17, 2008
This one goes in the hall of shame with the desi aunty story and the scary Mosque-hijab encounter. Last week I logged onto Facebook to be greeted on my newsfeed by the use of the "n-word." A brother I knew had posted something about wanting to play basketball that night. One of his friends had responded saying "n****r lol."
"naw it wasnt a supid comment..ppl dont know why i said it..and should mind thier own business"
"naw cuz u were like i wana play ball...and i was like lets play at mile square then u changed it to irvine..so i said it..and its not stupid i can say that word i got the right."
"polluting public space..what are u a lawyer..dude people say worse things than that and mean it..im sorry if sisters dont use that type of lingo...and if i knew other ppl would see it and react that way i wouldnt have said it."
"lol dude no one can wreck this...im a junior lawyer"
"well yeah its in public..but i do have freedom of speech as u have the freedom to dispute what i say..doesnt make u right..doesnt make me right"It's a sad-sad day when I have to spend the afternoon discussing the inappropriateness of the term n****r with another Muslim. This person would likely call the civil rights and hate crime task forces if he were referred to as a "camel jockey," and yet he cannot afford other ethnic groups the same respect?
My draft response to his personal message is included below:
Salaams "Junior Lawyer,"
When you are able to put together complete sentences, send me a message. Until then, please feel free to go back and reread what I said/wrote. I never said anything about your right to say the word. Rather I commented on the appropriateness of its usage and my right to respond to such usage.
Considerations here would be:
1. It is widely recognized as a racist term.
2. The word was used in a public space, and therefore becomes nothing more than a commodity in the marketplace of ideas.
3. As you maintain the right to use the term, I maintain the right to say "wow" when I am disappointed about Muslims speaking ignorantly.
I would ask, would you feel comfortable just using that word around a local shaikh? Your mom? The Prophet? Shouldn't we hold all of our speech to that standard? Given such, whether it is a private or public posting, I would ask that you rethink your justification for use of such a historically negative term.
I'm not even going to get into the issue of the gender biased remarks you made regarding a sister's vocabulary. Please see my note above: this is not an issue of brothers or sisters, it is one of Muslims and people of conscience.
Relatedly, I'd recommend you check out the following links before writing any additional ignorant half sentences:
Wiki - Market Place of Ideas
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 11:00 PM
Thursday, November 13, 2008
...To (Attempt To) Not To Shop At The Limited Brand Stores
1. Zionist much?
2. Sweatshop much?
And most recently:
3. Victoria's Secret sued for using formaldehyde in their bras.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 12:26 AM
Friday, November 07, 2008
There’s a local photography student who for one of her projects wanted to use as a subject somebody who visits the mosque. A friend referred her to me. She’s working on photographing me doing every day things and visiting the mosque. I was with her for parts of Sunday, Monday, and then yesterday and today. Today I met her at the Jones Street Mosque for Jumah prayers, and she had planned to photograph me there. I arrived to find her waiting for me on the third floor, right outside the prayer area. A few people came up to her and were really nice and attempted to let her know she could go inside the prayer hall. BUT when I got there was this man harassing her. He was essentially telling her that if she didn’t cover her hair she would have to leave.
It was so obnoxious. I couldn't help it, I attempted to tell him off. He was saying she had to “make her face like a Muslim” to come inside. I told him to go to his section and not pay attention because she wasn’t sitting next to him. And he kept saying it saying it was disrespectful to the mosque so I told him he was being disrespectful to the mosque by harassing her. And at some point he even said “well she can cover or she can go outside.” I told him there was no hijab rule at this mosque. I further told him that if there was such a rule, I knew for a fact he had no position of authority at this mosque and therefore could not enforce it. And then told him thank you for your advice and started to shoo him away. By that time, Alhamdulillah!, the President came out and told him to mind his own business.
Gosh! I was sooo upset: you know that heart pounding kind of upset? I should have asked him where his beard and manners were "Mr. face like a Muslim."
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 4:00 PM
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Yup. I just finished filling out my six page absentee ballot. Woohoo for overwhelming democracy in San Francisco. I'm including some of the votes I'm very excited about below:
President - Cynthia McKinney
US Representative - Cindy Sheehan
Member, Community College Board - Chris Jackson
Measure R - Yes
* One of the main reasons people oppose this is because it's an insult to our award-winning sewage plant and the people who work there, and if we're going to rename something for Dubya, it should be something truly nasty. But SEIU 1021, the union that represents the sewage plant workers, has endorsed prop R.
We think this would be a fitting metaphor for the years of hard work we face in rehabilitating and reclaiming America's reputation in the world after eight years of George Bush and his cronies dumping shit all over us.
Some people don't want anything named for our Worst President Ever because they want to forget about him. We think that's a mistake. Our children need to reminded about what a horror-show these eight years have been. And we think we all share some blame. If we'd all worked a little harder on the 2000 or 2004 elections, maybe things could have been different.
Finally, Prop R was put on the ballot by a bunch of dedicated people who have never been involved in local politics. This wouldn't be our top priority, but it's awesome to see people learn how to work the system make their voices heard. Hell yeah.
Measure U - Yes
*A symbolic policy statement, urging our leaders in Washington to defund the war in Iraq. Sure, why not. But we think voting for Cindy Sheehan is a lot more effective as an anti-war statement.
Measure V - No
*This is a sensitive issue. We respect that there are some high school kids who feel very strongly about JROTC. They argue that San Francisco's JROTC is unique. It's gender balanced, nlike our current military with its institutional sexism and INSANELY UNACCEPTABLE sexual harassment and abuse of women. SF JROTC is 50% female, with women making up a majority of the leadership. There are also several out LGBT students. But ultimately, we just can't condone having a military recruitment program in our high schools targeting 14 year olds. The military pays half the cost of JROTC and hires the instructors. They're not doing that for altruistic reasons. They want more soldiers. Our members have a variety of perspectives about the military--from pragmatists to pacifists. But recruiting 14 year olds simply isn't cool.
Proposition 4 - No
*Haven't we decided this already??? Yes. Yes, we did. As Prop 73 in 2005 and Prop 85 in 2006. This thing is like Chucky: it keeps coming back. The same very wealthy Christian Fundamentalist men put it right back on the ballot again.
Forced parental notification for abortion = BAD. Prop 4 has dangerous long-term implications for all women’s right to choose. No law can force a family to communicate, and we believe that the government shouldn’t be in the business of forcing itself into sensitive family decisions. Youth and families need real solutions like honest sex ed, access to birth control, and, definitely, choice. For the third time, HELL NO!
Proposition 5 - Yes
*Prop 5 reduces penalties for drug offenses and increases alternatives for drug treatment. If people go into drug treatment instead of prison, they're much less likely to become career criminals. That makes the world safer and means we don't have to build more prisons.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 1:05 AM
Sunday, November 02, 2008
These are not entirely perfect, but they provide food for thought:
1. If you would vote yes on Proposition 8, would you also vote yes on banning needle exchanges?
2. If you would vote yes on Proposition 8, would you also vote yes on banning sex education and the distribution of free condoms to "at risk" youth? And/or in "at risk" regions?
Courtesy of Shazia Mirza, gracing Northern California with her comedic presence all the way from the UK:
"Muslim men don't want to marry me, because: I SPEAK."
What better way to capture last week's rishta indirectly requesting a female who did not posses a higher level education?
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 1:04 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2008
You may have known this all along, but now it has been demonstrated scientifically: bikinis make men stupid.
This month’s issue of the Journal of Consumer Research features a paper titled “Bikinis Instigate Generalized Impatience in Intertemporal Choice,” which is a neuroeconomist’s (definition in a moment) way of saying that men don’t make good decisions while checking out pretty girls in bikinis.
. . .
In the “bikini” experiments, Belgian researchers conducted a series of tests on 358 young men. In one test, the men looked at images of women in bikinis or lingerie and at images of landscapes. In another, some men were given T-shirts to handle and assess while others were given bras. Another batch of men was assigned to watch a commercial featuring men running over landscapes while other guys watched a video of “hundreds of young women, dressed in bikinis running across hills, fields and beaches.” (No word on whether they used “Baywatch” slo-mo).
In each test, the researchers offered the men the choice between being paid 15 euros immediately or bargaining for a larger sum that they'd be willing to wait a week or a month for. In all the tests, the men exposed to the sexy imagery or bras cited delayed reward amounts that were lower than the amounts cited by the men who saw sex-neutral imagery. For example, while a man who looked at landscapes might have demanded an extra payment of 10 euros a month later (totaling 25), the bikini-gazer might have been willing to settle for five extra (totaling 20). The sexy imagery did not work on all men all the time, but, as a group, men with sex on their brains settled for a less lucrative bargain, suggesting they were more impulsive and valued immediate gratification more than the controls.
“I observed in my studies that men are more likely to pick a smaller immediate reward over a larger later reward,” Bram van den Bergh, the study’s lead author, tells me. “Hence I do think that men might spend money on something they might otherwise not purchase. Men would become more impulsive in any domain after exposure to sexual cues.”
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 2:53 PM
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
I should have waited a few years and gone to UCI. It's UCI, but nonetheless imagine getting a J.D.-debt free. A girl can dream, right?
Students who enroll at the University of California’s new law school in Irvine next fall will get their legal education for free.
The law school is giving full tuition scholarships worth about $100,000 to its first 2009 class of about 60 students, the National Law Journal reports.
Charles Cannon, assistant dean of development and external affairs at the law school, told the publication UC Irvine hopes to attract high-quality students with the offer. The free tuition is expected to cost the school about $6 million, he said.
The school is seeking donations to cover the scholarships and has so far raised about a third of the money.
The story also reports that the law school had originally called itself the Donald Bren School of Law in honor of a $20 million donor, but the school is dropping the name. It will be called the University of California, Irvine, a name that is parallel to other UC schools.
Granted one couldn't trade the experience of living in SF (where I'm enrolled in law school) for that of living in Irvine; Irvine can't compete. However, there is definitely something to be said about having $100,000 of your law school expenses handled. What I wouldn't give to not have to worry about how to pay rent, where to find the extra $3,000 for tuition increases, the prospect of graduating into a bad economy with very few public interest opportunities, etc.!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I'm loving this video, but realistically the difference between Obama and McCain is not as fabulous presented here. I mean McCain will bomb Iran and Obama will instead bomb Pakistan.
However, be sure to check out your local propositions and candidates. Your vote can make all the difference for the 15 year old incest victim seeking an abortion, the high school student being lured into the army by lying soldiers, and yes even the definition of marriage.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Proponents of Prop 8 continue to lie in their television ads.
Vote as you please, but don't be deceived. Here’s what’s fiction and what’s fact:
Fiction: Teaching children about same-sex marriage will happen here unless we pass Prop 8.
Fact: Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education, and no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it, and the Yes on 8 campaign knows they are lying. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley has already ruled that this claim by Prop 8 proponents is “false and misleading.
Fiction: Churches could lose their tax-exemption status.
Fact: Nothing in Prop 8 would force churches to do anything. In fact, the court decision regarding marriage specifically says “no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.
Fiction: A Massachusetts case about a parent’s objection to the school curriculum will happen here.
Fact: Unlike Massachusetts, California gives parents an absolute right to remove their kids and opt-out of teaching on health and family instruction they don’t agree with. The opponents know that California law already covers this and Prop 8 won’t affect it, so they bring up an irrelevant case in Massachusetts.
Fiction: Four Activist Judges in San Francisco…
Fact: Prop 8 is not about courts and judges, it’s about eliminating a fundamental right. Judges didn’t grant the right, the constitution guarantees the right. Proponents of Prop 8 use an outdated and stale argument that judges aren’t supposed to protect rights and freedoms. This campaign is about whether Californians, right now, in 2008 are willing to amend the constitution for the sole purpose of eliminating a fundamental right for one group of citizens.
Fiction: People can be sued over personal beliefs.
Fact: California’s laws already prohibit discrimination against anyone based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. This has nothing to do with marriage.
Fiction: Pepperdine University supports the Yes on 8 campaign.
Fact: The university has publicly disassociated itself from Professor Richard Peterson of Pepperdine University, who is featured in the ad, and has asked to not be identified in the Yes on 8 advertisements.
Fiction: Unless Prop 8 passes, CA parents won’t have the right to object to what their children are taught in school.
Fact: California law clearly gives parents and guardians broad authority to remove their children from any health instruction if it conflicts with their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I saw this animation last year. I wanted to blog it, but I think the creator had at that time disabled embedding. Anyhow, it seems she went on to the big leagues.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Early in 2007, just as her husband launched his presidential bid, Cindy McCain decided to resolve an old problem -- the lack of cellular telephone coverage on her remote 15-acre ranch near Sedona, nestled deep in a tree-lined canyon called Hidden Valley.
By the time Sen. John McCain's presidential bid was in full swing this summer, the ranch had wireless coverage from the two cellular companies most often used by campaign staff -- Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
Verizon delivered a portable tower know as a "cell site on wheels" -- free of charge -- to Cindy McCain's property in June in response to an online request from Cindy McCain's staff early last year. Such devices are usually reserved for restoring service when cell coverage is knocked out during emergencies, such as hurricanes.
In July, AT&T followed suit, wheeling in a portable tower for free to match Verizon's offer. "This is an unusual situation," said AT&T spokeswoman Claudia B. Jones. "You can't have a presidential nominee in an area where there is not cell coverage."
Over the course of the past year, Cindy McCain had offered land for a permanent cell tower and Verizon embarked on an expensive process to meet her needs, hiring contractors and seeking county land-use permits even though few people other than the McCains would benefit from the tower.
Ethics lawyers said Cindy McCain's dealings with the wireless companies stand out because Sen. John McCain is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the Federal Communications Commission and the telecommunications industry. He has been a leading advocate for industry-backed legislation, fighting regulations and taxes on telecommunications services.
McCain and his campaign have close ties to Verizon and AT&T. Five campaign officials, including campaign manager Rick Davis, have worked as lobbyists for Verizon. Former McCain staffer Robert Fisher is an in-house lobbyist for Verizon and is volunteering for the campaign. Fisher, Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg and company lobbyists have raised more than $1.3 million for McCain's presidential campaign and Verizon employees are among the top 20 corporate donors over McCain's political career, giving more than $155,000 to his campaigns.
See every little bit, even the telecomm companies we choose to support, matters.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The case for why Columbus should NOT be honored:
Columbus planned to conquer and colonize all the Caribbean islands and the mainland. The islands were populated by over a million Taino Indians, peaceful farmers and fishermen. Unable to find enough gold to finance his schemes, Columbus captured thousands of Tainos and shipped them to the slave markets of Spain. The Tainos resisted with fishbone-tipped spears, but these were no match for artillery. Columbus demanded that each Taino pay a tribute of gold dust every three months, under penalty of amputation of the hands. In two years over a hundred thousand Tainos were dead, and the survivors were slaves in the mines and plantations. Columbus personally invented European imperialism in the Americas and the transatlantic slave trade.
And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.
The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed.
Trying to put together an army of resistance, the Arawaks faced Spaniards who had armor, muskets, swords, horses. When the Spaniards took prisoners they hanged them or burned them to death. Among the Arawaks, mass suicides began, with cassava poison. Infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.
When it became clear that there was no gold left, the Indians were taken as slave labor on huge estates, known later as encomiendas. They were worked at a ferocious pace, and died by the thousands. By the year 1515, there were perhaps fifty thousand Indians left. By 1550, there were five hundred. A report of the year 1650 shows none of the original Arawaks or their descendants left on the island.
Columbus is DIRECTLY responsible for the deaths of thousands of Arawaks in Haiti. He forced them into gold mines for 6-8 months and 1/3 died, exhausted, depressed, ceased to procreate, killed their infants. Columbus also killed them thru murder, mutilation, suicide, overwork, abuse, and diseases.
The following history is one of depopulation: a heavy toll from wars of resistance, hard labor, and malnutrition. In 1492 there were 3 million people on Hispaniola. Two years later the population was cut in half. In 1515 it was down to 50,000, in 1550 it was 500 and by 1650 there weren't any left. Furthermore, Columbus' actions launched an era of modern colonialism, rape, pillage, genocide, cultural destruction, slavery, economic & environmental devastation.
To celebrate Columbus is, as one Guatemalan has noted, the same as having Jews celebrate Hitler and the holocaust. Columbus is much more than a representation of evil; he is the very embodiment of that evil.
Need I say more?
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Here I was thinking the condition of hip hop was beginning to take a turn for the better. I should have known better, Busta Rhymes has of course "blessed" us with some new trash disguised as music:
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 6:07 PM
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Katie Couric: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Sarah Palin: I do. I'm a feminist who believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed and to try to do it all anyway. And I’m very, very thankful that I've been brought up in a family where gender hasn't been an issue. You know, I've been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you’re out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that. With just that expectation that the boys and the girls in my community were expected to do the same and accomplish the same. That's just been instilled in me.
Couric: What is your definition of a feminist?
Palin: Someone who believes in equal rights. Someone who would not stand for oppression against women.
Couric: Where do you stand on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
Palin: I’m absolutely for equal pay for equal work. The Ledbetter pay act - it was gonna turn into a boon for trial lawyers who, I believe, could have taken advantage of women who were many, many years ago who would allege some kind of discrimination. Thankfully, there are laws on the books, there have been since 1963, that no woman could be discriminated against in the workplace in terms of anything, but especially in terms of pay. So, thankfully we have the laws on the books and they better be enforced.
Couric: The Ledbetter act sort of lengthens the time a woman can sue her company if she's not getting equal pay for equal work. Why should a fear of lawsuits trump a woman's ability to do something about the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And that's today.
Palin: There should be no fear of a lawsuit prohibiting a woman from making sure that the laws that are on the books today are enforced. I know in a McCain-Palin administration we will not stand for any measure that would result in a woman being paid less than a man for equal work.
Couric: Why shouldn’t the Ledbetter act be in place? You think it would result in lawsuits brought by women years and years ago. Is that your main problem with it?
Palin: It would have turned into a boon for trial lawyers. Again, thankfully with the existing laws we have on the books, they better be enforced. We won't stand for anything but that. We won't stand for any discrimination in the workplace - that there isn't any discrimination in America.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 10:47 PM
Monday, October 06, 2008
I couldn't figure out what to get my brother for Eid. He has everything he needs and is leaving the country in a couple of days. I, of course, resorted to fulfilling one of his few remaining American food cravings.
Evan Roth designed these custom etched metal plates to show up on X-ray machines when your luggage is scanned at the airport. And let me tell you this, airport security loooooves a good joke.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,
I am deeply disturbed by your veto of funding for the UC Miguel Contreras Labor Program. This was a difficult budget year, but the state budget should not be used as a political tool to target one specific research and educational program. Your action violates fundamental principles of academic freedom and university governance.
As governor, you should be representing all working families in California, but once again you have cut out funding for the only program at UC that is dedicated to labor research and education.
The Miguel Contreras Labor Program has provided valuable and highly respected research on such issues as health care reform, climate change legislation, workforce development, and paid family leave. The labor studies programs have supported new and innovative courses and educational curriculum on all ten UC campuses and the education and outreach programs represent a significant investment in California's work force.
I urge you to work with UC to ensure that the Miguel Contreras Labor Program receives funding this year, and to restore permanent funding in the future.
(Send your own letter: take action)
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 7:48 PM
Monday, September 29, 2008
Google just turned 10 years old!! Happy Birthday!! They have included all of their Doodles that they have created in the last ten years. See link: Google Doodle.
I think it would be great if we can get Google to make us a doodle. I've written a letter that I sent to Google and I'm asking you to send it too!! Emai Google is the link. Paste this text and put your name!!
To whom the Doodle May Concern:
I was looking through the doodles over the last 10 years and it is truly amazing how far Google and the doodle has come.
There over one and a half billion Muslims in the world and if they are on the web, they are most likely using Google. We are nearing the end of our holy month of Ramadan. Our holiday is Eid al-Fitr which is set for Wednesday October 1st, 2008. We also have another holiday which commemorates the end of the Hajj or the holy pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia). Over 3 million people converge in one place. It would be nice for Google to acknowledge the 1.5 billion plus Muslims in the world with a doodle that acknowledges one or both of our holidays.
Loyal Google User
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 6:03 PM
Thursday, September 25, 2008
On entering a room filled with several Pakistani officials Wednesday, Palin was immediately greeted by Sherry Rehman, the country's information minister.
"And how does one keep looking that good when one is that busy?" Rehman asked Palin, drawing friendly laughter from the room.
"Oh, thank you," Palin said.
Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, entered the room seconds later. Palin rose to shake his hand, saying she was "honored" to meet him.
Zardari then called her "gorgeous" and said: "Now I know why the whole of America is crazy about you."
"You are so nice," Palin said, smiling. "Thank you."
A handler from Zardari's entourage then told the two politicians to keep shaking hands for the cameras.
"If he's insisting, I might hug," Zardari said. Palin smiled politely in response.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 9:41 AM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Assalaamualaikum wa rahmatullah
Please forgive the length of this email.
Many of you know of the Muslim community of MAsjid Al-Islam in East Oakland on
82nd and MacArthur Blvd. This is the community that Amir Abdel Malik and Imam
Musa came from. Several of us must have heard of it but never really went there
since they were the ones who came to our communities in Southern California,
MCA, SFo, San Jose...etc.
While they were coming to our communities, we never went to their masjid and
saw the community there. The Masjid Al-Islam community is a very small tight
knit community. They are simple, friendly, and very accommodating. While they
have these and many more qualities, they are not a wealthy community. They run
their own Islamic school a block from the Masjid. They also own a fairly large
piece of undeveloped land with a building between the school and the Masjid.
They purchased and paid off these pieces of property several years ago,
Alhamdulillah. They want to develop these properties and use them to make dawah
in the community (they have a lot of respect for the brothers and sisters
there),and generate some income for the school and masjid to reduce financial
Over the years, Masjid Al-Islam never really received enough funds to complete
repairs in the Masjid, the school, and the building. What ever they have
received, they used it for the repair and bills for the school and the Masjid.
Unfortunately, majority of the people are struggling to make a living and to
support their families. Alhamdulillah, there have been some brothers and sisters
who visited the community and have given a lot to help with the masjid expenses.
However, this has not helped with the completion of any of the properties. They
have been able to make their bills and sometime have delayed payment of their
bills due to the lack of funds. They cannot ask for large amounts of money from
the same people all the time. Therefore this e-mail appeal to help the
I have been visiting the community for the past few days and found that they
are being shy to ask for money. They have tried to have fundraisers at MCA but
the larger organizations had already taken up much of the wealth from the donor
community. The attendance was poor, and the few who came gave everything that
I was able to get a rough idea of what their needs are and the possible cost of
material. I would strongly recommend that people from other communities visit
the MAsjid Al-Islam community without any hidden agenda and see first hand what
happens there. The following list should give us an idea of their needs are:
In the Masjid,
Womens Bathroom: Needs to be remodeled (the mens wudu area and bathrooms was
all donated by one brother. The sisters bathroom has been long due): It needs
everything (double sink vanity, 25 sheets of tile board, two commodes, flush
tanks, faucets, shower area, 3 doors (two for stalls, one for main entrance)
with knobs and frames, tiles for the walls (tiles cover half the walls and
floor), Paint, lighting and ventilation. Pretty much everything.
The approximate total cost of rebuilding the Women's bathroom and wudu area
Masjid Office: Needs repairs to walls, lighting, and paint.Estimated cost is
$1000. The office needs an office desk (can help get a good one from craigslist,
does not have to be new), complete desktop computer with canon image class
printer/copier (if you have something P4HT or better with CD/Dvd burner would be
sufficient), and four drawer file cabinet with a lock, one 6ft dry erase board.
These things do not have to be new but have to be in good working condition. One
license for Quick books and 20 licenses to Kaspersky anti virus all same version
(Frys had rebate deals for
Everything is needed in the kitchen. Walls, ceiling, paint, Refrigerator,
freezer, gas stove, counter, sink, disposal, shelving, lighting and ventilation,
all the electrical wiring needs to be redone. Currently it is a fire hazard and
is not being used. That by itself may cost close to $4000 I am not sure. The
walls and ceiling need around 100 sheets of drywall. $1500
My rough estimate is $10,000 for these two rooms.
The Masjid is trying its best to cut costs by looking for bargain deals for
their items. If anyone wants to donate specifically towards a certain item,
please mention what that item is. If anyone wants to take the item to the
masjid, then please co-ordinate and make sure it is something that the Masjid
needs. If you are taking anything to the masjid, please find out if they already
have it or not. Other wise it will go to waste. Make sure all items are clean.
Besides these expenses, The school needs $40,000 and $50,000 to be able to stay
afloat for the rest of the school year, InshaAllah.
The Prophet, salla Allaahu 'alaihe wasallam, said; "Verily, wealth
does not decrease because of charity." [Muslim]
Allah SWT has always provided and InshaAllah will continue to provide.
Please donate what ever you can. If you cannot donate then please pass the
message. InshaAllah, there will be reward and Barakah in whatever you can give.
You can make your checks payable to Masjid Al-Islam and mail your checks to the
Masjid Al Islam
8210 McArthur Blvd.
Phone: 1(510)-638 9541
Please note that this Masjid is on the intersection of 82nd and McArthur.
JazakAllahukhairan for your generosity.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 7:00 PM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm so so so guilty of this. May Allah (swt) guide us all.
In mosques all over the country, at the time of breaking the fast, a festival of food is being served. This year, Muslim Americans will spend close to $10 million on feeding those who are already fed. On an average each mosque will spend some where between $500 to $2000 daily to serve food and beverages. Of the food that is being served, a large amount is being wasted as the believers will have no appetite to consume after filling their plates thrice the size of their normal diet. It is a different thing that every evening while listening to the Quran in taraweeh prayers, they would marvel at the words of the God that inspires us not to waste and overspend.
Ramadan has become a month of parties and food and not many are willing to challenge that concept of raveling specially when more than half of the Muslim world sleeps hungry and more than 40 percent of the world does not have a decent meal.
Imagine, if the $10 million being spent on Ramadan food is used to pay off the mortgages that many Mosques have, to finance the education of poor children, to build schools and to promote print or electronic media, how great an impact it would create on the social life of Muslims, yet few are willing to talk about it.
Ramadan to our prophet was a month of simplicity. He would break his fast with half a date and water or a glass of milk if he could get one. Eating meat was a luxury. Eating a full meal was unthinkable. Much emphasis was placed on reflections, self improvement and personality growth. Under his leadership, his companions would form circles to ponder on the ayas of the Quran. They would spread out in the streets of Medina to ensure that people do not sleep hungry and children are fed properly. They would invite people to read the divine message and think on the verses of the Quran and each would try to surpass the other in acts of generosity. They would ensure that their prayers are regular and they do not miss obligatory prayers in the Mosque. It was the simplicity that marked Ramadan during the life time of the Prophet.
Simplicity is far from anything that you would see in our mosques during the iftar today. The irony is that some people will even forego the obligatory prayers as it would interfere with their food. In many places one can see people fighting with each other over getting the best portion of the meat. If they do not find what they are looking for, they would even curse the organizers. They would even complain if the food is not of their taste. This is of course not the norm but ask any Mosque organizer and they will attest that this does happen.
Ramadan was meant to inspire in us the feeling of caring and sharing. It was meant to create discipline among us. But far from it, the iftar gathering in our Mosques have become a big embarrassment.
Ramadan is meant to motivate us to sacrifice for others. It is meant to purify us from our weakness. We are often told that that by fasting, we feel the pain of hunger and thirst of millions of less fortunate people. The purpose was that we would give preference to the needs of the poor over our needs. Yet, during the month, many of us pay little attention to the poor and needy. Very few Mosques in the country make any systematic effort to identify those who are unable to afford a decent meal and then serve them quietly.
Can we return to the simplicity of the Prophet? We can if our teachers, scholars and all people of conscious start taking a stand on this issue. Unfortunately, we are all promoting this extravaganza by being a part of it and approving of it and congratulating the hosts for adding so many dishes on the menu.
Let's try to set an example by focusing on personal growth and serving the needy and the poor from our homes and our Mosques. Let's feed the homeless of our city every day of the month of fasting. This will require a greater personal sacrifice then just abstaining from food and drink all day and only those will be ready to do this, who are willing to follow in the footsteps of our beloved Prophet.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 11:57 PM
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Plastic water bottles are sooo 90's. I took the pledge to ditch bottled water for good at Filter for Good! Why would I do that? Well, get this:
- Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles in 2006. However, the U.S.'s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles — more than $1 billion worth of plastic — are wasted each year.
- The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 11:55 PM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
From: The Boss
I am God. Today I will be handling your problems. Please remember I do not need your help. If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours. Once the matter is place into the box, do not hold on to it.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is not a privilege.
Should you have a bad day at work, think of the man who has been out of work for years.
Should you despair over a relationship gone bad, think of the person who has never known what its like to love and be loved in return.
Should you grieve the passing of another weekend, think of the women in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.
Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance, think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.
Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror, think of the cancer patient in Chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.
Should you find yourself t a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get this opportunity.
Should you find yourself being the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities, remember, things could be worse. YOU COULD BE THEM!
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 12:57 PM
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The blessed days of Ramadan are passing so quickly. The special days of Allah's great mercy, forgiveness and favors are going; therefore, every one should evaluate the efforts he exerted in Ramadan before it is too late. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that the first part of Ramadan is for Allah's mercy, its middle is for forgiveness, and its end is for salvation from Hell-fire.
No one knows whether or not he gained the mercy of Almighty Allah before the end of the first third of Ramadan. We should all be faithful and honest when evaluating our success in gaining His mercy in the first part of this blessed month. We should realize our shortcomings in order not to miss out on the blessings of the few days that remain.
Now we are favored with the days of forgiveness. Are we ready to work for forgiveness? Have we prepared ourselves to be forgiven by Almighty Allah? It is our great opportunity to repent, to return to Almighty Allah, and to seek His forgiveness. It is a precious time that we should not miss out on. If we fail to gain the forgiveness of Almighty Allah during the days of forgiveness, when would our sins would be forgiven?
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), his companions, and the righteous Muslims throughout the ages used to pay due attention to Ramadan and the blessings it contains. Wise people should never miss the merits of every single day of Ramadan.
Now, the important question is: How should we seek the forgiveness of Almighty Allah during these blessed days of Ramadan? Below are some tips that we should consider and implement:
1. Everybody should sincerely repent to Almighty Allah, seeking His forgiveness,
2. Wrongdoings and prohibitions should be avoided,
3. One should offer more optional acts of worship such as Tahajjud (night prayer), charity, dhikr, and Qur’an recitation.
4. Obligatory acts of worship such as the five daily prayers should be carried out properly and faithfully, and
5. One should earnestly make du`aa’ to Almighty Allah to bless him with His favors and forgiveness.
O Allah, help us all to gain Your mercy, forgiveness, and blessings, Ameen.
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 12:51 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
"One thing I started doing to “reduce” consumption, is to use a small amount of water for wudhu. Did you know that RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alayhi Wassalam used to use less then a 355 mL popcan worth of water for wudhu? (an Imam told me) Subhanullah!!! There are muslims out there who use atleast a gallon easy.
It’s pretty easy, just use your hand as an individual cup, (squeeze your fingers tightly) and the opposite hand to quickly turn off, and on, the tap, saving LOTS of water. This way the water isn’t running all the time even when it isn’t being used. I managed to only use half of a water bottle, which is about 250mL."
Source: Mujahideen Ryder
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 5:40 AM
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 4:17 PM