Monday, March 31, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Come on: turn off the lights and hug a tree!
I'll be at a bridal shower tomorrow night, but I've already put in a request with the hostesses that we turn off the lights in compliance with Earth Hour. Hopefully they agree. I even bought 100 tea lights in hopes of coaxing them. insha'Allah.
As the video description says: "Do Something!" to make a positive impact.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The other afternoon I (as usual) spent a couple of hours at Panera attempting to read ahead. Randomly some man approached me and asked if I'd do him a favor. My usual response to that question is "it depends." He explained he needed to run to his office for 15 minutes and asked if I would watch his stuff.
In a moment of niceness I agreed and asked where his belongings were. (He was standing before me empty handed. He pointed to a booth about six feet away. He walked back to it, packed up his laptop and whatever else he had and brought it all back to me placing it on the floor next to my bags.
He left and two thoughts came to mind: 1. Gosh I hope I don't get an airport type question from one of the Panera staffers. You know the "did you pack your own bags" deal? 2. This man doesn't know me, did he really pick me out of a crowd to watch his valuables for him?
About 15 minutes later, he returned from his office. When he walked over to retrieve his bag from the floor and thank me he voluntarily quipped "I trusted you because you have a sign of righteousness," waving his finger around his face to indicate my hijab was the sign.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I received the following email on some CSU alumni listserv today:
The state budget proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger on January 10 reduces funding to the California State University by a total of $386.1 million. This reduction includes a direct cut $312.9 million and fails to fund $73.2 million necessary to avoid raising student fees by 10 percent for the 2008-09 academic year.
The proposed budget reduction – which comes in addition to $522 million in funding cuts between 2002 and 2005 – means that CSU will be unable to provide access to 10,000 qualified students. All CSU campuses have closed enrollment for first time freshmen as of March 1.
Considered the “economic engine” of California, the CSU returns $4.41 to the California economy for every $1.00 invested by the state. In addition, the CSU plays a major role in the state’s workforce in the areas of nursing, teaching, agriculture, business, public administration, and technology. It graduates 90,000 students each year, including 87 percent of education graduates, 64 percent of nurses, 65 percent of business professionals, 82 percent of those involved in public administration, and more than half of the state’s graduates in agriculture-related fields. As an example of the CSU’s impact, it is estimated that California will need 47,000 additional nurses by 2010 just to keep up with demand.
At the CSU’s current rate of economic return, the proposed budget cuts to CSU would remove more than $1 billion from the state’s economy as California leaders grapple with an ongoing budget deficit. The cuts would mean larger class sizes, less student support, and less course sections, resulting in students taking longer to graduate.
The negative impact on student access would fall disproportionately on students from underrepresented communities, erasing recent gains made in college enrollment by students from these communities. For 2008, freshman applications to CSU for Latinos are up by 21 percent and African Americans by 11 percent over previous years.
Although it is not yet known what the specific budget impact would be on CSU Long Beach, a 10 percent budget reduction would be $16 million to our current budget. This would affect every aspect of the campus from compensation to student rates of graduation. CSU Long Beach will be unable to accommodate 1000 qualified students in the 2008-09 academic year as a result of the proposed budget cuts.
CSU Long Beach provides an important contribution to the California economy, graduating over 8,066 students a year, including 668 teachers, 275 nurses 439 engineers and 375 scientists each year.
Locally, CSU Long Beach generates a total economic impact of $1.024 billion to the regional economy. This impact sustains 17,222 jobs in the region, and generates more than $64.8 million per year in tax revenue.
F. King Alexander
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Planning that big day?
I obviously have very little experience in the area, but the one thing I will say is I've noticed we sometimes make sacrifices on big picture issues for the sake of one night.
We'll attempt to fulfull the sunnah of feeding others, but then waste so much food. We'll dress modestly but then miss prayer (or pray with a weak wudhu) because we were worried about messing up our makeup.
I don't have the answer and I know it's hard. I do pray though that if I ever make it to the alter, I don't have to trade in my conscience to do it. :-\
A suggestion might be to start small.
A friend of mine recently distributed her wedding invitations - they were printed on 100% recycled paper! Another redirected a portion of her gifts as a donation to an orpahanage (everybody's read the hadith about that which you give being given back to you tenfold by Allah (swt)?)) Yet another kicked off her wedding season with a Qur'an reading gathering.
In the end what matters is that we try.
Small steps you may want to research:
Fair Trade Weddings - (I just discovered this one (i.e. it was the inspiration for this post!)
Conflict Free Diamonds
Union Hotel Guide
Monday, March 24, 2008
"Choosing an option means that you endorse it only if there are better options offered. But if the other choice is worse, then actually you are endorsing the difference between this and the less harmful option. Take for example eating unslaughtered meat for a starving person. He is allowed or even obliged to do so, yet does it mean that he is endorsing eating unslaughtered meat? Rather, he is endorsing the difference between these options which in this case is saving his life. Saving his life by eating unslaughtered meat is good compared to starving to death."2. Voting means integration which means eventually losing our Muslim identity.
"I agree that full political participations might lead to major problems for Muslims and we have to be very careful when stepping into this arena. However, ticking the box for one of the candidates does not mean full political participation."3. We should focus on strengthening Muslim communities and establishing independent states.
"I think no one disagrees that the Muslim community needs to strengthen themselves and build their own organizations and schools etc. However, this is not an option that is incompatible with having party A,B or C in power. This is one matter and that is another, there is no contradiction between the two options. We can vote to select the best option while we are working for our community and our future."4. Since voting isn't going to get us anywhere, we should abstain from it.
"...abstention from voting is actually indirect voting. Let me explain this by the following example. Imagine that 6 people were to vote for two parties named A and B. A says in his manifesto that he will legalise pornography, ban faith schools, kill 1000 Muslims, prevent Muslims from Hijab and other rights. While B said that he will legalise pornography but allow faith schools and kill 500 Muslims. 3 of us vote for A and 2 vote for B and Me as a Muslim believing that voting is kufr abstained from doing so. Then what will happen? A will win, however if I vote for B, then no one will win. So I participated in lessening the evil. Let us now say that we have 2 more people, either they vote for B or abstain. Abstention will not change the situation while encouraging them to vote for B, who will do all these filthy things, will mean that A will loose which means that we saved the life of 500 Muslims and had a chance to have faith schools and practice hijab!"5. Voting will not bring Muslims to power.
"...who said that our aim in the near future is to bring a Muslim into power. Our realistic aim in the near future is to have a better person with a better system in power. It is impossible and impractical to think of having a true Muslim leader in the near future in most or even all the non-Muslim countries. Our ultimate aim is to help those who are better than their co-politicians into power."6. Boycotting elections sends a message to politicians.
"...such boycotting will not be effective unless all Muslims do so. That is why, before we arrive at such conclusions a deep discussion with all Muslims involved in politics and other related fields should take place. It should not be an individual opinion of a single party or so. However, we should bear in mind that if a decision were taken to boycott elections, then we should be clear why we do so."
Sunday, March 23, 2008
I'm not sure if I'm excited or worried:
Saudi Arabia is to retrain its 40,000 prayer leaders - also known as imams - in an effort to counter militant Islam.
Details of the plan were revealed in the influential Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat.
The plan is part of a wider programme launched by the Saudi monarch a few years ago to encourage moderation and tolerance in Saudi society.
The ministry of religious affairs and new centre for national dialogue will carry out the training, the paper said.
The centre was created five years ago to disseminate a moderate interpretation of Islamic tradition.
There is growing awareness in Saudi society that security measures alone are not enough to counter the threat of Islamic militancy.
Saudi clerics have long been accused of encouraging Saudi youth to join global jihad and of inciting hatred of non-Muslims.
Nearly 1,000 imams have already been sacked over the past few years.
The Saudi royal family has come under increasing pressure - mainly from Washington - to change religious textbooks and to rein in militant clerics.
But critics are sceptical about whether such initiatives would work as long as the powerful, and ultraconservative, religious establishment in Saudi Arabia continues to exert enormous influence over society.
Only last week, a prominent cleric called for the beheading of two liberal writers who had questioned the orthodox view that Muslims can not change their religion.
Hijab Tip: Mansur Wadalawala
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Happy anniversary, War! I can hardly believe we've been together for five years now ... that's a fifth of the way to our silver anniversary!
Traditionally, a fifth anniversary is marked with gifts of wood, symbolizing a "strong and lasting marriage." But I knew you wouldn't mind a gift of Kevlar -- I looked it up, and apparently it symbolizes "a strong and lasting insurgency." Somehow it just seemed more appropriate.
It's sooo sweet of you to take me out to dinner for our anniversary, War. I know it's not easy getting a reservation here in Baghdad, with so many of the local restaurants destroyed by suicide bombers. But eating in the Green Zone is fine. No, really! Concrete barriers and barbed wire can be extremely romantic.
Anniversaries make me so nostalgic. I have to confess, though, when we first met I wasn't all that sure about you. Remember those sweet nothings you used to whisper in my ear, about WMD and "shock and awe"? Did you think I was impressed by all that macho posturing? I never really fell for it, you know.
I have to say, you didn't make a great impression on my mother either. She always thought you were a bully and a liar. And I don't know if you noticed this, War, but even your friends were pretty appalled by some of your behavior. Right, wild oats. Whatever. Still, I wasn't surprised so few of your so-called friends showed up for the wedding, and fewer still stayed for the dancing. Some "coalition" that turned out to be!
But I don't want to dwell on the bad times, because we did have some good times, didn't we? Remember those peaceful days between "Mission Accomplished" -- I think that was May 1, 2003 -- and ... and ... well, July 2003 or so, when we could still stroll around Baghdad at dusk, interrupted only by occasional small-arms fire? Those were the days, before the car bombs and IEDs.
We were happy then, weren't we, War?
I really think we were. True, the parades and flowers never did materialize, but I'm not a romantic sap. For me, it was enough that hope was in the air. Children were going to school, political dissidents could speak openly, Iraq was full of a sense of freedom and possibility. So there were no WMD after all -- so what? All's fair in love and war, right? -- and all's well that ends well!
Except, I guess, that the whole thing hasn't exactly ended well.
Don't you wish we could go back to those halcyon days in the spring and summer of 2003, and have a do-over? This time, we'd do it all so differently, wouldn't we, War? We've learned, we've grown. Oh! If we could only do it all over again, we'd have more troops to start with, and we'd never have had that awful quarrel with nice General Shinseki. We wouldn't disband the Iraqi army, we wouldn't have done that whole de-Baathification thing, we'd have prevented the looting and infrastructure sabotage that helped the insurgency get off the ground. Right?
But you can't go back again, can you? If all that couples counseling has taught me anything, War, it's that we need to take responsibility for what's happened, because when relationships sour, there are always casualties.
In this case, a whole lot of casualties. Nearly 4,000 U.S. troops are dead, and more than 29,000 U.S. troops have been wounded. At least 82,000 Iraqi civilians have died violent deaths since the invasion, and some estimates suggest that as many as 600,000 other Iraqi civilians have died of causes indirectly related to the conflict. They say that nearly 20% of Iraqis have had to flee their homes.
Oh, I know, War, I know. In five years, every relationship is going to have its ups and downs! And you're right, you've been trying hard lately to turn things around. I do give you credit for that. Your surge brought violence down, even though it seems to be rising again. And you've tried so hard to listen, finally, and understand that an enduring relationship has to be about more than just brute force.
But, War, it's just not enough. It's too little, too late. "Political progress," "reconciliation" -- pretty words, but I just can't see it happening.
Anyway, War, I don't like to be a stick in the mud, but it kind of bothers me that these days we're jumping into bed with absolutely everyone: Sunni insurgents, Shiite insurgents, Kurds, God knows who else. It's like being inside Eliot Spitzer's marriage and James McGreevey's marriage and David Paterson's marriage, all at once.
Look, War, I don't quite know how to say this, on our anniversary and everything, but ...
I want a divorce.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I participated in an older/parallel version of this program in Summer 2006, right before I started law school.
It was by far one of the best summer jobs I've ever had.
It's an amazing opportunity for activism, growth, learning, etc. and you're getting PAID to do social justice work.
Need I say more?
Social Justice Summer Internship Program
Do you care about social and economic justice?
Are you active on your campus or in your community?
Looking for a meaningful way to spend the summer?
CHECK OUT THE SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION.
WE HAVE A LIMITED NUMBER OF PAID SUMMER ORGANIZING INTERNSHIPS.
What do union organizers do? Organize working people to fight for a living wage, respect affordable healthcare, and a voice at work and against low pay, sweatshops, and discrimination.
Interns learn the strategies SEIU uses -- from direct action to political action, door knocking to the newest media and technology. Interns also learn how SEIU builds community coalitions and national campaigns to empower working people and expose unjust employers.
Who does SEIU organize? Workers in healthcare, property services, childcare, education and other fields. With 1.9 million members - 56 percent of them women and 40 percent people of color - SEIU is largest, fastest growing, most diverse union in the country. SEIU represents more immigrants than any other union and welcomes gays and lesbians as members and staff.
Students tell us their SEIU internships helped connect course work to the real world and make their campus and community activities more effective.
TO APPLY: email your resume and a letter explaining why you want to intern with SEIU to email@example.com or contact SEIU's academic outreach coordinator, CJ.Grimes@seiu.org, or 312-480-0267.
SEIU Internship Basics:
You'll work with some of the savviest, most experienced organizers in the country. Before assignment to a campaign, interns participate in two weeks of classroom and field training. Once on site, biweekly training sessions will help new organizers learn from their successes - and mistakes.
Interns receive a weekly salary starting at $460 per week, daily per diem, housing, and a transportation allowance or car, as needed. You must have a drivers' license. SEIU will get you to and from your internship site. We can also work with students to arrange academic credit. And, time as an intern counts toward seniority for those who come to work for the union later on.
Except in the movies, working for economic and social justice is rarely glamorous. You'll work hard, sleep little, and experience the joy of work that actually makes a difference.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
My paperwork is sitting with the family accountant. He's got my W-2, my 1099-MISC and a 1098-T as well. As a result, my conscience is killing me. I'm filing taxes for the purposes of abiding by the law of the land, but dang it by doing so I'm perpetuating my role as a silent partner in war crimes.
The US Campaign to End the [Apartheid] Israeli Occupation says: "in 2007, the United States gave Israel $2.34 billion in military aid to enforce its illegal military occupation and siege of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. That amounts to each individual tax payer giving on average $8.56 to [apartheid] Israel to commit its human rights abuses."
Mind you, this is just Apartheid Israel. Imagine if we added the cost of imprisoning folks for non-violent crimes (in this country), Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. etc.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I'm thankful for Islam, for giving me an alternative.
I'm thankful for my parents, for laying a proper foundation allowing me to attend the sex ed. classes in middle school.
AND I'm thankful for Carl Rice and Rushiko Nishikuni, for teaching the sex ed. classes in middle school. Islam and parents aside, those two put the fear of HIV and herpes in my heart.
This is sad, sad news:
One in four teenage girls has an STD! Start panicking now!
If you've been watching the news or reading the newspaper for the past two days, that's probably what you've heard. If you're a teenage girl, you've probably checked yourself in the bathroom at least once to make sure there's nothing new going on down there. What's causing all the chaos?
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. The most common infection the study found was the human papillomavirus or HPV. A whopping 18 percent of teen girls apparently have the virus. Compare that to the 40 percent of the girls ages 14-19 in the study who were sexually active, and that means almost half of all young women who are having sex have contracted the disease.
Coming in at a very distant second in the study was chlamydia. The bacterial infection showed up in 4 percent of the women tested.
"Women are often without symptoms for chlamydia," said Fred Wyand of the American Social Health Association. "It's not like you assume, with itching and burning. People don't always know they have it. The CDC recommends all sexually active women 25 and under get screened for chlamydia."
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
It would obviously be a generalization to say all of the troops are scum, but it might be one that I could make without feeling guilty. It's as though everyday we learn something new and disgusting that they are being "ordered" to do.
I'd like to believe they go in as kind hearted people attempting to save the world. It is the institution and the task at hand that are the problem. It's the uniform that makes otherwise great people do the things recorded in the video below?
Monday, March 10, 2008
This past weekend marked 8 months since Selene's accident. I keep thinking I'll get used to the void, the gap in life's circle of best friends. I'm not there though. I still miss her. I want to visit but seeing her mother's pain is often just unbearable. And who am I to feel pain when her family has been thru so much?
Posted by Zahra Billoo at 11:45 PM
(Alhamdulillah. She's got one obstacle down and 394302 to go.)
A lawsuit accusing San Bernardino County of violating a Rialto Muslim woman's rights by forcing her to remove her headscarf was allowed to proceed by a federal judge Monday.
U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips denied a motion by the county's attorneys seeking to have part of the case dismissed.
"There's clearly enough here to satisfy the requirements for the claimant," Phillips said in a brief hearing at the Riverside court.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
(Hijab tip: American Muslims for Palestine)
We call on the US government, as a contracting party to the 4th Geneva Convention, to take immediate steps to end the on-going War Crimes directed at Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip and the West bank.
We are distressed by the news of the continuing violence and killing directed at the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and the imposition of an illegal blockade on all border crossings. Since the beginning of the year, the [apartheid] Israeli actions included cutting off supplies for electricity and fuel, which renders the whole human services infrastructure in Gaza Strip in great impairment and itself constitute a crime against humanity. This action as well as the continued disproportionate use of violence is a major violation of the 4th Geneva Convention. [Apartheid] Israel is responsible for the well-being and safety of all occupied civilians, including the Gaza Strip.
In his most recent statement Professor John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, called [apartheid] Israeli government's actions "serious war crimes" for which its political and military officials should be prosecuted and punished. The killing of civilians violates, he said, "the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets." Indeed, the very legal framework invoked by the Israeli government to carry out this illegal and immoral act - declaring Gaza a "hostile entity" within a "conflict short of war" – has no basis or standing in international law.
We call on the US government, as a signatory of the 4th Geneva Convention, to act immediately to put a stop to [apartheid] Israel's actions and, revive the diplomatic process, to end all attacks on civilians, including the continuing demolition of Palestinian homes at an alarming rate and building of settlements. As we mark the 60 anniversary of the Nikba (the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine) we are reminded of the continued dispossession and violence directed at Palestinian refugees and their families, a fact that must be addressed as we deal with the current unfolding war crimes.
- Under International law and standing UN conventions, destroying a people in part or in full is considered ethnic cleansing.
- The escalation in Gaza was forewarned by [apartheid] Israel's deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai of a "greater Shoah" the Hebrew work for the Nazi Holocaust.
- The full siege of Gaza is leading to deaths due to lack of access to medical essentials, sickness, lack of sanitation, lack of access to basic resources that are there and protected as basic human rights.
- [Apartheid] Israel is the occupying power and uses air, sea and land US made weapons to bomb civilians in one of the most densely populated areas in the world, a clear violations of rules of engagement in armed conflicts.
- Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. This right is protected by International Law.
- Palestinians dying in Gaza were forced out by [apartheid] Israel, forcefully and illegally in an effort to ethnically cleanse Palestine. Now [apartheid] Israel is killing them inside the refugee camps.
- Peace can only be achieved when Israeli apartheid is ended and Palestinians are granted their national, political and civil rights, as well as the right to return.
- As of March 4th, 2008, [apartheid] Israel killed 128 Palestinians, injured 350, and 28 of those killed are children, the youngest being a 20 day old infant.
Monday, March 03, 2008
As America changes, so does the store where America shops. In Dearborn this week, the world's largest retailer opens a store like no other among its 3,500 U.S. outlets. Walk through the front door of the 200,000-square-foot supercenter and instead of rows of checkout counters, you find a scene akin to a farmers market in Beirut. Twenty-two tables are stacked high with fresh produce like kusa and batenjan, squash and eggplant used in Middle Eastern dishes. Rimming the produce department are shelves filled with Arab favorites like mango juice from Egypt and vine leaves from Turkey used to make mehshi, or stuffed grape leaves. A walled-off section of the butcher case is devoted to Halal meats, slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law (when a Wal-Mart manager noticed the pork section was too prominent he ordered it moved, since Muslims don't eat pork). In the freezer case, you'll find frozen falafel. You can also pick up a CD from Lebanese pop singer Ragheb Alama or buy Muslim greeting cards.
Wal-Mart's Arab-American emporium provides a preview of the retail giant's latest strategy to boost business as it reaches the saturation point in its American expansion. Over the past two years, Wal-Mart has tested its "store of the community": it has stocked stores in Chicago and Atlanta with products aimed at African-Americans and set up a hitching post at an Ohio store near a large Amish community. The Dearborn store, though, is the most extreme example of the concept. Wal-Mart offers its standard fare, plus 550 items targeted at Middle Eastern shoppers. "In the past, Wal-Mart has been pretty cookie-cutter when it comes to merchandise," says Dearborn store manager Bill Bartell. "But this time, we really got to know the community. We're blazing a trail here."
Typically when Wal-Mart comes to town, it drops its big-box store on the community with a thud. Then it rolls out rock-bottom prices that undercut local merchants, who often wither and die. That Bigfooting has led to passionate community opposition in many markets, including suburban Detroit, where it opened its first supercenter just a year ago to protests over plans to stay open 24 hours (Wal-Mart backed down to 18 hours a day).
To fit into this bastion of ethnic tradition, Wal-Mart started two years ago to meet with imams and moms, conducting focus groups at Middle Eastern restaurants. Wal-Mart learned the community wasn't as concerned about seeing Arabic-language signs as they were with dealing with Arabic-speaking staff. So Bartell hired about 35 Arabic speakers, including Suehaila Amen, a local middle-school teacher who is providing ethnic-sensitivity training to the 650 employees. He also learned not to bother stocking traditional Muslim clothing, like the headscarf, or hijab, Amen wears. "The community told us, 'I would not feel comfortable coming to Wal-Mart to buy my hijab'," says assistant store manager Jordan Berke. "We're not here to overstep our bounds."
Despite the sensitive sell, local shopkeepers still worry about Wal-Mart. "There is a fear factor in the business community," says Osama Siblani, publisher of Dearborn's Arab American News. To allay those fears, Wal-Mart is making an extraordinary promise: it will not undercut the prices of the small local merchants (though it will still go after Kroger). The insular company even agreed to be scrutinized by a "community advisory board" made up of local Arab-American leaders to ensure it isn't harming the mom-and-pop shops. One example: Wal-Mart agreed to charge one dime more than local grocers for a six-pack of pita bread.
(I'm sparing you the picture of the sister who will forever be immortalized as somebody who cares more about her hummus than the poverty of others.)
I'm disturbed beyond words.
BooHoo. Let's cry about Palestine and then turn a blind eye to the fact that the majority of people of conscience refuse to shop at Wal-Mart. Yay olive oil! It's so bad: Wikipedia gave the Wal-Mart criticisms their own page! There was a movie made about how disgusting this corporation is - and some Muslims just can't get their head out of the sand.
And to make things better the only concern these Arabs had was that they mom and pops businesses would be impacted by all of this. Let's put domestic low wages and international sweat shop patronage aside and instead make sure that Wal-Mart promises not to undercut prices at our local Arab stores.
Ya'Allah why are we so ignorant? And self-centered?
To Israel and its allies, Abu Mohammed and his comrades are Jew-hating terrorists. But Abu Mohammed sees himself on a mission from God to rescue his people from 60 years of misery as refugees since the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948.