Monday, December 29, 2008

Recruiting Activists for Palestine

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.

"O Allah, grant victory to the oppressed in Palestine!"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My "Namesake" & Labor Sadness

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?

Well, the universe gave me a reason...
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:
  • 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.
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.
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!

Zahra Billoo

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Our Neighbors

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Stop the Starvation of Gaza!

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

Lovely Wedding News Out Of Egypt

I don't have one wedding story, I have two:

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.
Source: Kuwait Times

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.

Source: Yahoo! News

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Islam Ad Campaign is Coming to San Francisco!

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

Oh Joy Georgey Boy

If this doesn't bring joy to your heart and a smile to your face, you need help.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"It Is You Who Are Indebted To Him"

"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."

Source: Imam Abdallah ibn Alawi al-Haddad
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

Hajj Can Empower Women...

...that is if the restrooms don't kill us first.

Check out how Hajj can have a beneficial impact on the movement to secure education and rights for women, at Muslamics.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Reminders on Eid Day

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.
So what will we do to help those in need during the coming year?

Eid Mubarak!

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.
Source: Eid Greetings from MPAC

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.
Source: Unknown

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar,
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)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Naji Hamdan

Read about his suffering and torture at the hands of our government AND their Muslim allies, at Affad's blog.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

FGM - A Career Choice

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?