Sunday, January 22, 2006

Eureka!


Since I'm still not feeling a 100% well, I've been making up excuses for not blogging. But the truth is, I really don't have anything useful to say at this moment. From Iraq, to Palestine, to the United States, I just am so weary of everything that is being going on. While I was in Minnesota, I tried to put my finger on what it was that was bothering me and there were several reasons I came up with:

1. Darfur. As a student, I was used to working on a project or paper and once it's done at the end of the semester, you hand it in and recive a grade. Period. However working on Darfur the past year has been so disheartening because the situation has worsened and I didn't have anyway of gauging how affective my work has been. The New Year started off badly in the region with tensions escalating and for us at work to come up with new strategies for the year. I guess it's just a part of growing up.

2. Religion. For some reason, I feel so emotionally & religiously empty - as I glance at all the debates raging about religion, I'm at a lost to know what I believe anymore. I have so many questions and have no one to turn to and it has been really frustrating.

3. Purpose. While I was in Minnesota, I was glad to be amongst my huge family and community members and was t a lost as to what to say when people asked me when I was coming back. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that there was a reason I had left in the first place and that has not changed. But while I was at the airport, my heart felt heavy & I wasn’t so excited to come back to DC. While the plane was landing at Reagan National Airport, I caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument and smiled. I was home. I know that at this point in my life I need to be here but I also feel like I’ve lost touch with reality. Living in the beltway exposes you to a completely different lifestyle. Not only that, it really bothers me that I have not left the United States since I came back from Jordan two years ago. I know I can’t help my financial or passport situation but it’s really bothering me and I’m yearning to cross the Atlantic again. I want to go to a developing country – while I was walking around Union Station a few days ago, it really hit me that I had been surrounded by luxury for two years and it made me sick. I want to be amongst people who have nothing & directly work with the people who I’m trying to help out in the policy world.

So if I don’t post in a while or write really poor entries, it’s because I’m trying to figure things out. That’s all.

  

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tell President Bush: Remember Darfur in the State of the Union!

Nearly 17 months have passed since the Bush Administration labeled the crisis in Darfur "genocide." This is the first time since the days of the Holocaust that the United States has called on-going atrocities genocide.

Unfortunately, the gravity of this statement has not been mirrored by action. Finding a solution to the on-going atrocities has taken a back seat on the political agenda.

The State of the Union Address at the end of the month presents the ideal opportunity for the president send a clear message that the United States will not stand by while genocide is being committed.

TAKE ACTION >>> Click here to send a letter to the president to let him know a solution to the genocide in Darfur must be included in his address to the nation.

  

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A small victory for Palestine


I haven't been blogging because I've been sick & am still recovering from a cold & cough. And as sick people often do, I was watching TV last night & ended up watching the Golden Globe awards. I've watched a few of the movies that were nominated such as Munich, Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck. I haven't watched Walk the Line or Brokeback Mountain - both bagged a few awards last night.

But the best part of the evening was when Paradise Now from Palestine won the award for foreign films. I was ecstatic. It almost seemed unbelievable that an American film award panel would recognize the Palestinian struggle - seeing the director on the stage talking about that made me cry. Not only do awards recognize good movies, they're also a marketing tool that help distribute films far and wide, which is why I'm so happy Paradise Now got the award. I have to admit I haven't watched it yet because it was released during a time last year when I had way too much going on in my life. But everyone I know who has watched it has given it a thumbs up and I can't wait for it to be released on DVD.

Laters

  

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A beautiful blog post on Eid-ul-Adha

I know I haven't blogged in a long time, but I promise to in the next few days. I just got back in town from my vaction on Sunday night and my week has really been busy getting back into the groove of things.

For now, enjoy this beautiful post by my dear friend Zahir Janmohamed, co-founder of The Qunoot Foundation along with Mohamed Sabur.

Eid Mubarak!

I learned a long time ago that that is a good way to start a story. And so begins this story.

I text message during eid namaz. I know its bad but really, when subjected to such a bad khutba, is there any other recourse?

Today's khutba was definitely text worthy. Sadly that’s what I have come to expect from khutbas here in DC. If the khateeb is not insulting Shias (sadly a more prominent theme these days), the khateeb is trying to show how much he loves America(ns).

Ironically when they talk trash about Shias at least it comes from the heart—which I find in a twisted way to be refreshing (albeit still troublesome). Today’s khutba just seemed forced: “Brothers (did he forget about sisters?) we should obey this government because we love Americans” or something like that. It was like airplane food—its really no use talking about how bad it was.

I will resist temptation here to wax nostalgic about Cali khutbas about the Matrix or Calvin and Hobbes. They spoiled me for life, I admit, and they will always be my gold standard.

I was blessed to perform Hajj in 1999. I even performed the qurbani, something I never imagined I could stomach given my morbid fear of blood (mad props to you MDs!). But I was in a state of ihraam and I felt lifeless--an empowering feeling that gave me a chance to reflect on my mortality, my deeds, and the loves of my life (those loves being all things good, bad and in between including family, friends, and yes, material/worldly trappings like possessions, ego, etc).

I loved sitting with the hujaaj in Saudi and asking them about their pilgrimages. Each had his/her own story and his/her own miracle. I remember people used to ask me if I felt any miracle on Hajj.

But really what is a miracle? If it’s enough for me to count as special, is it wrong to consider it a blessing from Allah?

For me, it was praying fajr and hearing Shaikh Sudais recite my favorite Sura Al Buruj. I just love how that Sura uses the word “Al Wadud” (the loving). The other miracle was staying with Pakistani taxi drivers on Hajj—something that profoundly changed how I view the Middle East, Pakistan and human rights.

Sometimes I wish Muslims would speak more anecdotally. Khateebs often need not to dig through books of hadith, tafseer or fiqh for material. Tell us something that moved you, that inspired you and speak with humility--chances are it will move us too.

For me, Eid al Adha has always been tied to our beloved Imam Husayn (as). On the day of Arafah on Hajj, I remember reciting the Dua of Imam Husayn (as). It’s a moving dua and its also moving that we had to recite our prayers in a hushed voice so that the Saudi religious Gestapo would not stop or beat us.

For me, Eid Al Adha has always been tinged with sadness because I am forced to think of what happened to Imam Husayn just weeks later. I have always maintained that the tragedy of Kerbala is not that Imam Husayn died but that he had to die—that the community had reached such a nadir that it required his shahadat to breathe life back into it.

As a Shia, I think the question becomes not only would we brave like Prophet Ibrahim (as) but would we journey like Imam Husayn (as)?

Sometimes it’s a question too weighty to consider.