Thursday, August 31, 2006

(Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Orientalist Art

I've just discovered that I really, really like Orientalist art depicting the Middle East. Unfortunately, a lot of them are of 'harems' and naked women. Gah. Westerners' obsession with sex never fails to disgust me.

But anyway, there are some really beautiful pictures - like the one I posted below. So you can look forward to seeing lots of gorgeous pictures, rich in colour and in stories.

Thinking about the state of the Muslim community, thinking of all the troubles we face, I also think of what the First Nations people of Canada and America went through, when their land was overrun by and then ruled by Europeans, who, because of their lack of understanding, because of their ignorance and the bias and hatred that comes from that ignorance, committed great injustices against the Natives. They almost destroyed their way of life. So many Native children grew up without a sense of identity, unsure, fearful, even ashamed of their Native heritage, shunning it in favour of white culture.

I think that we Muslims, especially in North America, can learn a great deal from the Natives. Today we are going through what they did: people are biased against us, have stereotypes of ‘evil Muslims’, constantly making us defensive of our religion, even ashamed of our Muslim identity. Many of us try to water down our Islam so that we can fit in, so that we can ‘integrate into society’. And in that way, we are steadily losing our Muslim identity.

So what can we do? We can defy those people who try to make us ashamed of our religion and of ourselves, by standing up strong and proud and continuing to practice Islam with all our hearts and souls. We will open up Islamic schools and teach our children the values of Islam, and teach them that as Muslims, there is nothing in our religion to be ashamed of and everything to be proud of. We are a people who obey God’s commands, who are enjoined to do good and to forbid evil. We are a people who have been given a responsibility, the responsibility to work hard to make this world a better place. We have been given the Khilaafah, and it is our duty to work as hard as we can to fulfill that Amaanah, that trust, from God.

So we must remember, always: NEVER be ashamed of being a Muslim. Our religion is Islam, the Qur’an is our guide, the Prophet is our model, Paradise is our goal.

Now let's get out there and prove ourselves worthy of God's trust, and of Paradise!

(What do you think? Inspirational? :P)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Interview with Abu Bakar Bashir

I just read an interview on Al-Jazeera's English website with the Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir. It's really a very interesting interview. I agree with most of what he said in the first half of the interview, but not the second half. The second half is sort of where he goes off the deep end, advocating Jihad and no negotiations or anything. He also calls democracy shirk (disbelief), which I don't believe because democracy is a system of government that CAN be adapted to be Islamic. The Qur'an and Sunnah do not tell us what system of government that the Islamic State must follow, leaving this up to us to choose depending on the time period and so on.

Here's the link:,frameless.htm

Speaking of which - Jihad and stuff - yesterday I watched the CNN documentary on Usaama bin Laden. It was... okay, I guess. I'd already read the book "The Osama bin Laden I Know", by Peter Bergen, which was pretty much what the documentary was based on, so I knew most of the stuff already - although there was one part where his childhood friend, Khalid Batarfi, mentioned that once, Usaama was being bullied, so Khalid went over to get rid of the guy, but afterwards Usaama told Khalid, "You know, if you'd waited a few more moments, I would have
solved the problem peacefully." Interesting, huh?

See, I find Usaama bin Laden a fascinating man. I mean, I totally disagree with his ideology and stuff, but I also understand where he's coming from. And reading about him before he helped create al-Qaeda, as a young man, shy, soft-spoken, more a follower than a leader, and seemingly the diplomatic pacifist, he just... fascinates me. Even when he went to Afghanistan, he wasn't a bloodthirsty warrior. And he knew Sheikh 'Abdullah Azzam (may Allah have mercy on him), who I personally think was really cool.
Anyway, to me it seems that Usaama was okay right up until he met Ayman adh-Dhawaahiri, the Egyptian guy who people say 'radicalized' Usaamah. From what I've read, I feel rather leery of adh-Dhawaahiri. He seems really off the deep end.
Maybe he had good intentions, but the way he tried to do things... I don't like it one bit.
So once Usaama met adh-Dhawaahiri - shortly before Sheikh Azzam was killed, I think - he started getting sucked into that sort of ideological thinking... the takfiri thing, declaring everyone - even other Muslims - kaafir (unbelievers, or, as the Western media loves to say, 'infidels').

Some people might call me crazy, others will worry that my poor impressionable youthful self is in danger of becoming brainwashed and sucked into the OBL 'cult'... but I honestly think that Usaama is a guy with good intentions, who wants to help Muslims around the world, but is misguided and therefore causing more harm than good.

Something I would absolutely love would be the chance to meet with Usaama, and talk to him. I want to know why exactly he does what he does, thinks what he does, why he's chosen the takfiri ideology... and I'd use Qur'anic ayaat (verses) and Ahadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) to show him what I believe, and why.

Wouldn't that be amazing? And who knows, maybe I could change his mind about some things... :P

Similarly, I totally want to be able to meet with people like the Indonesian Abu Bakar Bashir, and Khalid Mish'al, and Mullah Umar, and leaders of other 'Islamist' groups around the world. Even Hassan Nasrallah, although he's Shi'i. I still want to be able to talk with him and the others and find out why they think what they do, and do what they do...

So many questions, but will I ever recieve the answers? Allah knows best...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I had another idea... I've noticed that in this Western culture, many people don't pay much attention to anything that they don't see on TV. And, when they see something on TV, they often attach importance to it. For example, have you heard of the CSI effect? When CSI started airing, it became pretty popular, and people started getting interested in science and crime scene investigating and stuff - to the point that when they were called up for jury duty, they wanted to see evidence such as blood, fingerprints, videotapes, etc. for white-collar crimes!
As well, if people want to draw attention to certain issues, they do something on TV about it. In certain shows, they bring up issues such as sex and drugs and get the characters involved in it somehow (usually by getting in trouble and then trying to get out of that trouble).

Well, my idea is that maybe a way of getting people to pay more attention to issues such as Palestine would be to make TV shows or movies about it. Like, what about a TV show about two families - one Palestinian, one Israeli - who are living in Palestine and Israel respectively, and they have to deal with all sorts of issues.
Stuff like the checkpoint humiliations, the bombings, the illegal arrests... combine that with personal problems for the characters, unexpected twists and turns, and viola! You have an intense TV drama show! Action, romance, sorrow and grief, happy times, controversial issues... Have it air on primetime, and I guarantee that people will start paying more attention to the Palestinian cause. Their interest will be piqued, and maybe they'll start doing independent research and try to learn more about it.

What d'you think?

I had this brilliant idea. Why don't all the human rights organizations, organizations in support of Palestine, anti-war movements, etc. all get together and become part of one BIG organization? That way, those that suffer from lack of resources (and I know there's a lot of them) will be able to get more financial support, AND, they can attract more attention, make more noise, get noticed by more people!
They can make people really pay attention to them, and more importantly, to their cause(s)!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Since I'm thinking so much about this whole Islamic State thing, naturally I started thinking about other groups who claim that they wish to also establish the Islamic State, the people who nowadays are often called 'Islamists' (which I think is stupid. They're Muslims. They call themselves Muslims. People who follow the religion of Islam are Muslims. Not Islamists. Doesn't matter if they're political or not. They're Muslims!). There are so many of them! There's al-Qaeda (but they've got some serious issues...), the Ikhwaan al-Muslimoon, Jaami'ah Islamiyyah... so many more that I don't know about!

But the thing is, they're all pretty different, too. Depending on where they're located, their goals are different, and their ideologies are different, too, at various degrees. I mean, sure, they all believe in the fundamentals of Islam, but their positions on different subjects are often very different from each other. And, of course, the way they operate is very different, too.

Unfortunately, I don't know much about any of them :( However, I will, insha'Allah, start doing some research... I've begun reading about the Ikhwaan al-Muslimoon, and honestly, I think they're sorta cool. They seem to have the same basic ideas that I do, the grassroots stuff AND the political thing...
I asked my dad about them, and he said that his opinion is that while they started off pretty well, nowadays some of them are sacrificing their Deen to achieve their political goals. Myself, I can't really say anything, because as I said before, I don't know much about them at all.

What do you guys think about them?

Islamic State, Part 3

Right, so let's fastforward. Say that all those organizations and programs have been established, and the Muslim community is ready for some really big change! Now it's time for politics!

We all know that the so-called leaders of the 'Muslim world' - people like House of Saud, Musharraf, 'Abdullah of Jordan, Husni Mubarak, etc. - are not real leaders at all. They certainly do not have their people's best interests in mind, they're all servants of the West, and a great deal of what they do is totally unIslamic. And because of it all, they are contributing a great deal to the pathetic state of the Muslims, especially when it comes to politics. Politically, the Muslims have very little, if any, clout. Nobody really listens to us or takes us seriously. And this has GOT to change.

Don't worry, I'm not going to call for a full-out revolution or rebellion against the existing regimes. That's far too messy and I think it will cause more fitnah than anything else. No, I advocate a more, well, sneaky approach. Remember our grassroots organizations? Well, let's expand from social services into politics. We need representatives - REAL representatives - of the general Muslim population. People who will pay attention to what the Muslims want, and what they need, and work to help out accordingly. People who have good communication
skills, people who can speak well, eloquently, to the point. People with strong wills, determination, and, of course, strong Imaan.
Anyway, on getting started in the politics, I was thinking about how Hamas and Hizbullah had a pretty good approach. First, they had the grassroots thing going, the social services for the people, and then they went into politics, choosing their people well, choosing their stances properly.
Personally, I don't want any crazy radicals, but I don't want any of those 'liberal reformer' people who want to make everything and anything halaal. No, I want someone who has knowledge of Islam, knows the boundaries and knows not to cross them, but who also has an understanding of politics (well, that's a must, obviously) and can garner the people's support.

Insha'Allah, once we have these people, we can somehow get them active in the political arena of their respective locales. In countries such as Egypt, Jordon, Syria, etc. where there are groups such as the Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen, *maybe* we could join forces with them, in a manner of speaking. Build political alliances and whatnot.
Of course, we have to make our positions clear, and we've got to find out their opinions on certain subjects to see whether they've got the radical/liberal thing going on or not.

I just remembered something very important - the money. Money ALWAYS plays a big part in politics. But with *my* organizations, I want us to remain firmly uncorrupt. We will NOT give in to bribes, or be 'persuaded' with dollar bills. We will remember, always, that Allah is watching us, and that we do nothing except to please Him and work to establish law, order, justice, and peace upon the earth. Corruption will not be tolerated. *Glares*

Soooooo... yeah. That's it, so far, on the politics thing. We need the right people with the right skills, we need people with the knowledge and the savviness (I don't care if it's not a real word... because it is now!)... people who will remember their responsibility first and foremost to Allah, and then to the Ummah, who will look out for the well-being of the people.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Islamic State, Part 2

Okay. So, in Part 1, I talked about what the grassroots organization thingy, improving the Muslims so that when insha'Allah we establish the Islamic State, we'll be worthy of it, and able to keep it going properly.
But then someone reminded me that while the stuff I suggested in my last post might work for Muslim communities in the West, the Arab world is totally different. The Arab world has many, many issues - some similar to what we are going through in the West, but also some that are unique to the Arab world.
Now, please know that I have nothing against the Arabs - I love them - but I'm simply trying to bring these issues out in the open so that we can know how to deal with them, how to solve them.
I'm not an Arab, but my dad lived in Saudi for almost 7 years, I have Arab friends, and I've started reading some Arab blogs, so I *think* I'm getting an idea of some of what the Arab world is dealing with. However, if I get anything wrong, please feel totally free to correct me, and of course all other comments are welcome :)

First and foremost, culture. I think that culture is a HUGE thing in the Arab world. Arab culture, and the Western culture that is creeping in. The youth are extremely attracted to the West, what it has to offer - or what they percieve it has to offer. Freedom, they think. Freedom to do what they want, freedom to experience things that they couldn't do or experience before. And then there is Arab culture, where many issues - such as sex and drugs - are taboo and thus aren't discussed much, if at all.

Something has to be done about that. The taboo issues, I mean. Like it or not, these issues are there, and if you try to sweep them under the rug, they'll just fester and get worse. They will not go away, no matter how much we want them to. So, we have to bring them out in the open, make people face reality, and then start dealing with it the Islamic way.

Muslim (Arab and non-Arab) teenagers need sex ed - but not the Western version, where 'it's okay if it's safe!'. No, they need Islamic sex ed. They need to know that there is a reason that pre-marital sex is haraam - ever heard of HIV and AIDS?At the same time, 'honour killings' are totally wrong. I know, I know - it's not a common practice, but we've gotta admit that it does happen, and when it happens, it gets all over the news, and then Arabs and Muslims are once again cast as the 'backwards, barbaric' people. There are also many other cultural practices that sometimes contradict Islamic teachings, and so those things need to have attention brought to and an Islamic solution formulated.
Then we have stuff like alcohol, and drugs. People need to get educated about them! They need to know WHY it's haraam, and there are many examples - especially in the West.
And then, Islamic education, straight up. I'm sorry to say, but being in the Arab/Muslim world doesn't guarantee that you'll have a good understanding of Islam, or all that much knowledge. In fact, according to my 'sources', a lot of what they learn is culture, or stuff that they're just told to 'know' without a thorough understanding. The 'average Arab Muslim' may pray five times a day, but they're also engaged in a lot of haraam - and often without even knowing about it.

In the end, I somehow don't think that the issues in the Arab world is all that much different from stuff we're dealing with in the West. There are only a few variations, when it comes to the culture. But otherwise, it all boils down to the same thing: problems due to lack of Islamic knowledge, and furthermore, lack of people actually practicing the Deen.

So step number one for everyone: Learn about Islam, starting with basic 'aqeedah, and then DO IT!

May Allah grant us knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and may He help us be the bestest Muslims ever! :)

Friday, August 18, 2006

I was thinking about something, and I'm wondering if you (meaning, anyone who's reading this) could help me...

As you know, I wanna do a lot of things... but mostly, work with the Muslim community, trying to improve it. So I have decided, insha'Allah, to study Islamic Studies at an Islamic University. If I get through these next two years of high school (may Allah make it easy for me, and give me the strength to get through it, and to GRADUATE!!!!!!) then my number-one-university-that-I-want-to-study-at is the Umm al-Qura University in Makkah. If I don't get accepted there, there's an Islamic University in Yemen that one of my mom's friends is studying at, and she says it's great. And if not there, then there are two universities through which I can study online, in English, from authentic Islamic scholars. Insha'Allah!

BUT, in addition to the Islamic Studies, I want to do something in relation to politics, because I want to have at least a basic understanding of it, plus I want to get involved in politics somehow, insha'Allah. So, for that, I was wondering - should I do some political science courses? If so, should I do college courses, or go right ahead and take university courses? And will taking these extra courses make it harder for me when studying at the Islamic Universities? Or should I do them before, or after, the Islamic university?

Decisions, decisions, decisions! May Allah help me make the best decisions... and in the meantime, d'you think you could give me some feedback of your own? Shukran!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Islamic State

So, I wanna establish the Islamic State. Where it's gonna be, how I'm gonna do it... Allah knows best. But I've got some ideas on how to start.
Here's some of them:

Start an international grassroots organization. In every country, every city, start working with the Muslim community. As my father has often said, it starts with the people. The Muslim community as a whole is sadly ignorant, which I believe is a part of why we're such in a pathetic state today, globally. How many of your 'average' Muslims (whether they be male or female) have a true understanding of the basics of their religion? How many of them know about Tawheed, the Oneness of God, that fundamental belief of Islam? How many of them know the details of the shahadah? How many of them know how to pray the Salaah as the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) prayed it, and pray five times a day? How many of them know the details of Zakaah? How many of them truly fast the month of Ramadhan - not just with their stomachs, but with their souls? How many of them, who HAVE the ability, HAVE the money, to go for Hajj have instead gone to Disneyland?

(Having said that, what scares me is that I myself am sadly lacking. I don't know what I should know, and what's worse is that I don't think I truly practice Islam the way I should. May Allah grant me - and everyone else - true Islam, Iman, and Ihsaan. May He help us be true Mu'mineen, Muslimeen, Saliheen...)

So anyway, yeah. The Muslims as a whole need to start pulling up their socks. There is no hope for us at all if we do not take the first step to becoming true Muslims. We can't expect to get out of our pathetic situations if we don't make the effort to truly obey Allah. After all, God helps those who help themselves.

“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls)” 13: 11

The youth especially need to start learning. As a teenager myself, I know how the average 'Muslim' teenager in the West knows very little about Islam (and often doesn't care much about it either), and the main things on their mind are their friends and what's hot right now. It's scary, really. I've talked to teenager girls, supposedly Muslim, who pray only when their parents force them to - and even then, they've got no idea WHY they're praying, have no idea what they're reciting in their prayer. And these are the kids who go to MUSLIM schools. May Allah save us all, especially we of the next generation, for we are the face of the future.

Some really important stuff that needs to be established in all the Muslim communities are:

Islamic libraries, where the 'average Muslim' can borrow books written by the knowledgeable Islamic scholars and improve their own knowledge of the Deen. Videotapes and audiocassettes of lectures by various shuyookh (scholars) should also be made available, as well as materials for kids to learn from. I know that this is possible, and that it will work, because the Islamic centre my dad runs has an Islamic library, and al-Hamdulillaah it's a great success.

Social services.
Of course, these cover a lot of things, from Islamic counselling (for marital problems, parenting problems, personal problems, financial problems...) - done by someone who has knowledge, of course - to stuff like mental health institutions (or something to help out those brothers and sisters who suffer mental health issues).
We also need to do something about taking care of our poorer brothres and sisters, those who can't make ends meet and have trouble with housing, food, education, etc. I think a food bank is an awesome idea, and I know it works, too - again, the Islamic centre that my dad runs (let's call it 'the Dar') has a food bank program and there are many who benefit from it, al-Hamdulillaah.

There are also need to be programs that raise awareness of issues in our Muslim communities. Drugs, smoking, alcohol, gender relations (especially for teenagers!!!!!!!), Internet safety... we may think that 'our kids' - the Muslim kids - already know about this stuff, or that they won't be affected by this stuff, but the thing is: we ARE. For example, several months ago I was at a Masjid for an all-girls basketball tournament. As I was in the kitchen helping out with stuff, I overheard several girls talking about how they were experimenting with drugs, or how their friends were experimenting with drugs. I nearly fainted!

We also have to start teaching ourselves how to behave when interacting both with Muslims, and with non-Muslims. Very often you find that Muslims will be on their best behaviour with non-Muslims, catering to their every need. But when it comes to fellow Muslims, our attitude is terrible. At stores owned by a Muslim brother (or sister) we try to bargain the prices down, or, if we're the ones doing the business, we try to cheat our Muslim customers and make them settle for less. Astaghfirullah! And it's not just business - even everyday conversations are totally different depending on whether we're talking to a Muslim or a non-Muslim. If it's a
non-Muslim, we listen to them respectfully before giving our own opinion. If it's a Muslim, we try to talk over the other person and insist that we are right and they are wrong.
Oh, and let's not forget about the 'time' issue. Muslim time, apparently, is totally different from standard time. Invite someone over for an Islamic lesson or program, and they'll show up an hour later when it's ending - and then they get mad that you didn't wait for them!

So, in this regard, I think we need to start educating ourselves about the proper, Islamic way to interact with fellow Muslims, as well as time management in Islam. Where are our adaab (manners)? Why aren't we trying to emulate the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam)? Is it any wonder that the world doesn't pay much attention to us, except to mock us, to degrade us, to talk about how 'uncivilised' and 'backwards' we are? If we want to change how we're viewed by the world, we have to change the way we are! We have to get down to the basics - to the Quran, to the Sunnah! Only then can we ever expect our honour and dignity as a Muslim Ummah to return. Only then can we expect to be successful, in this world and in the Aakhirah (Hereafter)!

Okay... this is getting long, so that's it for now. I'll write more soon, insha'Allah...

On Islam and... Socialism/Communism/Anarchism and Capitalism

(Wow, what a lot of isms...)

Now, I'm no expert on political movements or ideologies. But since I've been frequenting the Angry Arab blog, I've been exposed to those who hold such political ideologies as socialism, communism, anarchism, and capitalism. And, since I've been thinking a great deal about the Islamic State and how to establish it, in the 21st century, I decided to learn a little about the above political ideologies. I did a bit of basic research (*cough*Wikipedia&Google*cough*) and I *think* I know what the basic principles of those ideologies are.
Having got that done, I've begun thinking about those ideologies in relation to Islam. Because there is no standard form for the Islamic State - just some basic rules and guidelines found in the Quran and Sunnah - I've been trying to create some sort of rough outline for 'my' Islamic State. It's interesting to note that the Islamic State can be either a monarchy or a democracy, although of course the head of state would be called the Khalifah.
Anyway, back to the isms.
Having done my research, I decided to read up on what some people have to say about Islam and all those isms. The following is what I have concluded:

Islam is not socialist, communist, or anarchist, although according to what Wikipedia says they share certain principles - but, with some differences. For example, socialism and communism (and anarchism, too, I think), don't believe in private property. In a way, Islam agrees with that, because we believe that the entire universe and everything in it belongs to God alone and that mankind is simply a guardian entrusted with the earth and who has an obligation to take care of it and act responsibly. God is the Creator of it all, the Sustainer, the only true Possessor of it all. On the other hand, however, Islam recognizes human nature (which, of course, God created) and its desire for ownership, property. I guess that Islam reconciles the two - God's ownership of the entire universe, and human nature's desire for authority - by giving mankind the right to 'own' property, but also obligating us with responsibility to what is under our authority. We are forbidden to abuse humans, land, and animals - and if we do not, on the Day of Judgement we will stand before God and be held to account for it.
As for capitalism, well, in Islam we are certainly allowed to engage in business, but again, we are obligated to work fairly and are forbidden from exploiting others. So, all those sweatshirt factories and stuff, the child labour and the exploitation of the poor, it's all forbidden in Islam... we are ordered to be fair, honest, and just; to treat others as we would like to be treated; and if we try to cheat, lie, and do whatever we can just to make more money, we're in big trouble with God.

Okay, cool. I think I've got it all figured out... so now I need to think about how 'my' Islamic State is going to work. I don't know anything about economics except for the fact that it's important for a country to have a stable economy, but I hate the capitalism that the West is so a part of.
Ah, well. I'll just have to think about it some more. It's not like I'm helping build the Islamic State right now, after all.