Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Airline Announcements

I got this in my inbox... Faraz, this is for you! :D

All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please ma ke sure it's something we'd like to have."

"Thank you for flying Delta Business Express.: We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa ...: to operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling.: Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with his. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

"Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the unlikely event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments." *

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

And from the pilot during his welcome me ssage: "Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City . The flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking : I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo , Texas , on a particularly windy and bumpy day, during the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo . Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard.: The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment.: Finally, everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane.: She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question:" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot.: "What is it:" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down:"

After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix , the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal." *

Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."20. Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Canadian News

(I meant to post this earlier, but there was no time to do so)

Yes! The Anti-Terrorism Act has been declared unconstitutional! Most of it, anyway...

(I wanted to link directly to the site of the newspaper where I read it first, but it's subscriber-only)

*In the ruling, Justice Douglas Rutherford of Ontario Superior Court "severed" the clause in the Anti-Terrorism Act dealing with ideological, religious or political motivation for illegal acts and left the rest of the law in place.
"The Superior Court annulled the definition of terrorist activity under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically the provision in the act that requires proof that a person was motivated by ideological, religious or political purpose in the activity for which they've been charged," justice department spokesman Christian Girouard said.
"Essentially, this ruling means there is no definition of terrorism," he said.*

That's one good thing, al-Hamdulillaah. Next, we need to get rid of the security certificate. It's just wrong to hold people for an indefinite period of time without even telling them what they're guilty of, and not showing them the evidence against them.

Also, people are finally realizing that Canada isn't really doing what it's supposed to be doing in Afghanistan. I'd link to the article, but again, it's subscriber-only... but here, I've typed out most of it for you to read.

*Canada is too slow in its rebuilding of Afghanstan; by Susan Riley

International development minister Josee Verner's surprise visit to Afghanistan on the weekend had exactly the opposite effect as was intended. Instead of showcasing the Canadian International Development Agency's reconstruction efforts in the country that is now our major aid recipient, it underscored how uncertain progress has been. Verner was apparently unable to visit any of her department's ongoing projects, due to security concerns and awkward timing. Her trip coincided with 'Eid, a major celebration in the Muslim world, and a holiday even for aid workers. In the end, the minister was confined to heavily guarded premises in Kabul and a staged photo-op with selected girls who were handed new school bags by the minister.

This was meant to symbolize Canada's commitment to the education of girls, but it looked more like bad advance work and tokenism. Nor did it anaswer the question: What is CIDA doing in Afghanistan? We know that close to $1 billion in development assistance has been committed over 10 years (an amount still dwarfed by the military budget).

Senior foreign affairs officials summoned journalists recently for a Power-Point presentation, replete with colourful charts, laying out Canada's development efforts - everything from bridge building to providing microcredit to supporting community governance to polio eradication.

There is no doubt that plans exist on paper, but it is harder to find evidence of concrete results. Khorshied Samad, an American-born journalist married to Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada, insists that CIDA is doing good work in Kabul and elsewhere, and expressed surprise that hte mjinister couldn't get to some of these projects.

She used to work in Kabul as bureau chief for Fox News (that alone should be enough to totally discredit her statements. Just as they declared victory in Iraq, I'll bet they're going to declare victory in Afghanistan) and says 90 percent of the country "is in a peaceful situation, there is progress and people are going about their lives" (I told you they'd be saying something like that...). But the media focuses on the other 10 percent, the war-torn southern region, "so it's making the country sound like it's going to hell in a handbasket" (yeah, I guess suicide bombings where there never used to be suicide bombings, and the pillaging, plundering, and raping done by the militias of warlords who are now members of the Afghan government is nothing much to worry about).

That said, Samada worries that the money CIDA allocates isn't getting to places that need it quickly enough. "That is very frustrating to the Afghan people because their situation is 'I need it yesterday'." She says the West, too, is impatient for results, but the problems are so immense that it will take a generation to repair Afghanistan. As for aid, "a lot of money has gone into the wrong pockets, and that's regrettable," but the majority of Afghans, she says, are honest and desperate for change (oh yes, the Afghans are - the puppet government, like other puppet government, is not).

The Harper government frequently cites women's equality as one rationale for Canada's mission. Samad believes "their hearts are in the right places" (they have hearts?), but notes that CIDA has only earmarked $2 million of its total funding directly for Afghan women.

For MacDonald, the immediate problem is displaced Afghan civilians who are starving in makeshift camps in the south, one of them 15 minutes from the main Canadian base in Kandahar. She doesn't accept that either CIDA nor the military can get food and medical help to these people, who have been displaced by bombing raids, drought, or poverty brought on by the destruction of their poppy farms. "I don't want to hear from the CIDA any more about why they can't (deliver aid). That's what the taxpayers are paying them to do."

Besides responding to humanitarian crisis, emergency aid might win Canadaiends in the area - and greater security for our soldiers, she says. Her organization wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to push our NATO allies to organize emergency food relief, to appoint a special envoy - someone with a forceful personality - to get turf-concious agencies working together. If the military has to deliver food, she says, why not? "We're at a tipping point and there is no way the Canadian government is being upfront with the Canadian people," (ya think?!) says MacDonald, who has been working in Afghanistan since 2005. "(Kandahar) is a complete war zone." And the Taliban is winning militarily and in the battle for hearts and minds. However, the last thing that she wants is a withdrawal of troops: That, she says, would be abandoning the country to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But rebuilding efforts have to be more immediate, more visible, more widespread. That is what Samad wants, too.

It is what everyone says they want, including Verner. It is still not clear that is really happening.*

(I know, not the most brilliant of political commentaries, but whatever)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wow! Can you believe it?! Ramadan and 'Eid have both come and gone!

Insha'Allah everyone had an awesome Ramadan and 'Eid... myself... well, I really shouldn't complain, but I'm in a whiny sort of mood. This Ramadan was, for me, just not very... Ramadan-y. I was stuck in the house most of the time, and even when I went to the Masjid for Taraweeh on the weekends it wasn't that great 'cuz most of the people I don't know, and anyway my friends are in a totally different city, and that just totally sucks.

'Eid, too, was sort of disappointing. When we were still living in my old city, 'Eid day was a big rush. My parents hated it, but I loved the excitement. The night before 'Eid my mum would be frantically cooking up a storm of last minute things, while also answering the phone every 5 minutes to recieve 'Eid greetings from all the people we know, AND running around trying to make sure she hadn't forgotten to pack anything. She'd send my brothers and I off to bed early, but we'd never sleep 'till after midnight, so in the meantime we'd jump on the beds and have a huge pillow fight and sing anasheed on the top of our lungs and then fall back onto the beds wheezing with laughter.

'Eid morning we'd be woken up early. We'd pray Fajr, then run around getting ready, putting on our brand-new 'Eid clothes and trying to get a bite to eat and, in my father's case, wandering around the house going over his 'Eid khutbah and getting in my mother's way, before we were all bundled into the van and zooming off to 'Eid salaah.
Our Islamic centre held 'Eid salaah at whichever hall was available to rent on 'Eid day, since we didn't have a masjid of our own.
Anyhow, when we got there we split up, my mum and I heading over to the women's section while my father and brothers made their way to the men. As soon as we entered the women's section, we were mobbed by all the people we knew, and only just escaped getting hugged and squeezed to death. Eventually we managed to extricate ourselves, relatively unscathed, and found ourselves a spot to sit down... my mum with her best friends, me with mine.
As soon as the Imam uttered the Takbeer to begin salaah, there was a moment of madness when all the people tried to straighten themselves into some semblence of straight rows, and of course the confusion over whose sujaddah was whose. However, things always ended up all right, al-Hamdulillaah.

After salaah my father would give the 'Eid khutbah, and people would sit and listen and nod their heads in agreement, and whenever he cracked a joke half the congregation would bite their tongues trying not to burst into laughter (the converts and youth) and the other half of the congregation would look totally clueless (the first generation immigrants and the Arabs here to study).
And then after the khutbah we'd be in a rush again, my friends and I trying to swap last-minute 'Eid gifts, my mum bidding everyone farewell, and then our family would be running back to the van so that we could go home and load our suitcases into the van and then rush off to catch the ferry to the city where my grandparents live.Once we reached the island we'd go to my granduncle's place (a farm, actually, although currently they have no animals and are instead trying to manage the wilderness that is their backyard), which is where we go every 'Eid 'cuz it's the only place big enough to accomadate all of our family. That's where we'd spend the whole afternoon and evening, eating yummy food and even yummier desserts and just hanging out... usually us kids would get bored after a couple hours, but we'd find something to occupy us.

So yeah, those were our 'old' 'Eids.This 'Eid was totally dull by comparison. No night-before-'Eid madness, no 'Eid-day-craziness... it was... boring, really.

At 'Eid salaah, there were only a fraction of the number of people we used to get at my old city, there was exactly one girl who I could call my friend, and even the other women I know, we just don't share that amazing bond of almost mother-daughter closeness that I have with my mum's friends. I couldn't hear the khutbah because of the children running around screaming. After salaah we went back home, picked everyone else up, then went to my granduncle's place... it was nice, I guess, being with family and all, but it was, I dunno, it felt less special than it usually does. The only thing that sucked was that my mum and I had to stay in hijaab alllll day 'cuz there were non-Mahrams there (family friends), and unfortunately my extended family doesn't really practice segregation of the genders amongst non-Mahrams. I mean, we're all usually in separate rooms, but people will wander in and out...

One of the highlights of the day was our 'Eid loot collection (lol :P). We got money from most people, although I also got 2 lovely blouses and a necklace from my aunt, and my dad's cousin (my second cousin) got me one of those awesome Air Hogs toy planes, which I used to keep myself occupied when I got bored. Let me tell you, it is HARD to run in a skirt and abaayah on bumpy ground. It's even harder wading through grasses and thorns in said abaayah and skirt to rescue the crashed toy plane.
Several members of my extended family were shocked that I actually liked the toy plane, which I think is silly... no, wait, not really. Since we've been living in a different city these last few years, they don't really know me, and that I'm somewhat of a tomboy (or in my grandma's words: bloody tomboy! She means it in the best way possible, though... :P). I always find it funny - upon first meeting me, people think that I'm a quiet sort of girl, the type of girl the older, traditional people are happy with. I look the part, actually, so it's hard to blame them... But then they all get shocked when they discover I'm not like that at all! Their reaction is pretty funny when they find out that I have opinions on political issues (usually differing with their own) and don't like cooking (they look horrified at that - how will I ever find a good South African Indian husband? Little do they know that I have NO intention of marrying one of my cousins or whoever it is they're planning to match me up with).

Anyhow... yeah, that was this year's 'Eid. Quiet, boring... nice, but lacking excitement. Ah, well. Al-Hamdulillaah for what I have, and what I got.

So, what was YOUR 'Eid like?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

'Twas the night before 'Eid, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

'EID MUBARAK, PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TaqabAllahu minna wa minkum!

May God accept (good deeds) from us, and from you!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Arab Street

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On Tariq Ramadan, and Integration/Assimilation

I finally took the time to read one of Tariq Ramadan's articles. For those of you who don't know, Tariq Ramadan is the grandson of Sheikh Hasan al-Banna (may Allah have mercy on him), the founder of the Ikhwaan al-Muslimeen. However, that's not what Tariq Ramadan is famous for. He's more well-known for being a controversial 'moderate' Muslim - on one hand, right-wingers in the West (mostly Europe) denounce him as anti-Semitic, a supporter of terrorism, etc. On the other hand, many Muslims view him with suspicion because of his stances on certain topics.

Personally, I don't know much about him. My dad really doesn't like him; calls him one of those 'progressives' (which is one of the latest terms used as an insult between Muslims these days). Anyhow, due to someone's insistence (:smile:) I went and decided to check him out online quickly.
I've read two articles about him - one is actually an interview with him by some people at Prospect magazine (link: http://www.tariqramadan.com/article.php3?id_article=746&lang=en) and the other is an excerpt from his book "Western Muslims: Isolation or Integration?" (link: http://www.theglobalist.com/StoryId.aspx?StoryId=4702)

I liked the second one best. In it, he makes a lot of good points, and I agree with pretty much all of it (the first one I found a couple things that I disagreed with, but it'll take too long to write about it). The topic is on isolation and integration in the Muslim community (promoting integration).

Isolation, and clinging to cultural practices, isn't very healthy for the Muslim community. But I also think that the issue of 'integrating' into Western society is a serious one, because it is so easy to lose yourself, your identity as a Muslim, when you try too hard to 'fit in' and 'integrate'.

I think that the issue of isolation and integration mostly affects Muslim families, trying to raise Muslim kids (especially teens) in this Western society.
From what I've seen, there are two scenarios that are most common between the Muslim parents and teens:

(1) parents are determined to keep their kids away from Western influences. They invariably fail. At school, with their friends, they're exposed to it, and it affects them. Forbidding them from going anywhere only fosters feelings of anger, resentment, and rebellion.
(2) The parents are oblivious as to what their kids are being exposed to, are happy that their kids are getting along well at school and making friends and all, and think everything's just hunky-dory until one day their son tells them he's got a girlfriend, and their daughter reveals that she's pregnant (maybe that sounds extreme, but it's happened a lot. I know 'cuz my dad, the director of an Islamic centre, had to deal with the freaked out, shell-shocked parents).

As you can see, the first case was one of isolation; the second of integration gone too far.

What we need is to strike a balance.

The first thing is to have a strong Islamic identity, because before we are anything, we are MUSLIMS, who follow the laws of Islam in our private and public lives. We need to know who we are as Muslims, what our beliefs are, what our goals are. We need to educate ourselves Islamically, so that we are grounded in our religion, so we have that guiding compass that we can always trust to keep us on the straight track.It's especially important for Muslim kids to develop and strengthen their own Islamic identity.
This I know from experience, 'cuz I used to go to public school, and even though I wore hijaab and abaayah I didn't have a strong enough Islamic identity to keep myself straight. Let's just say that I made some mistakes I really wish that I hadn't made, but that al-Hamdulillaah I've learned my lesson.
If you don't have a strong Islamic identity, if you don't have Muslim friends who can help strengthen that identity, if you don't have a support group of Muslims who'll always be there to keep a loving, protective eye on you - it can be really, really hard.

(Keep in mind that in developing and strengthening this Islamic identity, it's very important to go to the Masjid or an Islamic centre regularly, to listen to the lectures and to hang out with fellow Muslims - but not to the extent of isolation, which, again, is unhealthy)

Now, when we go to the 'integration' stage, we've got to be cautious.

Integrating does *not* mean compromising your Islamic values and beliefs in favour of Western ones. It does *not* mean doing everything you can to fit in and be like the non-Muslims. It does *not* mean trying to 'modernize' Islam so that it's appealing to the non-Muslims. Because there will always be something about us, or about Islam, that people will not like, or criticize, and we can't change ourselves just to make them happy.

However, that doesn't mean we can't socialize at all with the non-Muslims. I think that we should, to an extent, and we do, everyday, at school or work or whatever. We can't help it.

Anyway, I think it comes down more to *how* we socialize with them, how we act towards them. As Muslims in a non-Muslim country, everyday when we step out of the house we have remember that we are Da'wah machines. The way we speak, the way we act, the way we conduct ourselves... that's all going to make an impression on the non-Muslims we're interacting with, and we need to remember this and take advantage of it. We have to be on our best behaviour. Think of it this way: We aren't just anyone. We are MUSLIMS. We must act in a way that reflects the teachings of Islam, the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

We've got to be friendly, open, willing to answer any questions that non-Muslims may have for us (they always do...) without getting defensive or aggresive. In this way, insha'Allah, they'll realize that Muslims are not *the Other*, but their neighbours whom they do not have to fear.

Another way to boost our image, and to 'integrate', is by becoming more involved in society, making positive contributions.
For example, volunteering at preschools or daycares, food banks, at old-age homes, at shelters... that sort of thing. People will see you and get to know you and appreciate the effort you're making. That's more Da'wah, right there!

My experience, living in Canada for the last 12 years, has been a good one. My family's raised me to be a strong, practicing Muslimah, and with my father being the director of an Islamic centre I was almost always in a good Islamic environment. When we went 'out' and had to deal with non-Muslims, it was pretty easy... if you're polite and kind and prove yourself to be a nice person, most people won't care that you wear hijaab or don't do certain things (like drink alcohol or have girlfriends/boyfriends or whatever).

So you see, it's really quite simple (although, as with other things, it's easier said than done). Always remember that you're a Muslim, always be proud of it, and present an open, smiling face to the non-Muslims.

Basically, follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

May Allah help us strengthen our Islam and our Iman, and keep us always upon as-Siraat al-Mustaqeem, ameen!

(I have the niggling feeling that I've forgotten to mention some important points, but I can't for the life of me think what they are... so if you can tell what they are, please do point them out... Shukran!)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ramadan Reflections

I've noticed something about myself that I'm pretty dismayed about. Often, I get so caught up thinking about the state of the Muslim Ummah, about the problems of the world, that I spend more time worrying about that than focusing on what I should really be paying attention to - myself.
Sometimes it's harder to focus on yourself and your own faults than those of others. It's easy to criticize others, to point out their problems, and be able to say to yourself smugly, "I know exactly how to solve these problems!"
But it is so much harder to turn that criticism to yourself and admit that you aren't doing as much as you should be, that you aren't practicing Islam to your utmost best.

So, I decided to do a little self-evaluating. How good of a Muslimah am I? Am I really trying to implement what I know of Islam? What are things that I should work on?

The results made me cringe and want to hide under my bead in shame. As a general rule, I think I do okay. But further scrutinity reveals that there is a lot I need to work on.

First and foremost, salaah (prayer): It is the one thing that I have the most difficult time with.

Which is pretty embarassing. After all, salaah is the second pillar of Islam, one of the most important parts of Islam.
However, my problem is not so much performing the prayer physically, as spiritually. It's so easy stand, bow, and prostrate, to rattle off the Qur'anic ayaat and the various supplications of Salaah. It is much more difficult to really focus on what you're saying, understanding what you're saying, and actually feeling it.
When I'm tired, or grumpy, or even just eager to go do something else, it's so easy to rush through the salaah, performing the actions and letting my tongue utter the words while I'm really thinking about something else and just trying to get it over with so that I can go do whatever it is I want to do.

There are times when I do feel the salaah, when I do try to perform it correctly - spiritually as well as physically - but the times that I rush through it are far more than the occasions when I feel that I've really done it.

Sometimes, in mid-rush, I realize that what I'm doing is wrong, and I'll slow down and try to concentrate, but in my head I'll still be wanting to just get it over with... and then I feel guilty, 'cuz does that mean I'm not a really good Muslim? I do try, but what do other actions count when you aren't really fulfilling the spiritual goal of salaah?

Even in Ramadan, when you know it's the month of mercy and blessings, when every salaah counts more at this time than it does during the rest of the year... it's still hard for me. I'm too impatient, that's the problem!

Man, being a teenage Muslimah can be really tough... 'cuz on one hand I know a lot of stuff, I know what I should be doing to become a better Muslimah and all, but on the other hand, sometimes I just don't feel like doing it, and there's that nasty little voice saying, "Just pray your fardh and you've done what you have to! Now let's go do something fun!"

Does anyone else have this problem? Pleeeeeeeaaaaaaase tell me that I'm not alone in this... otherwise I will die of shame.

Impatience is what seems to be the root of the problem. Maybe I can attribute it to my youthfulness, maybe I can't... but I like to be on the go, always doing something to keep my hands, and at the very least my mind, occupied. It's hard for me to focus on my 'inner self' and reflect on myself internally and all that stuff. I find spirituality to be difficult. It's hard to sit down, close my eyes, and just... think or feel. The few times I've tried doing that, I either get bored and wander off to do something else, or I start getting sleepy and yawning.

So what do you think? Do you think is just a phase that all teenagers go through, or do I need to do some major self-disciplining and spirital exercising?

Hurry up and tell me, because I'm in agony over it!!!

Your agitated little sister in Islam,

Friday, October 06, 2006

Today I learned a lesson.
Humility, and to not talk without proper knowledge.

Sometimes it's hard to realize that you're doing something that you know is wrong. Like talking without proper knowledge - I know, and I should know better, that in Islam, it's wrong to talk about something when you don't know all the details about it. Yet I made that error. Al-Hamdulillaah, though, it was quickly pointed out...

The thing about such lessons is that they're hard to swallow. My first reaction was wounded pride. Anger. Annoyance.

But... I deserved it. Let's just hope I can remember it.

I want to weep. I want to scream. I want to run into the streets and let the world know my anguish.

I see the state of the Muslim Ummah, and my heart is broken. Here in the West, in the Arab world, in other so-called 'Muslim' countries... we are divided, we are ignorant, Twe are obsessed with the trivial even as our brothers and sisters in Islam are being slaughtered every day, even as oppression, injustice, and wrong-doing is commited in the name of our beautiful Islam, and we remain silent, scared of what some people might do to us. We forget that Allah is the Guardian and Protector of the Believers; that there is nothing one man or a thousand men can do to us if Allah does not determine that it should happen; and even if something does happen to us - it is a test from Allah, and something that we will be rewarded for. Nothing happens to a Muslim except that there is good in it, even if we can't see what it is right now.

"If Allah helps you none can overcome you, and if He forsakes you, who is there, after Him, that can help you. And in Allah (alone) let believers put their trust." (Qur'an, 3:160)

"And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him. He will make a way for him to get out (from) every (difficulty), and He will provide him from (sources) he could never imagine." (Qur'an, 65:2-3)

[Put your trust in Allah, and Allah is All-sufficient (as a Disposer of affairs.)"] (Al-Ahzab 33:3)

It is reported that the Messenger of God (may peace be upon him) said: "Never is a believer stricken with discomfort, hardship, illness, grief or even with mental worry except that his/her sins are expiated thereby." Sahih Muslim, Book 032, Number 6242

On the authority of Abdullah ibn Abbas: One day I was behind the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he said to me: “Young man, I shall teach you some words of Advise. Be mindful of Allah (God), and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah, and you will find him in front of you. If you ask, ask of Allah. If you seek help, seek help of Allah. Know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it will benefit you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. And that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens had been lifted and the pages have dried.”

Why are we scared of the people, but not of God? Why do we seek to please the people, but not God? He, who is most deserving of both our fear and our love!

What makes me angry is when a bunch of people start arguing and fighting because of a difference of opinion. Often it isn't even over a huge issue, but they *make* it a big deal. The fighting gets bitter, to the point that the people involved will start telling other people to stay away from 'them' - 'them' being the people they're arguing with. They call them deviants, they call them hypocrites, they call them all sorts of things. All over something pretty minor.
They refuse to compromise, or to agree to disagree. It's their way or the highway, in their opinion. It makes me furious. This sort of attitude is what only further weakens the Ummah. Instead of screaming at each other, instead of denouncing each other as 'hypocrites' or 'extremists', why can't we try to work out these differences? The Sahaabah used to have differences in opinion, yet they ALWAYS stuck up and stood up for each other. Their views may have been drastically different, but they still loved each other dearly. They didn't let differences get in the way of Islamic brotherhood.

Why can't we realize that? Why can't we see that by having this ridiculously stubborn, pig-headed attitudes, we're doing ourselves more harm than good?

The division in the Muslim Ummah is terrible. So many people going to extremes - the 'progressive Muslims' who want to make everything and everything halaal, who say that Islam needs to be reformed (it doesn't; it is the MUSLIMS who need to be reformed), who throw away centuries of Islamic knowledge in favour of their own 'liberal' interpretations of the Qur'an and Sunnah. And then those who would call everyone who doesn't agree with them kuffaar.
Those who proudly label themselves 'modern Muslims', and those who are happy to be called 'Salafi', 'Wahhabi', 'Jihadi', etc.

Whatever happened to the middle path that the Prophet (SAW) advised us to stick to?Whatever happened to being a part of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah?

There are those who have little real knowledge about Islam, yet who somehow feel qualified to give their own fataawah or tafseer. They reject aspects of Shari'ah that they feel are 'too harsh' or 'out of date'. They wish to make lawful that which Allah has made unlawful (adultery, for example), and wish to make unlawful what Allah has made lawful (why do they think that adultery should be okay but that polygamy should be illegal?!). They try to explain away verses from the Qur'an, or aHadith that they disagree with.

Yaa Allah, save us from ourselves!

There are those pockets of reasonable, level-headed Muslims who try to stick to the Qur'an and Sunnah and are content with being a part of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa'ah, who respect the scholars yet do not blindly follow any one madhhab.But I am finding them all too rare... and another thing is that, unlike the 'modernists' and the 'Jihadists', they don't seek the spotlight, and therefore nobody pays much attention to them and what they have to say. Which I think is a pity, because they are the ones we should be listening to.

I think that we really, really, really need to get rid of the "My opinion is correct, and if you don't think so you're a hypocrite/deviant/kaafir!" attitude and replace it with another attitude - that of actually listening to each other, to what the other people have to say.
We have to remain calm and courteous at all times. When discussing something, and if you're disagreeing, what you do is you present your proofs, explain *why* you believe it, and then listen to the other people and their rationale. In the end, you can either agree with each other (yay!) and everything will be peachy, OR, you can agree to disagree (not as good as option 1, but it's better than screaming at each other and calling each other munaafiqs and kuffaar and whatnot).
The main thing is, RESPECT each other. Be RESPECTUL. Calm, courteous, and respectful; that was the attitude of the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he dealt with even the most vile people of Quraish, and that should be our attitude, too.

As people from the Angry Arab blog can attest, that's how I try to act, and al-Hamdulillaah, I think it's done a lot of good. Those who swear at others are always polite to me - even the most hardened Islamophobic, Zionist, racist, etc. I find that pretty cool. Don't you?

As individuals and as an Ummah, we need to change our attitudes, in how we deal with each other, and with non-Muslims. If we all changed our attitudes to be like that of the Prophet's, that would be a wonderful first step towards changing the situation of the Muslim Ummah - for the better, insha'Allah.

So in summary:
The sad state of the Muslim Ummah sucks. Division in the Muslim Ummah sucks. Going to extremes sucks. Can't we all just stop arguing and get along?

The most beloved to me and the closest to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those of you who have the best attitudes. And the most hateful to me and the furthest from me on the Day of Resurrection will be the prattlers and boasters and al-mutafayhiqun.” The Sahabah said, “O Messenger of Allah(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), we understand who the prattlers and boasters are, but who are al-mutafayhiqun?” He(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The proud and arrogant.
Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/249, in Abwab al-birr, 70, classified as hasan.