Saturday, January 28, 2006


Recently in the media I have noticed this word used in conjunction with Islam a lot. At first I didn’t pay any mind to it till one day, while I was reading a transcript of Khalid Yasin’s interview with John Cleary, I quaked at the word. Reform originally meant ‘restore the original form of something’. An example to illustrate this, as far as I can go back historically, is Protestant Reformation that occurred circa 16th century. Martin Luther at the time was at the head of this reformation. He nailed his 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenburg, Germany. The movement occurred all over Europe but more particularly in Germany, where the princes were pre-occupied with a threat of invasion from Muslims to notice the unrest in their fiefdoms. The reformation was supposed to restore the church to its purity and from this usage we can clearly see that reformation was used in a sense of decline rather than progress. This view prevailed for most of that century to about the 17th century. From the 18th century onwards reform begun to mean something new. It now meant progress and a change for the better. The users of the word ranged from the moderate leftist and later neoliberalist.

To get to why the word was causing me tremors in my chest, you would just have to look at the difference in meaning. The media uses this word when explaining what Khalid Yasin wants; Sharia Law to prevail and Islam to go back to the golden age of Medina.

“What we want in a society is where everyone has access to the resources of the society, we want a society where there is a reasonable coexistence, peaceful coexistence. Here in a society we want progress, in a society we don’t want the imposition of a class system; in a society we want to know that the law is equally applied to everyone, and we go on and on and on. And I say that there is a historical paradigm. OK now if the Christians or Western civilisation say that they have a historical paradigm of a nearly ideal state, I mean Socrates, Plato and all of these guys, they kind of articulated things towards it, but they never reached such an ideal republican state. But we have a historical paradigm, not only just in the person of the Prophet peace and blessing upon him, but in that Medina state. Now how long it lasted is not the issue, the fact that it is a paradigm, so an apple is an apple, however long it stays on the tree, it’s still an apple, whether it falls on the ground and rots it’s still an apple. So I say we have a historical paradigm and for all arguments’ sake, we can look at that and then compare it with other examples.”

The media also uses the word when speaking of Irshad Manji’s book, The trouble with Islam. It is used to explain Indonesia’s political party of Liberal Islam Network, Morocco’s new revision of Islamic family codes and the new group that is cropping up The queer muslims. My question arises as to whose definition should we follow and for that fact does Islam even need reformation?

In other news, the Muslim Ummah unite in boycotting Danish products due to Jyllands-Posten publishing 12 cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Starting from Saudis to Libya and now Egypt. It is actually heartening to see this unity but sad to see it took such drastic circumstances for it to occur. I don't know if anyone has actually seen the cartoons but I am wondering if its unwise for me to post the link. I will post it until I find out for sure.Aside from pulling their ambassador from Denmark,Kuwait pulled Arla's (a danish company) products from the shelves of their largest chains. The newspaper apparently asked for cartoons depicting the Prophet (PBUH) in response to the fact that a writer couldn't find an illustrator/picture of the Prophet for his book. No one would do it so the newspaper took it upon itself to stand up for freedom of speech. I fail to see how taking a stab at someone's religion could be used as advocacy for freedom of speech. Islam is already getting enough of a bad reputation from the media, particularly the west, without having to add blasphemy to it. Is it testing of waters that we are seeing? I am inclined to think yes. Its hard to believe that a public medium like a newspaper wouldn't have reviewed and doublechecked what consequences of publishing those cartoons would be. Maybe its a case of Monkey See, Monkey Do. I for one am very happy that muslims decided to stand up because enough is enough. We have to draw the line somewhere and if not when it comes to our Prophet (PBUH) then when? Inshallah may this be a start of a unified nation of Islam under one banner.

Friday, January 27, 2006

How can a man be so cold?

He walked towards her with a menacing look in his eyes. Nafisa braced for the worst. She got into the fetal position just as he started pounding on her back. He was merciless, calling her names and blaming her for everything. “Please, stop I am sorry, I am sorry. I won’t do it again. Please, I love you baby,” Nafisa begged as she prayed that this time he will relent. After about 20 mins he stepped back from her like an artist stepping back from his masterpiece. Nafisa didn’t move in fear that it would provoke him. She cowered and tried to keep her sniffles as silent as she could. There were no tears present in her eyes; she had finished shedding them a few years back. His eyes raked over her body as he spit on her and walked out.

Nafisa waited a few minutes after she heard him close the door to their room before she moved. She crawled on all her fours towards the adjacent bathroom in her daughter’s room. Closing the door silently behind her she pulled herself up. Her eyes were swollen to the size of kiwis, her lips were bleeding and not to mention the bruises evident under her tanktop. She stared back at the woman in the mirror. Her eyes were dead; fitting for a punching bag she thought. She proceeded to wash her face and cleaning herself. She had to go pick up Salma from her friend and she didn’t want to hear another lecture about leaving Awil. He was the only man who loved her. If she left, where would she go? No man out there would want to be saddled with another man’s child not to mention Awil would never let her leave. He would rather kill her than see her leave. It was fear and stability that chained her to her situation.

Driving up to Kadra’s house she double-checked her face in the rear-view mirror. She looked passable except for the swollen eyes which she can explain were due to no sleep and crying. She was sure she could cruise through the questioning by claiming a death in the family. As Nafisa walked up to the door she heard shrieks of laughter coming from the living room. The curtains were partly drawn so she could see the scenario being played out in the house. Salma was being chased around by Abdirahman, Kadra’s husband, as Kadra kept coxing both of them to stop horsing around and come get dinner. Abdirahman kept making cute scary sounds that sent Salma into shrieks of laughter. Kadra didn’t have any children. She and Abdirahman had been married for four years which was as long as Nafisa and Awil, but they were unable to have any children. Nafisa stood by the window looking in at the image of a perfect family and she felt a knot in her throat. Looking away she walked to the front of the door and sat down on the steps. What was she doing? Salma deserved a family that was loving and caring not constantly seeing her being beaten up by Awil. Nafisa sat there at the doorstep for a good half hour as she listened to the laughter and conversation going on in the house. As she got up she knew what to do……………………

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Confessions of girl's night out

Saludiin sat staring at the picture that sat in front of him. Even with his eyes closed he could describe it in detail. The proud nose, the blazing brown eyes, the shaped eyebrows and off course those lips that he fell madly in love with the first time he saw them. He closed his eyes as a wave of nausea washed over him. Life was unfair and more so to him than anyone out there.

"I have a confession Saludiin, can you please sit down and listen," came the request from her lips. He remembered the day clearly. They had made reservations at La Bouche and were going to a jazz concert after. She looked extra beautiful that day. Her soft, black hair was in layers cascading down her back. She wore a simple black dress with a metallic coin belt enveloping her wide hips. She looked seriously at him with her almond eyes and patted the sit next to her. Saludiin sat down obediently taking her hands in his to reassure her that nothing she said would matter to him. Then the tale begun.

Sally had invited her to visit an old friend who had just gotten a new position at his job. Dressed modestly she picked Sally up and following the directions had driven up to a cul de sac tucked away at the base of the hilly suburb. It looked beautiful with stuccato tiles and warm colors to accent the spanish influence in the country. Walking in after Sally, she had extended her hands in greeting to the tall man standing in the foyer. He looked like he had stepped out of the GQ magazine and spoke with a slight accent as he introduced himself as Fredrick Klaus. The small talk was easily accomplished as they were served appetizers in the drawing room. Mr Klaus was apparently a bio-engineer who had to work hard in his life to get where he is. He came from a poor background and was the first in his family to get a college degree. He was forever determined never to go back to the poverty that had littered his childhood. She didn't think he ever would because he had a ruthless look in his eyes. It gave her the chills. The eyes told a lot about the soul they belonged to. Mr. Klaus, even though, looked and seemed charming and kind, she didn't doubt that he would turn to whole other person when crossed.

As they got called into dinner, Sally and her sat on opposite sides of the table each on one side of their kind host. The evening progressed well and Sally kept downing the wine spritzers. Pretty soon she was drunk and was in no condition to go anywhere. Mr. Klaus dismissed his staff for the evening and set out to clear out the table himself. She felt awkward with her friend laying on the couch in a drunk stupor. She got up and graciously helped Mr. Klaus to clear the table. Following his straight, ramrod back into the kitchen, she set out to figure out which cabinet door was the dishwasher. Mr. Klaus continued picking the dishes and bringing them back to the kitchen. On the third run as he walked into the kitchen with the last of dishes he brushed by her breasts. Her breath caught in her throat as she moved instinctively. He didn't seem to notice what he did because he pointed out a cabinet door at the far corner of the kitchen as the dishwasher. She proceeded to load up the dishwasher as he cleared the food off the plates and placed food items in the fridge. He must have gotten done with his task much faster than she thought because next thing she felt were hands placed on each side of her hips. She stopped loading the dishwasher and turned around to face a grinning Mr. Klaus. He spoke of how he had being watching her the whole night and that he was attracted to her. She tried to gauge how far the exit was from her standpoint but couldn't see over or even around Mr. Klaus. Fredrick kept moving closer to her until her back was pressed into the side of the cabinets. He let his hands caress the sides of her arms as he exclaimed and ahhhhed on how soft she felt. Her heart was pounding and her breath slowed to almost a stop. She explained that she was engaged to someone and that she was not interested in him. She also apologized if she give him any ideas during the evening. He leaned close to her and cupped her face in his hands. She turned her face to the side and Fredrick kissed her cheek gently. He then stepped back and gave her space to escape.

She now sat staring at Saludiin. Her tale was over. During the tale Saludiin let go of her hands, the hands he had so lovingly held a few minutes ago. He got up from the chair and started pacing. He couldn't understand why these things happen to her all the time. This was not the first time. Is it something she does? Is it something she says? He couldn't help but to blame her. He had never had these problems with his previous girls. She was so beautiful on the outside but her inside was what pulled everyone to her. She was sweet and considerate. She loved helping people and was so social. These traits made her a gem but they also got her in spots of trouble. He couldn't be around her. He needed to think. He watched her face crumple as he told her what he thought of the situation. He watched as tears threatned to spill over as he told her that no man would do anything sexually oriented without being given a physical/verbal/emotional go ahead. He apologized for canceling the evening on the account of feeling unwell and he walked out.

Saludiin now thought about her. He knew he hurt her but what she told him hurt him more. He couldn't bare to be without her but he had to find a way to understand why men do things like that around her. He didn't want to punch a guy for looking at her everytime they went out but the way things were going he was going to have to. He didn't know what to do. He prayed he would find a solution soon because he knew she was too precious to let go. He picked up his phone and dialled a number...............................

Friday, January 20, 2006

Back into School Mode

Back to school is always a blessing for me. I use it as a time to concentrate on me and forget about the world. My life revolves around my books and assignments not to mention keeping up with extra-curriculum activities around the school. Spring is in the air and for the first time in a long time I feel settled. I am hoping this will be a start of a trend. This being the end of the school year I know I am going to be losing some good friends to the work force as they graduate and set out to find themselves in the real world.

I met Dee on my way to the bookstore. He was the only colored person in sight but I could barely recognize him. He had cut his braids and he looked good. I always pushed him to cut his braids and I was so proud that he finally did it. As customary for us we hugged when we got close to each other. He had tears in his eyes due to the cold biting wind blowing around us but that didn't stop his smile from reaching his eyes. I mentioned the tear and he brushed it off as being joy of seeing me. We caught up a little bit. I asked him about his upcoming graduation and his credit load this semester. I reminded him of last semester when he nearly had a breakdown due to taking a lot of credits. He shrugged it off and said he was looking forward to graduating and moving on to bigger and better things. He is an economics major and he is planning to be an investment banker. Dee was moving to Minneapolis with his girlfriend when May came around. I was already missing him and he hadn't left. I would miss him sneaking behind me and giving me a hug. I would miss his crazy antics like pretending he had a walkie with him everytime he saw one of us doing something dumb. Memories of him calling me a pimp when we were at the hip hop dance, Me teaching him to cook bariis (the swahili style) with chicken, him talking me/forcing me to go to a party 45 mins away and all the crazy stories of how he was two timing his female companions, pretending he was awfully sorry when he was not. All in all I would miss him as a friend and big brother.

Hanna Banana is transfering to good ol' chitown next year. She is pursing her dream of being an elementary teacher. This girl turned me into dear Abby in the couple of years I have known her. She has wide innocent eyes and is soft spoken and respectful. It was a joy to work side by side with her in our organization. She is definately a gem and I hope she gets all she hopes for.

I might be moving too next year but I am unsure. If I get into the program I hope and pray for then I will definately be packing up and leaving. I have a long road ahead of me then but I am sure I will meet plenty of people along the way who will help and some who will deter my progress. Listening to Fleetwood Mac I feel good about this year and Inshallah it shall be prosperous. My roomates will remain friends for a while and off course I plan to keep contact with them otherwise I know they will beat the BLACK off my ass. I love them to death and I hope they feel the same about me. I tried sneaking into the apartment the night I drove in from home. Patricia wasn't fooled she heard the key turn in the lock and poked her head out of her room, tackling me with my bags in one motion. She screamed and hug me repeating over and over "My roomie is back." I guess she missed me with a reaction like that. I still have work to do on that girl and in the little time I have I plan to accomplish changing her mind about the fact that she can do anything she set her mind too and that black is a race and haitian is ethinicity.

Got to get back to studying for my national exams. This should be an interesting semester indeed. With my credit load and the programs that we plan to do this year as an organization, I am sure it will be memorable for those leaving and those staying. As they say there is no better way of leaving than with a bang!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Amores Perros

Being a fan of foreign movies someone suggested a great movie for me to watch. The movie's name is the subject of my post:Amores Perros meaning Love's a bitch. The movie lasted about two and a half hours but it was worth it. The plot was more than expected, It was absolutely thrilling. Octavio loved his sister in law and envied his brother for having her. His brother on the other hand had a love hate relationship with his wife Susanna. Then there was Valeria, the model, who after an accident went into a depressive state. She was having an affair with a married man (Daniel) who left his wife and children for her. Another character of note of course was the Saddam Hussein look-alike, Chivo. Chivo left his family to go right the world by enlisting as a guerilla. He served time in prison and lost his family in one sweep. He is spotted throughtout the movie as a wino. In a way he is the main character I would like to think but the stories are all interconnected. Chivo wants his daughter to know he exists so he eliminates the man who took his place when he left;nameless stepdad. Chivo then proceeds to hang out infront of his daughter's house and breaking into it to have a glimpse at her life. You have to watch this movie seriously. I am definately going to get a copy of it as soon as I can find it otherwise its amazon for me.

Speaking of which I also would like to recommend a couple of other foreign movies. Amelie is a feel good movie for everyone. The plot centers around Amelie who helps out everyone in her own unique way and ends up falling in love with Nino. Nino is also a unique character and you end up wishing for him to be the soulmate for Amelie throughout the movie. If you want a raw movie that will raise your hackles and you will love to hate the characters then you need to watch City of Gods. This movie succeeded in reminding me of the desolute and poverty that ranks to high heaven within the third world cities. I felt in tune with what the characters were saying and going through. The final movie I would recommend would have to be Dias de Santiago. Warning though before you watch this movie. If you are prone to being depressed this movie is not for you. The movie has a depressive cloud over it. Santiago is a war hero come back home to find nothing. His wife doesn't understand him and he can't find a job. He is paranoid and sees everything from a different light. He struggles to keep to normalacy. One scene that comes to mind is when his ex-military friends get together and decide to pool their brain power and think of some way of earning a living. They throw the idea of robbing a bank in the air and try to sell it to Santiago but he shoots it down. The parting shots of this movie leaves you bare, at least with me it did. I could have understood either path that Santiago would have taken in this case.

Enough playing Ebert for now. I think foreign movies have a lot to offer us. They are much more realistic and are not into romancing life as it is. No Just like Mike, no pretty woman and no rebound. Definately check out the sundance film lists when they are released, I am sure you will find a couple nice movies in there that will make you think instead of being duped into thinking life is a bed of roses; there are thorns hidden within that bed. By the by Eid Mubarak to everyone.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Is there an end in sight?

Listening to her ipod as she worked out Filsan thought of how the events in her life have wrecked havoc to her placed system of order. Her step increased in pace and her jaw got locked as usual when she is brooding. The view infront of her blurred into a memory of love and affection. She saw herself dressed in a serene blue dress dancing the night away in the arms of her fiancee. Her laugh ringing so clear in her ears as she twirled round and round on the dance floor. Her fiancee's loving gaze and the passion locked in them boring into her very soul. The image dissipated to a younger version of her. At a tender age of seven watching snow white and the seven dwarfs with her friend's father. Her gaze so intent on the TV it was like she was in the movie. As Filsan remembered that day clearly her step turned forceful and her hands clenched into a fist.

A tear dropped from her eyes as she kept staring ahead of her. Filsan willed for the memories to stop flooding her vision. She willed for them to go back to whence they came from. She moved her fingers to the volume wheel blasting the music to full capacity.......drowning in the words of Mary J Blige. Her face felt hot and flushed as she pushed her body to work extra hard. Words started reverbating in her mind:

If we had anything it wouldn't come to this
When you are ready to get married let me know cause something tells me you are not ready
U ain't happy with anything, What are you happy with?
You have your own agenda. Don't poison any of them against me!!
I don't want to ever talk to you as long as I live.
You are selfish and conceited.
You will not amount to anything in this world.
You think you are smarter than everyone but you are anything but.
You are fake
I want all of you or nothing
You made my life a living hell...................................

On and on they kept spinning. Pretty soon Filsan's body was racked with sobs as she let out all the emotions corked up in her body. She quickly jumped off the treadmill and run to the locker room. The world was swimming in an ocean of her tears as she locked the door to the bathroom. She sat down on the toilet seat and put her hand to her mouth as she tried to stifle the pathetic hiccupy sobs that had taken over her earlier sobs. With each breath the tears kept increasing. Filsan wanted to die. She wanted to lay her head on the cold linoleum floor and beg God for deliverance from the demons that haunt her. Filsan finally just gave in!