Thursday, September 28, 2006

Kite Runner Lecturers

I am going to warn you right off top that this is going to be an opinion piece.

I was walking towards my class after Jumaa prayers last Friday when I noticed a poster announcing a lecture. The title caught my eye "Conceptualizing Islam". I was intrigued so I marked it down on my PDA for Tuesday. Tuesday came and I found myself sitting in a large lecture hall with a sprinkling of students. There was background music that sounded pakistani but in retrospect it was probably afghan. I was the only muslim, black female there.........kinda got used to that in this school. The lecture begun with an apology for not serving lunch due to observance of Ramadhan. Hypocritical at best if you ask me because the lecturers Mr. Azizi and Mr. Azizi were both drinking water. What Ramadhan were they practicing?

The first Mr. Azizi got on the podium and explained his background. He used to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Afghan between 1966-79. He held a Law and Poli. Sci degree from Kabul and an MBA from Georgia State U. He gave a background of Afhaganistan:99% Islamic and tribalistic. Seriously, doesn't this sound like Somalia? This is not the only time that I would draw this conclusion when it came to this lecture. He explained that before they were invaded by Russia (1979) Afghanistan was a secular society on a democratic path. During the war Pakistan was the only channel through which help was received in Afghanistan. Afghanistan decided that in order to defeat Russia they would support smaller factions as opposed to one unified factions. After this bit of preamble the dude turned me into a critic. Let me quote some of the things he said:

"Pakistan is the biggest problem"
"Terrorist were arabs with the help of Pakistan"
"Musharaf is arrogant and has decided to put Pakistan ahead of the world"
"Pakistan are instigators of Taliban"
"Pakistan seeks strategic depth by taking over Afghanistan"
"No matter what Bush says we have to realize Pakistan is not our friend, the sooner we do the better."

See a thread? He was blaming everything on Pakistan. He used references of liberal think tanks in Washington that prove that Pakistan army is directly involved with insurgents operating in Afghanistan. He also cited a statistic that 92% of drugs produced in the whole world was from Afghanistan. This is important because Pakistan is the closest port that is used to get the opium out. Mr. Azizi then states that drug lord pay 3x more than afghan army to soldiers and thats why there is more insurgents. Post 9/11 for him shows promise because kids are allowed to go to school, women have rights and there is progress. In closing he states that Pakistan was created on a religious basis and there is no true democracy only a military presence.

The other Mr. Azizi got on the podium. His theory was that all the conflict came from these artifical borders carved by colonialism. Wait a minute isn't that the problem in Africa? What pissed me off about this guy was he targeted Islam, specifically madrasas. He claimed that madrasas brain washed the children of Afghanistan feeding them all these lies. The children were susceptible because their honor was vulnerable. He pointed out that when Afghan's immigrated to US their children were seen as social misfits in schools and would then turn to religion.I think this is true with any immigrant but for me it was somalis and gangs. These children would then come home and chastize the lifestyle of their parent's. DUH! maybe because they actually understood their religion more and saw their parent's version of religion as completely secular?

Now came the Q &A. What was the solution?

  • Think of earth as a village.
  • Educate from childhood.
  • Create a popular group that can control Afghan that R friends of USA (u mean puppets?)

I liked some of the questions posed. Here are some:

  • How do you create a sense of nationality when 1st they are Punjab's, then muslims then afghans?
  • There was Moderate Islam (I think it was secular) in the past, Extreme Islam came with Russian invasion. can you purge out the Extremism?
  • Isn't there a catch 22? The economy of Afghan comes from Poppy but then you can't stop it because it provides funds to build the hospitals and schools.

Here is the lesson I got from all this. First, I won't believe the title of a lecture ever again. I should have read the fine print but I learnt something from this lecture. One phrase Mr. Azizi said rang true. He said"War is poison." He explained that when a generation is brought up surrounded by war they cannot be expected to be peacekeepers or peaceful people. He drew an analogy. A soldier is built and trained for war, he can't be expected to turn into a peacekeeper after the war is over and thats why more "accidental" shootings of civilians is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think this lesson can be used in Somalia's case. The people in power are warlords or had some hand in the war. They know nothing but war. How can they lead us into peace? It is also a plea I guess on my part that some of us in the diaspora should think about being active in the reconstruction of Somalia or even contemplate going back and actually living there.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mwezi mtukufu wa Ramadhan na fadhila zake-Juma Amiyr

Thought I should share this lecture ni kiswahili to those who understand it. Inshallah I will try to post a couple other lectures in English I love.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Lessons of my week

I learnt a few lessons this week. My first lesson was with corporate America. I finally talked to my boss about Mr T. (the harrasser) and she defended him and said he jokes a lot and she would prefer I talk to him once more before she steps in. I wasn't scheduled with him for the next couple days so I bidded my time. I have to mention that during this time I also changed my schedule at work and told the scheduler I can only work in the afternoons and evenings. She didn't seem to have a problem with it and I was under the impression everything was Kosher. Anyway, On Tuesday she runs to me and says I need to talk to him that day or else she will talk to him whether or not I do. She is very firm about it and I am wondering what the heck got you in a tizzy? So, I say I would like to talk to him and she can sit in and listen. We have our little meeting and Mr. T keeps apologizing profusely that I felt real guilty. On Thursday, she calls me in her office to inform me that her and the other african dude (friend of Mr. T) have decided to let me go because "you were hired as a permanent full time and we can't have you switching your schedule and taking hours away from people who have worked here for years". I was a little suprised but I wasn't worried because this was a second job and lets face it it was cutting into my school schedule as it were. What bothered me was the coincidence of the complaint, the friendship of my direct supervisor and Mr T, and the obvious fact that when I was hired the lady knew I was in school and come fall semester I would be changing my schedule. Another factor is the majority of the workers there are students and most of them worked one day every week and in the evening. What can I say? I understood the fact that maybe I shouldn't have opened my mouth about his harrassment. Knowing this made it easy for me to walk out that door with my head held high because I figured if thats the environment they work under I never want to be there. So, I get one week off and I am back to working fulltime at my old job, with people I have come to regard as family and love as such. Mr T can have his playing field!

The other lesson, I learnt was that I am addicted to music. My friends used to joke about it alot. The fact I have +3000 songs on my laptop, +300 CDS and my ipod. I had mp3s but I gave them out to my sister and brother. I can't get into my car without music, I can't work without music, I can't study without music, I can't cook without music..........I hope you get the point. I was asked to roughly estimate how many hours of music I listen to a day and I casually replied 6-7 hrs. When I saw the look of shock on the people's faces I understood the fact that maybe that is not a good thing. So, I am left to wonder if I can shed this addiction like I did my others i.e internet? Especially in the light of Ramadhan. I have always brushed off the fact I could listen to music during ramadhan as long as I fulfilled my fast and didn't let music affect my mood of introspection. Its not true. Music affects me. My mood reflects my music. Sadness brings on the sappy songs, longing brings on Ginuwine, Tyrese et al.........................yada yada yada. So if anyone can give me clarification on what the Quran says about music in regards to ramadhan and regular islamic life I would so appreciate it. **listening to music as she is typing**

My last lesson was last night. It started around 3 am. I woke up to the sound of a blaring horn. At first I thought it was my ears (I have being having inner ear problems) but when I shook my sister awake and asked her if she could hear it and she confirmed it, I was irritated. No one moved in the whole complex. I looked outside and didn't see anything fishy. My sister thought it was the AC so I turned it off. Nope. I couldn't believe how anyone can sleep through that racket. I mean it was loud as hell. I live in a predominately white neighbourhood and y'all know how white people be all sensitive about their sleep during weekdays. I was expecting someone to take action. Nada, no movement could be seen or heard. Finally, I grabbed the phone cussing and called 911. " I can't sleep cause someone's car is going off out there, can you send an officer to check it out cause I ain't finna walk my ass out there in the cold in the dark" I waited 10 mins then two cruisers pulled up. They identified the car as soon as they pulled up. Walked around the car making sure ain't no one dead in there leaning on the horn (I suppose) then walked toward the complex entrance. I walked down and let them in grumbling about the fact that some of us have to be up by 6 am and like our sleep to be undisturbed. They must have thought I was crazy. I was in a foul mood and didn't invite them into my home. I let them go knock on that person's door and after they got dressed they turned the racket off. Bloody hell. I couldn't believe anyone slept through that irritating sound. My stereotypes of whites was wrong. They weren't nosy, sensitive people.

Hopefully with Ramadhan a couple days away it should prove to be a better week. I got invited to a proffesor's BBQ on Sunday, even though I will be fasting. I am looking forward to meeting the IJs (International Journalists) and talking with the faculty, though I dunno how I will handle seeing burgers being cooked on the first day of Ramadhan. Ramadhan Kareem to y'all.

Friday, September 15, 2006

And so it has begun.

It wasn't that long ago that the controversy of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was all the rage in the mosques. There were boycotts of products and governments. Now the leader of the catholics seems to have dug himself into a corner. Pope Benedict went back home to Germany this month after a long hiatus. During a speech he delivered at Regensburg University, he quotes a book. The book quotes a conversation between Emperor Manuel II and an "educated" persian. Allahu ya3lam you be the judge. Here is an edited version of his speech that I found on

"I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor
Theodore Khoury (M√ľnster) of part of the dialogue carried on, perhaps in 1391,
by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on
the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Koran. . . In the seventh conversation the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that Sura (Koranic chapter) 2, 256 reads: ‘There is no compulsion in religion.’ According to the experts, this is one of
the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under
threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later
and recorded in the Koran, concerning holy war . . . He addresses his
interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the
relationship between religion and violence, saying: ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’
The emperor, having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God,’ he says, ‘is not pleased by blood — and not acting reasonably . . . is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence
and threats . . . To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm,
or weapons, or any other means of threatening a person with death . . .’ The
decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to
act in accordance with reason is contrary to God’s nature. Theodore Khoury,
observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this is
But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His
will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. At
this point, as far as understanding of God and thus the practice of religion is
concerned, we are faced with an unavoidable dilemma. Is the conviction that
acting unreasonably contradicts God’s nature merely a Greek idea, or is it
always and intrinsically true? . . . John began the prologue of his Gospel with
the words: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ This is the very word used by the
emperor: God acts, with logos. Logos means reason and word — reason which is
creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. A profound
encounter of faith and reason is taking place here, between genuine
enlightenment and religion . . . This inner rapprochement between biblical faith
and Greek philosophical inquiry was an event of decisive importance not only
from the standpoint of the history of religions, but also from that of world
history . . .
Given this convergence, it is not surprising that Christianity, despite its origins and some significant developments in the East, took on its historically decisive character in Europe. In the Western world it is widely held that only positivistic reason and the forms of philosophy based on it are universally valid. Yet the world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. The West has long been endangered by this aversion to the questions which underlie its rationality, and can only suffer great harm thereby. The courage to engage the breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur — this is the programme with which a theology grounded in biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. ‘Not to act reasonably, not to act with logos, is contrary to the nature of God,’ said Manuel II, according to his under-standing of God. It is to this great logos, this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures."

Now I don't know what they edited out but if the pontiff couldn't see quoting such a book would lead to problems then i dunno what to say. I will leave you with a paraphrased hadith. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was telling a sahaba that they will come a time when islam will be attacked from all sides. The sahaba was puzzled. He asked if the Ummah will be small in numbers during such times. To which the Prophet replies, " No you will be many." Sahaba continues asking, and what happens to make our ummah stand by when we are attacked. The reply is, The ummah falls in love with dunya and disregard the afterlife.

Do you know that Islam commands the position of the second largest religion in the world? It is an all inclusive faith boosting muslims from Africa, Arabs, Asia, North America, Australia, South Americas etc. We are indeed a weak ummah and the only way we can strengthen ourselves is by educating ourselves in not only the secular but the religious. Especially now that the month of Ramadhan is more or less a week away. During this month, when the gates of hell are closed and the gates of heaven are open, we should strive to be our best. I forget what my macalim used to say. The first 10 days of Ramadhan if you fast in accordance to Islam, you get forgiven ( I think), the second 10 days, the Islamic Ummah gets forgiven and the last 10 days (lailatul Qadr) you are freed (metaphorically speaking I believe your soul is cleansed and your slate is washed clean). Don't quote me on that because I am getting old and I might have forgotten the exact rewards. Anyway my point is that we should strive to be better muslims and strengthen our ummah. Make it your resolution this Ramadhan. There are usually wonderful lectures during this period not to mention the atmosphere itself nourishes and rejuvenates the soul.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A homegrown bug bit me

Ebu nione kama bado naweza kuandika kiswahili asili. Sijaandika kiswahili kwa miaka kadha wa khada. Natumaini haitakuwa ngumu hivyo. Ningetaka kusema mengi lakini kwa sasa nitaandika juu ya roho yangu inavyolia kila siku. Ndio, mimi ni mchovu. Sababu ya uchovu wangu ni masikitiko inayonishika kila nikifikiria kwetu;pwani. Majirani wetu akina dida na uncle hubesh, kadindo, sambaba, faiz, sofia na latifa. Kila nikitembe njee kusalimiwa na jina langu. Siku za ramadhan kupelekeana chakula kisha sahani yako inaregeshwa na chakula ya jirani yako. Asubuhi na mapema Mzee Ali akigonga dirisha la nyumba kumamusha buda kwa sababu salatul fajr iko karibu. Mwadhini wasikia kila mara na hata si moja pekee. Mskiti, leso, taraweh, udi, qasida, mshakiki......ramadhan si kamili bila vitu hivyo. Ukitoka shule, AsemaNaye yupo nje akiuza victoria na maembe za pilipili. Au kama hutaki matunda waweza kukula kachiri, mahindi, muhogo, viazi vya urojo, viazi vya pili, kaymati, mbaazi, mabuyu ama hachari . Majioni mengi tukienda lighthouse kubarizi hewa. Arusi za kiswahili na kucheza chakacha kwa mviringo. Ah! jemeni. Nitaenda nyumbani siku gani?

Mwembe tayari, makadara, blue room, steers, nyali, mamba, mombasa beach, bamburi beach bado mpo? Ama kutokuwepo kwangu imekubadilisha. Hussein bakery, nilivyopenda kununua biskuti zako kila jumapili baada ya kutoka kuogelea kwa bahari. Kila jumamosi, kuenda dil bahar kununua chicken tikka na mkate mayai. Aisee chakula si kutu peke nichohisi, lakini harufu za chukula ndio unakumbuka. Kisha nikakuwacha pwani wangu. Mpenzi wangu.

Nilisafiri kuenda Nai. Kule naye nilianza na manumba 9. Kusikia muziki na kupewa sare. Nikapata paka wangu, KCI. Nilimpata akiwa mtoto. Alinichukia kwa sababu alikuwa anamtaka mamake, lakini nilimlaza nami kwa kitanda changu. Nilimpa maziwa na vidole vyangu mpaka akawa kama mtoto wangu. Kila siku nilipotoka shule alikuwa barazani akiningojea. Akinifwata kila pahali naenda. Kisha akawa dume wa kijiji. Mapaka wa kike walijaa kwa baraza na ukuta zetu wakimlilia. Nakumbuka nikirusha kiatu changu baada ya kutoshindwa kulala usiku nzima. KCI, uko wapi sasa?

Lazima, mola akinibariki, niregea 2007. Lazima!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Did you exercise your right today?

This petite woman stood infront of our class and coaxed us to follow her through the semester. Dr Ischida was going to change our mindset. The way we viewed media specifically. I had liked her from the get go. She was different from the other professors I had taken before. She was passionate about her subject. She asked us to talk about our assigment as she walked around listening in. We were discussing how we were swimming in mass media each day and didn't know anything about it. She asked us to explain how the TV stations could create a niche market and know we are going to tune in. Nielsen Ratings off course.

When we talked about the net though I was suprised to see that apart from two other students in the class, no one else knew what cookies was? Dr Ischida nearly fainted. She looked shocked as she tried to explain what cookies was. You'd think that would be the last of the suprises in store for the poor woman. I don't know how we came upon the topic of the primary's but today in MN, everyone was voting. Katelin and I were the only people who knew that was going on. The rest of the class was dumbfounded and unconcerned.

I am a bonefide American now but I confess that today I didn't exercise my newly earned right. Why? because I didn't have the right tools to make the right decision. I haven't being able to look up the candidates and see what their platforms were. The presidential elections are not that far away. I should get cracking on this. I feel appalled that even though I knew the primary's were today I didn't know the issues. I am turning into an uninformed American.

Should non voting be considered political suicide or political action? Should the young voting masses of Americans remain uninformed because they don't see a reason why they should be?They are cut off from the world off course. Their closest neighbours are Mexicans and Canadians. Americans live a relatively comfortable life without war, hunger, disease breathing down their necks. Has this made them complacent? Have I become complacent?

Whether we like to admit it or not Americans shape the world. Their vote puts someone in the Whitehouse who will change domestic policy and moreover change foreign policy, thus shouldn't Americans be informed? Shouldn't they be able to strike off the issues that each candidate represents at the drop of a hat? Should the world be scared to know that a large percentage of the 10 million young people who vote, are not even sure who their state representative is?

All I know is I will be reading newspapers and checking up on C-Span and the net each day to make sure I don't become an uninformed consumer. If you have a brother/sister/mother or father who is eligible to vote this year please make sure they are aware of the power they possess. We shouldn't commit political suicide by not voting or by voting without the right information!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

'Tis that time of year

As the night cloak spreads across the city, most new yorkers are glued to their TV sets. Its the night before 9/11. Most TV channels are running specials featuring touching stories of survivors and heroes. The channel most of them are watching though is NBC, which features the opening game of COLTS and GIANTS. Or, as they have being calling it for the past year MANNING vs MANNING. Considering I caught the last eight minutes of the third quater and all of fourth quater, I can say I was not impressed by the colts. Oh, no doubt they will make it to the playoffs if Tony D. has anything to do with it but they seem to be still lacking in the running game category.

I got to be honest, I don't like COLTS and was so rooting for GIANTS. I didn't think that last penalty call was warranted. Harper slipped!!! There was no push off. Come on now ref. The pass was perfect and it could have won the game for the Giants before they embark on going head to head with Philly and Seahawks. I am liking Jacobs he has the strength and Tiki has the speed and agility. This could definately work out.

So tommorrow night. Viks vs Redskins. I haven't followed any of the viks game preseason so I have no idea how they will fair. This game will help me deduce if I should smirk when I drive by the Viks fans or cheer with them as they cross under our skyway system to head to the dome.

PS: I was meaning to discuss one show I was listening to that had to do with 9/11 but I am too tired to gather up my thoughts. Inshallah I will post the commentary soon.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Really I am just me ;)

Ok. Here is my not so amazing list. I am just going to type what I think of.

a) I am very,very friendly to complete strangers actually I tend to trust them with my life on the first day. (This is only true if you pass my gut feeling test. PS: I haven't being terribly burned yet)

b) I go out of my way to make people comfortable by mimicing and assimilating into their life. I literally can blend into anyones life

c) People have a natural tendacy to talk to me about their problems and I have a natural tendancy of trying to solve them.

d) I laugh at almost anything. I tend to find humor in the most weirdest things hence I am either smiling or giggling when I talk.

e) I am very forgiving and understanding. I don't begrudge people but here is a disclaimer. If I ever begrudge somebody it must have being a very horrible thing they did because I have a high threshold.

f) My memory is in both extremes. Alhamdullilah bad things are forgotten in a matter of minutes and good things remain in my mind for a very long time.

g) If I have money I spend it on whoever is close to me that needs a pick me up. I'll use any excuse to shower someone with a gift.

h) I say what I mean in the most diplomatic and honest way;amazingly I actually have less enemies than friends.

i) This is necessarily not amazing but most people remark that I love debating and winning it. I can go on for hours discussing something if there is any chance I can convince you to side with me.

j) I get nightmares a few days before something horrible happens in my life otherwise I usually don't dream.


k) I am rarely fazed by any emotions. Anger makes me laugh and sadness makes me uncomfortable. Upside to this is I cry when I read books and watch movies but in real life situations I am what my mother refers to as stone.

l) This is a noteworthy one. Most of my male friends and some female ones have refered to me as a man stuck in a woman's body because I think and usually act like a man but I love shopping, so yea BEWARE!

Phew, that wasn't that bad. My list isn't exactly amazing but its me. Lemme see who I can tag. I tag borderless,shirwac and angry somali man.