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Adversity: A Fact of Life September 16, 2009

Filed under: Islam,Nawal,Pop culture,wtf — Nawal @ 1:22 pm
Tags: , ,

adversityI don’t know what it’s been about this summer but it seems adversity has been lurking around every corner.  Whether it’s in one’s personal or professional life, adversity doesn’t discriminate.  We all face it in our lives, and it can be a total bitch, but it’s in how we deal with it that matters.

When we’re going through tough times we tend to ask ourselves ‘why is this happening to me?’ or ‘how am I going to get through this?’  Loved ones will tell you not to worry, things will be fine.  They’ll tell you that you may be worried now but things will always end up working themselves out.  Sometimes it’s comforting to hear those words but other times, when you’re on the verge of having a nervous breakdown, it’s just annoying.

We’ve all been there, feeling sad and confused like Taylor Swift at the VMA’s, thinking to yourself  ‘what the hell just happened?’  Just when you think you’re having your moment in the spotlight, your moment of achievement, your moment of joy and happiness–just when things start to look up–it all comes crashing down.  You think, ‘this isn’t how I planned it…I don’t deserve this!’  It’s sad when bad things happen to good people. It sucks, actually.  I don’t know why it happens but people of faith will tell you that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.  But I can’t help but think why does it have to hurt so bad?

The great Arab-American poet, Kahlil Gibran, once said that “out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”  Of course, since we all face adversity we all have the scars to prove it, though some of us have more of them and ones that run far deeper than others.  What I wonder is how many scars can one person endure before it becomes too much?  Is there ever too much?

Like the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.  The problem is some of us spend most of our time worrying about what will kill us. Sadly, that only ends up holding us back from enjoying and appreciating a lot in life.

I think deep down we all know that somehow we’ll get through difficult times. Just the mere passing of time helps and, of course, the love and support from friends and family is vital.  It’ll be those who are there for you and by your side during the difficult times that truly care.

For Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is coming to an end.  It’s a time when, amongst other things, we are to be thankful to God, as always, for what we do have in our lives.  I’ll do my best to always keep that in my head and my heart, no matter how difficult the times, and say alhamdulillah.

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Palestinians Getting High May 10, 2009

marijuana-leafLiving under occupation is no doubt stressful.  So, it’s not really a surprise that some Palestinians would want to get high.  But I would think people would try to be a little discreet about it.  Apparently not.

Palestinian police recently found marijuana plants growing “near the main crossroads” of the village of Turmus ‘Ayya according to Maan News Agency.  Yep, right out in the open.  Sadly, the residents there said they thought they were just regular plants.  I’m almost certain there were those who knew what those plants were but kept it on the down low so as to maybe get some of the end product.  Police also found over 1,000 poppy plants and seeds in the gardens of nine residents in a village near Nablus.

I wonder if there’s any correlation between the drugs and the areas in which they’re grown.  My theory is that life in the Ramallah area isn’t so bad.  Therefore, weed is sufficient in relieving any stress. However, people in and around Nablus have it much worse due to the constant raids from the IDF and the like.  Therefore, a more hardcore drug like heroin is necessary to deal with the adversity.  But if that’s the case, what would the people in Gaza use to escape the hard knock life?  That’s a frightening thought.

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Canadians Prepare For Bush March 17, 2009

Filed under: Nawal,wtf — Nawal @ 8:24 pm
Tags: , , , ,

bush_ducking_shoeAccording the Canadian Globe and Mail, George W. Bush will have a speaking engagement in Calgary tomorrow where the cost per table is $4,000. W. will be talking about his “eight momentous years in the Oval Office” and “the challenges facing the world in the 21st century.” This must be a joke, right? And why the hell would anyone pay any money to hear W. speak? Thankfully, there will be a slew of activists rallying outside of the event. The thing that brought me much delight in the article was reading what the activists plan on doing:

Footwear has been collected and a cannon has been constructed to toss shoes at an effigy of the much-maligned leader in homage to the Iraqi reporter who chucked his loafers at Mr. Bush last December and was sentenced last week to three years in prison.

You gotta love those Canadians, eh!  Even though the originial shoe-thrower may be serving an unjust 3 year prison term, his legacy lives!

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Know any 25-yr-old men who go cruisin’ for 75-yr-old women? March 9, 2009

Know any 25-year-old men who go cruisin’ for elderly chicks? No? Well Saudi Arabia’s religious police know of at least two who, along with the 75-year-old woman caught chilling with them, will be severely punished. CNN reports that 75-year-old Syrian woman Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi was sentenced to 40 lashes, 4 months in jail, and deportation from Saudi Arabia for having two unrelated, twenty-something men in her house. Literally, God forbid any intermingling of the sexes. I mean, imagine what would have happened had the religious police not intervened? Who knows? Maybe the grandmother would have offered these boys tea and cookies. We all know how tea and cookies can corrupt humanity.

Those sneaky guys tried to get away with it, though:

Fahd told the policeman he had the right to be there, because Sawadi had breast-fed him as a baby and was therefore considered to be a son to her in Islam, according to Al-Watan. Fahd, 24, added that his friend Hadian was escorting him as he delivered bread for the elderly woman. The policeman then arrested both men.

But don’t worry, this treacherous breast-fed man and his buddy didn’t get away with their inappropriate behavior:

Fahd was sentenced to four months in prison and 40 lashes; Hadian was sentenced to six months in prison and 60 lashes.


I am having a hard time gathering my thoughts about this idiotic sentencing, which is yet another coup for Saudi Arabia’s heinous Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. If anyone was near me after I read this absolutely abhorrent report they would have seen steam pouring out of my ears like a fuming cartoon character.

This commission’s police force patrols and regulates behavior based on a strict interpretation of Islam (Wahhabism). This repressive organization bases its power on being judges of piety and forces a population to follow its interpretation of a religion. But who or what gave them the right to judge anyone’s piety? This commission and its ideology is extremism at its worst, but some people are astutely pointing out that religion may not really be the driving force behind this group’s actions. The CNN story quotes Wajeha Al-Huwaider, a Saudi women’s rights activist, as saying:

“This is the problem with the religious police, watching people and thinking they’re bad all the time. It has nothing to do with religion. It’s all about control. And the more you spread fear among people, the more you control them. It’s giving a bad reputation to the country.”

Really, if any good could come from this sickening story it is that the court’s verdict and sentencing has created public outrage, and hopefully the sentences will be overturned.

“It’s made everybody angry because this is like a grandmother,” Saudi women’s rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider told CNN. “Forty lashes — how can she handle that pain? You cannot justify it.”

Saudi Arabia is hardly the only country with puritanical policing of its people, however. What about Iran during the Islamic Revolution, or Iraq, where barbers are attacked for shaving beards, or in Afghanistan, where girls are attacked for attending school? Clearly, when a population is vulnerable, using the guise of religion makes it easy to maintain power by enforcing strict rules and instilling fear in society.

I am just glad that people in these countries are becoming more vocal in their outrage. Rather than being regarded as the rule of law, these police forces are being openly criticized by the very societies they try to oppress. Consequently, more and more people will shed their fear, and the police forces will ultimately loose power.

I am reminded of a great scene in Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s film, Persepolis, which is set during the Islamic Revolution of Iran. Late for class, Marji races down the street, books in hand, as Tehran’s religious police call out repeatedly for her to stop. Finally getting Marji to turn around, the policemen demand that she stop running. Marji tries to explain that she’s late for class, but one of the policemen explains that when she runs, her rear end moves in what he calls an “indecent” or “obscene” manner.

Fed up with the tyranny, Marji explodes with “Well, stop looking at my a**!!”

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A Modern-day Henry VIII: Bridges TV Founder Beheads Wife February 18, 2009

When news stories surfaced late last night about the horrifying beheading in Orchard Park, NY, a Buffalo suburb, I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell century we’re living in. Last time I checked, it was 2009, not 1536 as accused murderer, Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan, seems to think. I tend to forget, however, that many in some parts of the world continue to live in the 16th century (or import this attitude).

Muzzammil “Mo” Hassan is accused of beheading his wife last week, days after she filed for divorce. Authorities have not discussed the role religion or culture might have played, but the slaying gave rise to speculation that it was the sort of “honor killing” more common in countries half a world away, including the couple’s native Pakistan.

As shocking as the murder is in and of itself, the whole ordeal is insanely ironic. Hassan and his wife, Aasiya founded Bridges TV, a cable station aimed at Muslims in North America that, according to its mission statement, seeks “to foster a greater understanding among many cultures and diverse populations.” The station’s purpose is basically to build bridges between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities and to counter stereotypes.

Yeah, I’m not so sure how beheading your wife is going to actually counter any stereotypes or endear Hassan to the North American population. I have a feeling that most Muslim Americans don’t want him representing their community.

The debate, though, is whether this murder is considered good ole American domestic violence or a foreign-style honor killing:

The New York president of the National Organization for Women, Marcia Pappas, condemned prosecutors for referring to the death as an apparent case of domestic violence.

“This was, apparently, a terroristic version of ‘honor killing,'” a statement from NOW said.

Nadia Shahram, who teaches family law and Islam at the University at Buffalo Law School, explained honor killing as a practice still accepted among fanatical Muslim men who feel betrayed by their wives.

“If a woman breaks the law which the husband or father has placed for the wife or daughter, honor killing has been justified,” said Shahram, who was a regular panelist on a law show produced by Bridges TV. “It happens all the time. It’s been practiced in countries such as Pakistan and in India.”

The fact that they’re actually having this debate is odd because to me, an honor killing is really just a form of domestic violence. That statment from NOW further confuses me. What exactly constitutes a “terroristic version of ‘honor killing?'” Is there a regular version of honor killing? Honestly, I think all honor killings, as well as what some in the West would differentiate as domestic violence, are forms of violent terrorism against women. And those who commit these detestable crimes must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

My point is that because we’re in America, we shouldn’t even recognize the fact that a father or husband may have created some fake law for his wife or daughter that, when broken, might have been his justification for killing her. In the end, that father or brother or husband is a murderer, plain and simple.

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Is That a Pigeon In Your Pants, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me? February 3, 2009

Ok readers, admit it – You’ve either packed the suitcase yourself or witnessed this luggage being unpacked at your parents’/uncle’s/aunt’s house. You know what I’m talking about – those bags full of goodies from the Middle East surrounded  by rolled up socks and fanellas :-P.

Sometimes you just have to bring back your grandmother’s zaatar mix because that imported crap just won’t cut it. Or you bring back some dried mint leaves grown in your family’s backyard or the dried mlukheieh (both unfortunately resembling some other dried up plant…), or your favorite nut mix in that brand you can’t even find in NYC or Dearborn…or heck, sometimes you even say screw it, I’m bringing back that dang fig plant so I can try to grow figs in my backyard. I get it. It’s how we roll.

What I don’t get are morons like this guy who think it’s a good idea to smuggle live pigeons in his pants:

The 23-year-old man was searched after authorities discovered two eggs in a vitamin container in his luggage, said Richard Janeczko, national investigations manager for the Customs Service.

They found the pigeons wrapped in padded envelopes and held to each of the man’s legs with a pair of tights, according to a statement released by the agency. Officials also seized seeds in his money belt and an undeclared eggplant.

Live pigeons?? In his tights?? WTF?? What kind of pigeons are these that a guy would risk the family jewels just to smuggle in?

n_hall_pigeons_090203300w1Although the news story doesn’t reveal this guy’s background, it notes that he arrived in Melbourne, Australia on a flight from Dubai. Sure, he could be a Swedish guy, or a Japanese guy, or an Englishman flying through Dubai to get to Australia, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here when I say that the dude’s probably Middle Eastern. I mean, he also tried to smuggle in an eggplant for goodness sake. He probably just wanted to make the best darn baba ghanouj ever, I’m sure.

Besides, check out his hairy gams – there’s no questioning he’s Middle Eastern 😛

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Shoe-thrower Monument Unveiled January 30, 2009

Just when I thought we had heard the last of the shoe-thrower, Muntadar al-Zaidi, comes this story about a monument dedicated in honor of him.  It was unveiled in the town of Tikrit yesterday at the Tikrit Orphanage of all places.  Certainly, al-Zaidi’s actions (throwing his shoes at President Bush) prompted spontaneous jubilation among Arabs but this is just ridiculous.  It’s not so much the idea of a monument dedicated to him but the monument itself.  It’s a six foot high statue of a shoe with a plant coming out of it!  How can you look at this thing and not laugh?     

But don’t expect to see this on your next visit to Tikrit.  Iraqi police made sure the monument was removed soon after it was unveiled.

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