Archive for March, 2008

“No Excuse”

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I recently received a forward from a friend of mine entitled “No Excuse.” The point of the email was to remind people of the importance of prayer in Islam, giving quotations of hadith and showing photos of people performing salat in various places, indiscriminately. While I agree that prayer is an important act of worship and a pillar of our faith as Muslims, I feel that the problems we face today will not be fixed by praying more.Sincere prayer comes from our lifestyles, our actions and out intentions, not just the five daily prayers prescribed to us. If we’re killing each other, oppressing our women, and living for power and material wealth, then all the prayer in a lifetime will not mean a thing. I can’t help but wonder what the people depicted in the photos do when they’re not praying. For example, one of the photos included in the email was a group of people praying in the snow on a mountaintop. (see below) Take a close look. Go ahead, look and come back. Did you see it? What’s beside the imam? A GUN. There is a gun resting beside the man who is praying in the front.

Ok, I understand that there are wars going on in Muslim lands, and that soldiers have to pray too. But, still. There is something to be said about praying and having the intention to kill moments later. Is that what Islam boils down to? Maybe if Islam is being repressed, and Muslims are defending themselves against an attacker, then retaliation can be acceptable. But many wars these days are fought based on a nationalistic agenda and NOT Islam. (Iraq being a prime example.) Then again, I must pause for a moment. I don’t intend on passing judgement on people based on a photo, and I have no idea what they’re going through. I just wanted to express what the image said to me, namely that our problems won’t be solved by remembering to pray if we don’t understand the meaning behind prayer. Before we remind Muslims of the rituals of Islam, I think we need to remind them of the humanity of Islam. Once our hearts are in the right place, the rituals will inevitably follow. –OJprayer12.jpg

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King Kong

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If I died now, I think I’d be pretty pleased. Honestly. I’ve done a lot of things with my life thus far, and I’m pretty content. I only have two things left to do:1) get married and have children, but then again i don’t know if I want to bring children into this shitty world, and marriage seems to complicate people’s relationship. Can’t people maintain a commitment and fidelity, but not necessarily see each other every single day for the rest of their lives? Are people really that fickle that they can’t maintain common decency without having to make a vow (a vow which nobody seems to follow, anyway)? Does anyone truly believe that humans were meant to be attached to the hip ( apart from Aristophanes)? 2) Go to Mecca, which will probably be worthless, because I will probably end up cursing every single person there for the constant shoving, stampeding and overall retardedness that goes on during Hajj.

I’m babbling, now, for this is just an introduction leading me to the incitement that boiled everything over and led me to believe my death a blessing. This catalyst is the cover of this month’s vogue magazine and the countless people who are bitching and whining about the subconscious racial theme behind it. If you haven’t heard the argument, it goes as follows: Lebron James is featured on the cover of Vogue magazine grimacing, while dribbling a basketball in one hand and carrying popular model Gisele in his other arm. (see photo below) The problem? People are comparing this image of a “savage” black man with a white woman to the image of King Kong carrying Ann Darrow. So I ask myself….WHY?? When I first saw the cover, I thought: Oh cool, Lebron James is on the cover. Where’s the racism? Honestly. Who’s being the racist? The person putting the photo on the cover, or the person interpreting the photo as some sort of racist slander (Most of whom, I gather, are black people)? I understand the concept of racial undertones, and making the black man seem savage to the public. But in this instance, it just doesn’t apply. Take a look at the photo below and tell me if Gisele looks like she’s as terrified as she’d be if she were in the arms of a savage. I think not. Why point it out? Why not embrace it and say “Wow, Lebron gets the girl and he’s fierce with the basketball! (making a face he makes often times during a basketball game, as do many basketball players of both races)” This would cause people to see the photo in a different light, rather than direct them to the interpretation that would be harmful. Really. If people see the photo and think of King Kong, then that’s a problem that needs to be addressed by society, and is not the responsibility of Vogue.

Another point brought up by the cover’s critics is that Vogue had many different photos to choose from and deliberately chose this one. For example, there was a solo photo of Lebron holding a basketball, and another of a more sophisticated Lebron with Gisele. So why choose the one they chose? WHO CARES. Magazines companies choose covers to sell magazines. Period. Its Vogue magazine for God’s sake! They can choose whichever photo they want and put it on there. There’s no reference to King Kong in the wording of the cover, or any reference to savage beasts whatsoever. As said above, if you see it and think Lebron James looks like King Kong, the problem isn’t with Vogue, the problem is with YOU.

Racism is a prominent problem in the US, I don’t doubt that. The Jena 6, Katrina, and Obama have all brought that idea to the forefront. suggesting this cover evokes a message of “the savage black man kidnapping the beautiful white woman” only perpetuates that racism. Perhaps if these critics said something positive about the cover, that sort of racism would dissipate.Maybe I’m just being naive, that I’m not seeing the big picture of the constant demonizing of the black culture, or the minority in society. Or maybe I’m just being overly optimistic in thinking that our society can rise above constantly seeing stereotypes.

One final point that I’ll mention, but do not necessarily believe. Is it possible that minorities relish the thought of being a minority? Yes, being a minority entitles one to certain benefits. Yes, minorities do have the short end of the stick and deserve compensation because of it. However, playing the victim card all time is just silly. –OJ
March Issue of Vogue

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Obamamamamma

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I was one of the first to declare my backing of Obama, not for the outstanding orator that he is, but for his appeal to the people. One of the key points he made one year ago, when he announced his candidacy was that it is up to the people to declare change. it is up to the people to make that change, not the politicians. It is this sentiment that encourages me to support Obama. He calls for people to mobilize. He calls for people to participate. This is the essence of what democracy is. We are not to follow our leaders blindly, but to participate wholeheartedly in the politics that rule the land we live in. And if anyone is going to inspire people to participate it is Obama.

After 8 years of being told what we want by an administration that was wrong on so many occasions, we need a President who will bring people to the forefront and give the power to them. Obama has mentioned on many occasions that people need to get off their lazy asses, stop complaining and, to quote Ghandi, “be the change they want to see in the world.” It is clear during this primary season, after record voter turnouts in state after state, that this future plebian participation is coming true. On a side note however, it is disappointing that Obama must ignore the support of Muslim Americans to keep up appearances. I’m not saying the disappointment lies with him alone, but more so the media who seem to suggest that being Muslim is a negative thing for a candidate. The fact that Obama is forced to parade his Christian belief to convince people that he’s worth voting for is disheartening. And then to top it off when people finally do accept his faith, that he is “Christian enough”, they then begin to criticize his pastor for a couple comments he made in the heat of some sermons over his 36 year tenure at the Church. (Comments, which happen to have some truth in them if I’m going to be honest.) Obama, however, took that criticism and shoved it down the throats of viewers in a fantastic display of patriotism and knowledge of the system that cannot be described, but only watched and heard with one’s own eyes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWe7wTVbLUU

A disappointment that I must confess, however, is Obama’s unfortunate support of a terrorist state that has been consistently violating international law for years. To not accept the right of the return of Palestinian refugees is to blatantly ignore UN mandate, and puts Obama in a class of politicians, I wish he’d step away from.http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1201523779464&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFullThen again, he was never known for his foreign policy prowess, and upon further investigation may change his mind. He has to get elected first, after all. And we all know who’s butt you gotta kiss for that to happen. but the simple fact that a black man who spent his youthful years outside of the United States, who spent his formidable years during and after law school to help a community through his talent of arbitration and mediation, can become the President of the United States sends a message to every other nation in the world. He doesn’t even have to do anything. He can just sit in the oval office. his mere presence in the White House will speak volumes. Besides, his position of dialogue with our “enemies” promotes hope and is unmatched by any of the other candidates, and in my opinion, is a message we need to be sending to the world.

All this talk about the issues is, believe it or not, not important. There will be advisors, and cabinet members, and economists, and the Congress and Senate, and many other people who are there to give Obama the information necessary to come to a decision. And that is where Obama’s strength lies: decision making. Besides, Hillary has been tested, and to me she has failed, whether it be her participation in NAFTA, voting for the Iraq war (or the idea of giving the president any type of authority that was given to, of all people, President Bush), or her inability to bring the parties together in order to back a healthcare plan. McCain has my utmost respect as a human being. He has been through a lot, and has given a lot to this country, but he still represents a paradigm that is long gone and it is time to look to the future. And if there’s any concern over Obama losing to McCain, all you need to do is look at a photo of them side by side. If there ever was a representation of a past status quo candidate vs. a future “change” candidate, that would be it. –OJ

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Baby bottle fatwas

Osama views the baby bottle as a “symbol of Western decadence.” This is the sort of ideology our government’s foreign policy is fueling and giving credibility to. Be worried.

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Why are we still supporting Israel?

After cold-bloodedly killing over 100 Palestinians, Israel finally pulled out of Gaza today. Israel’s actions are of course nothing short of terrorism. A suicide bomber can walk into the middle of a crowd and explode himself, or a high tech bomber can fly overhead and drop devastation to entire street blocks, no matter. The reckless disregard displayed for so many innocent lives is inherently the same. How a country can get away with inflicting acts of terrorism on an entire people for over four decades remains mind boggling, only if there’s an assumption of morality and fairness guiding America’s foreign policy. But even if we are to accept that the world superpower has been seeking to secure its interests in the region and aiming for maximum profit at the expense of human rights and international law, that no longer helps to explain our unswerving support. Not unless America has a death wish. The relationship between our countries no longer has its benefits, if it ever did. If Israel stood as a buffer against pan-Arabism and Islamic movements, its intended role has lost its utility and even backfired, serving to galvanize the Muslim world around extremist ideology that speaks to their rage and frustrations. Time and time again, polls and studies reveal that across the Middle East the primary issue concerning people remains the Israeli occupation and American indifference. By supporting their dictators and oppressors, we only give the people of that region the choice of accepting their lot or turning to radicalism as protest.

Interesting to note that amidst this international crisis, the two democratic candidates have said nothing about the situation. I understand that it’s a dumb political move to upset the Jewish voting bloc, but come on, not even an acknowledgment of the crisis? Perhaps a brief comment on one of the most paramount issues an incoming President will be dealing with? That’s very disturbing. Is the Muslim voting bloc that insignificant in their eyes? Don’t answer that. But really, what are we doing wrong as a bloc? Are we supporting the wrong party? Not investing enough money in candidates? Not lobbying adequately? Maybe I expect too much from a group that has only recently found its voice and is relatively young in the game.

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