Thursday, September 28, 2006

Real Men?

Yesterday as I drove home from work as usual I was listening to "The Power" on XM radio, and they were wrapping up a discussion about what is a real man. I began to think more and more on the subject and realized I never really pondered this myself. I mean after all, I'm a man, so what makes a "real man"? The most I ever heard about the subject came from my uncle when I was 15 or so. I distinctly remember him telling me and my cousins that a man isn't defined by age, but more so by his responsibilities. He went on to add, once you have your own everything, and take care of it, then you begin to understand manhood. I knew that this was a covert criticism of one of my younger uncles, who at 26 or so, was still living home with grandma. Either way, I got the gist of the discussion, and to make a long story short, that was the last time I actually thought about it.

Over the years I have tried to be responsible and self-sufficient. I joined the Marine Corps fresh out of high school at 17 and I have been on my own ever since. I never borrowed money from my parents, and for the most part have been 100% self sufficient. It never once crossed my mind if these actions proved my "manhood" or not. Until yesterday that is.

Most have said and do say that I'm a "good" man. I mean, I'm on my second marriage, my 3rd serious relationship, and all the women I have ever been in a relationship with, well for the most part would agree that I have been honorable and took great care of them. I'm currently married with 5 little boys my marriage is happy and fun, we are doing good some would say great for a 25yr old with my "circumstances". I'm not trying to toot my own horn, just reflecting and wondering aloud of course, if this defines manhood.

As I went into reflection, as I often do these days, I realized the best and only way to define manhood for me would be in the context of my religious beliefs. It should be of no surprise to the readers of the blog and those that know me personally, that I context everything in accordance with my religion. So I sought out the Quran and decided to see what is said about this subject. What I came up with was various passages, that I believe would clear this question up, or at least place me in the right direction.

Allah declares in the Quran:

"Men are the maintainers and protectors of Women". 4:34

"tell them that I have not created the invisible beings and men to any end other than that they may know and worship Me." 51:56

"then He forms him in accordance with what he is meant to be, and breathes into him of His spirit: and thus, O men, He endows you with hearing, and sight, and feelings as well as minds: yet how seldom are you grateful!"32:9

So from this I derived these thoughts: A "real man" protects and maintains women, knows and worships God, and lives in accordance to that which God created him to be.

This is obviously a "meaty" subject, actually more so than I originally intended as I began typing these thoughts, so its probably easier if I handle these three verses separately.

Men are the Protectors and Maintainers of Women

In my opinion a "real man" ensures that women have the rights endowed upon them from God to be free. That means they should be free to worship how they want, study how they want, work how they want etc. The maintenance part comes in through our support physically, mentally, and spiritually. Anytime we are non-supportive to our wives, sisters, mothers, or women in general, we are not maintaining them. Anytime especially as married men, we don't financially support our wives in a manner that gives her the freedom to choose or do what she pleases, we are not maintaining properly. Proper maintenance of a women to me, is when she is secure. Security means different things for different people and especially women, but the basics tend to be food, finances, and shelter. We must ensure women have places to live, food to eat, and the necessary finances to pursue her endeavours, whatever they may be. There really is no way around this, especially as a Muslim. That is why the Prophet of Islam(saw) instructed us men to only get married once we can afford it. A woman should only work when she wants to. She is our first teacher, leader, and guide, if we have her burdened because of our lack of maintenance, what happens to the next generation? Better yet, what has happened to the next generation? Protection of women is also physical, mental, and spiritual. Domestic violence is out of hand. There should never be a reason to put your hands on a woman. She is not your child, she is your equal and the mother of civilization. How can you put your hands on the woman God created as your direct equal? That's a slight against God, for without the women, where would we be? Verbal abuse is just as bad. I'm not going to go too deep with this, but when you see her, you should see all that is right with creation, for without her, nothing could continue. It is only through her that we begin to unravel the mysteries of God, which is actually locked away in her womb. Would you disrespect God? We have allowed our women to become mere objects, some would debate the responsibilities in this matter, but I'm putting it on us. Let me be blunt for a moment: Turn on your TV. Do you think for one minute that Mary the Mother of Jesus(saw) would be caught looking like that on television? Would you want to see your mother, sister, niece, aunt, etc. on the television shaking there backsides? Then why would you allow or even tolerate someone else,s family doing it? The mark of the believer is that they want for their brother what they have for themselves. So if its not OK for your daughter, why should it be alright for mine? I used Mary as an example, because we are taught in Islam that she was the most righteous woman to have walked the Earth and is an example to women and the world. We should support our women in such a way that they want to emulate Mary who through her all nations were blessed, instead of wanting our women to only fulfill our carnal and low desires. You can judge a nation and civilization by the way they treat their women. If this is in fact the true criterion, how would we measure up?

Knowledge and Worship of God

Brief and to the point. You can't know where your going until you understand where you have been. When we reflect on our origins, ancestry, etc. how can we not look back in awe. What's even greater than that awe is that there is an Active force behind it all that make all that we imagine possible. Why shouldn't you reverence that? Why shouldn't you reverence the Creator and Origin of all that is? Leaders must also be lead and are judged by that which they follow. If the head of life is not that which Originated you, or you don't even feel the need to respect and reverence your Origin, why should one follow you, if they rely on you to show them the way. If you don't even reverence where you came from, who wants a leader who can't possibly know where they are going? The study and knowledge of who we are and where we came from ends up with God. That knowledge should lead us to worship God. A "real man" in this instance, is one who has sense of direction, drive, and knows where he has been. Based off that knowledge, he knows where he is going. A "real man" has aim and purpose in life and has a plan, because we all know those who fail to plan, plan to fail. If God isn't what you reverence, isn't your center, or that which directs your life, than who or what is?

A "Real Man" lives in accordance to that which God created him to be

You have all read it before, maybe in different books, scriptures, etc. but the message in any form is consistent. From the Bible to the Quran and everywhere in between, we are told that God created us in His image and likeness, we should have the mind that was in Jesus(saw), or we were created to stand in the place of God on Earth. This is a great task and serious undertaking. What is this "image" of God that we are created in? What is this "mind" that Jesus(saw) had that we should have? What does it mean to stand in the place of God? I have been taught that God=force+power. Therefore, anything that exercises force and power over something else can for all intensive purposes, be a god. Anytime your environment controls you, whatever in that environment that exercises force and power over you is your god. If you can't look at another without sexual intention, lust is your god. If you can't be faithful to your spouse of significant other, sex has become your god. If you can't function without the desire for more money and things, greed amongst others is your god. That addiction or habit you can't seem to break, is your god. If we are created in the "image" of God then that means we have the ability to create and destroy within the context of our present reality. That means that our environment shouldn't change us, but we should change our environment and create and destroy it according to our will. The mind we should have that Jesus(saw) had is that of submission. It was due to his submission and faith that all thing were possible by him and through him. If we had that mind, our potential would be limitless. We are are own worst enemies. When we start to act in accordance with these rules we become the men we were created to be. We can stand in the place of God on Earth in our homes, neighborhoods, and lives. We can be the masters of our universe. "Real Men" realize their potential, actively pursue it, and use it in such a way, to create and environment pleasing to God. Life is what we make it, literally. We have the power, but we have to recognize it and use it. We humans reverence or at least should, all that God created so it makes sense to follow Him, what do you suppose would happen if we became god in our lives? Do you think our homes would be broken? Do you think our neighborhoods would be filled with crime? Do you think society would be the way it is?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Religion in American Politics

OK, lets face the facts, the majority of Americans are religious. Granted, the extent of which is diverse, however, most identify themselves as being a member of a religion. The question remains how do you best utilize this information in politics? Or better yet, should we? I believe that we should use this information to bring people together on common ground and to make a better nation. However, I don't believe we should use religion to divide people. The other fact is that while the majority is religious, there is still a minority who is not. The great thing about this nation is that the minority is given a voice and the same should ring true when it comes to religion in politics.

Why do I bring all this up? Well its quite simple, if you have been alive and aware the last five years, its become increasingly clear that certain elements have formed a radical religious movement that seeks to paint America in their image. The biggest problem with that is that they are very divisive, are against inclusion, and of course radical. The truth of the matter is that there are serious side effects of this "your either with us or against us" philosophy and one of the major effects is that people becoming more religious for the good and the bad of the country. I believe this trend is across the board without regard to political party affiliation, but its the manipulation of these trends that are at times scary.

Today, I was listening to CNN and they were talking about "Jesus Camp" a new documentary about a camp where Evangelical Christian kids go, and to be blunt about it, get indoctrinated. They represent the tomorrow of what we see today. This movement is anti anything that doesn't believe how they believe, and whats worse, they wield political power.

Now I don't like to take party sides, as my views are both conservative and liberal, but I have to admit the GOP has a strangle-hold on this issue and its been a successful advantage they have held over the heads of the democratic party. I believe that its high time democrats get a backbone and profess their religious beliefs to counter the republicans to at the very least, provide some balance where there is none.

Personally, I don't think what the religious right does or believes is in accordance to the essence of what Jesus(saw) actually taught. They seem very zealous, however its a dangerous zeal that is void of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. No one seems to have the courage in politics to ask questions like what would Jesus do?

Would Jesus be for divisive and dismissive behavior toward those that don't believe the same? Would he be inclusive, compassionate, and understanding? How would he feel about going to war with countries that haven't attacked us? What would he say about placing sanctions, embargoes, etc. on countries that weaken and kill, because we don't like them? What would he say about the crime, homelessness, hunger, corruption, etc that we see in America?

We have a "leadership" that professes to be followers of Christ, yet their lip service doesn't produce any actions that are scripturally sound. You have so-called Christian leaders calling for the assassination of heads of state, celebrating others illnesses, and calling others belief systems and Prophets evil and Satanic. You have mega churches now full of wealth, primarily for those that head them, in neighborhoods, where people can barely afford to eat or eat at all.

Now I don't want people to think I'm beating up on Christians for two reasons: First and foremost, if there was a growing Jewish or Muslim movement that had such political power and leaders in place and were guilty of the same things, I would be just as critical.

Now some may raise the BS flag because I haven't said a peep about AIPAC or the ADL for instance, and while I do hold strong opinions of their actions, as you know as a Muslim who is also black, the very moment I say a word against those groups, I will be labeled an Anti-Semite, so rather than go down that road, just know, that the same things I dish out about Evangelicals, I also hold these beliefs about other groups as well.

Secondly, these guys are not even Christians anyway in my humble opinion. I have been to Church, grew up in the Church, and was raised as a Christian by a Pastor, long enough to see in scripture that they are pseudo-Christians at best.

Lets be honest, if you care more about what others do and believe, rather than helping the poor, the sick, etc. you are already on that downward slope of being anti-Christ. The moment you can hate someone because they are different or believe different, the moment you believe in building bigger churches and helping the wealthy, the more you believe in racist and supremacist ideals, the moment you can not care about the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives because they believe something else or supposedly "hate you", you are increasingly showing that you are adverse to that which you profess.

Its time for those in politics to not run from religion, but to embrace it, but embrace it in a way where truth is separated from falsehood. We should call people on their beliefs, especially when they use them to try and get some political advantage. If religion truly guided politicians we could be a prosperous, tolerant, peaceful society, for all citizens no matter what. But the proof is in the pudding and we see what the reality is.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Minister Farrakhan's Illness

Luke 6:45 NIV

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

I must admit that I'm saddened and hurt at what I have seen today on the Internet. I haven't truly followed this story, but I decided to do a search and see what's going on. I have witnessed so much hate and vile today that I can't even think of a time that I had this much revulsion for the prospect of a better human mind and heart.

My main drive has always been my faith in God and my desire to serve Him by serving man. I know the road is rough and it is troubled. I know that sometimes I get weary, but most go on. And even though, I have been called many names, my beliefs and religion questioned, insults slung at me and my faith, etc. I have always took it in stride, because I believe in a God that transcends the wickedness present in the hearts of some men.

I always dust my self off and keep going with an optimism that many call too rosy in a time like this.

Every now and then my spirit is dragged down just a little by things like that I have read today.

From many corners on the net, all afternoon I have read nothing but cheering, jeering, insults, and outright hate speech from people of all colors and backgrounds as they celebrated the illness and possible death of NOI leader Minister Farrakhan. One has to question the morality of people that could cheer on someone else's death in general let alone this man. Granted, Farrakhan is no saint, and I don't agree with all that he says either, but here we are in a nation that people want to say is inhabited by "civilized" people, yet these same people mock and cheer on someones illness.

I know there is evil and wickedness in the world, some of it I viewed today, but what saddens me the most is that many of the comments come from those who by definition declare to be followers of Jesus(saw), Moses(saw), and even Muhammad(saw). I'm sorry I have to say it, but anyone who speaks in the manner some have spoken about Farrakhan and his illness do not represent these great messengers of God, nor are they in accordance with the will of God.

Words are a reflection of what is already in the heart and mind, if you can say these vile things about anyone let alone Farrakhan, as Solomon(saw) wrote in Proverbs "a fool's mouth is his undoing". These words reveal the wheat from the tares, and to claim God with a heart like this is utter hypocrisy. A true believer, wants for his/her brother or sister what he has for himself. No true believer wishes harm on any in the whole of humanity, even if it is there enemy.

Personally, I pray for the Minister that he gets well, Insha' Allah(If it be the will of God). For I remember a time when I sat in NOI classrooms learning and becoming more disciplined as a man of faith, I remember drug addicts, felons, prostitutes, etc. reforming through the work of the NOI and becoming chaste, disciplined, respectful men and women of God. I saw this with my own eyes, I know their work, I have seen and heard the Minister in person, and even though I may disagree with his stance on my issues, there is no way, I could wish any harm on that man and to do so is not only sick and cowardly, it exposes the contempt not only for Farrakhan but also for his message and those who support him and were changed for the better because of him.

So when his illness is mocked and possible death cheered, I can only see it as a personal insult to me and an insult to the millions that have heard him speak and support him and I am obviously one of them.

So say what you will, but hypocrisy is hypocrisy, and I don't mind calling a spade a spade, because I would rather die on truth than falsehood and injustice, and to call this man out like this especially at a time like this is wicked and evil, plain and simple.

So for those of you that wish the Minister goes to Hell, if that be Allah's will, then you will soon be there with him.

Lead, Follow, or Get out the way

I Can't say why this phrase came into my mind today. Nevertheless, I'm certain that its an appropriate phrase to describe the current state of affairs, not just in religion, but also politics, and various other socio-economic idioms.

The first time I ever heard this phrase was in the Marine Corps, and to me it symbolizes the very essence of all that I believe as it relates to life.

To me, stagnation is equivalent to death, because something with no aim nor purpose is for all intensive purposes dead and void of life. We live in a universe full of motion and it would be unnatural to be beings that are against motion. Everything lives under the laws of cause and effect, pushing and pulling, ying and yang, etc. Therefore, our individual beliefs as it relates to our personal philosophies, choices, and life must follow these same laws.

Leadership is strongly needed in this world today especially, in the realm of politics and religion, two subjects I frequent if you haven't noticed. But what kind of leadership is needed and how do we describe that leadership in the first place? I have been taught that leadership is the ability to effectively influence a unit or bloc of people and move them from one place to another in a variety of fashions or means. If this is in truth the definition of leadership, than what kind of "influence" must the said leader have and what kind of "people" will be moved by it?

A good leader is also a good follower. In order to lead, one must know how to follow. How can we expect others to be of service when we have never served ourselves? The true test and question is what are you following in the first place? An effective leader follows a principle or set of principles that instills within them with a sense of duty that makes them eager to serve in a capacity so great that this becomes the forethought of every action they take. These principles are so great that they manifest to such a degree that others pick up on this and want to follow this particular individual.

Granted, I'm just quoting and re-hashing things that many may already know and believe, but I think that in a time like this, we have to seriously engage this subject, because it effects our everyday lives.

There are core values and principles that I think we all should adhere to. In the Marine Corps, we identify these as Honor, Courage, and Commitment. A strong leader or I dare say a great leader, should exude these characteristics and or traits, and be a dedicated adherent to these as an everyday philosophy.

Honor can be summed up in two words: Justice and Integrity.

A leader must have the capacity to be able to see the world and people in such a way that they realize the universal need and urge for balance. Balance is only maintained by justice and integrity. In the political sphere, we see increasingly that things are neither just nor fair, and we all know that most politicians have thrown integrity out the window a long time ago. How can we continue to stomach the systems under which we subject ourselves to or associate ourselves with that no longer if ever, represents the needs of the people? What good is pseudo representation? The masses cry out in one direction, yet the "leadership" steers us in another direction, I don't see the justice in that. In religion, especially my own, we have allowed wolves to lead the sheep. These wolves only seek to devour and conquer. How can we say we represent a God of Peace, and we do, if we allow these wolves to show and do otherwise? This is not just in Islam, but Christianity, Judaism, and many others. Peace, true peace can only reside in a world where there is justice and integrity. Any leader that doesn't understand and actively engage in this, my dear friends isn't just the opposite of a leader but is lacking seriously, in the honor department.

Courage is having the quality of mind or spirit that enables one to move forward, even in the face of adversity no matter how great or small the odds.

It should be of no surprise that all the characteristics and ideas I have expressed so far involve motion. A leader must move forward, if they plan on leading effectively. In order to move forward one must espouse courage. There are times in life when we feel too tired, we just want to give up, and we question the road ahead because of the difficulty that awaits us. It is in these times when we must press on. In the Bible, it is written that we should let this mind be in us as it was in Jesus. One of the first questions we should be asking as it relates to this verse, is what was the mind of Jesus that we should have? What we read of Jesus, whether we believe in him or not, was that he had the mind to move ahead, stay the course, and press on regardless of adversity. He believed in his mission so much that even at the threat of death he did not waver. His message was one of peace and paradise, he wanted to restore the balance of humanity, and at all costs he pressed on with this mission. Who are we, that we don't have the courage and conviction to say what needs to be said in a time like this? Is our faith in our beliefs so weak, that we fall not only silent, but become prey for our enemies? Isn't it about time that we choose or become leaders that have the courage to look adversity in the eye and speak the truth of peace and justice, no matter what? This is what we should earnestly seek and what we must earnestly demand. Any who compromise in this area, is not worthy of leadership.

Commitment is a pledge, promise, or obligation.

I don't have to go in depth on this one, but what good is a leader that doesn't keep their word? In politics especially here in America, our "leaders" swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Any leader that does other than that isn't worthy of their position, rank, or title. If I cant trust you to keep your oath, than how can I trust you to make decisions on my behalf? In religion, our "leaders" profess and sometimes take an oath that they will express and act in accordance with the teachings of their religion. I have yet to study a religion or system of belief that doesn't believe that the Supreme Being, God is a Merciful, Just, and Peaceful God. Granted there are a few "fringe" groups like Satanists...but you get where I'm going with this. Any Rabbi, Priest, Minister, or Imam, that speaks or teaches anything other than Mercy, Justice, and Peace, is not only not of God, but are open adversaries of God. We should not allow for such leaders that openly break their commitment and yet say they act on our behalf or our beliefs. If we allow such, what does that say about us?

Everyone believe it or not, is a leader. There are just different levels in which we lead. Everyone is also a follower in which the same is also true. Just as we should examine who we allow to lead us, we must also examine ourselves to see why we are lead and if that "leader" is really representing us or what we believe. Either way, leading or following are paths of motion, even if it is backward, God forbid, but it is motion nevertheless, and where there is motion, their is life and the potential there of.

If we have become so content or so stagnant that we don't do either, then we ought to get out the way, and just exist as the zombies we are, the living dead. We live in a culture of death that promotes the adverse of life and increases the lethargic activities that lead to physical and mental death.

We are a humanity in need of two things: Leaders and Followers. However, we have to be willing to do what is necessary to establish virtuous leadership and followers, we have to have the Honor to know which is which, the Courage to point out the difference, and the Commitment to follow through. Otherwise, we will just be as it is written in the scripture as tinkling brass and symbols, pleasant sounding entertainment.

For us Muslims this is Ramadan. Ramadan is supposed to be a time of introspection. The physical fast is in truth, more spiritual than anything else. This is the time when we are supposed to be training our minds to have the discipline to act in accordance with what we believe. Controlling ones lower desires, hunger, lust, etc. gives us the ability to express the higher desires or oneness with our Creator and exemplify Peace, which is the result of Freedom, Justice, and Equality for all Humanity. If these things aren't on our agenda, its time to take a serious look in the mirror. These things have to be on our agenda.

If we aren't for the oppressed, if we aren't for the abused women and children, if we aren't for the homeless, hungry, sick and shut in, if we are not for Justice, Freedom, and Equality for all of Humanity no matter the ethnicity, nationality, or ideology, then we must accept our choices and the consequences thereof, most importantly we have to decide to and recognize that its time to Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way...

Peace be with you and yours,

Ramadan Mubarak

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

God will not change the condition of a people until they change

13:10 It is all alike to Him whether any of you conceals his thought or brings it into the open, and whether he seeks to hide his evil deeds under the cover of night or walks boldly in the light of day,

13:11 thinking that he has hosts of helpers-both such as can be perceived by him and such as are hidden from him that could preserve him from whatever God may have willed. Verily, God does not change men's condition unless they change their inner selves; and when God wills people to suffer evil in consequence of their own evil deeds, there is none who could avert it for they have none who could protect them from Him.

13:12 HE IT IS who displays before you the lightning, to give rise to both fear and hope,
and calls heavy clouds into being;

Above is the English translation of Surah(chapter) Ar-Ra'd(The Thunder) Ayah's(verses) 10-13 from the Muhammad Asad translation.

My purpose for posting these scriptures is to give an in depth view into my perception as it relates to the plight of Muslims today in light of the current controversy that I spoke in length in my "Muslim Disappointment" blog 9/15/06. Now, my wife among others were a little "disturbed" about my expression:

"I cannot see why we are so upset with the Pope and are not upset with ourselves. In truth, I don't blame the Pope. He should talk about us, somebody should, because we obviously don't have the courage to talk about it. 1.5 billion weak individuals, we deserve what we get, "

In my wife's defense, after explaining my understanding of the Quranic text, she could see where I was going with this. What many don't know, is that I try with the best of my reasoning and knowledge to express myself in the context of the Quran whenever I speak or write. I rarely if ever, express a view that is not congruent with the intention or understanding of the Quran. The above expression, once taken apart, can be easily understood once you see the ayat.

My fellow Muslims, it has increasingly become clear that this is a time for action. We love to blame others for our shortcomings, but rarely look in the mirror. I was disheartened and very upset after learning about the reactions to the Pontiff's speech. We, and I say we, because we are one Ummah, looked like complete idiots. Here you have the Pope, commenting in so many words what can be translated to mean that Islam produces violence, and how do we respond? Calling for the death of the Pope, riots, and the death of a Nun and God only knows what else wasn't reported.

This is what I meant when I questioned our logic into getting upset in the first place. Benjamin Franklin once said "do not throw stones at your neighbor, especially if your house is made of glass". Muslims, what kind of house are we keeping today? Is it clean? Is it made of brick? In Indonesia for instance, three Christians face execution, now one can debate why that is, but you and I both know that it might have more to do with the fact that they are Christians and less to do with the crime.

This mess, this garbage, that we have allowed to fester in our house is what is causing us to receive the eviction notice. Its the reason the lights are being cut off and the pests are roaming rampant.

Lets examine just the Ayats I posted:

13:10 It is all alike to Him whether any of you conceals his thought or brings it into the open, and whether he seeks to hide his evil deeds under the cover of night or walks boldly in the light of day,

We would be foolish and outright spreading falsehood if we didn't acknowledge the evil among us. Do you think that just because we pretend or don't acknowledge its presence that others don't see it especially God? Muslims are commanded to destroy evil and falsehood and replace it with which is better. How many of us in the sight of Allah(swt) can say that we are guilty of doing this righteous deed?

13:11 thinking that he has hosts of helpers-both such as can be perceived by him and such as are hidden from him that could preserve him from whatever God may have willed. Verily, God does not change men's condition unless they change their inner selves; and when God wills people to suffer evil in consequence of their own evil deeds, there is none who could avert it for they have none who could protect them from Him.

Look at our condition. Granted in some nations and countries around the world we live pretty well and comfortable. However, did not the Prophet(saw) say that a Muslim wants for his brother what he has for himself? We are ONE Ummah, with ONE faith, and submit to ONE Lord of ALL the Worlds. How can we live in peace while our brothers die daily in the streets? How can we allow the persecution of women and children. Much of the suffering comes from who? Not America, not the West, but ourselves.

I'm not denying the involvement of others nor the history of the world, but one has to start at home first. If we were a strong Ummah that reflected the best of mankind these things would not be able to exist! I can't say it enough, look at Darfur!!!! Muslims killing Muslims brothers and sisters!!!! And this is not just in the Sudan, but all across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. We have vast resources yet where does all this oil money go?

Here we are approaching Ramadan. How can we fast one day, without considering the children who don't even have food at all? We are supposed to be a shining example, but we don't exemplify the religion that was revealed that says women and men are equal. We don't exemplify the religion that revealed that the taking of one life is like the killing of all mankind.

Why, Why, Why? Why do we allow this? This is a call to action.

Everyday we allow our brethren to protest against the West or some insult without protesting our own governments, everyday a Muslim woman is beaten, raped, or killed, everyday a child starves and dies, everyday a Muslim commits suicide in bombings, everyday a Muslim commits an act of terror, everyday we allow these things we are hastening our reward with Allah(swt).

Until we network and build the alliances needed to repair our house, until we make the effort to protect the rights of all men and women regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or nationality, until we truly live and represent this deen night and day, then and only then will Allah(swt) help us.

All we have to do is take one step. Every journey begins with the mind to go forward, then the head calls the body into motion, and one step becomes two, and an inch becomes a mile, and before you know it, Peace will cross the globe and the children of Abraham(saw) will establish that which was revealed to them, and we don't have to agree, but we can live in respect and peace.

13:12 HE IT IS who displays before you the lightning, to give rise to both fear and hope,and calls heavy clouds into being;

Which of the favors of God will we continue to deny? Let us take this current turmoil, this current controversy, this current lightning and reflect on the Majesty of our Lord. Let us submit and call to remembrance our many blessings. Let us not only use these events as a warning to be feared, but let us also use it as a sign to give us hope. Lightening comes before the Thunder, and let us pray that we see this Light in this Darkness and make the righteous decisions that will allow us to advert the Thunder and the Storm. Ameen.

Brothers and sisters, the choice is ours. We can choose to be silent or we can choose to be heard. Whatever, our choice, know that we are rewarded not on just what we thought, but also what we actually did.

49:13 O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female,and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.

May Allah bless and keep you,

As Salaam Alaikum

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Relations with Christians according to Muhammad

Now these are not my words, so Im not counting this as a second post today. Just an interesting article from an Islamic scholar that I felt I should add for any of those who still believe otherwise...

Under the guidance of Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church provided significant leadership in promoting peace, justice and harmony among religions. Now the new Pope, the most revered figure in the Catholic world, infallible to his followers and the representative of God to his co-religionist is choosing a path of dialogue with Muslims that seems disturbing.

In a recent speech he decided to quote a 14 century monarch in his argument about Jihad. The quote of the emperor was a political statement within the context of his relations with the emerging Ottoman dynasty, not worthy of giving any credibility. Yet, the Pope chose to repeat it.

If the speech writers of Pope Benedict XVI had looked at a book the "Spread of Islam in the World: A History of Peaceful Preaching", written by a prominent 19th century historian Professor Thomas Arnold, they might not have quoted the passage of the emperor.
Stronger than the book are the words of Prophet Muhammad himself with regard to Christianity. In 628 CE he sent a charter of freedom to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. If Pope Benedict XVI or his speech writers had looked at this document they would have found a different image of the Prophet.

Here is the letter written to the monks. This letter was written at a time when no one was talking about freedom of religion, pluralism or protection of human life.

"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.

No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.

Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."

Such were the memorable words of Prophet Muhammad in the year 628 CE, when he granted this historic document, also known as the Charter of Privileges, to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians living under Islamic rule, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.

In the spirit of this and numerous other authoritative Islamic texts, one wonders why contemporary policy makers in the West insist on supporting the secular, corrupt, and authoritarian regimes of the predominantly Muslim nations. What is the wisdom of allocating billions of dollars to overthrow, through well-crafted public and covert operations, the popularly and legitimately elected Muslim governments? Have the West's 'experts' on the Middle East, the Orientalists and the national security advisers hijacked Western political institutions as the latter hijacked the legitimate government of, for example, Iran's democratic Mosadeq regime, or the Algerian peaceful election that guaranteed Muslim control, and many more cases? Should the predominantly Christian West fear and fight genuine Islamic regimes or should it change its outlook by trusting those who uphold God's Words and Muhammad's commands above secular and cultural values?

The English translated text of the Charter of Privileges was extracted from the Book 'Muslim History: 570 - 1950 C.E.' by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, ZMD Corporation. P.O. Box 8231 - Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8231 - Copyright Akram Zahoor 2000. P. 167.

Saint Catherine Monastery is located in Egypt's Sani desert. Saint Catherine city is famous for its various sites, e.g. Firon village. Firon is considered a garden rich with the best kinds of fruits of special taste, such as apricots, peach and cantaloupe in addition to the best kind of olives. Furthermore, the city houses Maktab Valleys that is located near Maghara Valleys, besides thousands of unique historical engravings. Saint Catherine area encompasses many significant sites including al-Tarfas site that dates back to more than 30,000 years, and abu-Madis site that dates back to 10,000 years. The latter enjoys a world-wide fame, particularly among specialists, as it witnessed one of the major civilizational transformations from hunting and shooting to agriculture and grazing. In addition, Saint Catherine area is famous for the matchless locations of residential villages, dating back to thousands of years. These villages include Prophet Saleh's (PBUH) site, that is called al-Marwas, Sheikh Mohsens site, and Sheikh Awwads site. Alexandrian Saint.The Monastery was built in the 6th century A.D or the 4th century A.D., according to some sources. It is located at the foot of Mount Sinai on one of Wadi al-Sheikhs branches, and rises about 5012 feet above sea level. In 545 A.D, the Monastery was constructed by King Postilianos as a fortress for Sinai monks. It comprises several monuments that presumably date back to the Christ's era. In addition, the monastery houses a large library that is south of the big Church.It consists of three adjacent rooms and which comprises about 6000 old historical, geographical and philosophic manuscripts, written in Greek, Syriac and Arabic. Many of the monastery manuscripts were written in different languages other than Arabic. As for most of the Christian heritage, it was written in Arabic, especially the copies of the Old Testament and the New Testament (The Bible).With the help of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, a new museum has been recently inaugurated inside Saint Catherine Monastery. The new museum houses distinguished collections of rare books and volumes written in Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Latin and Arabic, and they date back to the first seven centuries A.D. Among the major acquisitions is an important document, dating back to the year 2 A.H. It is al-'Ohda al-Mohamadeyas; a document signed by Prophet Muhammad , to guarantee full protection for the monastery and Egypt's Christians. In 625 AD, the Popes of the old monastery went to Prophet Muhammad in Al-Madina, for discussion. The result of this discussion was this document.

Fortunately, all these acquisitions and monumental treasures were kept in a dry clean weather in the heart of Sinai desert for long centuries. Thus, they are still in a good condition. Furthermore, the monastery is notable for being a huge artistic, historic and religious wealth, including Bizantine icons that were painted by the monastery monks, dating back to the period from the 6th to the 9th centuries A.D. In addition, it houses several other historical manuscripts that serve as references about emperors, chief monks, leaders and sultans.

All these manuscripts date back to the period from the 4th to the 7th centuries A.D. Among the treasures found in the library is the time-honoured Syriac-registers that dates back to the year 400 A.D that was rewritten during the 7th and 8th centuries. Collections of manuscripts that total about 5000 copies are preserved in the library, dating back to the early years after the invention of printing. It goes without saying that the document of al-O'hda al-Mohamadeias, signed by Prophet Muhammad , is one of the most significant acquisitions in the library.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is Editor-in-Chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic society of Nevada, Las Vegas and acting president of the Muslim Council of America, a Washington-based newly formed groups of Muslim activists.

Clash of Civilizations?

I must admit, I'm perplexed by this train of thought. I mean, people are so scared about the big bad Islam these days, they seem to skip right over the historical obvious. If the "West" is supposedly a civilization versus "Islam" as the "other" that the West is "clashing" with, how can one reconcile that with history? Islam has not only been a part of Western History and society since it came into being, but also influenced all those things that we consider "civilized". It’s the same argument that my grandfather heard as a child that blacks in America contributed little or nothing to American "society" yet when one examines history and the facts, one will easily see that without black slaves, inventors, minds, etc. there wouldn't even be an America. The same goes with the new Islam contributed little or nothing to civilization mantra that's taking hold. If one examined history in the facts, it would be easy to find out that behind every Western science, mathematical schema, medicine, astronomy, etc. There is a Muslim author. Even the word Algebra for instance, is Arabic. Here's a little history for ya

"Algebra is a branch of mathematics concerning the study of structure, relation and quantity. The name Algebra (from Arabic: الجبر, al-jabr) is derived from the treatise written by the Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-kwārizmīA titled Al-Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala (meaning "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing"), which provided symbolic operations for the systematic solution of in Latin translation of his other major work on the Indian numerals, introduced the positional number system and the number zero to the Western world in the 12th century. The words ism algorism and algorithm stem from Algoritmi, the Latinization of his name. His name is also the origin of the Spanish word guarismo, meaning digit.

His major contributions to Islamic mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography and cartography provided foundations for later and even more widespread innovation in algebra, trigonometry, and his other areas of interest. His systematic and logical approach to solving linear and quadratic equations gave shape to the discipline of algebra, a word that is derived from the name of his 830 book on the subject, al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala (الكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة) or: "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing". The book was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century.

His book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825, was principally responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle-East and then Europe. This book also translated into Latin in the twelfth century, as Algoritmi de numero Indorum. From the name of the author, rendered in Latin as algoritmi, originated the term algorithm. Some of his contributions were based on earlier Persian and Babylonian Astronomy, Indian numbers, and Greek sources.

Al-Khwārizmī systematized and corrected . Ptolemy's data in geography as regards to Africa and the Middle east. Another major book was his Kitab surat al-ard ("The Image of the Earth"; translated as Geography), which presented the coordinates of localities in the known world based, ultimately, on those in the Geography of Ptolemy but with improved values for the length of the Mediterranean Sea and the location of cities in Asia and Africa.

He also assisted in the construction of a world map for the caliph al-Ma'mun and participated in a project to determine the circumference of the Earth, supervising the work of 70 geographers to create the map of the then "known world".

When his work was copied and transferred to Europe through Latin translations, it had a profound impact on the advancement of basic mathematics in Europe. He also wrote on mechanical devices like the astrolabe and sundial."

Now this is just ONE Muslim. If one truly sought out knowledge on such things, they would find a slew of Islamic pioneers in the fields that helped develop the "civilized" world. I used this Muslim as an example to prove that Islam and Muslims are very much a part of the "civilization" we supposedly are clashing with, because Islamic beliefs instilled in these Muslims help build it. That's like saying I’m clashing with my son's identity when I’m the one that gave him the life to have an identity.

We need to be cognizant of our ignorance and seek to destroy it. We are taught as Muslims to seek knowledge and the Quran is replete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshipping God in His Oneness. The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge. Such sayings of the Prophet as "Seek knowledge even in China", "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", and "Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets", have echoed throughout the history of Islam and incited Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a veritable celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books. Such cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of titles. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society.

The problem is that radicals in Islam, those who use violence, and terror have shaped or have helped shape an image that is incompatible with Islam. The truth of the matter is that these guys don't represent Islam or the truth thereof. Muslims who believe in the Quran as the word of God and strive to follow the example of the Prophet(saw) easily live in the West never losing their Muslim identity and beliefs. The numbers of Muslims in the West that are law-abiding citizens alone are staggering proof to refute the claim of a supposed "clash". How can we clash when we have been here from the beginning? Our existence here all this time proves there is no clash. It’s even that much disturbing for Americans to feed into this foolishness when Islam has been on these shores since they were colonies. Not just by the slaves, but the majority of the founders of this country were well acquainted with Islam and the Quran in one form of another and using some of it as allegorical symbolism in their "secret" affiliations, which culminated with the founding of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine i.e. Shriners. Now I’m not claiming or suggesting any direct affiliation with Islam by these groups, I will leave that to the conspiracy theorists, but what I am pointing out that at the bare minimum in order to use Islamic symbolism one has to know about Islam.

Without getting too deep into it, my point is simply this, Muslims have been an integral part of the West and Western "society" since its inception, so to claim that after centuries of existence now all of a sudden in the 21st century there is a "clash of civilizations" is not only false, but not historically factual.

The best one can say is that there is a clash in ideology and I would agree. The clash in ideology is between those of secularism and fanaticism. Not Islam, because fanatics don't represent a religion that teaches balance, tolerance, and submission.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Where do I stand?

This is the first time I actually blogged twice in one day, I normally "plan" to do one per day, Monday-Friday, but in this "rare" event, I felt the urge for two. This post was what I wanted to address today, but unfortunately, I felt compelled to add on to my feelings about this Pope thing. For the record, in case some wanted to know, I don't care for or want an apology from the Pope, as I said on the radio this morning for those that heard it, an apology is necessary when one makes an accident, when you do something unintentional and harm someone either directly or indirectly. The Pope knew exactly what he was doing and saying. It was a formal speech that was written, in advance and rehearsed. Not only that, this isn't the first time this particular Pope has said things of this nature, last year there were incidents, and before he was the Pope he openly criticized Pope John Paul II for his "openness" to embrace interfaith relationships with Muslims. For the record Pope John Paul II was the only Pope to ever visit a Mosque and pray, no wonder Muslims heads of state from all over the world attended his funeral, even that guy from Iran, by the way. Pope Benedict, openly opposes Turkey joining the EU and is highly critical of Islam and interfaith dialogue in general, unless in the case of the later, it is at least noted that Catholicism is the only "true" way to God, a complete 180 from Pope John Paul II, who believed that it was "one" way. But that's another discussion all together...

Anyway, the point of this post was to attempt to clarify my position(s) on many so-called hot button issues and debates. As many of you know by now, I do have political aspirations that God-willing will lead me to a position in the Senate. Therefore, its imperative in my opinion that I clear these things up, because for several years now I have been doing the MSG board, chat room, and general Internet thing, and God only knows how many have read what I wrote. So, I want those of you that do take the time out of your busy schedules to pay attention to me, for whatever reason, this is for you:

Iraq: I pray that this will be a non-issue when I do get into office, but for the record, I believe like most Americans that we went to war on false pretenses. Now, I really don't care how that came to be, whether the Intel was bad, whether it was a planned conspiracy, etc. The fact remains that there were many reasons why we went to Iraq many official and many not. Among them were:

alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction,
alleged ties to Al Qaeda and to international terrorism in general
confirmed ties to Hamas and other Palestinian organizations involved in suicide attacks
Iraqi repression and brutalization of its civilian population
Iraqi hostility toward the United States
Iraqi hostility toward UN sanctioned operations such as Operation Northern Watch, Operation Southern Watch
perceived Iraqi failure to cooperate with UN weapons inspections and disarmament procedures
Iraqi possession of Kuwaiti POW's
Iraqi violation of cease fire agreement
Attempted plot to kill former US president George H.W. Bush by Iraqi special service.

Either way, I felt then and now, the Iraq was not a dire threat to our National security, maybe a little more now, but in my opinion, I believe that North Korea and Iran are much higher in the pecking order than Iraq. Hell, a case can be made for Saudi Arabia, China, and others.

However, we are there now, and we have to fix this mess we created. I believe our best course of action is to pull out to the boarders and coastal areas, maintaining a presence but not on the ground, with the condition that Iraq clean herself up with the aid of other regional countries. We should only monitor what goes on in the event of a collapse or the rise of a Taliban like government. The reason I support this, is due to the fact that the insurgents use our continued presence as justification for their indiscriminate slaughter. Take us out of the picture, and what will be there excuse? By the way it doesn't help that we are building the worlds largest embassy in Baghdad, doesn't look like we plan on leaving... The truth of the matter is, no one likes to be occupied, or dictated to by another government, especially when they are perceived as being a cause for the hardship, for clarification read the preamble to our Declaration of Independence and the entire document as well. Once we are gone per se, then the insurgents and terrorists will be clearly exposed and by the looks of it, most likely destroyed by the Shia majority. The Sunni will fall in line for fear of their own extinction. Its the law of numbers, the ugly truth is that it may very well take a civil war to fix this mess, but out hands must be clean to a degree. Its an ugly stance yes, but I'm certain I'm in line with strategic planners and analysts within our government. For more clarification feel free to comment or send me an email. For the record your comment won't appear until I approve it, so multiple submissions are not necessary.

Role of Religion in Politics and Legislation: Let me start out that I do not believe that one has the right to legislate their religious views and or beliefs. However, as a man of faith, I do use my religious beliefs as the backbone of my views on the universe and legislation. I do not understand how one can say they believe, but not act in accordance with those beliefs daily, to do anything other in my opinion is contrary to religion. Every religion I have studied, in its basic form, requires its adherents two things: To believe and to act in accordance to that belief and or system. That is how we are judged by our actions and words. Now sometimes the lines are blurred, but for the most part it should be clear cut. For the record every word in this blog that I have written has as its backbone my beliefs and understanding of Islam and its associated philosophies, contrary to popular belief. I'm certain I can find many Islamic verses, doctrines, etc. to back up my ideas. So in a nutshell, if I were to become a legislature in any form, just like I do daily, my ideas will be in the context of my beliefs, which I'm certain for the most part applies to most legislators, but at the same time the balance comes in, when you have to recognize that at the same time you can't force those beliefs on others. Hence the Quranic verse "there should be no compulsion in religion".

Same-Sex Marriage: Let me start out that first and foremost, as I referenced above, that my ideas are in the context of my religious beliefs. While religiously, I'm compelled to disagree with homosexuality, I must also understand that I don't have to agree with a certain thing, belief, or practice, and use that as a justification to be unjust or unwise. Homosexuality in Islam is a sin as in most Abrahamic traditions, however the reason given is that like all sin, it goes against the intention of what God wanted or desired for us. Now, according to Islamic philosophy, oftentimes people are born certain ways that in Islam we call a test. Now I'm going to stay away from theology just this once, and say that while I do feel that Homosexual acts are a sin, it is no worse than falsehood, adultery, theft, murder, etc. So he who has not sinned feel free to cast the first stone, or as Benjamin Franklin put it, don't throw stones at your neighbor if your house is made of glass. Marriage in the spiritual sense is the union of a man and woman in the presence of God, presided over by a leader of the religious or spiritual institution. Marriage in the legal sense, is the coming together of two legal and consenting adults with the agreement of being legally responsible for the other, and as a result of this agreement are granted monetary and other legal rights that differ from single individuals. Not all legal marriages are conducted in the presence of a religious authority, because not all people are religious. I believe that civil law and in this case marriage, should apply to all citizens. I believe that if two tax-paying adults and citizens want to make an official commitment to one another, they should be able to do, regardless of their sexual orientation. I don't accept the notion that the law should be privy to those whom we agree with. The law should apply equally, just like the blind-folded woman who holds the scales. Justice doesn't see ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, justice in this country should be blind and apply to all citizens. The civil rights afforded to married people should be afforded to all citizens that wish to form a union. However, I do believe that the compromise should only appear in the name. Because Marriage has spiritual and religious meaning, it should not be applied. The term best suited is something like a civil union. I don't think one can argue the legality of such, and the wording wouldn't offend religious peoples either. Fundamentally, most people could care less what goes on in the home next door, and if you do even though it doesn't harm you, get a life. I do support legislation to define marriage, not to close same-sex couples out, but to set boundaries, because then we might see people wanting to marry animals, children, multiple women or men, etc.

Women's right to choose: I think the verdict is still being deliberated in the case of the un-born child both religiously and scientifically, therefore, I go with what we do know, the Woman is a human being, and our tradition states that all men are created equal and their inalienable rights afford them to freedom, justice, and the pursuit of happiness. I don't see, how telling a woman she doesn't have a right to do what she wants to her body is any of those things. Until we can make a case for the un-born child legally, which is highly unlikely in my opinion, then the right to choose should stand. Even theologically, it hasn't been proven just yet. In Islam, its very blurry as to this matter, traditionally, we think its wrong, but then one has to even question that, because if an unborn child is miscarried before the fourth mouth or in the first trimester, Islamically, a funeral is not given. So one has to question the scholars why is that? In my opinion that is because Islamically, we don't consider that "child" a human prior to the second trimester, I mean why else would that "child" not be worthy of a Islamic funeral? So like I stated the debate still rages on the nature of the unborn child, and therefore I can see no reason for a hindrance in what we still have as a matter of law.

Foreign Policy: I do not believe we are the world police. I believe in an America first policy. That is that we should focus more on our infrastructure before anyone elses. We have probably the largest crime rate, inmate population, and poverty of the industrialized, modernized countries. Every dictator should be equal and I don't see how we continue to condemn some and support others. We should restructure our deployments and limit our bases to the US and democratic allies that want us there. When things erupt we should be charitable but only through international efforts like the UN. The Billions we spend could be better used in our economy not others even our allies. Our military should only be in our defense and that of UN volunteering. Outside of that, we have to care more about our boarders first.

Immigration: There are two forms, Legal and Illegal. If your not a legal immigrant, you should be deported. I don't see the argument, the word illegal means acting against and in this case that would be the laws of immigration. If you do something illegal you are prosecuted and punishments there should be no exceptions. Our boarders need to be secure. For me that means Military deployment on the boarders, if necessary, with fences, etc. Criminals that break the law especially in this case, should be treated in the same manner as anyone else that trespasses on private property. Call it harsh, but you can't just go to private property without authorization, getting bit by a dog is a best case scenario, but depending on the type of property or owner you might get shot. Furthermore, how are we protecting this country from radicals and terrorists, if our boarders are porous?

My God, I could do this for days, so if I missed something and I know I have, feel free to email me questions or comments that you feel I should add or comment on, so I can expand this, as well as clarify the positions I have already stated.

Thank you

This Pope thing just wont die...

First and foremost, let me address the skeptics out there by saying that no not all Muslims are reacting violently or even care what the Pope has said and yes we are upset about the Muslims that are reacting violently. For those who keep wondering where are the positive voices, let me tell you they exist in mass, but the only way you might happen upon them is in places like this, on a blog, on a MSG board, on an Internet website, or as official statements at the various prestigious Islamic institutions across the globe. Why, because Peaceful Muslims that participate in Interfaith walks, talks, and conferences, or who do feed the homeless drives, or actually speak to the press at press events is not "newsworthy". The media in general, is sensationalized, and if its not provocative, sexy, or violent, odds are its not going to reach your television. Personally, I wrote and sent an Op-ed to the Washington Post, wrote on several MSG Boards, and spoke on the Joe Madison talk radio show this morning as a caller. I'm just one lone Muslim, and many would have never heard these words unless they were privy to these actions or went looking for them, as is the case with most Muslims like me. I have no problem going on National TV or any other media or platform, but does that mean I would get invited? Maybe if I was a radical cleric or terrorist, but not as a patriotic, peaceful, loving Muslim and father of five. Here is a recent post I put on a Message board to fully illustrate my views on the subject:

"First and foremost there is no "large violent protests", If all Muslims felt that way, the world would be in Anarchy right now. There are 1.5 Billion Muslims, damn near 1/5 of the worlds population. What you are seeing is media spin. There are isolated incidents with groups of 200-2000 Muslims acting an ass for the camera. In the places these things are happening is predictable: The ME, East Africa, and some parts of Asia, then of course you have the same big mouth idiot in the UK. Outside of that, most Muslims haven't said a word publicly except maybe a spill on the radio, op-ed, or some other letter, etc. My Imam addressed this very thing this past Friday, who BTW is not only in a Partnership with the FBI, but also heads over one of the largest if not the largest Masjid in the DC area, and is the vice-president of the Islamic Society of North America(ISNA) in other words he's a prestigious and well respected man, he said in this month alone he attended several press conferences with CNN, the Post, etc. and every time he gets asked "where is the Muslim condemnation of radicals" he said he once again condemned them for the 1000th time, but he also chastised the media for silencing the positive voices. He remarked that the reason why you don't hear these voices is because its not "newsworthy" no one wants to hear about the interfaith meetings, no one wants to hear about the 9/11 unity walks, or the Jewish/Muslim Peace Walks around the country, that stuff is boring, but if an Imam says something stupid, or people act out in the streets, then that is the news and that's what you hear. Its like October last year, I attended the Millions More Movement and it was a huge and peaceful event, many said there were over 1 million people, but did that get coverage, maybe 10 seconds, what got news that day was the group of people in Cleveland that rioted over the KKK march. The news is good at shaping public opinion. Its not that hard to go to the large and respected Islamic institutions around the globe to see the official stances on these things, but one has to go look first. But if your one who gets all your information from the TV, than of course your going to be blind to what is truly going on. The only way Muslims get a voice in this country is if we blow something up, outside of that, you have to do Internet searches, read a book, and look at the very back of local newspapers."

One thing that remains true throughout the ages, good or bad, people tend to do whats convenient. For the media that is show or report the things that get the ratings, and unfortunately, in our society, that's rarely anything positive.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Muslim disappointment

I am beginning to feel like I live in some kind of Islamic vacuum. Its becoming increasingly clear that the larger Muslim communities are being apathetic to what is occurring in our so-called Islamic world. The only time we appear to care about anything is when someone "insults" our religion or our beloved Prophet(saw). Whether its a cartoon, a story about a Quran on the toilet, or recently the comments by the Pope, you can always count on some council, cleric, or organization to rally the Muslim troops to protest and show their anger.

As a Muslim, I have to admit that it is making me sick to my stomach to see such vain and pathetic displays of emotion. How can we sit back and get angry at these actions, without considering the ideas that produced these actions? When will we wake up and smell the coffee so to speak? We are so quick to get mad because someone insulted us, yet we never ask why have they done so. Nor do we ever ask what produced the mind that insults us.

Now don't get me wrong, I truly understand that there is ignorance and hate in the world, however, I also understand that people don't necessarily make ideas up in their head. Where do the ideas come from that makes people feel its OK to "insult" Muslims? What are Muslims doing that is so bad that people feel they have a defense to such insults?

As Muslims we are quick to point out that Islam is a religion of peace and the majority of Muslims in the world are good, law-abiding citizens, and this is true, but at the same time, we are also very quick to be apathetic to the minority that, like it or not, is defining our faith by their actions everyday in the eyes of those who insult us.

So what are we to do? Personally, I think its high time that we use all the energy that it takes to protest, condemn, march, etc. against some words that were said, or some image produced, and internalize it within our communities and countries. If we used that same zeal to create stable, peaceful, communities and countries, then we would truly be able to be outraged because then the insults and accusations would have no merit. But, as long as people can turn on their television and see the open hypocrisy of some cleric, organization, or council that will condemn insults, yet not condemn radical elements within our community, these insults will continue and we will continue to be as a dog chasing his tail.

We have to learn to accept the things we cannot change, have the courage to change the things we can, and the knowledge to know the difference.

Its about time we realize that no amount of pointing the finger or condemning Israel is going to change anything, until we first change ourselves. We call ourselves Muslim, yet in our oil rich countries, you have poor and uneducated masses. We have our children blowing themselves up, women being denied rights, we have atrocities in the Sudan, Palestinians without hope, and the list goes on. If we spent that energy and wealth into infrastructure, building up the people and places we do have, then we wouldn't have to worry about what we don't have, because if Allah willed it, those things would be ours anyway. Many Muslims have forgotten the basic teachings of Islam, Allah only helps a people who are willing to help themselves.

You want to help the Palestinians? Send those billions of oil dollars there to build schools, hospitals, a viable economy and government. Who would want Israel if home was better anyway? Send those billions to help Iraq stabilize, help modernize the educational systems, etc.

What about women's rights? The Prophet(saw) said "paradise lies at the foot of the mother" and Allah in the Quran said "reverence the wombs that bore you" yet you want to treat the women as chattel and keep her ignorant. You can judge a society by the way they treat their women. Where has our Islam gone? I hear more about Palestine, Pakistan, and Indonesia from so-called Muslims, but I haven't heard a bleep about Darfur? Whats going on! We are a bunch of hypocrites.

I cannot see how we expect to continue in this manner. I cannot see why we are so upset with the Pope and are not upset with ourselves. In truth, I don't blame the Pope. He should talk about us, somebody should, because we obviously don't have the courage to talk about it. 1.5 billion weak individuals, we deserve what we get, because we have become Arabs, Asians, Africans, Pakistani, Iranian, Iraqi, Sunni, Shia, etc. Instead of Muslim.

As Salaam Alaikum,

R. Salaam

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My adventure in public speaking

Currently, I'm taking a public speaking class in college. In my opinion, this is a step on the long path I'm walking toward making a difference in this world. Those that know me, know that I aspire to be a politician or some sort of policy maker, and in doing so, it obviously makes sense that I polish my speaking ability.

Well, last night I gave my first 2-3 minute speech on a personal experience. Naturally I used 9/11 and borrowed heavily from my post on the subject in this blog. I ended up speaking 4 minutes, and while I was nervous, hadn't prepared, etc. Most say I did pretty good. Maybe this is a sign that maybe just maybe I'm a "natural". Only God knows for sure, I just pray that I will get better, and be able to get out there and represent those, who like me feel their voices are not being heard.

Pray for me as I pray for you.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Day After...

Well here it is, 9/12 and I guess all is well.

On a message board I frequent there were some serious discussions going on yesterday, everything from 9/11 conspiracy theories to the question(s) about whether or not 9/11 should be a big deal to some.

Its the latter I wanted to address. I personally believe that oftentimes our(the general public) emotions are used to further causes or be manipulated in some form or fashion. I believe it was in fact 9/11 that was used to get us into Afghanistan(rightfully so, IMO) and into Iraq. I also believe our emotions are being manipulated to swing elections, pass laws, and many other things I coin political deviancy.

However, I don't believe that because this exists that we should attempt at "watering" down or ignoring such things as 9/11 altogether.

Personally, I ignored the media yesterday, and for those that know me personally you know that is a big deal for me, mainly because of such "exploitation".

9/11 for many people means many things, if you chose to do something to commemorate it good for you, if not good for you as well. Everyone wasn't personally effected on 9/11 and I do believe the media should respect that, but then again the media should be doing allot of things, like not being a tool for the government, but that is another discussion..., at any rate, here it is the day after and maybe its just me, but the lack of 9/11 chatter, makes one wonder if in fact the wool was pulled over our eyes again....

Monday, September 11, 2006


According to the dictionary an epiphany is described as a sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something or a comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization. I always believed I would have such an experience while I was in some sort of meditative state, kinda like you see in the movies where one would go to some isolated mountain in China and awake with the realization that they had finally figured the meaning of life. However, romanticized the idea, I did in fact have an epiphany, however not as glamorous as I had always imagined. September 11, 2001 was such a time and such a day for me. In retrospect it was the day I died and at the same time I was reborn. It was a day of great change for me and a day of internal strife and recognition. It was a day that I will never forget, not just because of what happened to this country or how many lives were lost, but more so for how many lives were changed and primarily my own.

Many often mark this day with the question "Where were you on September 11th?" for me, I remember it like it was yesterday...

I was still in the Marine Corps, I was a 20 year old Sergeant who at this point had been in the Marine Corps for a little over 3 years. Like most 20 year olds, I hadn't quite figured out what I was doing or where I was going in this thing called life, but I just took it day by day, doing what I already had made a choice to do, for now that is, and that was be a Marine. I'm not going to sit here and tell fanciful stories about how good of a Marine I was or how great of a Sgt I was, because the truth of the matter is, I was what I would call a middle of the road Marine. I wasn't the best, I certainly wasn't the worst. I excelled in some things and in others I had work to do. The funny thing is, even at this point in my career and leading up to this day, I had already been married and separated at this time, had been to see the Colonel once or twice, I lose count, and even though I loved the Corps and still do, I wasn't what in the Marine Corps they would coin a hard-charger.

I was the product of a twisted, to say the least, drama filled childhood that led me to this point. I wasn't I was one of the statistics, my parents had me when they were young, never married, hell I don't even know if they actually dated, went their separate ways, and to make a long story short I was left with my maternal grandmother. My maternal grandfather had died when my mother was only 10, he was 26yrs old when he died, and the most I knew about him was the fact that I was named after him. Anyway, my grandmother worked really hard and still does, and never really had time to give me affection and things like that, but she did buy me anything I wanted. I was an only child and that made it easy for her, but in retrospect I think it turned me into a monster, figuratively speaking of course...

Now I know by now if your still following, "what does this have to do with 9/11?" well I'm getting there. To understand where we are or going, we have to understand where we have been...

Moving right along...anyway, being a product of the urban jungle with little to no oversight of the parental nature, I soon began to develop into something more of a statistic, I started disrespecting my elders, my grandmother, and I skipped classes, etc... you know the routine. By the time I reached my Freshman year of highschool I was well on the way to dropping out and doing only God knows what, however, my grandmother did the best thing she could have ever done...she sent me to live in North Carolina with my paternal grandparents, whom I lovingly refer to as the Pastor and his wife.

Prior to my "detention" in NC, I really didn't have any idea what I believed. I mean, traditionally, my family was Baptist, and I distinctly remember being baptized, but truth be told I can't ever remember going to church outside of the routine Palm and Easter Sundays. All this changed when I got to NC. My grandfather "the Pastor" ran a tight ship. Not only was our house holy, but my grandfather was an Army Korean War Vet, and you would think that he was still there at times. Even to this day, if one was to give him a surprise room inspection, he would pass with flying colors. Open up his dresser and its a thing of beauty...nicely folded and cover and aligned shirts, socks, etc... man that house was so clean most of the time you could eat off of any of the floors...

I know I'm rambling....

Anyway, it was during this time that I begin to ponder the universal order of things and begin to want to know about God...fortunately I had/have a great teacher and mentor in my grandfather, we would debate and discuss for hours the Bible and God, theology and religion in general. Oftentimes, when I thought I learned something in school, I would come home ready to challenge my Grandfather, he always won by the way. During this time I not only developed my deep love of the Church and Jesus more specifically, but I also fell in love with religion in general. I would study everything from the occult, paganism, to Christianity, and everything in between, the one I never learned was about Islam, for some odd reason. I remember in 1995, I came home and my grandfather was watching this "Farrakhan" guy on TV. He had this Million Man March thing in DC and was speaking. I didn't know who he was at that time, but I surely knew he wasn't a Christian and didn't believe as he did, but I couldn't understand why my grandfather was watching so intently. I just brushed it off, and went to go play video games or something... Later that day, when I asked my grandfather why he was watching that "crap" he said the most profound thing to me. I didn't know it then, but it was a life changing thing, he told me that even though, he didn't believe exactly as Farrakhan did, and even though they don't agree on various theological matters, he believes that God speaks in a myriad of ways, and oftentimes, if we concentrate less on the messenger and more on the message, we would be able to decipher which is which. Now it wasn't those exact words, but it was something like that:)

Fastforward a little, so you guys don't fall asleep...

I finished highschool and joined the Marine Corps. My grandfather and I grew very close spiritually, and for those that know me personally, you know that much, as I barely speak or type without mentioning him. While I wasn't a perfect Christian, I sure was a zealous and deeply spiritual one. I read the Bible cover to cover many times, I took Bible classes in school and in Church, I got baptized again(just in case), and there wasn't and hasn't been a day since that I haven't read the Bible. When I got married at the age of 19, I went to every service the Church had, and increase my zealotry, as my marriage started to decline, my spirituality went on the incline(thank God for that)...

Oh yeah, 9/11....

This particular morning September 11, 2001 I got up as usual at around 5:00 Am to start the day. Fortunately, I didn't have to work in my office as usual, because I had been assigned to manage the geedunk for that week. For non-Marines/Sailors, a geedunk is a location in most units where you can by snacks and such outside of going to the store or chowhall(cafeteria) and the Marines/Sailors running it, normally take the profits and put them toward some cause. In our case, we were raising money so that junior Marines didn't have to pay so much for the Marine Corps Ball. Our geedunk was a serious operation, we served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the manager(this week me), had to try to keep the profit margin as high as possible. So I went to work and everything was normal that day so far. I wore a T-shirt and jeans, as a uniform wasn't required for this job, and pretty much sat around watching the privates do their thing. I really don't remember what time it was, but about 5-10 minutes before the first tower was attacked, I distinctly remember going to the Maintenance Control Room to use the phone. I had decided that this particular day the geedunk was going to serve Pizza and I was going to call Domino's to ensure the pizza was there by 11:30 am.

I remember looking in the yellow pages for the number and when I found it I picked up the phone and at that very instant, I remember a Staff Sergeant telling everyone to be quite and turn up the radio....

We all listened in amazement and utter disbelief when we heard the craziest thing..."I'm sorry to interrupt, be we have just been told that an airplane supposedly crashed into the World Trade Center..." a few seconds later all the phones in the control room started ringing in everything is still a blur to me. The only things I remember were stuff like "You gotta be kidding me" "This can't be happening" "What the f...?" and the most important one..."We are under attack..."

It was in this moment that everything in my life came to a complete stop. See, like most young guys like me who joined the military, we joined for a variety of reasons, but rest assured the least common reason was not to go to war. Somehow, most of us had convinced ourselves that even though we were Marines, we shot weapons, and were basically trained killers, that all that was just part of the "job" and in real life we were just mechanics, administrators, IT guys, etc... who were fortunate to have one of the most prestigious jobs in the Marine Corps: Presidental transportation Support, or better yet we worked in Marine Helicopter Squadron One(HMX-1).

I can't tell you I remember my exact thoughts that moment, but I will tell you this, I remember the myriad of emotions all flooding my brain at once. I couldn't even decipher what was going on, but I did know that something had to be done. It was then that I had my first epiphany, I had never given it much thought before or even considered the possibility, but it was then that I truly committed to being of service to this country. Now when you join the Military you take an oath and all that, and yes I had been in the Corps several years, but it wasn't until this very moment that I truly accepted my oath. It was in this moment that I realized that I was a man who swore an oath, and I was ready to die if necessary to defend this country. Even now I still get teary-eyed thinking of this moment...

I rushed over to my Master Sergeant I remember it clear as today, his name was Msgt Linscott, and I told him quite frankly, "Top, I don't know what's going on, but give me the word, and I will run down to the Barracks and put my uniform on and do whatever you need me to" he nodded in approval and I took off...runing down that street seemed like forever. It was as if I was crossing some threshold, it was as if I was truly understanding what service meant. It really wasn't about me. This thing called service is about others and I swore an oath to defend all of them even if it cost me my life...

I ran so fast, all I can remember is that it must have taken less than five minute to get from the hanger to the barracks and in uniform...I remember as I was leaving my room that I really should make a phone call to somebody just in case I would die today, I wanted somebody to know I went down fighting. I picked up my phone and hit redial the last person I spoke to was my stepmother Karen and she answered the phone. She was hysterical and crying, I don't remember my exact words, but I do remember telling her "Mom I'm OK, just know that I'm going to do what I get paid to truly do.." and with that I told her I love her and I dashed off...

Once I arrived back at the hanger, I stopped for a second to catch my breath and pray. I remember kneeling down outside in the grass and calling on the Lord. I remember asking for forgiveness and telling God that He told us he would never leave us nor forsake us and that I was a humble servant, it wasn't my will but His will, I remember as I do now the tears rolling down my cheeks as they are as I type this. I remember this most sacred of moments. For the first time I truly felt like I had an audience with God, I remember reciting the Psalms of David, and crying out like never before, I remember asking God to protect and guide this nation, I remember, asking to be washed white as snow and asking for the anointing I remember crying to Jesus asking him to cover me with his blood, I remember this to this day, and even still, I cant stop crying...

I had to pause a moment to catch my breath and dry up my tears...

Anyway, I went inside the hanger and I saw the most impressive display of service. I saw Marines of all ranks ready to go. These very same mechanics, supply, and avionics guys who I brushed off many times as "nasty" "unprofessional" worker bees would are just not fit to be killers(I should talk) were transformed like myself, ready to protect this Nation to the death. I remember the uncertainty we all had, because we didn't know exactly what happened, what was going to happen, etc. But we didn't even care. All we knew was that we were attacked and somebody was about to pay.

Now we didn't even clearly know the definition of pay, nor did we know who was going to feel the Marine Corps wrath, but we knew this: We were in Quantico and at this point NYC was attacked, the Pentagon, and there were rumors the White House was next. Considering who we worked for, we knew at the very least we would have to evacuate some people.

For the record, we weren't called to do anything, we were on standby for like 16 hours and I stood there the whole time pondering. We were waiting for our rifles to be handed out and go to combat, we were ready...

As the day went along, we learned that it was possibly someone from the Middle East. I remember asking myself who would do this and why? I pondered on this intently, what would make someone do such a horrible thing? I finally resolved to get to the bottom of this. To defeat your enemy you must know him I thought so I sought out to figure out who these people were I why they did it.

In the next few days I learned that these guys were Muslims. This was my first real introduction to Islam. I knew absolutely nothing about the religion outside of the name. I found that strange considering I studied religion, that I never sought this one out. I had read other books outside the Bible even the book of Mormon once, but never the Quran.

So as any good leader that wanted defeat the enemy I sought out to learn about this Islam and Quran to see if there was anything in it I could find to help defeat the enemy...

I remember maybe a week or two later after we were able to leave the Base going to the book store to find a Quran. I bought one, and sat down to read it....

It was then that I had another epiphany...I read this book initially with hatred, anger, and confusion in my mind and in my heart, but by the time I reached the second Surah or chapter, midway I believe, all my emotions changed. This book was nothing what I expected. It wasn't too different from what I already believed or knew. The biggest question was, what was it in this book that caused the actions of Bin Laden? I mean, I never saw any Christians do anything to this magnitude...But I continued to read nevertheless. I remember reading the entire Quran in less than three days. I consumed that book. I was amazed at the beauty and the poetic expression of the words, the context the layout, it was a work of art to me. The strangest and most astonishing thing to me was that it wasn't the Bible, yet I believed in those moments that this was the word of God! I couldn't explain the how's or whys, but I felt this very deeply. I never felt this reading any other book like that of the Mormons, Hindus, etc... the only other book that made me feel this way was the Bible.

I immediately called my Grandfather. I told him the turmoil in my spirit and I couldn't understand why, but I felt I had a new calling. I wasn't to be the Pastors grandson and future Minister of the Church but I was to be a Muslim. Feeling this wrangling and praying to God yielded the same results. This went on for weeks if I remember correctly, but I knew I couldn't do it without talking to my Grandfather. I asked him matter of factly what he felt about Islam. He told me the strangest thing I ever could have expected from a Christian Minister. He told me that he felt it was one of the paths to God from Abraham, and even though he wasn't one, he didn't think it wasn't a parallel path. Perplexed, I asked him how would he feel if I became a Muslim and he told me that path is for me to decide and he would still love me no matter what.

After soaking that all in and meditating and praying on it, I read the Quran maybe two or three more times, and it was then that I said my shahaddah. "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God" It was this simple statement of belief that changed my world and made me something new. With all the answers there were still many questions. How is it that an action that was done supposedly in the name of Islam that was filled with so much hate, be the same action that actually led me to Islam? Why is it that this book that filled me with joy and peace be the same book that filled these guys with anger and rage? Who was right? Could I be wrong? Could they be wrong? Could we both be wrong or right?

Many people questioned me and still do today, and can't understand how or why I made this choice. Some say I left Jesus, I say I never have nor has me, I just calmly say while my understanding of who he is has changed, my love has remained constant if not grew stronger.
There are many questions that I deal with day to day. There are many debates and discussions I participate in. However, one thing is for certain. I believe God is using me to do a great work, I don't know what it is or how to do it, but I remain ever so much in service to Him. I have dedicated my life to bring about understanding and peace between the different religions and beliefs and at the same time dedicated my life to exposing and destroying those who will lie in the name of God only to destroy the innocent. This is the true meaning behind my "Muslim" name Abdur Salaam. I took this name because I felt it represents me. The translation loosely means "The servant of the One who gives Peace" I'm forever conscious of my servitude to God and I live everyday learning and growing in Him and hoping to one day help establish peace and help in this great work.

I'm not perfect and I fall, but as Donnie McClurkin sung, I fall down but I get up, for a saint is just a sinner who fell down...

September 11, 2001 was many things to many people. For me not only did I accept my oath, but I also understood what it meant to serve and I also found the way of life that helped me grow into the man I am today and continues to sustain me. We all have many stories and experiences of that day, no matter what or how diverse the experiences, I believe one thing is universal, 9/11 was the day we all had an epiphany. If it be the will of God, that epiphany was the one that would bring about a universal peace and understanding. I may not see it in my lifetime, but I pray that God gives me and us the strength to lay down the foundations that will establish that day and age.

May the Peace and Blessings of God be upon you and yours,
As Salaam Alaikum

You humble brother and servant,

Robert Abdur Salaam