Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Cultural Divide Surrounding Weekends

Sometimes being an American living in Kuwait is more difficult than others. It's not always the overtly apparent things like clothing, driving, or restrictions on society that are hardest to get used to. For me, it has been the demands and or expectations of my time that are exhausting both mentally and emotionally. Of course I am only speaking as an American who is living here and married to a Kuwaiti because a non-tethered American wouldn't face these issues.

I don't want to complain a lack of time because it's not truly that; it is rather the sense of obligation attached to time and how it is spent. Take for example the weekend. I work the whole week, deal with the children's demands, plan meals, and other motherly duties, so when the weekend rolls around, I want to relax. I want to not have to worry about what I am wearing, throw on some jeans, and languor in the luxury of forty eight hours of 'free' time. What happens instead is: Thursday after work is "family time", not our little family, mind you, but Baba Oud's and the extended family. Ok, that is understandable, but then we have Friday where the time is divided between prayer and what time we can eke out to go have a dinner in the middle of the day together as our nuclear family. Then, Saturday rolls around and it is another day of extended family obligation, and then the weekend is over.

Many would say, and have, "Why don't you just not go?" To which my reply would be that I have missed many a family gathering, but my husband pays the price for it. They ask where I am, why I am not there, what is wrong with me, and make plenty of assumptions and inferences that are simply not true. The fact of the matter is that it is just a huge chasm of cultural difference that separates us revolving around the ways of spending down time. I get it. And I am not saying that my way is right and the other wrong. I just would like to have some peace from the continual knock knocking in my head of compulsion calling and me feeling like a jerk for not answering.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being a Muslim Statistic

This is an excellent essay on the current situation of Muslims esp. in the US, from his website Sandala Productions.



When You’re a Statistic - Hamza Yusuf

It’s been said that a liberal is just a conservative that hasn’t been mugged yet. Sometimes it takes something traumatic to wake us up to the realities of our situation, and to force us to rethink our beliefs and behaviors.
Americans are essentially civil and decent people and not prone to violent reactions, but now millions of Americans are being exposed to a profoundly radical and extremely distorted view of Islam, which is that 1) Islam is an evil religion; 2) it was born in the crucible of violence, and engenders violence in its followers; and 3) a significant number of American Muslims are actively working to undermine the government of this country, and to establish shariah law.
These ideas may sound outlandish and farfetched, but some of the major websites promoting such views get hundreds of thousands of visitors each month. The trouble with such misinformation is that when someone wants to learn about Islam and Googles, for instance, shariah law and women, they’re likely to see an image of a girl with her nose cut off. Worse yet, most of the top ten articles returned from such a search are not expository articles explaining what shariah actually is ­­– they are articles propagating the idea that the shariah is evil.
Hence, even if people sincerely search for information about Islam, they are likely to get misinformation and anti-Islam propaganda. Moreover, even educated people are having a harder time sorting the wheat from the chaff, distinguishing what is accurate from what is propaganda against Islam. There are also a lot of very negative emails circulating on the Internet either misquoting Qur’an and hadith or quoting out of context.
In fact, if you walk into a bookstore today and simply browse under the subject of Islam, about half the books are anti-Muslim or written by apostates from Islam who actually hate Islam. If a person scans the shelves for a book on the Qur’an, the best looking book that catches their eye could very well be The Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, and so one starts to read it, and it distorts Islam using the sources of Islam, such as Qur’anic verses or hadith. The verses quoted are explained without historical context, and are used to distort the holistic message of the Qur’an.
It is easy to make Islam look like the most evil religion on the planet using quotations from primary sources. It is also easy to do the same with Christianity, Judaism, or any other world-religion, but most people, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins notwithstanding, know that Judaism and Christianity are not evil. However, they do not know that about Islam because we have allowed other people to define Islam. Look in the bookstore sections about other religions, and you’ll see a vastly different set of books. For instance, you will find nothing negative about Judaism in the section on Judaism, and if you did, rest assured that major Jewish activist organizations would soon have a slew of volunteers writing to the publishers and the bookstores and have the book pulled from the shelves in record time. The Christian section is so vast as to overshadow the few titles that present Christianity in less than a positive light. Even the section on Wicca and Paganism comprises of titles mostly like, How I Found Inner Peace by Worshipping the Moon and How Satan Can Cure Your Migraines.
*** *** ***
When Alice is in Wonderland and questions Humpty Dumpty about his usage of words, he says, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
Alice responds, “The question is whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
Humpty Dumpty replies, “The question is which is to be master that’s all.” That is, which definition is going to be definitive?
When we say “Islam,” is it the beautiful religion of peace and spiritual elevation that sustains millions and millions of people during their journeys through life and inspires countless good deeds, or is it the violent, misogynistic, anachronistic medieval madness that is now infecting America?
When we say “jihad,” does it mean an honorable struggle for social justice and the internal struggle with our own selves against the ego, envy, pride, miserliness, and stupidity, and the universal right to defend one’s land or one’s home from aggressors, or does it mean brutally and barbarically chopping off heads, cutting off noses, lopping off ears, flogging women, or blowing up innocent people for simply not being part of the faith?
Who is going to define the words? Is it going to be every Tom, Dick, and Humpty Dumpty? Are we going to leave it for those who have passed through the looking glass and are living in Wonderland where black is white, up is down, and right is wrong, and where, like the queen reminds Alice, “Sentence first verdict afterward” is how things work? Who is going to decide?
This unrelenting and hateful messaging is taking an effect over time. We can see this in the changes in public views of Islam. In polls taken immediately after 9-11, most people did not have a negative view of Islam. That has changed dramatically now. The majority of people in the United States do have negative views of Islam now. This is because the people who want to propagate that narrative have been working hard. They have been funding organizations, funding the publication of books, getting anti-Muslim messages on TV shows, and in general, they have been the only voices heard by most Americans. Muslims have been sleeping through this, or else simply watching in horror as the propaganda takes hold.
Here is what happens. Most people out there who do not like Islam or have a negative view of it are not going to do much, as most people mosey along through life and do not think about much other than their own concerns and preoccupations. However, talk-show hosts, editorial writers – what Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point calls “mavens, connectors, and influencers” – are reading the negative books on Islam that are best sellers, such as Islamic Infiltration; Muslim Mafia; Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerable Religion; Infidel’s Guide to the Qur’an; Why I am Not a Muslim; Infidel; Islamic Invasion – and a lot of these books are being sent to congresspersons and senators. The majority of people in this country do not read books or even newspapers, but many watch Fox News. They listen to talk-show hosts. They listen to Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill O’Reilly. And these pundits have access to millions of Americans and for many of them, this is the only view of Islam they’re getting.
Now, you have some media figures, such as Keith Olbermann, who do attempt to present another view, but he and those like him are more often than not preaching to the choir. You also have court jesters who can speak the truth without losing their heads, such as Jon Stewart, and millions tune in to such programs, but such audiences are considered either pinheads or potheads according to the other camp. These shows do not reach the large segment of Americans who are conservatives (or even moderates) and who need to hear a different and more accurate portrayal of Islam. I don’t want to be Manichean about this, as many of the right-wing voices also address other issues that are necessary to address and are often ignored by the left. They are not hearing any counter voices because we have not made strategic alliances in the conservative community.
According to a recent study, over 50 percent of Evangelicals believe that people outside of Christianity can go to heaven, but only 34 percent of that same group believes that Muslims can go to heaven. There are millions of people out there who think that all Muslims are hell bound.
Among that segment of society, there are people whom the Qur’an terms sufahah. These are the fools, the idiotic people – the jahilun: people of ignorance, impetuousness, and zealotry. Every community has such people in it. The Muslims have them; the Jews have them; the Christians have them; the secular humanists have them. Every community has sociopaths or irrational people who may even slit the throat of a Bengali taxi driver because he said, “Yes, I am a Muslim.” Those people are going to be empowered increasingly. And people are more susceptible to new villains during times of economic hardship. As the unemployment rate rises and crimes increase, and people are looking for new targets for their aggression, why not a Muslim? Already, we’ve had “Burn the Qur’an Day” – will it be “Mug a Muslim Day” next?
*** *** ***
Our choices are clear. We can sit here and watch all that is happening and think that things are fine. We can think to ourselves, “My neighbors are fine; everybody is nice to me at work.” But if that is what you think, you are living in a bubble. And your bubble is about to burst. I have been watching a trend that is getting worse and worse. And if something is not done, if there is nothing done to countervail, no other mitigating force, things are headed in a dangerous direction. Newton’s law of physics applies here as well: Bodies at rest will remain at rest, and bodies in motion will remain in motion, unless acted upon by an external force.
We have a body of messaging in motion, and it is hateful, it is effective, it is well-financed, and it is having its impact on opinions that were at rest before 9-11. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Civil strife is asleep, and may God curse the one who wakens it.” This hadith indicates that calamities are waiting to happen, and people’s passions are easily aroused. This is a recurring phenomenon over the ages and all around the world. Just ask a Bosnian refugee in America how his Serbian neighbors turned on him and his family after being friends for all their lives. This happened through a powerful and violent campaign of propaganda waged by Serbian nationalists allied with certain extreme elements in the Orthodox Church. The result was tragic, but people thought then as we do now: that could never happen here.
Unless there is another force out there to counter this, Muslims are going to wake up in a very different America, an America that has drifted far from its own admirable and noble ideals, and they are going to wonder what happened.
What happened was that you were asleep. Just like people slept before. People forget that the 1920’s in Germany was one of the most liberal periods. But there was hyperinflation, high unemployment, a lot of social problems, and before they knew it, they democratically elected fascists into power. The fascists did not seize power; they were democratically elected. Right now, we have several angry and hateful candidates in close races in the House and the Senate and even governorships. You can say, “Oh, well, they are only a handful of people.” But this is how it starts. And in hard times, people turn to demagogues. And they are waiting in the wings.

I plan on writing next about what Muslims can and should do to counter this wave of anti-Islam propaganda.

Monday, August 16, 2010

For You, S.M.

Little girl lost,
and you are not so little anymore:
the world is a scary place,
that which smiles and calls your name is not
necessarily your friend
and just maybe
your path is a little more fraught with blind spots,
pot holes, and
icy patches.
But you have always marched to
your own beat.
And you have always lived in
a kingdom in your mind.

It is time to put on the eyes that will make the blueprint.
It is time to find your patch of earth.
It is time to gather your provisions.
It is time to start piecing together
your tomorrow.

The sun is just
coming
up.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wow


I just had an epiphany. This stanza by Rilke has been a part of my heart for so long; on an inexplicable level, it has resonated with me. Today, as I was reading Hamza Yusuf's blog, I was struck by the hadith below that conjured in my mind a similar profoundly moving image. I wonder if anyone else sees it?


Who has twisted us around like this, so that no matter what we do, we are in the posture of someone going away? Just as, upon the farthest hill, which shows him his whole valley one last time, he turns, stops, lingers--, so we live here, forever taking leave.
-Rainer Maria Rilke-

According to a beautiful hadith, the Prophet, God bless and grant him peace, said that on the Last Day, when the last two souls are brought forth before God, they are both condemned to hell. As the angels escort them to their final fiery abode, one of them wistfully looks back. Thereupon, God commands the angels to bring him back and asks the man why he turned back. The man replies, “I was expecting something else from you.” God responds, commanding the angels, “Take him to My Garden.”

Excerpt from Hamza Yusuf's
blog

Injustice Cannot Defeat Injustice

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Life Right Now

I am in the US for the summer now, and I notice that I seem to write more on my blog when I am away from Kuwait. I think that is for many reasons like starting a new job, but perhaps the biggest one is that I am just now coming out of a culture shock daze. The funny thing is I haven't experienced culture shock for the reasons that most people would expect of an American living in the Middle East. It is the day-to-day stuff that hits me most: driving, common courtesies differences, communication style differences, employee/employer expectations, etc.

It is not my intention to expound on the many ways that life has changed, is challenging or difficult, or to illustrate these points with many images of the absurdities of my life. This would only feed into the common misconception that 'they' are different from 'us' theories. What is more interesting to me is the level of acceptance and peace that I have arrived at today. Make no mistake, I am still frustrated on a daily basis about the aforementioned issues, but after the dust of the frenetic first few years has finally settled and a pattern of life has emerged and crystallized, I have to admit that there are many benefits of living in the Middle East that surpass living in the US.
And I can honestly say now that my decision to go there with my family has proved to be a good one.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Consequences of Muslims Targeting Civilians

People in the West who misunderstand Islam and Muslims continually are often asking where is the condemnation of terrorist activities supposedly perpetuated in the name of Islam. This is a great essay about the issue written by an American convert to Islam.



Consequences of Muslims Targeting Civilians

By Imam Zaid on 06 May 2010

This essay, written in the immediate aftermath of the failed New York City bomb attempt [1], will examine some of the theological implications of Muslims violating civilian immunity. I have written elsewhere why attacks against innocent civilians are in opposition to fundamental teachings of Islam. Unfortunately, there are some Muslim ideologues that sanction such actions and a growing number of Muslim civilians and noncombatants are being killed by their coreligionists, in Iraq, Afghanistan [2], and elsewhere. For these reasons, the argument that follows is more than merely hypothetical.

Western military commanders, politicians and philosophers who have sanctioned the widespread bombing of civilian populations –owing to the industrialization of war and its being wedded with nationalist ideology during the 19th and 20th centuries- realize that their actions involve a dangerous moral leap. The following passage from Phillip Meilinger’s work on the moral implications of modern warfare illustrates this point:

The Fall of France in 1940 left Britain alone against Germany. The ensuing Battle of Britain, culminating in the Blitz, left England reeling. Surrender was unthinkable, but it could not retaliate with its outnumbered and overstretched army and navy. The only hope of hitting back at Germany and winning the war lay with Bomber Command. But operational factors quickly demonstrated that prewar factors [emphasizing precision bombing of military objectives] had been hopelessly unrealistic. …Aircrew survival dictated night area attacks, and, in truth, there was little alternative other than not to attack at all. Moral constraints bowed to what was deemed military necessity, which led air leaders down a particularly slippery slope. [3]

That slippery slope led to wanton massacres of civilians that were unprecedented in history and they culminated in the nuclear incineration of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Muslims who would sanction gross violations of civilian immunity, owing to strategic desperation, are entering on a similarly slippery slope. However, there is a huge difference between the norms that govern western strategic thinking and those defined by Islam. Namely, western norms are socially constructed while those defined by Islam have their origin in revelation –the latter as understood by Muslims. Hence, from a Muslim perspective, and that perspective is critical for the argument we are making, western norms are subject to change with changes in social, political, economic and especially technological considerations, while Islamic norms are transcendent. [4]

The idea of total war, which holds that there is no distinction between the combatant and noncombatant elements of an enemy population, and that both groups can legitimately be targeted by an armed force, is ancient. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), as documented by Thucydides, involved both the mobilization of entire populations for the war effort and likewise the eradication of entire populations, such as the inhabitants of Milos. During the Middle Ages, the Mongol invasion of the Muslim heartland of Asia could be described as a campaign of total warfare that left unimaginable death and destruction in its wake.

The existence of total war campaigns during early historical periods is accompanied by efforts to extend immunity from violent conflicts to civilians. Plato, various Roman philosophers, Medieval Christian theologians, orders of knights and in the early modern period, theorists such as Francisco de Victoria and Hugo Grotius all advocated various degrees of civilian immunity from the scourges of war.

In the western intellectual tradition, thinking surrounding this idea during various historical epochs was associated with prevailing views of just and unjust actions as well as the self-interest of relevant societal actors, as opposed to clear and deeply rooted scriptural pronouncements. This was true even among Christians. Hence, we do not see meaningful discussions on limiting the destructiveness of war among Christian theologians until the 4th Christian Century with the work of St. Augustine.

In Europe, changing conditions and circumstances have led to changing positions on the issue of civilian immunity. For much of the latter Middle Age the prevailing European views were dominated by ideas emerging from the Catholic Church’s Peace of God movement, and the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. The advent of the nation-state in the aftermath of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 would introduce a new epistemology to govern thinking around strategic affairs, even though Medieval Christian thinking still informed attitudes and policies related to civilian immunity, at least until the French and Industrial Revolutions.

These nearly simultaneous developments led to the idea that the civilian infrastructure needed to support a modern war effort was so essential to its successful prosecution that it transformed civilians into combatants. As a result, beginning with the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War, conflicts in the West would witness the erosion of civilian immunity –at least until the aftermath of the World War Two.

Unlike the situation prevailing in non-Muslim lands, the idea of civilian immunity among Muslims has been rooted in clear scriptural pronouncements from the prophetic epoch. Qur’anic passages establishing the sanctity of innocent life (Q. 5:32) and not expanding hostilities to noncombatants (Q. 2:190) coupled with prophetic strictures against killing women, children, monks, and other noncombatants created the basis for a strong and enduring Muslim ethic governing civilian immunity. Although there have clearly been instances when some Muslim rulers and commanders have not respected that ethic, it has generally remained a restraining factor throughout Muslim history. [5]

Among its greatest fruits has been the existence of large non-Muslim populations in historical Muslim empires, the general lack of forced conversion of non-Muslim populations, a lack of genocidal massacres undertaken by Muslim armies [6], and the peaceful coexistence of Muslims and other faith communities in areas such as Andalusia, Bosnia, Palestine and Iraq, historically.

As changing geopolitical and technological realities dictate changes in the norms governing the intentional targeting of civilians in western strategic thinking, there is no inherent damage to the integrity of western secular thought. Indeed, the socially constructed nature of those norms only serves to reinforce the secularity of the process whereby they are arrived at and the analytical methods governing their assessment. This is not the case for the transcendental Islamic ideal governing civilian immunity. When it is abandoned by Muslims, a critical aspect of the religion itself in abandoned.

As Dr. Tim Winter (Abdul Hakim Murad) [7], expanding the work of John Gray [8] and others, argues, when that abandonment occurs in the modern context, it is precisely because the transcendental Islamic ideal has been forsaken or lost. Muslims who target civilians are robbed of any moral high ground in their struggle with opposing forces and are left naked before the bitter winds of political expediency. If expediency demands suicidal murder, bombs in mosques and marketplaces or in the heart of western cities then in the view of those who have entered upon this vile path, so be it.

At the heart of the Islamic ethic regarding the sanctity of innocent life is the following verse in the Qur’an, alluded to earlier:

Owing to that [first instance murder] we ordained for the Children of Israel that whosever takes an innocent life for other than retribution for murder or murderous sedition in the land it is as if he has killed all of humanity, and whoever saves a life it is as if he has saved all of humanity. Our Messengers have come to them with clear proofs, yet even after that many of them exceed limits in the land.[9] (Q. 5:32)
من أجل ذلك كتبنا على بني إسرائيل أنه من قتل نفسا بغير نفس أو فساد في الأرض فكأنما قتل الناس جميعا و من أحياها فكأنما أحيا الناس جميعا و لقد جاءتهم رسلنا بالبينات ثم إن كثيرا منهم بعد ذلك في الأرض لمسرفون

This verse emphasizes that the immunity extended to innocents is a principle that was upheld by all of the Prophets. Hence, the specific mention of the Children of Israel, who were the recipients of a long line of Prophets, and the mentioning of the Messengers at the end of the verse.

The idea that to discard the immunity that is extended to innocents is to abandon an indispensible part of the divine law is emphasized by Imam al-Qurtubi in his commentary on this verse (Q. 5:32). He states:

The meaning is that whoever makes it lawful to take the life of a single innocent person has made everyone’s life lawful, because he has rejected the divine law [establishing the prohibition of killing innocents] [10].
المعنى أن من استحل واحدا فقد استحل الجميع لأنه أنكر الشرع

Abandoning the divine law when one makes the blood of innocent people lawful to shed is emphasized from a deeper perspective by Imam Fakruddin al-Razi in his commentary on the same verse. He states:

When he [a murderer] resolves to intentionally kill an innocent person he has given preference to the dictates of his bloodlust and anger over the dictates of obeying God. When this prioritization occurs, in his heart he has resolved to kill anyone who opposes his demands, were he capable of doing so. [11]
أنه لما أقدم على القتل العمد العدوان فقد رجح داعية الشهوة و الغضب على داعية الطاعة و متى كان الأمر كذلك كان هذاالترجيح حاصلا بالنسبة إلى كل واحد فكان في قلبه أن كل أحد نازعه من مطالبه فإنه لو قدر عليه لقتله

The murderous campaigns undertaken by some misguided Muslims that have led to the massacre of thousands of civilians in the Muslim world and that are now threatening the innocent people in this country are not manifestations of Jihad, as some claim. Rather, they are a mirror image of the godless murderous mayhem and carnage this country has inflicted on the innocent civilians of many Muslim countries, and, as explained above, it involves an abandonment of the prophetic legacy.

Every Muslim who is concerned for the future of his or her faith and the future of the prophetic legacy in the world is morally obliged to work in whatever capacity he or she can to stop attacks that target innocent civilians by any party –Muslims or members of other communities. The basis for this moral obligation is powerfully stated by Imam Razi in his commentary on (5:32). He mentions:

If all of humanity knew that a single individual intends to exterminate them they would undoubtedly try their utmost to prevent him from obtaining his objective. Likewise, if they knew that he intends to kill a single person then their seriousness and exertion in trying to deter him from killing that person should be just as great as it would be in preventing their own mass murder. [12]
هو أن جميع الناس لو علموا من إنسان واحد أنه يقصد قتلهم بأجمعهم فلا شك أنهم يدفعونه دفعا لا يمكنه تحصيل مقصوده فكذلك إذا علموا منه أنه يقصد قتل إنسان واحد معين يجب أن يكون جدهم واجتهادهم في منعه عن قتل ذلك الإنسان مثل جدهم واجتهادهم في الصورة الأولى


The reason for this is that the life of a single innocent person has the sanctity of the lives of all humanity. This is an ideal we cannot let die. If we allow it to die who will revive it? Human history has shown how quickly we can begin a free fall into murderous madness once we have entered upon the path that justifies murdering innocent civilians and other noncombatants. If the American military and the warmongering interests supporting it are guilty in this regard we condemn them in the strongest terms, and if our fellow Muslims are guilty we must likewise condemn them.

The only difference between the two cases is that when the American military kills innocent civilians it is violating principles of human rights and worldly conventions, which, as we have seen with the current arguments justifying torture, are subject to change or being discarded altogether. When Muslims do it, we are betraying our faith and the legacy of the Prophets, peace upon them, who have left us a wealth of timeless, enduring wisdom.

Notes:
[1] I am not assuming that Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who has been arrested in association with this bomb plot is guilty. The investigation is ongoing and his guilt has yet to be established. The affair does provide an occasion to discuss the issues that are raised in this essay.
[2] This statement does not discount the existence of black or psychological operations that are undertaken against Muslim civilians by the security apparatuses of Western powers at war in the Muslim world, along with their agents and surrogates. However, it is undeniably true that an increasingly large number of the attacks against Muslim noncombatants are being undertaken by Muslims themselves.
[3] Quoted in Ward Thomas, The Ethics of Destruction: Norms and Force in International Relations (Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press, 2001), 90.
[4] The transcendental nature of Muslim norms does not deny the human effort that went into translating those norms into policy. Hence, like their medieval Christian scholastic counterparts, Muslim theologians struggled to define the scope and limits of civilian immunity.
[5] For an insightful study of the generally peaceful nature of Islam’s spread among non-Muslim peoples, and its respect for them see Professor Thomas Arnold, The Spread of Islam in the World: A History of Peaceful Preaching (New Delhi: Goodword Books, 2001).
[6] The most notable exception to this assertion is the Armenian Genocide that occurred in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. This controversial tragedy occurred during the waning years of a Muslim world governed by a viable Islamic tradition, and after Turkey had been transformed into a nationalist, quasi Islamic state led by the Young Turks. By that time, the Sultan was a powerless figurehead. For most of the Ottoman reign Armenians were a self-governing minority that enjoyed the protection of the rulers in Istanbul.
[7] See Abdal-Hakim Murad, Bombing Without Moonlight: The Origins of Suicidal Terrorism (Bristol, England: Amal Press, 2008). Murad convincingly demonstrates how Muslims who engage in wanton attacks against civilians are merely extensions of a deeply-rooted history of such violence in western civilization. Likewise, he shows how Muslims who would justify such violence openly reject the Islamic tradition of patience and restraint in strategic affairs.
[8] See John Gray, Al Qaeda and What It Means To Be Modern (New York: The New Press, 2005). Gray argues that the philosophy of al Qaeda owes more to the positivism of Saint-Simon and Comte than to any traditional Islamic influences, and its organizational structure is a reflection of 21st Century globalization.
[9] Their exceeding limits lies in the continuation of their murderous ways.
[10] Muhammad b. Ahmad al-Qurtubi, al-jami’ li ahkam al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1995), 3:147
[11] Muhammad b. ‘Umar Fakhruddin al-Razi, mafatih al-ghayb (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1995), 4:344
[12] Ibid., 4:344


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blind Drivers????!!!!!!!!!

Ok, now I thought I had lost the ability to be shocked about driving in Kuwait...thought I was fairly well aware of the hazards, but I admit I am completely dumbfounded and unnerved by the thought of BLIND DRIVERS!!!!! WTH?!


'Blind drivers' on Kuwait's roads

Published Date: January 23, 2010

KUWAIT: A number of blind or nearly-blind people in Kuwait are reportedly still allowed to drive, despite their visual impairments being classified as 'severe' by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor's (MSAL) medical committee.

One MSAL official said that although some of the individuals are receiving social benefits on the basis of their visual disabilities, the ministry sees them as 'healthy handicapped' and allows them to retain their driving licenses and drive unaided, reported Al-Rai. The MSAL official said that he holds the Higher Council for Disability Affairs wholly accountable for this situation since it has sole responsibility for issuing driving licenses for the disabled through its medical committee.

Suppose that the doctors made a mistake in diagnosing the medical condition?" the official said. "Why doesn't the traffic committee not check the names of the 'healthy handicapped' in coordination with the Ministry of Interior to ensure their information is correct? The traffic committee is not pro-active and hasn't played its proper role.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Family, Time, and Life

I have been a spectator to time's evanescent nature, as my parent's visit came and went so expediently that I was never able to settle into the luxury of their stay.
It was the first time that they came to visit that I was working and unable to spend the entire time with them. My only hope is that it was beneficial for them to not have anything to do and therefore be forced to just relax. It was a strange turn of events to have me going off to work and my father at home. Reminds me of the Cat's in the Cradle song.
I think at some point, it would be really nice to move closer in towards the city. We are just too far away to make going out any pleasure at all. The driving is still hair-raising, and I fear that I may get in trouble someday with my 'expressive' nature. Although, I have held myself back from using any American, quickly recognizable gestures, and have chosen instead more colorful Italian ones. :)
Anyway, life keeps playing regardless of its players, which could seem cruel and indifferent at times, but I find it permissive instead. I think that that essence is what sometimes encourages me to duck out because I recognize that quality in this life and sometimes view my participation as detached. Of course, in reality I know that it is not, that however tenuous my connection to the world is, my connection to its inhabitants, namely my family is not. Further, I know that my footprint in their lives and hearts is indelible, much as my families' are in my own. And that which might seem a simple act: a hug, smile, or acknowledgment at a tender moment, lives on beyond my delicate tether.
Thank you to my family, all of you, for being my teammates, for keeping me grounded, and for etching into my life some beautiful memories.