Muslim Americans-To Vote or Not To Vote: My Experience

4 11 2008

I just got home from voting for the 2008 Presidential Election. Normally, I don’t get into politics especially not on my blog. Let me just say………I am so glad this election is finally over.  It has been two years of constant back and forth dominating all the news stations and even making it’s way to dinner table discussions. I will just be glad to get back to normal once this thing is wrapped up.

There is a debate among some Muslims as to whether we should even be involved in politics and I respect the opinions of those who vote and get involved and those who don’t. I think it’s a very personal decison and one that should be weighed rather than handled with haste. Personally, I made my decison to get involved after much contemplation.  I feel that as a community in the United States if we all voted one way we could definatley sway the outcome. I believe that when we look at two candidates and see one who will be better for Muslims that we should act and vote for him or her. And yes, I would vote for a woman if I thought she would benefit the Muslims in this country and abroad. I think as Americans we should exercise our right to vote and give ourselves and our community a voice in politics. Otherwise, I believe that the misconceptions of Muslims and the ignorance will persist.  Our situation will never change unless we get out and do our part to change it ourselves. Individually one vote may not be the difference in the outcome of an election but it is estimated that there are nearly two million registered Muslim voters in the USA.  Subhan’Allah what a difference all those votes could make, especially taking into consideration that large Muslim communites exist in “battleground states” such as Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Virginia. 

But again, It is a personal decision. That’s the beauty of a democracy and free country. You can get involved or not.

To be honest, I was NOT expecting what I saw when I went to the poll. I come from a very small town and am accustomed to standing in line on election day…..there is one polling place for the entire community where I grew up (an old fire department).

But since I moved to a slightly bigger town, I was honestly not prepared for the influx of people. It was back to back traffic this morning and people lined up all the way outside. There were parents with children, elderly in wheel chairs, and an assortment of various races and religions…. the excitement and anxiousness was palpable.  I felt like I was part of something huge. And indeed, no matter which candidate wins this election will be one for the history books.  Either the first African American will be elected president of the United States or we will have the first woman to serve as vice president of the United States.

By tomorrow we will have reached a milestone in our history as a relatively young nation.  Alhamdullilah, I can say that I made sure that at least one Muslim American voice was heard and one Muslim American vote will be counted, Insh’Allah.

May Allah give us an outcome that will be the most benefitial to us and make us content with His Qadr (decree). ameen.

My question for other American Muslims is did you vote? Why or why not? And for the Muslims around the world……who would you like to see elected and why?

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Going Green: The In Thing

4 06 2008

Today, the Discovery Network will launch “Planet Green”, a 24 hour channel focusing on promoting eco-friendly living featuring celebrities to sell the concept.

Scientists have repeatedly warned us in the past to slow down on carbon emissions, find alternative energy sources, and generally eat and live an eco-lifestyle. Though, no one paid attention until a few celebrities jumped on board. Then BAM! It’s everywhere.

I can’t wait to see what “Planet Green” has to offer. It is past time that we start living better.

Though, I can’t help but focus on our society. We are so obsessed with Hollywood that we need actors and actresses to promote something before we will pay attention. Does anyone think for themselves anymore? Or is everything dominated by what the celebrities are doing? In the fifties, people smoked because it was “in”. Now, we quit because it is “in.” We drove gas guzzling suvs because it was “In.” Now, we are told to give them up because hybrids are “in.”

As with everything “In”, celebrities are almost the only ones who can afford a green lifestyle. The cost of renovating homes, buying new cars, buying organic, etc etc can add up to a small fortune….or a very large fortune for working lower-middle class families.

Ah, and I can’t help but find the irony in driving up to an energy INEFFICIENT awards ceremony in a prius.

I guess we should just be grateful that the trends are changing for the better.

Go ahead and go green…..it’s in!





Noggin To Broadcast 24/7

8 12 2007

I recently read on the Noggin website (which my three year old frequents) that Noggin will begin broadcasting 24 hours a day beginning on December 31st.

I’m quite dissappointed in this decision. One of the things that has impressed me about Noggin is the fact that it only broadcasts from 6am-6pm. Thus, parents who like to park their kids in front of the tv only have the ability to do so for 12 hours vs. allowing them to sit there all night as well. Oh, of course, the parent’s can flip over to sprout or some other 24 hour cartoon network once 6pm rolls around. However, Noggin ending at 6pm meant that Noggin was not going to support that lifestyle. It promoted (to a degree) spending evenings with the kids.

My real issue here is probably not the fact that we have 24 hour cartoon channels for preschoolers. My issue is not even that we have television programs that essentially wake up with the children and put them to bed (yes, Sprout has a good night show to get kids ready for bed).

My issue goes back to the lifestyle we are promoting and God forbid, living. I seriously hope and pray that parents are not utilizing a 24 hour cartoon network for their children.

Many studies have proven that children need human interaction. Sitting in front of the tv all day (and now all night) does not provide this. It is no wonder that this generation of children have alarming obesity rates and social problems.

Hopping down off my soapbox now….





Hey, I’m No Expert!

25 09 2007

Well, I don’t know exactly when it happend but it appears that my non-Muslim friends and family  have declared me their “Official Expert and Consultant on everything Muslim, Islam, or anything remotley related to the two.”  This became all too apparent yesterday when my phone began ringing off the hook. What did everyone want to discuss? The President of Iran’s visit to NYC. 

This process is repeated anytime anything that may be remotley related to Islam or a Muslim is mentioned in the news. Though, my aquaintences tend to group Islam, Muslims, Middle East, Arabs, and any other dominatley Muslim country in the same category. So, you can rightfully imagine I keep well in touch with my relatives.

 It’s really quite funny that people expect me to have an opinion about anything Muslim, Islam, Middle Eastern, etc related.  Don’t get me wrong, I usually ALWAYS have an opinion and am all to happy to give it. However, it’s strange to be deferred to and a huge responsibility on my part. It is a responsibility because I am these people’s only link to Islam and Muslims and as I mentioned before they tend to have a very broad definition of what that encompasses. Therefore, what I say (or don’t say) will make an impact on their views of  Islam in general.  Alas,  I’m not an expert on Islam or even the culture of the various “Muslim Countries.”In fact, I am highly lacking in the latter. As for the former, I know the basics but certainly I’m no expert. Neither am I a pyschologist so I don’t know “why those people do what they do.”  And That’s the crux of the matter.

I don’t think any muslim would discourage asking questions. However, it has to be said that we don’t all know what we’re talking about all the time. 😉 Sometimes, we don’t know the answers to questions regarding international politics. Sometimes, we have misconceptions ourselves that taint our views of current events.  Sometimes, we don’t even know the answers to questions about Islam.  As Muslims, if we don’t know something or can’t say something constructive we should not be too arrogant to admit it and go ask someone who does know. As for Non Muslims, feel free to keep asking (taking into consideration the above points) and if we don’t know something insh’Allah we’ll find someone who does and relay the information or point you in their direction. 😀

By the way, I also saw Donald Trump last night on CNN being interviewed about politics. I may be a bit out of the loop but uhhh why were they interviewing him? Honestly, I have no idea.





Funny, Isn’t it?

3 09 2007

I received this in an e-mail and found it was a very good reminder and sorry to say for many it’s accurate. In reality it’s anything but funny.

Funny, Isn’t it?
* Funny how a $20 bill looks so big when you take it to the mosque, but so small when you take it to the market.

* Funny how long it takes to do Zikr (remember Allah) for an hour, but how quickly a team plays 60 minutes of basketball.

* Funny how long a couple of hours spent at the mosque are, but how short they are when watching a movie.

* Funny how we can’t think of anything to say when we pray, but don’t have difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

* Funny how we get thrilled when a baseball game goes into extra innings, but we complain when a “Tarawih” during Ramadhan is longer than the regular time.

* Funny how hard it is to read a chapter of the Holy Quran, but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a best selling novel.

* Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert, but scramble to get a back row at mosque so that they can scramble out fast.

* Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks advance notice to fit a mosque event into our schedule, but can adjust our schedule for other events at the last moment.

* Funny how hard it is for people learn a simple preaching well enough to tell others, but how simple it is for the same people to understand and repeat gossip.

* Funny how we believe what the newspaper says, but question what the Quran says.

* Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven provided they do not have to believe, or to think, or to say, or do anything.

* Funny how you can send a thousand ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding Allah, people think twice about sharing.

FUNNY, ISN’T IT?

Are you laughing? Are you thinking?
Give thanks to Allah for He is good & Merciful!





The Muslim Man’s Dress Code

30 08 2007

A muslim man and his wife are walking down a crowded street in Miami. It’s hot and humid. The woman is covered showing nothing but her hands and face and the man……well, many times is in jeans and a t-shirt or perhaps shorts and a t-shirt. Now, I’m not screaming “haram!” at these men. Of course not, their dress code isn’t the same as a Muslim woman’s dress code. However, this image usually fuels the arguments of many Non Muslims that women are oppressed and have too many rules attached to their dress. Just yesterday a comment was made to me “Well, that’s fine, as long as he covers his head too.” I told her “Yes, rest assured my husband is dressed in long sleeves, pants, and has his head covered too. We’re happily suffering through the heat together. Solidarity!” So, we had a good chuckle and went along our ways. I’m never surprised when I get these comments. Though, In fact, If you take a look at Muslim countries you will see many men with their heads covered. In fact many men in those countries dress in thobes, long sleeves, etc.

Some people may do a double take when they learn that Muslim men have a dress code as well. Some men take their dress code lightly. Some think the women’s code is more important and thus spend their lives lecturing various women about what to wear and what not to wear. These men need to seriously understand that disobedience to Allah is disobedience to Allah whether you are a man or a woman.

The following are some rules related to men’s dress in Islam as well as some pictures of traditional islamic clothing for men. Some of these apply to women as well (which I will mark with an *).

Trim the moustache and save the beard. [Al-Bukhari and
Muslim]
It is haraam (forbidden)for women to imitate men and men to imitate women in the way they dress, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed the men who imitate women and the women who imitate men.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5546.

*It is Sunnah to pay attention to keeping one’s clothes clean, without feeling arrogant or exaggerating about that.

It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No one will enter Paradise in whose heart is a mustard-seed of arrogance.” A man said: “What if a man likes his clothes to look nice and his shoes to look nice?” He said: “Allaah is Beautiful and loves beauty; arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.”

Narrated by Muslim, 91.

It is haraam for the Muslim man to let any garment he wears hang down beneath his ankles (an action known as isbaal); the limit for any garment is the ankles.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said; “Whatever of the lower garment is beneath the ankles is in the Fire.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5450.

It was narrated from Abu Dharr that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three to whom Allaah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection and will not look at them or praise them, and theirs will be a painful torment.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) repeated it three times. Abu Dharr said: “May they be doomed and lost; who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said: “The one who lets his garment hang beneath his ankles, the one who reminds others of favours he has done, and the one who sells his product by means of false oaths.”

Narrated by Muslim, 106.

Abu Dawood (3140) and Ibn Maajah (1460) narrated that ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Do not show your thigh, and do not look at the thigh of anyone, living or dead.” (The majority of fuqaha’ are of the view that these ahaadeeth should be followed and they stated that a man’s ‘awrah is from the navel to the knee. See al-Mughni, 2/284 )-Some are of the opinion this is not authentic as there is another hadith stating the Prophet was riding a mule and his thigh was showing. However, most scholars say it is authentic and a man should cover navel to knee.

It was narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasaa’i, and by al-Tirmidhi who classed it as saheeh, and by Abu Dawood, and by al-Haakim who classed it as saheeh, and by al-Tabaraani, and classed as saheeh by Ibn Hazm, from Abu Moosa al-Ash’ari (may Allaah be pleased with him), that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

Gold and silk have been permitted for the females of my ummah, and forbidden for the males.”

Items died with saffron dye Narrated Anas: The Prophet forbade men to use saffron. (Book #72, Hadith #737)

Lower the gaze and guard the private parts from illegal sexual acts.*

Dress modestly*

Oh, and one of the most important rules and perhaps one of the most overlooked (after lowering the gaze): Be distinct and do not resemble the unbelievers. *

How many men actually follow these rules? How many dismiss them and think they aren’t that important? Often, the very same ones who dismiss their own dress codes are the most outspoken on the dress of women in Islam.  Brothers need to wake up and take care to make sure they are dressed correctly. It is just as important that brothers follow the rulings as women. Also, men need to know, just because a woman is dressed provocitavely, letting it all hang out so to speak doesn’t give you the right to stare at her. The rules of lowering the gaze  applies whether the woman is wearing a burqa or a bikini. Most brothers need to take care and remember that.  Dressing properly is just as much inner as outer. Like a woman’s hijab it encompasses modesty, inner pride, a desire to please your creator and follow the sunnah, lowering the gaze and protecting yourselves from such sins as illegal intercourse, lying, backbiting, and cursing. It includes being kind, just, fair, humble. It includes being kind to your wives as the Prophet(saw) said: The best of you are the one’s who is best to their wives.   In general having the character that the Prophet (saw) and his righteous companions exhibited. We like to talk about Muslim women following the examples of other pious Muslim women. Well, men should follow the examples of the Prophet and his companions. Brothers today should reflect on their kindness, compassion, fondness with their wives, integrity and implement these characteristics in their own lives. In a family we all play a part. Everyone is a shepherd (leader) over their own station. We all work together. The Muslim man needs to pull his weight as he asks the Muslim woman to do so as well. This way things will run smoothly and the family unit will be a source of peace and comfort to the heart, insh’Allah. The children will grow up with the same values and ultimatley the entire ummah will benefit.

I want to give a shout out to the brothers who do follow the dressing guidelines and are modest. Those who do implement the characteristics of a good muslim man. Because they are rare indeed. Alhamdullilah for the brothers who do dress appropriately and lower their gazes. May Allah reward you all and bless you in this life and the Hereafter. ameen. And as the Prophet (saw) said: Glad tidings to the strangers!

If I have left out any of the dress requirements for men please feel free to add. )

 

Some Examples of traditional clothing for Muslim men:

 

 

 





Choosing Sides…caution contains incoherant rambling

11 08 2007

I will come right out and say that I hate being put in a position of choosing sides. It seems throughout my life, I have always had to choose. Ever heard the saying, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too?” Well, just for once, I would like to be able to eat the cake (so to speak). I would like to be able to please both parties. It just never works out that way. No matter how hard I try, I can’t please everyone. I should realize that by now. However, My character is one that does wish to please EVERYONE. I hate conflict and drama. I am a peace keeper by nature. Yet, drama seems to seek me out of all people. Ironic really. Some of my family members feed on drama and yet, they never have the full experience of it.

The most difficult situations to choose between often involve friends, family, mentors, and……..religion. One of my most difficult choices was when I was given the ultimatum: Islam or life as I knew it (parents, home, friends). Needless to say, I chose Islam and haven’t regretted it. In the end, It all worked out for the best as I’m on good terms with my family and practicing Islam. Though, I would be lying if I said I don’t still feel some resentment towards my mother for making me choose at that vulnerable time in my life.

Another thing I hate about choosing sides is when children are forced into this postion. Often, warring parents don’t have the good sense that God gave them to keep their children out of it. Instead, they drag them into the fray and force them to choose where their loyalties lie. All the time, they will offer their children candy, money, toys, etc. to try to push the child in their favor. Usually, this is done for purely selfish vindictive reasons-to see which spouse can wound the other more by using their children as pawns. This is seriously disgusting and any parents who do this, please stop it if you care about your kids at all, stop it now. All this is doing is damaging the child(ren). They will be left confused and feeling used. Feeling that they are not good enough or lovable enough unless they forsake one parent and cling to the other.These feelings will likely linger with them through their lives causing trouble in their future relationships.

With all my negative views on having to choose sides I have to admit……..On a positive note, at least I have a choice! 😀 What can I say, I’m a glass half full kinda gal!