Archive for November, 2009

Skating at the Museum on Eid-ul-Adha 1430

// November 27th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Photos

I continued my Eiding-in-the-park tradition this morning, alhamdulillah. I was stood behind the masallah, and had a great view of the jamaat. But I decided against taking any photos. It felt like I'd be breaking a trust. Plus, sometimes you just need to live the moment, rather than be distracted by your fervent attempts to capture it.

The good news is, on my way home from uni this afternoon, I discovered my camera in my coat pocket. Thus I was finally able to capture some shots of the Natural History Museum ice rink, which I've been eager to do ever since it was set up a few weeks ago.

The last shot is my favourite… I think it would make a nice postcard. Btw, am I alone in thinking ice skating is the most romantic of the winter sports? All that huddling, cuddling and giggling… Sigh.

Happy ‘Īd, everybody!

Yet Another Harrow Mosque Protest: Stewards Wanted

// November 26th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

I met one of the trustees of Harrow Mosque, Mahmood Awan, during my trip to Bristol last weekend (read more about why I was there in the first place, and see my photos here).

We briefly discussed the recent SIOE protest, where a small group of protesters were greeted by several hundred Muslims, many of whom were youths. Though I commend their loyalty to the community, we all know how notoriously hard it is to keep large groups of young men calm, even at the best of times! Therefore, I, and many others, felt justified in our fears that the counter-protest would quickly descend into chaos, without proper stewardship.

I mentioned to brother Mahmood that, at the time, I had posted a request on MuslimMatters, calling for self-restraint, and suggested that in the future there should be more leadership through action, from the older, more level-headed individuals amongst the male members of the Muslim community.

Now in the face of yet more threats from SIOE to protest, the mosque has taken the responsible step to train a small army of community volunteers to help diffuse any tension that may arise during the next mass gathering.

Assalam alaikum

As you may be aware Harrow Central Mosque is once again the focal point for right-wing Islamophobic extremists who will be holding a protest on Sunday 13th December.

Harrow Central Mosque would like to have a number of community volunteers to act as stewards to try and make sure that the young people, and others attending, are kept safe and are not encouraged to do actions by others which will simply damage the image of Muslims in Harrow and the reputation of the mosque.

The key group behind the protest, Stop the Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), had made it very clear that the intention of such protests is to show how violent the Muslims are. It is our intention to refute this by making sure those who attend are not pulled into actions which may break the law or allow the media to get that “money” shot.

We are looking for up to 50 volunteers. You should be calm and level headed and be able to speak with people in a manner which will deflate tensions. We are not here to police the event nor expect you to assist the police in making arrests or controlling opposing protesters. We simply want to make sure that we do all we possibly can to prevent the young people attending, majority of whom will be Muslim, from getting into unnecessary trouble with the Police and providing a voice of reason and trust.

Training will take place on:

Sunday 6th December
Harrow Central Mosque
(after Maghrib salah)
Duration: approx 1 hr.

If you are interested in helping please contact info[@]harrowmosque.org.uk . Please do let us know if you are coming so that we can make adequate arrangements. Training will be provided by the head of the security firm hired by the mosque.

Please feel free to pass this email onto other brothers and your networks.

If you're a brother based in London, and wish to help on the day, please contact the mosque asap. I'm sure any respectful advice would also be most welcome from those with experience in handling such potentially volatile situations.

The Surprising Science of Motivation

// November 17th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I've been quickly getting through my pile of unwatched TED videos, during my daily one hour commute to and from uni. Everyday I say to myself: “Wow! I must post this on the blog!”, only to forget… which is probably a good thing, considering the number of “wow” moments I have recently experienced which would lead to the blog becoming a TED mirror site.

Anyway, the following video evoked a much larger 'wow' than the rest, because of the extent that the advice contained therein is so contrary to widespread public opinion. The engaging speaker, Dan Pink, proves that when it comes to motivation, the carrot and stick approach doesn't always work. Who knew?

Consider the impact that such research has on the city's 'bonus culture', which has been dominating the headlines of late? And of greater import: the nature of mainstream education. I feel like I've been bred to only perform in the presence of pressure, which means I'm always leaving things to the last minute. If only I could work effectively without threats of failure looming over my head!

Therefore, I urge you to watch the video… but I won't offer you any extra incentives to do so. ;)

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories — and maybe, a way forward.

Brass Crescent Award 2009 Nominations

// November 17th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Announcements

Update: The results have now been announced… as predicted, I didn't win an award, but many of the people on my 'recommended' list below did, māshā’Allāh. Congrats to all!


I learnt this morning via the Twittervine that my blog has been nominated for a Brass Crescent award, under the “Best Design” category.

England's self-proclaimed Desi Dreamer and Mad Muslimah, iMuslim offers extensive photos, videos, and a clean interface. “She's a good all rounder.”

Credit where credit is due: the theme that I currently use on this site was designed by WooThemes. I tweaked it slightly to fix some bugs and improve the layout, and I obviously replaced the header with something more relevant… but that's about it!

However, I'm still grateful for the recognition. So jazakumAllah khair to the peeps who nominated me. :)

The following are some of my own recommendations:

Best Blog: MuslimMatters.org… I'll admit that I'm also a fan of SuhaibWebb.com. (Just don't tell my MM team mates that I said that!)

Best Group Blog: MuslimMatters.org

Best Humo(u)r Blog: This one is tough as I seriously dig three out of the five blogs listed! McPagal, Mr Moo and Mummyjaan.

Best European Blog: Indigo Jo

Best South Asian Blog: The View from Behind My Specs

Best Retired Blog: Kelly Izdihar's Blog (aka Izzy Mo)

Please visit the site and vote… May the best blogs win! :)

My Dream Boy

// November 13th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Blog

Inspired by this post.

About a month ago I dreamt that I was on a journey with someone – a man; someone I'm somewhat familiar with in real life. We had stopped somewhere en route, and were using the computer room.

Swinging round in my swivel chair, I came to face to face with a young boy, maybe six years old or so. I said “hi”, in the kind of gentle way that you would with a small child… but for some unknown reason, he responded by launching into an unannounced bear hug! It felt like the type of sincere embrace that a child would give if they were scared, lonely, and needed reassurance.

I didn't know the boy at all, but I was so moved by this simple gesture, by his implicit trust in me, that I couldn't let go. As his chest lay upon mine, I felt my heart beat so strongly – almost painfully. I suspected that someone had abandoned him there, and that he had latched onto me like a lost puppy, hoping that I would love him. The whole experience evoked such a powerful maternal instinct in me; I just knew in my bones that I was meant to protect him.

I turned to my travel companion (whilst still engaged in the bear hug), who was sat on a nearby terminal. And as soon as I did, I saw a little girl do the exact same thing to him! I knew – as one usually 'knows' in dreams – that the little girl was the little boy's sister. They had both been abandoned.

We carried the children to our car – a large, black 4 x 4. I was so sad. I wanted to take them with us. I wanted to make them mine, and never let them be alone again. In the background, I listened to my companion share his opinions on how unfortunate the whole situation was… but I could tell without asking that he was unwilling to take the children. He was being the sensible man; I, the emotional woman – though I reluctantly understood his perspective, and didn't argue. I remember the solemn look on my face, and how I secretly hoped that it would be enough to make him change his mind.

Well, it seemed to have worked! Because as the dream advanced to the next 'scene', it was several years in the future. The travel companion and I were now married (I assume we weren't before), and the children were ours.

There was more to the dream, which has now been forgotten, and so I assume it was less significant. The strangest part, however, happened after I awoke. I made the opening takbir for Fajr salat. I went to place my hands on my chest, and subhanallah, I felt the same strong, painful, feeling of empathy in my heart, as I did during my embrace with the little, lost child.

As I prayed, I wept. All for the love of my dream boy.

How Old is iMuslim?

// November 9th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Blog

Well, as of this entry, the blog is 500 posts (and just over three years) old. I have deleted the majority of posts created during the period of experimentation with imported status messages, so it is an official milestone this time – no cheating.

I now present my – I mean, my blog's – birthday wish list. And if you think birthday presents are too much of an innovation, then consider it an ‘Īd al-Aḍḥa wish list instead:

  • a Nintendo Wii, with Wii Fit/Active/Sports/whatever makes me sweat and get fit enough in the privacy of my own home, to eventually allow me to return to the kickboxing classes that I so dearly miss.
  • a compact DSLR
  • a decent haircut (blonde curls are a real possibility – an in-joke for my FB sisters)
  • a Maths tutor
  • a big ol' punch bag, like I saw on TV last night. Awesomeness!
  • Really good chocolate. I mean, so good that I don't care that it makes me fat, because it's that amazing. Cadburys and Thorntons do not fit in that category at present. Maybe Hotel Chocolat?
  • a trustworthy builder to knock down the wall that currently separates our two living rooms, so that the middle room can finally have some natural light, and not be so depressing a place to sit in – especially during the Winter.
  • a jacuzzi
  • someone that makes me feel less 'bleurghy'
  • a good, non-trivial, real life, face-to-face conversation, that doesn't involve discussion of the weather (unless it's related to a debate on climate change), or the stupidity of lecture timetables.

List to be updated as and when I – I mean, my blog – decides.

Btw, the above wish list is clearly pure self-indulgence. There are many things that I – and my blog – wish for, that are less selfish, and more altruistic. I am very blessed with what I already have, alhamdulillah, and don't feel at all lacking in respect to material goodness. I just felt like writing a 'me, me, me' post today. :)

What's on your (or your blog's) wish list?

Guy Fawkes Fireworks 2009

// November 7th, 2009 // 3 Comments » // Photos

I didn't take a tripod with me to the park tonight, so as expected, most of my shots of the fireworks display were immediately deletable. I did manage to salvage a couple of photos with a bit of post-process tweakerage:

I actually took the second one from the back of my friend's car, on our way home. In fact, I spent more time in the car than I did watching the fireworks! Oh well… it was still an enjoyable evening, māshā’Allāh. :)

Why Can Muslims Eat Big Macs?

// November 7th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

The following is a response to a post written by one of my colleagues at Ijtema.net, on the conditions that make meat permissible for Muslims to eat. Here is an extract to whet your appetite:

The whole zabiha vs. non-zabiha debate can get pretty emotional and even lead to fights. Surprisingly when one learns about it in some depth it's not all that complicated. I will list the 5 conditions the 'ulema have laid down for a slaughter to be permissible to eat, and then list some common misconceptions about the concept of zabiha.

The following five conditions must be met together when slaughtering an animal that is permissible to eat and requires slaughter… Click to read more

I recommend you read that post first – one, because it contains useful fiqhi info, and two, because my response will naturally make more sense that way.

Response

Tbh, the only thing I'd like explained to me, is why a Big Mac purchased in any McDonalds branch located in Western secular democracies, such as the UK and USA (for the most part), is considered by some to be permissible for Muslims to eat?

I completely understand the ruling about the meat of animals slaughtered by the Christians and Jews being permissible (excl. porcine flesh, blood, etc). But unlike the label 'Kosher', which actually has some value and meaning attached to it, McDonalds, and by extension, most fast food retailers in the West, do not offer any guarantee that the cows used in their burgers have been slaughtered by either a Christian or a Jew (irrespective of their level of practising).

Are the scholars who condone this working on a matter of probability? I.e., the majority (whatever % that is) of citizens in the US identify themselves as Christians, and hence the likelihood of the person slaughtering the animal being a Christian is high, and thus the meat automatically becomes permissible, unless clearly stated otherwise?

I really am curious, because I know a few people who follow the “People of the Book” rule that far, but they never ask the person serving the meat who did the slaughtering. We don't need to ask if the product is sold as halal/ kosher – but otherwise, shouldn't there be some responsibility on the individual consumer to at least enquire?

Considering how, in the West, tasks of manual labour (especially such messy, unpleasant ones) are usually consigned to low paid immigrants, which could be of any religion – and also, how meat can, and is, imported from anywhere in the world – I think such a 'catch-all' fatwa is more than a little risky.

In the UK, we are blessed in that halal meat is relatively easy to obtain – at least if you live in cities and towns with significant Muslim populations. However, that didn't happen overnight. This state of ease came about through necessity. The first generation of Muslims wanted to feed their families food that they could trust was halal. Without this demand, the market to supply halal produce – a market presently worth millions of pounds annually – would not have been established.

There are about two million Muslims in the UK but an estimated six million consumers of halal meat nationwide. Michael Oakes, board member for rural affairs at Advantage West Midlands, said British Muslims consumed 20% of all red meat sold in the country while making up just 3% of the population. [Source: BBC News – Farmers aim for halal meat market]

Further, the market has now begun to evolve to the next level: in response to recent halal meat scandals, a national halal monitoring committee was established to ensure correct slaughtering practices; major supermarket chains now stock halal produce in outlets with a significant Muslim customer base; and several new providers have sprung up to respond to the growing demand for organic meat (one example here).

Thus I believe that the 'catch-all' fatwa actually causes more harm than good in the long term, by discouraging the enterprise that would lead to a more certain state of affairs. Either we 'lay' Muslims have misunderstood the nature of this particular ruling (which is entirely probable), and/or the original need for such a fatwa no longer exists, especially as far more permissible alternatives are now commonly available. In reality, no-one is going to be placed at a life-threatening disadvantage from choosing to eat a 'fillet-o-fish', or vegetarian equivalent, in place of eating meat of unknown origin. And in the few cases where they are, then a whole new set of rulings apply, with the aim of preserving life and health.

Demand drives supply: Muslims in the West must continue to demand the supply of trustworthy zabiha meat, and also start putting their inherent, entrepreneurial skills to use. After all, the UK Muslim market proves that there is much reward – both earthly and heavenly – to be earned from doing so, inshā’Allāh.

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