Posts Tagged ‘Society’

Advice for Attendees of the Harrow Mosque 9/11 Counter-Protest

// September 10th, 2009 // No Comments » // Blog

I wrote the following article in a hurry this afternoon, after receiving messages from certain friends and acquaintances, encouraging me, and other Muslims, to attend a counter-demo taking place outside Harrow Mosque tomorrow (Friday, Sept 11th, 2009).

As some of you may have heard, a coalition of fascist groups are planning to hold a static demo outside the Harrow Mosque in NW London, tomorrow, i.e., on Jumuah, Sept 11, 2009. A counter-protest has been organised by 'Unite Against Fascism', with support from various elements of the London Muslim community.

It is clear that tensions are now running high in the lead up to the event. I, myself, have received numerous text messages from Muslim acquaintances encouraging their fellow Muslims to go “defend the mosque” – without actually explaining what that means. I can't help but feel that this is all reminiscent of several violent clashes between fascist protesters and Muslim youth, that have occurred in the recent past. In this regard, sister Yvonne Ridley gave clear warning to attendees of the protest, via her Facebook profile… continue reading.

I actually heard about the event earlier in the week, but didn't really know what it was about, so I mistakenly ignored it. It's only when I received yet another text message about it this morning from a good friend, that I was spurred into writing something, worrying that all this buzz was leading somewhere bad, God forbid.

I am praying that the right-wing media, and the fascist thugs, don't get the anti-Muslim front page headlines they are no doubt salivating for, and that there are no casualties – on either side (I'd rather the opposition be guided, than beaten up, tbh; besides, doing so would only serve to start up a cycle of revenge attacks).

Channel 4 Revelations: “How Do You Know God Exists?”

// August 16th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Blog

Programme synopsis:

“Leading figures in the five principal faiths in Britain discuss their beliefs and answer questions about their basic faith and their own spiritual journeys.

The key figures interviewed are Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, Muslim theologian Tariq Ramadan, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Swami Pramtattvadas.

As well as addressing the 'big questions', including their concepts of God, heaven and hell, they speak frankly about their struggles and frequent moments of doubt, about the divisions within their ranks and crimes that have been committed in the name of religion.”

I only caught the second half of the show, but was just in time to see Tariq Ramadan do a really bad job of explaining the infamous 'wife-beating' verse in the Qur'an. It's not entirely his fault… editing is a dodgy business, and he only had one sentence to work with, really. But that's why I get quite annoyed with these types of shows. You aren't given the time to do justice to any topic.

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British Government’s Meddling with Islam & the Muslim Community

// August 5th, 2009 // No Comments » // Blog

Not the most catchy of titles, I admit, but it'll do.

It's for my article that was published today, over at MuslimMatters:

As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, I am subscribed to alerts from They Work For You – a free site that allows the public to keep track of parliamentary proceedings. Even so, I will continue to remind you all of this fact, because I think everyone should make use of this amazing service. I am hardly politically astute, but I still choose to keep an ear open for when the British government decides to talk about me (or rather, things dear to me), i.e., Islam and the Muslim community.

Recently, there was a sudden rise in the number of alerts I received, containing my keyword of choice, “Islam”, all because one particular British MP, Ben Wallace (Conservative MP for Lancaster & Wyre, Former Conservative MSP for North East Scotland), has been asking a lot of questions on the subject lately – six questions in just two days. After reading through them, I become somewhat alarmed, as they described a number of initiatives that have the potential to directly affect how Islam is understood and practised in the UK. This includes scholarly efforts to 'contextualise' Islam in Britain, and the teaching of Islamic Studies in universities. To add some further context, several of these questions were posed in relation to “Paragraph 9.21 of the UK Strategy for Countering International Terrorism“.

The six questions and answers are presented below.

Continue reading…

I was quite worried about how this article would be received – mainly because politics is not my forte. However, I don't consider this article to be 'political', rather, the intention was simply to be informative. These are matters that concern me – and the rest of the British Muslim community – and I felt it my duty to spread the news.

I am also concerned about sounding like 'just another paranoid Muslim, thinking the government is out to get us'. But the thing is, though my own opinion can be utterly ignored, the facts cannot. And that is what I have aimed to do: present a set of facts – without editing, and providing original sources – then analyse those facts, and present my own theory. The theory could be way off, but the facts remain as facts. Facts, facts, facts… FACTS. [I thought I'd throw that word in a few more times for added emphasis.]

I asked a friend of mine to read over the article while it was still in draft form, and she wasn't aware of any of the initiatives described therein. I'd call her an 'average' Muslim – in that she is conscientious, but not politically active, as such. She, too, was alarmed at the information. So, I am hoping that I am not way off base with my assessment.

Thanks to Indigo Jo for giving the article a once over too, and confirming a mistake that I had made. Though he never told me whether he agreed with my paranoid instincts or not – I'm sure he'll share his opinions soon enough, inshā’Allāh.

My Big Day Out

// July 27th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

As I mentioned in my last status update, Thursday 23rd July ended up being quite a productive day for me, māshā’Allāh. For a start, I was actually active between the normal working hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. Amazing! I didn't even manage that during my PhD.

The day involved two major meetings, each relating to the two main projects that currently dominate my unemployed life: Deaf Muslim initiatives (e.g., SignLabs), and blogging. As the content of both meetings was pretty much confidential, I'll skip the details, and just describe the basic aims.

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Don’t Play Shaytaan’s Blame Game

// July 10th, 2009 // 10 Comments » // Blog

I attended the much hyped (my own doing) “Emasculated Muslim Men and the Feminist Hijabi” debate this evening. I actually bumped into my good blog buddy, Sumera, prior to the start of the event; so I know that I wasn't the only intrigued blogger in the audience.

Anyway, I don't have much to say about it all. Partly because I was asked to film it, so I was too busy paying attention to my camera, to soak in much of anything. I can tell you that it was a very mature, rational discussion, māshā’Allāh; there wasn't really any kind of 'debate' as such, as all the speakers pretty much agreed with one another (even though the panel consisted of Muslims and a non-Muslim, men and women – “Yey!” for social harmony).

However, one tidbit that made a lasting impression, was offered by the entertaining, yet informative, Imam Shahnawaz Haque (Psychotherapist, Teacher and Khatib), in response to an audience member asking why all the attention was being placed on the deficiencies of men – what about women's deficiencies?

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Ten Years Later

// June 28th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

This weekend has been one of nostalgia and reminiscence.

Every June, the alumni association of my school holds a reunion dinner. This year, special invites were sent out to my class – the class of '99 – to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

I knew straight away that I would not be attending. For one, it's in Leicester; for two, the ticket cost £30; and for three, there will be alcohol a plenty, which, on the grounds of both religion, and personal comfort, precluded my attendance.

Still, I couldn't keep my mind off the gathering.

In school, I was your average nerd: 'four eyes', train tracks on my teeth, overweight, hair always neatly braided, A-grades in every subject – except Phys Ed, naturally. Thank God, I was never really bullied; rather, incessantly teased, and the victim of more than one practical joke.

Therefore, ever since leaving school, I have dreamt about returning to a future reunion, as a smart, successful – and yes, gorgeous – individual, who didn't let her geekish tendencies hold her back in any way (if anything, they would help to mould me into said “smart, successful, gorgeous individual”). The typical 'ugly duckling turns swan' teen fantasy.

What I didn't expect, however, was that midway between graduation and reunion, I would undergo a complete moral and spiritual makeover; a personal revival that has altered every previous misguided notion of what makes someone a success, and truly beautiful. Now, the idea of attending a reunion to simply show off how great I have it, would be anathema to the principles that I hold dear.

Besides, I imagine the entire dinner would be such a superficial experience, especially as I detest small talk. Further, I have made contact with many of my past school mates via Facebook. If I really wanted to catch up with them in person, I would have done so by now, especially as several also live and work in London.

Saying all that, I'd still like to meet up with a few people from my past; especially my teachers. Thank them for their hard work, guidance, and inspiration. I'd also like to walk around the old school grounds, as they were quite beautiful, and are home to some great memories.

Anyway, until I marry Noah Wyle, my original reunion fantasy would be incomplete. Really, without him, it wouldn't even be worth the bus fare. Ten years, fifty years: some dreams will never die (even though we do become more realistic about how unattainable they are with every passing year).

:)

Definition of Friendship

// June 28th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I just wrote a mini-paper on the meaning of friendship, in response to a contact's status message on Facebook. It kinda sucks to take over someone's profile like that, so I am transferring the rant from there, to here, and replacing it with a much shorter URL. :)

Plus, I want a longer term record of what I said, because it's the kind of advice that will bite me in the bee-hind one day, if I ever forget it – this post will hopefully serve like a post-it note, for when I will inevitably need the same 'talking to'.

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Why I Could Teach, But Most Likely Never Will

// June 10th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Blog

This post on homeschooling reminded me of a recent realization about my own aversion towards taking the PGCE route that so many PhD graduates seem to pursue, having realized that they can no longer tolerate the research environment.

It's not that I don't enjoy teaching – even teaching kids, and young people. I just can't deal with the discipline issues; or should I say, lack of discipline issues. I can already predict that having to deal on a daily basis with rowdy adolescents that are intent on pushing every button and testing every boundary, will eventually reduce me to one of those babbling, stuttering, post-nervous breakdown teachers that we've all been taught by at one point in our lives (for me, it was my year 9 History teacher. There were rumours that his odd behaviour was a result of him being locked in a cupboard by his students for several hours. And this at a private school).

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Watch iMuslim ‘Live’ Tonight, on Divan 2.0 (7.15pm, UK Time)

// May 22nd, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Blog

I've been invited to be a panellist at a Radical Middle Way event tonight. The subject up for discussion is Islam and the Internetz… so at least I'll be familiar with the subject matter – inshā’Allāh!

I'll be representing MuslimMatters, so please make dua that I don't let the side down, as it'll be my first time doing anything like this (I'm trying to minimize your expectations; remember, blogging and public speaking are two different animals!).

Welcome to Muslim 2.0 – a wired generation whose members would rather pose their tough questions to Shaykh Google than their local Imam and who feel more connected to the Facebook ummah than the congregation at the local mosque. Never has Muslim conversation buzzed with so many divergent, combative and off-the-wall perspectives.

But is more Muslim chatter really better?

Has Web 2.0 democratised Muslim debate, and if so at what cost?

Are we talking to each other or at each other?

With so many blogs, websites and forums to choose from, are we actually engaging with other points of view or are we comfortable staying in our intellectual (and spiritual) ghettos?

Join us for Divan 2.0, as we bring together some of British Islam's most (in)famous bloggers, web pioneers and online warriors for some face-to-face debate. They will be taking your questions in this special “Question Time” style event.

Challenge and be challenged – submit your questions in advance and come ready to jump into fray!

For those who can't make the free event in London, you can watch live via the little video box below. It'll start approx. 7.15pm BST (GMT+1), inshā’Allāh.

Men Really Are From Mars

// April 1st, 2009 // 15 Comments » // Blog

I attended a workshop a couple of days ago, titled “Positive Presence and Image”, that aimed to help Muslim women create a greater personal impact within their professional environments.

The female instructor gave us several pieces of advice, but the one that stuck in my head the most was how to effectively communicate with male colleagues. A very important topic, considering that the workplace is still somewhat of a “man's world”.

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