This is sick. Pictures of American soldiers terrorizing Iraqi prisoners. These photo's are graphic...very. The link is below...this stuff is sick and we all need to do something about it... It's so clear who the real terrorists are more and more each day... Insh'Allah, the public will see it the same way soon.
Okay, what the hell is going on? Bush and Co. appoints Saddam's ex-general to run Falluja? Hmm...will someone please tell me what's going on? I just don't understand anymore. They are doing what? Come on looters...stop the nonsense. Does this make any sense? I mean if you are going to kill thousands of civilians and create all this war, why would you go and do something stupid like appointing one of the bad guys to office?
And now they also want a flag that is white and blue...much like Israel's.
Went on a road trip Sunday and it was great. Drove through Georgia to Savannah...a great town full of history and beautiful buildings and houses. Wandered around the squares and waterfront area soaking up the atmosphere and lots of humidity. Humidity there was 75%...that's just crazy. Humidity in Denver is usually around 35% and i could tell the difference. My hair too. I've never seen it do the things it was doing. What is up with that?
Anyhow... the next day, we went around Savannah and did the horse and carriage tour to get some history on the city. I wish I could remember right now all that it discussed but here are a few interesting facts. Savannah was the only city that wasn't burned down during the war between north and south, Savannah was the first planned city and that's why there are all the squares with neighborhoods surrounding them. These were great to explore each with a different theme and the houses that surround them immaculate and ornamental. Spanish moss drips everywhere. Very very cool. Also checked out the cemetery which housed some nice info. The tombs that were changed by the enemy are really kinda funny. You'd have a tombstone that says so and so, aged 12 years, and his wife aged 17 years and their son aged 47 years... The North did that as a disgrace to the southerners. Amusing stuff. Also checked out where Forrest Gump's bench was and also the building the feather floats in front of in the movie. The tour was great and the guide lotsa fun. I liked the square where the Declaration of Independence was read to an enthusiastic crowd. How amazing would that be? When people actually believed in their country. Tainted purity. I loved this town. Completely.
Next was Tybee Island and the Crab Shack. Went to eat lunch/dinner at the infamous Crab Shack...an outdoor "restaurant" - each table has a trash can in the middle to throw waste into. It sits right on the edge of the water and is pretty amusing. Felt like something straight out of a movie. Very southern casual dining and the place is very popular. Voted best seafood. It was very good. The theme was "Where the elite eat with bare feet." Funky and fun down by the water in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere.
Then we headed to Florida...Orlando. The first day we headed to Universal Studios. It was better than I had expected it to be. It was fun to experience a tornado, an earthquake, and the best was Shrek and Back to the Future. The Back to the Future one was just superb. All of us laughing and oohing and ahhing. The park itself is cool. The waterfront area was cool and the old sets all along the streets. Too much fun. Just what the doctor ordered. We experienced it all.
The next day we headed out to NASA... Kennedy Space Center and did the tour there. It is downright amazing when you look at the technology and space and the fact that we've been there. It's crazy that we can do these things. How scary that must have been for the first guy there. I mean the moon? Can you imagine?
The shuttles have really become so efficient and advanced. It just amazes me. And in a way it scares me too. I wonder if we are supposed to go there. It doesn't seem like it. I also wonder why the government wants to go there. It's cool and all but it's just not natural in a way. Although, if I could afford to see the moon up close I would probably go too.
But with all this technology why can't we do the simple things? And why can't we use that technology and knowledge for more useful things like creating peace. Our missions in space began as a fear of the Russians watching us which was logical. I remember those days where we had school drills for us to practice going into bomb shelters, etc. It was scary as a small kid and not understanding what was happening. Nothing compared to what many countries go through on a daily basis. The threat of war is nothing compared to actual war.
The air force base across the bay was interesting too. There's our weapons of mass destruction (a few of em...Bush being the biggest weapon of mass destruction). Missiles across the bay that can reach Russia. Pretty eerie.
Checked out Cocoa Beach and the surrounding area and headed back to Orlando as Cocoa Beach appeared to be more of a party town so we got back to where the attractions were. And Boggy Creek was calling us.
Next morning we went for an airboat ride through the marshes looking for gators and turtles and all that. It's so peaceful out there in the marshes. Miles and miles of undisturbed land. Saw a pretty big female gator too. Both of us now want to open one of these up and just cruise tourists around the marshes all day. How stress free would that be?
Florida was cool. Green, lush, gators swimming along the highway marshes, bald eagle nests...it was a great vacation. The bald eagles are cool too. Since they mate for life, they have homes to nest in. The ones we saw have a huge nest on the NASA grounds where they have their babies. But they also have a home in North Carolina. Kinda cool.
Other amusements. Finished the audiobook of Michael Moore's "Dude, Where's my Country?" - good stuff. I can't agree with it all, but he offers a lot to think about. The Georgian's in the rural areas don't speak English. Well it's English but they don't move their lips much so it just sounds like mumbo jumbo. Kinda funny as you have to look at the face and gestures to figure out what they are talking about. I wouldn't ask for directions as I'd probably end up in Arkansas. Searchin' for gators was fun too...ugly little critters but cute in that ugly sort of way.
Reminds me of a favorite song of mine: "And now it's 55 years later. We've had the romance of the century. After all these years wrestling gators I still feel like crying when I think of what you said to me..."
(copyright Seattle Times)
So that's one of the photo's that has everyone in an uproar... What is the big deal? I mean carnal damage...bloody soldiers laying across concrete would bother people but this? What is the big deal? Sheesh. And the lady who took this (and her husband) both got fired for it. Here's the article...
Wow! Two couples I know have eloped and gotten married in the last two weeks. Spring is definately in the air. Both married for the absolute right reasons too. I wish I could be so bold and brave, but I'm more traditional. Although I do think it would be easier (and definately cheaper) to do such a thing. The Lake Tahoe wedding sounded great. It's so pretty there. The Vegas one obviously wouldn't be for me. And there's no stress about family.
What else? I finished "Struggling to Surrender" by Jeffrey Lang. Real good book and he focuses on Islam in the West and namely the US which was good to read and helped me out a bit. He brought up a lot of good issues and things to think about. For instance, how a lot of customs/traditions are not viable in the US. The way our society is structured doesn't, for instance, warrant for segregation at mosques because most women here work and have to interact with men on a daily basis. So why not at the mosque? It does seem more people would show up and maybe a more vibrant discussion would take place and women would feel more of the process... I agree and think some women lose the religion because they feel trapped between being in the US and the religion. I talk to many women who give up the religion because they don't agree with some of the rules such as this. He also thinks female converts actually get slighted a lot because they are used to being part of a process, rather than sitting in a separate section and being quiet. It seems like a good idea though - desegregation. He also pointed out how during the prophet's (pbuh) time, there wasn't segregation...that it didn't occur until 150 years after his death. He goes into a lot of other things. I think it's a good book for converts and Muslims in general as he discusses many things that affect our communities and Muslim families/individuals in general.
Sometimes after reading a book like this, I'm left with a very contented feeling - that I am 100% sure I've made the right decision. Sometimes after being bombarded with what I should do or what is expected of me conflicts with my own feelings, and I feel frustrated. When I read something like this, I feel good about the decision I've made. I highly suggest reading it if you haven't.
It was a nice day to read too... Sat at the edge of the lake in a great nearby park and swung on a swinging park bench to the sounds of birds and enjoyed the words I was reading. It was one of those days where you just love being alive. All the senses are more alive. The smell of flowers tingle your nose, walking barefoot in the grass tickles your feet, and the air entering the lungs is a blessing. I love those days...
Ha. Six inches of snow expected in Denver overnight and I'm in sunny perfect weather Georgia. Ah...lol. I'm realizing I would never miss snow.... well maybe that's not true, but this sun is goooood. Okay...enough rubbing it in for my Denverite buddy's. You guys can get me back when I complain of heat and humidity. :-)
Urdu and GT
Went to the Georgia Tech Noble Barnes last night and got a book on Urdu and I am so excited. It teaches you how to say it, write it (the script), and what not. It's so cool and I'm very excited. Insh'Allah I will know the language (maybe at a kindergarden level - lol) but it will be so fun. I'm told I pronounce it pretty good already. Insh'Allah i will be able to write some UrdEnglish poetry soon and be able to read those ghazels... can't wait.
The Georgia Tech campus is pretty cool too. I'm staying in that area so it's interesting. I really like it here. And there is a great park right here in the city that I've been walking to everyday to read. It's really nice. I'm not really missing home at all...well except for having a car.
I'm looking forward to the upcoming road trip too. That should be a lot of fun.
Still having writer's block...but must get an article done before the road trip.
Anniversary of Columbine shootings
Today is the day those two boys took their hostility against the world out on a suburban high school. I remember the day because a lot of things were going on at the time. I had just quit the best job I ever had to go to Europe for 3 months and I was busy selling all my belongings and getting ready for my first TransAtlantic flight. I lived about ten minutes from that high school for about 5 years and so my heart went to those who were there that day. I watched the tv in anger. Most of my anger was directed at the police. They stood outside that school frozen in fear and didn't do what they should have done which is get in there. But instead, they stood outside on their walkie talkies deciding a plan of action until all was quiet and death already evident. To me the police that day were wimps. They were armed while the students were just kids at school scared out of their minds. Why didn't they get in there and try and stop what was happening?
Violence in America is our biggest problem after uneducation. This is a country that just isn't educated about the world yet we have some of the best universities. There is a lack of understanding of politics, the world outside these 50 states, and the problems that our country creates while trying to control the world.
It's sad that shootings such as these occur, but it is understandable. Living in a place like this, society is detached. Materialism and superficiality abound, while understanding and compassion are lacking. What would make two boys want to kill randomly? Is it inherent evil? Or is it something else? I feel they were lost. Not in the sense most use the word. But lost in the sense that with suburban stripmalls, fast food, and the caste system in schools - how are they to know who they are? The systems that are in place control us and it's hard to get through and find out who you really are. Most people sit back in their easyboy chairs and watch sitcoms in the evening but when it comes to learning about the problems of the world, they are just lazy (or plain and simply too tired after a hard day's work to give a damn). The really sad thing is that many just turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the dissatisfaction they feel. And aren't most Americans really dissatisfied? I mean how else do we explain the fact that most drink, consume, and just try to ignore the world outside? I feel it is internal pain and dissatisfaction. What do you think?
Okay... I have been unemployed for officially 20 days. I thought I'd have time to finally write, etc. What I've found out is that I no longer have a purpose. Isn't it sad that having a job is that defining of who I am? Maybe it just takes time to get into the swing of things. I do read more. But it makes me wonder if I am a writer at all. Now that I have time to write, I don't have anything to write. What is up with that? Maybe I am just a wannabe. Reading has been good and inspiring. I've learned a lot and really focused on the whole Islam thing, but what happened to the writer I used to be? Where did she go? Can I get her back? Ugh. Anyone else have this problem? How did you fix it? Maybe I do need a job to be productive... Did I just say that? Yikes.
Went to the park today and realized just how different the South is from the West...let alone the North. The accent cracks me up... I mean that drawl...wow. I try not laughing but it just cracks me up. It's cute too but it's like the way they talk is the way they live...s...l...o...w. It is a slower pace here. Denver is no speedy town like a New York or anything, but down South, days just go by slowly and there's no sense of rushing. It's just slow.
I've also never been anywhere where there was such a concentration of African Americans... and I don't mean this in any racial way...but it does take a little getting used to. It's nice to see really. But the segregation and racism is also apparent...both ways. I was walking around the park and there were these adorable little black girls swinging away on their swings and I'm assuming their big brother playing with them. The teenage boy says "I'm going to be a singer...cause i sound like Usher" (r & b guy) and one of the little girls says, "no, no, you sound like Billie Holiday" (love her music...prefer Nina Simone but she is a close second) and he starts laughing and says :"Well that's a compliment cause Billie Holiday is great. She's got a great voice." The little girl retorts with "Well then you just sound like an old white dude" and goes on to sing like "an old white dude" - it was too funny. And he said "you got me now...I'm insulted." So it was being white that was an insult...not being a girl. I laughed too. What was really cool is people down here actually know blues and jazz and soul. I love it but people have always thought I was weird for listening to soul... down South people know what soul music is and that is a beautiful thing - I've never been anywhere where people actually listened to it - it's all r & b these days.
What else? Ah, saw some women in strollers today chatting away with other women with strollers and it looked so enticing. I could never imagine myself strolling through the park with a stroller, but today I could. Is it the biological clock ticking or is it that I'm actually getting more maternal? Dunno, but I could see myself doing it today in either case.
I was thinking about prayer the other day...and it has helped me to think this way. I'm sure I read it somewhere and just don't know where, but prayer is like food... It sustains us. Food and water nourish our body, prayer takes care of our sprituality which is just as important. We need prayer just as much as we need food and water and that is how we should think of it. Not that we have to pray, but that we need to pray. I have noticed a difference in my prayers since reading books on prayer. I really think they are helping me get back to how i was when i first converted.
That's it from here... now I must work. I'm having serious writer's block which isn't good when you have something to do, but it's here and i must find a way to beat it.
I just read "Soaring to the Only Beloved: A Short Treatise on the Presense of Heart in Prayer"
by Abu Muhammad Zaynul Abidin - very good.
When I first began praying I would often be moved by emotion and end up shedding tears. It was like I was having conversations with God that I've wanted to my whole life. I don't know why it moved me since I had prayed as a Christian. I guess I just feel more connected as a Muslim. I would cry because I was submitting to him, which i had never really done and I knew what I was doing was important. I asked for help learning prayers, and help for staying on the path and they were answered and it just made me that much more thankful.
Lately, as it has become such a daily part of my life, I've lost that emotional part of prayer and often just pray out of habit and practice. This book opened up many things to me as it focuses on concentration in prayer and praying from the heart, not just going through the motions. Here's a couple of things that I found important:
- (his words) If the human being utilizes this opportunity that comes 5 times a day, his journey would undoubtedly commence. Why should he allow several opportunities during his life to go to waste? Doesn't he yearn deep in his heart for the company of the Beloved? Doesn't he realize that it is high time he should go back home and enjoy the neighborhood of the only Beloved who intensely loves his company?
I liked this because it's a good point - we shouldn't just pray because it is required, but see it as an opportunity to speak to Allah and really pour our hearts into it.
- Often our attention is distracted by auditory or visual stimulai and this can be conquered. But the other, distraction by internal elements (such as things we need to do, etc that often come forth when we stand on the rug) is harder to conquer. He says it's our attachment to the material world. We must demagnetize our love of material needs and to see them as 'the means' not 'the goal'.
This is often my problem. It seems when I step on the rug and have that moment of silence, thoughts rush into my head...conversations of the day, things i need to do, etc and it drives me crazy. It's like I have no control over it, but we do. It just takes practice.
-He also talks about the importance of deeds. That we can do many good deeds because we should, but unless it comes from the heart and for the right reason, these good deeds can actually be counted against us.
- (his words) One, therefore, who does not inculcate this truth in his mind and heart in prayer would always blemish his soul with the taints of 'sin'. Sin, which is disobedience to the Creator, is a practical expression of polytheism....
This sentence really struck me as if we are thinking of things we need to do in life, in a sense we are praying to that thing if that's what we are thinking of when we are praying. That's how it sounded to me anyhow. I still think intentions are known so it can't really be polytheism, but in a way it is if we are thinking of these things when we are conversing with Allah.
- When prostrating/Sujud we should remember that we are placing the most honored part of our body (our face) on the most insignificant of things (earth).
All in all, the book was enlightening...and he brings up some good ways to think about praying. What really struck me as the most important is the simple act of really focusing and paying attention, but more important is to do it with heart. We all know this, but often I think it's hard to practice. In such a fast paced society, we are accustomed to doing ten things at once. In a way, it has become unnatural to only think of one thing at a time, but with practice, it can be done.
I have also been reading "Struggling to Surrender: Some Impressions of an American Convert to Islam"
by Jeffrey Lang and it's been very helpful thus far. I'll write more after finishing it.
This is truly clever.
Try this very soon, before someone forces Google to
fix its site:
1) Go to www.Google.com
2) Type in -- weapons of mass destruction-- (DON'T
3) Hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button, NOT the
4) Read the "error message" carefully - the WHOLE
page. Someone at Google
really has a sense of humor.
San Diego Trip
What a great trip! I haven't been away on an actual vacation for a while. Flew out early Friday...hung out waiting for my flight while having a cup of coffee and cheese croissant and I couldn't believe people were already drinking alcohol at 9 in the morning. That's just crazy...makes one wonder what the rest of their life looks like. Anyhow... It was an interesting flight. I sat next to this lady and she talked my ear off the whole way but she a nice person. This is one of the things she said though (and I was hijabbed so she knew what i was)...but she was telling me how she was visiting her boyfriend in Denver and how he was Persian "but he's not Muslim or any of that stuff
." Like she was validating his existence as a person because he wasn't Muslim. Just found that interesting. Then she went on to tell me that he was an alcoholic etc. Weird flight. I sat next to a pilot in training and first he hogged the armrest which i think should have been shared. Then the reek of stale alcohol just poured from his skin making me naucious. I got up to use the restroom and the restroom in the front of the cabin was closer than the back so I went that way...right next to the cockpit. The flight attendant said "You should use the one in the back." I asked why and she said "You just should." I told her this one was closer and was the one everyone else was using. She said, "You need to use the one in the back." I guess it was just too close for a Muslim to be that close to the cockpit. Irritating.
A friend's brother actually missed his whole vacation because of this type of stereotyping. Security questioned him so long that he missed his flight and then they booked him on another flight to the wrong place and his luggage was in another place...so he never made it. Then they told him he had to get his luggage from the place it was and then wanted to search it before he took it home. When I hear this stuff, I get so mad. The random checkings aren't random...they have settings in the system to pick up Middle Eastern names, etc. I haven't had that luxury - Thank God - since my name is very American. I would lose it with those guys if I missed a vacation with my family because they thought my name was suspicious. I would probably end up arrested for telling them a few choice words.
The trip itself (the actual being there) was awesome though!
Flew into sunny San Diego and went to my friends place right in Ocean Beach which is the coolest area there. The window from my room overlooked the ocean. Pretty sweet. We walked down to the beach and ate fish tacos and strolled around. We hadn't seen each other in so long. We then walked down to Sunset Cliffs and watched the sun go down. So beautiful. That's what's so great about the west coast. The big ball of fire dropping into the ocean. There was a wedding across the street and that against the sunset was just awesome. We planned on going to this Yogi/Hindu restaurant but they close sporadically to chant and stuff so you never know when they are open or closed but they are supposed to have great Neatloaf...meatloaf without the meat that tastes just like meatloaf so i was looking forward to it. But they were closed for three weeks for a spiritual retreat so we walked to a local Mexican restaurant which actually had a really good vegetarian menu...enchiladas (one tofu, one bean, and one guacamole) covered in mole sauce (i guess it's chocolate). Good stuff. Looked at the wild parrots which is strange in itself. Then we saw a skunk in the yard and decided to follow it around for a while. They played the guitar for me for a little bit, had a nice chat and crashed.
Got up and went and did a geocache (they are hooked now...i love it). Then we went to the San Diego museum area which is so cool. There are so many museums in a huge massive park. We went to the Friendship Garden (a Japanese garden)...so pretty. Then the International Houses where they have individual houses set up as individual countries. Pretty cool. The botanical gardens was the best though... San Diego itself has so many varieties of trees, flowers, and plantlife. You feel like you are in a garden wherever you go which is ironic because it's a desert and nothing is native but a few things but everything grows so well there. I walked around in amazement taking pictures of trees. They are just so cool. I'll post pictures once they are developed.
After there we went and checked out an open house and you wouldn't believe real estate there...expensive...800 square foot house for $579,000 - unbelievable! But it is so nice there that they can charge whatever and the houses will sell. Then we went to dinner with my friend's family and that was going to be amusing as his Dad was going to set me straight on being a Muslim but he didn't get a chance. My friends aunt said: "Who does she (me) remind you of?" He didn't know. Then she said "Trista - she's so crazy." She was calling me crazy. People do that often because I can be animated and goofy and energetic at times. I tend to have a wacky personality. It was cute though and I laughed cause I know what she meant.
San Diego Zoo...kind of forgot it was Easter and that was interesting as I had always gone to church services on Easter. I missed the mosque this weekend too - they were actually open to going but we didn't make it. Anyhow, this zoo is amazing and huge. Loved it and we spent all day there looking at the foliage as much as the animals. You know when i look at animals and plantlife and birdlife I am just amazed at God's creativity. It's just amazing. Such variety in animals, people, nature, all of it. The whole zoo/museum/Balboa Park area covers miles of land...such a great place to visit. It was a really good day. Then it got real interesting.
Played Scategories and had fun with that. We were all so tired that are answers were stretching quite a bit but it was fun to play a game.
Then we went to Coronado Island which is just awesome. The beach there is sweet. Played with anenemies (spelling?) and other sealife around the rocks. Strolled through the famous hotel there that was built for aristocrats...decided it wasn't our style so went to have coffee with more local flavor.
Found another cache or two in some cool areas. It's just so pretty there. Then we went to Mission Beach and Pacific Beach and walked the boardwalk. Each little beach area has it's own flavor and style and all amusing. Like Ocean Beach where they live is like a beach bum Haight Ashbury...leftover hippies and funk. I think it's my favorite. But the boardwalk at Pacific Beach was great for people watching. All walks of life can be found there. Finished our coffee then went for a geocache at this Catholic University on the cliffs of the ocean...an amazing campus. We took the indirect route in and ended up in a construction area climbing ladders trying to get to the top of the hill. But it was so much fun trying to find that one. At the school there was the first Greek amphitheatre in California built in 1903. Really beautiful with the ocean behind it.
Pretty interesting talk at an Indian restaurant for dinner and the food was great...Indian buffet. The mango mousse was awesome and the samosas. Eating vegetarian was easy in San Diego...there's so much variety at every restaurant.
It was nice waking up to friends for those days.
Headed back to the house to go to the airport and flew out. Had a three hour layover in Vegas which kind of sucked since I don't gamble. In my past life I would have ran to the strip to play poker (I used to play semi-professionally and made good money doing so). But instead I looked for a place to pray behind slot machines. Realized I had an animal on my shirt too, so skipped it. I don't think the prayer would have been valid between the location, the shirt, and privacy issues. If you ever want to feel like an animal at the zoo...walk around the Vegas airport wearing a scarf. It's such a contrast. I looked at the lonely people slapping last minute quarters into slot machines stars in their eyes hoping for a big win before leaving Sin City and I understand why gambling is haram. I do miss my poker playing as its thrill is the mental challenge as well as the easy money that can be made. Occassionally, I want to play but don't.
Found a haven to read in and started reading "Struggling to Surrender" which is a really good book written by an American convert to Islam and I can really identify with the book. Then it was home sweet home. No matter how nice it is to go away, it's always nice to head home too. And when I got into the car the appropriate tune was on the radio - Simon and Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound."
Lots o stuff to blog today...
First, Condeleeza Rice is a joke. I mean come on. Three hours of her cracking voice and I was about to crack. 9/11 is getting old. Just admit that they wanted it, that it gives them the chance to have most of a nation back their campaign against the Middle East and bomb each individual country into oblivion and chaos. I mean seriously, the spin doctoring of it all is getting old. Any time a plane is hijacked military jets are sent right away in attack mode. Not one, but five planes hijacked and they did no such thing. They knew planes were hijacked...they know that immediately. And the way Bush just sat there in that damn Florida classroom was a joke too. And the statement about swatting flies. What the hell? I mean, everyone knows the way to stop flies is not to give them sustenance to multiply. They did this. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. The U.S. wanted 9/11 as it gives them all the ammunition and hatred towards the Muslim world to do whatever they want. One thing 9/11 did was show everyone in the world how weak and fragile the U.S. is. I mean countries go through wars and famines and don't whine as much as the U.S.did. Okay whining is not the right word....but I don't know one that is. I'm not saying those lives didn't deserve crying over, but what about the rest of the world and the thousands of innocent people that have been killed because of it and prior wrongings that never show up in the news. Sorry if I sound heartless as I am not, but those lives are no more important than the others. Sick. This country would fall apart if bombing came here. This country wouldn't be able to handle war over here. They would implode upon themselves and chaos would be everywhere... People think the Middle East is crazy...let them watch themselves go into total chaos if a war like Iraq is ever fought here.
Second, on a lighter note... It has rained here off and on for three days. This never happens...and it's rain you can actually hear on the roof. I haven't heard that sound in so long that I just sat and listened to it with a hot cup of chocolate. And all of a sudden things are turning green and flowers and trees have color again. Beautiful. This is rare for us...years of drought have made us a brown state. We used to have a lot of water and then started selling it to California and then, well all the Californians moved here. Duh. Gotta love it.
Third, Sister Scorpion, I'm mad at you. Went to the bookstore you told me about and well loved it and bought books I've been searching for and way too many. Dang it. I'm trying to get rid of books not buy more. At this rate, I'm going to have to read a book a day for 60 days to catch up. Here's a few of the ones I got today:
Che: A Revolutionary Life
What Would Buddha Do?
The Te of Piglet (sequel to The Tao of Pooh)
Jihad vs. McWorld
Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Society's (Noam Chomsky)
Illiterate Heart (a book of Poetry by some cool Indian lady... and that title rocks)
and some more. Argh. How did I not know that there was such a great used book store right down the street and one that is so cool. And now I'm moving away. I do love my Capital Hill Books too... The clientale is amusing in itself. And there's always a homeless person lurking around...they need books too you know. And I've been trading my books in there so i have less to move here in a couple of weeks. This was cool - they have a section of "we recommend" ... and these guys are well read and head of a writing workshop program here...the best one in Denver...anyhow, they had some recent books I had sold up on that shelf...about 8 of mine.
Going to eat a pint of Chubby Hubby ice cream and read now...then tomorrow I'm flying out for a long weekend...
On Naseeb, I have been corresponding with a woman and I like what she recently said... we were talking about the Buddha being a possible prophet... and this is what she said:
"All of the Prophets may have been Muslim, but I believe they each taught a different aspect of Islam, and that Mohammad (pbuh) came last because he was able to encompass all of the teachings."
I never really thought of it that way, but Mohammad (pbuh) did
encompass all of the teachings of the other prophets...
I practiced many of the eastern religions (though i considered them more philosophies as i kept God separate) and the teachings are amazing. I also think of Christianity and those teachings were inspiring. I also have read a lot of Jewish books on the way we should live life and those were incredible.
Another friend of mine said that all religions teach good things, not bad. None of them teach evil. It's true. The problem comes when extremists push politics and self into religion...and therefore turning religion into a battle for their beliefs.
Stayed up very late last night reading. I reread The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran... he just has a way with words. So quotable and impacting.
Here's a couple quotes from the book:
this one reminds me of my gypsy spirit...the one my Dad always said drove him crazy. My Dad used to tell me that I got all of our gypsy blood:
We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. Even while the earth sleeps we travel. We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.
and this one tells me exactly why i quit my job: (lol not that i'll take from those who do work. But until I can work with love, i won't.)
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
and one on friendship:
But it is also the pleasure of the flower to yield its honey to the bee. For to the bee a flower is a fountain of life, And to the flower a bee is a messenger of love, And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of please is a need and an ecstasy.
and one on love:
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught From itself. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.
I also starting reading a book called "Soaring to the Only Beloved: A Short Treasise on the Presense of Heart in Prayer"' - a very good book explaining/teaching how to get the spiritual part of prayer rather than just reciting the prayers. When I first started praying I would often cry because the relationship between Allah and I was so pure. Lately, i often just pray. So I look forward to reading the rest of this book. Here's a quote from the book:
If a human being utilizes this opportunity that comes 5 times a day, his journey would undoubtedly commence. Why should he allow several opportunities during his life time to go to waste? Doesn't he yearn deep in his heart for the company of the Beloved? Doesn't he realize that it is high time he should go back home and enjoy the neighborhood of the only Beloved who intensely loves his company?
Nothing new in my world except reading and thinking...
One final quote ... from the Quran:
And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (streches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah's favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. 3:103
So so so... good day. Did some reading and writing in the morning. Then headed south to see Otawi
. It's always nice to see her. We went geocaching... her first time and I think she liked it. We especially liked finding these treasures from the cache: a glow in the dark "saint of television" - she was perfectly hijabed and all - pretty funny. Catholics have so many saints... Also found a Disney Monsters Inc Kuwait toy card with Arabic writing.... Interesting. She lives in a pretty military town and so a soldier probably brought it back with him. After that we got some food and watched British Comedy (what was it called? Red Dwarf?). Good tiimes. And she loaned me about ten books to read...can't wait to dive in. Good ones. I've been asking a lot of questions lately to everyone and these will insh'Allah answer some. Or make me ask a hundred more. We'll see.
Then I headed to my sisters...since she lives so close. Spent a little bit there doing the family thing. Then I had a white knuckled drive home. First I saw a rollover accident happen on the highway right in front of me...that always makes me cringe and nervous the rest of the drive. Then another one...this one with two cars rolled over and down a hill. I couldn't wait to get home after seeing this... Rollovers are scary... I was in a pretty bad one a couple years ago and was amazed that I was alive after. Only got a broken tailbone but that hurt for a year. So many people die in them. Sometimes I think we should go back to horse and buggy's - I mean how many fatal accidents did they cause?
I pondered God and religion the whole way home and it's weird to me how Easter and the Holy Week for Catholics is here and so is the end of Muharram. What's interesting is how similar they are... both are about martydoms and highly ritualistic. I was born Catholic, then went Buddhist, then Taoist and explored many others along the way before reaching Islam, but it's interesting how they are all linked and really are a part of me. A friend said to me the other day that it makes sense that I made it to Shiasm... there are the Imams are like the saints of Catholicism. The rituals and rules are also similar. It has the spirituality of Buddism and Taoism, so it's all the religions wrapped up in one.
I'm going out of town this weekend to see one of my best friends and am looking forward to that. Should be a great trip. I'm also looking forward to going out of town the following weekend for a couple weeks. Going to see Savannah (GA), Charleston (SC), and possibly Orlando (FL). I haven't seen any of the South (except Atlanta and New Orleans) or the East so it should be a lot of fun.
And if all the trees
On earth were pens
And the Ocean (were ink),
With seven Oceans behind it
To add to its (supply),
Yet would not the Words
Of God be exhausted
(In the writing): for God
Is Exalted in power,
Full of Wisdom.
and another thought...the word "troops" - when they say "troops killed" it sounds like more than one and some people don't know that a troop is one person, not a group... Why can't they just say soldier/s?
Palm Sunday - The news was talking about how security has been increased at the Vatican since there are so many visitors during this time and they are afraid of Islamic extremists. Okay...they keep upping security everyday and saying so on the news and nothing ever happens. Here's my problem. The more they say this, the more people will think Islam equates terrorism which it doesn't. Secondly, this negative thought will stick in their minds.
Okay... Either I have been reading to much or I am just lost. But, the more reading on Islam I do, the more I feel lost. Someone yesterday said "Imams have a higher status then the Prophet (saw)." I freaked. How could anyone be placed above prophethood? I mean, there would be no Imams if there was no prophet. Chicken and the egg. So how could the one be higher than the other. So I've been sent articles, etc. regarding this and I still don't get it. I should say, I've had a hard time accepting the fact that the Imams are infallible so you could probably gather that I would have an even harder time accepting Imams being more important than the prophet. Very confused about all this. If anyone has a book that could enlighten me on this, please recommend it...
I've also had a hard time with some Islamic laws...and I don't mean to argue with Allah on any of this but I hope he forgives me for my ignorance and lack of knowledge regarding such things. But the whole slavery bit bothers me too...how they have different laws (harsher and their rights being violated too). I know it doesn't exist today in those terms, but it does exist. Taliban comes to mind. When the raper has to marry the rapee...it sounds to me like slavery.
Another issue I've been having is how it can be legal (i don't care whether it is widely practiced or not) for a 60 year old man to marry a 15 year old girl. I find this thoroughly sick. I mean if it was their daughter, would they want someone who is 4 times her age to marry her? I guess they wouldn't care if they are doing it or maybe if it would bother them they are just holding a double standard.
The more I read, the less I understand. I came to Islam to get closer to God. I didn't realize I would have to ingest so much information. It is truly the most involved religion ever...and I'm feeling lost within the lessons.
I usually am in agreement with most Islamic laws and believe in most of the concepts, and this is the first time I've been argumentative towards it (may Allah forgive me for my ignorance).
On another note, I've been reading a book called Marjalis al-ilm... Sessions of Knowledge: Reclaiming and Representing the Lives of Muslim Women
and it is very good. The contributors are 9 women of different backgrounds and are from different sects within Islam...both Sunni and Shia are represented and it is a very good read and right up my alley. The compiler is trying to bridge the gap (or break it down) between the sects and also between the different religions. It is written for Muslims and non-Muslims both. I've only just started it, but I am finding it thoroughly enjoyable.
I think I'm going to put the books down tomorrow and just go hiking and geocaching (link on the left) - I've found 95 caches and trying to reach 100 soon. :-) Too much fun.
Nice quote I found in the Quran: (I've bolded the part which really hit me)
"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His Light is a niche in which is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) lit from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West
, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon Light. Allah Guides to His Light whom He will
." (The Holy Quran, 24:35)
and another great quote:
"Having drunk entire seas, we remain quite surprised that our lips are just as dry as the shore and we continue to seek out the sea to dip them there, without seeing that our lips are the shore and we ourselves the sea." - Farid al-Din Attar (d. 1220)
I really liked that quote because I've been trying to read so much and have been and still remain thirsty for more (even if I do often feel overwhelmed).
and one last quote:
"I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. And what I ought to do, I shall do." - Edward Everett Hale
Odds and Ends
It's been in the mid-70's the last couple weeks and I've locked myself indoors. Today, I decided it was time for a little hike and some geocaching (www.geocaching.com) - a scavenger hunt using a gps...pretty cool... But, oops - I go the day it rains and hails. It is still pouring out there with lightening and thunder...peaceful really. I love thunderstorms as they are so rare here. Rain is something I seriously miss having lived in Oregon for 13 years. Anyhow, it was a wet hike back.
When I got home I was doing a little stock research...I used to trade quite a bit back in the day and this is crazy. One of the stocks I used to buy and sell was always right around $100-$200 when I traded it. It's high was right around $1,000. Well today, that stock is worth $6.30. I haven't researched stocks in a while and I guess I hadn't realized the extreme situation of our market. Crazy. Just a thought...enough of the geeky stuff...
But this is something interesting I read the other day by Michael Moore... Saudi Arabia (and we're talking mostly the Royal Family) has a trillion dollars in U.S. banks and also a trillion dollars in the U.S. stock market. If they took that money out, there would be a serious crisis. It is no wonder that the U.S. essentially kisses their fannies. I mean that's a lot of money. It would simply make the stock market crash, and withdrawing that money from banks would make interest rates skyrocket to unbelievable rates. Pretty scary when you think about it.
This is a boring blog I'm sure for my normal readers, but dang, think about that. Okay, now on to the fun stuff: Dune
A friend told me how the Dune books were a lot like Islam...and well, today I started watching the movie...only an hour or so into and it's four and a half hours (Director's Cut) and dang, it's crazy, but even the movie hints at it and also just the Middle East in general. Here's what I've watched so far and weird references...and this is only one hour of it. I'm gonna have to read the books for sure now...
Okay, there are Jezurit's (sounds like Jesuits) and Arrackis (sounds like Iraqi's) and there are prophets and messiah's too. Jihad (the actual word jihad is used) and then it all takes place in the desert. The spice in the desert is what sustains (i think of oil) and they need allies in the desert (hmm...sounds like the U.S.). One leader says "Good intentions by deeds" is what we are judged by (sounds like Islam). There is a water ceremony of cleansing (sounds like Wudu). A lot of the women in the desert wear hijab and there is a family named Itrali's (sounds like Israel's). Then this is the weird thing... I couldn't understand the name the woman said - but i swear she said "Is it possible that she brings the Mahdi
." OMG. Then their are smugglers in the desert paying off the government and one leader guy says "In the world we live, self interest governs all" (true enough) and then continues to say "The Emperor needs us to administer Arrackis so the spice (oil) flows for all... but fears any influence on the great houses (Kaba) - he will let it fall though if it's in his interests and may even hasten it." And the Emporers name is Emporer Shaddam (do i need to say what that sounds like?). It's crazy.
Gonna watch at least another hour of it in a bit...
City of Joy
. Good movie. Makes me depressed that so many countries live in a state of hypocrisy. Sometimes, I think the U.S. is the most hypocritical, but most countries are in general. Power turns the best of people bad. And the division between the haves and have-nots is depressing. But the thing we always have is hope and those who will struggle for the common good. But then I think of Cuba...that's how it started and look how it is now. What happened to the true revolutionaries? Where are they? I guess walking around just like you and i. Maybe we are them.
I finished the book I have been reviewing...quite good. Can't talk about it because it isn't released yet, but I will be writing it today over a big cup of Chai.
Also, i started outlining the book I want to write. It's time.
What else? Hmmm... I'm going to scan some stuff in later and have learned how to upload pics and what not so that'll be cool.
and an interesting article...
Strange Motives: What was the logic behind Israel's assassination of the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas?