Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Jihad You Jihad We All Jihad

People, not only Muslims carry out jihad every day. I know everyone today thinks jihad means "holy war". They'd be wrong. Muslims however never used the term "holy war". We can thank Pope Urbaine II who coined the term to promote the crusades. Jihad actually comes from the Arabic word juhud which means "to struggle". This obviously can be used in many situations in life, not only in times of war. You can struggle to provide for your family, to do well in school, to pay the bills every month, to protect your loved ones, to choose right from wrong etc.. But since the most popular version to talk about these days seems to be jihad during war, let's talk about that one. A quote well known to people who hold anti-Islamic sentiments and that is used numerous times on FOX and various other news media is this quote:

"Fight in the cause of God and slay them wherever you catch them, for God loves not the transgressors" (Qur'an). This is not the entire quote. See below.

There are limits in the Qur'an as to what Muslims are allowed to do in times of war, because the idea is to promote peace wherever peace is possible. A Muslim must never instigate or attack another person or party who has not done harm to them. The only attack deemed acceptable is self-defense. Muslims consider these boundaries to be set by God and transgressing these limits will mean suffering the consequences. 

Here is the quote in its entirety and full context:

"Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter... But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful... If they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression" (Qur'an 2:190-193).

As you can see, the context completely changes the meaning of the quote. "The transgressors" refer not to the party Muslims are fighting but rather to Muslims who slaughter them unjustly. If peace is offered, Muslims must accept it. Not doing so is going against God's command.

In America at least we're not in battle every day, so  let's look at some examples of what I like to call "everyday life" jihad. Here are several examples cited in the ahadeeth (sayings and actions of Muhamed during his lifetime) that illustrate what I am talking about. These are examples of people asking if they should fight in battle, and Muhamed advises them to do things that are better for them.
  • Aisha, wife of the Prophet asked, "O Messenger of Allah, we see jihad as the best of deeds, so shouldn't we join it?" He replied, "But, the best of jihad is a perfect hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah)." Sahih Al-Bukhari #2784
At another occasion a man asked the Prophet Muhammad:
  • "Should I join the jihad?" He asked, "Do you have parents?" The man said, "Yes!" The Prophet said, "then strive by (serving) them!" Sahih Al-Bukhari #5972
Yet another man asked the Messenger of Allah:
  • "What kind of jihad is better?" He replied, "A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler!" Sunan Al-Nasa'i #4209
The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad said:
  • "... the mujahid (one who carries out jihad) is he who strives against himself for the sake of obeying Allah, and the muhajir (one who emigrates) is he who abandons evil deeds and sin." Sahih Ibn Hibban #4862 

    Context is everything, I can not stress this enough. People see Muslims on the news crying and shouting "Allahu Akbar" God is great, and talking about how they love Jihad. It scares people. If I thought Jihad meant what a majority of the world population thought it meant, I would be scared too.

    For Muslims, jihad is beautiful. It is the struggle to transform yourself into a better person before God.

    This is one reason why the word gets so much press. Muslims love talking about it and the rest of the world doesn't know what it means. It's perfect! But that is partly our fault. As Muslims we should fight to defuse these confusions, but it becomes difficult if no one believes you. People tend to believe a man on the TV telling lies more than a person on the street telling the truth. I think it's a great form of jihad to inform people about things that are misunderstood, and correct peoples misconceptions. I personally do not like being judged for using a term correctly and being punished for someone else's misnomer (thanks again Pope Urban, we owe you one.)

    Speaking of the crusades, look up Salah-el Din Yusuf ibn Ayub (also known as Saladin-yes, the one in Kingdom of Heaven but better) while you're at it. He performed a great example of jihad (fighting justly and showing mercy) during the crusades when Richard the Lion Heart fell sick. He brought him ice water in the dessert. THE DESSERT. As well as his finest physicians. He did not take advantage of him while he was weak and injured, nor when Richard's horse was killed from under him. Instead he sent him his own horse to save Richard the embarrassment of meeting him on foot.

    To learn more on Jihad (or anything really) make sure that when presented with information that your sources are cited.  The sources are cited so that you can check for yourself. Some people cite information and when you go to look for it it ends up being false or out of context, as the quotes from the Qur'an above. Unless it is cited I would recommend considering it to be invalid until proven cited by a reliable source. 

    As Muslims we even have something called "weak ahadith", meaning ahadeeth whose authenticity has fallen under question. For example, a hadeeth by Aisha, the wife of Muhamed who is known for her strong ahadeeth and has given over 3000 of them, has way more authenticity than "Bob" who heard something from someone's neighbour's aunt this one time. Normally those are dismissed, and if they are used, they are labeled as weak so people are aware. 

    Many problems Muslims face today are people saying the first thing that pops into their head that they heard from someone or something that knows nothing about Islam, or Muslims, and did not cite any sources. I don't know why these people think they know what they are talking about, or why other people choose to listen to them without questioning any of their information or where they got it from. It is simply illogical to me. I hope this has been an insightful "lesson" on Jihad, and if you have any further questions you may ask them in comments or messages and I will do my best to answer them or direct them to a scholar who can. Thanks for your time. Really, thank you for listening.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Gaza Project 4: Vote for Your Favourite Images

I've decided that with every GAZA PROJECT related post I write I will put up a new image that I have created intended for a poster (and maybe even billboard insha Allah, we will see!). There will be two categories to vote for:

1. THE GAZA PROJECT posters that you already know and love (like the one below), which I will continue updating.
2. THE GAZA PROJECT logo. This will be indicated by having the words "The Gaza Project" dominating the image (see the two previous posts for examples I have created already) to spread awareness of the project itself.

After I put up a significant amount of the images I'll make a poll and you can VOTE for your favourites. Then out of those favourites you can choose the top 5. If things go well insha Allah you can choose 1 out of the 5 to make billboard size! So get your friends to Subscribe and see who wins the competition. It should be fun so stay tuned!

On another GAZA PROJECT note, I was inspired by some old signs my mother taught me about that were used to sell real-estate.  They were quite popular several years back and caught peoples attentions on billboards with their humour. The signs read "If you lived here, you'd be home by now" with an arrow pointing to the land for sale, implying that if they had bought up that spot they wouldn't have to keep driving. Clever. I took a different spin on it, using the same phrase as it would be intended for billboards as well, but using images of demolished Palestinian homes in Gaza, but of course can refer to all the Palestinian homes being demolished on a daily basis. Here is an example.

I feel it works on many levels, as if saying if you lived here, this is what reality would be for you, as well as the key words "if you lived" being separate, implying that if you could even survive that is. Home in a large font strikes a chord with me. Is this what you would want or accept your home to be for you and your family? Home, where all your memories are stored, being one day crushed to the grown by a caterpillar tractor. As usual let me know what you think in the comments below. May Allah bless and protect all who struggle in HIS name and all who suffer under the hands of mankind, Ameen.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Gaza Project 4: Results of Subscribing

Thank you to those who Subscribed and went beyond Subscribing and have taken this cause to heart. I know several of you have sent it out to all your friends. A big thanks to M for sending it to over 200 people! For those of you who created a blog just to Subscribe, I deeply appreciate you taking the few minutes out of your day to help out a worthy cause. Often times taking five extra minutes to do something keeps people from doing it. Thank You for seeing the bigger picture here. Whether you are new to this cause or are a life-long supporter of it, I welcome you. Please feel free to comment with any feedback you might have for me, whether it's about something you like or something you didn't like. Just a reminder to please keep the criticism constructive! I have been keeping track of the amount of traffic that has been coming through the site this past week and I am excited to say that the rate is increasing. Please keep the momentum going! Thanks for all your help! Insha Allah together we can make this a success for the people of Gaza, Palestine, and all who suffer oppression in the world, Ameen.

The Gaza Project 3: The Element of Subscribe

I don't like asking for Subscriptions, but I want people to understand the importance and value and power a subscription has as far as the internet community goes. The more subscriptions the more weight this site carries. People will see that it has a following and causes worth caring about like the newly established GAZA PROJECT, which is especially important being that it is non-profit. With that said...

Your Homework:
1. Don't know how to Subscribe? Click [FOLLOW] on the side bar :)
2. Don't have a blog to Subscribe with? No problem, you can make one in less than 5 min!
Just go to www.blogspot.com to get one for FREE.
3. Don't like something in the blog? Tell me why in a comment so I can fix it.
Extra Credit:
Let me know how you found my blog in the poll on the side bar. Thanks! :)

I'd like to thank the rush of people who have been visiting my blog the past few days as well as those who have shared it with your friends or posted it on a board on Facebook or YouTube. I would like to ask for one more thing from you, [if you are dedicated to my blog and want THE GAZA PROJECT to succeed,, please Subscribe!] Even if you don't find this site worthy, tell me why in a comment and I will improve it. I am pretty much going off of 4 subscriptions and no feedback. I would love to see more subscriptions and know people are paying attention to this cause. If you felt it was worth while to share it with friends (thank you, again) then please Subscribe! And ask your friends to subscribe as well. If you did not or weren't going to subscribe because you don't have a blog, you can set one here in less than 5 minutes  www.blogspot.com.
I am trying to get at least 1000 subscriptions in order to ask for funding as paying out of pocket is extremely expensive. Many of the posters I am making I can not make as big as I want, and I am worried that with the material they are made of people will just destroy them as easily as I put them up (see below post on THE GAZA PROJECT). If you find this a worthy cause please help me out, it's as easy as a push of a button. Thank you in advance to all who subscribe.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Gaza Project 2: (Some of) My Images

These are the images I have created thus far using text and images I have chosen for this project. Feel free to click on the image as it will enlarge it and give you a better quality. Sorry for the small scale, it won't stay large when I upload it for some reason.
(These images are meant to be read from Right to Left as you would be driving by. Please leave any comments or suggestions. My Goal is to one day get these images as big as billboards or on the side of buildings insha Allah. Dream big!)

(Although I know it is expensive, perhaps I can get enough support to fund it insha Allah. Please tell your friends and family. -Picture of IDF attacking Turkish Flotilla on right, resulting in many deaths, and Turkish funeral for those lost on Left.)

(Here is an example of the more informative ones.)

(Remember to read from Right to Left. A cancer victim who died because she could not get to a hospital in time due to Israeli blockades and laws.)

(On the left, Turkish Flotilla about to be attacked by Israeli soldiers from their boat on the right.)
Please keep Gaza, Palestine, and all who suffer under occupation, all the children, all the men and women, the elderly, the poor, in your prayers, and if it is in your heart then please pray that this project becomes a success insha Allah. Jazakallah Kheirun.)

The Gaza Project

Because of the ties Israel shares with the United States, and the United States is one of the five permanent members on the UN Security Council, any time Israel's tactics are in question the subject is automatically vetoed by America and never up for discussion.The frustration and anguish I and many others feel on this subject has been bottled up for two long, and humanitarian aid has tried to reach Gaza by land, by air, and now by sea. I am sure most of you have heard about the Turkish Flotilla headed to Gaza. You may click on the link to find out more or type in "Turkish Flotilla" in your search bar to find out more. 6 ships of poets, journalists, authors, men, women, and children set out from several countries. Those countries included Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey, which made up the majority of the people. These brave civilians embarked on a journey to the Gaza Strip, a small piece of land wedged between the Egyptian and Israeli border, and occupied by the State of Israel. Their goal was to bring items from much needed food, fresh drinking water, to the simplest things like building materials and toys for children that have been banned from entering the country due to a severe illegal blockade set up by the Israeli government that has not been lifted since the Israeli Siege in December 2008. The ships went through customs before departure to ensure they were not harbouring any weapons or trained military officials, only ordinary people. Only distraught civilians who could no longer watch as Gaza suffocates at the hands of Israeli injustice. Upon approaching the border, even though their departure and plans had been openly broadcast several weeks in advance, they slowed their ships down as it was night and did not want to seem as if they were sneaking in or be confronted by Israeli armed forces. Still in international waters, they were attacked by a small Israeli military boat as well as a helicopter and boarded. They were shot at and at least 9 people were killed within the first hour and many more wounded. The death toll rose as those with severe injuries were not able to get the medical attention they needed and succumbed to their wounds. This sounds like a nightmare in itself, but as they were in international waters it also makes this attack, along with most attacks by Israeli Defense Forces illegal.

What I am calling The Gaza Project for now is a series of images I have created and plan to blow up big enough to post on the sides of roads and street corners so that when people drive by they can see them and read them. Many posters are simple, some with images only to capture the essence of what is going on. Some are simple to provoke curiosity in the subject in hopes that people will want to learn more when they go home. It is simply to spread awareness and to call out to anyone who has a heart to help stop the massacre that has been happening in Palestine for over 60 years. I am starting with the Turkish Flotilla as it is most relevant at this time and is still in the news and will continue with other issues as there are a myriad to choose from (Israeli government bulldozing Palestinian homes, ancient olive trees, arresting and molesting Palestinian children, preventing the sick and pregnant to reach a hospital across illegal checkpoints resulting in many unnecessary casualties....the list goes on forever).
Israel has thought for too long that it can do whatever it wants without any repercussions, and has moved from torturing and killing innocent Palestinians to now attacking other nations' civilians in international waters! It is time to put an end to it. it is time to say NO to Israel.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ms. America

Running out the door late for class as usual, I jumped into the elevator and just barely made it in as it was closing (I try and make my 007 appearances as much as possible). Catching my breath as the elevator door closed, my neighbour who was standing next to me struck up a conversation about the Ms. America pageant that had just finished. Even though I've lived in California my entire life, being the person I am, I was clueless to most of the popular things going on in America, aside from watching LOST online, I don't have much of a connection and my friends frequently joke with me about this. My neighbour, a larger woman in her late fifties, asked me if I had seen the Ms. America pageant last night. I smiled as usual and shook my head saying that I hadn't and that I've never actually seen one. She exclaimed, " Ohhh a Muslim girl won!". Shocked, my mouth hung open in a half gasp half laugh, I set my two ton bag on the hand-rail in disbelief. Here I had this delusional image of a beautiful hijabi girl clothed in a long flowing white gown, graciously accepting some kind of award. Her family would be in the front row cheering her on, and little children would come bringing her roses while a dozen doves are released in her honour. There wouldn't be a dry eye in the house. Obviously I have no idea how these things worked. No sooner was I beaming when my neighbour added, "yeah she wore a bikini!" It was one of those daydream moments where you're listening to beautiful music and then you hear the record scratch and fall off the track. "Oh.." I said, awakening abruptly. "Yeah..." she said giving me an off look. "That's not very traditional...is it?" she asked me sincerely. I looked at her and smiled "Oh, no, not really...at all...". She nodded and said, "well, I like the way you dress!" as she left the elevator and the doors closed behind her. Surprised at her genuine liking of my loose long clothes and my hijab covering my hair, I felt the respect that I rarely feel with other Americans, and many times other Muslims who don't wear hijab. I felt really good about myself. Of course people will disagree with my choice to wear it, but I wear it for Allah. It doesn't phase me from wanting to wear it. But it is a wonderful feeling, and almost a relief when someone not only accepts your right to wear, respects your right to wear it, but actually admires you for wearing it. I would be lieing if I said I've received no hostility or harassment from people because of how I dress. I feel out of place in many settings where women walk around in loud clicking high-heals, bikinis, dresses the sizes of t-shirts, or jeans so tight and make-up so thick they may as well be painted on. But I also feel proud in those settings. Proud that I can still feel beautiful without baring it all, or highlighting my face with make-up, and I don't know many western women who would feel comfortable enough to go out of the house in the morning without at least some eyeliner and lipstick. They attract attention superficially, and I attract attention in another way. A personal way. I attract attention with the way I speak and use my mind. I attract attention with my actions. I attract attention with my character. With my hijab I feel there's a light around me protecting me as I walk, and I feel so close to Allah the One Creator. Someone once argued with me that beauty should be shared with everyone and not hidden. I told him it's my choice not to "share" my body, and if he thinks beauty is only on the outside, well that's unfortunate for him! Thank You to all the Muslims and especially the non-Muslims who give us your support, and thank you for having the courage to tell us you admire the way we are. Jazakallah Kheirun.

Friday, April 2, 2010

YouTube to Life

Yesterday I saw someone commented on a video I posted on YouTube. It was a beautiful recitation of Suratul Imran, the surah about Mariam Um Isa (Mary the mother of Jesus), may Allah be pleased with her). I was happily reading through the comments enjoying that it had comforted and relaxed many people when one caught my eye. A person said that this surah (Qur'anic chapter), Surat al-Imran, happened to be her favourite surah. Someone responded just below it (it doesn't matter who) "not being rude but how can you have a favourite surah". I replied by saying that, " This happens to be one of my favourite surat as well. All of the Qur'anic verses speak to our hearts with every word, but there are some that reach deeper to different people at times. Just as Muhamed (saw) told us of the qualities of Ayatul Kursi and how it is the best ayah. I would praise our brother or sister in Islam for finding this surah so precious." I then got a reply saying "I knw what your saying bro but i just want to say that all of the verses and surahs are beautiful but you are righty though." Besides the fact that I'm a sis not a bro, let's think about what happened in that quick exchange of words between us three people. One person said something positive. The next person said something positive but in a seemingly negative tone. The third person (aka me) tried to compromise between the two. Just think about all the interpreting that went on and the weight we put on other peoples words. Before they replied I thought they were attacking what the other person was saying, because of other experiences I have had with people who seem to find something negative to peck out of every sentence you say. I definitely do not want to be one of those people, and do not see myself as one, al7amdolillah. And I felt that I did not attack the other person in what they had said but neutrally gave my advice on how I would react. How ever I did feel a certain way about it, and I felt that this person was simply trying to stir up trouble. Now that the person responded I feel completely different about what they could have meant, and rather than seeing bluntness or harshness in the phrase I see perhaps a lack of knowledge of the English language. I know whenever I speak a different language I am usually as blunt as possible, just to make sure what I am trying to say gets through, and it can often come off as harsh. We really need to be careful about what we say, how we say it, and how we listen to what others are trying to tell us. There's a saying about looking through life with a positive lens, meaning you'll see a positive outcome no matter what is ahead of you. There are many different kinds of lenses. The same goes with listening. If you have a conversation with a certain kind of, I don't know what, headphones on that filter out what you don't want to hear, you're only get half of the story and doing injustice to the speaker as well as yourself. We're only human. Instead of listening like a hawk to make sure so-and-so gives the "correct" response, make sure that you are listening correctly. May Allah guide us to not judge so quickly or too harshly, to support each other in every positive thing we do, and bond us through our mistakes, not divide us. Ameen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


This is a picture of some baklava I made and I was so excited I just felt like sharing. I filled them with walnuts, dates, chocolate, and honey. Sweet enough for you? I've had four today and I think I'm ready to curl up and sleep for two weeks. Insha Allah I will give you the recipe soon but I am right in the middle of studying arabic and trying to memorize the Istikhara (the du3a/prayer one says when asking Allah for guidance when you're not sure if you should do a thing or not). I'm so excited! I will write about the Istikhara and memorizing different prayers in the upcoming posts I make insha Allah. Take Care, God bless you, and happy cooking!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Palestinians Donate to Haiti

The Earthquake in Haiti has effected the lives of thousands. For many others it has reminded others how precious life is and how thankful we should be every day for what we have. To review the damage and extent of this catastrophe on an already poorly conditioned  nation, I made a video and posted it on YouTube. After reading so many articles on the problems that followed (many having to do with illness spreading do to unsanitary conditions and infrastructure instability and people living in tents and shacks) I started really thinking about the similarities between the effects of this natural disaster in Haiti and the siege on Ghaza. Both horrible outcomes with thousands killed and thousands suffering. I posted this video comparing the two on YouTube in hopes that people will contribute their donations to Haiti, and if they see fit to donate to Haiti they would not resist the Palestinians the same rights. In the beginning of the video at around 00:20 there is a link you can click showing people in Ghaza donating what little they have to help Haitians get back on their feet. I found it a very emotional scene when people under the same conditions are giving up their means of living to help those they sympathize with and understand their condition. Please watch. Jazakallah Kheir. May God reward you for your contributions and help.


U.S. Condemns Israel?

March is almost gone and the U.S.-Israeli alliance is making headlines in a teetering relationship that I thought I would never be alive to see. After Israel's "military offensive" in Ghaza in December 2008 in which 13,000 Palestinians were killed (along with 13 Israeli soldiers), Israel got a slap on the wrist from the United States, who still remained on their side during the initial U.N. vote when it came to sanctioning Israel's actions. Two weeks ago when Vice President Biden of the U.S. visited Israel to construct peace talks, Israel announced the continuation of 1,600 new Jewish settlements to be built in East Jerusalem. An "anger march" erupted in Syria while Biden had to keep Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting over an hour before dinner while he figured out how to address the sudden announcement. "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them." I bet that dinner was intense. Perhaps my generation will live long enough to see a time when Israel can't do anything it wants. We'll see. insha Allah.