Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blogger is boring but does Wordpress equal stress? *Update*

Update 12/12/07 While I wouldn't say Wordpress and I are on first name terms yet, I'm staying there. Insha Allah there will be no more posts on this blog.

All new material will be at:

http://getoutlines.wordpress.com

So, I have moved to Wordpress as it's rather fancy and stuff.

However, I have just completed a post on there and it involved frowning a lot and trying not to swear. So I may return to Blogger as I am weirdly picky about tech things.

Until then:

Click the link for your Mittwoch dose of more of the same.

Update18/11/07: I've done two more posts there and it is still annoying me. My forehead hurts from frowning. I usually use Mozilla and spit on IE, but does Wordpress work better in IE? Any hints?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

When Fox defended the Dog

As I have stated before, my favourite brand of brain dead tv was Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Cheesy and ludicrous it may be but it was always so watchable.

Until:

Audiotape of Chapman using racial slur


Some people seem to have a problem with this concept, but to most it is obvious: there are some words you do not say.

White people do not get to say the n-word. They don't. It's an offensive, horrible word used with one intention only : to demean someone on the basis of colour.

There are other terms like this, some are considered 'reclaimed words' by members of that community, but it still remains that unless you are part of that community, you do not and cannot use those terms.

Much has been made of this being a tape recording of a private conversation. Maybe, but the views expressed in that conversation will be abhorrent to many.

Now Dog is sorry. So he's visiting lots of black people to wash away his guilt, so they can say he's not a bad person, he didn't mean it and he can get his job back. It would be good if he could really see why he was wrong, not just that he lost his job.

Predictably, Fox News have been defending him, saying that the use of the n-word is "equivalent to cursing". Ridiculous.

Some might ask why such a big fuss is caused by the actions of a minor celebrity. Maybe because it is another reminder of what a racist society we live in, that people might be polite to your face, but will still use the lowest kind of insults in private. Scraps of 'tolerance' instead of a diet of acceptance.

In private or in public, racism and prejudice should be fought, or they will contaminate everything they come into contact with, including our very souls.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Apples do not exist

Neither do practicing Muslims who are active and positive members of society. Muslims are either totally assimilated and vaguely nominal Muslims or Jihadist. Nothing else.

Such prejudices will not have been altered by the second installment of Britz, which focused on Nasima, the female character. There was so much wrong with this show. It would take a massive post to list it all, so I will summarise.

We are introduced to Nasima as a typically ordinary girl. A bubbly medical student with a passion for politics. We see her praying with her family (although she doesn't cover her hair properly during salah, the first of many inconsistencies).

Sadly, our insight into her religious beliefs and motivations pretty much ends there. For a drama supposedly about Muslims there is actually very little about Islam.

It was just completely unconvincing.

Nasima's best friend is arrested, imprisoned and release under a control order, despite not being involved in any illegal activity. She subsequently commits suicide.

After this Nasima attends a student meeting for Muslims, where she is told that Jihad is the duty of all Muslims, even women and that nothing else will help to end the war in Iraq e.t.c. In fact, the women are told that they could make excellent jihadists as they are less likely to be detected.

Meanwhile, Nasima still fits in the time for a non-Muslim boyfriend. In one of the most unrealistic scenes (and there were many), she tells her boyfriend he doesn't understand, because he's not Muslim, then proceeds to kiss him, just after he drank some beer and they sleep together. Because that's the behaviour of a committed Muslim. *Eye roll*

Cue Nasima confessing to her parents about aforementioned boyfriend in order to get sent to Pakistan so that she can train for her 'mission'.

The director proudly claimed to have spoken to Muslims before making this film. I'm not sure what he spoke to them about, but it wasn't Islam or how Muslims interact with each other.

Nasmina is shown making wudu and praying by the side of the men. Considering this is meant to be an 'Islamist' camp, neither she nor the other women wear hijab. When she agrees to do the mission. The leader makes this bizarre convenant which makes no mention of Allah. While doing so, he puts his hand directly on her head.

She then returns to London to finalise the preparation for her mission. While in London she lives with a male fellow terrorist, which would also be a no-no islamically, but the script remains unconcerned with such matters.


She looks a bit troubled that there might be children there at the planned detonation site, but this doesn't last long. This is another major problem. We know she is mourning her friend and blames the government for her death, but again, it's just not convincing. Her motives are unclear. A character tells her she will "sit at God's right hand", which is an odd statement from a Muslim, as there is nothing in Islamic theology about anyone sitting at the right hand of Allah. However, she replies that she is not doing this for that reason. Yet if she is doing this for emotinal reasons, i.e to avenge her friends death, she seems curiously lacking in passion. I'm not sure if it's the fault of the actress, the script or both.

So she goes to her final destination, wearing virginal white and an empathy belly to hide her bomb. Before she can detonate it, her brother finds her, they struggle in slow motion. Then the screen goes fuzzy.

Now for some statistics. Remember the director has spoken to real Muslims, so we are treated to statement about 81% of young Muslims think UK foreign policy is an attack on Islam and will increase the likelihood of terrorism in the UK. Then information about the Government anti-terror legislation laws passed.


Following this is a clip of Nasima's suicide video, where she declares the public are all guilty for electing the current government she declares that Muslims will fight ending by saying "So Help Me God", which is just not the sort of terminology a Muslim would use. Considering the number of real video messages made by suicide bombers, you've think this would not be difficult to portray in a mildly authentic manner, but it's fair to conclude this programme as the same relation to authenticity that a tree slug has to moonwalking.


Anyway. According to the director, my criticism is:
"disrespectful to the many Muslims who worked on the script and the production."

I stand by my opinion, they should be ashamed at how they earn their money. I would rather clean toilets with a toothbrush for a living then be involved in making such prejudiced garbage.

The above comment came from a live discussion forum on the show held on the Channel four website after the show. Here are some other choice tidbits:

"The 2 Pakistani girls at the bomb factory were hot. Liked the bra scene. Good work Peter."



"The fact you showed just how easy it was for Nasima to create her bomb in the 2nd part from odds and ends from any hardware store. It seems like there could be a bomb workshop in every other house all over the country."

"I know that so far we (the British people) have been very lucky so far. 7/7 was an atrocity but could have been so much worse. Are you not afraid that young Muslims will watch the documentary and be inspired?"


***

This is just the latest in a seemingly never ending torrent of negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam. Both films and television will claim to tackle any number of difficult issues, yet they find it impossible to show Muslims in a realistic manner. If there is no room for our reflection in their media mirror, then it's time we made our own mirrors.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And I thought Sleeper Cell was bad...

...until I saw Britz.

This is a two part drama on Channel 4 focusing on a British Asian Muslim brother and sister. He works for M15, she is a trainee terrorist. "Which Side Are You On?" is the tag line. Err, neither actually, thanks for asking. Oh sorry, you didn't ask me did you? As I'm just a normal law-abiding Muslim and my life is not very dramatic.

Early in the programme we have the 'Radical Student Scene', where a guy in 'Muslim dress' says things about being able to attack civilians and is met with fervent applause.

When I watch something like that, someone twisting my religion, lying about what I hold to be sacred it hurts. It just upsets me so much. Worst of all, people will watch this and thinks it's true. When any Muslim says otherwise, people think we are lying, or not 'real Muslims'.

The programmes are meant to use drama to inform and 'provoke debate'.
In Britain this year we've had visits from Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir (May Allah swt preserve them both), two of the most knowledgeable and charismatic scholars visit us.
These are two men with a wealth of knowledge, particularly about Islam in the west. Did they get to appear on prime -time tv? No.

Other than that, it was just so cliched. Pakistan is shown as a technology-free slum, where "nothing changes". The male lead and his icy blonde fellow spy have an affair because as Muslims on tv must be terrorists, so must pretty actresses take their clothes off. The M15 part of the drama looked like Spooks. Zzzzz

In interviews, the actors have waffled on about "playing complex characters" and "transcending labels", but they haven't. They've just made Muslims look bad (The only good Muslim is a non-practicing one, e.t.c) and given the Islamophobes another reason to scowl at women in hijab and mutter about what we talk about in mosques.

In Islam, there is a lot of importance placed on having an income from halal (permitted means). This is because your money is what buys your food, clothes, the roof over your head. If the money is tainted, it taints everything you buy with it.

There a lot of Muslim names in the cast list of this show. They should be ashamed of how they make their money.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Blame it on the Burqa/This is why I mod

In an era saturated with a love of the symbolic, the burqa has to be one of the most potent, a signifier for female subjugation (by Muslims) in shapeless black fabric.

Never mind that fabric has no powers, oppression is carried out by humans who are usually men.

Still on many feminist blogs and discussion groups, when female discrimination is brought up, there will often be a few remarks about burqas and the poor Muslim women.

This needles me on numerous levels.

On a personal level, I consider myself a feminist. Always have done, insha Allah always will. I have no problem whatsoever reconciling that with my faith. I know I'm not the only Muslim women to feel like this. Disparaging remarks about Islam, shut us out of the conversation. Speak to us, not about us, you might be surprised by what we have to say.

Then there is the matter of people insulting something they know very little about. Have they met or spoken to any Muslim women. You can talk about subjugation under the veil, but have you spoken to anyone wearing it? Ayan Ali Hersi does not count.

Finally and most disturbingly, is the issue of racism. It can be called orientalism, but that academic term often seems to dress up the ugly reality. When there is talk about suffering Muslim women, a frequent theory is: Muslim women are so oppressed, because Muslim men are so brutal. Cue the stereotypes: variations on the theme of the "Barbarous Arab".
Mixed with a White Saviour Complex, this is a heady intoxicant.

*****

I am back to moderating comments. It's an easier way of keeping an eye on things. I don't mind personal insults, but the thought of something anti-Islamic lingering on my blog upsets me.

The best thing about it is, you can delete the comments from your blog but still have a record of them in your email inbox. Great!

Here is an especially asinine one from a notorious troll. It does, however, serve to sum up the thought processes described above.

So you like your rags and not waxing now!
Screw you and hopefully a Muslim man beats you as he's allowed!
Screw Muslims and all their followers!

So Mr Troll, here is my response:

1)Actually it a recommended act for both male and female Muslims to keep body hair neatly trimmed. It is much more hygienic.

2)I think this says more about you and what thoughts you have inside your head then it does about me. Anyway, since you are interested in Islamic marriages, here's another link for you.

3)Hmm, you are rather fond of that verb, aren't you? There is a mistake in this line. You see, Muslims don't have followers, we are followers of Islam.

I am convinced now that you didn't mean to write that comment. No one could possibly be that banal on purpose. I think you meant to write something like this:

So do you like wearing hijab?

To which I would respond, why, yes I do. Aside from the religious reasons, I always used to have bad hair days and it keeps my ears warm in winter. A sister once described hijab as "a hug for your head". I like that description.

Mr Outlines sounds nice, I hope you have many happy years together.

Yes I am rather fond of him, alhamdulilah. Thank you for your wishes,insha Allah this will happen.

Peace to all the Muslims, Peace to Everyone!

Thank you and the same to you.

See, it's so much nicer to be nice!

Friday, October 12, 2007

What do Muslims ask Allah swt for most?

If there is one thing that I want people to take away from this blog it's this:

Islam is for everyone

Really. Not just for people of x ethnic group, or whatever.

Allah swt states in a hadith:
"When My servant walks towards my, I run towards him".

That's all us Muslims are doing, walking towards Allah swt. Some of us keep the pace better then others, some of us get distracted, fall off, whatever, but we keep on walking.

Nobody starts climbing midway up the ladder, you have to start from the bottom, step by step.

Which brings me to the title of my post.

The answer to the question is this:
Idhinas sirat al mustaqim
Show us the straight way

This is verse/ayah six of Surah/Chapter Al Fatiha, the first Surah of the Quran, which is recited in every unit of prayer.

So a Muslim says this at least 17 times, in the five obligatory prayers, but most of us pray additional prayers and so we say it even more then that.

It really is the most sincere desire, to follow the guidance of Allah swt and the way of His beloved final Prophet, Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him).

For anyone interested in reading about the Qur'an, a really good site is Al Tafsir.

I would like to point out for my two favourite Non-Muslim readers that it also shows translations in Portuguese (Ali's favourite language) and Romanian (Although you speak English better then me, Alina!).

When I first head about Islam, I could never imagine being a Muslim:
"No way, that's far too strict, what fun do they have?!"

I can remember seeing the Qur'an channel on telly, flicking past, not interested.

What changed is that I began to feel the absence of God in my life. I saw religious people and thought, "I want what they have, that certainty, that guidance".

Then I became friends with a Muslim, read a translation of the Qur'an and that was that.
*gasp*, I think I've finally let my conversion story slip! Told you it was nothing exciting.

It wasn't easy, I had my struggles as everyone does.

Still, I have to tell Mr Outlines that he's the second best thing to have happened to me.

The first best thing was becoming Muslim. Insha Allah, it always, always will be.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Eid ish

The U.K is a pretty small country, safely within one time zone.

Yet can we celebrate Eid on the same day?

NO!!!

Subahana Allah, I'm so sorry to end my blog break with negativity, but this is absolutely ridiculous. Even within the same city, people are celebrating Eid on a different day.

I check the Ramadan Uk site - Eid is on Saturday, fine Alhamdulilah, I pray tarawih at home. I get an Eid Mubarak text and check with the local mosque, according to them, Eid is tomorrow.

It's been an odd kind of Ramadan for me. Not ideal, but insha Allah, there are things I can learn from it.

That's the key I guess, reaching for the extraordinary while living in the ordinary.

Being a better Muslim and/or a better person is a lot of work.

I don't think I'm the only one to suffer from bookitis, where you buy lots of Islamic books, so many that you don't actually ever get chance to read them properly, you read a bit of each and don't really get the benefit of any of them.

Insha Allah, just one aim that I take away from Ramadan, it to just concentrate on a few things, to do them regularly and to do them well.

It's easy to feel sad after Ramadan if you didn't quite attain that level of worship that you wanted to. Alhamdulilah, in Islam everyday is an opportunity, everyday we can make that Journey to Allah swt, or at least start on the first few steps of it.

Make today that day. Today is all we have.

In the last days of Ramadan, a very dear and wonderful brother in Islam died. Masha Allah, he had the biggest heart. There may be some of you reading this who know who he was. What made him stand out is that he did things, made things happen and he helped so many people.
He truly believed that Islam for a gift for all mankind and Masha Allah, he welcomed many people to the deen. May Allah swt forgive him and have mercy on him.

Eid Muburak to everyone whenever you celebrate.

P.S I think this is lovely. Jazak Allahu Khayran to all who have made it possible