Sunday, February 27, 2011

When God is Depicted as a Monster

There was a child named Zahir. His grandmother used to tell him and his siblings and cousins stories at night as they gathered around the bed near her and listened to her intently. Most of her stories involved a bao, a monster of some sort.

In the afternoons, his mother would forbid him from leaving the house while she and other adults in the family went to sleep. When he'd ask why, she'd tell him, "Because the bao will come and eat you." Other times, she'd tell him, "Because God punishes children who don't listen to their parents."

While at the mosque one day, Zahir started talking to his friend when the teacher wasn't looking and accidentally dropped his Quran from the rahel, the Quran stand, and his teacher noticed. Immediately, the teacher ran over to slap Zahir and tell him, "What did I tell you about not respecting the Quran? God will punish you for this." But after realizing that Zahir's father will know that the child had been hit by his teacher, the teacher immediately regretted it and said, "I just don't want you to go to hell, that's all, my dear child."

One day, when Zahir sneaks off in the afternoon time to play with his friends outside his house, his mother finds out and goes to get him. "Did I not tell you not to leave the house at this time? God will get you for this!" His friend whispers to him, "What is God, Zahir?"

"A Bao," Zahir replies.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shopping Time as Bonding Time with Ammi Jaan

I hate shopping. I hate shopping so very much, and I avoid it as much as possible. Until mom asks me to take her shopping in case she finds something she might like. And then I neither want nor can say no to her, so I end up taking her, and that happens almost every weekend. For the longest time, I didn't realize something that now has become a precious piece of fact to me: The time my mom and I are together in the car, on our way to shopping, is our bonding moment, and we learn from and with each other and understand each other bit by bit. 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good News: Studying Arabic Abroad

Halao, world!

I'm honored to share some great news with y'all today: I got this scholarship called the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) award to go to an Arab country and study Arabic for approximately 10 weeks during the summer!!! :D:D:D Of course, I got it only because of the support of my amazing teachers (who must have exaggerated when writing my recommendation letters) and my extremely supportive friends and classmates. I am really blessed to have these people; they're a miracle! These same people have given me support and confidence at the time I most needed it, and it's these exact same people who give me the motivation to keep on doing what I'm doing - that if I don't do it, the world will be destroyed (they really think this; how sweet of them! But we all know it's not true. It's just, they know exactly what to say when!). I would name them, especially two of the most important of these friends, but now might not be the best time. I love them. As for my teachers, I'll be writing long letters to them a few days after my graduation (May 2011, InshaAllah!) and might be sharing excerpts of those on my Blog and Website, if I feel it's okay to do so.

I'm telling you all this so you may be encouraged and apply for the award. For more information, please click the above-provided link. It defines a critical language as well, which include Persian, Arabic, Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, and Chinese.

Best of luck to all those who apply!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Call for Stories: The Secret Love Lives of Muslim Women

Pasting this directly from luckyfatima's blog.

The Secret Love Lives of Muslim Women – Call for stories As many of you know, we’re working on an anthology project entitled ‘Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women’.
We received some incredible submissions and great feedback from agents and publishers. We’ve been asked to include more stories and are reaching out in the hopes that you will consider writing and/or help us spread the word. We are soliciting auto-biographical stories written by American Muslim women on love, dating or courtship. While we prefer that authors write under their real names, we recognize that some topics – including sex, sexual orientation, polygamy, mutah marriages, etc. – are sensitive, so we are accepting a limited number of anonymous submissions.
If you are interested in submitting a piece, please send a first draft (1500-4000 words) by Monday, February 28th to relationship.anthology (at) If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the e-mail address above. Thanks for your help and support!
For more information, please click:  The Secret Love Lives of Muslim Women - Call for Stories

Monday, February 14, 2011

Farhat Hashmi, anyone?

Anyone know a Dr. Farhat Hashmi? I'd read about her before but have only now decided to give her some attention. She's a female version of Dr. Zakir Naik, if not even more conservative than he, but she holds a PhD in Hadith Sciences, which she obtained from the University of Glasgow (Scotland).

She founded the Al-Huda International Welfare Foundation in 1994, which she says is aimed at promoting "proper" Islamic education.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lessons to Learn: Father, Son, and a Donkey

My mother recently told me this fable that used to be published in 3rd-grade children books when she was a child; its message, however, is eternal and universal. The story goes as follows.

There was once an old man traveling with his son and his donkey. As they pass through this one area, he is walking while he has his son sit on the donkey so the child won't get tired. The people, unfortunately, notice them and start whispering: "Oh, look! The son is so selfish. He is having his old father walk while he himself is riding on the donkey! Tsk, tsk." So the father tells his child to get down and himself gets on the donkey.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Niece - Part 3

Previous posts on the beat of my heart (i.e., my niece): Part I, Part II
Continuing from last time . . .

I should take a picture of my room to show y’all. It’s a nursery—no, wait, a better term would be a zoo. There’s really no point in my cleaning it ‘cause every time I do, she brings back her toys and all the prayer rugs she wants me to play with her on (I’ll explain the prayer rugs part in a sec). And every time I organize my books in my itty bitty library in my room, she pulls them all out to kiss each one because she thinks all books are sacred—and they are. But she has a different idea about them: She thinks they’re Qurans, and my mom has taught her that you are to kiss the Quran and treat it with deep respect because it’s God’s Word. So now, every time she sees a book, whether a religious book or not, she goes, “Lllah!” (her version of “Allah,” or, in this case,  “Allah’s Book”). She also says that to all types of writings because there’s a calligraphy piece attached to almost all of the doors in our house that have “Allah” or the Basmallah or some other important Islamic symbol written on it, and one of her first words, albeit not as early as my Mom would have liked her to say, was “Lllah”! Preciousness, I knoooww! So that’s the reason for her thinking that all books and writings are sacred.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Heart Bleeds Pashto

I have escaped impassable mountains of tyranny
I have crossed vast seas of forced silence
And I am home!
My mountains have risen to welcome me
My rivers have shed tears of joy
My land and I have become one again!
I have reached my people!
And my heart,
The heart that bleeds Pashto,
The heart that blushes at the mention of Ghani,
Has conquered death!
I am serenity.

After a century in exile,
I have come back to my people, never to leave again
Do you not see
Abdali’s wounds are healed!
Nazo’s pen sheds ink again!
Friends and foes have met love
And Khushal has put aside his sword
The gudar has been resurrected,
Never to be dried again
And my heart,
The heart that bleeds Pashto,
The heart that once ached with terror,
Is free of pain!
I am home!

We are eternity
Pir Rokhan’s torch has been lit again!
Takkar’s melodies are hummed again by the young and the old!
All streets ring with Badshah Khan’s spirit
Ghani’s Beloved Lord has heard our prayers!
Loss no longer exists
My land has again become a paradise
Singing is now a mark of gratitude to God
And my heart,
The heart that bleeds Pashto,
The heart that sings Ghani’s verses in delight,
Is home again!

Malalai’s smile is now seen on every daughter’s lips!
Rahman Baba can now rest in peace
And my heart,
The heart that bleeds Pashto,
The heart once told not to dream,
Now lies in my beloved’s arms
I have finally reached home
To my beloved’s eternal embrace,
To the land of warriors and thinkers,
The champions of freedom and reason
I am home at last!

- Me, Feb. 2nd 2011

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Heaven and Hell

They say we are sinners in love
That we’ll never be granted the pleasures of firdaus
O’ how the naivety of these people stuns me!

When I have already felt the wrath of hell and the splendor of heaven
I’ve already seen the abysmal depth of hell
And tasted the mordant flames of its fire
And my soul has already absorbed the beatitude of heaven
When I relish with you in the gardens of glory
Where I sing to you, and you sing to me
And I carve on your being, florid verses of love
Where we enjoy moments of forbidden pleasure
Denied to us outside the infinite walls of our heaven
Where we unveil to each other our secrets in the night
And they condemn us to the hellfire reserved for their spite
Tell them I will desert the heavens of the next life
If I can have you here with me for one eternal moment
Let me fall in hell if it will bring me to you
For I have already felt the vernal bliss of your love
And heaven is but the verity of your essence
I have felt, too, the stygian absence of your love
And hell is but the vacuous lack of your presence
O’ what use is piety
When I might in heaven be bereft of my beloved!
With a shattered heart ablaze, nurturing the treacherous fires of hell!
They say we can’t be
But you’ve been mine since the birth of eternity
And will remain mine till its impossible death.

- Me, Jan. 12th 2011

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