Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reflections on a Past - Part II: somewhere in between

As I mentioned in an earlier post (Reflections on a Past - Part I (a): back then), I was an adamant fan and a devout student of Zakir Naik. Then in early 2007, I started noticing way too many double standards and contradictions in his views, especially in what he calls “logic,” and after listening to and reading at least a hundred to a thousand more of his debates and articles and “books,” I decided he was not a scholar after all, that he was only misguiding me further, that he was a misogynist and deep inside was promoting hatred, not love and peace for all, especially against women, non-Muslims, and non-Sunni Muslims. Disappointed big time, I stopped turning to him for all my questions on Islam.

Having been disappointed this much by someone I admired so deeply for so long (long here means about a year), I decided there was no one who could answer all my questions and allay all my doubts. And stuff. So I decided to just go ahead and read everything I could get my hands on and see where it’d lead me, and maybe I’d reach a level in which I embraced myself with all these doubts and fears and questions and dissatisfactions.

Then I found a friend who challenged everything I believed in. And I fell completely to the other extreme. I’ll always be grateful to this person, even though today, I’d rarely agree with her/him on any religious or social issue, and I think falling to that extreme that easily was not so smart or wise at all. But I do not regret it.

- Reflections on a Past - Part I (a): back then!
- Reflections on a Past - Part I (b): the effects

Coming up:
- Reflections on a Past - Part III: me today!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Reflections on a Past - Part I (b): the effects

In the last post (Reflections on a Past - Part I (a): back then), I revealed what I was like in “debates” (and stuff) in my earliest phase of engaging in online discussions with people. (I assure you, when I’d have those same discussions in person, I never yelled at my interlocutors. And I'd wait for them to finish what they had to say before I shared my thoughts. It's just that online, it's a whooole different aura, you know?)

Here, in this post, I’m explaining how those “debates” (and stuff) affected me mentally.

I’m really not exaggerating when I admit that these (online discussions) were very disturbing for me. Like I said, I couldn’t sleep. And my heart would start beating when I’d get a notification that someone I was in a discussion with had replied to my post and I knew that that person had disagreed with me. And because my heart would be pounding wildly while I’d be typing my responses, my reply would get longer than a few hundred miles, and there’d be so many exclamation marks and question marks, and I’d rant about how sad it was that Muslims in the west are so misguided. During these times, I wasn’t able to focus on my courses, I couldn’t sleep well or on time, I could think of nothing else besides how to reply to these misguided “so-called” Muslim souls who thought they were smarter than, that they knew more than, the One Ultimate Creator (male God) who created them. Really, I pitied them. I even remember sending out a looong email to a Yahoo! Muslim group (yeeeaaaah, I was active there, toooo) in which I “prayed” for all these lost souls and prayed for all non-Muslims to become Muslims and this and that. Really, I worried myself sick about the fate of all the non-Muslims and the bad Muslims out there. I was the best Muslim in the world, and everyone was to strive to be just like me if they were to attain heaven. I never claimed to be this good a Muslim even back then, though. Well, I guess, unless you consider my desperate attempts for everyone to become Muslim immediately if they wanted to go to heaven arrogance and stuff. I guess that is arrogant, now that I look back.

Coming up: 
- Reflections on a Past - Part II: somewhere in between

- Reflections on a Past - Part III: where I am today

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sharmeen Obaid's Oscar-Winning Documentary, "Saving Face"!

Yeppieeee!! This is a good, GOOD day for Pakistan! Sharmeen Obaid won the Oscar for her documentary "Saving Face," appearing to be the first Pakistani to win such an accolade! A trailer of the documentary can be seen here below.

Lots of people wonder why it's considered an award for Pakistan when Pakistan played no role in her documentary. This is absolutely true - Pakistan has nothing to do with it, and it deserves no credit for this greatness. But I think at times like today and yesterday and at least half of tomorrow when all that seems to be emerging from Our Darling Pakistan seems to be stupidity like Maya Khan's moral policing or the murdering of innocent people liberally accused of heresy and blasphemy, one can't resist seeing such brilliance as "Saving Face" coming outta Pakistan, all through the hands of one female documentary-maker. Bravo to Sharmeen!

The best thing I feel right now is that she and I have a mutual teacher :D Yayyy!!! One of my teacher in undergrad used to talk to me about her, and now, seeing this, I feel so great, even though I have nothing to do with this, #BIGhaha :D

k, here's the trailer. Enjoyerz!!

Reflections on a Past – Part I (a): back then

I often look back in my past to figure out how I ended up where I am today. And one of the things that I think of every time I look back is my active involvement in online discussions between 2006 and 2008. I was so young (18, 19 years old?), I was just growing up (I’m still growing up), I was so naïve – I thought I could convert people to Islam. No, seriously. And to think that I don’t believe in conversions today. (More on this another time, easy there.) I’m gonna divide this post into three parts. Part I (a) will be this (how I was like back then), Part I (b) will be how it all affected me mentally and emotionally, Part II will be about the middle phase (the bridge, I suppose, between my current phase and the earliest one), and Part III will be about where and how I am today.

Back then (i.e., between 2006 and early 2009):

In mid-2007, the Internet – that is, social networks (Facebook) and discussion forums– became a necessary tool for me to move past a highly disturbing event in my life. I turned to the Internet for many reasons, prominent among which was to spread Islam (believe it, man). But I was involved in attempting to convert people to Islam (that is, “the” Right Path as I understood it back then) on the Internet even before 2007, at least around mid-2006. Yahoo! Answers was an excellent way for me to do this :D (Stop laughing. I did admit I was naïve and stuff, ok.) During this time, I relied heavily on, Zakir Naik’s (Zakir Naik was my heeeero, man, he was my hero! I used to secretly pray that he’d become the next president of India and convert all of those poor, misguided, infidel-ish Hindus to Islam, and everyone would live happily ever after and in peace, like Zakir Naik still promises), and, to name a few of the websites that influenced my way of thinking and that served as THE source of understanding Islam for me. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gone Are the Days

Saw this on a friend's blog and couldn't help sharing:

Gone are the days where modesty was measured by shame, where intelligence was measured by humility and where love was measured by emotions. Modesty is now judged by appearance; intelligence by the gift of the gab, and love by the fulfillment of materialistic desires. Gone are the days where simplicity was admired. Simplicity is a powerful wing with which one can soar high and low, if man but knew.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Zakir Naik on Polygamy - a clip from his lectures

This isn't the full video, but this is what I'm to show at my conference tomorrow to give my audience an idea of who he is and what his lectures are like, since I think this particular lecture of his is very representative of his method of preaching.

My favorite part is when he claims that the ONLY two options available to women (in countries where there are more women than men, which is all countries except India and China) are to marry married men OR become public property, in a scenario where all men are married and over 8 million women in New York are left alone and lonely and sad and without husbands and stuff.


Zakir Naik on Women - Part II

All right, so. Sabbah jee wouldn't quit bugging me about sharing some more posts on the Great Zakir Naik whom she and I are crazy about. But I been promising myself to keep my blog posts nice and short, like under 600 words and stuff, so I won't be making this long. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit back in a couple of days for preceding parts of the series on Zakir Naik's Version of Women's Rights in Islam.

So, here goes nothing. Bismillah.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The "What I'm Actually Doing" Trend on the Internet

 LOL. So, recently, there's this new phenomenon on the Internet (I just loooove how the "Sh*t White Girls Say" video turned into an Internet sensation, and now you can find something similar for every religious, ethnic, gender, etc. group! It's beautiful to see everyone uniting and influencing each other in such a witty way.) This new one, though, the "What I'm actually doing," "What I actually/really do," "What I really am" theme is even better, I think: it clears up so many misconceptions and is just a small pictorial representation of a person or group of people or an idea. Below are some of my most favorite photos of the theme. 

More in a bit! Lemme know if you find cool ones, too. I'll put 'em up here.

Words of Wisdom: thinking about your words

I posted this in the "Words of Wisdom" section on this blog, but I found it too important not to dedicate an entire post to it. I just found it on a friend's Facebook page, and I thought of the many people whose wounds it can heal just because we're cautious about what we say in front of others.

Don't speak about your wealth in front of the poor.Don't speak about your health in front of the sick. Don't speak about your strength in front of the weak. Don't speak about your happiness in front of the sad. Don't speak about your freedom in front of the imprisoned, Don't speak about your children in front of those who can't have children, Don't speak about your parents in front of an orphan. Their wounds can't take more. Think about your words in all aspects of live and take into consideration the feelings of others so that you will not find yourself one day alone with your own wounds." - Dr. Ibrahim El Feky.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Favorite Quotes from "The Thornbirds"

My favorite movie of all times is The Thornbirds. It is such a beautiful movie. I’ve talked about it a little in an earlier post, but I intend to provide a summary of it at some point when I have time and all. I hope these quotes give you an idea of why I am crazy about this movie! (P.S. It’s a book as well, but I’ve yet to read it. The movie was brilliantly made, and I can’t imagine how the book would be even better!)
For the characters, know that Ralph and Meggie desperately love each other, though Meggie was a little girl when she first met him (he’s the only one who seems to have recognized her existence in a good way; it was especially her mother who hated her guts because of her gender). But Ralph is a priest who wants to attain the highest level of priesthood, forbidding him any intimate relations with a woman. Still, as hard as he tries to resist Meggie, he fails.


Ralph (the Father): … and what would that make you? Surely not the Pope!
Mary (an old woman who’s in love with Ralph, much younger than she): Oh, no, no. That’s too dull. Satan, perhaps. That’s more interesting.
Father: And more powerful!
Mary: Well, every heaven needs one just to stay in business.

Ralph: How will we live without him?
Meggie: We will. Your God gathers in the good ones... and leaves the living to those of us who fail. Your greedy God! There *is* no peace with him!

Ralph, to Meggie (telling the legend of the thorn bird): There's a story... a legend, about a bird that sings just once in its life. From the moment it leaves its nest, it searches for a thorn tree... and never rests until it's found one. And then it sings... more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. And singing, it impales itself on the longest, sharpest thorn. But, as it dies, it rises above its own agony, to outsing the lark and the nightingale. The thorn bird pays its life for just one song, but the whole world stills to listen, and God in his heaven smiles.

Meggie, to Ralph (on the fire that just killed someone she loves): That dear and gentle God who has taken from me everyone that I've loved most in the world. One by one. [Person 1], and [Person 2]... and [Person 3].. and my father. And you, of course. Always you. If God is merciful... left me no one else to grieve.
Ralph: He is merciful, I know you can't see that now, but he is. He spared the rose. He sent the rain.
Meggie: Oh Ralph... who sent the fire?

Ralph (on Meggie): Fee, she's your daughter. It's as if you never remember that.
Fiona “Fee”: Does any woman? What's a daughter? Just a reminder of the pain... a younger version of oneself... who will do all the same things, cry the same tears. No, Father. I try to forget I have a daughter.

“There are no ambitions noble enough to justify breaking someone's heart.” Oh my God! I can’t remember which character said this. Was it Ralph? It doesn’t sound like him, though. I’ll be re-watching this movie soon, so I’ll know. Google doesn’t seem to know – whaaaaaaatt.

P.S. A lot of these quotes are courtesy of IMBD.

WORD COUNT: 562! YYYYES! Another success :) Trying to stay under 600, remember?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Heteros and the Homos - and no one in between

(Pre-post: My next 10 blog posts are to be under 500 words. This is the first among them, which means I will have to divide them into different parts when they are on a serious topic that takes longer than 500 words to be explained or discussed. But I will certainly read and re-read and re-re-read all my posts in the future to see if they can be limited to 500 words.)

Ever noticed that every time anti-homosexual people talk about homosexuals, their perverted minds instantly imagine their “being intimate” with each other?  (I prefer “being intimate with each other” to avoid using the more blunt phrase, which will invite viewers to this blog looking for that kind of information.) Here’s how it works: two heterosexuals can get married and the last thing on someone’s mind might be what happens inside their bedroom. But talk about two homosexuals, and the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind, especially the Muslims and others who are against homosexuality, is: “Oh my God. Ew, how are they going to … ‘have babies’?”

In other words:

Two people of the same gender – different races, different religions, different nationalities – can fall in love and discuss marriage and being together, but hell if anyone gives a damn about their intimate activities or the passion that the two might enjoy. But talk about two people of the same genders, and the issue is primarily about intimacy and the apparent “absurdity” of being intimately, passionately involved with someone of the same gender. Why, I mean seriously, WHY, would anyone be ludicrous enough to indulge in the folly called homosexual love? Right?

P.S. Understand that I’m not interested in telling the world what I think of homosexual people or whether I disagree or agree with what they do together, just like I’ll refrain from discussing what I think of heterosexuals and what they do together. But I do intend to write soon on homosexuality in Islam, as a review of a book of the same title written by Scott Kugle, published in 2010. And then there, we can talk about Islam's positionsss on homosexuality, from different perspectives.

Word Count (excluding the pre-post): 299. SUCCESS!!!! :D Shukraaaannnn, shukran, mananaaaaaa, thank yoooou, mehrabaniiiii, merciiiii!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Call for Submissions -Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power

Call for Submissions Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power
(Routledge)•revised second edition•

Deadline: March 30, 2012

How can we better understand and imagine new possibilities for men and feminism? Are you a guy who hates sexism? Do you call yourself a feminist? Have you spent hours over coffee (or beer or on blogs) debating issues of gender, power, race, class, and sexuality? Are you involved with social justice activism? Have you grappled with accountability, imperfection, and social change? If so, then you have stories to tell and I’d like to hear what you have to say. For complete information see

Please send submissions or queries to Shira Tarrant at Include Men Speak Out 2e Submission in the subject line. Submission queries should be directed to the above. Deadline: March 30, 2012.

Shira Tarrant, PhD

Monday, February 6, 2012

Helping Rebuild Afghanistan - UCLA's United Afghan Club

1 in 10 children in Afghanistan die before turning 5 years old
Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate
40% of deaths of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth
Every year, the United Afghan Club at UCLA focuses on a specific issue affecting Afghanistan. Members of the organization along with the rest of the UCLA community work together to create a positive, tangible, and sustainable change by teaming up with a non-profit organization. In the past, we have successfully raised over $50,000 for various efforts.

This year, the United Afghan Club at UCLA is hosting a banquet to raise funds for the Emergency Obstetric Center in the Nangarhar Hospital. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Afghan Medical Association of America. The funds raised through this non-profit event will effectively aid this effort by going directly towards the obstetric center in the Nangarhar hospital which is in dire need of essentials such as a sufficient number of hospital beds, proper medication, and knowledgeable health care workers.
Donations can be made online at
Your contributions will improve the difficult health care conditions in Afghanistan. Furthermore, we hope that you will be able to join us on Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm in Ackerman Grand Ballroom at UCLA to learn more about our cause and enjoy our banquet. There will be live music, traditional Afghan food, cultural performances and more.

If you have any questions, please contact them (I, qrratugai, didn't get the contact info; will share it as soon as I get it).

Thank you!
A friend of mine, a UCLA graduate, has
"had the opportunity to see a lot of amazing philanthropic projects, but none measured up to the United Afghan Club's events. If you choose to donate, I can promise that the money will go directly to support to hospital." She's an honest person, and I'd take her word for this.

In the meantime, also, watch this:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pashtun girls, their pictures online, and the lack of respect for their privacy

A discussion on a FB Pashtun women's organization compelled me to write the following in response to this question: Photos on FB: From time to time, this question has come up as to why dont Afghan girls show their profile pictures? Is it because we really want to stay private or we dont feel safe ? Its like having a burqa on FB :)

I'm so glad you guys are discussing this! It's a huuuge problem, I have to say, because why the hell can't we just be ourselves? Why can't we put up pics of ourselves without fearing that someone will steal them, download them, and upload them to Youtube videos (yes! They do this! Perverts. The only other people I've seen to be backward enough to do this are other Pakistani ethnic groups, like Punjabis), and make fake profiles -- whether of us or with other name but with our photos.

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