Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's the American thing to do

Image via
It is amazing how much emotion and debate has risen up over the proposed Muslim community center at Park 51 in NYC.  I think there are few things more American than community centers and allowing Muslim Americans to build one is the American thing to do.  

I do not have the eloquence of others, so I will simply direct you to Muslims and non-Muslims who have spoken up to defend one of our most cherished freedoms, the freedom of religion.

Here are a sampling:

1. Ground Zero Dialogue, site that explores the American Muslim perspective on the Ground Zero controversy. Several award-winning documentaries screening for free via the site.

2. Keith Olbermann: a scathing criticism of opponents to the community center.

3. Jon Stewart: several funny sketches that deliver important points about religious freedom and the inconsistencies of conservative news media like Fox.

4. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). It is nice to see the second-ranking Democrat take a strong position on this issue. President Obama's stance was so wishy washy (they have a right to build the center, but I don't necessarily agree with where they are building it) as to not even be a stance.

5. Qasim Basir, director of the movie, "MOOZ-lum" in his article, "I am a Muslimerican." I enjoy the line, "This is not a plea for sympathy; it is a call to character."

6. Fareed Zakaria, CNN journalist and Newsweek columnist, has come out strongly in favor of the community center. He even returned an award from the ADL, when he learned that they would not be supporting Park 51.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Pakistan: Crisis Continues

The aid so far is just not enough to help Pakistan deal with the devastating flooding of the Indus River.  Please help, it takes a moment and a few dollars can change someone's life across the world.  

Image: Ghazi, Pakistan. Reuters via's Big Picture site

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Way Forward

Fantastic article posted by Shaykh Amin, of Darul Qasim, on fasting in Ramadan, and how to find the pleasure in fasting (saum).  More than that, it is a creative reflection on how to lose bad habits and gain good ones, by understanding the wisdom of the Prophetic sunnah in unlocking the gates to Allah's pleasure.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

More rain, flood worsens in Pakistan

Image via Reuters; Man saving two boys
Rain continues to contribute to flooding in Pakistan and the military, stretched thin from deployments against al Qaeda, are doing what they can to rescue those stranded or trapped by rising flood waters.

Please consider donating to help relief efforts in Pakistan. Previous post here details ways you can get involved. Perhaps the easiest, and most immediate, is to text SWAT to 50555 on your mobile phone. $10 donation to UNHCR, was announced earlier this week by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Islamic Relief USA is also doing major work there.  Given the degree of damage, a UN official is predicting that rebuilding Pakistan will require billions of dollars.

Image via VOA News; Mother with children
Image via Dawn Newspaper; flood survivor    

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Akbar Ahmed on Jon Stewart's Daily Show

Nice interview of Akbar Ahmed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. Akbar Ahmed is a former Pakistani Ambassador and has a new book out called, "Journey into America."

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Akbar Ahmed
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Friday, August 06, 2010

Pakistan Flooding: Help Needed!

Torrential monsoon rains in Pakistan have led to devastating flooding that began in northern Pakistan and is flowing south along the Indus River.  This is one of the worst natural disasters in Pakistan's history.

Map via BBC
Over 1500 people are confirmed dead, over 650,000 homes were destroyed, over 1 million acres of farmland submerged, ten thousand cattle have perished and millions and millions of people have been displaced. 

The logistical challenges will mount, as crowding and lack of fresh, clean water will add to the spread of disease and the death toll.

Please consider donating today to help relief efforts in this area. Islamic Relief USA is a well-known and respected American charity that has long been in Pakistan and is free of any political agenda.  You can view its Charity Navigator profile here.

There are many, many other ways to donate, as well. UNICEF is collecting money for Pakistani children, Oxfam, Canadian Red Cross, and Doctors without Borders also all have relief efforts underway. 

NPR's The Two-Way Blog has posted a press conference by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on ways the United States is helping the relief efforts and its enduring commitment to Pakistan.   

Clinton announced that you can donate $10 to the UNHCR by texting SWAT to 50555. You will get a confirmation text, reply with yes and your donation will be made. 

NPR's The Picture Show has an image gallery that captures scenes from the flooding. Truly gives you a sense of how much damage has been done.   

Lastly, a remarkable story of survival, aired on NPR's Morning Edition, about Siraj Begum, a Pashtun matriarch whose faith, wit and resourcefulness got her through tragedy.  

No donation is too small, please donate today!

Qur'an links for Ramadan

From Seeker's Digest, via Creative Muslims, a list of links to the Qur'an online that are worth perusing, especially as the holy month of Ramadan approaches.  I use frequently and also enjoy, which has a nice interface and loads quickly.

I am sure there are many iphone apps, but is a nice site for ipods. They also give you permission to download an entire mp3 recording of the Qur'an.  I downloaded them a year or two ago, it was virus free at that time, though you always want to double check.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Al-Azhar: Fighting Terrorism through Education

Recent news stories highlighting the efforts of Al-Azhar University, the oldest university in the world, to combat terrorism through education.  Al-Azhar is participating in some innovative programs aimed at promoting mainstream, moderate Islam throughout the world.

The first, is a program that teaches Al-Azhar students English, via a British Council English language training center.  The first class of 68 students, just graduated from a three-year English curriculum that supplemented their Islamic studies.  The hope is that they will be better able to engage the international community by being able to articulate mainstream Islam in English.

Another program involved an exchange program at Georgetown University, when 14 students from Al-Azhar interacted with religious studies students of all faiths at Georgetown.  They studied American democracy and met Congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim American elected to Congress.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Defining Prosperity Down

Great Op-Ed piece in the NY Times by Krugman, called, Defining Prosperity Down, some quotes from the article:
The point is that a large part of Congress — large enough to block any action on jobs — cares a lot about taxes on the richest 1 percent of the population, but very little about the plight of Americans who can’t find work.
later on in the editorial: 

What lies down this path? Here’s what I consider all too likely: Two years from now unemployment will still be extremely high, quite possibly higher than it is now. But instead of taking responsibility for fixing the situation, politicians and Fed officials alike will declare that high unemployment is structural, beyond their control. And as I said, over time these excuses may turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the long-term unemployed lose their skills and their connections with the work force, and become unemployable.
I’d like to imagine that public outrage will prevent this outcome. But while Americans are indeed angry, their anger is unfocused. And so I worry that our governing elite, which just isn’t all that into the unemployed, will allow the jobs slump to go on and on and on.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Americans flock to Toronto to buy coveted Pakistani mango

From Seeker's Digest, a great article posted from Canada's Toronto Star about Americans fulfilling their love for Pakistani mangoes...ah chaunsa, how I miss you! Your fragrance, your sweet tenderness, the way you give of yourself...I last had some in London this past June, and have been savoring the memory since...