Why is that kin often fight the hardest?
Brother holding brother to the ground; sister caught between the two,
Ya Allah, have you not seen how man cannot stay his hand or mouth?
Might you intercede and awaken both from their blinding rage?
This I humbly ask of you tonight.
It has only been a week since arriving in Doha but I am beginning to discern the spectrum of experiences present in this small peninsular country: between the almost surreal wealth and the absolute poverty. Tonight’s experience on my drive home, however, showed that amid these two extremes there does exist much grey area, where people come together for the sake of helping another human being and go against the grain of what is perceived as acceptable social interactions. The thing I am referencing is a refrigerator placed out of a Qatari family’s villa that is meant as a depository for food/drink donations that can be taken by whomever needs them.
The location, which is just north of the Chamber of Commerce along a slip road, is something that probably escaped many individuals passing by, which I believe adds to the sincerity of the action done by this family. After placing some food in the fridge, which has two little signs hanging inside (one in English; the other in Arabic), I left thinking about how this exhibited a Muslim virtue of giving charity without seeking praise. Moreover, the slightly obscure location, in my opinion, preserves the pride of those taking from the fridge as people can come and go whenever without it being a spectacle.
So why share this? Well, for one, if you are in Doha and have leftovers that can be packaged or the ability to purchase food/drinks, I would encourage you to drop off supplies. Feel free to message for a map of the location. If you are not currently in Doha, I hope that you might be inspired to do something similar wherever you are. Through small, sustained actions I firmly believe bigger changes and consciousness-raising can be achieved. Salaams.
For too long I have denied myself the ability to be at peace; I only know the state of code orange (not quite full collapse but ever near the edge of running myself into pulp and withering from boredom), but something feels like it is changing…the balmy, oft-silent, desert embrace comes and with it, the hard work of quieting my mind/welcoming the Divine.
Salaams and checking in from Doha, Qatar! Al-hamdulilah my move here has been a lived experience of Surah Ash-Sharh, namely in that I’ve been blessed with an easier transition than expected facilitated by the kindness of others. While life here is very unlike my Muslim experiences in DC, I am glad that I arrived during Ramadan and am able to find comfort in my fasts despite the hellish heat (123 degrees anyone?). The other day I had a brief moment of intense sadness wash over me while sitting with Adeela (my girlfriend for reference) that stemmed from a racing mind that was finally allowed the space to comprehend moving away from the familiar routines, a wonderful community, and my family. Thankfully it was fleeting and to be honest, I find myself with a lighter heart now. Sure, I may be unemployed at the moment, but I have never felt more awake and enthused than now. Throughout the six years I have been Muslim I have come to realize that my connection with God is strongest when involving lots of “WTF, FML, and HS” moments, the kind that leave your stomach in knots, the kind that make you want to breakdown in taraweeh because you realize how privileged you are, or the kind that arises when you acutely detect an absence of warm love and only loneliness among the people you meet. There is no denying there is a lot of messed up stuff going on here (just this week a bunch of Nepali laborers were evicted from their apartments in the middle of the day), but I do not believe in the nihilism and apathy that permeates Doha. Much credit is due unto you (the (non-) Mipsterz communities) for being an aspiring family on multiple levels, but above all, the way in which you do not give up on the world.
Thought provoking piece by a former classmate and fellow American University alumnus. Awesome work, Scott!
In a New York Times column from November 2011, Nicholas Kristof described how he rode along with Somaly Mam, an activist against the Cambodian sex trade, as she and several armed police officers raided a brothel. Kristof plays up the danger of the event, describing the officers’ assault weapons and his own trepidation, while playing up the bravery and nobility of Mam and her mission. Of course, the implicit message is that the humble scribe, Kristof, is also brave and noble, not only accompanying Mam in the raid but also using his international platform as a Times journalist to spread word of her deeds around the globe. Kristof, for those who do not know, has a reputation for traversing the globe and using the power of the pen to bring attention to crimes and injustices that the West, for whatever reason, chooses to ignore. He stokes the fires of…
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Salaams everyone and happy new year to you and your loved ones! It has been quite a while since my last entry back in October – kind of surreal to think I have not done much free writing since then. What brought me out of retirement and compelled me to put thought to virtual paper? Simple: God’s divine sense of humor.
No, not the type that you might find in a Hollywood film or on cable television. I am talking about the subtle comedy found in everyday situations where I perceive God revealing Its greatness. For instance, just last night while attending a lecture accompanied by dinner, I ordered a soda (yes, I know it is bad for me) and so I drank – nothing special, right? Well, the reason I share this is that as my mind hoped my table’s waitress would offer me a refill, she never did and al-hamdulilah I was spared unneeded calories. Or go back a few days when hopping on a city bus at the same time as two other guys, one without fare in hand – alas, I possessed the exact amount he needed and offered it to him. Sure, we might write-off such occurrences as random or attribute them to luck, but I believe that devalues God’s ability to instruct subtlety and extend aid in non-traditional manners. What makes me chuckle is that such help arises from these seemingly insignificant situations, but perhaps that is better and more lasting because they seem so mundane. Allahu akbar.
Salaams all. Last night I took a risk for the first time in a while – I publicly shared in a Muslim space that I felt I had allowed an unsavory part of my religion to continue despite speaking out against it in private. What could this be, right? It is the fact that in my experiences domestically and internationally the act of praying involves gender segregation, i.e. men praying in front of women. This act, depending on whom you speak with, is justified by all sorts of sources, including Quranic passages advising that the genders be separated as to avoid distractions from prayer, cultural traditions of gender segregation (see the Byzantine and Sassanid practices that preceded Islam’s rise in the Middle East), and outright sexism that favors men. I have seen this done in masjids abroad, ones here, and even, as I pointed out last night, among young, progressive Muslims! I am not 100% sure what triggered me to end my silence on the issue and speak-up; I think some of it was inspired by the intro to Youth of Today’s “No More” video. Anyways, I finally vocalized what I held inside for nearly 5 years and took it a step further by inviting a female friend to pray next to me during isha’a prayers. While praying I sensed myself feeling anxious and unsure of the consequences that might come from such an act but I figured it is better to live out my values rather than be among those who proclaim to be revolutionary but never act upon their words.