Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Make Silence Obligatory

From the blog Red-Sulphur.org

Take recourse to self-imposed silence (mulāzimat al-şamt). Keeping quiet will kindle the light of joy in your heart and immerse you in happy tranquility, just as Shaykh Abu Madyan points out.

Make silence obligatory
Unless you are questioned, then say:
'No knowledge have I'
And conceal yourself with ignorance.

Sufis who take to the spiritual way consider that there are great benefits to be gained by those who make silence obligatory upon themselves. Doing so raises their foundations high and plants firmly their roots. Silence is of two types. There is silence of the tongue (şamt bi'l-lisān) and then there is silence of the heart (şamt bi'l-janān). Both of there are necessary on the path. Whoever is silent in the heart yet speaks with the tongue speaks with wisdom. Whoever is silent with the tongue and silent in the heart perceives the manifestation (tajallī) of the inner conscience (sirr) and is addressed by the Lord.

This is the ultimate goal of silence, as made comprehensible through the discourse of the Shaykh [Abu Madyan]. So make silence obligatory upon yourself, my dear seeker, unless you are questioned. If you are questioned, return to your roots and reach your goal and answer simply, 'No knowledge have I.' Conceal yourself with ignorance, so that you might be enlightened by the rays of intimate knowledge that comes directly from the divine source ('ilm ladunī). Whenever you acknowledge your ignorance and return to your roots [weakness and incapacity], the glimmers of intimate knowledge of your true self dawn to your sight. And if you know your true self you know your Lord, as it is recorded in a saying of the Prophet [hadīth]: "He who knows himself knows his Lord" (man 'arifa nafsahu 'arifa rabba-hu).

All of this knowledge is the fruit of silence and observing its proper bounds with respect. So keep silent, bear yourself respectfully and stand humbly at the doorway so that you might be recognized as a beloved friend of the master of the house. How beautifully this has been said by a poet:

I won't leave the doorway
till they set right my deficiency
Lest they greet me while I'm bent
with my shameful incapacity

If you are satisfied with me
imagine my honor and my nobility!
Yet if you reject me, is there any hope
for my impertinent rigidity?

From the book "Sign of Success on the Spiritual Path" (Unwan al Tawfiq fi Adab al Tariq) by Sidi Ibn 'Ata'Illah al-Iskandari

Monday, October 30, 2006

Two Rows Over a T-Shirt with Arabic on It

From The Progressive

A troubling excerpt:

Here’s what Inspector Harris said, according to Jarrar: “You can’t wear a T-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a T-shirt that reads ‘I am a robber’ and going to a bank.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Smile :-)

Elderly Hui man, originally uploaded by Frogdeck.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Radical Islam finds US 'sterile ground'

From the Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK – The Islamist radicalism that inspired young Muslims to attack their own countries - in London, Madrid, and Bali - has not yielded similar incidents in the United States, at least so far.

"Home-grown" terror cells remain a concern of US law officers, who cite several disrupted plots since 9/11. But the suspects' unsophisticated planning and tiny numbers have led some security analysts to conclude that America, for all its imperfections, is not fertile ground for producing jihadist terrorists.

To understand why, experts point to people like Omar Jaber, an AmeriCorps volunteer; Tarek Radwan, a human rights advocate; and Hala Kotb, a consultant on Middle East affairs. They are the face of young Muslim-Americans today - educated, motivated, and integrated into society - and their voices help explain how the nation's history of inclusion has helped to defuse sparks of Islamist extremism.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Under Morocco’s Spell

From the NY Times

The Kasbah du Toubkal, a mountain retreat in the High Atlas outside Marrakesh, is not for the faint of heart or weak of knee. To reach it, you drive up a winding mountain road to the village of Imlil, walk for 20 long minutes up a gravel path, enter a wooden gate and keep walking. But once inside the central garden, you begin to get the point.

Bukhara, Uzbekistan

bukhara, originally uploaded by roadwarrior.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Muslim scholars write the pope - and everyone else

From the Christian Science Monitor

An excerpt:

Tim Winter, a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, England, and a practicing Muslim, says the letter is a simple attempt to redress what he describes as misunderstanding of the faith implied by the pope's comments. But more important it's a product of a growing awareness on the part of Muslim leaders that they don't communicate effectively with the West, particularly since the religion doesn't share a central bureaucracy like the Catholic church.

"Everyone can see that the advantage that the Christian churches have is that they have efficient hierarchies. If someone who belongs to the Catholic church misbehaves they can immediately issue a denunciation, which is what we saw for years in Northern Ireland,'' he says. "It's hard for outsiders to see what the consensus of Muslim orthodoxy is, particularly with the slide into violence of a fringe of the Sunni orthodox world in the past 15 years or so.

"Even though the [Muslim] religion is traditionally resistant to creating hierarchies, it has to come up with a mechanism of making the opinions of mainstream orthodoxy known," he says. "Finally the Muslim world is waking up to the fact that it needs to improve its public relations skills."

He points to a lack of reporting in the West of the widespread condemnation of 9/11 by Muslim scholars. He also recalls a letter calling for tolerance by largely the same group of scholars in the wake of the Danish cartoon controversy earlier this year. That letter was released at a press conference but received little notice. "Journalists actually admitted it was very hard to understand,'' says Mr. Winter.

That was because, he says, it was overly scholastic. "The problem that the Muslim leadership has is that it's basically made up of medieval men that generally have the right views when it comes to terrorism or political violence, but they have no media skills. When asked a question, they look grave, invoke the name of God and then address it in a rather complicated and beautiful way the mass media can't cope with.... This statement seems to be much more on the ball."

Muslims put faith into action for Ramadan

From the Christian Science Monitor

ROXBURY, MASS. – Two rows of tables, stretching the length of the gymnasium, are neatly stacked with brand-new items: warm sweat shirts and caps in several colors, thick socks, bright yellow ponchos to ward off the weather, and hygiene kits stocked with towels, toothpaste and a toothbrush, soap, and a comb. There are bags of food, bottles of water, and, for the children, backpacks and toys.

Young Muslims in matching T-shirts stand ready to help those coming through the line to pick the right size or color. Downstairs in the Tobin Community Center, another cadre of volunteers, including medical students, give health screenings and answer questions about dental care.

During their holy month of Ramadan, local Muslim organizations in Boston have joined together to host their first Humanitarian Day for the Homeless.

The charitable event is already a five-year tradition in Los Angeles, where it began under the auspices of the ILM Foundation and Islamic Relief, an international relief and development agency based in Buena Park, Calif. This year it spread to 14 US cities, where last weekend an estimated 18,000 homeless and needy Americans of all faiths were served.

Vélos, arbres et brume

Vélos, arbres et brume, originally uploaded by p-h-d.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Garden I'm Seeking...

by Seth Laffey
17 Ramadan, 1427
Oct. 10, 2006

I seek a garden where the heart's repose
Will not be shaken by the winter's blast
And where the flower of Contentment blows--
Not suffering that I weep for what has past
Nor quake with anxious dread on what shall come
Nor hide my face away from current trials.
I beg you not to beckon me to such
Delusive weeds as sprout in rancid files
In cracks of mid-day streets for all and some
I don't esteem such trinkets' value much.

Many seekers there have been and are that turn
From what they can't imagine with their sense
They light their passions up and let them burn
And fancy that their burning is incense--
As if their self-consumption's somehow holy!
That the scent it leaves upon the air is sweet!
My vision once, indeed, was such as theirs.
Oh brothers! your phoenix dreams are self-deceit
Your cold, dead ashes are most melancholy
Remnants of bathetic, tired affairs.

But the garden I seek where my flower lives
That is so rare and secret in this life
Is only by decree of Him Who Gives,
Found only in a heart that's grasped the knife
And died a martyr in its Master's cause--
Then having perished once, just like the earth
That lies through dead of winter like a corse,
Unconscious of volition, joy or dearth
It is revived to joy in Allah's laws
Dead only now to self, without remorse.

A mighty prescription

"We don't need shock and awe; we need talk and law."
— Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson

Monday, October 16, 2006

What is U.S. foreign policy?

Did it include the U.S. government attempting to create the world in its image and hating what it saw?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yusuf Islam named songwriter of the year

Found at DeenPort

From the The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

Yusuf Islam was named Songwriter of the Year for the second consecutive year and was recognized for his enduring classic “First Cut Is The Deepest.” Formerly known as Cat Stevens, he was one of the most successful and enigmatic artists of the 1970s, with a string of best selling albums, which virtually defined the concept of the sensitive songwriter. His reflective and often highly personal songs connected with a huge audience and made him an international superstar. His most notable songs include “Morning Has Broken,” “Peace Train,” “Wild World,” ”Moonshadow,” “Father and Son,” “Matthew and Son,” “Oh Very Young,” and “First Cut Is The Deepest.” “First Cut” first appeared on his 1967 album, New Masters, and has been covered by numerous artists, including P.P. Arnold, Rod Stewart and more recently, Sheryl Crow, who earned a 2005 Grammy nomination for her rendition, which was featured on her Greatest Hits album, The Very Best of Sheryl Crow.

To Be Married Means to Be Outnumbered

From the NY Times

Married couples, whose numbers have been declining for decades as a proportion of American households, have finally slipped into a minority, according to an analysis of new census figures by The New York Times.

The American Community Survey, released this month by the Census Bureau, found that 49.7 percent, or 55.2 million, of the nation’s 111.1 million households in 2005 were made up of married couples — with and without children — just shy of a majority and down from more than 52 percent five years earlier.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Oops... (Aceh, Indonesia)

Oops... (Aceh, Indonesia), originally uploaded by Elizabeth Wong.

Microloan Pioneer and His Bank Win Nobel Peace Prize

From the NY Times

The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, for pioneering microcredit — using loans of tiny amounts to transform destitute women into entrepreneurs.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Dr. Yunus and Grameen for their “efforts to create economic and social development from below.”

Documents Reveal Scope of U.S. Database on Antiwar Protests

From the NY Times

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 — Internal military documents released Thursday provided new details about the Defense Department’s collection of information on demonstrations nationwide last year by students, Quakers and others opposed to the Iraq war.

The documents, obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, show, for instance, that military officials labeled as “potential terrorist activity” events like a “Stop the War Now” rally in Akron, Ohio, in March 2005.

The Defense Department acknowledged last year that its analysts had maintained records on war protests in an internal database past the 90 days its guidelines allowed, and even after it was determined there was no threat.

The axis of our acuity

KA'BE (Baytu’l-Ḥarām), originally uploaded by Nima .

NPR: Judea Pearl and Akbar Ahmed's Interfaith Dialogues

From the NPR program Fresh Air

Judea Pearl is the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl and author of I am Jewish. Professor Akbar Ahmed teaches Islamic Studies at American University. The two are collaborating on a series of interfaith dialogues across the country and abroad. Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan in 2002, while reporting on Islamic extremists. Judea Pearl is a professor at UCLA, and President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. Akbar S. Ahmed is the author of Islam Under Siege.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If it's sausages, it must be Ramadan

Found at DeenPort

From The Guardian

An excerpt:

Last Ramadan, I couldn't find a halal sausage for love or money. I scoured the specialist butchers, peered into supermarket chiller cabinets and visited practically every purveyor of Islamic meats in the city, to no avail. During my quest for artery-clogging bangers filled with Islamically acceptable meats such as chicken, lamb or beef, it suddenly dawned on me what was to blame for my sausageless situation: assimilation.

While the media is full of cries that immigrants and their offspring are resisting taking on English values, I know better. Assimilation is happening at unprecedented levels.

Saleem Ahmed, 47, who owns the Food Asia supermarket in Bradford, confesses his need to start his fast with a big greasy plateful. He also confirms my fears about the Great Sausage Rush of 2005. "Things are changing a lot," he says. "Last year we ran out of sausages, but we've been maintaining stock this year. There are more halal manufacturers coming on for things like pies, sausages and burgers, and they seem to have cottoned on to what people want during Ramadan. In the evening, people want to [break] their fast with Asian foods, samosas, pakoras and things like that, but in the morning it seems they want a traditional English breakfast with beans on toast and such things.

"But I'll tell you what people really want this year," he says, leading me to a crammed freezer. "Stone-baked pizzas! It's the strangest thing."

Monday, October 09, 2006


DSC_6279, originally uploaded by thecoco.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An ode of Ramadan's entreatment

TARAWIH (10 Ramadan, 1427)
by Seth Laffey

What is it I come seeking here?
Why stand for hours in rows with men I do not know,
Whose tongue is not my own, who've come
From far-off Africa--fabled, barely thinkable?
What do we seek together? What could draw us near
As brothers here, shoulder to shoulder, foot to foot,
Our faces lowered, rapt together
As a man in front recites the Arabic Qur'an?

For myself, I've shivered at the touch of winds
On rampage through this world--
Icy winds of hearts, of eyes,
Of people's wretched self-defeat
And fury turned to rot that burns inside;
Where shadows ope on shadows like a nightmare Chinese box--
And each new shadow was an artificial paridise--
Glistening in darkness, a call to Sleep
And hope of warmth that's felt
As that which touches one who drowns in Arctic lakes, before he dies.

"Is there," I'd cry, "A Joy that's absulutely Real and in our grasp?"
Or is our fate to chase these firefly fancies as we can,
Knowing at our core that's what they are?

O weary one, O shipwrecked heart,
Thou wretched swimmer--
Ridiculous contemporary, I know you well,
Your agonizing hungers and your silent midnight grief
That dreads the dawn and all you find within the world of men--
To you I speak, I know you well--
Come here and stand with us, within this crowded room,
For there is Peace here, this I swear!
Though learned fools croak and crow about submission's "shame,"
I swear that we know better here,
You see our eyes!
Our faces bright on rising from the floor and setting down again
As if returning to some paradise!--
Come here and lay your sorrow down before the One
Who knows what's in your heart and what you've seen--
The horrors that have scorched your eyes, O soul in pain!
He does not flinch or turn away, He knows your cure!
And when you come to see that there is nothing in your life
That did not come from Him and by His will,
And that within all space and time you cannot hide
Save only in His shade,
You'll realize what the Treasure is, and what the Quest.
And that the path we tread is "Doubly at your service, Lord!"

O you who have known wretchedness,
Come here and find your dignity,
And honor, strength, courage, magnanimity--
Come join this desert train of loving hearts
And find that wasteland sun and scorpion tail
Mean nothing to the man who seeks his Lord.
The great Oasis shimmers there, beyond your ken--
Your eyes are shattered.
Embark with those who see and have been There.
Set foot upon the well-worn path that led them Home
And learn to trust the One who'll lead you from despair.

Ramadan, When Less Is More

From the Washington Post

Ashraf Sarsour was at an obligatory business lunch for a longtime client when he got what he describes as "the look."

Table by table, his co-workers made their way to the buffet. But he remained seated, his stomach rumbling. A waft of fried chicken filled the air. Forks and knives clinked. Waiters filled and refilled water glasses to the brim. And he sat, acutely aware that he'd become an oddity. Patience, he kept telling himself, patience.

Oooh, then he spotted the sweet potato pie, his favorite. Patience.

"Ash, what are you doing? Go eat, man," one colleague urged him.

"Thanks, but I'm fasting."

"Uh, well, here, have a drink."

"It doesn't really work that way."


DSC_4911, originally uploaded by thecoco.

Madrassa - Marrakech, Morocco

Medersa - Universidad, originally uploaded by jose_miguel.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Report: Thousands Wrongly on Terror List

From the Washington Post

Thousands of people have been mistakenly linked to names on terror watch lists when they crossed the border, boarded commercial airliners or were stopped for traffic violations, a government report said Friday.

More than 30,000 airline passengers have asked just one agency — the Transportation Security Administration — to have their names cleared from the lists, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Courts are asked to crack down on bloggers, websites


An excerpt:

At its best, the blogosphere represents the ultimate in free speech by giving voice to millions. It is the Internet's version of Speaker's Corner in London's Hyde Park, a global coffeehouse where ideas are debated and exchanged.

The blogosphere also is the Internet's Wild West, a rapidly expanding frontier town with no sheriff. It's a place where both truth and “truthiness” thrive, to use the satirical word coined by comedian Stephen Colbert as a jab at politicians for whom facts don't matter.

Emploring our Lord - Celebi Camii, Turkey

Friday, October 06, 2006

In US, Ramadan gets an American twist

From the always thoughtful Christian Science Monitor

Muslims in the United States face special challenges in celebrating their holy month, which this year began Sept. 23 and ends Oct. 22. While Muslims in the Islamic world revive the daily rhythms of Ramadan - streets empty at sunset, families congregating for Ramadan dinners, or iftars, and later heading to the markets to drink tea until the wee hours of the morning, comfortable in the knowledge that they can sleep late because others will, too - Muslim-Americans have to adjust Ramadan to the beat of American life.

In the process, they're creating Ramadan traditions with a distinct American flavor - whether it's fasting in the heat of competition, eating takeout for iftar, or breaking fast with Christians and Jews.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?: The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy

From Foreign Affairs

On the first page of its founding manifesto, the massively funded Department of Homeland Security intones, "Today's terrorists can strike at any place, at any time, and with virtually any weapon."

But if it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it? Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could so easily be exploited?

One reasonable explanation is that almost no terrorists exist in the United States and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad. But this explanation is rarely offered.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Uzbek entrance

Main Entrance Door, originally uploaded by jaxxon.

Monday, October 02, 2006

"What Muslim-Americans truly represent."

Out of a cycle of ignorance

For the Guardian Unlimited by Prof. John Esposito of Georgetown University

As we remember the tragedy of the London bombings, voices in Europe and America issue ominous warnings of an Islamic threat: the rise of Eurabia, Londonistan and an Islamic caliphate. Recently, a prominent political commentator warned: "Even as Christianity seems to be dying in Europe, Islam is rising to shake the 21st century as it did so many previous centuries." The Bin Ladens and Zarqawis of the world shape perceptions of Muslims. How do we prevent the militant rhetoric and actions of a minority from defining Islam and relations between Muslims and the west?