Word of the year

January 2, 2008 - One Response

The New Oxford American Dictionary named “locavore” as the word of the year. As the Grist explains,

For you non-locavores, the word is defined as “a person who endeavors to eat only locally produced food.” It was coined about two years ago by four San Francisco women who popularized the idea of the 100-mile diet.

I heard about it on NPR on New Year’s eve, because they had an annoying commentator who was bent on dismissing the whole idea, and at this particular time, there was no counterbalance. So annoyed, I wrote to them:

When locavore advocates talk about eating locally, they educate and enlighten all of us about the consequences of our consumption. Your commentator Amy Stewart, is the one talking about us talking about our eating. Was she purposely writing a textbook example of irony, or does she really believe that we’re better off being ignorant about the sources of our food? “Shutting up and eating” is something America has done for far too long, with severe consequences for our health and environment.



September 6, 2007 - Leave a Response

ISNA is ugly-beautiful, crazy-wonderful.

When I was younger, this is all I saw at the conference: young men wearing skin tight shirts and sporting carefully trimmed side burns. Young women wearing neatly configured scarves above the latest fashion. We attended lectures about helping the voiceless and the indigent. We spent $10.00, at least, at every meal and God knows what per night at Hytte Regency. We give salaams to our siblings in faith in the lobby and then lie awake in our rooms late into the night listening to their partying about God knows what.

This ISNA, I greeted countless people, all of whom I love. Many were my students, who I taught at an Islamic school over the course of five years. Others were aunties, others friends I made along the way growing up and living in a Muslim community. I was very happy to see them all. I love them, though a few of my former students displayed disappointing behavior. My sister and I caught ourselves categorizing people as “hardcore” and “borderline.” Most of my greetings went to people I’d consider “hardcore;” I’m not prejudiced, but that’s simply the case, the communities of Muslims I’ve been around have generally been that way. There were shocks too, several hijabies who became hijabless, for instance. A young man in the elevator who was drinking a beer.

The entertainment session had full instrumentation, which were used by all but two performers who didn’t use anything at all, including percussion. But sadly the art seemed to be lacking in more than half of the performances. Someone else in blogistan discussed these stupid Muslim boy bands. Why the were put up I don’t know. To make up for the others there were, Dawud Wharnsby, Naeem from Native Deen, and a spoken word performer, a sister whose name I’m trying to find out. Here’s her picture:

I was a volunteer, so late night entertainment sessions were doable, but I did attend three other sessions as well. The best was the Take Back America rally sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Christine Cegelis, former candidate for  IL-6 congressional district and Marcie Kaptur, OH-9, all spoke about why Muslims should be involved in politics. I attended a session about the environment at which Jamal Badawi gave a thorough presentation of why it matters and another person gave a lot of practical information about what to do. Jesse Jackson was a surprise speaker at the end of that session, he was eloquent and correct as usual. I’d tell you exactly what he said, but it wasn’t anything new. He was came to express solidarity. Lastly, I attednded a session in the main hall about indigenizing Islam in America. I tried hard to listen and understand, even moved up much closer in the middle of the speech. Several speakers said nothing significant though, and the one who did, Dr. Abdul Hakeem Jackson, I hard at ALIM last year explain it all in much more detail.

Other things (I will put up pictures for each of these) once I get the chance.

The international toilet had a booth in the bazaar:


The Rayyan Center, a not so quixotic project undertaken by a few sisters to establish a masjid at the University of Illinois at Chicago:


An American Muslim Hijab:


A lot of art booths, which are the best:


A Braille Quran:



what is this poem about?

August 31, 2007 - Leave a Response

Here’s one I posted earlier. But no one commentated, not that its brilliant or anything. But I just want to know whether you’re confused or whether you get what I’m trying to say.

From the void comes a cry,
not wild or a thing of nature
but muffled as the mangled soul, polluted.
Its distorted waves hit the pure and the serene, disturbing.
But in the sterile blankness
of the mind that has
itself rejected, as the coward it is, the harmony–
the nobility in man with plain clothes
or the untouched beauty outstanding in the blemished face.
In this what remains of the marvel–
the neurons and the dopamine and the need for a consort–
the cry from the void is hailed, unfathomed.

Drove to Chicago in a van…*

August 31, 2007 - One Response

Past weekend I went with da family to Gatlinburg, TN. We spent four days among mountains and hills. Mountains alter morning hues, rendered softer and mythical. Living in Illinois, and having always lived in very flat places, my family is quiet in awe of hilly places; even construction site heaps invaded by weeds intrigue us. (That’s joke. I’m trying to be funny.) But, back in Illinois, I’m very happy with my home sweet home, flat land Illinois. I’m also very happy at the hell raised by my fellow Illinoisans and Chicagoans at BP’s planned dumping of ammonia into our lake. They’ve backed away from that, if you haven’t heard. But now the Indianans have given them a special permit to emit air pollution; they needed a permit because it allows them to double the air pollution allowed by current federal law. I try to sympathize with our Hoosier neighbors, but their elected officials seem even worse than our own

In other news, I sat by the screen door yesterday, opened to 70-degree weather and finally read Kurt Vonnegut. It’s sad discovering great writers after their deaths. A Man Without a Country which was his last, is the book I read. His humor is astounding. I want to read Slaughterhouse Five but I’m wary of explicit sexual content, which is why the book has been often banned. I think I’ll read Fates Worse than Death. But not before Ramadan, hopefully because I’ll be floating, flying, deluged with Quran. Anyway, here’s one of my favorite bits from A Man Without a Country:

But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

* That’s from a song called Chicago, from an album called Come on feel the Illinoise by a an artist called Sufjan.

The Poor Neighbor

August 19, 2007 - Leave a Response

Came across this article, “The Poor Neighbor” by William Dalrymple. Basically, the author’s saying that the media portrayal of Pakistan as the poorer is not completely accurate. “There is far less poverty on show in Pakistan than in India, fewer beggars, and much less desperation.” I really want to know more about this. My parents have always insisted that this is the case. Hearing stats about hunger in America, my mother said that from her observations and knowledge of Pakistan, desperate hunger did not exist there, despite poverty and lack of education. She says its because people have faith and feel a responsbility to ensure that no one is left hungry. I wonder…

Ramadan Countdown

August 19, 2007 - Leave a Response

Twenty-Five Days before Ramadan, or the 6 Shaban, 1428

ISNA sent out its decision regarding the start and end of Ramadan yesterday.

Ramadan 1428 AH:
The astronomical New Moon is on Tuesday, September 11, 2007 at 12:44 Universal Time (i.e., 8:44 am EDT, and 5:44 am PDT ). This moon is impossible to be seen anywhere on September 11. On September 12, the moon will be visible in Australia, South Africa, South America and North America (e.g., in San Diego, CA at sunset, the age is over 44 hours, and moon is setting 35 minutes after sunset). Therefore, first day of Ramadan (fasting) in North America, according to the criterion adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America, is on Thursday, September 13, insha’Allah.

Eid ul-Fitr 1428 AH:
The astronomical New Moon is on Thursday, October 11, 2007, at 5:00 Universal Time (i.e., 1:00 am EDT – or October 10, 10:00 pm PDT). On October 11, the moon is visible on the southwest coast of South America, which is east of North America. (e.g., in Santiago, Chile at sunset, the age is about 18 hours, and moon is setting 40 minutes after sunset). According to visibility anywhere in the world, the criterion adopted by the Fiqh Council of North America, Eid ul-Fitr in North America is on Friday, October 12, insha’Allah.

InshaAllah I’ll be counting down with reflections and updates on my preparation, and later I’ll be reflecting daily.

awesome Muslim websites

August 19, 2007 - One Response

Came across Community Quran yesterday. They have the Arabic, the transliteration, and five translations plus footnotes, all side by site. Their tag line: The Qur’an belongs to us all, not just to scholars. Here you can search it, tag it, learn from it, and share your thoughts on it. A lot of potential there!

Also, Mutmainaa, which is a resource for a lot of basic information about Islam, faith and practice–I’m quite sure there was a book by that title in our Islamic studies curriculum as kids. Reminded me of those old days before blogs when everyone used to build their pages on geocities and tripod.com.

A Muslim a Day, featuring a Muslim a day through photography. Found through Umm Zaid’s blogroll.

Lesson of the Day, also found through Umm Zaid’s blogroll, reminds me of one of my favorite Internet Islam services, Friday Nasiha.

Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good

August 12, 2007 - Leave a Response

Abraham Lincoln in his farewell to the residents of Springfield, IL:

My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of the Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

This Imam Gives me Hope

August 10, 2007 - One Response

From NPR’s series entitled “The Young and the Godly”: Young Imam Serves as Islam’s Face to the Community. Hope he’s at ISNA!

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

August 10, 2007 - Leave a Response

You have to listen to the links in this NPR story about Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sadly, despite living in Pakistan in the 80’s, I never heard of this totally wonderful musician.