Thursday, December 10, 2009
Okay, I am annoyed... for a number of things...
they are, in no specific order:
1- Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize... for "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples".
I mean, sure he's doing the best that he can, but I feel like something like that needs measurable outcomes. I want to see results. I'm sorry, I just can't help feeling like he's getting rewarded a bit too early... how about 18 months from now?
2- Can't a girl (albiet a muslim girl) go to the gym in peace? (what is it with peace today). Seriously, okay. So, I go to the gym, and this guy comes up to me all cocky and was like "aren't you not allowed to go to the gym in your religion?".... I looked at him... Really trying to absorb his comment... I mean seriously??? First of all, there's an all women's section, which I'll be honest I rarely use, because I feel the walls closing in on me. But, secondly, back off! REALLY?
So, basically, I smiled and was like, actually, my religion believes in physical development as well as spiritual development. Therefore, if we do not ensure our health, we are breaking a covenant with God, in which he entrusted our bodies to us. Then, I was like, you know, with the right intention, well, I'm actually performing a form of worship, so I get brownie points with God. He eyed me all skeptically. Then he was like, but what about the..... *motions frantically around my head*... and I smile again, yes my 'oh so beautiful and understanding smile' and was like... "I'm in baggy sweats, an overly large t-shirt, a hijab. The point of hijab is both physical and spiritual, to cover and be modest. Do I look like I'm flaunting my goods?", he laughed at that. I guess not many hijabi's (girls who wear the scarf), talk like that.
Anyway, he smiled at me, all confused like, and was like, 'I guess I understand'. So I smiled back and was like 'well, I hope to see you around, since I'm at the gym all the time'.
Technically, this was a good 'dawah' (literally means invitation, but basically, information sharing) experience. However, it annoys me, when people assume all this stuff about me, just because I wear a hijab. And I know I'm not the 'victimitis' type, but really back off. I mean, how would people like it if I questioned their beliefs all the time? I guess it comes with being so 'openly' muslim. Maybe, one day, we can break down stereotypes and truly accept people for who they are. (regardless of religion, sex, gender, age, and RACE)
3- Some guy watched me eat an apple today... It was, honestly, a very large apple. It annoyed me... That he was watching me... so I stared back at him. Until he, yes, blushed, and turned away.
4- People do not appreciate employees enough. I was at McDonalds to buy a coffee this morning (on campus), and the workers were sooooo sweet. I just wished they had a tip jar. I swear, people underestimate the value of a sincere thank you. One with eye contact and a smile, attached to it. I've worked in the service industry for about 7 years now, and my best moments were those sincere *thank you's*. They literally make me feel so happy and elated that it moves me to work harder. I hope people should really take a moment and truly thank the person that is serving them, regardless of how hectic of a day you've had.
5- Lack of empathy. I was listening to the news yesterday (NPR) and they were talking about how so many families have been legitly (like not scams) begging online, especially for gifts for the holidays.
Apparently, very few have received responses. I've been looking online for some lists, one of which is http://begslist.blogspot.com/. I've decided to go on a mission and look for someone to sponsor for the holiday. I mean, send some toys or clothes. Some people have specific children clothes' sizes. I think we should really feel for them. How would you feel if you couldn't get a loved one something during the holidays. I frequently buy my mom chocolate randomly for suprises, because she loves it, and I'd feel like there would be a hole in my chest, tearing at me if I couldn't get her that. I don't know. There are things like Toys for Tots (i think it's called) and other organizations around that you could support. Please, just buy 1 toy and donate it. Toys are very very cheap sometimes (you can find something from $1-$1,000), so don't think you can't afford it. I mean, go to the dollar store, if you're on a tight budget, but make a child happy this holiday. May a family feel secure, with being able to provide gifts for their children.
I guess that's about it.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I'm sitting on campus, and have been here since about 7am.... doing pretty much nothing... well, other than literary research on Dubois. Anyhow, I keep thinking about how Obama stated he'll be sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. I just can't grasp why we are going to endager the lives of 30,000 individuals, and essentially respective families... in the name of democracy and ensuring stability. I feel like we are enhancing instability within the United States of America, by letting our troops go to fight a war overseas. Our troops are children, college students, fathers, mothers, elders, youngsters, the people who make up the fabric of American society. We are threatening the stability of their lives.
According to the Washington Post, we have had 804 soldiers die in Afghanistan, (not to mention the 4,326 who died in Iraq, totaling to 5,130 just in those two countries alone):
I mean, think of it, 804 troops out of 3000, that's like what 26%, more than 1/4th of our troops may die. Consider the very basic math that I did. But really, I mean do we want to lose another 804 troops.... Do we really want to lose ONE? I mean, do value human life so lowly nowaday? Is the stability of the household maintain, when the father/mother/daughter/son is lost? I think factors of psychological, economic, social, political, and physical instability arise from the death of one person.
I really really urge President Obama to reconsider the sending of our troops to Afghanistan. Where seeking out Al-Qaeda is like fencing in the dark... It's a game of Hide-N-Seek, where we're blindfolded and earplugged.
Our troops should be protecting our people at home. I mean, The CDC estimated a total of 52,447 deiberan gunshot injuries and 23,237 in the year 2000 alone.
MADD states that 11,773 people have died in illegal BAC drunk driving crashes in 2008.
The CDCP states that moer than 22,000 lives were lost due to OD-ing in 2005.
So, we're just going to be sending our troops to fight a shadowy cause, yet our issues at home are left undiscussed, undiscovered, and unsolved.
I don't know what to say... No, actually I do.... Keep our troops safe. Keep stability within the United States. Fight the injustice that plagues us at home, needless deaths, crime, poverty, homelessness and the like. Let's value the sanctity of human life. Don't send out troops to fight for a borderless and timeless war.
That's all I have to say really.
Feel free to comment.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
I keep thinking lately about you know, philosophical things, well not quite philosophical, but you know... things that are just not truly thought about quite often enough. The concept of freedom. I don't know, maybe it's because I read Du Bois all the time for my research, or maybe it's because I'm sensitive on the issue of racial equality (as in, who the hell do you think you are if you think you're better than people, we're all from the same source)... And it's been bugging me more and more.... Racism... hurts me... internally. :s and people sometimes think it's odd, given that i am (according to wikipedia) white (because I'm you know, from the mideast), that I notice these things.... or feel them. I don't know, maybe I'm just emotional. But yesterday, the issue of race came up multiple times. And I just kept thinking.... why the hell do we (as a society) focus soooo much on race (as being like a definition of who one is)????
In Islam, we believe that ORIGINAL SIN, wasn't Eve eating the apple (Adam and Eve both made the mistake equally), but that Lucifer refused God's command of respect to Adam by bowing to him, on the basis of Adam being made of the Earth and Lucifer of fire. Essentially, original sin is arrogance, but more specifically a racial arrogance. Because you're made of something different, and more to the point look different....
Therefore, the next time you're being racist, biased, or stereotyping, or someone does this in your presence.... you're committing ORIGINAL SIN.... :s and i mean, if Lucifer was damned from the beginning, what'll happen to us?
So, essentially, it's up to you. You decide whether you want to be damned for life (or eternity) or not...
Next time someone does something racist in front of you.... just remember, you're just as damned as he/she is, because SILENCE IS CONSENT.... and you choose to be silent...
Anyway, this is a poem i wrote.... comment away, on anything, it's called:
I kept thinking
I keep thinking that today will start
but it won't end
and text messages on my cell
just won't send
I see the world tipping at a different bend
and i just can't help having to fend
for everyone... but myself
no... yes... maybe I can
but whatever, because
I'm at the end
of my thoughts
free will feels like a a road block
and well, I can't help but to think
that someone else should make decisions for me
I need to make choices
i need to be given choices
what happened to equal opportunity
can I speak, without being free?
am I free?
What is freedom anyway?
elusive as it is, dressed in a cloud of grey...
I think I found the weakest link
in my chain... of thoughts
because they've been derailed
to a place often visited
caged mindset, silent birds
what can I say to make us feel anchored?
infront of me is haze, my view is blurred
by biases... socially constructed hazards
instructed to become masters
in the art of lying
no... dying.... rather sighing
out of discontent
because we've been conditioned
to acquiesce to nothing
to everything but our souls
and I'm trying to figure out how it all unfolds
because the choice is there
we just need to get a hold
of our choices
I keep thinking that today will start
but it won't end
and text messages on my cell
just won't send
I see the world tipping at a different bend
that I was angling for
so... I'm gonna jump and scream
till the world leans...
just a fraction in my direction
the world is hovering
just an inch
Sunday, November 22, 2009
So, I just came across (or was encouraged to read... however put):
which is essentially a list of things a friend wants to do before the time she's 30 years old.... She wrote this 4 years ago...
I decided, I'll make a list too... maybe in 8 years at least 1/10th would be completed...iA
1- To memorize the Quran with understanding
2- To finish one of my many novels, and actually get it published
3- To teach 5 people tajweed
4- To teach at Harvard University, Ancient Political Thought as well as Feminist Political Theory
5- To walk from Detroit to Boston
6- To go back packing in Europe
7- To learn french, german, spanish, urdu, persian, hebrew, and japanese. (at least to just speak)
8- To run 15 miles in one day
9- To spend a day without worries
10- To own a drink shop, and make EVERYTHING but in 'virgin'
11- To publish a poetry chap book
12- To get onto DEF Poetry
13- To learn how to 'TRULY' break dance
14- To marry a man who can supply me with a life time support of diet creme soda and twizzlers
15- to accept myself
16- to get an ijaza in memorization and tajweed
17- to run the boston/detroit marathon
18- to ride a horse, camel, and a mustang (the car)
19- to send out anonymous letters to all my loved ones now, in 8 years.
20- to record a spoken word CD
21- to learn how to perfect the art of Good rice
22- to keep in contact with my cousin in syria
23- to become a political analyst for BBC or Aljazeera
24- to translate a book of Nizar Qabani's Poetry into english
25- to go on a REAL cruise
26- to relearn history
27- to learn to FOCUS
28- to live by what I truly believe in
29- to truly believe in something without doubts or worries
30- to build some self esteem.
I know... wow... I wonder how much you learned about me.... :s
Anyway, that's about it...
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I know, I know... different genres, but the question is.... Would people even listen to it? Would my words affect someone, as much as Billy Talent, The Offspring, Rise Against, Maroon 5, Nirvana, BareNakedLadies, Garbage, Evanascence, Breaking Benjamin or Hawthorne Heights affects me? Sometimes, I feel like, do they know that their music builds upon my soul, wraps around my heart, and filters through my thoughts? Would I ever be able to accomplish that? Not that I'm a good singer at all (haha, I suck like whoa), but imagine hearing your own voice on the radio, and thinking that your voice, without you knowing is playing in someone elses head.... not your own.... That your thoughts have been publically announced to everyone in the world you can buy you. You've been bought.... Aren't words supposed to be free ?
Isn't that another discussion completely? I mean, it's one thing to have someone hear you when you don't want them to, but to have your intimate emotions bought. I mean, as a poet (if i can call myself one, i don't think i've earned that title yet), I like my thoughts getting across to people for free (obviously, unless there is an open mic fee), but then, how do you support your art? Hand out free CD's? Uhhhhh, no. Hi, might I remind you that I'm broke.... How about load music/poems onto your Facebook/myspace page.... but then you remember that no one ever accesses your page...
Back to my original point.... I can't imagine a person listening to me whenever they wanted to, without asking me.... Someone subscribing to my most intimate emotions, without my ever being aware....
So I ask this.... Oh Artists of the World.... how does it feel, when someone out there, knows exactly how you felt, but you don't know who it is? How does it feel, to know that someone loves you (your work), but that love is unrequited...?
The question burns down to.... How does it feel, knowing that someone knows your deepest emotion, but you've never even met the person, let alone spoke to them, for them to get to know you well enough, to know your deeper emotions?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
So, my sister and I slept over my maternal grandparents house last night. My grandparents.... well are... you know... wicked old.... yet, mashaAllah, so youthful and independent. So... this morning... we're supposed to wake up at like 4 am to have breakfast, before fasting the whole day. And I forgot to tell my grandmother that, you know, we have cell phones that can wake us up. (we slept in a 1 room apartment over their home). So, all of a sudden, there's this knocking at our door.... and sure as butterflies, i see my 90something year old grandfather standing at the door with his walking stick, waking us up. I was SHOCKED!!!!!!!!!!! My grandparents have like 12 grandchildren living in the same building... yet, he himself came up 2 flights of stairs.... to wake me and my sister up (who are both... in our 20's). It made me feel soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo embarrassed. But not only that. I felt awe. I'm sooo proud of my grandparents. They're so independent and healthy for people who are like 90... and when i say 90... i mean literally... 90...
My grandfather, goes to work daily... and he doesn't even complain... it makes me feel sooo proud. But anyway, that was it... I couldn't get over it this morning.... that my grandfather, who I should be at his beck and call, you know doing all that I can to in a way serve him, you know make him comfortable, went out of his way to help my sister and I.
footsie....some random guy sitting behind us on the bus... started playing footsie with rouba.... she got sooo pissed, that she like was ready to stomp on his foot. So, I did what I do best, started talking really loud about how people should try and keep their distance. You know, I was subtle.....
Anyway, rouba was like.... 'pssstt... reem... he's still doing it!' so I was like 'oh my God!' all valley girl like.... anyway... fast forward 10 minutes later... creeper, is waiting to get off the bus and is grinning like an idiot at us... so I'm like 'rouba... is that the guy who was sitting behind you?' and she's like 'yeah... why is he staring/grinning at us' and the bus stops... and really loud, while walking by our window, all high pitched he goes 'OH MY GOD!'
We were in a cab.... and they guy kept on trying to get rouba to talk... he knew there was something wrong with her.... so, in order to fish out if we were foreigners or not... He started quizzing us on you know 'area's' so... thank God, we were near my grandparents house, part of old Aleppo, and I knew a lot of the main area's because my dad told me about them recently (like 3 months ago)... and so I'm like... oh that's baab al-jnaan (a veggie/fruit vending market), and that's sab3 bahrat (like this fountain, that has 7 springs)... and I keep going... in the end he asked me if my friend next to me was mute.... and rouba heard 'if my retarded friend is mute'... she was sooo offended it was hilarious.... but he said... next to me... not retarded (in Arabic, they have similar beginning and ending letters)... in the end i was like 'sir, we don't talk to strange men' and he was like 'you guys are my trust, i need to ensure your safety, that's why you got in my cab'... he also told me he wasn't a sleaze... and that he had a wife and kids so that we don't have to worry about him.... it was... an overall interesting experience....
that's about it....
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
So... I had a major culture shock recently.
My whole life I prayed tarawih (which is an optional prayer Muslims pray during the month of Ramadan in the evening), at Sharon mosque in Sharon, MA. Where each rakah (i don't know how to translate that work, but each repetition i guess) took about 15 minutes, and they prayed 8, reciting about 2.5-3 pages of quran per rakah. You prayed so slowly, and calmly, it was soothing to the soul. It was tiring, but soothing. Then I moved to michigan, where our mosque prays 20 rakah's, reciting about 1 page per rakah. It too was soothing, calming, and what not. They recite at a steady, slow pace. You feel relaxed, not tired or overwhelmed. If you get tired, you can stop half way through (around 8 rakah's), and you fulfilled the optional suggested amount.
Recently, I prayed my first tarawih prayer in Syria. And I think I had a heart attack. I swear I didn't expect it. We were praying Isha, and it was all calm and serene. About half a page recited in the rakah. And I was like, hmmm... I can handle this. Then... all of a sudden we're praying tarawih... and it's like PRAYER ON SPEED!
I turned to my sister, who is also having this culture shock, after our first prayer (we pray in reps of 2, break, then start another rep), and we started cracking up. We were sooooo confused! The dude recited the quran SUPER fast... and we were like WHAT JUST HAPPENED???? Then, he recited ONLY 1 verse.... per rakah. Which means, each prayer took about 2 minutes at average. Yes... what just happened we don't even know. People were getting ready to go into the motions, before the Imam (the leader). I could not believe it. It was such a major culture shock.
and it PISSED ME OFF!
I mean, prayer is supposed to be calming, like meditation. You're supposed to reflect upon the verses read. You're supposed to open up your mind, and converse with God. You're supposed to breath. I think... our prayer was none of that. It was frustrating. Fast paced. And heart attack inducing. :s
Anyhow. I got so annoyed, that I had to leave after 8 rakah's. I decided, I'm gonna check out other mosques, but I was told most mosques here pray like that, except a handful :(.
So, I had a major culture shock. I felt prayer, in a country where the majority is muslim, was extremely mechanical. It was a quantity, not quality mind frame. Now, I understand why my brother prays at home. At least, he can benefit by praying tarawih on his own.
Well, anyway... I had to write a blog about it... because I was in legit shock.
I hope people will not pray like they're on speed.
Have a good day... :s
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I thought this was hilarious, but undeniably true. I may be a geek, but i got a kick out of it, and thought it'd be good to share. :)
Political Science 101
SOCIALISM: You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.
COMMUNISM: You have two cows. The government takes them both and provides you with milk.
FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and sells you the milk.
BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours it down the drain.
CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
CORPORATE: You have two cows. You sell one, force the other to produce the milk of four cows, then act surprised when it drops dead.
DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point that you must sell them both in order to pay the taxes to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow which was a gift from your government.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I know, I know... I haven't written much... I think my last post was almost 2 months ago or something... but I rarely come online anymore... soooo.... (plus, it's not like anyone actually reads my blog.... right?)
Anyhow... I was reading the transcript of Obama's message on/of Ramadan. I thought it was going to be a simple: Hi... Happy Ramadan... type of thing... but of course, with Obama, you never really know.... I mean, he does defy the norm a bit... and I'm all about defying norms... (except when you know, it's harmful).
So, his message is interesting. I have a feeling it was rushed and not thought out well enough... because there's a lot of cliff hangers, like what the heck does iqra mean? and so forth. Maybe because I read a transcript, I don't know if the video was exactly the same (I can't access youtube here)... So, if I comment on something and it turns out that he did or did not discuss it... my bad....
He started with extending best wishes. Then gave a bit of history. Then talked about the cultural festive aspects, then the spiritual, then international relations, then our likeness/sameness, dialogue and finally he peaced out. What does this chain of events tell you? Why is it important? because it's all about connecting.
The bit of history shows that he cares about what concerns the community. Their pride possession is the Quran. They
Ramadan is the month in which Muslims believe the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, beginning with a simple word - iqra. It is therefore a time when Muslims reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God.
Like many people of different faiths who have known Ramadan through our communities and families, I know this to be a festive time - a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared. But I also know that Ramadan is a time of intense devotion and reflection - a time when Muslims fast during the day and perform tarawih prayers at night, reciting and listening to the entire Koran over the course of the month.
These rituals remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam's role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.
For instance, fasting is a concept shared by many faiths - including my own Christian faith - as a way to bring people closer to God, and to those among us who cannot take their next meal for granted. And the support that Muslims provide to others recalls our responsibility to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere. For all of us must remember that the world we want to build - and the changes that we want to make - must begin in our own hearts, and our own communities.
This summer, people across America have served in their communities - educating children, caring for the sick, and extending a hand to those who have fallen on hard times. Faith-based organizations, including many Islamic organizations, have been at the forefront in participating in this summer of service. And in these challenging times, this is a spirit of responsibility that we must sustain in the months and years to come.
Beyond America's borders, we are also committed to keeping our responsibility to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. That is why we are responsibly ending the war in Iraq. That is why we are isolating violent extremists while empowering the people in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. That is why we are unyielding in our support for a two-state solution that recognizes the rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. And that is why America will always stand for the universal rights of all people to speak their mind, practice their religion, contribute fully to society and have confidence in the rule of law.
All of these efforts are a part of America's commitment to engage Muslims and Muslim-majority nations on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect. And at this time of renewal, I want to reiterate my commitment to a new beginning between America and Muslims around the world.
As I said in Cairo, this new beginning must be borne out in a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground. I believe an important part of this is listening, and in the last two months, American embassies around the world have reached out not just to governments, but directly to people in Muslim-majority countries. From around the world, we have received an outpouring of feedback about how America can be a partner on behalf of peoples' aspirations.
We have listened. We have heard you. And like you, we are focused on pursuing concrete actions that will make a difference over time - both in terms of the political and security issues that I have discussed, and in the areas that you have told us will make the most difference in peoples' lives.
These consultations are helping us implement the partnerships that I called for in Cairo - to expand education exchange programs; to foster entrepreneurship and create jobs; and to increase collaboration on science and technology, while supporting literacy and vocational learning. We are also moving forward in partnering with the OIC and OIC member states to eradicate polio, while working closely with the international community to confront common health challenges like H1N1 - which I know is of particular to concern to many Muslims preparing for the upcoming hajj.
All of these efforts are aimed at advancing our common aspirations - to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. It will take time and patient effort. We cannot change things over night, but we can honestly resolve to do what must be done, while setting off in a new direction - toward the destination that we seek for ourselves, and for our children. That is the journey that we must travel together.
I look forward to continuing this critically important dialogue and turning it into action. And today, I want to join with the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world - and your families and friends - in welcoming the beginning of Ramadan, and wishing you a blessed month. May God's peace be upon you.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
I'll be honest, I'm torn at what to think. Maybe I'm a bit of a skeptic, given our history of presidents more recently... Being much talk and deliberation, but very little action. Obama's speech was amazing, magnetic, full of wisdom yet at the same time frustrating. Will he be able to apply all that was said? Was it all a load of BS? Was it consistent? And so forth…
As a student, who just wrote a recent leadership analysis paper for my Masters thesis, I would have to say that Obama's leadership heavily lies in what Weber would call Charismatic, yet at the same time, he might be able to shift into the other two roles of leadership, those being: Legalistic and traditional. I'm not sure how traditional people might think Obama is. Actually, according to many, he completely breaks from tradition. However, I take the opinion that Obama sticks to tradition. Listen or read his speeches. He always uses historical examples to explain contemporary issues. Therefore, I see him as a traditional leader. Using the ideals of the past, but reinterpreting them to fit today. Similarly, I can't help but to confirm his legalistic nature of leadership. I mean, he is the president of the United States... and was (is), before that, a lawyer... I mean... how can you deny his legalistic approach to politics and leadership. According to Weber (who is essentially one of the greatest leadership thinkers of western thought), if one can utilize all these forms of leadership than they are a good leader. But the thing that ties all this back together is whether Obama can follow through with action. Weber says about politics “compromises any kind of independent leadership in action” (Politics as a Vocation). Meaning, political leadership is grounded in action.
This has been the issue since Obama's election as president. People don't know what to expect. Will it be the same old same old... talk about issues... and leave them hanging? How many presidents attempted to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict during their leadership and failed to do so? Will this be the same?
I'd like to say, that I don't put my full trust in any human being (including myself) because we're bound to make mistakes... I only fully trust God. I'm not saying that I don't trust Obama, because I do, but I don't think he's infallible, which many people have been making him out to be. Many people, especially Middle Easterners and Muslims, have been skeptic towards Obama because of Israel's inaction towards American pressure against Israeli expansion and the push to freeze settlements. Israel, quite literally, ignored Obama's pressure, and followed through with their own decision. Therefore, how effective will American pressure be now in the region? If America's biggest ally in the region turns a blind eye, then how will states that do not see eye to eye with the United States react? Will this favor badly for Obama?
Let me point out a couple of things... God created the Earth in six days... So, why do people think the world will change instantaneously. Maybe Obama won't be able to get everything he stated done... Maybe he will... But what we need to look at is what he's done so far.
First, he defied American history and became the first black president to govern the United States.
Second, he managed to unite a whole body of people behind him, because of his mixed background. Being that: He is half black and half white. He lived in a war torn, poor environment, and went to some of the best schools in the country. He is a Christian, but grew up among Muslims in Indonesia; and so forth. I'm not saying we're in a post-racial society. Nor am I saying the Obama is epitome of perfection. All I'm saying is that people understand him. He speaks their language. People relate to him because they feel like he is one of them, regardless of background.
Third, in the beginning of his term, he took steps towards the issues on his platforms: the stimulus package, employment issues, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Forth, he defied the norm of society, and said what was on his mind. How many people, would say that America is a pro-Muslim country.... when the majority of Americans believe the stereotype that all/most Muslims are terrorists?
Fifth, he's been under the microscope more thoroughly than Bush was... and is under more scrutiny than Bush was... but it hasn't held him back.
Sixth, he order the close of Guantanamo Bay, and is putting terror suspects through civilian courts in the United States, which gives people (such as family members) a feeling of ease, knowing where and what is happening to their family member.
I can go on.... but... this is getting too long...
So, what was the point of all of this:
I'm not saying everything will be good. There is bound to be mistakes, problems, and questions. Such as the question, why is it okay for America to have Nuclear weapons but Iran cannot? Or... why send American troops to Pakistan where the whole Swat region in Pakistan was ripped apart, only to invest $1.5 billion for the next 5 years? How about the question of pen pals... what's the point? We've been doing it ever since the INTERNET became common....? So why waste money on an already provided enterprise? Or if America now wants to end terrorism, why do they fight terror with terror? As well as, shouldn't issues of peace be negotiated with those causing unrest... therefore, why isn't Obama listening to the demands of Al-Qaeda or other similar groups? These are just a couple of questions that I've heard on the news and came across...
This post is to clarify one thing... Obama is trying what he thinks will be best. However, he is subject to social systems, political systems, eons of history and conflict, and biases. He cannot change everything... but he can, if God Wills it, accelerate change (maybe for the better, maybe for worse). Maybe it'll look like not much happened... but maybe in 50 years or 100 years it will be clear. He may be a bit naive, according to some, but isn't that WAY better than having a corrupt ruler????
I personally believe that Obama is being honest, but honesty doesn't guarantee that everything will change. As a Muslim, I put my trust solely in God. As an American citizen, I trust that God Willed Obama as our president our of His Wisdom....
So... we'll see what happens.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
So, often, many things that are not exactly normal... become fashion statements. In the past, rainbow bracelets were used as demarcation symbols advocating for gay rights. People wore them in protest to the norm in order to deliver a message... At some point, rainbow bracelets became so in fashion, that people who wear them now, may or may not know the meaning behind them.
NOW, kifaya's, the plaid wrap that people wear as scarves (see picture) are worn as symbols of defying the oppressive colonization of Palestine, and a statement declaring their need for independence, freedom, and a halt to Israeli brutality. The kifaya recently has become so popular and in fashion that it's crazy. People wear them left and right. You go to claires, hot topic, sears, macy's, forever 21, stores that may oppose each other 100%, yet, they sell this same symbol... However, people do not realize that political meaning. The general public just wears it, because it's in style. SYMBOLS TO DEFY THE NORM ARE BEING NORMALIZED!!! BUT NOT THE MEANING!!! and that is wear the problem lies.
The kifaya is sooo much part of contemporary fashion, yet the meaning is lost through the process of normalization. I have people asking me wear I bought my "scarf" (kifaya) from, and i look at them and say syria.... "What??? Sears???".... "NO SYRIA... You know 2 feet away from Palestine!!" The meaning is being lost, and I fear, that in the future, when the kifaya goes out of style.... When we wear one in opposition to Israeli brutality in Palestine, that people will not think... opposition to oppression... but... wow, that person is soooo 2009.... and that sucks big time... The message will remain undelivered...
So, what should we do:
1- whenever you see someone wearing one, ask them the meaning behind it... If they know it, give them a thumbs up... if they don't, tell them!!!
2- Start wearing t-shirts that clearly say: OPPOSE ISRAELI BRUTALITY IN PALESTINE!!!! or something similar, pair it with the kifaya, and make the meaning known!!!
3- POST THIS BLOG POST TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, all you kifaya wearing peoples out there... Please vocalize your condemnation and opposition to oppressive tactics of the Israeli police force in palestine. Normalize peace... normalize opposition to injustice.... but don't normalize a symbol... because sometimes... it can lose it's meaning.
salam \\// peace
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Sometimes I feel like mornings are no more than mornings... extensions of the previous day... I sleep and wake up to the same routine... I wake up to a day pretty much the same as yesterday... Are they supposed to be different? Am I supposed to make them different? If try to make them different everyday, essentially, aren't you doing the same thing? I don't know.
I was wondering why it's so hard for people to get up in the morning... Like there are days where I wake up at 7am... and I'm like whoa... I totally overslept. But I mean, if they're just extensions of the previous day, what makes it so hard to get up at 7am rather than 11am.... why is it so hard to get in bed at 9pm rather than 1am....
If mornings were just extensions to the previous day... than instead of cereal, pancakes and general "breakfast" foods, why can't we eat pizza, pasta, and salads?? I mean, there wouldn't be anything wrong with that right?
Why do we have to change our clothes from PJ's to 'daytime' clothes? I mean, if mornings were just like yesterday, why can't i just sleep in my jeans, and go out in my PJ's??
Why are you considered fasting if you haven't had breakfast in the morning, but right before you slept, you ate a whole 3 boxes of girl scout cookies...? Technically.... 3 hours later, you had eaten... right?
I guess what I'm trying to say is this... mornings can seem like an extension of all the other days... so that it feels like you're living in a year long day... but the reality is that, we live a new life every 24 hours. We wake up and can be the same or choose to do something different. We breathe a new breath, live a new moment, wake up to a new day that you've never experienced before. Sometimes you feel like that everyday is exactly the same (lol NIN)... but it isn't. My dad used to tell me growing up that I should treat each day with it's worth, like it's a brand new thing and that I want to experience every moment of it. What he told me made me start to think that days weren't just a construct of time, but an actual 'thing' that had certain rights that I need to oblige to it. Sure I can treat it the same everyday, but how do you like sitting in a classroom with a monotonous droning professor? The day has to be greated with the enthusiasm a new best friend (or i guess, a loved one). Exciting, enthralling, worthwhile even if you do nothing, savored, cherished, ect. So, if you're feeling like one morning is just a merger between the night before... write a blog post about it... It gets thoughts flowing.... and essentially, you were able to savor this moment of the new day... with some heartfelt words. And I guess it makes the new morning different and worth waking up to.
Monday, March 30, 2009
This is a much needed post... and at first I thought I wouldn't bother dedicating a whole blog post on twilight and it's characters... but forces beyond my control have deemed me to write an entry...
So, guys have now discovered.... Edward Cullen... my prof brought up Edward Cullen the other day in class, and a Facebook guy friend was like I finally watched the movie and I can establish connections...
First things first... I read the books, because the covers intrigued me. I didn't really know what the book was about... I just thought the covers were really good, simply, elegant, worth it... and that was my first mistake... judging a book by it's cover. Anyway.. it wasn't that the books sucked... They were alright, for a new author... It's just that I'm an avid reader... I read between 4-7 books a week if i'm busy... if i'm not busy... it's more like 7-14.. in a zillion different genres.
Stephenie Meyer is a relatively new author. I mean, she had a potential story, but nothing really happens. It's all like... I love you but I can't have you and you love me... but I might kill you... and well, that's a bit frustrating after 4 books. But anyway, she compells you to read on. So, I'll give her that. I believe that with a couple of more books, she'll be able to fully develop her characters.
The best authors are those who are able to tell the whole story behind a character, without bogging you down with the details. You fall in love with the characters, because their story and their world becomes your world.. and well Stephenie Meyer, still needs to work on that. I'll admit though, her remake of twiligh (midnight sun?), through edwards perspective was really good, because he has a bit more excitement in his life... Bella.. she doesn't really do anything. you don't really know her likes and dislikes... until she meets jacob.. and that's why the books start to get good. Bella doesn't represent the average girl... because the average girl has some sort of friends... no matter how much of a loner you are (and trust me... i know loners very well... i'm a bit anti-social at times), you have some sense of friends.
The second deadly sin (yes i'm joking) of stephenie meyer was that she created edward cullen... supposedly super sexy vampire... but he's dead... well undead... but what I'm trying to say is that his character is soooo underdeveloped that you never know much about him... other than 1) he's a super sexy vampire 2) he hates then loves bella unconditionally 3) he can read minds, except bella's and 4) he's supposed to be the perfect guy... I mean, what makes him the perfect guy? The fact that he shows emotion? but does he really? Stephenie Meyer, in an interview, mentioned that she made him perfect so that girls can know that there is an ideal... something like that... but no one wants a perfect guy.... they just don't exist.
1) had no emotions of concern other than of bella... so who was he, really? I mean, how many people can you truly be friends with, or in love with, when you just talk about how much you love each other... but not on anything else. A true relationship goes both ways... and clearly Edward didn't let that happen.
2) was a stalker... no need to explain that... if you think it's sexy... then I'll tell you this... it's one thing to have a guy inquire about you... it's another thing completely to have him watch your house... I mean... can I say Big Brother
3) was too Emo.. yes, that sounds contradictory... cuz my #1 was not enough emotions... but i mean.. he was gonna commit suicide cuz he thought bella committed suicide... how Romeo and Juliet is that... I mean seriously... I <3 emo guys, and I have strong emo tendencies.. but I mean, can I say plagiarism of ideas??
4) mind reader... why was it that the only girl he fell in love with was because he couldn't read her mind? He was intrigued. I mean, a good love story always includes some intrigue... but I mean... how many guys prefer not to know what's on a woman's mind...? I think edward felt the same... I mean... i highly doubt they would of hooked up, if he wasn't curious...
1) is supposed to be this extremely normal teenage girl... but she causes a stir in her new school... why is that? I mean, that stir should have occured to the readers... but if you ask most girls... they don't like bella... they don't relate to her at all... in fact, many girls relate to edward or jacob a lot more.
2) I personally liked bella, because her mind was always over active... but I mean, she did nothing... how many teenage kids do nothing... I mean... go to the mall... hang out a bit more often... she read like 1 book in the whole series and went to the beach like once. hello??? do something.
3) weak. Usually... authors develop a character to have some sort of strength that, although everyone else is so much stronger (vampires ect) the weaker character is stronger in mind. You find in the last book, that she had good control over her mind, and that's why no one could read her thoughts... but 3 books of what?? fragility...? that people love her? but what is it about her that compells the people around her... Bella's mind power should have been a lot more developed in the first couple of books. stronger intuitive... proactive...
4) which brings me to passive... she's just sooo damn passive... it kills me. I just wanted to scream at some point DO SOMETHING!!!
Okay, okay... enough about the two main characters... but anyway, the books were alright... I can't believe they caused such a sensation. If you want to read a REALLY good vampire series read The Vampire Diaries. I mean, I read the whole Twilight series, and I thought they were okay.. A lot could have happened... but nothing really did. A good book, has a good plot and a good climax... and well, honestly, Twilight et all lacked that component... the climax came much too much at the end (like last 10-15 pages). I mean, to compare it to Harry Potter just seems blasphemous. I want to smack every hormone raged girl, who thinks to compare the two.
Stephenie Meyer, if you read this silly blog post, you'll get three messages:
1) as you write more, you'll get much better... and we already saw that happening through the progression of your series
2) develop your characters and plot more. Think about how you meet someone for the first time... how do you get to know them... they don't tell you everything, but you learn about them through conversation... let your readers learn your characters.
3) don't worry about the critics (like me) cuz apparently you were successful enough.. but make sure you take some into consideration, because we all have room to improve.
All you companies who are looking for a book critic... sign me up... I will totally do it... I love reading..
Sunday, March 29, 2009
So... the day before yesterday... I was at meijer... wandering... and I found these amazing shoes for $10!!! and I was like THEY ARE PERFECT!
So, if you know me... I'm not a shopper really... but at the same time.. I am a BARGAIN shopper to the max... like I don't spend more than like $10 on anything unless... I *gasp* really want them... and yesterday... I was like boooyaa!! meijer has shoes that are perfect for me... about one inch heels, black, simple, yet sexy... perfect for when I have to go to all those girl parties while i'm in syria...
and yesterday, I went back to buy them... I mean.. there were multiple pairs... and ALAS!!! there were none... :( so... me and ruby went from store to store looking for shoes... we spent almost 4 hours looking for shoes... and I mean honestly... I can run for 7 miles... but if you want me to go shopping i burn out soooo fast.. it's not even funny...
So.. we came home shoeless... :( mission left unaccomplished...
Now... I have like a couple more stores in our area before I venture to the mall...
2) famous footwear
okay... well... i'm done blogging at the moment...
I think we're just gonna go to the mall after breakfast... (yes I slept over ruby's house... the week my thesis is do... sigh. i am pathetic)
2:49pm!!!!!!! SAME DAYYY!!!
Okay I'm back!! I bought a pair of sneakers ($9)!!! Wicked Cute!! Also, a pair of nice, simple black flats with a little ribbon weaved through them ($14)!! I bought two wicked cute, elegant, yet simple skirts, one shiny black ($3) and the other blue , white and black ($4), and a very nice sweater thing ($2) (what are they called, the really thin material, but it's like a button up).. from Kohls... and to think.. I was telling ruby how I really didn't want to go, cuz I never end up wanting to go.
And how much did I spend on all of this?? about $32... bargain shopping all the way!! Alhamdullilah!! (thank God!)
-reem, yet again
Saturday, March 28, 2009
And the servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth easily, and when the ignorant address them [harshly], they say [words of] peace (25; 063)
so... I came across this verse in surat al-furqan... and it just made me... unsuspectedly... laugh.
now, you might be thinking... why is this random muslim blogger laughing at the words of God... but it wasn't that I was laughing in a... haha-funny, laughter... it was more like... haha-interesting... cuz.. I always say 'peace out!!!' or 'peace' in general... but at the same time... i'm a relatively angry person..
but anyway, I was thinking that this verse has a very interesting format... now think about it... It's basically a story of a 'servant of God' broken up into 3 parts:
1- walking upon the earth easily
2- the ignorant address them harshly
3- they say peace
I was wondering what does walking upon the earth easily mean...?personally... physically, i often trudge... does it mean literal walk... or does it mean a certain attitude or a way to hold oneself?? ect... While I read this, I thought of it, more along the lines of literally an attitude.. having a somewhat mellow, easy outlook on life. I think of the way people act, who sincerely believe in God, and a lot of the time, they're really mellow. Like, it's all good, God's got my back... and so, when they 'walk upon the earth easily' you realize, that they're taking the condition of the world easily... not to be confused with lightly... but they take it easily, because they feel like they can do something about it.. it's not hard to deal with the earth, very simple... obey God type of thing. Why? because they're servants of God, and again, if they do something, they know that the hard part, God's got covered... you know what I mean??
The second part the ignorant address them harshly, what kind of ignorance do them mean? Like is it like religious ignorance? or is it, general ignorance? I heard a saying recently that goes something like this: don't argue with an ignorant person, you'll always lose... and when I read this verse, I was thinking why do ignorant people like to argue? They say that ignorance is bliss... and sometimes that's true... but ignorance is also frustrating... imagine being somewhere and everyone knows something that you're ignorant about... I know that my ignorance in my field of study frustrates me sooooo much... I get mean, harsh, and angry... and it made me think.. maybe ignorance takes a psychological toll... not like.. hi, this person is crazy... but if you feel like you're missing something, a piece of information, you get determined to cover that weakness up... you go into this... super... RAAWR mood... and you get harsh, defensive and so on... I felt like the word, ignorant in this verse takes on a different meaning, than if it was like 'the non-believers' or something like that. I feel like, often, ignorance translates a person into this bundle of chaotic energy, that leads to a sense of harshness... of trying to, you know, make up for what's lacking...
The third part is in reference to the servants of God saying peace and it's interesting on how the word peace is used... I mean, it's used as a greeting... It's also used to indicate the relationship you want to have... i.e. peaceful, as in not fighting... also, it indicates the type of person you are as well... you want to relax, not fight, just let it go... and I feel like, responding with peace, just seems so chillax... you know? Why bother stressing?? Just say peace, because you know that the argument is, essentially, useless.. Instead of trying to prove an ignorant person wrong, just embody the concept of peace... be like... what's the point in arguing? Lets just you know... agree to disagree.. pick up a cup of chai and you know... chill... be peaceful... find a sense of comfort with oneself, because you know that God's, once again, got you covered.
any how... I just came across this:
which basically instructs you on how to deal with ignorant people and it made me laugh all over again...
By the by, this is not like a tafseer or anything... just personal reflections I have sometimes... we need to develop a personal connection to you know the words of God, and I feel like when I do it like this, it makes me feel... relieved in a way...
salam \\// peace
Friday, March 27, 2009
"And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein" (Qaf; 16)
So, usually when people reference this verse they talk about the aspect of God being closer to us than the Jugular vein... and yesterday when I was reading this surah on my way to work... The first part struck me... And we have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him which is different than that aspect of just closeness... I don't know what I was thinking before reading the verse, but a lot of the time our thoughts over power us... now... you might be thinking... umm... reem that makes no sense... but for me it really struck a cord...
A day before, I told a friend of mine "my own thoughts suffocate me"... sometimes I feel under attack by my own thoughts... Not in the sense that I'm depressed... but I think too much... If you know me well, you know that I'm a motor mouth... I say anything and everything... But if you know me even better... you know that my brain talks to me... yes two sided conversations... back and forth... somewhat schitzophrenic, because it's not me who I'm talking to... but at the same time it's me... It's like my thoughts have a mind and will of their own... I can sit there with a 'look' on my face, and well underneath it all their's like verbal (well mental... but not psychological perse) warfare going on...
I told my dad once that I have this thing that I named, parallel thought processing... so you know how computers do parallel processing... my brain does that... so it's like I have two or more people in my brain thinking at the same time... and sometimes it's sooo loud that I have to take SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much tylenol just to get the pounding to stop... but anyway... back to the verse...
So, the verse says And we have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him and it made me think about how well God knows us... and the fact that God said "whispers" reminded me so much of my own mind. Not one whisper.... but grammatically in a format in arabic that it's like repeated whispers (yuwaswas... rather than waswasa).. I don't know it just made me think about the fact that although I have all these thoughts and whispers going on in my head... God knows about it.
Knowing that God knows about it, makes me feel much more sane... and that more comfortable... and in a sense... confident. After you know, exposing my psychological fears... God then says the second part... which is often quoted "and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein" and it makes me think of God as somewhat of a Psychiatrist/Psychologist... On call... just a prayer away... oh so close to us, we just need to grasp that concept.
A lot of the time, when I hear that verse, people interpret it so that is God like being you know... in your head... in a "Big Brother", I'm watching you, type of way... But yesterday, when I was reading the verse... It felt like... God knows what I'm thinking, because He's going to be there for me... Like how one of your friends that you grew up with can read your thoughts out of knowing you so well and loving you... and then if it's just hard, she'll (or he'll) assure you a spot on their shoulder to lean on. You know what I mean?
So, as I was reading that verse, I realized that regardless of the paralell thought processing and the thought suffocation that I felt often plagues me (and possibly others)... that God knew my thoughts, understood them and is going to be there for me.
I guess that's it.. Maybe you'll feel/reflect on the verse another way...
salam \\// peace
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
This is an essay/reaction paper I wrote for my infancy and child development class...
I feel like it's still relevant... :s I just came across it while going through my email.. :s i included some comments within it... (they're in the brackets)
Growing up too fast or not growing up at all? August 25, 2005
To be able to speak of past experiences that effected how one turned out to be as an adult, you have to be an adult. But if you are not an adult, then how can you speak of things that affected your childhood and adolescence when you are still experiencing those years of your life. To make this introduction a little more clear, I will just have to spell it out. I am a seventeen year old, political science major, senior, class of spring 2006 at the University of Massachusetts Boston. I work at a psychiatric clinic, and intern at a civil rights organization. This piece of writing is supposed to illustrate how I grew up to be from my childhood experiences, but what if your childhood experiences are beyond your time. What if you grew up to fast? Even worse, what if you never really grew up?
I will start off from my extremely early years, from what my mom told me while I was growing up, or pretending to grow up. My mother enjoys making fun of me because my whole life seemed rushed. I was born a month early, giving myself a month head start in the ‘out of womb’ life. I started walking when I was about 9 months and talking around 10 months. Not just mama and dada kind of words but two to three words. When I started kindergarten I started a year early. I was three years old, where as everyone else in my class was four. In total by the time I was 3 years old, I was already one year and one month ahead of myself. I know many children have started school early, or were educated before starting school, but regardless I was already given that head start and was one of those kids.
When in elementary school, I do not remember being smart, or doing well in my classes. I even remember being in special education class for reading because I was at such a low reading level because my dad was always at work and my mom did not really know how to speak English. So, as far as I was concerned, I always thought I was pretty dumb. During the summer before the 4th grade, my parents dragged my siblings and I to Syria, and decided to live there for a year. My siblings were placed in an English speaking school, and I was placed in an Arabic speaking catholic school. I did not know how to speak Arabic originally, but after continuous studying, and being tutored by my mother every morning, before school and in the afternoon, before the cartoons came on the television I eventually picked up the Arabic language. By the end of the school year I ranked 3rd out of the whole 4th grade class.
I came back to the United States and continued onto the 5th grade, and maintained really good grades, placing the 1st in my class every year, and getting high honors every quarterly term. This continued until the 7th grade, which was when my school (and parents) made me take an exam, which I placed at a 10th grade level. So I got to skip the eighth grade. So, I started my freshman year of high school at 12 years old. By the time I was finishing my sophomore year, the high school I had attended decided they wanted to send me to college doing the dual enrollment program. Basically, while finishing your 11th and 12th year in high school, you do your freshman and sophomore year of college, allowing you to graduate acquiring your high school diploma and associates degree. When I finally graduated high school and got my associates degree, I was another 2 years ahead of myself. After another year starting as a junior at Umass Boston, I finished my junior year and now upon the end of the summer, I will be starting my senior year. Totaling to the 4 years of my head start in life.
This is just a brief explanation of my education in regards to growing up too fast or possibly not growing up at all. As for responsibilities, I am the youngest out of 4 siblings. I always helped my mom around the house, and had to clean up after my older siblings, because they were just too oblivious to help my mom by just merely picking up after themselves. I had to tutor my elder brother, because of all my jumps in school, we ended up in high school together, taking most of the same classes. It was my assumed responsibility to remind him of his homework, tutor him, and basically have his back at all times. If he slipped in school it was supposedly my fault. My father and mother tended to confide in me, my dad about his financial, work, and community problems, my mom about her students. I felt like I was the back bone of our family and if I was to move at the sight of danger the whole family would collapse (i don't know how true this is now). My sister thinks I am her best friend (she is!), and my brother this he’s my best friend (he was at some point), always getting things off their shoulders and adding them onto mine (i take things very personally... so when they'd confide in me.. i felt like i had to address the issues). I know it’s great being everyone’s favorite, but usually it is because you are the youngest (i.e. you're supposed to be spoiled rotten), not because you assume the most responsibilities (like me).
Now as I am older, I realized that I was robbed of my childhood. Although I went to a lot of youth oriented events, I never really got to fully explore childhood (i still feel like this). No one had the time to just play with me, and if they did have the time it would be worth sparing it on just playing games, but rather confiding their problems (yeah at some point it was depressing). When I was still 12 I wanted to go outside and play kickball, basket ball, soccer, or soft ball not worry about make up and how to dress (apparently all my friends were into this when i was in highschool... hence me being 12 and wanting to play outside). As I grew into my teenage years, my friends also began to pour out their hearts onto my shoulders and I never really did the same (i'm a very weird person, i can get someone to tell me every last detail of their life... but i can't do the same). I felt that people had worse problems than me and that I should just get over mine (i feel like that all the time till this day). So, I’m the best friend to many, yet I feel like a liar to myself (oh God... this sounds soo familiar... I was telling some of my friends how my best feature is my ability to BS everything). Even though I had been successful in my high school years, I have never felt one day anxiety free because of school and classes. When I laugh joke or play, it is exaggerated or over played. When I cry, I cry too much. When I deal with money, I budget too accurately. When I clean I am a perfectionist. But at the same time, when I am pressured into doing something, I’m dependent, and people see me as being really strong, but I feel broken and unable to do what I really am capable of doing. When I think, in my head I know I am still a child, and people treat me like a child with restrictions and curfews. People never realize that I was nurtured as an adult. I was robbed of my childhood, 4 years of it. When I am talked to people should look at me and think she’s at least 21 not 17 (lol what's funny is that, now that I'm 21... i feel like people should treat me like a 45 year old.. cuz that's what a personality test told me my age-mentality was), because I have done as much as the average 21 year old would do (yet, i missed out on what the average 12 year old got to experience).
Basically, I still have a few more years to experience adolescence (lol.. not anymore). For now, even though I did a lot of childish things in my life, I am an adult (that still applies). I consider myself 21, even though all documents pertaining to my life state that I am 17 because my date of birth is 11/24/1987 (okay... well now i'm really 21... so this doesn't really apply.. like i said i feel 45). Till now, my parents treat me like a child, but at the same time treat me like a full grown adult through their hopes that I will help them out and assume responsibility when needed (still sooo true). When they complain I have to help them solve their problems and talk to them. But, when I complain about things to them, I am considered a whiny teenager, who does not know anything (soooooo true!!!!). Although, I love the fact that I get to finish school early, and hopefully higher education as well, I want to be able to go out and party with my friends, I want to go to concerts, I want to have enough time to go see a movie not making plans to go out but just getting up and going. I want free time. I don’t think I’ll ever know what I want, because I want to be treated as adult yet, I’m still considered a child, and sometimes I want to be considered just that I know everything that goes on around me is the result of my own actions, but the question for me is did I grow up too fast, or did I never grow at all?
I feel like that till this day... I mean, I feel like I'm too old for my age... but at the same time.. I feel like a little kid who doesn't know what they want out of life... Lately, I've been experiencing my Mid-Life Crisis... and given the history report I just shared... well.. it only makes sense to experience it.. you know.. 20 years early.. sigh.
Anyway.. I pray that one day I'll figure it out... inshaAllah
Sunday, March 15, 2009
so yeah... i'm obese (yes.. clinically)... whatever... i don't care. Well, to an extent I do... see, i'm a relatively healthy woman. I eat well... and I go to the gym every other day for 2 hours... and in between (or while at the gym) I run about 3-5 miles each time... so why do people still have to look at the fat woman running?
I don't know yet... if it's my size or my hijab... i still haven't figured it out yet... but i'm guessing it's my size... but the sad thing is.. i'm probably more in shape and healthier than any of those silly people who stare me down.
I mean... i can run at most (i'm working on beating my threshold so i can do the detroit half-marathon) 7 miles without a break in between... so why do people look at me funny... Is it because the weight I carry???
eerrg... so what happened was this... i'm running.. at a pace of about 6 miles per hour... (which is about 10 minutes per mile..) and out of the blue... these young adults... slow down by me.. point and laugh... like LEGIT... not even.. you know... subtely.. and it ticked me off... they're lucky i'm not too much in a bad mood... cuz i would have been like i don't care... i'll buy a new ipod... and ran faster and keyed (well actually ipoded) their car... but i was okay.. i just breathed in and out... you know calming techniques...
I was SOOOO angry though... don't they know that us big women have extra to deal with (lol... literally).. I mean, given that i'm probably not the most anorexic of people, but why do they have to do stupid stuff like that... I wanted to just pull them out of the car and be like... 'think you're a superstar?? why don't you race me'... urg. but anyway.. just cuz you might see a big woman running doesn't necessarily mean she's
1) trying to lose weight
2) going to give up by tomorrow
3) pretending to run... but when you pull away... she'll start walking again
4) fat because she eats chocolate creme pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
sigh. sometimes I get so annoyed with people... raaaaaaawr.
I grew up a very sports oriented kid... in the beginnning it was dance (ballet, jazz, tap, and gymnastics), as i grew older i played 5 years of basketball, 2 years of softball, one year of cross country, and since i was 16 i've been an active member at a campus gym... so why do you pathetic kids got to point and laugh and the big women run....
okay.. i'm gonna stop there. I was just really annoyed. I wish I could just induce them with like 30 to 50 pounds of added fat just so they can know what it's like to be a big woman... and then i want to make them run... run like they've never ran before... and just think about those 30-50 pounds you have to run with... like strap on weights that you wear when working out...
okay okay... i kept going.. i'm sorry. i'm just annoyed.
and please... if you see a big woman running... instead of stereotyping or making assumptions... you should really be thinking... if that woman has 50 extra pounds on me.... why can't i run like her? Maybe, you need to assess your energy output...
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
So, I'm dedicating this post to my mother... who is just, subhannaAllah, amazing! Everyday, I watch her take notes on multiple different books of tafseer (islamic hermeneutics), seerah (life/history of Muhammad, peace be upon him) and so on... It amazes me.... it shocks me... it confuses me... but most of all it amuses me.
Do you know what she does with the material gathered??? She teaches at an Islamic montessori school.... where here students are between the ages of 3-6 years old... And she teaches them materials made for scholars.... and the even more amazing thing is this... they learn it!!! actually internalize and understand it!!!!
That's how I want to be when I become a professor (obviously, my age group is very different but still). It just hit me so strongly today, as I was watching her prepare her lesson plans. I mean seriously??? She's teaching little kids things made for college age folk.
and it hit me... it's never too early to teach your kids, no matter the subject or however advanced it may seem, as long as you know (or learn) how to deliver it to them in a way they'd understand.
now think about all those kids growing up nowaday, so underchallenged that their potential slips down the drains... not only that... but even when they are challenged, the teachers are presenting it to them in a way that they cannot understand....
my question is this... is our education system actually educating students at the levels that they could learn at?? Or are we just teaching them with the wrong methods, not truly understanding the students and therefore being unable to convey or articulate the knowledge to them???
I was amazed, truly amazed, when I realized all this research my mom does for a kindergarten (more or less) class... I never realized how much I might have learned from her growing up if she was my teacher (obviously given that she's my mom she can't exactly teach me in school). And now I wonder, if one woman puts sooo much effort in teaching 3-6 year olds... what would happen to the education system if all teachers did the same?
Throughout my life, my mom's former students always used to come to me and be like... your mom is an amazing teacher... we love her... we've learned so much from her... ect. And I guess I'm jealous I didn't get to be in a formal classroom with her. But this is my suggestion for all parents, teachers, professors, instructors ect, please really don't underestimate your students due to their ages (or other things)... Prepare your lesson plans, like you're writing a thesis... do the research from the hard sources, and teach it in a format that the students would understand the language of...
you know... i've recently talked to my mother's students, and they're like kindergarten geniuses, I totally respect them... And I really hope that I can help them grow throughout life, so that they can one day move past me and excel to great heights. (i'm not trying to be cheesy... i'm serious). I hope that each one of them surpass the best in society now, because right now, I feel like they're already smarter than me, mashaAllah (which kinda means, how great is the Will of God.
I guess I'll stop there...
but all I have to say is this. I love my mom... and I see how much she puts in for her students, regardless of their age (she's taught between kindergarten through highschool ages groups).. and I really hope that when I become a professor in the future, that all my presentations, lectures, discussions, essays, papers, books and articles are all written in a language people understand, but filled with the content of scholars. Everyone should have access to the 'high up' knowledge... that's why we need dedicated liasons to deliver that information.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
So.... this friday is my step into the world... both career wise and artistically...
I'm taking my comprehensive exams at 9am... and basically if I pass them... I can graduate... and trust me... It's a HARD exam... students who've been studying harder and longer than me... well were forced to retake it later... :( but hopefully inshaAllah (by the will of God) I'll pass.. :) and then I can write my Masters essay and (well if that goes well) I can REALLY graduate...
I'd really like it if you (yes anyone who reads this!!!) could come to my feature at the echo verse poetry series.
It's at 1515 Broadway, Detroit MI... same place where we had the MY Expressions... This friday night (the 27th) at 9pm.
It's a $10 cover...
It is an amazing poetry open mic series... that has my 100% support.. They do all KINDS of poetry at the echo verse poetry series. I'm gonna say though... sometimes, it's better to leave the little ones at home though. It's all about self-expression!
Also, I have been blessed to be this friday's featured poet... so... be there!
If you can come! bring a friend!!! and even better... BRING SOME POETRY!! for the open mic...
I can't remember if there's a slam this week as well... but if there is... participate! get some experience!!! you just need a 3 minute long piece and some will power and you can do it!!!
I really would love to see you all there, inshaAllah (God willing).
asalamu alaikum \\// PEACE
-reem or... this friday supReem
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Initially, I was going to write about some reflections I had yesterday at a workshop, but now... after saying asalamu alaikum, I think I might go in another direction... actually.. you know what?? I'll do both... and hope it doesn't get too wordy...
Anyway, lately I've been feeling wicked depressed... For as long as I can remember, I've had emotions and thoughts of a self-deprecating nature. I mean, thoughts of... it doesn't matter how many people might tell you that they love you... the reality is... you don't love yourself... and therefore... what everyone else says just seems inconsequential... without weight... basically a form of projecting your own doubts about yourself onto people, and not really taking what they say with any seriousness or validity...
Now, those of you who know me (or think they do)... might think damn!!! I thought Reem was this bubbly, confident, full of herself, happy person... Allahu 'alam.
Anyway, so during the day yesterday I was wicked sad... that I was sitting in the middle of the UGL and started crying while reading my email... not like sniffles... but silent tears... that you know came out like rivers... and some girl looked at me... all pity like.... and it made me feel all the more depressed... like i'm not even in control... My sister had suggested that I tell her (yes we were on gchat) I was committing cyber suicide... leave it to my sister to crack me up in the midst of teariness.. :D (I LOVE YOU RUBY!!!)
Anyway, so i go to this workshop, and basically the speaker/discussant/leader in our group basically tells us that our religion is a source of happiness (in my head I was thinking more along the lines of contentment but happiness works too)... And if we don't feel happy, there's an issue we need to address, we need to go back to the sources of Islam and re-establish that connection... Because recognizing God as the source of all (yes... all...) then you recognize that He is a constant in your life, where people might come and go, things might come and go, emotions might come and go... but God... well He's always there... and you can scream, fight, love, hate... but God will still be there.
For me... although I've heard that sooo many times before... yesterday, it was like a re-dawning... I realized that my connection with God has been weak... possibly even severed... and alot of my moodiness might stem from that. Maybe, I won't be able to love myself... until I really love God. Maybe, love is an emotion that is superficial/imaginary unless it's made real with God. (not to sound super like weird and all)... but I was thinking about it. I mean... as a person who believes in God... my emotions are made truly REAL when associated with God.
So, back to the concept of Asalamu alaikum... have you ever realized... that Asalamu alaikum... the most common Islamic greeting... means Peace be upon you... I've always thought of it as in... peace like versus war in a social/political sense. (I remember someone saying it was a greeting to make clear that there was no conflict between people, with an extended hand).. But after yesterday... with the issue of contentment/happiness... maybe it's a prayer for inner peace... I mean... If someone was like... Reem... May Peace be upon you... I'd think they're praying for my sanity. Praying for a sense of happiness and contentment... They're praying for me to re-establish my connection with God. They're praying for me to love myself. They're praying for me to love everyone else (and no I don't necessarily mean it in the hippie way.. but sure why not).. They're praying for me to accept everyone regardless of any baggage they may carry... They're praying for something... meaning... they cannot give it to me... I cannot give it to me... Only God can give it to me... Therefore... they're praying for me to make peace with God. They're praying for me... to essentially truly accept God and His Will and Wisdom... To truly realize that God is once again... there... waiting for you to recognize Him in your life.
I don't know... before starting this post... before typing in asalamu alaikum in the beginning... I had intended to complain about how I hated myself so much... but now... by the end of this post... I'm thinking... maybe that feeling can change.. maybe I can truly love myself oneday (maybe today... inshaAllah... maybe 30 years from now... God knows best)... and now I'm thinking... whenever I say asalamu alaikum to someone or if someone says it to me... I'm gonna think of it, in these terms... because it's a prayer to God for Peace... and everyone wants some sense of contentment/happiness/inner peace.
I guess... I hope that our mission in life isn't something superficial and quantitative... I hope people truly acquire a sense of inner peace.
Asalamu aliakum... May Peace be upon you.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
So... this is a short story I wrote... for a short story competition... i don't think i've heard from them yet... but i submitted to it about 3 months ago.. and well... i'm not sure when you're supposed to hear back... but anyway... here it is
By Reem Abou-samra
I was kicking a screaming, wrenching out of their grasp, gasping for breath between shrieks that felt like banshees shattering my ears. Why were they taking me?! Where are they taking me? I didn’t want to go with these men. “Let me go!” I yelled, till my throat was raw, my arms flapping about in all directions, like a baby bird learning to take flight. They held my arms securely, more securely than I could ever hold myself together. They wouldn’t answer me. The most one of these men would say was “You have the right to remain silent” and I would go berserk. Remain silent, for being taken away? On what charges?! Who do they think they are?! And then it hit me, like all those rumors I heard about Muslims in our community, it hit me, like a brick in the face, it hit me. I was being detained! My body suddenly went limp out of shock, and they tightened their grasps on me. Words, let alone thoughts, couldn’t form past my lips. I didn’t know what to do? Should I comply with them, should I fight back? Why were they taking me anyway? I was part of the collateral damage, my head is pounding, my legs feel broken, and why are they taking me? I am a victim.
“I am a victim!!!” I couldn’t hold it in any longer. “Why are you guys taking me?!” I screamed at them. One of the guards looked at me sideways, a look that burned me inside out, accusing, threatening, full of animosity, “you’re a terrorist, that’s why we’re taking you.” He said in whispered tones, his voice passionate yet low. My jaw dropped, me, a terrorist? I was on my way to pick up my daughter, when all of a sudden a gun shot sounded, followed by many others. The whole street of people seemed to drop to the ground instantaneously. I was silently praying in my head that my daughter was out on the street, playing hopscotch with her classmates. When all of a sudden the shots died out, and as we all got up off the ground slowly, I was practically tackled by four men, probably double my size in both height and weight.
“I didn’t do anything! And my daughter needs me!” I said between attempts to pull away from them. The same guard looked at me again, and said “Your daughter won’t even notice you’re gone, you filthy piece of crap.” I couldn’t take it, what were they doing, I almost lost my life, my daughter was in jeopardy, I didn’t know what to do. Their hold on me was too tight; I could feel my arms losing feeling, because of lack of blood circulation. I tried to wrench free again, and the next thing I knew, the guard took the side of his gun and hit me on the head, and I slipped away.
I feel groggy, and I can’t tell anything apart. I’m not even sure if I am awake yet, since with my eyes open, everything looks darker than it was when my eyes were closed. I try to extend my legs, to stretch them from the fetal position I was lying in for the past, God knows how long. But they don’t get further than maybe half a foot, six measly inches, feeling like ancient Chinese foot binding had evolved into leg binding, and was being practiced on Arab males. I massage them, pushing, pressuring, drawing circles on my calves, knees, thighs, but the cramping doesn’t stop. Restless leg syndrome, I’ve had it since I was a kid, and it’s ten time worse now since I can’t do anything to stop it. I need to just ride it out.
My eyes finally register the darkness that surrounds me, and my ears and nose kick into hyper-sensitive, and I can smell something dead, and hear something run by me, rats maybe. I hear dripping water somewhere beyond this tomb like chamber. All of a sudden swift foot steps come down a hall just beyond these cement walls, doors are yanked open, something seems to fall, maybe drop to the ground with a clang, and doors slam shut. I hear the steps coming closer and closer, and I brace myself, hoping that this is a bad dream, and someone is on the brink of waking me up. The footsteps stop for half a second before a small sliding door is heaved open, bright light defuses in. I’m blinded temporarily, not being able to see the face of my savior, before my ears twitch, tingle, shatter, as a loud clang hits the ground right between my bended, cramping legs. I’m still blinded, my head is pounding. Is it from lack of caffeine or is it the dark? How long have I been here. I can’t even remember anymore. Has it been a day, weeks, months, years? I’m not even sure.
A smell wafts up and tickles my senses, food. Is it breakfast, lunch, dinner? I can’t be sure, since there is no consistency to our meal times. I don’t want to eat. I’m scared of eating. The smell dies away by the overpowering stench of crap. My own or someone else’s, I’m not even sure. All I know is that I can either suffer hunger, or I can suffer dehydration, because it’s laced with laxatives. My stomach grumbles, tightens and I feel nauseated, maybe from diarrhea or from hunger, whatever it is, it feels like an earthquake that is impossible to still. Hunger wins out, I reach for the plate and take a bite. It’s tastes nasty, like someone shat in my mouth. I my stomach resists this invasion, and I heave it out. Bile fills my mouth and throat. I give up, praying that someone will come for me, remember me, because I forgot them all.
I’m being dragged, my arms pulled over my head, as my head lolls to the side in surrender. I can feel the numbness in my legs, my head is pounding, like a hammer to the gong. It quakes through my body. I can smell, not feel, my blood drip away from my toes because my feet are being dragged behind me, cut up by jagged shards of rock, metal, glass, I’m not sure which, just something sharp. My capture dumps me on the ground. I still can’t tell, is it dark or bright, I don’t know, I feel blinded, am I blind? No. I’m blind folded.
Someone with a thunderous voice screams in my face, ripping apart any working faculty of my ear drums, and I can smell the sourness of his breath, practically taste it and my stomach clenches.
“WHY DID YOU DO IT?” and I respond with silence, until I start gasping, choking, coughing, I’m drowning. My arms attempt to paddle me to safety, but they’re restrained behind me. My legs can barely even move an inch, let alone help me swim to safety. I can’t breathe. Then, I gasp for breath. I realize that only my head was drowning. My body is dry of everything except my own sweat, which reminds me that I am still alive, until I start drowning again. This goes on, with all his questions “Who else was involved? Who do you work for? What is the next hit?” I can’t make sense of any of his questions, let alone answer them. I don’t understand why I am here, but I feel guilty, at fault, blameworthy, responsible for something I don’t even know about. This daily routine of inconsistency makes me feel like a scolded child, being sent to sit in the corner for time out.
Soon, Sour Breath gives up trying to pry answers out of me, like a dentist pulling out the wrong tooth. And I’m dragged again back to my sanctuary, my prison, my four walls that I’ve gotten to know so well, which indentation at what corner, every stone pressed against my back, the smell of piss, vomit, crap, dead animal carcasses, live ones, and rotting food. I’m being squished back into my cement box, my six foot frame, curled back into fetal position, being redeemed, being reborn, being returned to my cement womb. Something furry, crawls over my shoulder, and turns my chest and hair into it’s very own high ropes course. It slides down my body, scratching with it’s knife like claws, nibbling with razor sharp teeth at different parts, tasting me, and I, naked and bleeding, am a 3 course meal, buffet style. I drift out again, into a world of dreams, mostly nightmares, but all I wish for is that I could have a dead sleep.
I wake with a start. I’m being dragged again. No wait, I’m hanging by my arms, looped around my wrists are metal cuffs. Bright lights are turned on, and I scream at the image in front of me. There is a man, hanging like a star fish, out of the sea. Lands and legs spread, and I look down and realize that it is an image of me. A mirror. I smell him, before seeing him, Sour Breath is here. Again, his voice fills the air, threatening me with numbers of volts that I do not even recognize, are they high? Low? He says that if I comply with his questions then it won’t have to be this way. And I feel scolded again. He asks what I did, and I ask myself, what did I do? I can’t remember anything other than this life.
“Abdul-Salam, ANSWER ME NOW” he hollers and I can feel my ears twitch. Abdul-Salam, is that me? I can’t remember, he’s forcing me to, but it makes me forget all the more. All of a sudden, I feel on fire, my whole body tightens, my arms and legs clench at the shock that traveled through my body. The shock stopped, but my body continues to twitch for moments afterwards. And like the drowning, he continues battering me with questions that I don’t have answers to. I stare at him through the mirror, my eyes misted over, but I know he can see me glaring at him, but he doesn’t care. He smirks, and his horrible breath drifts over to me, more overpowering than my own stench, and another shock runs through me. I feel like I have been burnt inside out, my hair all standing at their ends, erect, waiting for another shock, over sensitized.
Tears are washing the grime off my cheeks, but I don’t want Sour Breath to see me break, but I am already a broken horse, I am ready to wear the harness, ready to succumb to his every last wish. And once he read that submission in my eyes, his smirk turned into a cocky smile. Deciding that I should taste more domination, he rips off his belt and starts whipping at every possibly angle on my body. I am burnt, beaten, bruised, broken, but not yet dead. I bite down on my tongue, wishing for it to stop, but it doesn’t, and I slip unconscious.
My eyes snap open, and I realize that I am not in my cell. I am strapped to a chair, hands extended in front of me, palms faced up. Someone is bending down over my feet; I stare at them, wondering what is going on, until I feel a little piece of me being ripped away. My nails are being pulled from my toes, each one bloodier than the next. The surgeon drops each nail into the palm of my hand. And I want to start gagging, the sight hurts me more than the actually removal, since my feet have been numb since I could last remember. I don’t reveal this information, because I don’t want them to truly hurt me where I can feel it, or I won’t be able to handle it any more. I’m exhausted. I want to sleep, but they keeping waking me up, each time more unexpectedly than the last. I let him work, silently praying, knowing that they’ll eventually grow back. I count, one, two, three, four, and five. He stopped. I realized that he only intended this for one foot, maybe he’ll get to the next, or maybe this was to remind me of the pain I’d feel comparing the nailed foot with the nail-less one. I sighed in surrender, all over again.
I’m shoved back into my cell, and I’m desperately trying to remember my life before this hell hole. But I can’t remember. I can’t think past these four two by two walls. It’s like they are thought proof, no mind can work while inside. Or maybe, they did it so your mind runs in circles, so that you brink on insanity. And I wonder, am I brinking? Or am I there already, dived in, drowning in it? My thoughts run around and around like a perpetual merry-go-round, dizzying, nauseating, exhausting. My biggest question is, who am I? Because even though I desperately don’t want to be who they have been accusing me of being, what if they are right? Should I just say I am, and that way I will know who I am?
I hear footsteps coming towards me again, aimed only for me, and my muscles tighten, my body clenches, and my thoughts withdraw. I’m suspended over my body floating, pretending that I am someone else, and watching this poor person get the punishment they deserved. I watch as a guard grabs my chains and practically drags me, and I float over them, attempting to guess what is going to happen next. My body is thrown into a chair, and Sour Breath is staring out the window, the first one I’ve seen, and it’s like I see the window of freedom, the window of opportunity, the window of hope, in this office I seem to be in. He turns towards me, his eyes accusing me like all my worst fears were confirmed, and that hope that had just risen like a phoenix from the ashes experienced an instantaneous heart attack as it was just about to take flight. His eyes confirmed my suspicions, maybe I was a horrible person before this, and it scared me. Sour Breath maintain eye contact, enough to shoot uncomfortable shivers down my spine, I waited for him to tell me what has been done? What will be done? And barely over a whisper, skeptical, like he doesn’t believe what he’s telling me, he says:
“Apparently Abdul-Salam, you were a victim at the shooting. Evidence shows that you weren’t even supposed to be there but it was a set up. What you told us in the beginning three weeks ago has been confirmed as true, you were only a passerby, on your way to pick up your daughter from daycare. The real culprit saw you as a potential cover as he escaped. You’re free to go. Your stuff is at the main entrance, just continue down the hall. And if anything similar ever comes up, even if it’s rumors, give me a call.”
Sour Breath handed me a card, it said Eric Wyandotte, Head Investigator. I didn’t know how to react, and I still couldn’t remember my life before being here, I couldn’t even remember what I told them three weeks ago. All I knew was that I must have done something wrong to be punished with this brutality. I was forever changed, and I knew I would never remember who I was before coming here. I followed the way down the hall, picked up random items, a wallet, jeans and a t-shirt, sneakers, underwear, a cell phone, keys, glasses and a messenger bag. I opened my wallet and stared at my ID, Abdul-Salam Khalid, Boston MA, born in 1984, six feet. But the picture that stared back at me was unrecognizable; I had no idea who this clean cut and tailored person was. Because all I knew about myself was: I am Broken.