December 2007 archive

Technical Difficulties

The blog is not working properly. There is a case of DNS poisoning that prevents some people from seeing it, and getting a Homesales website instead. I am working on it. Will resume our services shortly!

Yesterday

I was at a Christmas party yesterday, hosted by a muslim friend of mine. The party's invitees were mostly christians, a couple of which are Christmas orphans (foreigners studying in egypt with nowhere to go on christmas eve), and we had a tree to decorate and everything. The boss of one of our christian female friends and attendees apparently just got back from Hajj, and got her a gift: a full islamic Abayah and head covering (hint hint). So our friend came over, wearing the abayah, the hijab, and big ass cross on her chest, clearly visible. Everybody thought it was hilarious and they started to take pictures of her and asking her to pose for them, going all " But make the cross visible. Can you make it more visible? Can you hold it? Can I take another picture?" for a good five minutes. Me and the other muslim friend are just sitting there next to each other, watching all of this taking place. Then, without even looking at him, I say:

"You ever get the feeling that we are hanging out with a persecuted minority?"

"Uh-hum", he smilingly replies, nodding his head. 

I take a sip of my glass of wine and say: "Yeah, me too!" 

Merry Christmas everybody!

Third Year going..

Happy Birthday to the Monkey… 

This blog turns 3 today! That makes it the longest time I've managed to do something consistently. And people say I have commitment problems. Pshhhhhhhhhhhhh.

"Make me a Muslim" reviewed

The people from the British channel 4 have created a new "Makeover" show, but with A TWIST: It's an Islamic Makeover show, called "Make me a Muslim" . Through the help of 4 experts (3 Imams and a female British convert) , 6 contestants get to experience life as muslims for 3 weeks, in the almost exclusively white and non-muslim town of Harrogate, in Yorkshire. The group includes a single-mom glamor Model, an atheist and white Taxi Driver who likes beer and porn, the girlfriend of a lapsed muslim who lives with him without marriage but wishes to be accepted into his family, and a gay guy who likes to party too much. The idea behind the show is that through islamic teachings, they will fix the lives of those morally-compromised individuals. You know, kind of like the way the 5 gay guys from "Queer eye for the straight guy" would come in to the life of boring heterosexual males and make everything "fabulous", without the fabulousness, or, like, the humor. But I digress, it's sometimes very very funny, although for very unintentional reasons (The Promo for the show is here, the first episode, on 5 parts, here).

Take the gay guy for example: The Imams decide to fix his gayness. How would they do that? Well, they told him at first that his problem is that he hangs out with too many females, so what he needs to do is to hang out with guys and do masculine things, and that will just push the gay out of him. Needless to say that this plan didn't work at all, although it did make the gay guy happy to be surrounded "by all of this testosterone". While he is playing his manly sports with muslim men (does cricket count as a manly sport? I guess it doesn't have a lot of physical contact with other men, so.yeah..anyway), the Imam decides that in order to further cure the gay guy, he would have to find him a wife. So he takes his picture, walks around the town and asks every female he sees (quite seriously I might add) if she would like to marry the guy in the pic, to which the females laughed hysterically and told the Imam to sod off. Later on, they decide to take him shopping to buy manly clothes, because, as one of the Imams put it, "if you dress like a female, you will act like a female". Clothes shopping as a cure to male homosexuality. Hmm..Well, at least give them credit for trying something new here. I am not sure that anyone before thought clothes shopping was the way to turn gay men straight.

Ignoring the comic relief offered by the gay guy, you have the other contestants whose interactions with the "Muslim 4" might not be as funny, but they are equally as disturbing. Take Karla for example, who is doing this because she would like to be accepted by the parents of her "bad muslim" boyfriend Ash. They have been dating for 2 years and they won't even meet her, so the girl, in her desperation, tries to enroll herself in this religious experiment, hoping that if his parents saw her trying they would meet her half way. They don't, and her boyfriend considers that a normal thing. Ok, so here is your chance young Imams to set things right, and maybe help bridge the culture gap between the christian british woman and the immigrant desi parents of her boyfriend, but do they offer to mediate between the parents, or condemn how xenophobic and judgmental they are being? Hell no. The Imam just gives her the "I know it's difficult speech", but offers no help nor insight to make it better. Even his compassion to her seems a bit out of courtesy, and his solace very superficial and hollow.

Oh, and then comes the home inspection, and this was just fantastic, because it starts with the Imam telling the audience that there is a misconception that "Islam is about taking things away from its practitioners, which isn't true", and then he and the members of the Muslim 4 proceed to do just that. They go from home to home of the people enrolled in the show, and start taking away and forbidding everything they deemed un-islamic. Porn? Check. Magazine showing scantly clad bikini wearing women? Check. Pork? Check. Alcohol? Check. Shared bedroom? Check. Skimpy outfits? Check. Men's magazines? Check. Touching? Check. Glamor Modeling? Check. Pink clothes for men? Check. Friendship with women? Check Checkity Check. And when one of the women asks why not the skimpy outfit, the Imam actually has the audacity to suggest that wearing it "would invite rape". Sure, the british chick immediately bites his head off, but that's another story. The damage was done.

The thing is, this show showed the Imams proposing that Islam may be the solution to Britian's moral decay, but didn't explain how or even show it in the course of the show. The Imams had no arguments, they couldn't fend off the criticisms leveled against them. They couldn't adequately argue one convincing point to any of those people why doing things the islamic way would make their lives any better. Hell, they were constantly beaten by the contestants, and instead of admitting defeat they would just say " This is how we do it in Islam. Just try doing it our way and you will see why it's better" and then smile empty smiles at their frustrated and not-at-all-convinced students. If this is an evangelical effort, then it is the worst I've ever seen, and I actually watched CBN at one point in my life, people. The Imams appear judgmental, uncompromising and without logic, while every step of the way claiming that "this is the way of Islam", which leads the viewer to the conclusion that Islam is without logic. How this is promoting Islam in the UK, I have no idea.

In conclsuion, make me a muslim is a joke, and so are the Imams in it who think they are advancing the word of allah through this show and promoting Islam. The show, which claims to be a serious effort, borders on comical at its shallowness. It showed Islam to be judgmental, dogmatic and intolerant. That there was no spiritual aspects to it all (hell, they spent about 10X  more time lecturing the contestants on their sinful ways then how to pray and the purpose of prayer), and that it's so based on dictation it's almost soulless. I looked forward to some convincing arguments, to some dialogue, to someone given the chance to be on TV who will say that we are not all crazy people with crazy rules, but all I got was 3 bearded men and a woman who appeared smug and superior and who kept acting like" if u r too stupid to be convinced by us, just do as we say anyway, because it's what's best for you". I don't know about the average viewer, but if I had nothing to do with Islam and that was my introduction to it, I sure as hell wouldn't turn Muslim, let alone have a good perception of the religion itself at all. This show is a failure and a disgrace, and deserves to be mocked, as it will be. Let's just hope there wouldn't be a second season.

The Bible vs. The Koran

The Battle of spreading the Holy Books is more intense than anyone would've thought.

The combination of globalisation and rising wealth is proving to be
a bonanza for both religions. The most prolific producer of Christian
missionaries, on a per head basis, is now South Korea. The biggest
Bible publishing houses are in Brazil and South Korea. An interlinked
global network of 140 national or regional Bible Societies pools
resources to reach its collective goal of putting a Bible in the hands
of every man, woman and child on the planet. The American Bible
Society, the biggest of the lot, has published more than 50m Bibles in
atheist China.

Saudi oil wealth is supercharging the distribution of the Koran. The
kingdom gives away some 30m Korans a year, under the auspices of either
the Muslim World League or individual billionaires, distributing them
through a vast network of mosques, Islamic societies and even
embassies. Go to FreeKoran.com and you can have a free book in your hands in weeks.

However…

Saudi-funded dissemination of the Koran, along with literature
promoting the stern Saudi understanding of Islam, may not have much
direct effect on Christians, or the unchurched. But it does increase
the relative weight, within Islam, of teachings which tend to sharpen
the Christian-Muslim divide. For example, traditional Muslim teaching
stresses those passages in the Koran which affirm the Christian Gospel
and the Hebrew Torah as valid revelations of God and paths to
salvation. But there is a harsher, Saudi-influenced view which insists
that since Muhammad delivered the final revelation, Christianity and
Judaism have lost their power to save.

And that is the branch of Islam that I have the biggest problem with. The Saudi view's prevelance has grown to such a degree that you can never get a straight answer from Imams now on whether or not Jews and Christians are infidels or people of the book. It's kind of like the Milk question and nutritionists: Does any of you know anymore whether Milk is good or bad for you?

I rest my case.

The distortion is of epic proportion, and so is the intolerant attitude. Long gone is the Islam of tolerance and respecting the religious rights of the country's christians and jews. Can any of you name a middle-eastern country where the christian inhabitants don't feel prosecuted by their muslim counterparts? How about a generally Islamic country. Does that work? No? How about we ignore christians and jews, and stick to islamic branches: How about a country where the sunnis don't oppress the shia, or the shia don't screw over the sunnis? I couldn't find one either. Whether we like it or not, Islam has developed a reclusive, closed ghetto mentality, mimicking those who have spent lots of money to turn it this way. But this may end up being their own undoing in the end…

The third big advantage is the West's belief in religious
freedom—guaranteed in America by the constitution, and in Europe by an
aversion to religious persecution caused by centuries of it. The
heartland of Islam, by contrast, is theocratic. The Saudi Ministry of
Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Call and Guidance employs 120,000 people,
including 72,000 imams. Saudi Arabia bans non-Islamic worship and
regards attempts to convert Muslims to another faith as a criminal
offence. Pakistan has witnessed the attacks on Christian missionaries.
Sudan punishes “religious deviation” with imprisonment.

Christian Evangelists complain that this creates an uneven playing
field: Muslims can build giant mosques in “Christian lands” while
Christians are barred from distributing Bibles in Saudi Arabia and
Iran. But uneven playing fields tend to weaken the home players. Open
competition is a boon to religion: American Evangelism has flourished
precisely because America has no official church. And theocracy is
ultimately a source of sloth and conservatism. “The Book and the
Koran”, by Muhammad Shahrur, which tried to reinterpret the Koran for
modern readers, was widely banned in the Islamic world, despite its
pious tone and huge popularity.

The stagnation in Islamic thought, fueled by the strict and stringent wahabbi interpretation, has been bearing fruit for the past few years, and we are seeing this in the Fatwas being released by so called islamic scholars. Hell, the majority of the current AlAazhar Ulamaswere previously hired and indoctrinated in Saudi Islamic Universities, which led the majority of them to adopt the more conservative Wahabbi interpertation, instead of Al Azhar's more moderate Al Ash3ary one, which is dying in the institution as we speak. This is why we are now getting Breast-feeding fatwas. Liberalization of Islamic thought and modus operandi may be essential now, but soon enough, with the direction it's been taking, it will be crucial for the religion's survival.

Checks and Balances

The democrat-led congress is getting some seriously low approval ratings, even lower than the republican led congress they replaced in 06, which is quite the feat, considering how bloated, ineffective, corrupt and scandal-laden that last one was. But how do they justify their failure? Well, they are blaming the republican minority for checking them. And they are not joking!

Nothing has helped the minority party influence legislation this year
more than Senate Republicans' liberal use of the filibuster. The
obstructionist tactic can be overcome only with 60 votes in the
100-member chamber, where Democrats hold 51 seats.

The current Senate is on pace to shatter the record for filibusters, making the once-rare maneuver virtually an everyday threat.

GOP senators used vote-delaying filibusters this year to thwart
House and Senate majorities on efforts to offset the $50 billion cut in
projected revenue from the alternative minimum tax; allow the
government to negotiate Medicare drug prices; impose new taxes on oil
companies; require more use of renewable fuels in generating
electricity; grant congressional representation to the District of Columbia; and require more rest time from troops deployed to Iraq.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says little can be done until and unless more Democrats replace Republicans in the Senate.

So, to get this straight, in order for democrats to change things, they don;t just need a majority, they need a supreme majority. That's their excuse, which was never the case in recent history. I think it's a good thing that neither party can get 60% control of the Senate, and for one to demand it, in order to "enact change", it shows how weak and unable to play politics with the other party, not to mention it allows the ignoring of the minority's opinion and voice. But then again, maybe that's the only way democrats can get things done. What do you think?

I want a Lakota Passport

The Lakota Indians are withdrawing fro their treaty with the US, and are declaring themselves an independent state. American conservatives all over released a unified groan: "Fudge me. One more border to worry about. Darn!!!"

The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting
Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United
States, leaders said Wednesday.

"We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all
those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are
free to join us," long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a
handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy,
gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a
news conference.

A delegation of Lakota leaders delivered a message to the State
Department on Monday, announcing they were unilaterally withdrawing
from treaties they signed with the federal government of the United
States, some of them more than 150 years old.

[...]

Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences,
and living there would be tax-free — provided residents renounce their
US citizenship, Means said.

A Lakota driving license. And a passport. That should be awesome. I am moving to Lakota land boys, where I won't pay taxes and smoke all the Peyote my heart desires. Fantastic. I wonder who put them up to this?

They also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan
embassies, and will continue on their diplomatic mission and take it
overseas in the coming weeks and months, they told the news conference.

The Bolivian and Venezuelan embassies? Chavez and Morales? Ughh..Nevermind. Not paying taxes and smoking peyote is nice and all, but not if I'll be chilling with those assholes.

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